2018 Ford F-150 Raptor
Pure fun, but not for the city
By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel
When I saw on my schedule that a Raptor was coming my way, I had some second thoughts about the wisdom of wheeling around Chicago’s streets in a full-size pickup. Of course, I see plenty of full-size pickups doing just that everyday.
My other concern was how the Raptor would fit in my parking space. I knew it would be a bit long and certainly stick out a bit. I might even have trouble just to get in to the space. I park in a gated and secure residential parking lot with other cars, crossovers and SUVs. If all the parking spaces are occupied the room to maneuver is tight.
When the Raptor arrived I was relieved that is was the SuperCab model, and not the 12-inch longer SuperCrew Cab. However, I had completely forgotten that the Raptor has a 6-inch wider track and is 86 inches wide overall. My neighboring parking-mates will not be thrilled by the reduced space between our vehicles.
As it turned out, I was overly concerned. During my stint with the Raptor I came and went as I pleased with only a bit more additional maneuvering. Thank goodness for reverse parking sensors and a back-up camera.
This was my second Raptor drive experience. I was fortunate to join in the 2017 Raptor launch program in December 2016 in Southern California. We drove the Raptor from San Diego to the Mojave Desert having plenty of on-road time behind the wheel.
In the Mojave we trail-drove, rock-crawled and also made a high-speed desert drive through a dry riverbed, into a sand dune bowl and across a dry lakebed. Speeds varied from a couple miles per hour to flat out. That’s a bit over 100 mph. Here's the drive report which includes lots of tech details on the Raptor.
I was hoping for a big-snow to hit Chicago for this mid-winter drive. Well, we had some snow but not enough to make for much excitement.
The Raptor for 2018 is mostly unchanged. The tailgate design has been tweaked and taillights are redesigned. Three new colors, Lead Foot, Guard, and Race Red replace Ruby Red and Avalanche for 2018. A new 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen stereo is now optional instead of the Sony audio system.
For this in-Chicago drive I drove a 2017 model in the now-discontinued Avalanche color with a base price of $48,325. For 2018 the Raptor begins at $50,020.
Options on my test-Raptor included 10-way power and heated front seats, leather-seat surfaces, SYNC 3 and an 8-inch LCD Touchscreen in the center stack ($3,158), pro-trailer backup assist ($395), voice-activated navigation ($795), exterior graphics package ($1,075), hood graphics package ($900), SYNC connect ($235), 4.10 front axle with Torsen differential ($500), tailgate step ($375) and a spray-in bedliner ($495). Destination charge is $1,195 for a total of $57,448.
So what’s it like to drive a long and wide full-size pickup around a crowded city. Well, I drove slower, made wider turns, dreaded the thought of needing to parallel park, and thus sought out easier in-and-out street parking places, and avoided parking garages. Overall height can be a concern too, with the Raptor standing 78.5 inches tall.
I wouldn’t want to be a semi-truck driver in the city and I started to feel a bit like them in the rather large Raptor.
I ignored fuel consumption and instead enjoyed the Raptor’s 450HP twin turbo 3.5-L EcoBoost V6 coupled to the 10-speed automatic. The Raptor has plenty of go-power and will hit 60 mph from stop in a touch over 5 seconds.
In case you are interested, EPA test-cycle rating are 16 mpg combined, with 15 city mpg and 18 highway mpg, which is about 23-percent better than the Gen-one Raptor from 2014.
Raptors suspension is designed to handle the worst stuff, therefore city streets are actually very easy to handle. The suspension, designed for off-road, is nicely calibrated so even around town things are not too harsh and uncomfortable. The 17-inch BF Goodrich KO2 all-terrain tires do sing a bit at higher highway speeds, which I recall from my first drive. However, that’s a tradeoff for their outstanding off-road capability.
This Raptor was equipped with Ford’s pro-trailer back-up assist. I didn’t have a trailer readily at my disposal to use this feature. However, I had tried it out a couple years back when the new F-150 was just being brought to market. It’s a great tool that makes trailer backing very easy. Using a rotary knob on the IP all you do is watch in the rear view mirrors and turn the knob in the direction you want the trailer to go and the system takes over the steering. Another godsend.
In the cabin the Raptor is quite nice. The climb up and in is eased by running boards. There’s plenty of room and the seats are comfy and supportive. The rear-hinged, rear doors on the SuperCab make for easy grocery hauling. You can see plenty looking out, but like most big trucks it’s hard to judge nearby objects and vehicles when maneuvering.
More details and specifications on the Raptor and the entire F-150 model line can be found at www.ford.com.
As for what’s next, Ford just announced the return of the Ranger pickup to the U.S. market. The mid-size pickup market is growing especially with urban dwellers still wanting their trucks for weekend fun. We’ll see the new Ranger show up at Ford retailers in the first quarter of 2019.
Going hand-in-hand, Ford just revealed a Ranger-based Raptor for the Asia-Pacific market. I’ll venture a guess we’ll see a Range Raptor in the U.S. sometime in 2019.
The Ford F-150 Raptor is fairly popular…it outsold Corvette in January 2018. The Ford Performance team has done a great job in engineering a very fun truck with outstanding on-road and off-road creds.
Yes, the Raptor is a big guy for wheeling around the city. However, take the Raptor out in to the wilds and it’s the best of the best.
© 2018 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy
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