It is almost sadistic to unveil a new 2017 model truck at an early 2015 auto show, but that is exactly what Ford did today — taking the wrappings off the Raptor F-150 which is more than a year a way. It was smart, too, since other manufacturers have been sniffing around since Ford stopped making new models of the highly popular vehicle. It had been the only mass-produced off-road full-size truck in the market. Others have created aftermarket versions, but none have come close to the hunk of plunder that the Raptor represents.
Perhaps Ford was figuring that it would win the North American Truck of the Year — which it did. Perhaps they were trying to show doubters that the all-aluminum body was as tough as they claimed. Perhaps it was about the fact that it was still as capable with more than 500 lbs. taken out while featuring more high strength steel than its predecessor. Whatever their thinking, this was a gutsy move.
The new Raptor is 6″ wider than the standard F-150, and has dual exhaust for the first time. There are also new 17″ wheels with BFG All-Terrain KO2 off-road tires . The 2017 vehicle will be powered by Ford’s second generation 3.5L EcoBoost engine with more power and efficiency than the current 6.2L V8 which is rated at 411hp and 434 lb.-ft. of torque. It will be paired with a new 10-speed transmission. A new four-wheel drive torque-on-demand transfer case for management of power distribution between the front and rear wheels, combining “the best attributes of clutch-driven, on-demand all wheel drive with durable mechanical locking four-wheel drive.”
An all-new terrain management system will enable easier selection from six different modes — normal for everyday driving, street mode for higher performance on-road, weather mode for rain, snow or ice, mud and sand mode, BAJA mode for high-speed desert running and rock mode for rock crawling. (I can hardly wait to check it out myself.)
There are also calibration changes to the powertrain, drive line, traction control ABS and AdvanceTrac stability control. An available Torsen front differential increases off-road capability and the Raptor will come standard with new FOX Racing Shox designed to damp and stiffen suspension travel over rough terrain while helping to prevent bottoming out.
It is interesting to note that, while we certainly were not treated to all of the details, including technology and interior info, Ford provided more than some other truck makers did for their new 2016 models. That says to me that this truck has been in the works for a while and may even have been developed in tandem with the 2015 F-150.