The bigger engine adds 150 pounds over the Raptor's front axle, necessitating changes to front and rear spring rates and some of the damper valving to better manage what SVT engineers call "pitch inertia." That's important because one of the keys to the Raptor's unbelievable high-speed stability in the rough stuff is eliminating the tendency of the lightly loaded rear suspension to kick the truck's tail in the air over bumps. The other big change has been to the transmission calibration for the six-speed automatic, which will now hold a lower gear on the entry to corners if you're driving hard.

We drove 5.4 and 6.2 Raptors back to back along the same desert track, a challenging mixture of soft sand and scattered rocks and stomach-churning bumps, linked by a constant string of fast and slow-speed turns. The 6.2's crisper throttle response, how it punches harder out of the turns, and how it blows through deep sanddrifts that leave the 5.4 struggling, are all instantly noticeable. The revised transmission calibration delivers faster, more authoritative upshifts, yet holds a lower gear when you lift off the gas and pitch the truck sideways into a corner. The over-square configuration (bore is 4.02 inches and stroke 3.74 inches) means the 6.2 revs harder than the long-stroke Triton, spinning readily to 6200 rpm with a leaner, harder-edged snarl, thanks, in part, to the new engine's different firing order.

The extra power and torque make the Raptor more adjustable, more fun to drive in the rough stuff. You're more able to change the truck's attitude mid-turn; lift off the gas to get the nose to tuck into the apex, or punch it to kick the tail wide. It might weigh more than the 5.4, but the 6.2 Raptor feels lighter and nimbler. We tried it in 4x2 with the diff locked, and 4x4 with the rear diff open (you can run in four-wheel drive with the diff locked, but the front end then wants to push too much). In two-wheel drive, the Raptor is spectacular, sideways and spitting sand everywhere, but it requires pro-racer reflexes to keep the momentum up through the desert. Four-wheel drive is the hot ticket for most drivers in most conditions, the extra power and torque helping the front wheels pull you out of the turns, particularly in soft sand.