Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor: Mr. Miller, Your Car Is Ready

In this case, that reference is to George Miller, former emergency room doctor who is now best known for switching careers and directing family movies like Mad Max: Fury Road, and disaster movies strewn across post-apocalyptic war zones like Babe: Pig in The City.

Speaking of post-apocalyptic landscapes: Southern Arizona.

For some reason – which seemed like a good one at the time – but in actuality is something best not examined in any depth, I recently had to move to Southern Arizona.

You want to know what it’s like? I wish I could tell you, but it’s a place that defies complete description. It also defies logic, reason, and meaningful temperature measurement.

People usually focus on how it looks: cactus, cowboys, mesas, huge domes of bright blue sky – but to me it seems like a Roadrunner cartoon overlapped with the most bizarre cross section of current Americana, circa last week: flags (49% American, 51% rebel) giant big-box stores, weapons of every description short of flame throwers (and even that I bet I could find), and a general vibe of Randian self-righteousness.

And trucks.

Huge lifted trucks.


Modifications to the Ford F-150 Raptor race truck include three-inch-diameter external-bypass front and rear Fox Racing Shox, special front and rear springs that raise ride height for additional ground clearance with increased compression rate for extreme terrain, and a custom-fabricated roll cage. Photo: Ford Motor Company.

Perfect Setting

I swear that Miller should shoot the next Mad Max movie here. There’s enough violent tribal tension, crazed off-road vehicles, and lethal mechanisms that the only things missing are Australian accents and Charlize Theron. I see about 3 dozen of these trucks a week, and I’m getting to recognize four or five of the brutes. None of them are stock, but they all have the same kit, more or less: big lifts, wheels and tires from a James Cameron movie, enough auxiliary lighting to mimic the mother ship from Close Encounters, exhausts the size of a mortar tube, bumper stickers that imply a swift and belligerent end for anyone who displeases the owner/driver, and a compensating bumper sticker 12 feet away on the other corner of the tailgate that reads, “JESUS! Prince of PEACE!!”

Ready-Made Runner

Take the aforementioned Ford Raptor – it’s pretty much the king of the hill, in a certain way. Sure, you can build your own, and people do with Rams, Sierras, and Tundras, but Ford’s Raptor is ready, or almost ready, right off the rack.

They’re huge full-sized trucks that, off the showroom floor, come with wheels the size of a kiddy pool and tires derived from forestry equipment. They have enough torque to pull your place off its foundation, and they weigh in excess of three tons. I saw one parked next to a MINI once, and I couldn’t decide if it was going to eat the MINI, or had just crapped it.

Now, if Ford had a hit on its hands of that magnitude, why would they change it?

Who cares? It doesn’t seem like the changes hurt it any.


Ford’s all-new adaptive shift algorithms monitor more than a dozen powertrain and driver control signals in real time, ensuring the right gear at the right time. Raptor’s normal, sport, weather, mud/sand, rock/crawl, and Baja modes provide traction in a number of different climates and terrains. In addition, a high-speed, one-way clutch allows for non-sequential shifting. Photo: Ford Motor Company.

Power & Performance

The 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor has more power and torque than the previous model, combined with a 500 pound weight reduction. Ergo, even though the engine is smaller, it puts out more power and has less weight to move around. Speaking of that engine, it would be the second-generation 3.5-liter high-output EcoBoost. It cranks out 450 horsepower and 510 lb-ft. of torque, with a 23 percent improvement in EPA-estimated combined fuel economy.

The weight reduction and fuel economy gains come primarily from Ford’s use of a military-grade aluminum alloy body and a fully boxed high-strength steel frame, same as the current F-Series trucks.

10-Speed System

The Raptor’s transmission is also new – this would be the advanced 10-speed transmission Ford is putting in other, less fevered F-150s. They say it works great, but of course reliability is also key should it be used making a wild blast across the desert terrain, fleeing from an end too grizzly to contemplate. It’s the first transmission from Ford not to use cast-iron components, but “advanced materials and alloys” instead.

This also translates into weight reduction, thereby increasing performance and gas mileage.

Apocalypse Avoided

Hey, if you don’t have to stop for guzzoline as much, then there’s less chance of you running into roving bands of Mohawked bike gangs using horse teeth for facemasks. Ford sums it up by saying in a recent press release that Raptor customers will enjoy “exhilarating performance” and “efficiency” both on and off-road.

Which is a nice way of saying, “Honey!? Did you just see a bright flash over towards Boot Sash Butte?! Get the TEOTWAWKI bags! Now! We’ll swing th’Wal-Mart to get uncle Junior’s medicine after we go t’Fry’s to get Froot Loops! Hurry!”

Ford is going to make millions off of these things.

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life around racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias towards lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.


Photos & Source: Ford Motor Company

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