Ford F-150 Raptor ready to rumble
High-performance pickup shines — even in the mud
The 2018 F-150 Raptor is Ford’s half-ton super truck that checks all the boxes as an all-around pickup truck well-equipped for New England’s worst driving conditions.
While getting through a foot of snow is a priority for most drivers, the Raptor is clearly designed for where the pavement ends. The Raptor’s exterior has a chiseled-from-a-block-of-stone appearance with rugged fender flares and monstrous 35-inch tires mounted on 17inch rims. A blue oval is conspicuously absent from the Raptor’s grille, replace with large block letters that spell out F-O-R-D. While the truck has plenty of wheel and ground clearance, a skid plate extends upward into the front bumper like a protruding lower lip. Sturdy cast aluminum running boards provide a necessary step for climbing into the jacked-up 4×4.
Off-road is where the Raptor thrives. A terrain management system with modes for mud, sand and snow as well as a rock-crawl function
allows the driver to tailor the 4x4 with an appropriate engine response. The system also provides a hill-descent feature. A Fox Racing suspension system, whose anodized blue shocks provide undercarriage eye candy, soak up the large bumps and ruts, keeping the truck on course. The truck’s wide stance inspires confidence when blasting through puddles and rolling over washed-out sections of trail.
However, Raptor’s large footprint, 6.5 inches wider than a regular F-150, is cumbersome in the city, making squeezing into crowded parking garages a hassle. Fortunately, an array of cameras created a virtual 360degree view as I carefully shoehorned the Ford into tight spaces. While not my first choice for the open road, the Raptor handles highway speed remarkably well despite the enormous tires. Features such as adaptive control, lane-keep and the ability to switch to twowheel-drive were helpful during long drives along the Mass Pike.
On paper, the truck looks underpowered, but once behind the wheel, I was stunned by the 450 horsepower made by the Raptor’s 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine. Tires spinning in two-wheel-drive mode, the Ford roars off the line, shifting smoothly through a 10speed transmission. The Raptor is also well-equipped for towing with a capacity of 8,000 pounds and trailer sway control. The Raptor averages 16 mpg in combined city and highway driving.
The Raptor’s interior is both durable and comfortable. The high-positioned driver and passenger leather bucket seats provide excellent visibility. Large climate control and radio knobs make for easy access to the center console’s functions. A cavernous center storage area is enclosed by a wide armrest. A keyboard’s worth of steering-mounted controls handle everything from infotainment system access to customizing the instrument panel, all with a press of a thumb.
Seating was spacious and comfortable up front, with ample room for three adults in the back. The rear bench seat is 60/40 split folding. My tester included optional inflatable rear safety belts. Other nice to have options are rear seat heaters, a power-sliding rear window and a power tailgate. A bank of six auxiliary switches located on the overhead console make installing aftermarket accessories easier.
The four-door SuperCrew tester topped out at just under $70,000. The Raptor is also available with a SuperCab, with improved proportions that I feel look better, but has a smaller rear seating area and suicide doors.
FORD TOUGH: The 2018 F-150 Raptor proves its worth with the worst that New England weather can throw at it.
DURABLE: The Raptor’s interior is built for long-lasting comfort, even if you’re putting the suspension to the test on muddy backroads.