CAR AND DRIVER Test for 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor

Sideways and dirty, chapter one.

When it comes to traversing Michigan potholes, there are two strategies. Most folks employ the balanced-human approach: Plod through the minefield carefully, taking it easy in hopes nothing gets bent. The second tactic requires more, well, let’s call it commitment. Every vehicle has a safe speed at which it will fly right over the craters, occasionally skimming their edges but never dropping a wheel far enough below the surface to do damage. It’s the automotive equivalent of a supercross racer in the whoops. When perfectly executed, both are effective means to get home. Strategy two comes with the reward of getting there sooner and the risk of, say, removing an axle from the vehicle.

Until now, this was an actual dilemma.

Our long-term Ford F-150 Raptor SuperCrew, then, is a $64,800, 450-hp dilemma killer. That it tears a commercial-truck-sized hole in the atmosphere while completing a 14.2-second quarter-mile at 97 mph and hits 60 mph in only 5.5 seconds, well, those things are just gravy.

So, you see, owning a Raptor in Michigan is simply pragmatic. Here, the road shoulders are a burial ground for long-dead Caprices, Plymouths, Silverados, and, yes, F-150s that couldn’t hack the wet, freezing misery. What better way to celebrate potholes, frost heaves, and shweckled wheels than to embrace them with a truck unburdened by such concerns? We couldn’t think of one, so we ordered a Raptor to test for 40,000 miles.


Fortunately, every Raptor comes with the same wildly capable hardware: a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6, a 10-speed automatic transmission, BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 tires, Fox dampers, and a penchant for inducing poor impulse control.

And what would a gratuitous truck be without a gratuitous options list? Ours is loaded with $11,660 in add-ons, starting with the $9345 Equipment Group 802A, which supplies a Torsen limited-slip front differential (a locking rear diff is standard), 360-degree cameras, remote start, dual-zone automatic climate control, Sync 3 infotainment, a trailer-brake controller and backup assist, and more. We then piled on these à la carte additions: 17-inch forged-aluminum wheels, a heated steering wheel, second-row heated seats, a tailgate step, and a spray-in bedliner. And, of course, ours is dark gray—Magnetic, in Ford-speak—with black wheels.

Outrageous Utility

Just for sport, we’ve begun lining up Michigan’s ever-sprouting potholes and smoothing them to cream with the Raptor’s ever-buttery bypass dampers. Emboldened by its prodigious amounts of wheel travel—13.0 inches in front and 13.9 at the rear—we’ve taken to charging through more than road imperfections, however. Periodically, we run through our local off-road park—sideways, of course—just to send the locals into a tailspin as the Raptor chews through dirt mounds and rooster tails every sand wash, spewing an unending stream of Michigan alfisols from all four tires. Did we mention its 510 lb-ft of torque?

It flies—and lands, even—with substantially more poise than any three-ton wingless vehicle should. It is also, by a wide margin, the most popular vehicle in our long-term fleet. And that’s a fleet that currently includes a Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport, a Ford Shelby GT350, and a Porsche 718 Boxster S. Drawing weekend reservations months in advance, the big Ford is in as much demand as a $40 per night VRBO on Monaco’s Mirabeau corner.

It’s a machine that perfectly aligns your wants: “I might be middle-aged, but I still indulge the occasional airborne railroad crossing,” with your needs: “I have two dorky kids and a ton of crap to haul around.” On and on, it is the embodiment of outrageous—massive, coarse, rapid, and capable of eating curbs at freeway speeds. It is to subtlety what Charlie Sheen is to decorum. Yet, as an everyday vehicle, it’s also feature rich, stunningly comfortable, and remarkably easy to live with. The big goofball is perfectly happy to cruise the expressway in quiet, frost-heave pooh-poohing ease.

Big, Bad, Bold

Its corpulence doesn’t prevent it from being easy on the eyes. More than six inches wider than a standard F-150 and beefed up with flared fenders front and rear, the thing is a distinguished giant. It’s also fraught with styling that reveals its goods, like holes in the front bumper to show off its beefy suspension pieces and the 3.0-inch-diameter dampers that help it stand proud of Michigan’s countless volumes of matter-of-fact pickups.

But beneath all its desert-hammering skin, there’s still a real, usable four-door pickup capable of towing an 8000-pound trailer, hauling 1200 pounds in its bed, and taking those dorks to school. This duality is what makes the Raptor so appealing. We’re looking forward to the next 35,000 miles. (Bonus: The odometer doesn’t measure distance traveled off the ground.)

Thus far, about 5000 miles in, we’ve discovered only three faults: Ten is too many gears. It’s too wide for at least one local car wash. At full throttle, it honks like a Pontiac Sunbird in the Holland Tunnel.

But, good Lord, nothing has ever cared less about potholes.

Months in Fleet: 2 months Current Mileage: 5113 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 14 mpg Fuel Tank Size: 36.0 gal Fuel Range: 500 miles
Service: $0 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $0

  • Published by CAR AND DRIVER on JUN 2017
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