FTE Review: 2017 Ford Raptor: One Seriously B.A.M.F. Off-Road

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Ford Raptor

Ford’s High-Flying Pickup Returns with Even More Tricks

The first-generation Ford Raptor hit the streets and shocked the world with good power, excellent looks, and high-flying performance. A factory-built pre-runner, the Raptor won many accolades as being a truck that you could buy one day, and run the Baja 1000 the next. How do you follow up something like that? Is it even possible to follow up something like that? Let’s get behind the wheel of the 2017 Ford Raptor and find out!

There’s an off-road park that I like to take review vehicles to. It’s in northern Indiana, towards Chicago, and has a challenging set of sand dunes along with some wooded trails. It’s also a place that makes it easy to provide a benchmark for comparing trucks.

I’ve taken many of the Raptor’s competitors there, including the line of Jeep products, the TRD Pro Tundra, and the Ram Rebel. The 2017 Ford Raptor is by far the best vehicle I’ve driven there. It’s not just a little bit better; it’s exponentially better.

raptor

A combination of BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 tires — labeled as Baja Champions — and the Fox Racing performance shocks make the Raptor virtually unstoppable on even the most difficult of trails. Combined with some Ford Performance engineering voodoo magic, and the Raptor makes any off-road obstacle seamless and uneventful.

If anything, the 2017 Ford Raptor makes going off-road too easy. What would once required skill and finesse, Raptor just conquered. At least you know that if the zombie apocalypse ever comes, finding a Raptor is one of the first things you should do.

 

The Fox Shocks are truly magical. The softer suspension makes the truck ride nicer on the road, by that’s just a byproduct of superior off-road performance.

 

It’s more than that, though. Unlike the Jeep Wrangler, which is great off-road but lacking in on-road manners, the Raptor is comfortable to drive on the highway. It’s practical, especially in the SuperCrew configuration that has one of the biggest cabins I’ve seen on a pickup truck of any size. Carrying 4 or 5 people is a breeze with Raptor, and comfortable for long-distance journeys.

Available luxury features also sets the Raptor ahead of the competition. While not cheap, our $68,700 review truck had everything you’d expect in a modern luxury car. Heated and cooled leather seats provide support while off-roading and still supple for long trips. Adaptive cruise control and lane keeping help reduce the stress of driving on those trips. A 360° camera helps park the massive truck.

Ford Raptor

The Fox Shocks are truly magical on this truck. The softer suspension makes the truck ride nicer on the road, by that’s just a byproduct of superior off-road performance. When the truck comes down from a bump — or jump depending on how much throttle you applied — the truck lands controlled and smooth. There’s no crashing against the bump stops.

There’s a section with serious undulations that any truck would bottom out and hit the skid plate on. Raptor? Nope.

Ford Raptor

The 802A-equipped Raptor also has a front 4.10 axle, making this truck just as easy to rock crawl as it is to Baja. The front camera pays dividends here, and is also included with that option package.

There’s very little that flummoxed the Raptor during my trip to the off-road park. If I had any criticisms, it’d be the size of the truck isn’t conducive for driving down some of the deep woods trails. The Raptor is wide, and that does limit where you can take it. Believe it or not, there are some trees that the Raptor isn’t able to mow over!

You’ll notice I haven’t mentioned the 3.5L EcoBoost engine at all. It was a point of contention when Ford first announced the truck, since the previous version went out with the 6.2L V8. Combined with the aluminum body and high-strength steel, fully-boxed frame, the new Raptor is 500 pounds lighter. Additionally, the 3.5L is more-powerful, with 450 horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque.

Ford Raptor

While it doesn’t sound like a V8, it does make some pretty good noises. The turbo wastegate sounds louder on this truck, and occasionally will burble and crack. I’m still not a big fan of the augmented sound from the stereo inside the truck, and it’s not a deal breaker at all. It’s a truck that makes you forget about some of the things you might not like because it’s such an awesome truck.

For those that care, the truck is rated at 15 mpg in the city, 18 mpg on the highway, or 16 mpg combined. During my week of testing, which included many highway miles but also a day at the off-road park, I averaged 15.4 mpg. I’ll admit, that’s better than the last Raptor I drove — I was in the 13s for mpg — but for a lot of cruising miles and a 10-speed automatic I’d like it to be a little bit better. Yes, I know that’s not why you buy this truck.

 

Overall, this is the best truck I’ve driven off-road. More impressive is how the Raptor is livable day-to-day. Since many of you won’t take a $70,000 pickup truck to a challenging off-road park, it’s important to know if it can do the grocery run. Yes, it will. And it’ll do it looking better than any other truck on the road.

Ford Raptor

If you were on the fence about wanting a Raptor, the point here is that yes, you do want a Raptor. If you were wondering if you should upgrade your old Raptor to the new one? Yes, you should.

This truck is better than any other off-roader on the market, and better than the truck it replaces. You want one.

Chime in with your thoughts on the forum. >>

Chad Kirchner is a regular contributor to Corvette Forum and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other auto sites.

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