2017 Ford F-150 Raptor Supercrew Road Test Review

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor Supercrew

Behold the truck with a serious distaste for gravity

Words by: Adam Allen

A gravity defying truck? Explain.

Even if you don’t count yourself amongst the legion of folks who identify as truck fans, enthusiasts of all genres have been paying close attention to the Raptor even since it first turned a beadlocked wheel back in 2010. It came out of the gates impressively with a laundry list of off-road hardware that would send anyone who spends time off the beaten path into an envious froth. This time around, there’s a heckuva lot more aluminum, six drive modes, a twin-turbo V6 and even more suspension travel thanks to revised Fox shock absorbers which all add up to give the Raptor a serious distaste for gravity. At the vehicle’s launch (Ha!) Ford turned a gaggle of ham-fisted journalists loose in a desert playground with all kinds of terrain and elevation changes. Normally, this would be the perfect recipe for an unmitigated disaster (for the trucks, not the journalists.) But thanks to all the trick chassis parts and those slick pre-programmed drive modes, even the meekest off-roaders were launching these beasts a whopping three meters into the air with minimal effort, and coming back to terra firma with a damped FOOSH! once the tires made contact with the ground again. It was truly a sight to behold and an experience a few lucky people will never forget.

Cool! Let’s talk hardware- what’s this baby packing?

The Raptor’s list of parts that allows for it to be hurled into the air with such ease is a lengthy one but allow us to put it this way: it’s a truck with limits so incredibly high that you could slap number plates onto the doors and be competitive in its respective class for the Baja 1000 off-road race. Seriously. It starts with beefier Fox dampers that are now almost 13 millimeters larger in diameter and offer increased suspension travel over the last generation (increases of 330mm up front, 353mm out back.) Four BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/A K02 mounted on beadlocked wheels ensure the Raptor has the grip needed to claw itself out of nasty, slow-going terrain or blast down a gnarled single-track at highway speeds. No longer is a V8 engine sending torque to each corner- Ford now employs a high output version of the 3.5 litre Ecoboost V6 that makes 450 horsepower and 510 lbs/ft. of torque, increases of 39 horses and 76 torques over the outgoing 6.2 litre bent eight. It’s hitched to an all new 10-speed automatic transmission that can be controlled by the nicest (and pleasantly responsive) magnesium paddles on the steering wheel we have ever encountered, car or truck. People have bemoaned the loss of the V8 and the soundtrack that goes along with it, but we find very little to complain about with the blown six- it emits a racy concerto of intake and exhaust noise, all punctuated by the angry whistle of the two turbos. Rounding out all the bits that conspire to make you look like a driving hero when the pavement ends is the ability to shuffle through six notably different drive modes that cover scenarios ranging from a highway cruise to rock crawling to blasting through the desert. It’s exhaustive the changes that each mode brings to the stability control, transmission behaviour and four-wheel drive system but suffice it say that what the Ford Performance engineers have achieved with the Raptor is astounding. They all work perfectly no matter the situation and anyone who scoffs at the notion that electronic nannies will spoil the fun really ought to give them a try; they’ll allow even a seasoned off-roader to do things they never thought possible. All this potential caused us to feel a bit guilty about simply commuting and running errands in the Raptor. Although it’ll perform these mundane tasks with nary a complaint, if you have no plans to really wring this thing out on the trails just buy a regular F-150.

All this obsession with off-road dominance must come at the expense of civility.

Normally, we’d have agreed with that statement, but not in the Raptor’s case. It isn’t clear what kinds of wizardry Ford Performance engineers are practicing in Dearborn, and we are at a loss to explain how else they have managed to make the Raptor so well-mannered on the tarmac when it isn’t blasting into skyward off-road. Our first thought was that those BF Goodrich tires would make a cacophonous racket inside the cabin while driving on the street and the hefty treadblocks would impart a feeling of nervousness and imprecision. In the first five minutes of highway driving it crushes any doubts of seesawing at the wheel while wearing earplugs. Even up to extralegal speeds the Raptor never feels anything but calm and composed. It tracks faithfully and the suspension that allows for off-pavement heroics delivers a ride as cushy as a 70’s era Cadillac Fleetwood without the nautical body motions. The transmission slips into 10th gear and it keeps the engine turning just above idle speed until you need to summon the Ecoboost’s power to perform a pass. Inside, it’s the same model of tranquility- the seats are all-day comfortable, every single comfort and convenience feature imaginable is at your disposal to pamper you and there’s tons of room for all occupants.

So it’s the perfect daily driver?

Not exactly, and this is a good time to address some of the Raptor’s imperfections. First and foremost: it is HUGE. While it can (barely) fit into an automatic car wash, parking lot spaces are another story; they can barely contain the truck’s swollen dimensions. Navigating through downtown traffic can be mildly terrifying, for the person driving the Raptor as well as their fellow motorists; there simply isn’t enough space to pilot this brute with ease. This is an offshoot of 152 millimeters of greater width compared to a regular F-150, which itself is no Fiesta. It’s also thirsty. We managed just 20L/100km in a mix of city and highway driving and with a 136-litre fuel tank, fill-ups can cause mild cases of shock. Then there’s the price- at a hair under $90,000 that’s demanding a pile of money for a truck that is more about having fun during one’s downtime than something you would take to a jobsite. Normally, we’d chastise any kind of vehicle that is so singularly focused with a hefty price tag and swills fuel like a drunken sailor. In the Raptor’s case, we simply cannot do that. The truck is so much better than the sum of it’s parts- the fact that something like this even exists in our hyper litigious, ultra conservative world is awesome enough on its own- but when you really get a grasp of what this truck can do in its element (in addition to mundane stuff like commuting and towing) it seems like something of a bargain. Think of it as buying two trucks in one: a Baja-ready off-road deity on one hand, and something to help your pals move with on the other.

Should I buy a Raptor?

What, we haven’t convinced you yet? Of course you should buy one. However, if you never venture off-road or you’re one of those types who slows down to a crawl to negotiate a speed bump in the Starbucks parking lot or complain about your fuel mileage, please move along; this is not the truck for you. Ford will happily sell you a different F-150 that will be better suited to your lifestyle. And look at it this way- if you want to purchase something that shrugs off gravity as easily, you’ll be looking at something more akin to a Cessna, and the cheapest models of those cost much more than the Raptor- and they can’t tow a boat.


2017 Ford F-150 Raptor Supercrew- Specifications

  • Price as tested: $89,939
  • Body Type: 4-door, 5 passenger truck
  • Powertrain Layout: Front engine/four-wheel drive
  • Transmission: 10-speed automatic
  • Engine: 3.5 litre twin turbocharged V6, 24 valves, DOHC
  • Horsepower:  450 @ 5,000 rpm
  • Torque (lbs-ft.): 510 @ 3,500 rpm
  • Curb weight: 2,687 kg (5,924 lbs)
  • Observed Fuel Consumption: 20L/100km (12 mpg)