Clever girl: Ford’s 2017 F-150 Raptor is smarter, tougher, and more capable than ever

The Ford F-150 SVT Raptor was ridiculous in the best of ways. It took Ford’s most capable pickup, gave it a sport suspension, and kicked it out the door to conquer the land unpaved, which it did with aplomb. Today, Ford announced the next generation of Raptor born under the newly formed Ford Performance brand. Meaner, smarter, and more powerful than before, the new F-150 Raptor is ready to show off its wild side.

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor

Improvements on the next generation Raptor start with a new purpose-built frame. It’s the strongest one in the F-150 lineup, containing more high-strength steel than the last gen, and wears a military-grade aluminum alloy exterior. The high-strength alloy saves 500 pounds from the truck’s weight and is inspired from Baja off-road racers.

Ford says the Raptor is smarter, and what it means by that is the technology that goes into its powerplant, eschewing the 6.2-liter V8 for a new 3.5-liter Ecoboost V6, that’s expected to produce more power than the 411-horsepower of the outgoing engine, while increasing fuel efficiency as well. This new engine will be mated with a new 10-speed transmission to take that efficiency even further.

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor

The mini monster truck also gets a new four-wheel-drive, torque-on-demand transfer case, with a new version of off-road mode driver-assist technology that’s easier to interface with, now called the Terrain Management System. Drivers can now easily dial in different modes from normal street driving, to weather mode, and even a “Baja” and “Rock” mode for either high speed desert driving or slow, methodic rock crawling.

The underpinnings feature new FOX Racing Shox, which have grown to three inches in diameter to improve performance, featuring more travel than the current 11.2 inches in the front and 12 in the rear that the current Raptor allows. The new truck sits on 17-inch wheels and is six inches wider than a conventional F-150.

Those looking to blaze a new trail can do so this fall when the new Ford F-150 Raptor migrates onto dealer lots.

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