If you’ve been following the world of cars, you know the 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor is garnering loads of buzz. Yep, we’re talking a pickup, amid all the new exotic supercars and ultra-luxury coupes that have debuted over the past year. That’s because the souped-up F-150 sits in a class all its own. As we learned during a recent off-road test drive in Northern Michigan, few if any street-legal trucks have rolled straight off the assembly line packing the capabilities you’ll find here…
The all-new 2017 model looks to build on that formula in a much more thrilling off-roader, with a cluster of features that you’ll only find on the Raptor. The frame is built with super high-strength steel, making it the strongest of any trucks in the F-150 lineup. Under the hood, the Raptor boasts a V6 with 450-horsepower and 510-lb-ft. of torque, making it significantly more powerful and fuel efficient than the outgoing 6.2-liter V8.
Other performance enhancements include an all-new high-tech four-wheel-drive system and a new FOX Racing Shox suspension system, with better ground clearance. Compared to the outgoing model, the 2017 Raptor is quicker and easier to handle when barreling across the open terrain. So if you prefer more control in a nearly 400-plus horsepower pickup when jumping sand dunes, the new Raptor is a far more reliable—and equally thrilling—ride.
The new Raptor is also far more comfortable than you’d think it’d be as a daily driver, given that it’s more purpose-built for off-roading. Most of the cool features inside the Raptor are directly tied to performance, which makes sense. After all, control starts in the cockpit, with features like steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters that enable the driver to take manual control of the 10-speed transmission.
At a starting price of around $49,000, this Raptor offers six preset driving modes: Rock (low-speed rock crawling); Street (high performance); Baja (for desert-like terrains); Mud and Sand (what you might guess); Weather (for rain, snow and icy conditions); and Normal (for those everyday trips). But make no mistake: This truck was built to enjoy in those modes where the threshold for performance is at its highest. Driving it any other way is simply cheating yourself behind the wheel. Photos by A.J. Mueller