F-150 Online Review: 2017 Ford Raptor

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2017 Ford Raptor

The Raptor Switched Engines and Went Aluminum for 2017. Was that a Good Thing?

If you haven’t noticed, there are a great number of different F-150s that you can buy today. There’s the base XL all the way up to a fully-loaded, Mercedes-like Limited. But there’s an offshoot truck you can buy. It’s one for the enthusiasts. It’s called Raptor, and it’s all-new for 2017.

The previous generation of the truck, if you remember, had a 6.2L V8 when it went out of production for the 2014 model year. But it’s back and packing EcoBoost power from a 450 horsepower twin-turbocharged V6 that also happens to make 510 lb-ft of torque.

2017 Ford Raptor

Enthusiasts cried foul when they heard that the V8 was going away in the trophy truck, but I’m here to tell you it doesn’t matter one bit. The 2017 Ford Raptor is better than the previous generation, and it’s the best truck I’ve ever went off-roading in.

The engine is partially what makes that possible. All of the torque lower in the rev range makes climbing up hills and rocks effortless. Pure horsepower makes it easy to jump sand dunes. The engine is a variation of the same one that’s in the Ford GT, and has been built to survive the toughest off-road abuse.

2017 Ford Raptor

Also to help with the off-road abuse is the next-generation Fox Racing shocks. These things are truly magical, allowing the truck to ride super-smooth on the highway but also able to absorb the bumps and undulations of an off-road course with ease.

The Fox suspension is always working to keep each wheel on the ground and make sure that each wheel has the most grip.

2017 Ford Raptor

Extra grip comes from the tires. The Bridgestone KO2 off-road tires are branded as “Baja Champion” and it shows. They stick everywhere, on every surface. Wet rocks? No problem! Sand? No problem!

The only place they can’t grip is when all four wheels are completely off the ground. But I believe that’s only because Bridgestone hasn’t invented air-brake technology yet!

2017 Ford Raptor

When I test an off-road vehicle I often take it to a nearby off-road park. I’ve been to this park with nearly every single one of the off-road vehicles I’ve reviewed, and use that park as a benchmark to see what is best.

The Raptor outperformed everything I’ve driven there, and I’d go as far as saying that the Raptor is a better off-roading vehicle than the Jeep Wrangler.

Extra grip comes from the tires. The Bridgestone KO2 off-road tires are branded as "Baja Champion" and it shows. They stick everywhere, on every surface. Wet rocks? No problem! Sand? No problem!

The only thing that really lets the Raptor down on the trails is the size. It’s wider than a normal F-150, which is already a big truck for some Jeep-centric trails. There simply are places we couldn’t go without risking permanent — and expensive — damage to our truck.

That’s where price ultimately comes into play. While the base Raptor is a pretty good deal a just a hair over $50,000, you can quickly add on options and luxury features to drive the cost of the truck up.

2017 Ford Raptor

This review truck had the 802A package, which adds a 360° camera — that you want — and the 4.10 front axle. It also adds leather and other niceties.

Our truck also had adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and assist, and so much more. It’s basically a Mercedes-Benz that can go 100 miles-per-hour literally anywhere on the planet.

2017 Ford Raptor

The truck used for our test drive carries a price of $68,700. Considering it’s in a class by itself, it’s the price you pay. I actually don’t think it’s a bad deal, especially if you find a dealership that isn’t charging ridiculous markup on the truck.

2017 Ford Raptor

All in all, this is the best off-road truck I’ve driven. Period. But what makes the Raptor truly special is how you can live with the beast day-to-day. It’s good at the commute to work. It’s good for the school pickup line. It’ll get groceries.

2017 Ford Raptor

It’ll also embarrass many modified vehicles at the off-road park. How many trucks from the factory can make that claim?

Not many.

Chad Kirchner is a longtime automotive journalist who covers Ford news and auto reviews for Ford Truck Enthusiasts and F-150 Online. He is also a regular contributor to Corvette Forum, among other auto sites. Kirchner is the Editor-in-Chief of Future Motoring and the host of its podcast.

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