There are two vehicles that are so are deeply rooted into the off-road community, that other companies don’t even seem to bother competing with them. Those vehicles are the Jeep Wrangler, and the Ford Raptor. The Wrangler is know for exploration, and rock crawling, and as such, most people who enjoy that kind of off-roading own a Wrangler. But, what about hauling ass across the desert? Well, you could build yourself a pre-runner, which might cost you a fortune and likely wont daily driver friendly. Or, you could go out and buy yourself a Ford Raptor.
When Ford dropped the Raptor in 2010, it was a big risk. Everyone was focused on fuel economy, and the Raptor was a slap in the face to Prius owners across America. It was loud, wide, big, sucked up fuel, and was designed with one thing in mind, hauling ass across the desert. This was a concept that literally no other car company had done well, and Ford KILLED it.
Sales went through the roof and continue to do extremely well to this day. Sometimes I feel like their sales went so well because they aired a commercial of it jumping through the air.
Dodge saw an opportunity to join into this emerging market of desert trucks and had it fulfilled through their performance division Mopar. They named their new desert truck “Ram Runner”, which was based off of a 1500 truck, much like the Raptor. Mopar nailed the desert truck thing pretty well, out-doing the Raptor in suspension travel which is the key to desert racing.
Heres the problem though, instead of offering it right off of the showroom floor, like the Raptor, they offered it as a “package”. That meant you had to buy a Ram 1500, and then take it to Mopar to have the kit installed. What a hassle right? It also seems like they didn’t really try to advertise it as a Raptor competitor, or advertise it at all really. I think if Dodge refined the Ram Runner, offered it off of the showroom floor, and really pushed it as a “Raptor killer” they could actually dominate the desert truck market.
Much like Dodge, Chevrolet saw an opportunity to join into the desert truck market, and sent their idea over to Lingenfelter Performance. Lingenfelter is known for their magic touch on Camaro’s, Corvette’s, and many other Chevy products. But, this was their first time doing an off-road truck for Chevrolet, and quite honestly, they didn’t really meet the standards that the Raptor and Ram Runner set.
Much like Ford, the Chevy Reaper was offered right off of the showroom floor. Lingenfelter is a performance company, this means that they can’t produce massive amounts of Reapers simply because they’re not a large company. This brings in a big problem, you’re not likely to walk into a Chevy dealer and stumble upon a Reaper, and since Chevy didn’t really try to advertise the Reaper as a Raptor competitor, virtually no one even knows about the Reaper.
Toyota has been taking a stab at the desert truck market with their TRD Pro lineup, but they’re marketing it towards an exploration vehicle. Dodge actually did a good job building a desert truck, but failed to market it properly. As a Chevy person I hate to say this, but Chevy really failed pretty bad at both building and marketing the Reaper. Ford has done so well with their Raptor that the 2017 model will be wider, meaner, lighter, more powerful, and have even more suspension travel.
The question is, when will someone step up to the plate and dethrone the Raptor and make a pile of cash in the process? Only time will tell, but for now, the Raptor remains king of the desert.
Let us know what you think in comments!