Long-Term Test: Final Report, 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor SuperCab

    Final report: A year proves our winner worthy

    Sean P. HolmanPhotographer, WriterJason GondermanPhotographer

    The Raptor is a special kind of truck—dare we say, the ultimate truck? So, it’s no wonder that it walked away with Four Wheeler’s 2017 Pickup Truck of the Year award. After a year in the driver seat, there are still times we can’t believe a manufacturer is actually selling a machine like this, let alone a second-generation version. From high-speed desert blasts to brief moments of flight, the 450hp twin-turbo 3.5L/10-speed automatic and long-travel suspension never disappointed. Well, except for that whole fake engine noise thing. (Ford, please give drivers the option to turn this “feature” off so we can experience the Raptor in its full unadulterated glory).

    The second-generation Raptor, marked by aggressive anger-in-your-rearview-mirror styling, is mostly better than the version it replaces (itself a Four Wheeler Pickup Truck of the Year alumnus). A stronger chassis, lighter aluminum body, longer-travel suspension with bigger Fox internal bypass shocks, and better weight distribution all help the Raptor to be even more fun and engaging off-road.

    We lauded the truck for a transmission that is quick shifting and always feels like it is in the right gear, and a Sport mode that actually makes a noticeable difference in performance. We do miss the first-gen Raptor’s real V-8 sound and its ability to activate the rear locker in 2WD, but we are otherwise short on criticism about the overall package.

    Our Raptor SuperCab, a base version with only a few options, was the lightest version of the Raptor available, and with an MSRP just a tick north of the $50,000 mark, it might also prove to be a unicorn outside of fleet and government sales. We did miss some options you might expect on a $50,000 vehicle, such as leather seating, damped tailgate, push-button start, and HomeLink. However, if speed and outright performance is your thing, our tester was hard to beat.

    As a daily driver, the Raptor was incredibly easy to live with. The EcoBoost offers everyday drivability, with minimal turbo lag. Passing and merging was seamless, and the supple suspension was great for commutes on roads that would send lesser trucks crashing through their bumpstops. The added width of the Raptor was only occasionally challenging when parking or maneuvering in tight urban settings, but it fit into every parking structure we encountered. We continue to be unimpressed with the engine’s auto start-stop, although if that’s the sacrifice it takes to keep having vehicles like this, we can begrudgingly get behind it. Thankfully there is more than one way to defeat it, either by using the button on the dash or selecting Sport mode.

    Of course, having a Raptor at our disposal meant that we always had a truck that was ready and willing to leave the pavement. Whether that was an impromptu dirt road bypass around traffic or a weekend of chasing race trucks, we could always count on the big Ford. We also loved putting grins and a little bit of fear into unsuspecting passengers who had no idea how high the limits of the truck were, especially in Baja mode. Whether we scared or delighted them, they always came back for more. The Raptor in its element is probably as pure, raw, and visceral a driving experience and demonstration of skill that you can experience in any vehicle. Period.

    Remarkably, our truck only required two scheduled visits to the dealership for regular maintenance. Whether it was the lack of any mechanical problems, a cabin devoid of squeaks and rattles, or seat fabric that held up well to normal wear and tear, the Raptor emerged from our yearlong test better than expected. We did note, however, that the black coating on the exhaust tips was beginning to flake off, and our Ford Tough Bed bedliner had a few cuts in it from typical bed use—both issues we would have warrantied if the truck were ours.

    Fuel economy over 17,000 miles averaged approximately 14.5 mpg. Despite all that power, 35-inch tires, and more surface area to push through the wind, we even managed to beat the 18 mpg highway rating, if just barely, on more than one tank. We found the truck to be happier and more fuel efficient when run on a steady diet of premium, although we noticed no ill effects when we experimented with a few tanks of 87 octane.

    With a year in the rearview, we are even more confident in our decision to award the Raptor as our 2017 Pickup Truck of the Year winner. There isn’t a truck out there more geared for what we love to do, or one that is as versatile as the Raptor. While there might be other trucks out there that are a better fit for specific tasks, none of them are as well rounded or offer the level of performance of the Raptor. Long live the super truck that can double as the daily driver.

    Report: 4 of 4

    Previous reports: Jan. ’18, Apr. ’18, Aug. ’18
    Base price: $48,325
    Price as tested: $50, 910
    Four-wheel-drive system: Part-time/full-time, electronically controlled, two-speed

    Long-Term Numbers
    Miles to date: 17,141
    Miles since last report: 5,360
    Average mpg (this report): 13.37
    Test best tank (mpg): 18.62
    Test worst tank (mpg): 13.17

    This period: 10K scheduled service
    Problem areas: Bedliner tear, exhaust tip finish flaking off

    What’s Hot,
    What’s Not
    Hot: It’s a Raptor—a do-all performance pickup
    Not: Not the most fuel-efficient truck, but for the performance, who cares?

    Logbook Quotes
    “This truck is just so much fun off-road that it has spoiled me on almost anything else.”
    “The thick cloth seat material is holding up well to all of our abuse, including the french fry and burrito grease.”
    “Noticed a few cuts in the bedliner. Nothing major, but a bit surprising.”
    “Lots of hard miles on this truck, and there isn’t a squeak or rattle to be heard in the cab.”
    “Not sure what is more fun: airing out the Raptor or the way it feels when it lands.”

    Options as tested

    Pro Trailer Backup Assist ($395), Torsen front differential ($500), spray-in bedliner ($495), and destination & delivery ($1,195)
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