You can find a lot of things out in the desert. There are species of plants and wildlife and even people that manage to live through years of intense heat and high winds. Some sands conceal ancient artifacts that haven’t been seen by human eyes in centuries. Thanks to the refraction of light rays, you may even see a mirage of water where there is none.
We recently found ourselves having a blast out in the desert – behind the wheel of a 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor SuperCrew.
The blue oval introduced the world to the most extreme off-road F-150 during the truck’s last generation. It could cruise down the highway, then turn off of it and crawl over rocks, claw its way through mud, and fly over the peaks of sand dunes. V8 power lurked behind the big, bold letters of the F-O-R-D grille. The available side graphics package made the Raptor look as hardcore as its suspension was capable.
Ford launched the current generation of the F-150 in time for the 2015 model year. Raptor fans had to wait until the 2017 model year to see the newest version of the Raptor, which is lighter, more powerful, and more capable than the model it replaces. Power comes exclusively from an EcoBoost V6; SuperCab and SuperCrew configurations are available.
We took a loaded version of the 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor SuperCrew on a road trip from Austin to El Paso, Texas. While out west, we made a short trip into the pristine beauty of New Mexico’s White Sands National Monument. A few days later, we unleashed the Raptor on the Red Sands of El Paso. There, we found ourselves having a great time discovering what the new Raptor can do in the rough.
2017 Ford F-150 Raptor Exterior
The 2017 Raptor is the pickup equivalent of a Lamborghini. It stands out everywhere. Whether we were in traffic or a parking lot or at a gas station, people were looking at our Lightning Blue test vehicle. We know why. It was impossible to not see it. The bold letters of its grille sat in the middle of a wide aluminum body that covered a track that’s been broadened by six inches. LED headlights sparkled above the front skid plate. Cast aluminum running boards visually connected the frames of the flared wheel arches. Chunky BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2s surrounded a set of black 17-inch bead-lock capable forged aluminum wheels. Optional graphics packages drew even more attention to the vented hood and the flared rear panels. The tailgate at the end of the 5.5-foot bed was covered with an applique that featured letters as eye-catching as those on the grille. Down below, black tips finished off the dual exhaust system.
2017 Ford F-150 Raptor Interior
The interior of our Raptor had nearly all of the things we’d expect in a well-equipped modern pickup truck. The front seats were heated and ventilated, and left us nothing but comfortable after our lengthy travels on and off the highway. Adaptive cruise control took the hassle out of adjusting our speed and the distance between us and slower vehicles ahead. Changing the volume of the Sony audio system and turning the SiriusXM satellite radio to the right station was easy thanks to the large knobs. We never made a wrong turn during our trip out west because the SYNC 3 system’s navigation showed us the way. When the sun went down, we retracted the black cover for the twin-panel moon roof to let in the light of the stars above. Our El Paso guests found leg room in the second row to be abundant. We enjoyed the space under the back seats because the floor in front of the storage pockets was completely flat, which allowed us to conceal our camera bags and tripod from prying eyes.
Our Raptor’s cabin also had features we’re not used to seeing in a new truck. The magnesium paddle shifters and optional carbon fiber accents on the door panels, dashboard, media bin door, and shift knob were more sports car than off-road truck. So was the red center stripe at the 12 o’clock position on the leather-wrapped steering wheel. You know what, though? The Raptor pulled the look off.
2017 Ford F-150 Raptor Performance
The crew at Ford Performance gave the Raptor enough go to match its show. It combined twin turbos with higher boost, direct and port fuel injection, and other upgrades to get 450 horsepower and 510 lbft of torque from a high-output version of the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6. That’s hooked to a 10-speed automatic.
Ford Performance connected that grunt to a six-mode Terrain Management System. According to Ford, it “automatically selects the most suitable two-, four (high/low)- and all-wheel drive mode as well as recalibrates engine, transmission, braking and stability control systems for optimum all-terrain performance.“ On the highway to El Paso, we largely left the Raptor in Normal. Before driving through a short rain storm, we used a steering wheel-mounted switch to engage the traction-focused Weather setting. Around town, we occasionally engaged the Sport setting to zoom away from stops. Although we didn’t get a chance to test out the Rock Crawl mode, we definitely experienced the Mud/Sand and Baja modes out at Red Sands. When the Raptor is set to Mud/Sand, it locks its rear differential and puts its transfer case into 4H to increase traction. That combo enabled us to climb the constantly changing dunes with ease. All we had to do was keep our right foot down (which is not a chore at all in a truck as cool as the Raptor) and keep the wheel straight for each ascent and descent. Baja mode locks the transfer case into 4H and engages a “unique transmission shift schedule and engine controls utilizing anti-lag technology” for maximum performance. We tore across the sand, smiling the whole way as the three-inch diameter FOX shocks with nine-stage bypass damping battled the bumps. Every time we felt the back end slipping out a little, we just input a slight steering correction to keep the Raptor moving straight ahead. We had complete control over our big, blue beast…and even more fun letting it charge at the horizon.
2017 Ford F-150 Raptor Safety
As fun as it was zooming over the sand, we spent most of our time on pavement. We were glad to know our Raptor test truck had front, front seat-mounted side impact, rear seat belt, and side curtain airbags in addition to tire pressure and blind spot monitoring systems, and a 360-degree camera setup.
2017 Ford F-150 Raptor Overall
The 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor’s base price is $49,265*. Our loaded review rig had an as-tested price of $70,595. You can get the Raptor that’s perfect for you at an AutoNation Ford dealership. Once you do, take it out to the desert. You’ll find more than just sand and wind there.
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.