Whether you’re into serious off-roading or simply desire the look, the new Ford Raptor has the chops to ensure you’ve got the baddest pickup truck around.
The V8 is no longer, the aluminum body has shaved off 500 pounds, the shocks are beefier, there’s more suspension travel and nearly 2” has been added to its ride height. This second generation 2017 Raptor and its 6” wider track is more imposing and ready to go even farther than before.
Having never driven the original, I can’t make subjective comparisons but what I can tell you is that after doing this gig for nearly 20 years I’ve never been behind the wheel of a truck as invincible as this.
Power Wagons, Rebels, TRD Pros; nope, I’ll take a Raptor when the going gets tough, thank you very much. I also favor its combination of size, styling and everyday usability.
We’ve taken this truck through the mud and deep water, over tire slicing rocks and washed out ruts and whenever it seems like it might be too much the Raptor just laughs and asks for more.
The key ingredient in any off-road truck is its suspension and the 2017 model uses upgraded FOX shocks for increased control with at least 13” of travel matched to high performance springs. They locate these second generation BF Goodrich K02 tires featuring a racing derived cut-, chip and tear resistant tread compound. Here they’re mounted on optional 17” bead-lock capable wheels meaning that when paired with the Ford Performance conversion kit, these tires can be deflated for maximum off-road traction while holding tight to the rims.
With a TORSEN-branded differential for greater grip at the front, helpful when driving up a steep grade, and an electronic locking axle to keep the wheels turning at the rear, the Raptor never bogs down or feels precarious.
Backed by the massive 510 pound-feet of torque from the high-output, twin-turbo V6, a new 10-speed transmission and a transfer case controlled through a 6-mode terrain management system – whatever it is you want to run over, go for it.
From Baja mode with its max performance, quick response settings to Rock Crawl with its 50: 1 low gearing ratio, just select an all-encompassing preset for total systems control or dial in some of the settings individually. The Raptor can operate in 2-wheel drive, all-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive with 4-high and 4-low settings. Steering effort is adjustable, as well.
Of course you expect the Raptor to be an off-road hero which it is but what’ll surprise you is how calm, quiet and luxury-like it is when you’re doing less exciting driving. The 10-speed Auto plays especially well with this engine producing seamlessly smooth shifts and power on-demand throttle response. And the stop/start feature adds silence in standstill traffic that belies this truck’s imposing looks. Like all off-road specialty vehicles with big knobby tires and squishy suspensions, the Raptor can feel a bit ponderous on regular roads immediately following an impact so it’s 2 hands in the wheel.
It’ll hit 60mph in just over 4 seconds with sound reminiscent of a V8 through the big dual exhaust. This thing is WIDE and really fills up the road yet it’s relatively easy to drive and park thanks to the 360 degree camera and power folding mirrors.
It is not a sport truck, however…there are other trucks if you’re looking for on-road handling prowess. But if you want to hit the trail at triple digit speeds look no further. This is the SuperCab configuration with just enough room for 2 adults in the rear but if you’re willing to trade a little off-road capability for 2 more door handles, a SuperCrew model is also available.
The 5 ½’ box is short but deep, replete with a power folding and locking tailgate, a useful tailgate step and LED lighting. And though I didn’t have opportunity to try it, I’ve seen this Pro Trailer Backup Assist feature demonstrated and it’s super smart, keeping the driver as a cool as a cucumber when backing up a trailer by simply following guidance on the screen and turning a dial. Towing is maxed at 6,000 pounds.
The SYNC 3 system is simple and allows for smartphone mirroring like Apple CarPlay. And the gauge cluster is jammed up with interesting info specific to off-roading and much, much more.
This tester, with the huge $9,000 802A package and Raptor Technology grouping is every bit the luxury rig to go along with the dirty stuff, packing in all of the modern amenities, safety features and conveniences. Starting at around $50,000, this one ends up at $63,890 as-tested. On regular gas, it’ll net 16mpg.
Purchase includes the Raptor Assault Program, a racing school course to help you learn about the truck’s many features.
Would I want one? Heck, yeah. It’s well-rounded enough to be more than just a specialty vehicle and I enjoy off-roading as much as I do track time in a sports car. The Raptor is pure awesomeness in both its toy-truck looks and ultimate trail performance.
Copyright 2017 South Florida Reporter