by Roger Biermann
You can call this the Ford GT of the desert – a pickup designed to decimate deserts like the Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote, only with more hang time and more noise. The Ford F-150 Raptor turns the standard F-150 up to 11, with massive Baja-racer style box fender flares, 6 inches of extra width, FOX Racing Shox, and a detuned version of the 3.5-liter EcoBoost twin-turbo V6 that was developed for the latest Ford GT supercar. This is, in essence, a road-going trophy truck, complete with a drive mode named “Baja”, which should tell you all you need to know.
Despite its racy off-road intentions, the F-150 Raptor is still an F-150 at heart, and that means loads of interior space. Available with either an extended or crew-cab body (the latter is what you really want), space is plentiful, with head and leg room more than abundant. Regardless of which cab style you choose, you get a 5ft 6in load bed as standard, able to haul 1200 lbs without much fuss.
The interior is naturally adorned with loads of kit, but in Raptor format you get super-supportive, extra-bolstered sports seats with Raptor stitching, the driver’s one being 8-way power adjustable, manual air conditioning, and a specialized steering wheel with paddle shifters. Spec a couple of options for extra comfort, and you get full-leather upholstery, heated front seats, SYNC 3 connectivity and an 8-inch touch screen.
The F-150 Raptor is designed with off-road, high speed racing in mind. That’s the reason for specially designed BF Goodrich All-Terrain KO2 tires and the FOX Racing Shox suspension – featuring internal bypass dampers and up to 14-inches of travel to allow you to get over just about anything, at speed. Off-road, it’s as magical as you might think it is, and as close to driving a trophy truck as you might get without actually racing a genuine one. On just about any surface the Raptor sucks in any and all imperfections to cover un-traversable ground as if it were smooth tarmac.
On-road, the tires lack grip, and the suspension isn’t exactly well suited, but it’s still surprisingly comfortable, with par-for-the-course body roll and brilliant bump-absorption. The F-150 Raptor may be purpose built, but it can still daily like the rest of them
In the search for efficiency, gone is the hulking V8 of old. Instead there’s a new turbo EcoBoost V6 engine lifted from the Ford GT. 3.5-liters in displacement, it generates 450 horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque – more than what the previous engine could muster. It’s attached to a 4x4 drive system by means of a 10-speed automatic transmission with drive modes that handle anything from snow to towing, comfort, sport, and even a Baja mode. It may be a performance engine, but it can still haul up to 8000lbs in tow capacity.
Standard equipment is extensive, with a lockable rear differential, hill descent control, cruise control, and Ford’s SYNC software. Up-spec to the 802A package and you get heated leather seats, SYNC 3, a bigger touch screen, a 360-degree camera, and a Bang & Olufsen 10-speaker sound system. There’s also a Raptor Technology package that improves safety with the addition of lane keep assist, lane departure warning, auto high beams, and adaptive cruise control with collision mitigation. There’s also blind spot assist with cross traffic alert. The Raptor specification hasn’t been crash tested, but standard F-150s fair favorably in both IIHS tests (Good ratings) and NHTSA tests (5/5 stars).
The Ford F-150 is male bravado and competitive nature rolled into pickup truck format. It’s phenomenal off-road, exceptional on-road, and as usable daily as it is tackling desert races on the weekends. Who said off-road means compromising on performance? The F-150 laughs at that notion.