2017 Ford Raptor; 510 pound gorilla in a 3 piece suit.

2017 Raptor in sand

Don’t make the mistake of assuming the new 2017 Ford Raptor is just another F150 with an accessories package added. This off road beast is a different breed of F series from the frame up.

With the Raptor Ford continues to take the bold move of aluminum bodies and small V6 power. The aluminum body first appeared in the 2015 F150 and despite a ton of bricks being dropped in the bed repeatedly on TV, consumer confidence has proven to be high for the new body technology. The same holds true of the tiny 3.5 liter engine that Ford keeps refining each year. Horsepower and torque have increased throughout the F series lineup, but Ford really kicked it up in the Raptor.

The newly renovated V6 produces 450 horsepower and 510 pound feet of torque. Increased turbo boost, better air flow in and out of the engine, lighter valve train and beefed up crank and pistons combined with both port and direct fuel injection improve the performance of the proven 3.5 EcoBoost beyond that of V8’s almost twice its size.

The new 10 speed transmission keeps the powerplant in peak power, busily shifting between dramatic low and 3 overdrive gears. Power is transmitted through the new torque control transfer case to the 4.10 ratio differentials as needed for the terrain. Even on flat level ground the automatic system will act as an all wheel drive powering each corner for positive traction and acceleration. Off the pavement you can select the manual 4 wheel drive or 4 wheel low range, combined with the Torsen front axle you’re ready for any challenge.

Ford reinvested the aluminum weight savings into a stronger frame. Boxed and reinforced even more than the upgraded F150 frame, it is also 6 inches wider to improve the Raptor’s off road stability. The double wishbone front and rigid rear suspensions are hung with Fox Racing 3 inch shocks to control the 12 inch travel. In order to make on road driving bearable the Fox Shox are less aggressive in mid stroke than at either end of the travel. 

Even the tires are new for the Raptor. The 315/70R17 BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO2s are surprisingly quiet for the aggressive tread pattern that can pull through sand, climb rocks and still give great stability at freeway speeds.

Off roaders are resistant to high technology, just look at the ever popular Wrangler with its stick controlled transfer case, but Ford has wagered on this truck’s high tech to capture the hearts of serious adventurers. The Traction Management System has 6 modes and each has a pronounced effect of the way the Raptor drives. Normal,  Sport, Weather, Mud/Sand, Baja, and Rock Crawl modes are selected with the twist of a dial on the dash. Normal is as close as this beast will get to the average F150 in driving character. It performs well, gets decent economy and rides just a bit harsher than the XL models. Flick the knob to Sport and all sorts of things start to happen. The transmission shifts are later, the steering tightens up, the traction control is less intrusive and the acceleration improves significantly. Each mode from there changes the truck for specific uses. Mud mode softens the throttle response to keep from digging holes, Baja limits traction and ABS controls to allow some tire slide and Rock Crawl does just that, climb obstacles you wouldn’t think it could using the low range and 10 speed transmission to keep the engine at about 2500 rpm, in the ultimate torque output.

The beauty of the Raptor is that it is all automatic. One control and all is set to give you the best of the Raptor for that situation.

I do not recommend buying a Raptor just because you want a cool pickup as a daily driver. But, if you want to play off the asphalt, and need something to commute to work you can get a pretty good 2 for 1 with the 2017 Ford Raptor. Inside the spacious Crew Cab you will find all of the good stuff from Ford.

Entertainment is handled with the Sync 3 system that provides great hands free technology, satellite radio, Bluetooth connectivity, navigation and smart phone linked apps. The Raptor branded, heated, 10 way power seats give firm support with good side bolsters and lumbar adjustments. The steering wheel holds all the most needed controls for radio, phone, cruise and driver’s information. The Sony stereo produces almost concert quality sound in the well sound proofed interior.

High tech options include active cruise control with collision avoidance, keyless start, Ford’s exclusive Pro Trailer assist,  blind spot monitors, rear camera with cross traffic alert, parking assist and the best 360 degree birds eye view system I have used. The last item is a fender saver as you learn that this truck really is 6 inches wider than any other F150 you may have driven. There are factory installed upfitter switches in the overhead console making installation of additional lights or accessories easy and safer.

The driver’s information center is a masterpiece of digital data. There are 6 pages if specific vehicle information from fuel economy or digital speedometer to a power distribution graphic showing what each wheel is doing. There are special pages for trailer towing and off road data.

The Crew Cab affords lots of interior room with storage spaces and cup holders for everyone and leg room for 5 adults. There is even a LATCH system so you can take your car seat age kids off roading with you.

wide track of Raptor

                           Wider than F150

The exterior is pure Raptor. The wider frame is accented with dramatic flared fenders, the black grille is missing the Ford oval but sports a bold molded Ford brand inset with 3 of the 5 required clearance lights for vehicles over 80 inches wide and the front view camera for the 360 birds eye system. The hood is inset with non-functional black louvers. The front bumper wraps around at each end for that little bit of extra clearance on the rocks. Skid plates are visible, and hugely necessary under the front end.

The doors incorporate a touch lock system that allows you to keep the keys in your pocket and when touched turn on the exterior lighting for a circle of illumination around the Raptor. The slotted running boards provide a much needed step onto the Ford Performance branded sill plates.

The 2017 Ford Raptor is a fun truck to drive with a great blend of high tech and brute strength contained in what is a just short of luxurious cabin. Is it worth the money? Our test truck stickered for $66,000. That’s a lot of bucks. In my opinion there are only 2 reason to drop the cash for a Raptor; you have a serious off road habit that takes you to challenging adventures around the country, or you have an ego as big as the bold Ford grille.

Learn more about Ford F150 and the Raptor here, Ford.com


Reviewed live on air May 6, 2017, listen here