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2018 ford F-150 Raptor

The Raptor is a high-performance version of Ford's venerable F-150. Envisioned as a desert stormer, it's one of the most unique and capable off-road production vehicles ever made.

Overview
With an aggressive, extra-wide stance, a beefed-up suspension, and oversized tires, the Raptor is unwieldy on the pavement but a superhero in the desert, where it can flirt with triple-digit speeds through terrain that would tear lesser trucks apart.

Ford spent a great deal of time and dollars transforming the newest F-150 into the Raptor. It went as far as constructing a 62-mile durability loop in the desert on the outskirts of Borrego Springs, California, to replicate the conditions of the demanding Baja 1000 off-road race.

The truck comes equipped with 3" Fox Racing Shox with an internal bypass system that prevents bottoming out. The suspension delivers 13" of usable wheel travel in the front and 14" out back. BFGoodrich All-Terrain tires come standard.

Like the F-150 it's based on, the Raptor makes extensive use of aluminum to keep weight in check. It's 500 pounds lighter than the original model, a reduction which boosts fuel economy. It rides on a purpose-designed steel frame.

Ford offers the Raptor in two body styles called SuperCab and SuperCrew, respectively. SuperCab models offer a set of small, rear-hinged rear doors while SuperCrew models come with four full-sized doors. Both come exclusively with a 5.5-foot bed.

Spotter's guide
The Raptor looks the part thanks to a model-specific front end that sports a plastic mesh grille with huge "FORD" lettering, a new bumper, and a skid plate that protects vital mechanical components. Fender flares cover the wider track. From the back, dual exhaust tips and a Raptor emblem on the tailgate denote it's not a standard F-150.

Under the hood
While the original Raptor used a 6.2-liter V8, the current model surfs the industry's downsizing wave with a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine. It sends 450 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque to all four wheels through a 10-speed automatic transmission, figures that make the six more powerful than the eight it replaced.

The power flows through a "torque-on-demand" transfer case before it reaches the pavement. And, for the first time, the Raptor is available with a Torsen limited-slip differential on the front axle.

All of this is controlled by Ford's updated Terrain Management System, which allows drivers to switch between six preset modes: normal, street, weather, mud, Baja and rock. Weather accounts for rain, snow or ice; Baja is exactly what it sounds like.

Fuel economy checks in at 15 mpg in the city, 18 mpg on the highway, and 16 mpg in a combined cycle. But, you don't buy a Raptor to save gas, do you?

Standard and optional features
The Raptor comes standard with hill descent control technology, trailer sway control, 17-inch alloy wheels, front bucket seats, an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat, manual single-zone A/C, Ford's SYNC infotainment system, an eight-inch touch screen, a CD player, cruise control, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, shift paddles, daytime running lights, and a capless fuel filler.

The list of options includes the aforementioned Torsen differential, bead-lock capable wheels, heated front and rear seats, automatic dual-zone A/C, an upgraded sound system, navigation, a 360-degree camera, automatic high beams, rain-sensing wipers, a universal garage door opener, a heated steering wheel, power-adjustable pedals, LED bed lighting, and a remote tailgate release.

Occupant Safety
The Raptor includes dual front, front side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems and electronic brake force distribution.

Electronic driving aids such as adaptive cruise control, pre-collision assist, pedestrian detection, and lane-keeping assist are found on the list of extra-cost options. Buyers can also order inflatable rear seat belts.

Key Competitors
The Ford F-150 Raptor remains in a class of its own. Some trucks come close, like the Ram 1500 Rebel, but none match its off-road prowess.