So I have been reading/following Jalopnik/Opposite lock/Truck yeah for quite a while now and there have always been posts or articles that I wanted to comment on but I never felt obliged to give my opinion so I refrained from making an account and just continued reading, learning, and observing the sites. But within the past few days there have been a few vehicles (ok trucks in particular) that have made some claims about being a "Raptor Challenger" and being a truck enthusiast I could no longer bite my tongue and felt that I wanted to share this knowledge on why there has yet to be any truck (possibly the exception of the Ram Runner...) that could be considered a competitor to Ford's Raptor.
The first truck that tipped me off was the newly released TRD Pro model trucks. Now, while Toyota themselves never officially claimed that they were making a vehicle for the sole purpose of competing with the Raptor, the images, and "upgraded" suspension suggest that they are trying to maybe get into a little bit of that market. Now, disregarding the color of the truck or any of the exterior enhancements that it has Toyota did say that the truck gained more suspension travel by adding a 1.25" longer shock to the new Pro models. Here is my complaint with this advertising statement.
The Tundra is an independent front suspension truck, meaning that it has two control arms and a "coil around" shock that provides the damping as well as support for the front end. Each control arm is mounted to the frame at two fixed locations and travels in a given arc shaped path. By simply adding a longer shock to the tundra, one would not just magically see more travel. A Longer shock would only (for lack of a better word) push the wheel further down providing more "lift" but not more travel. Assuming the TRD Pro has the same control arms as a regular tundra or TRD Tundra the amount of travel that the suspension can have is always limited by the path of the control arms. So by pushing the wheel down more in its suspension path, you "increase" the up travel of the suspension but you lose droop or down travel of the suspension. And without changing the bump stops out for the up travel, really you don't gain anything at all, just changing how much up or down travel you have.
In layman's terms. If you had 10" of total travel (5" up, 5" down) adding a longer shock would just mean you have maybe 6" up travel and only 4" down travel when the vehicle is measured at rest sitting still on the ground at its ride height. Now also because of suspension geometry a 1.25" longer shock does not mean that the wheel was pushed down a full 1.25". Again because of the arc like path of the control arms there would have to be some math done to figure out the exact amount changed.
Of course "upgraded" shocks will provide a smoother ride both on and off road, which would allow the truck to be driven more comfortably at a higher rate of speed off road (would handle the bumps a lot better) I still don't see this truck with all its "changes" from a regular Tundra keeping up with a Raptor. These truck's also got 2" of lift (1.5 for the 4Runner) but that lift doesn't mean travel. The cheapest and simplest (and the way i'm guessing toyota lifted these vehicles) is to simply add a spacer either at the top or bottom of the coil over shock. Again, not changing any actual suspension components so gaining no travel over a stock tundra. The lift allows for larger tires but that's all....besides actually lifting it....
Moving on the the next truck that annoyed me. The new and hideous Reaper that was made by Lingenfelter Performance. This truck is very much so aimed at taking on the Raptor and whether it becomes something you can buy (if you could get over the hideous looks) is still up in the air. The biggest complaint I have with this truck is again about the suspension. Like the toyota and indeed the raptor, the chevy 15oo truck uses a Independent front suspension with two control arms and a coil around (crappier version of a coil-over) shock. The Reaper seems to have just changed out the coil spring/shock assembly of the truck and lifted it 3 inches but without changing any of the actual suspension geometry this truck is no better than any aftermarket lift for any regular 1500 chevy truck. The "lift" only allows for the larger tires which are what give it the increased ground clearance, but a 3" lift does not at all mean 3" of more travel. Yes the fox racing shock will provide better valving and dampening off road, and can be tuned for the drivers liking (all fox shocks can be rebuilt with new (different) internals to change valving etc) but with the same stock control arms, being the same length, and mounted at the same points on the frame, this is just a glorified chevy 1500 truck with a hideous front end and the same amount of travel in the suspension.
So to prove my point, the Raptor may look like an F150, but where it all changes is in the suspension. The suspension is completely different from a raptor to an F150 and this is what makes the raptor a much more capable off roader than any of the other trucks described today. Taking a look online there aren't many differences in the frame of a Raptor compared to the frame of a F150, but there are a few. The rear suspension has different pick up points to allow for longer shocks (that will actually translate to more travel). The front suspension may have the same mounting location on the frame but the control arms themselves are much different than a regular f150. They are thicker to handle more abuse, and they are also longer to allow for more travel. The front CV axles are beefier and longer to handle the added abuse that the truck will see and all of this coupled with the completely different Fox Racing coilovers makes the raptor the truck that it is.
So long story short, There has been no vehicle released yet that could be considered a competitor to the Raptor with the exception of the Ram Runner which you can't so much buy as build. And until another company actually makes real changes to the suspension/frame/drivetrain of a pickup to distinguish it from the model it is based off of, there won't be a valid competitor.
Sorry for such a long winded first post, I know that most people here aren't even fans of trucks in general and see any truck like this as a "bro truck" and i'm not here to get into any arguments about that. Yes I do drive a chevy truck. Yes it is a diesel. Any modifications I have done to it are to improve the efficiency of the engine as well as prolong the life of the truck. No it is not lifted and no i do not have any chrome suspension components. While I am not always using my truck as a "truck" I do tow plenty of trailers of all different shapes and sizes and weights and haul dirt bikes and other things frequently with it, and seeing as it is the only vehicle I could afford at the time I chose it because I needed a vehicle that would allow me to do all of these things.
I have recently graduated as a mechanical engineer from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and now work as a Mechanical/Manufacturing/Process/Quality Engineer for a small research and development company that is designing and testing and manufacturing two stroke opposing piston diesel engines for a wide application of uses. So while I don't know everything I am pretty knowledgeable with regards to a lot of the engineering behind vehicles (have taken multiple suspension geometry design classes as well as internal combustion engine design and turbo machinery classes).