raptorreview

For most builders, the ultimate off-road vehicle is a labor of love, long weekends, and plenty of parts. The top trucks are built in a shop, not on an assembly line. Ford broke the mold when they released the Raptor in 2009.

Once again, Ford has pushed the edge of production off-road rigs with the release of the second-generation Raptor. With the beating the first-generation trucks took, Ford went back and completely redesigned the 2017 Raptor to fit the idea of what the consumer wanted.

We were lucky enough to have a 2017 Raptor for a full week and used it as our daily driver in addition to taking the truck to King of the Hammers in Johnson Valley, California to see what it could really do. Let’s dive in and take a closer look at one of the most aggressive production trucks we have tested yet.

The Truck

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The 2017 Raptor 4×4 Supercab that we received for the week was coated in Shadow Black and was loaded down with plenty of accessories. Obviously, the truck came with Ford’s Raptor series (equipment group 802A).

The group included the power-sliding rear window, 4.10:1 front axle with Torsen diff, 360-degree camera, trailer tow monitoring, electronic auto temp control, sync connect, integrated trailer brake connector, LED box lighting, LED side-mirror spotlights, pro trailer backup assist, remote start system, Sony single CD with HD radio, voice-activated navigation, a 23-gallon fuel tank, LT315/70R17 BF Goodrich All-Terrain KO2 tires, 4.10:1 electronic locking rear axle, auto start/stop, four-wheel disc brakes, electronic 4×4 shift-on-the-fly, a fail-safe cooling system, reverse sensing system, and skid plates.

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The suspension on the Raptor is something these trucks are known for. The new model features three-inch shocks in all four corners.

In addition do the Raptor series package, which runs $9,345, the truck also had the tailgate step at $375, 17-inch forged aluminum wheels at $1,165, heated steering wheel at $155, Raptor technology package at $1,950, and Ford’s spray-in bedliner at $495.

The Raptor’s claim to fame has been its suspension. Once again the truck carries Fox shocks, which are now three-inch shocks all the way around. The truck is also wider than the regular F-150. We measured the front and rear track width from the edge of the tire tread, and found the front width was 84 inches and the rear was 83.5 inches.

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We could not keep a smile off our face sitting in and walking around the Raptor. Altogether the truck had a sticker price of $63,005. Was it worth it? We dug deeper to find out if the truck was worth the high price tag.

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The outside of the Raptor had a very mean and aggressive look. Some of the stylings from the first-gen Raptor made their way to this model. The hood louvers moved in from the side of the hood and merged into one large center one.

The truck also featured a unique front bumper exclusive to the Raptor, a dual exhaust system, capless fuel filler, cast aluminum running boards, tow hooks, and wheel lip moldings. Something unique that we have also seen on the new Super Duties is a button released tailgate.

The 2017 Raptor had plenty of features on the exterior of the truck, from spotlights on the side mirrors to the running boards.

One thing we were surprised did not make it to the exterior of the truck was an 110-volt plug. We have seen other trucks utilize this feature and it’s one that we have come to like. Other than that, the exterior of the truck is just the coating on the beast underneath.

Interior

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The first thing that we noticed when we hopped into the Raptor were…buttons. There are buttons for everything inside the cab of the truck. The cockpit feel is amplified with a number of controls within arm’s reach.

Many vehicles nowadays seem to be putting the readouts for the toggle menu on in the gauge cluster. Not only did Ford put those controls in the Raptor’s gauge, they also made a button for more common buttons. Lane departure assists, four-wheel-drive, hill descent, traction control, and the cameras are all centrally located in the truck.

Buttons, buttons everywhere! There was no shortage of things to push inside the cab of the Raptor.

The rear passengers were also not forgotten about. They have air conditioning vents, a 110-volt plug, and a 12-volt plug. In addition, the interior of the truck features one-touch up and down driver and passenger windows, a 60/40 fold-up rear bench, compass, Raptor-unique center stack, upfitter switches, and leather-wrapped steering wheel with red accent center.

The seats were both heated and cooled, which came in handy on our adventures. The interior was very comfortable and we did not feel like we were piloting a large vehicle behind the wheel.

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To aid comfort, the driver is able to select from three different steering wheel feels – normal, sport, and comfort. We felt little difference in the normal and comfort mode, but did feel a stiffer response in sport mode.

Powertrain

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The motor and transmission on the 2017 Raptor are both new to the truck. Out goes the V8 that we were used to in the first-gen and in comes Ford’s 3.5-liter high-output twin-turbo EcoBoost V6. The transmission is a GM and Ford co-op 10-speed automatic with paddle shifters.

Driving the truck both on and off-road, there was always enough power to pass on the freeway or get out of the soft stuff in the desert. The amount of power that the truck made was never an issue, it was something else.

Ford's new powerplant may have seemed like a great idea, but we felt that the truck lacked the aggressive sound we were used to.

As cool as the truck looked, the sound was one area that we were disappointed with. The truck lacked the sound that we were used to with a large V8. As aggressive as the truck looked, it just did not have the sound we were hoping for.

We were able to get the Raptor on the dyno to see what the power numbers really were. Ford claims the truck makes 450 horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque, but we found otherwise. On our Dynojet dynamometer, we saw 347.0 horsepower and 410.4 lb-ft of torque. We also noticed that between dyno runs, the truck would undergo some pretty bad heat soak.

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We had the chance to place the 2017 Raptor on our dyno to see how much power it could really make.

Ford has the speed restriction set at 100 miles per hour and because of this, it does result in not being able to do a full pull. The truck would need some calibration tweaks to be able to make a full pull.

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This dyno chart shows the comparison between the 2017 Raptor (green) and a first-generation Raptor (red).

One thing we did do was compare the 2017 Raptor to the previous generation we had on the same dyno. The first-gen Raptor put down 313.4 horsepower and 347 lb-ft of torque. In this respect, the new and improved Raptor did have the edge.

On-Road Driving Impressions

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You might think that a purpose-built vehicle made for one type of driving might handle different out of its element. This was not the case for the 2017 Raptor. The truck was just as much of a blast to drive on the road.

The ride was very enjoyable on the pavement. The truck handled the winding roads just as well as the open highway. The truck was not only fun to drive on the street, but it was comfortable. The seats hug you just enough through the turns.

To our surprise, the truck handled the corners on the road better than we thought it would.

Driving the truck in the rain, we did notice that it was very easy to get the truck to break loose. This may seem fun to some, but for others, it may get them to change their underwear. In some cases, we did have to put the truck in weather mode. This mode engaged all-time four-wheel-drive and gave us more control on the road.

We were no stranger to getting things sideways, but felt we had more control with all four tires gripping the pavement. Ford claimed that the first three terrain modes, which included normal, sport, and weather, were all meant for on-road driving.

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Sport mode sharpened up the throttle and steering for “spirited on-road driving,” according to Ford. In sport mode, the RPMs would hold out longer and allow us to get out of a corner a lot quicker.

The cab noise while driving on the asphalt was a little louder than we would have liked, but it was nice to be able to hear the truck when we were laying into the gas. Overall, we were impressed with the on-road performance of the Raptor.

Off-Road Driving Impressions

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From the moment the truck pulled into the office parking lot, getting into the dirt could not have come soon enough. When we get a truck that has everything you need for the dirt, it just has to be taken to the trail.

We were lucky enough to have something big planned for the truck’s time in the dirt. King of the Hammers (KOH) is a race that some hail as the toughest race in America. For us, it was going to be a proving ground for the truck.

No matter the situation, the Raptor left us with a sense of comfort while we drove around Johnson Valley, California.

Yes, we would not be taking the truck on the actual race course, but we would be using it to hop around the obstacles and Hammertown. We got a wide range of looks while driving the truck around KOH, but most were giving us a thumbs-up.

Johnson Valley is one area of Southern California that has all sorts of different types of terrain; rocks, soft sand, and washboards, they can all be found here. With this, we were able to test out the other three terrain modes: Mud/sand, Rock Crawl, and Baja.

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Each mode adjusted the transmission shift map according as well as the four-wheel-drive. Rock Crawl was one mode that you had to be in four-low to be able to operate. Out of all the modes, Baja mode was the one we found ourselves in most of the time.

Baja mode is all about high-speed, off-road racing, placing the Raptor in four-high and AdvanceTrac in its least intrusive settings. Baja mode also alters the throttle map for a more linear power band from the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6. Quicker shifting and an improved throttle response helped hold the Raptor in lower gears longer, keeping it in the powerband sweet spot.

We took the truck up to Idyllwild, California to test it on some different trails. The rain did not seem to bother the beast, as it felt at home in the dirt.

While in Baja mode, we were able to get through the soft sandy wash between Hammertown and Chocolate Thunder, as well as the rocky terrain out by Backdoor. Mud/sand mode was fun to drive in, but did not enable as many features as Baja mode.

Driving the Raptor to some of the remote areas of the course, we never once felt that we had a truck that wasn’t up to the job. Being the only person in what seemed like a 20-mile radius, it was great knowing that our truck could get us back to Hammertown in one piece.

The Raptor was fun to drive on the pavement, but it was a blast to drive in the dirt. No matter where we went, the truck felt at home, and all of the terrain modes worked flawlessly. The Raptor was in its element in the dirt.

Final Verdict

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Is this the holy grail of off-road rigs or just an over-glorified F-150? It is a little bit of both. When it comes to off-road capable production vehicles, there is hardly anything that can compare.

For others, the price tag is too high for a vehicle that will ultimately see more abuse than your mom’s Corolla. For the hands-on DIYers, buying a stripped out truck and building it from the ground up is the way to go.

Is it worth the price tag? With plenty of power and a suspension to take you almost anywhere, we think so.

There is no arguing that this truck can and will do everything that it says it will, and then some. It will get you off the beaten path on the weekend and still be ready to go to the office onMonday morning. Regardless of how you personally feel about the truck, it performs well in all areas and taking into consideration the abuse it can take, it is a thumbs-up in our books.

Do you think the Raptor is worth the sticker price? What are your thoughts? Tell us in the comments below!

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