2017 Ford F-150 Raptor Review - There's Something About a Pickup, Man
2017 Ford F-150 Raptor
I groaned when I saw the Ford Raptor on my press car schedule.
That’s because trucks and the part of Chicago I live in don’t mix well, necessarily. Parking is a hassle, streets are crowded, and miles-per-gallon figures are comically abysmal in city traffic.
In the Raptor’s case, I worried I wouldn’t be able to use it the way Ford intended: Off-road.
That said, I do get the appeal of trucks. Whether it’s the image of toughness or the utility on offer, I understand why so many people snap up pickups from dealer lots, especially when gas prices drop, even if most truck owners never use them for their intended purpose.
And after I put it through its paces (and then some), I get the appeal of the Raptor.
It probably helps that my Raptor test truck came in SuperCab guise. A five-and-a-half foot bed and half-doors on the rear obviously shorten the truck, making it easier to maneuver in urban environs – I squeezed it into a tight parking spot while running errands, and did so without much in the way of any Austin Powers-like efforts.
Ford offers one engine in the Raptor – a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 that makes 450 horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque. Big numbers, to be sure, but some of the acceleration promised by such numbers is hampered by the vehicle’s 5,525-pound curb weight. The 10-speed automatic does its job quietly, while the engine snarls like a V8 when the throttle is pressed.
On-road, the truck rides and handles like, well, a truck, but despite all the off-road goodies, it doesn’t ride or handle any worse than other full-size pickups with four-wheel drive. A long freeway jaunt showed the Raptor to be stiff at times but mostly pleasant.
Those off-road goodies include off-road shocks, off-road tires, increased suspension travel and ride height, and a model-exclusive high-strength steel box frame. The shock canisters are 3 inches in diameter, up from 2.5 inches before, and wheel travel is up 0.8 inches up front and 1.9 inches in the rear (taking it to 13 inches up front and 13.9 inches out back). There are, of course, skid plates.
You can read about my backwoods misadventures here, but a quick recap: I got stuck in muck but good, and it happened multiple times. Despite that, I came away impressed with the truck’s off-road capabilities. Once I figured out what I was doing, it made for a good companion on the trails, and I drove it home none the worse for wear – it took a bit of a beating and shrugged it off. Still, I can’t help but think this truck is best suited to blasting over sand dunes and catching air. Sand dunes, however, are in short supply in my part of these United States.
The inside is appointed well enough and plenty roomy. Big is the theme – there are big knobs for the radio, for the climate controls, for the four-wheel drive selector, for the towing adjuster. There’s also plentiful storage space thanks to a deep console and a large storage area in front of the shifter. There’s no shortage of cupholders, either.
The gauges are big, too, and easy to read. An info screen located in between them is useful. Moving over to the infotainment screen, you’ve got Ford’s Sync system, which many of us love to hate but has been much improved over the years, and Apple CarPlay is available.
If you like to festoon your truck with accessories such as light bars, there are six auxiliary switches mounted on the headliner. They didn’t appear to be wired to anything, but flicking them made me feel like a cop preparing to pounce on a speeder.
To the surprise of no one, the Raptor’s exterior styling is aggressive, with an in-your-face grille. The raised ride height does nothing to curb the aggression. You aren’t going anywhere in subtlety here.
As with most trucks, the biggest flaw here is fuel economy. Ford lists the Raptor at 16 mpg combined (15 city/18 highway), and while I didn’t measure it, I don’t think I ever saw more than 14.5 mpg on the gauge cluster display. That came after a long, gentle freeway drive. To be fair, after dropping the vehicle off with a full tank, it still showed a range of nearly 400 miles – so, even with the low mpgs, you get a decent cruising range from the 23-gallon gas tank.
I admit it – I was prepared to be annoyed by the Raptor. Not hate it, exactly, but just to spend a week using it only for grocery getting, which would mean I’d be disappointed to not use it for what it’s built for. But not only did it impress me off-road, which I more or less expected, it also proved exceptionally easy to daily-drive on-road, assuming you can live with the relatively high degree of gas guzzling.
Even the price doesn’t make me blanch. This test vehicle had a base price of $48,325, and with options and fees came to $57,448. Those options include Sync, Sync Connect, a power-sliding rear window, trailer assist, navigation, spray-in bedliner, tailgate step (extremely useful and worth the $375), auto start/stop, and a 4.10 front axle with Torsen differential. I’d probably skip the two graphics options this tester came with, which would save almost $2,000 and allow the truck to better blend into traffic.
Other standard or available features included satellite radio, power-adjustable pedals, and USB.
My test vehicle didn’t have the high-zoot options package, which includes blind-spot monitoring, keyless starting, and inflatable seatbelts. So, checking all the boxes could put you over the $60,000 mark.
Yes, nearly $60K (or over, as the case may be) for a truck sounds like a lot, but when you realize you can get a Raptor for about the same money that a luxury-loaded “cowboy Cadillac” F-150 or Sierra Denali would set you back, it becomes much more appealing.
Maybe it’s the result of a weird man/machine bond that forms after even the smallest of adventures, and maybe I wouldn’t feel so warmly about the Raptor had I only driven it on pavement, but I won’t groan the next time I see one on my vehicle list.
Joe Diffie makes perfect sense now.
[Images © 2017 Tim Healey/The Truth About Cars]
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