Ford-Trucks Goes Off-Road and Climbs the Falls With Yokohama Tires
2017 Ford F-150 Raptor hangs with forum members to break in their new Yokohama Geolandar M/T G003 tires at the Hidden Falls Adventure Park.
A few days after we got the keys to the 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor SuperCrew in Austin, Texas, we drove out to the Red Sands area of El Paso. We owed it to the truck and its engineers to experience what it could do in its Sand and Baja modes. We paid in full by climbing dunes and blasting across the desert floor. We weren’t finished learning about it, though. We still needed to find out how the Raptor performs on dirt and rocks. Thankfully, the Yokohama “Climb the Falls” event in Marble Falls, Texas gave us the answers we were looking for.
It also gave our team a chance to meet some of you all, the passionate users and moderators of Internet Brands forums. Four of the people at the get-together had been awarded a new set of Yokohama Geolandar M/T G003 tires and showed up ready to break them in on the trails of the Hidden Falls Adventure Park. One of those lucky recipients goes by the screenname tareed94 on one of Ford-Trucks’ sister sites, F150Forum.com. His 2016 Ford F-150 Lariat FX4 was the only other Ford in the group; almost everyone else had a Jeep of some sort. It was up to our Raptor and the F-150 Lariat to show the Jeep folks what the Blue Oval could do.
According to Yokohama, the all-season G003 has a wide, flat profile for longer life and a variable-pitch tread design for a quieter ride on the highway. Thanks to its armored, multiple-ply sidewalls; steel belts; and full nylon cap, it can endure the rigors of off-road driving. The G003’s combination of mud/stone ejectors and a carefully calculated block-to-void ratio help it grip the road, even when it’s covered with rain.
ALSO SEE: What Forum Members Have to Say
Once everyone had shown up and all of us had aired down our tires for more grip and a smoother ride over the rocks, our guides from the Fort Hood Military Jeepers divided us into groups. The Wranglers took the most difficult trails as those of us in press vehicles (two of my colleagues had brought a shiny new Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara to get dirty) and full-size trucks went down less potentially destructive paths.
Our journey started with an ominous warning. The lead shepherd of sheet metal told me and the rest of the truck drivers in the pack that we were going to come to a point where we would “pucker.” We engaged the Terrain Management System’s Rock Crawl Mode and prepared to become a sweat-soaked bundle of nerves and white knuckles.
We can’t speak for tareed94, but we never really felt that uncomfortable tension our guide told us would come. We took the most challenging route through a bowl formation, fully aware the terrain below might roughly rub one of the Raptor’s skid plates. That didn’t happen. The only pained sound the Raptor made the entire day was when the bottom of its driver-side running board scraped against a rock during our descent. On the way up, the Raptor’s 11.5 inches of ground clearance was more than enough to help it avoid damage to its lowest-hanging hardware. The SuperCab’s back seat may have been a little too short on legroom for our liking, but its 134-inch wheelbase sure made us feel comfortable about going over the more chaotic-looking sections of the park. We winced at the sight of tareed94‘s SuperCrew clawing its way over the uneven land and worried its longer undercarriage would be ravaged by Mother Nature. Fortunately, she was only able to bend one of the Lariat’s side steps (which tareed94 was later able to knock back into shape).
During short breaks on the trail, if our travel partners didn’t mention how badass the Raptor looked, they marveled at its performance. Its nonchalant way of sailing up steep grades and articulating its way over and around obstacles without banging its extremities into something impressed them. We can’t say that we were surprised by the Raptor’s performance. We had a feeling it would be incredibly capable. What shocked us was how easily it did everything we needed it to do. Rock Crawl mode was just a couple of shifts and a few button pushes away. Pressing another button turned on the helpful front camera. Hill Descent Control was idiot-proof. We rarely thought twice about going up and over a chewed-up rocky ledge. Our vigilant and knowledgeable guides gave me most of my peace of mind; the Raptor gave me the rest of it.
tareed94 has been informing his fellow F150 Forum users about his new tires since he got them. After his experience at Hidden Falls, he wrote:
“We pushed these tires and trucks to the limit on these trails and both performed excellently. Minimal issues with slipping, no body damage, no wheel damage, no tire damage, and everything (powertrain, electronics, etc) is still intact as well. My skid plates may have some marks, but I haven’t looked yet.”
Then he took a closer look at his tires and added:
“So, the tires did suffer some carnage on the trail. In the sides of some tread blocks there are some chunks missing, I don’t see evidence of them hitting my fenders so I’m assuming it’s from rocks. They still perform perfect, having the dirt on the tires helps to see how they’re wearing and it’s perfectly even across the tread width.”
tareed94 had had his concerns about what the day at the park would do to his truck, but it seemed to leave him with a greater knowledge of his new tires and his vehicle. We can relate. Climbing the falls in the 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor alongside Internet Brands’ forum users and moderators taught us even more about the truck’s capabilities. Perhaps in a few months, we can drive one over some snow and complete our Raptor education.
Most photos provided by JK-Forum editor Manuel Carrillo III