2017 Ford F-150 Raptor new car reviews

If there was ever a vehicle more devoid of caring, we haven't heard of it. The Raptor just doesn’t care about you or your friends or your cars. It doesn’t care about the environment. It doesn’t care what your neighbors think. It doesn’t care about curbs. And it doesn’t care what it’s fellow F-150s were meant to do. The Ford F-150 Raptor seems to care only about how cool it is. And honestly, it’s right.

It's a purpose-built off-road pickup and it doesn't make any attempt to be subtle about it.

Other staff views

Tom Suddard Tom Suddard
Associate Editor

This is the coolest truck I’ve ever driven, and I’m sad that it isn’t still waiting for me in the company parking lot today. No, I don’t have to drive off-road on my way home, and all I have to carry is a backpack, but I still feel like the Raptor would brighten up my commute. Basically, it was fun–waaaaay more than you’d think. It makes great noises, has a very quiet interior and a great stereo, and drives quite well. Ours was well-optioned, too, with niceties like radar-assisted cruise control and lots of exterior lighting. And that just-barely-four-real-seats cab is perfect for this child-free household. Did I mention how cool this thing is? Exactly. Our neighbors even came over to stare at it. Fuel economy? Next question, at least under our heavy right foot.

Did I take it off-road? Nope. Hey–why buck the trend, right? Sure, some Raptors are used for what they’re designed for (and quite good at), but I’d guess that the vast majority spend much more time at BJ’s than at Baja. But I did use it as a truck, towing an Acura Integra in an enclosed trailer, and tipping the scales at just barely below the Raptor’s 6000-pound towing capacity. I won’t draw out the pain here: Don’t tow with a Raptor. Its short wheelbase and soft suspension meant a bit of wild ride during crosswinds, and once we added a set of wheels and tires and a pit bike to the bed, it was nearly on its rear bump stops. Oops. I made it home, but realized that there’s a reason that the regular F-150 has stiffer springs.

So this truck is flashy, comfortable, doesn’t care and isn’t very good at being a truck. Plus it’s huge–though not that long, as I still managed to parallel park it downtown. At least it’s also super expensive, and the bed is so tall that it sports one of Ford’s clever tailgate step systems so a normal human can still reach any cargo. I decided the Raptor would be perfect to put to the Ridgeline test, which is an assessment where our Publisher, Tim Suddard, is handed the keys. Tim hates trucks because "they’re big, heavy, inefficient, uncomfortable, expensive and sloppy.” He loves his Honda Ridgeline because it drives like a lifted Honda Accord.

I couldn’t wait to hear Tim’s post-Raptor rant. Instead, he hopped out with a big smile on his face. “This,” he exclaimed, “I could understand somebody wanting.” After mocking our love of sturdy trucks for years, here was Ridgeline-owner Tim Suddard praising the most objectively-useless pickup truck on the face of the planet. Cool. Tim’s reasoning was simple: Yes, the Raptor is everything he hates about trucks, but it’s also a ton of fun, and it clearly doesn’t care what Consumer Reports thinks.

I was sold as soon as the rear-end stepped out on me at 50 mph while the exhaust spat out a hellacious roar that sounded like the engine was hosting a MMA fight between a tiger and a lion. This truck is useless. But so is almost every other awesome car–and let’s face it, air-cooled Porsche 911s aren’t million-dollar cars because they have a larger trunk than their direct competitors. Ford’s F-150 Raptor seems built to sell based on emotion. And I fell for it hook, line and sinker.

David S. Wallens David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

On the road, it’s out of its element: darty handling and noisy tires. There’s some turbo lag, too. It’s exactly what you’d expect when putting a hardcore off-road vehicle on pavement. It would be like commuting in a GT350R.

But then I might have found a dirt road. That might have had some big whoops and bumps. And might have been wet. Very wet. In fact, this road might have been near JG’s house. 
There–had this all happened, of course–the Raptor fell into its element. Once in the dirt and the mud and the pockmarked earth, the Raptor played like an attention-starved puppy. It jumped. It leapt. It never missed a step. It howled for more.

And then, sadly, I had to hop on the highway and head back to the office.

J.G. Pasterjak JG Pasterjak
Production/Art Director

I would imagine that in the off-road world, the Ford Raptor is the vehicle that makes them geek out the way a Civic Type or or Mustang GT350R does in our universe. It’s that kind of vehicle. Sure, it’s a pickup truck, but really the truck frame and body just serve to act as mounting platforms for some downright trick hardware.

Remote-reservoir shocks, extended control arms and host of other specific tuning and hardware tricks bless the Raptor with a fairly legit off-road suspension. It is to the desert what the GT350R is to the racetrack, yet it goes down the road as nice as any pickup you’re likely to drive. On-road handling is also surprisingly sharp, despite the 35” tall soft-surface tires. Yeah those big tread blocks squirm a bit—you’ll never forget it’s a truck—but off ramps aren’t the boring/terrifying ordeal they are in most trucks.

But where the Raptor excels is in the rough stuff. Take it down a stretch of uneven dirt and it soaks it up and asks for more. Yes you feel the bumps and heaves, but you feel zero harshness and there’s no question about what each corner is doing at any given moment. Were I a more experienced off-road driver, I’d probably be better able to explain it, but from my perspective the biggest triumph of the Raptor is its ability to make you feel in complete control of direction and speed when most vehicles would be tripping over themselves.

And, you can throw a load of mulch in the back. Win/win.

Joe Gearin Joe Gearin
Associate Publisher

Like others have said, the Raptor is a badass.

This truck kicks sand in the face of those goofy lifted trucks you see running on semi wheels. It’s an off-road weapon, sort of like a Viper ACR-X for the dirt. Yes, you can drive it on the street, but that’s not what it was meant for. Putz around town in commuter mode, and the Raptor is horrid. The throttle response is herky-jerky, the tires vibrate constantly and make a ton of noise. Shudders and vibrations transmit through the chassis structure at all times. It’s so bad that the Raptor’s bodily shudders reminded me of my Triumph TR6. Even the engine’s automatic stop/start mode rocks the body noticeably when it engages and disengages. This is probably the worst truck for street use that I’ve even driven. It’s also the most capable off-road pickup truck ever released to the general public. It’s like a street legal Trophy Truck wearing leather lipstick.

On the street the Raptor is quick and it’s chassis is capable, but it is always restless. The Raptor always wants to jump the curb and cut through a yard. It goads you into blasting through the highway median at 60mph, because you know you can. It has you searching for rough railroad crossings, so you can jump them. It’s a bad, bad influence and I love that Ford makes it.

If you live out West, where wide open expanses are the norm—the Raptor would be a dream truck. Here in Florida, where the biggest hills are landfills, and off-road trails tend to be narrow and cramped, the Raptor is pretty useless. The Raptor is better off-road, but worse on-road than any other truck. Before you fall for it’s burly looks and amazing capability, honestly assess where most of your driving takes place. For the street, or regular truck-duty, a standard F-150 is a far better choice. For off-road shenanigans, or if you need to haul ass from Ensenada to La Paz, there is no better weapon than this badass Ford.

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Comments

View comments on the GRM forums
Cblais19
Cblais19 New Reader
8/25/17 9:40 a.m.

I was surprised at how comfortable the Raptor was when Tom picked me up in it from the airport, and really quiet on the highway at speed.

The_Jed
The_Jed PowerDork
8/25/17 11:51 a.m.

On a whim I googled "2017 Ford Raptor 0-60".

Looks like 5.2-6.3 seconds...HOLY E36 M3!!!

dean1484
dean1484 MegaDork
8/25/17 12:42 p.m.

I think dodge has cornered the market on building things we don't need but absolutely want to have.

Vigo
Vigo UltimaDork
8/25/17 3:25 p.m.
Looks like 5.2-6.3 seconds...HOLY E36 M3!!!

The new Raptor cracks 13.9 in the 1/4 iirc. It's ridiculous.

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
8/25/17 3:48 p.m.

That's only 1 sec slower than a 2017 Mustang GT.

Insanity.

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