Absolute fun with an EcoBoost punch
"It is big, powerful and dashing!"
"Never before had I worried about the ground clearance."
"I closed my eyes to get a whiff of all those trophy trucks galloping away on godforsaken terrain and pushed the gas pedal to the max. Boom!"
"The ultimate desert hooligan which can also handle your urban commutes.", said Ershad.
Our GPS coordinates indicate that there is nothing ahead. No road, no speed cams, no traffic lights. It’s just the desert and us-and yes, the 2018 Ford F-150 Raptor for company (evil grin!).
Six drive modes on offer and if you don’t know what the ‘Baja’ mode can do, you better stay away from my Raptor please. It is going to be a lot of flying sand ahead!
Even though I am more of a car guy, the Ford F-150 Raptor always had a special touch to it. I’ve never seen anything look that macho from the factory. It was that wholesome package of ‘show and go,’ which made my jaw hit the seat. It was big, powerful and dashing!
So, Baja mode was selected and the transmission was automatically in 4×4 High, ready to take on some high-speed sand surfaces. Traction control was switched off in this mode and the 10-speed transmission held on longer to revs for peak power output. I closed my eyes to get a whiff of all those trophy trucks galloping away on godforsaken terrain and pushed the gas pedal to the max. Boom! There I was, gathering some serious speed pretty quickly and I felt like a ship’s lookout straining to get my eyes on to any long-distance hazards. Never before had I worried about the ground clearance, the type of surface or anything. I enjoyed some air-time too midway! This level of enjoyment-only in a Raptor!
Since its launch in 2010 as a super-truck, the F-150 Raptor has brought high performance off-roading to a league of its own. The new version, however, ditches the old crowd-favorite 6.2-liter V8 for a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6. Now, just like any other performance aficionado, I was plain disappointed. Why on earth have a Raptor running half the cubic capacity? The new power plant for the Raptor generates more horsepower (450 hp) and torque (691 Nm) compared to its predecessor. You get two turbos pushing air into the engine and doing the magic. But I believed those numbers were just numbers…until I drove the new Raptor.
The V6 seems less stressful and easy to run your daily job; but can really get things moving when you need it the most. The mild reduction in overall truck weight will also help to increase overall efficiency.
Sitting in the new Raptor felt much more civilized and updated than in the older models. There is a slight hint of car-like features rather than a truck. The airy cabin had a lot of soft-touch surfaces and tons of leather wrapped around the cabin. The red stripe on the huge steering wheel reminds you that you are driving something special. Touchscreen infotainment finds its place in the center console. Drive modes can now be changed using switches on the steering wheel while the old one needed a real sharp guy to know what configuration to use where. You have Normal, Sport, Rain, Snow, Baja and Rock/Crawl modes. Usually the Raptor runs a rear-wheel drive set-up for normal driving conditions; basically on-road and for a bit of driving fun. But the high seating position ensures that drive feel on-road is close to zero. The truck switches to all-wheel drive for trickier surfaces and can eventually be locked mechanically for the ultimate sand drive experience. A huge panoramic sunroof can help you soak in all the solar power you ever needed!
Tons of storage slots and boxes within the cabin will ensure that you survive even if you are lost in the desert for let’s say three or four days! And coming to the feature I loved on this Raptor, the aircraft-inspired overhead switches for any extra lighting, winches or accessories you may bolt on to the already well-equipped truck. I wouldn’t mind adding some extras just to flip these switches once a day!
What Ford has done here is a combination of clutch-based power transfer to the front wheels, which provides 4×4 drive for on-road conditions and mechanically locking systems between the axles for off-road conditions. It would be worth mentioning that there’s new Fox suspension with larger diameter tubing and a new damping system, which prevents the Raptor from bottoming out under heavy off-roading conditions. As far as my drive impressions are concerned, the suspension feels all set for off-road. On road, it felt a bit too stiff with the Raptor jumping around humps rather than absorbing them. Riding on 315/70/R17 tires, I was either riding over every other undulation on the road or I was not able to judge the tire width! I don’t know if it was the tires, but on-road braking could have been a notch higher for a vehicle in this class.
Stepping out of the Raptor, you suddenly notice people looking away or doing that ‘you-lucky-jerk’ smile or just ignoring you and admiring the truck. The new exterior touches provide the Raptor with a much more attacking stance. Right from the redesigned front grille, to the rugged front bumper, flared wheel arches with contrasting cladding and till the new dual exhausts; almost every design aspect on the Raptor has been freshened up. The only thing I miss are those ‘splash’ vinyls on the older Raptors, which have now found their way into almost all truck makes.
Wrapping it up, the F-150 Raptor is a one of a kind. It’s that ultimate desert hooligan which can also handle your urban commutes. This is a truck that likes to run loose with its drivers screaming in excitement. If you want a pickup truck with practicality, you will own a Ford F-150. But with the Raptor decals, you are not just that practical guy anymore! The only thing I want is a sprinkle of salt from the Shelby kitchen.
Pros: Mean looks, excellent road presence, unbeatable off-road performance, EcoBoost efficiency
Cons: Rough on-road manners, exhaust soundtrack leaves a bit to be desired
Rivals: Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra 1500, Ram 1500
one word: the ultimate desert sprinter
3.5L EcoBoost turbocharged V6 engine, 4WD, 415 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 678 Nm @ 2,750 rpm, 10-speed auto transmission
0-100 km/h: 7 secs, top speed: 160 km/h, fuel consumption: 14.5 L/100 km
Curb weight: 2,540 to 2,630 kg