In the multi-billion dollar world of fiercely competitive automotive companies, no vehicle other than Ford’s F-series truck has been able to establish crushing dominance. It has been the best-selling truck in America for 40 consecutive years and best-selling vehicle in American for 35 years.
Now comes the rejuvenated 2017 F-150 Raptor, first introduced in 2010. It’s so well designed to handle rock, sand, mud, snow, ice, streams and ditches off-road, weekends become off-beat adventures in woods, fields, pastures and on hills, mountains and dirt trails.
This is a vehicle built first for rarely traveled areas and secondly for pavement, top of seven F-150 series trucks. Our test-drive was the SuperCab (crew-cab) with a new V-6 Ecoboost engine meshing with a 10-speed automatic transmission and manual paddles. F-150’s include XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, Platinum and Limited.
Towing power was rated between three and four tons, ground clearance is 11.5 inches with power deployed running boards and the 6.5 foot long truck bed was urethane sprayed for extra toughness. Thanks to its aluminum body, the Raptor has lost nearly 500 pounds of weight, helping improve its gas mileage, along with a stop/start feature in normal drive mode. It has won off-road awards from journalists, engineers and automotive magazines. Hailed by many as a “beast,” extended off-road rumbles will confirm the sobriquet. The high praise, however, only becomes justified with the purchase of multiple options – we had five totaling $12,165 with the priciest an essential $9,345 equipment group.
Ford’s excellent Terrain Management system has six driving modes – Normal, Street, Mud and Sand, Baja and Rock Crawling and Weather with a sophisticated transfer case that alters engine power, transmission, traction control and brake systems according to terrain.
A red stripe at 12 o’clock on the hefty steering wheel helps orient wheel position during difficult off-roading.
Our other pluses included a Pro Trailer Backup Assist to help adjust trailer angle, Ford’s Sync3 infotainment system with a quickly responding 8-inch swipe-and-pinch touch dashboard screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto apps, and good voice recognition for navigation, phone, audio, etc. Ford’s MyKey system sets limits for teen drivers.
Top safety driver aids helped the Raptor get top crash safety ratings.
Raptor’s muscular presence showcases 17-inch wheels beneath flared fenders, sits more than 6.5 feet tall, boasts a massive grille and visible Fox Racing shock absorbers with variable damping rates.
LIKES: Handling, off-road prowess, comfortable cabin, six drive modes
DISLIKES: Multiple options needed for full performance
BOTTOM LINE: If you don’t want to rumble off-road, you’re missing the point
2017 FORD F-150 Raptor 4X4 SuperCab
Base price $49,520 ($61,685 as tested)
Vehicle weight 5,518 lbs.
Wheelbase 134.2 inches
Length 220 inches
Width 86.3 inches
Engine 3.5 liter, twin-turbo, V6
Horsepower 450 hp. at 5,000 rpm
Torque 510 ft.-lbs. at 3,500 rpm
Transmission 10-speed automatic w/ manual paddles
EPA Rating 15 mpg city/18 mpg hwy
Range 26-gallons, regular
Performance 0-60 in just over 6 seconds
Tom Crosby is a former journalist and communications director for AAA Carolinas. He has been reviewing cars since 1996, and has been active in traffic safety issues for more than 30 years.