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Here's Why the 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor Is Worth $65,000

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author photo by Doug DeMuro March 2017

I recently had the chance to drive the all-new 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor, which would be a great vehicle for the apocalypse, assuming that in the apocalypse the roads don't get significantly narrower.

This opportunity came about thanks to a local reader here in the Philadelphia area named John, who purchased his 2017 Raptor only a couple of weeks ago. John also encouraged me to enjoy his Raptor, even though he had driven it just 500 miles. John laughed, right along with me, as I floored the accelerator. John is good people.

Before I get into my thoughts on the Raptor, allow me to share the details: The latest Raptor is based on the latest Ford F-150, and it's still an off-roader pickup with brawny, muscular styling. Except now, it's just absurdly powerful. Even though the latest Raptor uses "only a V6," it has 450 horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque -- 40 more hp and nearly 80 more lb-ft than the outgoing model. The result is that the Raptor does zero to 60 in 5.3 seconds -- roughly as quick as a Subaru WRX, even though it weighs 5,700 pounds.

I verified this 0-to-60 time several times during my Raptor drive, largely because it's absolutely impossible not to drive this thing and want to floor it occasionally. And each time you do, it's absolutely impossible not to have your face light up with a giant smile. The Raptor moves as fast as a sports car, and it pumps muscle-car sound into the cabin while it's doing it. Do you know any other vehicle that could outperform many off-roaders on a trail and then out-accelerate many sports cars at the drag strip?

And there's one other component to the Raptor that I don't think most people are aware of: It can out-luxury many upscale cars.

Here's what I mean. The Raptor has automatic keyless entry, where you walk up to it with the key in your pocket and the door unlocks by itself. The Raptor has leather upholstery with heated and cooled front seats. The Raptor has an advanced infotainment system. The Raptor has adaptive cruise control, forward-collision prevention, and a blind spot monitor that even extends to trailers. The Raptor has a 360-degree camera system. The Raptor has off-road wizardry that tells you exactly what angle your steering wheels are pointing. The Raptor has a power tailgate. A power tailgate! 

But here's my favorite part about the Raptor: They didn't just throw a bunch of luxury stuff at it and then force you to deal with a bulky, unwieldy, loud pickup truck. The Raptor is just as smooth, and just as quiet, as any modern luxury SUV I've recently driven.

I'm not exaggerating this claim even in the slightest. Unless you push your foot down and release the Ford-enhanced engine sound, the Raptor is quiet -- quiet on the highway, quiet on the road, quiet at a traffic light. It doesn't shake or rumble, like I was expecting it to, and the suspension system soaks up bumps better than virtually all luxury SUVs I've recently driven -- especially since modern luxury SUVs seem to have continuously thinner tires, whereas there's so much sidewall on the Raptor's tires that you could use them to draw a rather poignant mural in chalk.

So here's the situation with the Raptor: When you want to go off-road, it goes off-road. It has a reinforced frame, it has a jacked-up suspension with up to 14 inches (!) of travel, it has chunky tires, and skid plates, and low-range gearing, and all sorts of off-road modes, including a "Baja" mode designed for high-speed desert running.

When you want to accelerate, you accelerate. The Raptor is monstrously fast, and it'll out-accelerate every single normal car on the road, plus many sports cars. Also helping matters is its 10-speed automatic transmission, which I hilariously witnessed dropping from tenth gear to fifth gear instantly when I pushed down the accelerator on the highway.

When you want to cruise around, comfortably, in town or in the country, the Raptor can do that, too. Its ride quality is tremendous -- it insulates you from the road better than the vast majority of cars I've seen, it's quiet, and it soaks up bumps.

It's the first vehicle I've driven that's Subaru WRX fast, Jeep Wrangler capable, and Cadillac Escalade comfortable. It may be the only vehicle like that in existence.

Is there anything the Raptor can't do? Well, two things, really. Its 83-plus-inch width means it's not a very good car for tight city streets; this truck is designed for suburban or rural areas, and not places like my city, Philadelphia, where I often press the power-folding mirrors button on my own car in order to pass city buses. The Raptor also doesn't really do gas mileage: The new EcoBoost engine has helped matters compared to the outgoing V8, but the truck's EPA rating of 15 miles per gallon in the city and 18 mpg on the highway won't win it any awards.

But if you don't drive in tight spaces and you're not concerned with gas mileage, you should buy a Raptor. We all should buy a Raptor. It might be the most capable all-around vehicle I've ever driven.

Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.

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Here's Why the 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor Is Worth $65,000 - Autotrader