Instead of slapping on a set of off-road tires, Ford gave its F-150 a whole new look inspired by trophy trucks.
Ford clearly saw something no one else did when it decided to build its first generation F-150 Raptor. Why not take your longtime best-selling full-size pickup truck and give it the Baja 1000 inspired treatment? There were no direct competitors, thus creating a new niche segment all to itself. This is an example of auto industry brilliance. And so the 2010 F-150 SVT Raptor came to be, and it was an immediate hit. With its widened body, larger tires and an in-your-face front grille, the first gen Raptor was suddenly the “it” truck everyone was talking about.
Because its design, not to mention mechanical, formula worked so well the first time, Ford figured why mess with success for the current second generation Raptor, which went on sale last year. This time around, the SVT prefix was dropped, but the overall attitude remained. No one was complaining. Well, except for maybe those who already purchased the first gen Raptor. Fortunately, leases come to an end and dealerships are always more than happy for customers to trade in their vehicle and buy a new one. From the moment it was first shown at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, the latest F-150 Raptor was immediately recognizable as such.
Once again using the latest F-150 as the starting point, designers widened the front fenders and applied that cool-as-hell chiseled look. For only the second time since 1983, the Blue Oval badge was eliminated up front in favor of the name “Ford” spelled across the grille. The first time was for the 2010 Raptor. That badge is also absent out back on the tailgate. The automaker clearly likes having its name stamped in place for all to see in both directions. Ford says that chiseled appearance was inspired by Trophy Trucks, the highest class of off-roading racing vehicles. Compared to the standard F-150, the F-150 Raptor is 6 inches wider for better stability off-road.
Riding on a set of 17-inch wheels wearing BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO2 tires designed specifically for off-road use, the F-150 Raptor, without question, looks the part. Under its hood lies a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 with 450 hp @5000 rpm and 512 lb-ft of torque available from 3500 rpm. Not only is this new engine more fuel efficient than the old Raptor’s 6.2-liter V8, but it’s also more powerful. Power is directed to all four wheels, when called upon, through an also new 10-speed automatic transmission. While those features are not visible from the outside, the truck, as a whole, screams power and play. Another exterior hint of its performance cred is a dual exhaust, which wasn’t offered before.
As part of the effort for efficiency gains, various aerodynamic improvements were also applied, such as automatic grille shutters and more air friendly skid plates. Exterior styling was also a necessary focus for making that possible. It may be hard to tell from photos alone, but today’s Raptor does have more aerodynamic styling than before, regardless of whether it’s the super crew or super cab body style. Another major factor in efficiency gains is the use of advanced materials for the body and frame, such as high-strength steel and a new military grade aluminum alloy. All told, Ford managed to shave off some 500 pounds versus the previous Raptor.
Aside from its aggressive styling and larger wheels, the Raptor is very easily recognizable with that familiar ‘Raptor’ decal slapped above the rear wheels. The interior is, for the most part, unchanged from other premium level F-150 variants, but there is carbon fiber trim that clearly hints at the Raptor’s off-road capabilities. Sport seats feature more aggressive side bolstering to, you know, better keep occupants in place when tackling those off-road missions. Ford easily could have gone the cheaper and far less time intensive route when developing the now beloved Raptor. A set off off-road tires, unique badges, and raised ground clearance simply was not enough.
Ford Performance worked hand in hand with the design team to ensure that the Raptor not only leaves literally everything else in the dust, but that it also looks downright awesome when doing so. Mission accomplished.