Powering into the turn, I am on the brakes and altering course for another brief run on the power. The path is anything but smooth, and as I stand on the throttle, there is a sudden dip and the world disappears for a moment behind a soupy wave of mud. The wipers clear the way in time to navigate through a dense tunnel of trees.
The Raptor is really great out of the box, but our engineers have the expertise and experience to make it even better. Bob Adams, Steeda Performance Vehicles
On the other side, the sun shines as I pull back onto the familiar confines of the pavement. It is not often that I am out with a camera in hand shooting a new machine that my path takes me through the mud, but when Steeda Performance Vehicles (SPV) tunes up an F-150 Raptor, you have to sample its capabilities.
In stock form, the current Raptor is no slouch. Ford Performance engineers took the best-selling pickup and transformed it into a hauler capable of flying through the desert, ascending rocky terrain, and making a run to the corner store — all with the technology and comforts expected from a new vehicle. As good as it is, however, enthusiasts always want a bit more, which is where the team at SPV lends a helping hand.
“Our primary objective is to enhance the performance of the great vehicles that Ford produces. Our clients have specific wants and needs, and our objective is to fulfill their wishes,” Bob Adams, president of Steeda Performance Vehicles, explains. “From suspension to body to powertrain enhancements, we are focused on satisfying the client by providing the very best products and solutions.”
While Steeda is primarily known for its Mustang performance upgrades, the company offers enhancements for a wide variety of Blue Oval machines. Steeda Performance Vehicles draws on that hardware and expertise to develop complete upgrade packages for modern performance Fords.
“We approached the Raptor in exactly the same manner in which we do all of our performance vehicle products — take an already great vehicle and make it better by modifying it as needed for enhanced performance and driving abilities,” Adams explains. “The Raptor is really great out of the box, but our engineers have the expertise and experience to make it even better. We always take a ‘clean sheet’ approach in everything we do, with a focus on performance enhancements, increased reliability/durability, and a more overall satisfying driving experience.”
In addition to the Steeda gear, SPV draws on a wide range of aftermarket suppliers for the enhancements to round out the Steeda F-150 Raptor as a complete offering that enhances both the style and substance of the truck. However, the company doesn’t just bolt these parts on individually, but rather, curates them to deliver a well-rounded driving experience.
“A systematic approach is a critical process in our performance modifications. While it is easy to just throw parts at a vehicle and call it a day (as some others do), we take a far more serious approach in the effort of developing a comprehensive and integrated finished product,” Adams says. “The key is that all of the modifications we incorporate need to work in full harmony with each other. This is especially true with any powertrain and suspension modifications, as you do not want to have one component diminish or compromise the enhancement of another component. Oftentimes, others may choose components based on cost without any analysis of performance attributes and potential impacts on an overall package. While the approach we undertake is much more time-consuming and costly, our clients demand the very best and we deliver on that need.”
The full complement of upgrades is listed in the sidebar below, but SPV combines these upgrades and tests them to ensure they are compatible with each other and with the driving dynamics they expected from the enhanced Raptor. Again, the result is a truck that retains the factory manners but offers enhanced capabilities.
Central to that improvement is the full complement of induction, intercooling, and tuning upgrades from Whipple. The company, which is widely known for its twin-screw superchargers, also offers EcoBoost gear and complementary tuning, which retains 50-stage legality and places nicely with the factory strategy.
“There are many companies and individuals that do not know how to tune, as they cheat the system by turning off sensors or manipulating inputs, essentially ruining the integrity of the powertrain safety systems. These sensors are built-in safeguards that protect against both minor and even a catastrophic engine failure,” Adams details. “The key to a great calibration is to have increased power and performance without compromising drivability, emissions, or the built-in safeguards that today’s electronic management system provides. With the tunes we use, none of the built-in safeguards are ever compromised.”
The result is an additional 90 horsepower and 130 lb-ft of torque that easily offsets any weight gained with the bolt-on upgrades, but delivers seamless drivability and reliability. Having that additional grunt onboard, however, means putting it to the ground.
“It is impossible to single out just one upgrade. The upgrades we do, work in harmony together to deliver a far superior package. But my favorites are the Whipple/Steeda EcoBoost upgrade and the Nitto off-road tires,” Adams enthusiastically admits. “The formula is perfect — more power and the right rubber to connect the power to the ground.”
While performance is an SPV staple, the company also develops well-rounded appearance upgrades that are both understated and unmistakable. In the case of the Steeda F-150 Raptor, the visage is sinister, yet restrained as if its claws are ready to slash out at any instant.
“In addition to the engineering of our performance and functional upgrades, we also pay particular attention to the appearance side of things as well. Obvious things like wheel offset and tire fitment can make a huge difference in performance, but it is also important how they appear together as a comprehensive package,” Adams says. “Nothing escapes our critical attention to detail — even the smallest things matter to us like the routing of electrical wires, adding a stubby antenna so the OEM antenna doesn’t get caught when off-roading.”
In practice, that attention to detail results in a truck that looks great and is a blast to drive on or off the road. Ordering one adds $20,995 to the price of the Raptor before any extra options, but the result is a truck that amplifies what the factory created without detracting from its OEM essence. For more details, you can check out the company’s site right here.
Steeda F-150 Raptor Upgrades
Steeda/Whipple Mega Cooler
Steeda/Whipple roto-molded, high-velocity cold air intake
Steeda/Whipple custom calibration
Addictive Desert Design High Strength Steel Front Bumper
Addictive Desert Design High Strength Steel Rear Bumper
Rigid Industries Ultra High-power LED Off-Road Lighting
Stubby Billet Aluminum Radio Antenna
Extang Exceed Premium Rear Bed Cover
BedRug Impact Liner Bed Liner
Steeda Graphics Package
Steeda Engine Bay Serialization Emblem
Rigid Industries A-Pillar D-SS Pro Series LED Lighting Enhancement
Rigid Industries Front Grill LED Lighting Enhancement
Aero X Fastback Bed Cap
Aero X Baja Edition Chase Rack
2.5-inch Billet Aluminum Leveling Kit
Addictive Desert Designs Race Series-R Chase Rack with tire carrier and 50-Inch Rigid Industries LED Light Bar (forward facing) and twin Rigid Industries D-Series Pro (rear facing).
Addictive Desert Designs Honeybadger Chase Rack with Roof Rack Add-On
Addictive Desert Designs Rock Slider Side Steps
Wheels & Tires
Steeda Off-Road Tru-Beadlock Six-Lug Wheels
Nitto Ridge Grapple High-Performance 35-inch Off-Road Tires