2017 Ford F-150 Review

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2017 Ford F-150 Overview

The Ford F-150 Raptor really shook things up in the truck world when it was first introduced back in 2010. A truck with that kind of dedicated performance and high-speed off-road capability that you could just go out and buy from a Ford dealer with a factory warranty was a pretty novel concept, and it came as a bit of a surprise. Developed by Ford’s Special Vehicle Team (SVT), the second-generation Raptor debuted at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show and brings a number of major changes, most notably a new SuperCrew body style and a new engine.

The SVT Raptor has a boxed steel frame that is a beefed-up version of the frame found under the regular F-150, and its overall platform is a few hundred pounds lighter than that of the old Raptor, thanks in large part to the extensive use of aluminum and a composite hood and front fenders. The frame will presumably be stronger as well, as the first generation garnered some bad press after several reports of bent frames (right in the spot where the cab meets the bed) after a hard weekend of off-roading.

In addition to the sportier SuperCab body style, with its 133-inch wheelbase, the Raptor will now come for in a SuperCrew body style, which has four full doors and rides on a 145-inch wheelbase. The Raptor is instantly distinguishable from a regular F-150 by its muscular haunches and the small front and rear bumpers that make for better approach and departure angles while driving in rough, uneven terrain.

Another major step for the 2017 second-generation Raptor, and one that will likely put a lot of people off, comes under the hood. Gone is the 6.2-liter V8, and in its place is a 3.5-liter EcoBoost turbocharged V6, because taking away pistons and adding superchargers is just the way of the future. But although it’s smaller and has fewer cylinders, the V6 will still produce more power than its V8 predecessor. Exactly how much more isn’t yet known, but expect a few dozen ponies over the 411 hp that came with the first Raptor. The old Raptor did 0-60 mph in a little less than 7 seconds, so the 2017 version's lighter weight and additional power should make it notably quicker. It will also undoubtedly be more fuel efficient, although most Raptor buyers probably don't care all that much about fuel efficiency. That’s why the chosen gearbox for the Raptor, a 10-speed, is a bit surprising. You used to find 10-speeds primarily on bicycles, but apparently they’re for pickup trucks now as well, and the Raptor’s is controlled by steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

For the second-generation Raptor, the four-wheel-drive system's transfer case is a newly designed unit, with different driving modes that configure the engine, drivetrain, stability control, and other systems to adapt to different types of off-road driving, like mud, snow, and rocks. Because the Raptor faces higher speeds and more jostling than a standard F-150, the suspension is wider and significantly more robust. Up front are aluminum control arms and specially tuned coil springs, while out back there are specially tuned leaf springs. Suspension travel has been increased on both ends to cope with any high-speed bumps. The standard wheels are 17 inches, but the chunky BF Goodrich All-Terrain tires run 35 inches top-to-bottom. The production version of the new Raptor will feature bolstered leather sport seats with fabric inserts and contrast stitching, and simulated carbon fiber bits will accent the rest of the interior. Roof-mounted switches can also be hooked up for aftermarket parts like lights or a winch. Pushbutton start, dual-zone climate control, a dashboard power outlet, and a SYNC 3 touchscreen infotainment system all come standard.

If you want a seriously fast, off-road capable, sharp-looking truck right off the showroom floor at a reasonable price and with a factory warranty, the only real choice at this point is the Raptor, though other manufacturers can not have failed to notice the Raptor concept's success and will likely take a stab at a competing vehicle of their own. The Raptor is a bit of a niche model, but we Americans love our pickup trucks, and we sure do love speed, so marrying the two into one sporty off-roader makes a lot of sense in hindsight.

Updated

Andrew Newton first got into cars through vintage racing a Formula Vee. After receiving history degrees, he followed his passion for cars and became a contributor for sites like Sports Car Digest, BoldRide.com and JamesEdition.com in addition to serving as Education Manager at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, MA. Andrew currently covers the collector car market full time as Auction Editor for Hagerty Classic Car Insurance.

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