“2017 Ford F-150 Raptor SuperCrew 4×4”
The Off-Road Rock Star (literally) Gets Better
Nearly every vehicle manufacturer of both autos and trucks engage in the common practice of touting their latest wares by making bold and sometimes even outrageous claims about the vehicle’s performance capabilities. As far as trucks are concerned, each manufacturer portrays their vehicle as the toughest and most capable. In the final analysis, a truck’s worth exists in the eyes of the beholder – in this case, the motoring journalist that is about to evaluate it. So… when attending that first press launch for Ford’s F-150 SVT Raptor, many of us in attendance tended to take the initial presentation and marketing pitch as the usual traditional hype. The stated potential of that first 2010 F-150 Raptor seemed pretty unrealistic – particularly regarding its off-road prowess. The 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor is infinitely better.
Ford’s Special Vehicle Team (SVT), loosely translated as Ford’s Hot Rod and performance division took a giant step beyond simply telling the attending press how great the Raptor was – they set up scenarios to actually prove their claims.
The launch drive that followed the presentations, took off from San Diego, CA. traversing metro streets and freeways, heading out to the Anza Borrego Desert State Park (also in California) for challenging, not to mention mind-boggling tests. There were steep hill climbs, very steep hill descents, and rapid romps through the desert, including washes, gullies, sand, gravel and washboard surfaces. The latter exercises often reached speeds of up to and often exceeding 65 mph, which would not be recommended for any other production off-road vehicle, and for that matter would not even be possible without severe damage to the vehicle along with possible injury to vehicle occupants.
The 2010 SVT Raptor offered two engines for propulsion – a 308 horsepower 5.4-liter V8 was the base engine, with a 6.2-liter SOHC V8 optionally available that produced 411 horsepower along with 434 pound feet of torque. Both engines mated to an electronically controlled 6-speed automatic with a Tow Haul Mode. The Raptor rode on specially tuned suspension componentry that included shocks that were inspired by off-road racers and developed by Fox Racing Shox, featuring a triple internal bypass and overrider reservoirs. The truck’s track width was increased by 7-inches and suspension travel was a more than generous 1.2-inches up front and 12.1-inches in the rear. There was an electronic locking rear differential that could be engaged by the pull of a switch, and Hill Descent Control which operated between 2 and 20 miles per hour (and disengaged above 40 mph) making coming down steep hills a safe and easy process. An Off-Road Mode engaged a third throttle map and shift schedule for improved off-road performance, while a massive front skid plate aided in protecting the front underbody and engine.
That was then and now, the latest 2017 version of the Ford F-150 Raptor has been improved in every way. First off, the new truck features Ford’s new military grade aluminum alloy body. Power now comes from a 3.5-liter, DOHC, 24-valve High Output Gasoline turbocharged Direct Injection (GTDI)Ecoboost V-6 engine with auto stop/start that produces 450 horsepower at 5,000 rpm while developing 510 pound feet of torque in a range from 3,500-4,000 rpm. These figures supercede those of the old 6.2-liter V8 (411 hp and 434 lb.ft) Motive energy reaches the driving wheels via an electronically controlled 10-speed automatic transmission with a tow/haul mode and steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. The 4×4 system
The Raptor is available in two body configurations: a SuperCab or a SuperCrew, both of which come exclusively with a short cargo bed. The new Raptors roll on B.F. Goodrich All Terrain T/A KO2 Baja Champion LT 315/70 R17 113/106 tires with a special compound and tread design, suited to enhanced off-road performance. The tires are mounted on cast aluminum 5-“Y”-spoke wheels.
The Raptor now weighs 500 pounds less than its predecessor and stands 2-inches taller and enjoys a better ride quality thanks to the latest custom engineered Fox dampers that have been upsized to a 3-inch diameter. Further technology improvements include an innovative Terrain Management System ™ that changes between two-, four-wheel and AWD modes with a six-mode terrain-specific powertrain calibration including a Baja mode, based on the terrain mode selected for optimized performance in any driving condition. Other advancements in technology include three steering modes and large multifunction LED screens on the center stack and IP capable of providing vehicle status monitoring and exterior surround visibility.
Suspension Travel and Ride Height has been Increased– with 0.8-inches front and1.9-inch rear wheel of increased wheel travel compared to its predecessor, the 2017 F-150 Raptor benefits from 13-inch front and 13.9-inch rear suspension travel. (Note: F-150 Raptor provides an increase of 5.7-inches and 4.4-inches rear suspension travel vs. F-150 with FX4 package which has 7.3-inches and 9.5-inches of front/rear suspension travel respectively. The approach angle is 30-degrees, breakover angle 22-degrees, and departure angle 23-degrees.
The new luxuriously appointed Raptor shares its cab with the newly upgraded F-150 and Super Duty, but is all new from the A-pillar forward. Enhancements include a new hood and fender vents, special running boards, exposed mechanicals, and large dual exhaust pipes, restyled front and rear bumpers, signature LED grille lights, blacked out headlamps and exterior lighting, FORD lettering on the mesh grille and tailgate, a dropped beltline, and a new stamped aluminum skid plate up front. Active upper and lower grille shutters enhance aerodynamics; the running boards, tow hook covers, skid plates, vents, and under-body shielding have been upgraded as well.
Inside, the cockpit features bolstered seating for five accented by the Raptor logo, and the seats may be ordered in color-accented leather with carbon fiber trim accents. The contoured steering wheel is fitted with magnesium paddle shifters; auxiliary switches are mounted overhead within easy reach for aftermarket accessories. 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, and there are electronically height adjustable pedals.
My 2017 Ford F-150 4×4 Raptor SuperCrew was powered by the 3.5-liter V6 in 4×4 configuration. The exterior was sprayed in Avalanche – an off-white, grayish tone, while the interior was executed in Orange and Black with carbon fiber trim accents. The base price of my test truck was $51,310 while the final sticker price came to $67,911 after factoring in: the Rapid Spec Equipment Group; Twin Panel Moonroof; Interior Accent Package; Carbon Fiber Package; Tailgate Step, heated steering wheel; Raptor Technology Package; Second-row heated seats; Spray-in Bed liner and Destination and Delivery charges.
SUMMARY: The new Ford F-150 Raptor is a special truck – unique in its appearance, with a bolder and more rugged persona, and unique in its capabilities There are cast aluminum, slotted running boards, functional hood louvers, special cab and hood LED marker lights, a specific “Brick Wall” grille that is integrated as part of the hood, side extractor vents and unique alloy wheels.
Simply put, the Ford F-150 Raptor is a high performance off-road truck that performs equally well on road. It is visually an attention getter, especially when blasting off-road. The specially modified suspension componentry was well thought out, rigorously tested under fire and not surprisingly does what it was designed to do without hesitation.
The Raptor’s Pre-Runner DNA allows it to soak up bumps, dips and potholes with ease. It delivers superior off-road prowess without giving up any of the amenities found in any other well-equipped F-150 SuperCrew hauler. The all-new advanced four-wheel-drive torque-on-demand transfer case with Terrain Management System™ automatically manages power and torque distribution to the wheels that provide the best traction and that optimize driving performance.
The Raptor looks great and performs outstandingly with absolutely no peers in its class. It is definitely without a production equal in an off-road scenario. It is also exceptionally comfortable, even when flying along at 65 mph through the Anza Borrego Desert’s rough terrain. The Raptor also provides an incredibly satisfying ride quality on road for an unladen pickup. Often a truck will perform well on road, or perform well off-road, but almost never does it perform well in both applications. The Raptor is the exception to the rule without question – the Blue Oval team spoke the absolute truth and didn’t overstate a thing when making their claims regarding the unique truck’s potential. EPA Fuel Economy estimates are now 15 mpg city and 18 mpg highway.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor Supercrew 4×4
Base Price: $51,310.
Price as Tested: $67,911.
Engine Type and Size: 3.5-liter, DOHC, 24-valve High Output Gasoline turbocharged Direct Injection (GTDI)Ecoboost V-6 with auto stop/start.
Horsepower (bhp): 450 @ 5,000 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 510 @ 3,500-4,000 rpm
Transmission: Electronically controlled 10-speed automatic with tow
Drive Train: Longitudinally mounted front engine / Part-time 4 wheel drive with shift-on-the-fly.
Suspension: Front – Coil-on-shock, long-spindle double wishbone independent, aluminum lower control arm, forged steel upper arm.
Rear – Hotchkiss-type non-independent live, leaf springs and outboard shock absorbers.
Brakes: Vacuum RSC power-assisted four-wheel vented discs, ABS, curve control, Hill Descent Control, Hill Start Assist.
Tires: B.F. Goodrich All Terrain T/A KO2 Baja Champion LT
315/70 R17 113/106 tires with a special compound
and tread design, suited to enhanced off-road
performance. The tires are mounted on cast aluminum
5-“Y”-spoke wheels that are bead lockable.
Wheelbase: 145.0 inches
Length Overall: 231.5 inches
Width: 86.3 inches
Height: 78.5 inches
Curb Weight: 5,800 lbs.
Turning Circle: Not listed
Fuel Capacity: 36 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 15 mpg city / 18 mpg highway
Drag Coefficient: Not listed.
0 – 60 mph: 6.3 seconds
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles and unusual wheeled vehicles as well.