Hennessey’s 4×4 VelociRaptor 600 Dominates The Desert

The maniacal tuners at Hennessey Performance long since earned a reputation for cranking out some of the most aggressive modified vehicles based on just about every make and model imaginable. Early projects like a twin-turbocharged Dodge Viper and the world-beating Venom GT established the potential for big power in sports cars but more recently, the Texas-based tuners ratcheted the insanity up to a new level with absurd modifications to pickup trucks and SUVs , too.

The most eye-catching build arrived based on Ford‘s F-150 Raptor, to which Hennessey bolted on another axle and created the VelociRaptor 6×6. More traditional trucks carrying four wheels can still receive all the upgraded power and suspension modifications, though, like a bright orange VelociRaptor 600 that recently arrived on my doorstep for some testing in the deserts of Southern California.


Hennessey VelociRaptor Hits The Desert

The VelociRaptor 600 builds on the already excessive Ford F-150 Raptor, which leaves the factory pumping 450 horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque to the ground, with all the long-travel suspension and off-roading modes that Ford can add to America’s best-selling pickup truck. When Ram more recently decided to get in on the off-road action with the TRX, though, Ford’s hardcore dune charger immediately dropped a vibration on the totem pole, so any Blue Oval fans hoped to challenge the TRX in a Ford product likely need to check out Hennessey’s various VelociRaptor offerings.

Specifications

  • Engine/Motor: Tuned twin-turbo 3.5L EcoBoost V6
  • Horsepower: 558 hp
  • Torque: 672 lb-ft
  • Drivetrains: RWD, AWD, 4WD with lockers
  • Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Pros

  • Seriously fast for a big truck
  • Balanced suspension on-road and off
  • Adjustable shocks, steering, and engine response
  • High quality interior
Cons

  • Too big for city life
  • Too big for tight trails
  • Six-figure price tag

Tuning The EcoBoost V6

At the heart of the VelociRaptor 600, in classic Hennessey fashion, lurks a host of upgrades to the twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6, including a high-flow air intake setup, an intercooler upgrade, and ECU tuning that results in a dyno-proven bump up to 558 horsepower and a whopping 672 lb-ft of torque. Hennessey claims the added power allows the approximately 6,000-pound pickup to sprint to 60 miles per hour in 4.2 seconds on the way to a quarter-mile in only 12.9 ticks—and after my first mash of the throttle, I believe that figure immediately.

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More Lift, Bigger Wheels & Tires

But on-road performance only figures in as part of Hennessey’s vision for the VelociRaptor. The truck I got my hands on also featured a range of Off-Road Stage 1 upgrade, including 20-inch custom wheels shod in 35-inch Nitto Ridge Grappler mud-terrains that measure a full 12.5 inches wide. To make room for all that rubber, Hennessey installs a three-inch lift and a self-leveling kit for the front suspension. Custom bumpers, automatically retracting sidesteps, and a light bar up front also fit into the mix.

Altogether, the VelociRaptor looks enormous from the outside and feels even bigger after climbing up on the very helpful sidesteps into the cockpit. I passed a few other stock Raptors on the highways of Los Angeles while driving out to the desert and almost laughed at how much higher up the VelociRaptor rode. Just by chance, I even passed a Shelby Baja Raptor, whose driver is also sat noticeably lower than my eye level.


RELATED: Watch This VelociRaptor Pickup Drag Race The 2022 Ford F-150 Raptor

Doubling Down On The Raptor’s Factory Features

All of Hennessey’s modifications serve to complement the Raptor’s factory off-roading features, so I spent plenty of time switching between different drive modes like Baja, Rock Crawl, Sport, and Normal via a dial to the right of the steering wheel. But Ford also includes dedicated buttons on the steering wheel that allow the driver to control suspension settings, steering weight, and exhaust note directly, plus buttons around the drive mode dial allow for the selection of 2-Hi, 4-Hi, 4-Lo , and 4-Auto (the latter akin to all-wheel drive).


Before reaching the dirt, the VelociRaptor already impressed me with a mind-blowing sense of stability for such a big, heavy, lifted truck. I ended up settling into the sportiest suspension and steering settings, with the exhaust set to a low note for highway cruising and in-town driving. Without a doubt, the VelociRaptor felt absolutely excessive in West LA, to the point that when I drove the truck to the grocery store, I ended up parking around the block rather than trying to navigate a tight lot.

Out in the desert, though, that sheer size seems more at home. The particular Raptor that served as the foundation for this build arrived fully optioned, including the extensive Equipment Group, which critically adds a Torsen torque-biasing front differential to the four-wheel-drive system that already features an electronic locking rear diff. Meanwhile, the interior appointments actually lend a sports-car atmosphere to the comfortable front two seats, adjustable steering wheel, and ride position. I actually put my seat up above the lowest setting, mostly to allow for better sightlines over the long hood. And most importantly, the front seats also feature air conditioning ventilation—including for the headrests, a wonderful addition I never existed before my time with the VelociRaptor.


RELATED: Watch: Ride Along With Hennessey And A Final VelociRaptor 6X6

Over-The-Top Insanity Feels Great

After dialing in my seat position and getting at least somewhat acclimated to the truck’s size and power, I fiddled with the off-road modes further during my day in the dirt. And the amount of sheer fun the VelociRaptor allows during high-speed four-wheeling easily eclipsed the Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 that I tested only a few days prior. With the traction control off, even those knobby Nittos struggles to rein in so much low-end torque, allowing the massive truck to skitter out sideways with ease while the suspension gobbles up most of the smaller chop. On a tighter section, I even locked up the rear diff and experimented with some serious lean, which despite the lift and the Raptor’s more high-speed focus, never felt out of control.

Of course, the VelociRaptor 600 costs almost double a stock Chevy ZR2—though the base Raptor, if you can find one without a massive dealer markup these days, only runs a few grand more. And I did feel a bit of surprise that Hennessey opted against 37-inch tires, since Ford will happily sell a factory 37 package already. Bigger tires might hinder on-road performance, however, and the truth remains that most of Hennessey’s VelociRaptor customers probably drive their trucks in town and on the highway more than in the sand and dirt.

My brief time with the VelociRaptor 600 left me torn. On one hand, the obvious excess of the truck shines through immediately. But they said everything is bigger in Texas and I’d be lying if I acted like blasting around in such a massive truck didn’t leave me with a massive grin on my face. Somehow, I even managed around 15 MPG over the course of city, highway, and off-roading use. Not bad for that EcoBoost pushing so much air around! I still wonder how a base Raptor might handle the very same driving, too, though given the pent-up demand for hardcore off-roading pickups today, anyone in the market for an aggressive F-150 might as well consider buying their truck as a package deal from Hennessey Performance.

Sources: hennesseyperformance.com, ford.com, ramtrucks.com, nittotire.com, and youtube.com.

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