2017 Ford F-150 Raptor: Dual Personality

By Sue Mead, February 11th, 2017

The all-new 2017 Ford Raptor runs even faster than the truck it replaces; the first-generation Raptor was a street-driving, desert-racer that ran away with sales success far beyond what even Ford expected. Now, the Raptor has been upgraded in nearly every significant way.

It starts with the new F-150's aluminum body but has been engineered with stronger versions of all the critical parts underneath because of the pickup's dual personality as both an around-town driver and a race truck. It gets more power, better fuel economy, and a collection of technology and engineering upgrades. The 2017 F-150 Raptor is available in two body styles with only a short bed. The SuperCab starts at $49,520 and the SuperCrew begins at $51,310.

Under the hood is a re-engineered version of Ford's 3.5-liter, twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6 that produces 450 horsepower and 510 lb.-ft. of torque (increases of 39 and 76, respectively), yet fuel economy goes up 23 percent to 15/18 mpg city/highway.

Mated to Ford's all-new 10-speed transmission, the updated setup has auto start/stop, and is mated to a new two-mode transfer case that brings AWD or 4WD, with gearing for 4x4 High and 4x4 Low. New is a six-mode Terrain Management System with a "Baja" mode for desert racing.

Our test ride took us from the urban-scape of San Diego to the Anza Borrego desert. We drove the SuperCrew on the pavement and we were impressed by the boosted power and new transmission, plus its improved ride comfort, ergonomics, and visibility.

Three electric power-assisted steering modes are new: Normal for everyday driving optimizes fuel economy, Sport for higher effort and more torque feedback, and Comfort for easier maneuvering. A lengthy list of changes makes the new model more agile.

During the slow-speed off-road portion of the drive, we tested the SuperCab's new Rock Crawl mode over a rock-strewn track punctuated by an extreme climb, where the new gear ratios and the engineering of this setting motivated it safely up and downhill. Upgrades that add proficiency in mud and rocks are its increased ride height; improved angles of approach, break-over and departure; and a new front differential that brings added grunt to help pull the massive truck up and over steep hills and obstacles.

We also drove on a high-speed course along tracks that included an assortment of off-road terrain. Desert racing is what made the previous-generation truck stand out from the crowd; the new model raises the bar. We tried out the new Baja mode and appreciated its on-tap power, straight-line braking, and aggressive new BFG tires that enhance traction.

A taller suspension gives it better handling on and off road, gave us considerably more wheel travel, and soaked up the bumps with ease. Smoother and faster, it's a more competent race truck, for those who want to use it in that manner. On the other hand, it's a race-inspired pickup that can be a daily driver and a luxury ride to the country club at night.

The new luxury-level pickup shares its cab with the newly upgraded F-150 and Super Duty, but is all new from the A-pillar forward. Highlights include a new hood and fender vents, running boards, exposed mechanicals, and true dual exhaust pipes, plus redesigned front and rear bumpers, signature LED grille lights, blacked out headlamps and exterior lighting, FORD lettering on the mesh grille as well as the tailgate, a dropped beltline, and a new stamped aluminum front skid plate. Upper and lower active grille shutters help improve aerodynamics; the running boards, tow hook covers, skid plates, vents, and under-body shielding are optimized for the same reason.

Inside, the race-inspired cockpit has bolstered seating for five accented with signature Raptor logos; the seats can be ordered in color-accented leather with carbon fiber trim accents. The contoured steering wheel is fitted with magnesium paddle shifters; aftermarket auxiliary switches are mounted overhead for easy reach. Technology features include Ford's Sync 3 connectivity system, large LED screens in the center stack and instrument cluster, and a 360-degree camera system with a split-view display.

Specifications

Base price $49,520 (as tested: $50,715)
Curb weight 5,518 lbs.
Displacement 3.5-liter
Engine type EcoBoost V-6 w/DI
Epa mileage rating 15 mpg city, 18 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 26 gal.
Horsepower (net) 450 at 5000 rpm
Overall length 220.0 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 510 at 3500 rpm
Transmission 10-speed automatic
Vehicle type 5-passenger 4WD pickup truck
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