When I first heard I was approved to test the 2017 Ford Raptor I asked for a later date than what Ford offered. Why? Because I need time to think. To plan. To organize. To allow the hamster wheel in my head to work up a sweat…how and where I was going to test the Ford Raptor. San Antonio isn’t Moab. It’s not a place to properly test a performance off-roader and I only had 3 days in between my full-time gig to get the most out of this opportunity.
Two weeks prior to deliver I made plans to ask for one day off of work. It would allow me to go back home to the ranch to see how the Raptor handled itself on fast dirt roads. The very same roads I taught myself car control. Then I needed to find a beach. Not just any beach. One with small crowds and large dunes. A beach that could pose a challenge to the famed Raptor. North Padre Island National Park seemed like just the place. Now I needed a crew to join me. What fun is a Raptor on a beach if you’re alone? My brother and two best friends offered their weekend to help me with this adventure.
EXTERIOR: The 2017 Ford Raptor isn’t a truck in the traditional sense. Yes, it can carry cargo and tow, but that’s not what it was engineered to do. The Ford Raptor was designed to live, love, and breathe speed on any terrain. It’s an F-150 born with Baja ambition. An action figure you can drive, complete with kung-fu grip and an array of accessories included.
Redesigned for 2017, I prefer this new body style to previous models. It has bones in its face, chiseled cheeks and a steel jaw. The models before it always reminded me of the faceguard on a football helmet, round and wrapping itself around the frame. The Raptor stands tall and proud, ready to rock n roll. I also liked that the tailgate didn’t say ‘Raptor’ across it, as I never understood the need to give a truck a giant name tag. When it comes to trucks those that know, know and those that don’t probably don’t care.
INTERIOR: I spent 12 hours driving around in the Raptor. With three other people, as we drove to and from North Padre Island. The seats provided lumbar support and were very comfortable. The infotainment screen was easy to navigate. Voice command actually understood me, and I could do everything from the steering wheel.
I was surprised that this hardcore off-roader felt like a regular F-150 when driving on the highway or in the city. Even driving over speed humps and pot holes, the suspension absorbed it so my spine wouldn’t. For its size and width I never felt like I was in over my head trying to park it. It took minutes for me to get adjusted to the Raptor’s dimensions, thanks in part to its array of cameras letting you see where every inch of the Raptor is going. Once used to it the Ford Raptor can be as easy to maneuver around a city as a Ford Fusion.
SPECS AND PERFORMANCE: Ford really went all out when they created the Twin-Turbo 3.5 Liter EcoBoost V6 for the 2017 Ford Raptor. It sounds unlike any other V6 truck on the market. Not since the 1987 Buick Grand National GNX with its infamous intercooled 3.8 turbo engine has a V6 impressed so many diehard V8 fans. The Ford Raptor comes with 450 horsepower, 510 ft-lb. of torque, and a new 10-speed automatic transmission to organize all those ponies to their maximum potential. Not only does this engine make more power than the old 6.2 V8 (411 hp), it’s also the same engine used in the Ford GT. That means you can always get more out of this engine if you’re a fan of tuning.
Putting your foot down on a Raptor is a thrill. No matter the terrain, it buzzes and whooshes as the turbo kicks in and pulls the Raptor effortlessly. The EcoBoost rumbles at high RPM’s, enough to make you giggle. Most trucks of this size can be fast but they won’t take off like the Raptor. They’ll grunt and lift themselves making a great noise while feeling heavy.
The Raptor accelerates like a sprint runner. It felts light and nimble. Gives you a sense that any problem you face on the road can be solved by just moving your right foot. The one drawback is the limited top speed of 107 mph. But I understand the need for it.
The Raptor’s selling point, besides its power, is the Fox Racing suspension upgrades. Off-road you feel like a trophy truck driver. You feel the suspension working as it floats over everything. I had to retrain my brain into trusting the Raptor. I had to trust that it could handle more than the average truck. Turns I would usually slow down for were now 50 mph power slides! No body roll meant I could aim it where I wanted to go and trust that it wouldn’t sway and lose control. Even when I pushed it hard and fishtailed all I had to do was stay on the throttle and adjust the steering accordingly. No problem. It was adventure time in the 2017 Ford Raptor!
Ford gives you six different driving modes to choose from:
- Weather (Snow or heavy rain)
- Rock Climbing
Changes in how the Raptor feels in each mode is instant and noticeable. In normal mode, it feels like a regular F-150 with aftermarket parts under the hood. Switch to sport mode and the truck goes on alert. Its ears stand up. The hair on its back shoots up like a cat ready to fight. The whole truck feels amped up, ready to go. Wanting to go. Like a dog waiting for you to throw the ball. Let it go by burying your right foot and brace yourself. The 10-speed kicks down and the Raptor drags the miles and runs them down under its massive wheels.
Baja mode is where the Raptor goes off the chain. Best used for off-roading, Baja mode keeps the RPM’s high near the redline border and doesn’t change up or down until the last possible second. This maintains peak performance, and really powers through terrain like a trophy truck in the desert. However, I was never in a situation where I felt I needed Baja mode. I found Sports mode – with 4WD – more than suitable to tackle the dirt roads of Laredo. And fun. Anyone who decides to run a Raptor better be aware of their limitations as a driver, because the Raptor can give you a false sense of confidence. Its power and driver aids can make you feel like you’re doing something right when in fact it’s the truck that’s keeping you out of trouble. Don’t push it beyond the edge unless you’re prepared – and know how – to bring it back.
Everyone took notice while driving on the beach. I imagine they were thinking we were dumb to bring a brand new truck and fill it with sand. Or maybe they were admiring the Raptor since it was the only one we saw in the sea of Jeeps, Chevys, Rams, and Subarus.
My friend asked why I didn’t just get on the beach and floor it. I was going to say no but then thought, “Why not, I’m in a Raptor?” And went for it. Blasting past the convoy of Subarus on the left at over 50 mph. I wanted to go faster but I knew I had stuff in the bed that could go airborne.
Pricing for the 2017 Ford Raptor Supercab starts at $49K, and the Supercrew at $52K. The model used for this review was the Supercab with an MSRP of $61,685.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The sum up the Ford Raptor I need to ask if anyone remembers the comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes? It’s the cartoon featuring a young boy and his stuffed animal Tiger that his imagination brought to life. Every time I was in the Raptor or walked towards it, I felt like I was embarking on a journey. Me and the Raptor, my loyal companion that would use horsepower and ground clearance to keep me safe and smiling.
The one thing I did not enjoy was the 14 mpg I averaged during my week with the Raptor. It’s a truck that brings out the kid in you while never letting you forget that you’re in a grown-up performance off-roader. They waste the phrase “Adventure vehicle” on crossovers with selective AWD and roof racks. The 2017 Ford Raptor is a true adventure vehicle for people who think Jeeps are too slow. I will miss it.