The 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor Wants You to Forget the V8

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor
2017 Ford F-150 Raptor | Ford

To many, it’s not truly a “truck” unless it has long bed, a certain lift, and a burbling V8 under the hood. In the full-size segment, V8s have been the paradigm for their torque and power capacity, and often their ability to weather years — decades, even — of toil and labor without issue. More cylinders have allowed automakers to forego forced induction and thereby simplify the engine structure, making the units more reliable. That paradigm, however, has been changing.

Small and midsize trucks have long used four- and six-cylinder engines, but when they came to the full-size segment, prevailing sentiment was to stick with the V8. General Motors sold a lot of Silverados and Sierras with the V6, but it sold more — far more — with the 5.3- and 6.2-liter V8s. Nissan never even offered a V6 on its previous Titan (it still doesn’t), and Toyota couldn’t make the case for a V6-powered Tundra and gave it the ol’ heave-to.

But Ford has approached things differently. Instead of being wary of adding turbos to a truck, it embraced them; as of now, the 375 horsepower, 470 pound-foot EcoBoost V6 is among the most popular engines in its stable and has almost single-handedly illustrated the potential for a V6 to do a V8’s job. While that’s impressive and all, the current EcoBoost unit found in today’s F-150s is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. With the new 2017 Raptor, Ford is showing just how much potential there really is.

The previous-generation Raptor followed truck tradition and boasted a sizable 6.2-liter V8 that churned out 411 horsepower and 434 pound-feet of torque. That outperforms Ford’s Coyote V8 (the ubiquitous 5.0-liter that has been a Ford staple for years) to the tune of 26 horsepower and 47 pound-feet. And it should: It’s a bigger engine. But for 2017, the new Raptor will use a twin-turbo V6 that will crank out 450 horsepower and a staggering 510 pound-feet (notably, Ford won’t confirm or deny exact figures past what they’ve formally announced; these figures came from some dealer documents that leaked onto the forums).

A 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor plays in the dunes
A 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor plays in the dunes | Ford

That doesn’t just outperform the old Raptor and its big V8 by a mile; it also means that Ford’s pickup spearhead is more powerful than the last generation Ford GT. We’d guess that its 8,000-pound towing capacity is more than the previous GT as well. The 2017 doesn’t quite come near the new 600-plus horsepower Ford GT, but for what it’s worth, Ford’s new supercar also uses a 3.5-liter boosted V6.

The Raptor, so far, really plays in a league of its own — more so for 2017. Ram has the Rebel, Toyota has the Tundra TRD-Pro, and GM has the off-road “inspired” Z71 trims (also the All Terrain for GMC), but no major OEM has really committed to making a bonkers off-road ready truck in the same way Ford has.

We doubt that the lack of a V8 will factor heavily into buying decisions as a result, but the addition of two turbos in such a rough-and-tumble vehicle will make for an interesting case study in engine longevity. While the Ford GT race cars performed admirably, your average Raptor owner won’t have a dedicated pit crew ready to swap out components if the need arises. Nonetheless, the Raptor is built to be driven — and driven hard — and it’d be hard to believe that Ford would have overlooked its due diligence in that arena. As for real-world drivability, fuel economy figures, and long-term maintenance needs, well — we’ll just have to sit tight and see how those things pan out.

The success of the Raptor and Ford’s dedication to it have seemingly pushed other automakers to become more adventurous in their truck and SUV offerings. We can only hope that the latest model will only push them further.

Like classics? It’s always Throwback Thursday somewhere.