Riding Right Seat in the Rowdy and Raucous 2017 Raptor
There is probably nobody on this earth more excited to drive the 2017 Ford Raptor than I am. While we’re expecting that drive to happen sometime soon, I recently had a chance to ride shotgun with a Ford Performance engineer deep in the heart of Texas to see what’s what.
At the 2016 Texas Auto Writers Association Texas Truck Rodeo, Ford brought along a 2017 Raptor for us to take a ride in. They had a giant empty field with some rolling hills that allowed the truck to get some air. I also had a chance to ride along the complicated “Level 3” off-road course that they had set up for journalists to drive vehicles from other manufacturers. While neither scenario isn’t pushing the truck to the limits, a lot of good information is available even from riding in the passenger seat.
It’s been awhile since I’ve last driven a Raptor, but the immediacy and range of torque is far superior to the outgoing truck. Obviously 510 lb-ft of torque is a big jump over the previous truck, but it seems like power is available across the entire rev range that wasn’t there before.
The driver had the truck in Baja mode, and demonstrated sliding with both the stability control in the Baja setting and in the full-off setting. While I do appreciate a full-off setting, I really was impressed with how sideways the driver could get the truck to slide before the stability control intervened in the Baja setting. You can definitely have some fun before the computers call a time-out.
The 10-speed transmission is hardly noticeable, which is a good thing. Shifts are smooth and at no point did I feel like it was gear-hunting. The driver was not using the paddles, relying on the computer to sort everything out. From the right side, the truck seemed to be in the right gear when it was necessary.
The calibration and features of the new Fox Racing shocks are impressive. They absorb the bumps without causing the truck to pitch back and forth like a boat. After a jump, the truck seems to just squat and grip instead of being bouncy.
The fully-boxed high-strength steel frame also helps here, allowing Ford to run a better suspension setup because they don’t have to worry about flex in the frame.
Of course, these impressions are all from the passenger seat. There is a lot of nuance that you can only feel when your hand is firmly gripped on the steering wheel and you’re the one controlling the throttle and brake inputs. But at no point did I feel nervous or scared in the truck. While the Ford Performance engineer probably knows that truck more than any other person on the planet, it really seemed like the Raptor and the driver worked well together, which is a good sign for future drivers.
The elephant in the room is, of course, the sound. At times it does make some noises that are appealing to my ears. There are other noises though that I’m not as excited about. It’s a turbocharged V6 and not V8. At the end of the day, the performance and capability of the truck, at least at first glance, seems to negate any concerns I have about sound.
We’ll know more when we get behind the wheel, but things are looking promising!
Let us know what you think in the comments below or over in our forums!