Tuesday, 13 January 2015

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor: The Beast Returns with an Aluminum Body and a Twin-Turbo V-6!

It's a bird, it's a plane . . . it's the
boulder-decimating new Raptor!

In one of his last shows as the cocky,
right-wing-mocking talking head on the
Colbert Report , Stephen Colbert made a
gleeful, deliciously prescient point about
Americans’ short attention spans for
cheap gas: “Fuel is cheap this week? Give
me a five-year lease on a rolling cargo
ship with the aerodynamics of a cinder
block!” The statement may have been
sarcastic, but there couldn’t be a better
climate into which Ford could introduce
its second-generation F-150 Raptor .
Hulking on its off-road suspension,
widened fenders, and meaty 35-inch tires,
the 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor is just as
outrageously polar bear–mocking and
lane-deflowering as its groundbreaking
forebear, only now it swills cheap hooch.
Not that such a detail matters; since being
introduced in 2010, the roughly $50,000
Raptor has had buyers lining up even
through the late stages of economic
recession and four-buck-per-gallon gas.
Naturally, we love the thing. Who
wouldn’t, given its huge power, ability to
bomb across craggy terrain at 100 mph,
and bad-ass visuals?
Happily, Ford stuck to the script for the
new model—almost. There has been some
paraphrasing in the engine bay, where,
instead of the old truck’s 411-hp 6.2-liter
V-8, sits a new twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter
V-6 engine with direct fuel injection.
While it shares a displacement figure with
the larger of the two EcoBoost V-6s
available in the regular F-150 , the Raptor’s
mill features a new aluminum block and
upgraded internals, revised heads, and
tweaked fuel-delivery equipment. Final
output figures weren’t available at the
time of this writing, but we’re told to
count on 450 to 500 horsepower and more
torque than the current V-8’s 434 lb-ft. As
for fuel-economy estimates, Ford is likely
to trumpet efficiency gains on account of
the turbocharged engine, but horrible,
ignorable fuel economy is part of the
Raptor’s charm. We’ll file preliminary
EPA estimates under “we don’t care.”
Of course, four-wheel drive will be
standard, and the Raptor’s setup now
includes a terrain-response function that
optimizes the truck for varied surfaces
such as snow, rocks, and more. Feeding
the transfer case is Ford’s first application
of its all-new 10-speed automatic
The new powertrain is bolted to an
equally new frame that, while derived
from the 2015 F-150’s steel unit, is
substantially upgraded to better handle
the abuse doled out by full-throttle
(sweet) jumps, huge rocks, and whatever
else a Raptor can subjugate to its will.
Two wheelbases and cab configurations
will be offered: a 133-inch-wheelbase,
extended-cab SuperCab and a 145-inch,
four-door SuperCrew. Following in the
F-150’s footsteps, the high-performance
truck also switches to aluminum
bodywork, shedding a claimed 500 or so
pounds in the process. A composite hood
and front fenders further reduce mass.
Ford’s stylists somehow managed to
massage these fancy new materials in
such a way as to imbue the Raptor’s
rippling body with even more muscle. The
slight upkick to the rear quarter-panels
lends the tail a bad-ass stadium-truck
look, and the grille once again boasts
giant “Ford” lettering and federally
mandated marker lights on account of the
truck’s width. Colossal Ford lettering also
makes it onto the Raptor’s tailgate, and
there are vents on each front fender and
another one on the hood, in addition to
LED accent lighting everywhere.
The most important elements of all,
however, are sheltered by the Raptor’s
blistered fenders. Those would be the Fox
Racing shocks, coil-sprung aluminum
front control arms, and the leaf-sprung
solid rear axle. To improve on the old
Raptor’s impressive suspension travel—
11.2 inches in front and 12.1 inches in the
rear—Ford upped the Fox shocks’
diameters from 2.5 inches to 3.0. The
units still feature internal bypasses that
take the edge off of quick, hard impacts.
Skid plates in front help protect against
meet-and-greets with desert rubble, and
shallower front and rear bumpers
improve the truck’s approach and
departure angles. New 17-inch aluminum
wheels are wrapped in BFGoodrich All-
Terrain T/A K02 tires that practically
scream out for raised white lettering.
Amazingly, another carry-over feature of
the 2017 F-150 Raptor is its near complete
lack of competition. Dodge offers the
1500-based Ram Runner , but it is available
only in kit form through the Mopar
catalog. General Motors never picked up
the phone when Ford came calling in
2010, and it hasn’t since. Some credit is
due to the Ford SVT engineers—who now
toil under the Ford Performance banner,
hence the absence of “SVT” in the new
Raptor’s name—that designed such a
product that worked nearly as well on the
street as it did in the Baja.
Having sampled several iterations of the
new F-150 , we can report that the weight
loss afforded by the switch to aluminum
construction is palpable from behind the
wheel. Yet for all that, this Raptor version
is the one we’ve been waiting for. With
the base price expected to stay around
the $50,000 mark, it will continue to be
within reach of anyone with desert-
runner fantasies. So, yeah, Mr. Colbert?
You can sign us up for one of these


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