Ford F-150 Rap­tor ready to rum­ble

High-per­for­mance pickup shines — even in the mud

Boston Herald - - CARSMART - Christo­pher EVANS

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.

CHRISTO­PHER EVANS / BOS­TON HER­ALD

FORD TOUGH: The 2018 F-150 Rap­tor proves its worth with the worst that New Eng­land weather can throw at it.

CHRISTO­PHER EVANS PHO­TOS / BOS­TON HER­ALD

DURABLE: The Rap­tor’s in­te­rior is built for long-last­ing com­fort, even if you’re putting the sus­pen­sion to the test on muddy back­roads.

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