Take a small step back in time with me. The year is 2017, and Ford Motor Company has just re-launched their Raptor trim for the top-selling (every year) F-150. The Raptor had taken a three-year hiatus with the first-generation Raptor running 2010-2014. Ford reintroduced the Raptor trim to the F-150 for the 2017 model year.
2017 Ford F-150 Raptor Specs
The Raptor F-150 has its own special look, certainly differentiating itself from the standard F-150. The aggressive posture really gives the Raptor distinction. Don’t get me wrong, the F-150 is handsome, but the Raptor has a special look that stands out. The F-150 Raptor has a military grade aluminum body that allowed it to drop 500 pounds, for increased performance. Bold Ford lettering is emblazoned on the grille and the tail gate. The Raptor’s outward appearance is indeed aggressive but other special features show that it’s also off-road ready with front fender extractors, front skid plates, blacked out headlamps and specialized front and rear bumpers that are specific for the Raptor trim.
For 2017, the Raptor sees gains aerodynamics too. The 2017 Ford Raptor has six extra inches of track width and two inches more of ground clearance from the first-generation Raptor. Additionally, the Raptor has a 5 percent improvement in aerodynamics when compared to the previous generation model, thanks to improved body styling, upper and lower active grille shutters, optimized exterior component geometry (running boards, tow hooks covers, skid plates), functional hood and fender vents and under body shielding.
Ford dropped their turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 Ecoboost engine in the 2017 Raptor. The previous generation had a V8 engine that had a horsepower range of 310 hp to 411 hp. The 2017 Raptor, with the smaller V6 engine that made 76 more ft.-lb. of torque (compared to the previous generation) and 39 more horsepower. As such, the 2017 Raptor F-150 had an output of 450 hp and 510 ft.-lb. of torque. And thanks to the Ecoboost engine it actually saw a significant gain in fuel economy too, although really when you’re driving a Raptor you don’t really care about fuel economy.
The 10-speed automatic transmission was a huge improvement for the Raptor too, which also aided in the 23 percent gain in fuel economy.
How Capable Is The Ford Raptor Off Road?
The thing I love most about the Raptor is that it’s a rare mix of being blazing fast on concrete, as a high-performance vehicle, but it’s equally comfortable off the road. I took the 2017 Raptor through a creek bed and was blown away with all it could do. During that trip a companion was with me and had his Tundra with me and the Raptor outperformed the Tundra TRD by a lot. Traversing through uneven paths and over rocky and muddy terrain, the Raptor was incredibly confident.
Available in both SuperCab and SuperCrew, the all-new high-strength, military-grade aluminum alloy body on a high-strength steel box frame with extended suspension height and high-performance springs, and uniquely developed Fox shocks 3-inch racing dampers provide smoother on-road driving with increased off-road control and capability. Unique Raptor off-road specifications include:
• Upgraded FOX Shocks – Joint-engineered by Ford Performance and FOX, the 2017 Raptor gets 44 percent larger FOX shocks with 3-inch diameter shock canisters (2.5-inch previously) and nine-stage bypass damping for improved suspension control, plus integrated hydraulic bump stops minimize bottoming-out over rough terrain and improved overall heat dissipation.
• Increased Suspension Travel and Ride Height– With the added 0.8-inches front and 1.9-inch rear wheel of increased wheel travel compared to its predecessor, the 2017 F-150 Raptor benefits from 13-inch front and 13.9-inch rear suspension travel. (Note: F-150 Raptor offers an increase of 5.7-inches and 4.4-inched rear suspension travel vs. F-150 with FX4 package which has 7.3-inches and 9.5-inches of front/rear suspension travel respectively.).
• Aggressive Approach, Breakover and Departure Angles – Along with increased ride height, redesigned front and rear bumper overhangs enable the 2017 Raptor to hit the trail hard and fast with its 30-degree front approach angle, 22-degree breakover angle, and 23-degree departure angle.
• Exclusive Tires and Off-Road Rims – The 2017 Raptor comes with second-generation BF Goodrich KO2 tires designed exclusively for the Raptor’s extended off-road capabilities. Ford Performance mounted them to available 17-inch forged alloy bead-lock capable rims for ultimate off-road traction and durability
So there you have it. The 2017 Raptor is my all-time favorite truck I’ve driven. As an automotive writer, I get about 60 new vehicles to review and write about each year. Most aren’t that memorable. I was recently interviewed about my writing gig with Torque News and as a automotive journalist. That video can be watched below. But in that video, I proclaim the 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor as one of the most memorable vehicles and the most memorable truck I’ve driven. It’s that good. My Torque News colleague Marc Stern recently wrote about Shelby-tuned Raptor that sounds amazing. Read that story here.
What say you? Do you agree? What’s your favorite Raptor? Or maybe you like the old-school SVT Lightning (another fine truck)? Leave your comment and feedback about the Raptor below.
Jimmy Dinsmore has been an automotive journalist for more than a decade and been a writer since the high school. His Driver’s Side column features new car reviews and runs in several newspapers throughout the country. He is also co-author of the book “Mustang by Design” and “Ford Trucks: A Unique Look at the Technical History of America’s Most Popular Truck”. Also, Jimmy works in the social media marketing world for a Canadian automotive training aid manufacturing company. Follow Jimmy on Facebook, Twitter, at his special Ford F-150 coverage on Twitter and LinkedIn. You can read the most of Jimmy's stories by searching Torque News Ford for daily Ford vehicle report.