LONG-TERM RE­PORT: 2017 FORD RAP­TOR SUPERCAB

Third re­port: The per­for­mance ve­hi­cle with a bed

Four Wheeler - - Contents -

Third re­port: The per­for­mance ve­hi­cle with a bed

IT’S FUN TO DRIVE A SU­PER­CAR with a bed on the back of it. From the looks to the per­for­mance, the Rap­tor is a blast on the street or the dirt. How­ever, that doesn’t mean its pickup truck roots have been neutered. With 1,000 pounds of pay­load and 5,000 pounds of tow­ing, plus the ex­treme level of off-road abil­ity, the Rap­tor is still a use­ful tool to have in the drive­way.

So far we’ve filled the bed with over 1,000 square feet of lam­i­nate wood floor­ing, trans­ported axles for one of our Jeep projects, and filled the bed to the brim with sod for a back­yard project. While the long-travel sus­pen­sion is no­tably softer, squat­ting more un­der load than a stan­dard F-150, it is quite man­age­able.

To in­crease the use­ful­ness of our fac­tory-lined bed, we mounted a Yakima Crash­pad to the tail­gate. With that ad­di­tion we can eas­ily take our Gi­ant Trance and three of our bud­dies with their moun­tain bikes to the trail for a day of rid­ing. As cool as it is to be on the trail with the Rap­tor, it can get you a lit­tle deeper into some cool rid­ing ter­rain when you want a dif­fer­ent type of off-road­ing.

But rest as­sured, when the road does turn rough, the Rap­tor is an ab­so­lute thrill ride. With ev­ery box checked on the equip­ment you want on your 4x4 (front Torsen, rear elec­tri­cally ac­ti­vated locker, per­for­mance sus­pen­sion, towhooks, full skid­plat­ing, and a full­size spare), the Rap­tor is ready to romp wher­ever you want to go. Whether it is fast dirt, whoope­d­out trails, or deep washes, the Rap­tor doesn’t dis­ap­point.

Thanks to more power and light­weight alu­minum con­struc­tion, the cur­rent truck feels lighter on its feet than its pre­de­ces­sor. With the ad­vanced Ter­rain Man­age­ment Sys­tem and a unique AWD/4WD trans­fer case, the Rap­tor is gen­er­ally a point-and­shoot af­fair. Leave on the elec­tronic nan­nies and the Rap­tor will let you have fun, right up to the point where you may need sav­ing from your­self. Tog­gle through the var­i­ous ter­rain modes to “Baja,” and you are left to your own de­vices and re­warded with a raw and vis­ceral driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. How­ever, be warned that the 10-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion is ul­tra-re­spon­sive and will down­shift with min­i­mal throt­tle tip in, let­ting loose those quick-spool­ing tur­bos. It’s best to match Baja mode with the man­ual pad­dle shift­ing to bet­ter con­trol your desert rac­ing am­bi­tions.

Over­all the 3-inch-di­am­e­ter Fox in­ter­nal by­pass shocks work as­ton­ish­ingly well, but we’ve found the rear, when un­loaded, could use some ad­di­tional re­bound con­trol. Also, in cer­tain con­di­tions such as rid­ing the tops of the whoops un­der power, the truck can be­come some­what skit­tish, an un­de­sir­able trait we’ve no­ticed on-road when travers­ing bro­ken pave­ment in turns. We are also dis­ap­pointed that Ford chose to re­move the locker func­tion­al­ity in two-wheel drive, although we’ve heard there is good rea­son­ing be­hind it, as the 450hp 3.5L Ecoboost ap­par­ently wasn’t con­ducive to keep­ing the rearend to­gether in cer­tain sit­u­a­tions while in two-wheel drive with the rearend locked up.

Af­ter 14,632 miles, we’ve found the Rap­tor to be in­cred­i­bly com­pe­tent, fun, and reli­able, with no un­sched­uled deal­er­ship vis­its or is­sues to speak of. The Supercab is prov­ing to be much more solid­feel­ing than the older-gen­er­a­tion trucks with tighter door seal­ing, and no squeaks or rat­tles so far. How­ever, we’d highly rec­om­mend the crew cab model for fam­i­lies with a baby seat. The thick front Rap­tor chairs just don’t al­low

enough room for a rear-fac­ing baby seat and an av­er­age-height front pas­sen­ger to co­ex­ist. Our only other com­plaint is with the sus­pen­sion on the pave­ment. When the truck is cold, the shocks give a mild pogo­ing sen­sa­tion, which al­most feels like flat-spot­ted tires (thanks to our fa­mil­iar­ity with the ex­cel­lent 35-inch Bf­goodrich A-TS, we know that’s not the case). This sen­sa­tion dis­ap­pears af­ter a minute or so of driv­ing when the shock oil starts mov­ing.

With only a few months left with our long-term Rap­tor, we’ll use this last quar­ter to wean our­selves off those in­tox­i­cat­ing tur­bos and take ad­van­tage of the truck’s al­ways-ready trail­abil­ity.

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->The Supercab is pretty tight for front oc­cu­pants with a rear-fac­ing baby seat in­stalled.

|> We hauled all sorts of heavy and ir­reg­u­larly shaped items in the bed, in­clud­ing this axle for one of our Jeep projects.

|> We like that you can safely hook up as many as six ac­ces­sories with the Rap­tor’s in­te­grated up­fit­ter switches.

|> This sta­tus screen rep­re­sents every­thing we love about the Rap­tor.

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