The F-150’s cooking-grade 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 puts down 375 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque, and the departed 6.2-liter V-8 pushed out 411 hp and 434 lb-ft. But at 450 hp and 510 lb-ft, the Raptor boasts a healthy margin over both. It’s a big contrast from when the original SVT Raptor came to market in 2009—when buyers received a 310-hp Triton 5.4-liter V-8 with three valves per cylinder. That experiment lasted only a year. We expect this generation will have no such stage fright.
The new Raptor certainly causes a commotion. With a distinctive, deep bellow (credit the unique dual exhaust setup), the truck sounds fast—and it is. With the new combination all-/four-wheel-drive system dialed to 4A (automatic 4×4), the Terrain Management System set to Sport (the other modes are Normal, Weather, Mud/Sand, Baja, and Rock/Crawl), the stability control turned off, and the transmission left in drive, the Raptor efficiently put its power down without a lick of wheelspin on its way to 60 mph in a thundering 5.2 seconds. As you pin your right foot to the firewall, you feel the engagement of each gear shift on the way to clipping the quarter mile in 13.9 seconds at 97.3 mph. By breaking into the 13s, this truck stands head and shoulders above any bygone SVT Raptor—the fleetest of which nailed 60 in 6.5 seconds and completed the quarter mile in 15.1 seconds at 91.3 mph.
It’s a lot of power for a lot of truck, but the Raptor manages itself well in varied circumstances. In the Ocotillo Wells area in the Southern California desert, Ford drew out a 50-odd-mile course through narrow trails, deep ruts, sandy tracks, and wide-open washes. To settle the truck in this environment, and to calm down the rear end in particular, the tire pressures were knocked down from the on-road recommended 38 psi all around to 28 psi up front and 23 psi in the rear. The route served to highlight the suspension’s control and the grip of the 315/70R17 BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 tires. It also highlighted the Raptor’s thirstiness: The 26-gallon fuel tank’s gauge needle dropped from three-quarters full to just above one-quarter after one pass. The EPA fuel economy numbers may have upgraded to 15/18/16 mpg city/highway/combined from the 2014 SVT Raptor’s 12/16/13 but the new truck will still go down into the single digits if you’re on the gas enough.
The upshot is you can chase your buddy’s Trophy Truck during the Baja 1000 faster than before. The Raptor can top out at a bit over 100 mph if the terrain is packed solid enough and sending the right signals, but in the always-uncertain off-road environs, you spend most of your time assessing the truck’s feedback. Different earth surfaces elicit an array of driver responses. One moment you’re burying the accelerator to preserve momentum in soft sand. The next you’re hunting for the zone where the truck flies nice and level, where one more mile per hour merely leads to greater fidgeting with the steering wheel.
The Raptor makes for easy reading of the topography. The most violent high-frequency washboards feel like they’ll shake your kidneys loose, but the coil springs in the front corners and leaf springs in back, paired with Fox’s nine-stage bypass shock absorbers and BFG rubber, keep the suspension feeling limber. The nine stages refer to internal damping regions that respond according to how brutal the tires are being hit – five within the compression zone and four for rebound. Bonus: It’s a much more comfortable truck on-road than the one other 2017 F-150 (a Platinum 4×4) we’ve tested to date.
Four years ago, we praised the last SVT Raptor we tested for its steering precision. (For a trip down memory lane, change the YouTube channel to Head 2 Head episode 14, “Ford Raptor vs. Ram Runner!”) A trait that’s often the first to vanish when the words “truck,” “lift,” and “big tires” appear in the same sentence, the Raptor’s front-end accuracy was surprisingly apparent from the moment the steering wheel was turned. The excellent initial response on road imbues a sense of playfulness in the 86.3-inch-wide monster, but road holding is ultimately stunted by the KO2s, which only generate 0.71g lateral grip (matching the old Raptor). But it’s hard to fault the lack of stickiness in tires that are also tasked with slinging hectares of mud and snow. At least our figure-eight time improved, lowering the Raptor’s all-time best lap from 29.3 to 28.2 seconds.
Yes, the truck can still be launched into the air (within reason) with wheels in full droop, and it’ll land without drama and then continue to go about its business. We’ve been waiting four years to experience this again in a Raptor. There’s a heroic sensation to being flung vertically within the driver’s seat as a truck easily eats up the landscape. It makes you want to take the long road to wherever you are going.
|2017 Ford F-150 Raptor|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$62,335|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, 4WD, 5-pass, 2+2-door truck|
|ENGINE||3.5L/450-hp/510-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||5,661 lb (55/45%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||220.0 x 86.3 x 78.5 in|
|0-60 MPH||5.2 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||13.9 sec @ 97.3 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||140 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.71 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||28.2 sec @ 0.60 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||15/18/16 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||225/187 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||1.20 lb/mile|