A Raptor Story

A Victory & Reseda review of the 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor

When you look at it, one does not consider that fact that it is one of the most desirable vehicles on the planet.

It is a pickup truck. Pickup trucks only appeal to those who love them. You would never think that a pickup truck would appeal to lovers of supercars or sport compacts. Enthusiasts actually love this truck – and this is absolute fact.

But, why? Why would you love such a lifted pickup? Why this one that comes straight from the factory, massaged by its performance unit and is designed to do a lot more than any factory-built pickup truck can do?

Yet, upon sight of this rig – we become teenagers. We recall our Tonka toys from our playrooms. It strikes a visceral chord to our inner child.

This is the appeal of the 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor.

For the record, there is nothing wrong with being Benjamin Button around this truck. There is a purpose for building the Raptor.

The previous Raptor was a project that appealed to the recreational pickup truck customer. They took a typical F-150 and transformed it into a desert runner that would make park rangers cringe after seeing it whip through the sand dunes. The power was upped, as was the suspension set-up, creating the softest ride of any pickup in the business. Yet, the original Raptors returned embarrassing fuel economy figures while putting smiles on the faces of anyone who owned one.

The original Raptor was so successful, Ford decided that the new all-aluminum F-150 needed its own version.

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor

Having driven a few of this generation's F-150 pickups, I wondered how Ford could develop such a follow-up to the original Raptor? The formula was ripe for addressing certain improvements – a strong steel frame with an aluminum cab and box. Ford also stated that the new Raptor would have an Ecoboost V6. Some people did not like the idea that it needed turbochargers to accomplish the same kind of off-road performance than the monster V8 it had in the previous model.

I am here to tell you that the new second-generation Raptor is still bonkers with its burbling exhaust, unapologetic power and its ability to take any surface with ease.

There is more to it. The 2017 F-150 Raptor is offered with plenty of options. There is a choice of cabs – SuperCab or SuperCrew. Both cabs only get the 5-1/2 foot box behind it. While the SuperCrew has the same length as a typical crew cab pickup, even in Raptor guise, the SuperCab offers a completely different stance and experience. It is a shorter pickup in wheelbase and length – a unique 134.2-inch wheelbase.

Just so happens that my tester was the SuperCab version. This is where it gets real exciting. I mention the word “stance,” and it wears it well. This is a road-going trophy truck that refuses to be civilized. At least that is what it shows on the outside. The width is 86.3 inches, which requires the use of additional market lights on the vehicle. You will find them on top of the grille. There is a lot of unique pieces to the Raptor – the grille, trim pieces, graphics on the hood and box, bumpers, side steps, hood and side airflow louvers. Oh, and those monster 17-inch BFGoodrich all-terrain tires.

If you have to ask, you can haul 1,000 pounds in the box of a Raptor SuperCab and tow up to 6,000 pounds behind one.

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor

Inside the SuperCab is a durable, comfortable and well-designed cabin. The perforated leather wraps one of the most supportive and comfortable seats in the F-150 lineup. There is deep bolstering in the cushion and seatback, along with power adjustments for rake, recline, height and lumbar support. You also get some unique Raptor and Ford Performance trimmings inside of this great cabin.

The instrumentation is basic, but the information screen has a lot of screens to glean information from off-road angles to fuel economy. My tester had the standard instrumentation set-up, which has large dials and easy to read gauges. I also like the standard switches and buttons. If you read my reviews of the current F-150 from a couple of years ago, then you know how much I appreciate the advances Ford made in interior quality and ergonomics for their best selling product.

Our tester came with SYNC 3, which is mainly good. There were a few issues, but I would be nitpicking at this point. The sound is balanced and well done with its standard speakers. I can do Apple CarPlay, along with Pandora and SiriusXM playback. This system came with navigation, but make sure you choose between CarPlay and Apple maps and Ford's own navigation to get you where you need to be.

The big concern of Raptor fans was the choice of engine. The 6.2 liter V8 was a force of nature, but it was a foe of the environment. Ford knew it had equity in the EcoBoost brand, so it went into their engine vault, took out the second-generation 3.5 liter twin0-turbocharged V6 and let Ford Performance go to work on it. The result was the High Output version of the 3.5 liter twin-turbo V6. They raised the horsepower from 375 to 450. The torque numbers jumped from 470 pound-feet to 510. The result is an engine that is actually more powerful than the V8 on the last Raptor.

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor

To make it more efficient by coupling the new ten-speed automatic to the back of the new High Output EcoBoost. Ten speeds, you say? I think the last time I rode a ten-speed was in Boy Scouts with that Sears bicycle. Obviously, this ten-speed is much different. It is easier to shift…it is an automatic. Still, it is smoother with no obtrusive shifts and unwanted gear hopping. The result is a quieter Raptor at cruising speeds.

All four wheels receive power from a two-speed transfer case, which includes an 4A mode for worry-free power transfer to ensure grip and traction when needed. In all, the new Raptor is the hardest working performance vehicle ever created. This thing has no qualms sending power down in any situation, even when passing slower vehicles. That exhaust note is tantalizing – the sheer roar of this EcoBoost is pure music to one's ears. And, to think it has two turbochargers!

As EcoBoost is a brand that signifies more efficiency than performance, one huge advance was made from the previous Raptor – fuel economy. I came up with an average of 16.4MPG. This is much better than the last Raptor and actually a better average than three out of six full-sized pickups out on the market. Go Ford Performance!

The real magic of the Raptor are the FOX Racing Shox. These essential suspension pieces are 44% larger than on the previous Raptor and offer nine-stage bypass dampening. For the off-roader, that means a more balanced and smoother ride on rougher, uneven surfaces. On the road, it works as well as any great truck suspension system. The ride is smooth, balanced and very absorbent. Handling and cornering is surprisingly good., considering the shorter length and wheelbase. Though one should be cognizant of the overhand out front, even though it also represents an excellent angle of approach.

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor

Steering is done through a thick-rimmed, large diameter wheel. It had a huge lock-to-lock turn, but the system is actually great for the most subtle turns. The turning radius will surprise you that it is tighter than one would assume. The brakes are great with excellent stopping power and distance in normal and panic situations. Pedal feel is great, which is actually the same as the regular F-150. Though, you do feel the extra power in the Raptor's braking system when you stop.

The one remark I came up with during my time with the F-150 Raptor is the lack of terrain that would provide this trophy truck its best challenge. Gravel roads are fine, but they do not offer serious challenges to the suspension and drive system. On a photo shoot, I did find an elevation by a river bank with a craggy road and tough terrain. I guess that counts for anything. If I had more time, you'd bet I try to fit this 86.5-inch wide beast through some ATV trails…or not.

Without breaking down the pricing for the F-150 Raptor, this specific SuperCab version came with a sticker price of $57,448. I was told this is a bargain among Raptors. I was also told that almost every Raptor is spoken for in 2017. You might want to put something down for a 2018 model…

The thing about the Raptor is it takes a specific kind of customer to really want to buy – not lease – own and enjoy one. However, there is a responsibility in being a Raptor owner. You are not the caretaker of a pickup truck. You have the equivalent of one of the finest automobiles in the world as a trophy truck.

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor

However, the Ford F-150 Raptor is more accessible than the finest automobiles on the planet. Not everyone can drive a new Ford GT. Nor can everyone drive a Focus RS. Or, a Bugatti Chiron. Once you figured out its secrets – the off-road capability and the overall balance of performance/agility – then driving the Raptor will be rewarding. It might even make you feel young again.

DISCLAIMER: Vehicle provided by the Ford Motor Company

All Photos by Randy Stern

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