While traveling along a South Carolina highway, I gave little thought to the Dodge Charger rapidly approaching the rear of the 2018 Ford F-150 Raptor that I was piloting. Except perhaps the momentary thought that, despite the fact I was rapidly approaching a slower moving car in the right lane, I would let the hurriedly moving Charger get past first.
So I was quite surprised when this plain-looking Dodge, with no obvious markings or even a bullbar, was suddenly filling the Raptor’s rearview with flashing red and blue lights.
However, that was not nearly as surprising as the first time I put my foot down hard on the Raptor’s accelerator.
Sure, I had seen the Ford Performance badging in the Raptor, the red center mark on the steering wheel and that the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 provided 450 horses and 510 ft-lb of torque. But come on. It’s a truck.
Or so I thought until I put my foot down. Then I realized the Raptor was a jump-ship out of a science fiction novel dressed in a truck’s clothing.
Spool the EcoBoost and the Raptor will hit warp speed before you can say bedliner. The V6 serves up its speed in a continuous pull, not the hesitation followed by a sudden punch of power expected in moving such a behemoth.
The 10-speed automatic transmission is sometimes a bit too eager to shift gears up or down, but that mild annoyance can be quelled by the paddle shifters.
Along with its impressive verve, the Raptor carries an imposing appearance with its snarling front end, hood vent and swollen wheel arches. It’s also wide. Wide to the point that if you find yourself in an urban, stack-them-high-and-tight car park as I did, you will be grateful for the front and rear cameras while undertaking the seventh direction change in your 12-point turn.
While its looks command attention and its get-up-and-go ability adds to its machismo, the Ford is far from a slobbering brute. It is comfortable, spacious and smooth.
The Raptor may come with Fox Racing shocks and beefy Goodrich All-Terrain tires, essentially making the Ford an extremely swollen dune buggy, but the ride is as relaxed as slipping into a warm bath.
It certainly doesn’t fit the description of a grand tourer, but Raptor’s ride smoothly soaked up my 800-mile trip across state lines.
Potholes, road imperfections, speed bumps, the Raptor’s suspension irons them out into practically imperceptible pats on the backends of those inside the cabin. And the cabin is a nice place to be.
It is ridiculously spacious for those in the front seats, and the SuperCab I tested (a crew cab is also available) was still fairly accommodating for adults. However, it almost seems as if the center console could accommodate an entire human. There are washing machines with less capacity.
To match the Raptor’s bulk, there are plenty of hefty knobs and buttons in the dash that are arranged instinctively.
Left Lane’s tester came appointed with the 802A equipment package, which includes a power-sliding rear window, 360-degree camera, automatic temperature control, heated steering wheel and LED lighting on the side mirrors and box area. It also includes voice-activated navigation, Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment system and trailer monitoring.
For ventures on surfaces other than tarmac, the 802A equipment package ($9,770) adds a 4.10 Torsen front differential. Models for 2019 will include Ford’s Trail Control system, which manages the Raptor’s throttle and braking in low speeds over rocky or uneven trails to benefit off-roading novices, such as yours truly. The 2018 model tested still came with and AWD/4WD combination transfer case and Terrain Management System which tailors the Raptor for use in normal, inclement weather, mud and sand, Baja and rock crawl modes.
The Raptor Technology Package ($1,950) adds safety features in the form of lane-keep assist, lane-departure monitoring, rain-sensing wipers, automatic high beams and adaptive cruise control.
With its EcoBoost V6, the Raptor dishes out decent gas mileage compared to similarly powered V8’s. It’s no teetotaler by any means, but I did reach its 18 MPG highway figure, even with my heavy right foot.
In the world of light-duty trucks, the Raptor is simply on another level. Mind you, it is not exactly cheap. Our tester with its options rang it at $64,100. But when you consider the Raptor perfectly blends speed with a comfortable ride, utilitarian capability with creature comforts in a package of fun that so often evades other trucks — it’s a price most would be willing to pay.
And no, I was not given a speeding ticket by the South Carolina Highway Patrol, but it did remind me that I was not on I-75 or I-85 in Atlanta, where speed limits are merely a suggestion of the lowest speed you can go without being run off the road.