Color: Lead Foot. Wheels: optional ($1,165) forged-aluminum beadlock-capable 17-inchers wearing 315/70R-17 B.F. Goodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 tires. Engine: twin-turbo 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 making 450 horsepower and—hang on—510 pound-feet of torque. Transmission: 10-speed paddle-shift automatic co-developed with GM and also used in the Camaro ZL1. Attitude: oh, yeah.
The Ford Raptor is a glorious pickup truck, a Tonka toy for adults, a Transformer made real, a brutish, seven-foot-wide hulk that, merely by the appearance of its Armageddon-ready profile, causes nearby traffic to scurry for cover. Yet it also delivers a driving experience as comfortable and plush as a premium luxury sedan’s. My loaded test rig checked in at $68,250. And at the end of my week living with the monster, my opinion of that sticker was, “It’s totally worth it.”
This second-gen Raptor is an improvement over the impressive original in every way. Though considerably smaller, the EcoBoost six makes more power and a lot more torque than the top-end 6.2-liter V-8 that proceeded it—while also being lighter and more fuel-efficient (as in “better” fuel econ, not great). Extensive use of aluminum in the structure (and that lighter powertrain) cut a whopping 500 pounds off the truck’s curb weight. The Fox Racing shocks are longer (3.0 inches versus 2.5), while the suspension is now capable of at least 13 inches of suspension travel (the increase is almost two inches at the rear). The cockpit is ritzier and more tech-laden than ever.
I could tell I was driving something special the moment I climbed up into the huge, four-door SuperCrew cabin and pressed the starter button. The EcoBoost lit off so smoothly and so quietly I had to check the tach to make sure it was actually alive. But it was alive, all right. The moment I eased into the Los Angeles crush, I could feel the power surging through my right foot. Need to blitz an entrance ramp that climbs and winds onto the busy 405 freeway? Accelerating uphill in the Raptor felt like flying down a ski slope. The speed is effortless. Delicious.
Those Fox shocks … man are they sweet. While the Raptor is optimized for extreme off-roading (I once jumped a first-gen model over a giant sand dune in Death Valley), that same all-terrain prowess provides simply sublime on-road refinement. There probably isn’t a pothole in America that could upset this truck. Regular broken pavement feels like driving on a Sealy Posturepedic. My passengers mostly just said, “Wow. This pickup is so smooth!”
After stopping at a diner for lunch one day, I returned to the parking lot to find a Doppelgänger of my rig—the exact same Raptor parked two spots away. And its owner just happened to be returning to his new steed. We chatted for a few minutes. “The ride in this thing is as good as my Mercedes S-Class,” said RaptorMan. “This is now my preferred vehicle for long highway drives.” He looked over at “my” truck. “I think I might prefer the color of yours, though.” What? Until that moment I’d thought our two Raptors were identical. But on closer inspection … no, the gray on his truck was slightly darker and less warm. Magnetic, not Lead Foot. We shook hands and parted ways, each eager to get back on the road.
Equipment Group 802A ($9,770) adds a ton of premium features that I’d bet most Raptor buyers will want—among them, a power-sliding rear window, 360-degree camera, heated steering wheel, remote start, voice-activated nav, Ford’s SYNC 3 (new for 2018), and, also new, a smashing B&O premium audio system. My tester also included a spray-in bedliner ($495) and the Raptor Technology Package ($1,950), which adds lane-keeping and lane-departure systems, auto high beams, rain-sensing wipers, and adaptive cruise with collision mitigation.
I enjoyed every moment sitting in the Raptor’s tall saddle. The cabin feels as roomy as a small apartment. The rear seats are particularly spacious, with gobs of legroom. The storage bin in the center console could swallow a border collie. And the truck itself, for all of its size and power and capability, is a sweetheart to drive. Steering feel is smooth and well-boosted, the brakes are potent without being touchy, and the turbo six never strains, even under a heavy right foot. The ten-speed automatic is generally on its game, but I found when switching to manual mode it could be a bit hesitant about delivering the gear I’d summoned. A little more snappiness in its response when using the paddles would go a long way to perfecting this otherwise outstanding powertrain.
With on-demand four-wheel drive, 9.8 inches of ground clearance, an 8,000-pound tow rating, a 1,200-pound payload capacity, every imaginable convenience feature, and a personality that screams “bring it on” (it also has a five-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA), this is the driving machine I’d choose as an escape vehicle for the zombie apocalypse (which we all know is coming, right?). Or maybe I’d wait for the 2019 edition, which will add Recaro seats, electronically controlled Fox shocks, and a new feature called Trail Control, a sort of off-road cruise control that can take over throttle and braking duties at speeds up to 20 mph.
For now, though, the Raptor stands as the one pickup truck I’d love to have in my own garage. Zombies are nasty. But they’re no problem at when you can just jump right over them.
2018 Ford F-150 Raptor 4×4 Lariat SuperCrew Specifications
|ENGINE||3.5L DOHC 24-valve twin-turbocharged V-6/450 hp @ 5,000 rpm, 510 lb-ft @ 3,500 rpm|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, 4WD truck|
|EPA MILEAGE||15/18 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H||231.9 x 86.3 x 78.5 in|
|0-60 MPH||5.0 sec (est)|
|TOP SPEED||110 mph (est)|