By on March 24, 2019

With the current Ford F-150 having been with us since 2015, the manufacturer has to start getting serious about its replacement. However, before the fourteenth generation of the F-Series arrives, Ford needs to make sure the public hasn’t tuned out on the current model. Automakers frequently release special edition models late in a product’s lifespan to do just that. While the F-150 doesn’t need much help, what with being America’s best-selling automobile for decades, it will get the same treatment.

However, unlike the bevy of appearance packages that are currently clogging up the industry, Ford is rumored to have something more meaningful planned for the full-sized pickup. Rather than simply updating the graphics or incorporating a new suspension setup, Ford apparently wants to wedge the 5.2-liter supercharged V8 from the Shelby GT500 into the Raptor — thereby giving it a proper sendoff.  (Read More…)

By on May 24, 2018

Ford’s F-150 Raptor is one of the meanest off-roaders you can purchase from the factory and, for the 2019 model year, the automaker’s doing its part to further improve its trail worthiness. Instead of going for visual upgrades that might tempt impulsive shoppers, Ford is sticking with hardware and technology.

The 2019 Raptor will receive upgraded shocks, Recaro sport seats, and a new Trail Control system that allows the pickup to cruise through seriously rugged terrain at low speeds — allowing the driver to focus on steering, instead of maintaining momentum and traction. According to the manufacturer, the system automatically adjusts power and braking to each individual wheel and is functional up to speeds of 20 mph. It also works for hill ascent and descent, even on craggy landscapes.  (Read More…)

By on November 1, 2017

silverado-performance

Halloween is over, but there’s at least one automotive costume worth mentioning — the 2018 Chevrolet Silverado Performance Concept. However, counter to most versions of dressing up, it’s what’s on the inside of this truck that matters.

Exterior design wasn’t forgotten — the Silverado is lower than a standard 1500 model and additional ducting helps cool what’s lurking beneath the hood. Air inlets add a bit of menace to the slate gray bodywork, too, which replaces any trim piece that could have been chromed. There is also a hint of red from behind the wheel spokes, denoting upgraded six-piston Brembo brakes. But it’s the 450 horsepower bestowed onto the truck via a new supercharger that makes all the difference.  (Read More…)

By on October 25, 2017

2017 Ford Raptor

I knew I was borked the minute the truck started down the incline.

Even a Ford Raptor is no match for fresh, gray mud that looks like wet cement. Illinois mud may not be Alabama mud, but it’s no joke. And I had just attempted to drive a Raptor through just that sort of mud, mud that was puddled at the bottom of sharply angled incline that had a distance of a few feet from top to bottom.

The thing is, when one is about to hit a mud hole, the best thing to do, usually, is to give it as much throttle as you can to maintain momentum (but not so much as to fling yourself into a tree). However, I came in a little too hot, bounced, and lost momentum when I reacted to the bounce by not digging into the throttle.

And that, friends, is how you stick one of the world’s most off-road-ready production vehicles in the mud. Also, it’s a good way to expose yourself to social media ridicule, as smartphone-wielding park guests, already happy to see a Raptor on the trail, surround you. Apparently, the woods aren’t free from 4G LTE.

(Read More…)

By on March 24, 2017

2017 Ford Raptor, Image: © 2017 Garrett Martin

In the coming years, we will begin driving riding around in the quiet electric embrace of autonomous convenience. We will look back on the 20-teens as a golden age when the last ounces of performance were wrung out of the internal combustion engine and automakers created cars for every conceivable market niche. New and presently unknown products will one day surprise and delight. But let’s stick with the present, which is a special time for auto enthusiasts.

Consider that the 5,600-pound 2017 Raptor is as fast to 60 miles per hour as the 2007 Mustang GT. Forced induction or not, the Raptor labors under a one-ton weight disadvantage, an unknown coefficient of drag penalty, and a 30-percent displacement deficiency versus the original pony car. A decade ago there was not a single stock vehicle available at any price capable of bounding through the desert at freeway speed that was also able to head back to civilization to pick up the kids from school.

Not convinced? In November, Ford raced a Raptor in the Baja 1000 Stock Full class. It got a roll cage, fuel cell, and a few other tweaks. Of almost 250 entries, the Raptor was among 142 rigs that finished the race. And after taking the checkered flag, it returned under its own power to Ford’s Arizona Proving Grounds 400 miles to the north.

The superlatives associated with Raptor are legion. What’s not to like?

(Read More…)

By on February 8, 2017

raptor1

A sharp-eyed reader caught this and sent it to me on Monday. There’s been a variety of speculation about the “2017.5 Raptor” ever since a few Raptors with camouflaged rear ends were spotted on public roads late last year — but this truck, as you’ll see, isn’t wearing any disguise.

(Read More…)

By on August 12, 2016

All-New 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor

“I do see people buying Chevy trucks all the time, but I call them victims, not customers. That’s different than what I’m trying to do.” Thus spake Scott Adams, known to most of us as the creator of the “Dilbert” comic strip. As someone who has made his living as a commercial UNIX sysadmin, I’m not much of a “Dilbert” reader, for approximately the same reason that Jodie Foster probably doesn’t read The International Journal Of Pinball Table Collectors. There’s only so much trauma that anybody should be forced to relive.

I do, however, read Mr. Adams’ blog, mostly because I’m fascinated by his particular approach to understanding the current Presidential election. In a pair of recent posts, he has taken a break from discussing the “Master Persuader” strategy to complain about the process of buying a new truck from a Chevrolet (or Ford) dealership. Mr. Adams describes himself as a “certified genius,” but as you will see below, the old dealership chestnut that “buyers are liars” applies to even those of us who find the WAIS-IV to be a trivial challenge.

(Read More…)

By on May 11, 2016

The all-new 10 speed automatic transmission is the first 10 speed automatic for a volume production car.  The performance 10 speed transmission transfers power and torque with quick shifts and maintains more engine power after each shift. Image: General Motors

It’s official: the new Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will have more gears than a typical IROC-Z owner has teeth.

General Motors revealed today the new aluminum-cased beauty, touting 10 forward gears and upshifts quicker than a dual-clutch automated-manual transmission, will make its non-truck debut in the Camaro ZL1.

Did Camaro tell Mustang to step outside for a fuel-economy contest? Maybe not.

(Read More…)

By on February 16, 2015

Raptor 6

I’m driving down a narrow dirt track somewhere in a South Texas at a hurried but not unreasonable pace. As I round a bend, the ground arches up into a tall “whoop” just a few meters in front of me. I can’t go around it, and hitting the brakes will only send me skidding into it at nearly the same speed.

Until now, I’ve mostly driven the Ford Super Duty, in F250 or F350 guise, while on patrol. They can be surprisingly capable out here in the desert, but they don’t like to be driven fast on rough terrain. Hitting one of these “Border Patrol speedbumps” at anything above a cautious crawl transforms the cabin into a world of violence as the industrial suspension crashes to the stops and your head crashes into the ceiling. I brace for the inevitable.

Moments later, I’m past it and all is well. My ass never left the seat cushion, and as far as I can tell, my tires never left the ground. Hell, even my water bottle is still resting serenely in the cupholder where I left it. There’s a reason for that. Today I’m not in a Super Duty. Today, I’m in a Raptor.

 

(Read More…)

By on May 30, 2012

For someone who prides himself on slaughtering the sacred cows of automotive journalism, such as the irrational infatuation with the CTS-V Wagon, it was about time that I got a taste of my own medicine. The Ford Mustang V6 ended up being the bitter pill that finally bitch slapped by bloated, post-adolescent head back down to normal proportions. But just as I had swallowed the last bit of humble pie, there came another vehicle that led me to question the received wisdom propagated by enthusiast publications.

(Read More…)

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