If there’s one image that comes to mind when thinking about the Ford F-150 Raptor, chances are it includes a desert backdrop and a truck sailing through the air with four chunky tires dangling beneath. Ford isn’t modest about the Raptor’s ability to scale mountain terrain, blast through deserts, or leap over sand dunes with effortless grace. With expectations sky-high (literally), I couldn’t wait to have a go in their beefy, high-speed, off-road monster.
Let’s start with the numbers. The engine is a twin-turbocharged 3.5L V6 that produces 450 horsepower and a tire-smoking 510lb-ft of torque. It’s enough twist to launch you from rest to 100 kilometres per hour in around 5 seconds. That’s sports car performance. Only this isn’t a sports car. It’s a 2500kg pickup truck.
I can think of a few rally racers that would have a tough time keeping up with this off-road beast. The Raptor comes ready to rumble right out of the box. It’s equipped with massive Fox Racing dampers with incredibly long travel, true all-terrain knobby tires on a widened track, and a Terrain Management System with six modes, including Rock Crawl, Mud and Sand, and Baja. The result of all this heavy-duty kit is a truck capable of devouring any type of terrain that Mother Earth can whip up.
As incredible as it is, I have to admit, it isn’t exactly easy to find a suitable location to exploit the Raptor’s abilities. The result is that you wind up spending most of your time lumping around town, driving through traffic, and cruising the highway, with the occasional gravel road here and there. That is the environment in which most will spend their time. In these conditions, the Raptor is, sad to say, a pure annoyance.
Its enormous size simply makes it a total pain to drive and park in the city, even by truck standards. It just isn’t an easy vehicle to live with on a day-to-day basis. And, surprising to some, it isn’t really that comfortable to off-road either. The issue is that it’s just way too big to navigate over a rock-covered trail without scraping or getting caught on something. A wieldy Jeep Wrangler Rubicon with a short wheelbase will walk all over this thing. A Wrangler would be a little easier on the wallet as well. Despite fuel saving measures such as the aluminum body, V6 engine, and 10-speed transmission, I only managed a dismal 19.0L/100km in mixed city and highway driving.
There’s no question that the Raptor is a truck of enormous talents, but unless you live beside a dune-covered desert or a Baja course, the chances of making use of those talents on a regular basis are next to none. The things it will be used for most, including towing huge loads, carrying four passengers in relative comfort, and impressing you with a wide assortment of fancy gadgets, can just as easily be accomplished with a regular F-150, which continues to be the best-selling vehicle in North America.
None of this likely matters to the fans who are willing to forgo the sales incentives of a run-of-the-mill F-150 and pay the full $69,899 MSRP ($88,239 as-tested) needed to secure one of these high-demand rigs. The reason for that might just have to do with the way it looks. The Raptor is arguably more about image than anything else. And there’s no doubt that this is one the meanest, burliest, in your face rides you can spend your money on. To some, that alone makes it more than worth the price.