Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: March 20, 2017
We recently had the opportunity to test the new Ford F-150 Raptor in snowy off-road conditions in Quebec, but we want to see how the Raptor behaves in a more civilized and conventional setting, say, running daily errands or navigating through a crowded parking lot. What’s it really like living with a colossal blue dinosaur on a day-to-day basis? Is the Raptor an unrealistic proposition for a casual city dweller, or is it just the right size? That’s what we want to find out.
For those not in the know-how, you can think of the Raptor as the Ford GT of the pick-up truck world. It was born in the desert with the Baja 1000, and is a performance off-road variant of the standard F-150. The Raptor is bigger than the F-150 too (six inches wider in fact for better stability), has more ground clearance, and thanks to a widespread use of high strength steel and aluminum, it’s 226 kg lighter than the outgoing Raptor (which also used to be called the SVT Raptor, but the three letter acronym has been axed in favour of the new Ford Performance banner). In fact, it’s nearly the same size as the F-250 Super Duty.
Under the hood is a high-output 3.5-litre twin-turbocharged V6 that replaces the vicious 6.2-litre naturally aspirated V8. While it loses nearly half of its displacement, this new EcoBoost engine delivers 450 hp and 510 lb-ft, and for those of you keeping track that’s a whopping 39 hp and 76 lb-ft more than the outgoing V8. No replacement for displacement? There sure is.
It’s an engine born from the standard F-150’s V6 but modified with piston-cooling oil jets, dual fuel injection, new cams, more boost, a larger radiator, and a dual exhaust that tries (but fails) to emulate the V8 howl this dinosaur was once known for. As a remedy, Ford says the new engine will be 23% better in fuel economy.
Also making the headlines is the Raptor’s new 10-speed automatic transmission that was co-developed with General Motors and replaces its aging 6-speed gearbox. This routes power to a new and improved all-wheel drive system with a Torque-On-Demand transfer case that can distribute power to the front and rear wheels. This gives the Raptor the ability to switch between two-, four-, or all-wheel drive. Four modes are available: 2H, 4A, 4H, and 4L.
The Raptor has also been beefed up with 44% larger gas-pressured FOX Racing Shox dampers with more suspension travel so it doesn’t bottom out as easily. They are also cleverly tuned to stiffen up once the shocks reach the extremities of full extension or compression, allowing it to have both road manners and off-road prowess.
The Raptor may not seem like the most nimble vehicle to take around small city roads but its sheer road presence shouldn’t go unnoticed. I can’t help but rubberneck each time I see one on the road. Talk about a billboard-size grill too – it may just well be the meanest looking truck around.
Ford took an F-150 and flared up everything – the wheel arches, bumpers, fenders, and skid plates have all been revised to assist ground clearance and to increase approach and departure angles – this is a desert racer after all. The outgoing Raptor’s side-exit exhausts have been relocated to a more traditional position in the rear, and they didn’t forget about the big “FORD” lettering on the bow and stern either.
Pull up next to a Raptor in a low-slung coupe and you’d even be able to see its blue-painted shocks flanking the enormous forged aluminum bead-lock wheels. The splashy decals and hood graphics have also made a comeback, but at a hefty price of $1,350 and $1,150, respectively.
But enough with the introductions – what’s the Raptor like to drive?
Let’s just say it will take some adjustment if you’re going from a MINI to a Raptor. The size is intimidating but outward visibility is wonderful – you have a perfect 180-degree view of your surroundings, and the extensive side mirrors combined with blind spot monitoring add to your visual awareness. Sitting higher than most standard pickups, the Raptor makes you feel like the king of the road.
A 360-degree camera view (which can be summoned any time at low speeds) provides a bird’s eye view around the truck as well, ensuring parking confidence. I live in a condominium with an underground parking garage and trust me, having these cameras are a godsend (and makes me feel like an amateur when I think of back in the days when rear view cameras were unheard of).
Nail the angle of entry into the parking spot correctly the first time and you’ll have no problem backing this sucker in, but if you ever overestimate its size (especially in full-length SuperCrew trim), you’ll be stuck doing 10-point turns for the rest of the evening.
On the bright side, the gargantuan size of the Raptor reminds me why I love pickups. There’s an abundance of storage space to just about pack everything you need: there are two deep pockets in the door handles, a shallow pocket on the dashboard, a huge center console that could swallow my camera bag, underseat storage, and a fully-flat rear load floor.
The interior is pretty much the same layout as the last-gen Raptor. I still love how Ford keeps a proper gear shifter rather than resorting to cheap twiggy column shifters. The buttons and dials are large and clearly marked, giving glove-wearing workers no problems fidgeting with the controls. The dials are also a good size, and the SYNC3 system is intuitive and as easy to use as ever – Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included. The SuperCrew cab-style means that rear-passengers get just as much legroom as a BMW 750i too.
While most of these are features that can be found in the regular F-150, the Raptor’s cabin stands out with a red-striped steering wheel, optional carbon fibre trimmed panels ($1,250) that wrap the dash, door panel, and gear shifter, “Ford Performance” labeled door sills, “Raptor” stitched seats, and wheel-mounted magnesium paddle shifters that feel like the ones in Maseratis. Clunky and cold to the touch when the fans are blowing, these are paddles you wouldn’t mind flapping – and you’ll be flapping em’ lots if you want to cycle through each of its ten gears.
Auxiliary switches have made a comeback as well, and are now placed on the overhead panel where the sunroof controls are rather than clogging up the center console. There are now six switches instead of the previous four for you to hook up aftermarket lights or compressors.
The upgrade to Raptor status shouldn’t be seen as a “luxury trim,” but rather a performance one.
The maniacal V8 soundtrack is sadly missing, but in its place is the deep vocal rumble of a V6 that tries its best to do an eight-cylinder impression. It’s doesn’t quite work, but it is rather entertaining to hear turbo whistles and blow-off valves every time you lift off the pedal.
Forced induction is a tuner’s dream, and while the exhaust note is no longer frightening, neither is the fuel consumption. With its smaller engine and start/stop technology, our Raptor achieved 17.8 L/100km with a mix of city and highway driving. Honestly, we were expecting north of 20.0 L/100km based on the readings we got in the last V8-powered SVT Raptor we drove.
Fears of downsizing will be further repressed when you start pushing the Raptor past 50% of the throttle – it not only feels faster than the outgoing model, but smoother and more abrupt. It never misses a beat, and the Raptor’s shrunken curb weight and bump in power are immediately noticeable. Vehicles this large shouldn’t be able to move this quickly but it does, and stop-and-go driving only accentuates its eagerness off the line.
The 10-speed automatic is surprisingly smooth and doesn’t take long to select the proper gear. On highway runs you’ll see the gears swinging up and down on the digital meter, but you’ll never notice the swaps or any jerks. We found it bewildering to suddenly be in 10th gear cruising at a steady 70 km/h.
Low speed shifts are solid as well, holding the correct gears and keeping the V6 in the meaty parts of the powerband. The slushbox’s weakness comes alive when you select Sport Mode and demand all of its attention. Shifts become jerky and harsh, undermining its well programmed automatic modes – we think all it really needs is some minor tweaking and software re-calibration.
The ride is stiffer and wobblier than the standard F-150 and the truck’s adhesion to paved roads has been drastically reduced. The performance shocks and aggressive 17-inch BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO2 tires can be attributed to this loss in ride quality. The Raptor is still complaint on tarmac but don’t expect it to waft over potholes with the same mannerisms and posture as regular pickups.
Admittedly, throughout my week with the Raptor doing civilian duties in suburban Markham, I feel like I only tapped into 25% of the Raptor’s true potential – perhaps a little more during the recent Snowpocalpyse, which I fear will be the case with most Raptor owners. Not once did I encounter a naughty hill worth jumping, a desert worth storming, or a river worth fording. Those perfectly engineered shocks went to waste, and the transfer case needed dusting.
But all this is expected when you bring a dinosaur born in the desert into civilian life. If you want a more conventional truck, the standard F-150 is the Blue Oval solution, but if you desire extra thrill and articulation from your overcompensating truck, the Raptor and its uncanny off-roading abilities are worth every penny of its as-tested $90,000 price tag.
Sure, it’s a nightmare in underground parking garages, it can be unnerving to navigate through the T&T warzone, swinging through slippery corners in anything but four-wheel drive will summon its inner drift-mode, and the weekly fuel bill did suck my wallet dry. Would I buy one and use it as a daily driver, even if I knew that it would never set foot on a dirt road?
My brain says no, but my heart says yes. And normally I don’t even like trucks.
型号 Model: 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor SuperCrew
顏色 Paint Type: Lightning Blue
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $69,899
試車售價 Price as Tested: $88,239
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 3,708
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 5,889 / 2,192 / 1,995
車重 Curb weight (kg): 2,584
引擎 Engine: 3.5-litre twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6
最大馬力 Horsepower: 450 hp @ 5,000 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 510 lb-ft @ 3,500 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 10-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, 4X4
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 15.6 / 13.2 / 14.5
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 17.8
輪胎尺碼 Tires: BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO2; LT315/70R17