First, a disclaimer: I am not a truck person. I have lived in big cities (or very close to them) my whole life. I have never had a need for pickup truck, I never owned one, and I know few that did. My only experience with pickups was while working for a construction company during college where we had mid-80s Dodge trucks that had an L for first gear, which was never used anyway.
That said, I loved the idea of the Ford Raptor. By now, we all know what the Raptor is so I’ll skip the nitty-gritty (and if you don’t, hit jump and watch the video). Of all the vehicles in Ford’s lineup, the Raptor was the one I wanted to drive the most. Unfortunately, when I finally got around to it, at least at first, I was hugely disappointed.
The problem is the size of the Raptor – it’s HUGE. Because we are used to seeing current full-size pickups around, the Raptor does not stick out as much and it’s not until you get into it and sit behind the wheel do you realize its true size. It’s a mile wide and twice as long. It weights in at several tons, too. Typically these dimensions do not yield good performance, and the Raptor is no exception.
Please send all hate mail to Jeff@Hooniverse.com.
Around the city its huge proportions will make you pay more attention to the traffic ahead. Road line markings are damn close to each side of the Raptor too. Garages will have you to praying to the automotive Gods for clearance. Parking spots will require multiple maneuvers, assuming you can fit the whole vehicle into one spot. It’s huge!
It’s huge inside too, and that’s a good thing. Surprisingly all three women I have taken for a ride in this monster loved it, but expressed no interest in driving it, except my five year old daughter – she was ready to hoon it. There is lots of space for everything, except there is nowhere to put your cell phone. Rear seat easily accommodates three kids’ car-seats and the legroom is generous too.
Ford’s infotainment center is a love/hate thing. In the case of the F-150 it works because there are a lot other means of controlling things besides the touch-screen, unlike on the Taurus for instance. It connected well with my phone too, streamed music not only off my phone but also off my apps such as Pandora and SiriusXM. Unfortunately the system did not connect with my phone all the time and on two occasions my iPhone4 completely froze after being plugged into the USB post. Similar thing has happened to me in the Lincoln MKT sometime ago.
But the Raptor is not your typical vehicle and comparing it to anything else would be insane. It’s a purpose-made vehicle and its purpose is to be a toy. Allow me to explain – the chart below illustrates the differences between two very similarly priced trucks. The Platinum comes loaded, and a Raptor with the same features would cost about the same. I chose Crew Cab models only for the purpose of comparison:
Ford F-150 Raptor SuperCrew
Ford F-250 4WD Crew Cab Platinum 6.2
Max Trailer Weight
Cargo Box Length
Cargo Box Width
Cargo Box Volume
From the above we can see that anyone who wants to buy a proper truck will choose the F-250. While Raptor’s figures are impressive, as are most quarter-ton pickups’ these days, the F-250 is clearly better for any kind of professional work. That said, the Raptor will happily haul your Spec Miata in an enclosed trailer to the track, and it will bring your new washing machine home too.
But the Raptor was designed first as a desert racer, and that’s where it shines. The softly sprung suspension allows for exceptional travel and axle articulation. Thirty-five-inch BFGoodrich All-Terrains will put that power down easily, anywhere. Helping to put that power down are limited slipped this, low-range that, electronic off-road modes, and almost everything else that has ever been designed to keep vehicles going where there is no road. On the road, the Raptor is superbly smooth and comfortable. This is the result of a suspension system designed to absorb hits at speed and off-pavement, but still remain solid and predictable.
Magically, like many BMWs for instance, once at highway speeds the Raptor feels nimble, as if it shrank in size. With time, more so with the Raptor than with any other vehicle I’ve ever driven, it wins you over with its power and agility. For me that was the time when the Raptor went from being a disappointing toy to being simply awesome. Learning to live with the Raptor was like taming a wild horse; sacrifices have to be on behalf of the beast and its master but the end result is spectacular. Make no mistake, this is as awesome of a vehicle as you think it is, and I want one as my toy… in the city.
Post Script: I had this Raptor for a weekend during a snow storm. Because the snow was rather high, about eighteen inches on the ground total, I used common sense and did not venture too far off road. However, Ezra Dyer of Yahoo! Autos, who also is kind of a yahoo, had the exact same Raptor a week after me and managed to do some off-roading, coincidentally not too far from where I took my pictures. Enjoy his little video:
Some random observations:
- This truck looked much better dirty than clean, which is how it appears in pictures.
- 12mpg is all I managed to get in my mixed driving.
- While driving after the storm the windshield got dirty really quickly, which was quite surprising given how high off the ground it is. I had to use the washer on every other wiper wipe.
- The rear window got dirty even faster, and there was no cleaning it.
- Little running boards are useless for tall people, you end just scraping your boot or pant-leg on them.
- Engine noise is great, but it could use a little flap which would make it louder at WOT like many sports cars.
- There is no conventional trunk space at all. I had to put my groceries on seats.
- Got three thumbs-up and two people stopped to talk about the truck over three days. A record!
- Make mine a SuperCrew in black, without those weird graphics, please.