In the recent few years, Ford is kicking butt in the performance arena. If the new GT350, Focus RS, or Ford GT don’t do it for you, maybe the new F-150 Raptor will being that it’s the most aggressive and off-road capable truck to ever come out of the blue oval brand.
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Introduced as a redesigned model, the new Ford Raptor embodies the same aluminum body build qualities of all F-150 trucks, which is a good thing to shed unwanted weight and improve upon overall performance. In the performance arena, the new F-150 Raptor features a twin-turbo V6 engine, an extension of the EcoBoost family of forced induction engines from Ford. The 3.5-liter turbocharged V6 produces a healthy dose of 450 horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque sent through an all-new 10-speed automatic transmission built in a joint effort by Ford and General Motors. That power, if you’re taking note, is about 39 horsepower and 76 lb-ft of torque more than the old Raptor’s 6.2-liter V8. The only thing that’s missing is the sound quality of the old V8, which is now replaced by the turbocharged V6’s dull growling moan. Hitting 60 mph on the road from a stop takes about 5.3 seconds – that’s faster than a good number of luxury sports sedans and coupes. An amazing feat for a vehicle that tips the scale at just under 6,000 pounds, which is down a few hundred pounds from the last generation Raptor.
The new 10-speed automatic transmission working with the force-fed V6 seemingly mesh together surprisingly well. Management for 10 gears is no easy task as you would imagine, and there are some 8-speed units out there that can jumble gears just like a clown juggling one-too-many balls. I was mostly taken by the adaptability of the 10-speed automatic to land in the proper gear just about each time. The Raptor’s new 10-speed feels direct and smooth, sometimes. The steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles are more novelty than useful as you find yourself concentrating more on how many gears you have to go through over focusing on the road. There are times where the shifts came on rather hard and abrupt while other occasions it shifted nearly seamlessly – mostly when cruising on the road at highway speeds. Speaking of cruising on the road, the new Raptor performs a near magical act of providing a smooth ride on the road with a decent amount of forward grunt, enough so that the rear wheels break loose once the torque surges when the turbos spool and the peak torque is reached at 3,500 rpm. Additionally, the Raptor is quite the capable off-roader taking on challenging mud ruts with ease in my few “excursions” along muddy creek waters near my house.
The ample torque, at 510 ft-lbs, appears to carry slightly beyond 3,500 rpm with only a dash of turbo lag out of the hole below 3,000 rpm. Moreover, the 10-speed auto seems to manage to keep the engine in its sweet spots to prevent lag as much as possible while keeping fuel economy in mind. Though you shouldn’t expect to get any better than the dismal EPA-estimated 15 mpg city, 18 mpg highway, and 16 mpg combined. I thought by getting an even 20 mpg on the highway was an amazing accomplishment after glancing at the EPA numbers. I suppose, in this case, you must pay to play – literally at the gas pump. The new Raptor utilizes automatic grill shutters and a smoother effect of channeling air up front to aid in fuel efficiency, so there’s that. The stop-start system, even though it’s quick to react, is somewhat out of place for a vehicle with the stature of the Raptor and its robust powerplant. I’m not even sure there is any benefit to the start-stop other than to annoy you and your passengers when the air-conditioned air starts to get warm and stale.
Ford’s new aluminum theme appears to go the distance in the new F-150 in many trim levels and configurations. When it comes to the new Raptor, the benefits of a lightweight high strength aluminum body appear to come alive through the use of 3-inch in diameter Fox dampers (FOX Racing Shox), a suspension travel of 13 inches in the front and 13.9 inches in the rear, and knobby BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 tires wrapping 17-inch wheels. The tires do lack in their ability to grapple at smooth pavement and most road surfaces. However, they are necessary to bring out the best in the Raptor’s ability to conquer terrains that not many vehicles would venture into.
There are customized drive modes that, six in total, that are dedicated mostly for off-roading conditions except in Sport mode, which is reserved for getting the best of the Raptor’s road-going side with occasional harder transmission shifts, firmer steering wheel effort, and advanced throttle input. The multiple personalities of the new Raptor is what makes it so adaptable to your needs, whether it is to commute daily to your corner office job without breaking a sweat thanks to ventilated and heated seats up front, or to tackle the questionable surfaces of a washed-out creek at a record pace. It can even remotely open the dampened tailgate to load in “stuff” or tow up to 8,000 pounds. The Raptor is happy to oblige anything you can throw at a truck sans the heavy lifting designated for Ford’s Super Duty lineup and abilities to tow well over 10,000 pounds.
There’s a reason a new Ford F-150 sells just about every 36 seconds of the day, and such characteristics that keep it at the top of the versatile transportation food chain all translate well into the new Raptor. The inside of the new Ford Raptor retains much of what you would expect in an upper-trim-level and nicely-optioned F-150 SuperCab or CrewCab. With the sporty, powerful, and off-road conquering nature of the Raptor, the cabin gets somewhat of a special treatments with the following highlighted features: Red-center-striped leather-wrapped steering wheel, 8-way power driver’s bucket seat with unique seatbacks and bolsters, 60/40 flip-up split seatbacks on the rear beach seat, optional ventilated and heated front seats, driver’s seat memory, 10-way power driver’s seat option, perforated leather, dual-zone automatic climate control, SYNC 3 infotainment system with an 8-inch touch screen, 110-volt power inverters front and back, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, power-adjustable pedals, rain-sensing wipers, automatic highbeam LED headlights, and a 360-degree camera with a pro trailer backup assist system.
Ford has, once again, created something special in the new Raptor. They have taken an already great formula in a well-optioned and upper trim-level F-150 and not only made it off-road capable but injected many doses of versatility without compromise. The as-tested price of $61,685 is also a welcomed attribute to one of the most capable off-roading vehicles around, one that trumps all other manufacturer’s attempts at producing a rugged truck. The Raptor not only surpasses everything else out there to come fresh off of the assembly line, but it proves to take the previous generation and make it even better in just about every area. The new 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor starts at a price of $48,325 before any fees or destination charges.