► Ford F-150 Raptor tested
► Uses Ford GT’s 3.5-litre V6
► There’s even a ‘Baja’ mode
I’d wager many of you did not expect to see a review of this on CAR’s website, given that we’re based in the UK. Yes, this is the frankly ridiculous Ford F-150 Raptor, which Ford UK has temporarily gotten its hands on, only for us to steal the keys for a drive.
Let’s start with the basics. This is the Ford Performance version of the brand’s bestselling F-150 pick-up truck, complete with a model name that has become a staple part of the pick-up’s range across the pond for a good few years now. What’s it like to drive in the UK? You’ll have to keep reading.
What’s under the hood of the Ford F150 Raptor?
The engine from a Ford GT. No, really.
The punchiest F-150 around is powered by the same 3.5-litre twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 from Ford’s Le Mans-derived, race-ready supercar – albeit detuned a bit. Well, a lot.
Still, 450bhp and 510lb ft of torque aren’t paltry numbers, especially in a heavily-cladded fortress of vehicle dominance like the Raptor. Ford even says that the V6 in this 2018 Raptor is more powerful than the 6.2-litre V8 used in previous iterations.
Playing the numbers game? Get a load of these figures:
• 5.1 – 0-62mph launch in seconds
• 10 – number of speeds in the auto ‘box
• 13 & 14 – inches front and rear suspension travel
• 140 – the Raptor’s mildly terrifying top speed in mph
Information overload! What’s the interior like?
Just like the rest of the package – enormous. Merely climbing into it has the same significance of scaling a cliff face, as standing on the anodised tread plate is enough to give you a view into other people’s gardens – much to their repeated irritation. Sorry, Number 18 – but your daffodils are coming in nicely, at least.
The steering wheel is almost as large as the helm from HMS Victory and there are enough dials on the slab of a dashboard to keep you occupied for at least an hour, without even starting up. Material quality is arguably better than that of the European-focused Ranger.
What about the infotainment tech and sat-nav?
There’s also absolutely loads of kit on board as standard: Ford’s SYNC 3 system, eight-way power seats, rear parking sensors, cruise control, actual (but admittedly US-spec) 110v/400w plug sockets, and a centre console cubby large enough to use as weekend getaway storage.
Our test version, FE17 RAP, also had kit like adaptive cruise, lane departure system, super bright LED headlights, Android Auto and even an electric powered sliding part of the rear window among other luxuries.
Come on then, to business: what is the F150 Raptor like to drive?
Quite an experience for those used to European roads, European pick-up sizes… European everything, frankly.
At cruising pace, you take the bad with the good. The steering has an almost Hollywood movie-like quality of having such a significant dead spot at dead centre that driving in a straight line can feel busy. But road and wind noise is kept to a surprising minimum, despite the Raptor having the aerodynamic properties of a breeze block and knobbly off-road tyres.
Like any pick-up, having nothing in the rear load bay makes for a bouncy experience behind the wheel. Even though the suspension system and damping is sublime over considerable lumps in the road, it still suffers from a jiggly low-speed ride.
Give it a bootful and the V6 sounds industrial more than tuneful from inside the cabin, but the twin exhausts that inhabit a completely different county behind you put out a noise not dissimilar to an old rally car. The 10-speed auto ‘box is too much to actively engage with using the robust wheel-mounted paddles; in fact, the gearbox itself has a tendency to skip ratios of its own accord, so even it must think that the number of gears hitting double digits is overkill.
If you chuck it down a back road it’s much less wallowy than you think. There is some body roll, but hustling it is pretty fun. The steering doesn’t feel any less busy, so you have to concentrate, but the rate at which it picks up speed and grips around hard corners is impressive. Your sense of speed is dulled since you’re so high up, though, so if you go into a corner with too much verve – regardless of whether you wanted to or not – snap oversteer can occur.
It’s easy to get back on track, mind, and if you’re going to accidentally venture into the wilderness you can’t be in a vehicle any more prepared for the rough stuff this side of a quarry dumper truck.
Did you go off road on purpose?
How could you not? This thing has fat off-road tyres, heavy-duty FOX Racing shocks, enough body cladding to come out of a nuclear apocalypse swinging – and even a ‘Baja’ setting within the drive mode select system that’s designed for high-speed off-roading.
The Raptor has an electronically-controlled differential system. It defaults to ‘2H’, or rear-wheel drive only, for regular road and ‘Sport’ driving, ‘4A’ will let the traction management system engage the fronts when it feels it needs to, ‘4H’ is permanent four-wheel drive and ‘4L’ is a low-range setting.
So naturally, when we drove the Raptor up and down a boggy bridleway in Northamptonshire with a few puddles dotted down it, it wasn’t worried. Even an off-road launch start didn’t faze it – pouncing forward with a snarl, clawing into the mud and flinging it rearwards like a dog with a bone.
Did you get some funny looks?
Oh, absolutely. Driving one in the UK throws up all kinds of reactions from passers-by and other road users. Get used to being stared at, even by people who seemingly have no interest in cars.
I experienced smaller vehicles getting out of the way in a swift panic (regardless of how close I was behind them), noticed the odd driver give me a wide berth at multi-lane traffic light stops and got as much attention from boy racers eager to trounce me at a set of lights as a Ford Focus RS or Honda Civic Type R. Some were swiftly made to have a slice of humble pie.
It’s also a conversation starter; squeeze it into a car park bay, for example, and I counted three separate occasions where people wanted to know more about it or even just me as a person, probably in some vain attempt to question my sanity after witnessing me climb out a vehicle three storeys high.
Can I actually buy one in Europe?
Of course you can, but that normally entails importing one from the States, which may or may not be feasible for some. It retails from around $50,000 over there (around £36,000 at the time of writing) but you can speak to a couple of UK importers to get one sorted for you, albeit for more money than that.
Clive Sutton, for example, can ship a right-hand drive one from Australia but is asking for around £90,000 all in. That’s a lot of money for something so big, thirsty and impractical for UK roads, so you really have to want it.
Ford F-150 Raptor: verdict
What a silly, silly thing this is. It’s massive, incredibly thirsty, unwieldy through villages and built-up areas, an attention magnet and the steering is so numb you may as well pretend to be in that opening scene of Police Squad.
But it’s absolutely hilarious. This isn’t even the fastest or most powerful pick-up out there but the way it accelerates into the distance feels like you’re about to stop the world from turning on its axis. It’s totally ready for absolutely any off-road situation you throw at it, motorway cruising is a doddle and if you’re brave enough to import one you’ll be lucky to see another pass you by on this side of the world and laugh at how small that Range Rover looks in front of you.
It’s a toy in the most extreme sense, but we’re glad it exists.
Check out our Ford reviews