Nothing succeeds like success, and few things are as enjoyable as excess and that, in a nutshell, is the Ford Raptor. Built to give people a street replica of a Baja racer, but something far more than just a sticker job with some “special-edition-badging”, the Raptor feels as if with just a little prep, you could go out and run it in the 8100 class.
The Raptor starts out as a short bed, extended cab (crew cab available for 2011) and then goes in for some serious gym work. There are 12 inches of suspension travel in the front and 13 in the rear, 35” tall BF Goodrich off road tires and some killer FOX Racing shocks on all four corners
The front grill is unique to the Raptor, along with some additional running lights both on the front and in the back. Our test unit came with the optional $1,075 graphics package, which is a blocky representation of dirt being thrown up on the truck. It’s something that we’d skip. We’ve seen the Raptor in several colors, our black test unit, Blue and in Silver without the graphics package and we prefer the cleaner look. If we want the look of dirt on the side of the truck, we’ll take it into the dirt and mud and put it there the traditional way, thank you.
The five and a half foot box on the Raptor seems small and perhaps it is, but there is an optional bed extender that we would probably get. Also, Ford offers the integrated tailgate step as an option. Neither was on our test vehicle but we can say, unless you have a 38” inseam, we’d highly recommend that tailgate step. With the truck sitting as high as it does, getting up into the bed is not the easiest of tasks.
Not only does the truck sit high, but also, it is quite wide. Our driveway is seven feet wide and the edges of the tires went over the edges and onto the grass on both sides! Being that wide, it takes a bit of getting used to driving down the road as it takes up almost the entire width of the lane. If you live in an area where the roads are narrow, it’s something that you’ll have to be mindful of when traffic approaches in the opposite direction.
There is a nice slab of steel for you to step up into in the cabin of the Raptor. The step serves three purposes, (a) a step duh! (b) a nice skid plate when you go off roading to protect your doors, and (c) a payback mechanism for door dings. If someone opens their door next to hou without paying attention, rather than your door getting a nick in it, their door will get a nice dent in its edge, coming against that nice bit of plate steel!
Once you climb up into the cabin, you have a lot of room. Driver and passengers are separated by a wide center console, which has a very deep storage bin. There are also four auxiliary switches built in for your future modification needs like auxiliary lights, winches, etc. Our test unit had the optional orange seat accents that are a take-it-or-leave-it thing. They offered a nice contrast to the rest of the interior, but it may be a bit too much for others. The steering wheel has a nice meaty feel to it and when you hold it at the ten and two position, it feels custom molded to your hands.
Being an extended cab model there is a back seat for three. It’s a fairly useable space, though we wouldn’t want to ride back there for a long time unless the people in the front two seats were on the shorter end of the scale. With the seats adjusted back for a six-foot plus person, legroom is tight; set for people of normal height, it’s okay.
Our test unit was also equipped with the 700-watt Sony sound system with full SYNC and navigation system. This is not a cheep option at $2,430 but it’s so well done, it’s hard to argue not ordering this. One thing that will be very useful is that SYNC, with the nav system, can direct you to the nearest gas station via voice command. It’s a place you’ll become very intimate with, owning and driving the Raptor: the gas station, that is.
The big upgrade that came later in the 2010 model year was the availability of the 6.2-liter engine, which is now the only available engine for 2011. While the old 5.4-liter engine can trace its roots back to the early 90’s 4.6 V8 that appeared in the Crown Vic, this is an all-new engine for Ford. 411 horsepower and 434 lb/ft of torque are the ratings for the 6.2 and unlike the 5.4, it has power across the entire range. While we would never complain if more power was available, we can say that we were very happy with what was on tap for this power plant, save one thing and we’ll get to that in just a second. Driving in the city, getting on the highway, or just when you feel the need to romp on the gas, the 6.2 has power on demand and makes life oh so enjoyable.
When you buy a truck like the Raptor, fuel mileage is probably not high on your list of concerns. If you can afford a $48,525 pickup truck, you aren’t worried about a trade off of gas in the tank or food on the table for your family. All that said, when the window sticker says in bold face type, “FUEL ECONOMY RATINGS NOT REQUIRED ON THIS VEHICLE,” you know people at the Whole Foods store aren’t going to be smiling at you when you park in their lot.
To see what we could do for mileage, we went on the highway at night so there was little traffic, set the cruise at 75-mph and drove for 45 miles. According to the readout on the dash, 14.1mpg is what we got. There is an upside; in city driving, your mileage will only fall off about 2-3mpg. Therein lies the rub: the motor has enough power to make the truck feel great yet the problem is that it comes at a pretty big cost in fuel economy although the 5.4 was not any better.
The engine we’d love to see under the hood of the Raptor is the EcoBoost V6. Not that we’d expect it to get 20mpg, but if it could get something close to 18, that would be huge. The EcoBoost is about to come on line for other F-150 trucks and Ford is going to run it in this year’s Baja 1000 so maybe, for 2012 or 2013, it will be an option. It has similar power and torque numbers to the 6.2, but at a higher efficiency. We’ll have to wait for the official EPA numbers to come out on the EcoBoost F-150 before we can calculate what that would mean for the Raptor. Look: save it, we know where you are going. Yes, we’d kill to have a turbo diesel, but you can find the PowerStroke Raptor at notgoingtohappen.com, all right?
The Raptor is equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission and it does a good job. In our highway mileage test, 75 miles an hour in sixth gear was 2100 rpm. The transmission shifted smoothly and precisely and there was no slushy vague feeling in it. It also had a tow/haul mode and an option to shift it manually. While our test unit did have the trailer-towing package with brake controller, we didn’t have the opportunity to hook it up and pull anything in our few days with the truck.
On the roads and on the highways, the Raptor rides firm but it’s not jarring. This is no Town Car pillow top ride; it is an off road truck after all but it is a comfortable ride. For as high of a center of gravity as the Raptor has, and as tall as the tires are, it handles fairly well. It’s nimble enough to handle tight parking garages and just fits under the 6’8” height limit of most parking structures around us.
While we didn’t get to truly run the Raptor off road on trails or fire roads, we did find a few fields to rip it up on, and the s&*t eating grin on our face didn’t go away for hours! There were hidden ruts and holes in the field and the Raptor went over them like it was nothing. Given what we believe the shock valving and spring rates to be, to a point, the faster you go, the smoother the ride should be.
There is one dangerous aspect to the Raptor: to your driving record that is. The truck goes 90 on the highway like most cars go 60. There were several times we looked down on the speedometer and had to do a check up. The Raptor is smooth and quiet at those speeds. Most tires geared for off road are also quite noisy at highway speeds, not so with these BFG’s. They made no more noise than your standard all season radials on the family sedan.
People love the Raptor. It doesn’t matter if it’s the young kids in the neighborhood, people in the Costco parking lot, or just driving down the road; people look at you and smile, tell you that it’s a cool truck and give you a thumbs up. When you buy something like the Raptor, it’s doubtful that you are looking for affirmation from others about your purchase, but it is a nice thing to have.
The Ford Raptor is everything you hoped it would be and more, that’s why we describe it as a 30 gallon bucket of awesomesauce. It’s a truck that exceeds your expectations, and you are always looking for an excuse to go out and drive it, even if it’s just on surface streets. We wish we would have had the time to head out to Chrysler’s off road course in Chelsea, MI to really pound it on some trails and mud, but it wasn’t in the cards and couldn’t be arranged.
Would we buy this with our own money, you bet! It's a truck that’s worth $48,000? If you consider that a similarly optioned F-150 FX4 is $43,000, then you would have to add wheels, tires and suspension, etc., to bring it up to the Raptor’s level, you are coming out at the same or higher cost, so yes. Almost $50,000 for a pickup truck is amazing, but Ford, Chevy and Dodge, can all get you into three quarter and one ton trucks from north of $60,000 these days, so I guess we shouldn’t be surprised.
If you get the chance, go drive a Raptor 6.2, you won’t be able to wipe the smile from your face for weeks and that, more than anything, is why trucks like this exist.