You really learn a hell of a lot when driving the world’s coolest pickup truck on the daily for a week.
The first things might be about yourself. No matter how good you might feel on a typical day, there is another level of happiness at least 3X greater! Lording over all traffic with this menacing widebody is great for the soul and for an instant upgrade in self-confidence.
You also learn about the folks around you. Colleagues who might not talk much will become Raptor fanboys. Circling and touching the badass FORD grille, the enormous tires and the sheer machismo of every angular panel.
There is a whole truckload of info to actually learn about the vehicle, too. We discovered some awesome traits indeed – but with one nagging issue that never really fades from your Raptor wishlist.
The Raptor’s coolest elements are its totally unique stance and fenders all around. Along with an enormous suspension lift versus stock F-150’s comes a gnarly Fox Shox racing suspension upgrade. Proudly displaying those double shock tubes for all the world to see!
The grille with block Ford letters is still a head-turner – but the slimline bumper is actually the rockstar for making Raptor look like a Baja racer. The carved elements feed right into the fender lip extensions – themselves at least a few extra inches of width above and beyond the new fenders themselves. Favorite details abound, obviously, but the way the new fenders extend outward from the stock headlight cutouts is pure and sexy. Ford Performance used this method for the Shelby GT350 too and it just makes the vehicles unmistakably badass on the road.
The deconstructed rectangular blocks for LED low and highbeams are unlike any other factory truck or car on the road. Extra points for the running lights at the top of the grille and edges of fenders – letting oncoming traffic know a beast is roaring by!
Raptor is a machine you can’t mistake for anything else. And one that made a template for Tundra and Titan owners to mimic with aftermarket mods.
Our tester was Lead Foot grey and only had a few exterior options: the $1200 Forged Aluminum wheels, tailgate Raptor graphics and spray-in bedliner for $495.
Raptors generally come well equipped but the test truck was absolutely loaded: Bang & Olufsen audio, custom embroidered seats and carpets, and a real carbon-fiber pack to dress up the chunky, military-inspired gear lever and numerous dashboard elements.
The Raptor also has a custom center stack versus other F-150s and the whole effect is quite special when you climb on in. It is dark and classy and moody in the best ways.
PERFORMANCE – Drive Manners
A huge bonus for owning and driving the Raptor is that it looks insanely intense, yet cruises the highway like a real sweetheart. The intense and jump-ready suspension is quite soft – much more-so than any other F-150 – and gets to the creaminess level of the air springs in the Ram 1500.
Huge expansion joints? Potholes, road cuts and any other hazard you might hit? Smoothly handled with barely a ripple in the ride comfort above.
There is a slight down-side to all this comfort from the super cushy spring settings, and that becomes noticeable on fast highway bends. Raptor is so fast that big throttle on the highway is best done in a straight line. If you are on throttle around corners and bends above 60-mph or so, there can be some wallow that is slightly unnerving. It is just a floatiness that is compounded by the off-road settings, tires and the whole setup – just slightly wild and needing to be tamed down versus a low-slung sports car.
The twin-turbo EcoBoost under the hood of the Raptor is seriously amazing. This engine pulls like a train at all times and really comes alive when you want it to. 510 pound-feet of torque and a big jump in ponies versus previous versions mean this Raptor is genuinely fast off the line and in traffic.
It works brilliantly with the new 10-speed automatic. This transmission really feels flawless in how well it handles different drive moods. Chill and relaxed when you are, but revvy and wild when the mood is right.
Kickdown and passing performance is incredible for any SUV and certainly for a beast this big.
There is a but here. Some small part of the psyche misses a good old honkin’ V8 engine under the hood. The Raptor motor sounds pretty cool these days with a big burble and lots of whoosh as you wring it out to redline. And as mentioned, it certainly delivers the goods in terms of hauling ass on command.
Still, there is a lot to be said for a big V8. We couldn’t help but notice that a bone-stock Tundra 5.7-liter V8 bolts off the line and to 60-mph with a lot more traditional pickup style. Like a pack of wild horses and full of of baritone growl and howl.
That lack of V8 character is perhaps the single thing we wished Raptor included in its game-changer package.
Pricing starts from $53k and rose to $69,245 in total for the test truck. A giant $10k option package includes all the modern conveniences, therefore making almost all Raptors very lux inside.
The tester had the $1k carbon fiber package for interior trims, $375 tailgate step, $1200 forged alloys, $500 for the bedliner and $2k for the Tech package.
Raptor is such an amazing machine. If you are in the market for a showstopper of a factory truck, look no further. Most extreme capability and performance of all F-150’s has nearly no downsides.
Selected photos by Trevor Curtis
Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.
He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.
Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.