Even for me, four pieces of pie in one day is a lot. But when you’re traveling through Julian, California, you stop and get pie. Specifically, apple cherry crumb, caramel dutch apple, chocolate and plain apple. See, we were headed northwest to the desert outside of Borrego Springs in the 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor to defy physics in fun ways but first needed to carb up. That was my excuse, anyway. Though had I known that I’d be laughing my ass off at 70 mph along dusty martian terrain the next morning… I might have gone easier on the gut bombs.
On-road through small towns and curvy mountain switchbacks, the all-new Raptor’s prowess (in the kind of conditions in which most owners will spend their time) is immediately apparent, especially in Sport mode. The truck’s trick 10-speed transmission, computer-controlled steering setup and ridiculously advanced suspension did incredible work, reducing the 6,000–pound behemoth to a much smaller, more manageable perceived size. But it actually hit me when I stepped down from the driver’s seat at Mom’s: I had just easily tailgated less capable cars through ramen noodle–kinky roads in a consumer-grade monster truck.
Pie is my third favorite dessert, behind — in descending order — doughnuts and cupcakes; I probably put away about three entire pies per year. Ford’s F-150 is the best-selling vehicle in America; the previous-generation Raptor sold about 1,000 units per month. Which makes it the dessert to Ford’s ~70k-sold-per-per-month main course.
Allow me to bring home the metaphor: Eat. Dessert. First.
Engine: 3.5–liter twin-turbocharged V6
Transmission: Ten-speed automatic; four-wheel-drive
Horsepower: 450 horsepower
Torque: 510 lb-ft
MPG: 15/18, city/highway
MSRP: $49,520 (base MSRP)
Or maybe only eat dessert. The new Raptor is the truck you buy if you want to have an absolute boatload of fun every time you saddle up, whether pointed toward desert mountains or, well, mountains of dessert.
“I can build my own off-roader,” you say. “Why buy?” Any schmoe can outfit a used truck or SUV to perform impressively off-road or on pavement; only an aftermarket genius with huge funds could extract performance in both conditions. And Ford has managed to craft a ready-out-of-the-box off- and on-road monster, on sale for under $50k.
I attest that the new Raptor climbs craggy, 19 percent grades. It rockets across untouched desert earth at highway speeds. It handles like a taut, small crossover on regular roads. Still, what’s most remarkable about the new Raptor is how easily it does it all. At the literal push of a button, it transforms from a highway cruiser to tow-ready beast; another push into Baja and the transmission automatically holds gears in case you catch air on dunes (you will); Rock Crawl seamlessly shifts to four-wheel-drive low and scales boulders. Whether I had two wheels off the ground, teetering between rocks, or was holding a drift on the side of a dune while ventilated seats cooled my ass, the Raptor always felt like it could do so much more. Like it wanted to. In fact, I was told in a not-so-secret way that the impressive demonstration exercises were intentionally easy, lest any cocky journalist got in over his head.
The new Raptor is the truck you buy if you want to have an absolute boatload of fun every time you saddle up, whether pointed toward desert mountains or, well, mountains of dessert.
How has Ford manufactured such a magic truck, evolving their wild first-generation pickup into something truly outrageous? By employing aluminum to shave weight by up to 500 pounds over the last generation. By popping in an evil version of their 3.5–liter EcoBoost turbocharged V6 making 450 horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque. By convincing BF Goodrich to design tires specific to this model. By engineering the most satisfying, technologically advanced pickup recipe, baking it to perfection and serving it up in a beautifully designed package at a tempting-as-hell price.