By Stephen Elmer Feb 17, 2017
In what was a heated battle for pickup supremacy, a decision has been made on which new truck is the best of the bunch.
The 2017 Ford Raptor has won the AutoGuide.com Truck of the Year award.
“The 2017 Raptor is the whole package. It’s not just suspension or just appearance. Ford left no stone unturned with this purpose-built Baja runner, and it shows,” said Stephen Elmer, AutoGuide.com news editor and trucks expert. “While each truck brings something to the table, the Raptor feels truly special, managing to provide a truck that is capable, intelligent, and most of all, an incredible amount of fun.”
Testing took place in and around Barstow, Calif., where we had a chance to put plenty of empty miles on the trucks, load them up with a trailer, and run them off-road to find out which redesign resulted in the best product. When evaluating, we consider the vehicle’s merit at fulfilling its own goals, innovation, the overall driving experience and value for your money.
With its new high-output 3.5-liter turbocharged EcoBoost engine hooked to an all-new 10-speed transmission, the Raptor is powerful when you need it, while it has improved fuel economy in its new generation, up to 18 mpg highway. And just because it can tackle whoops at 70 mph doesn’t mean it can’t tow.
We hooked 4,000 lb. to the back of the Raptor, and while the squishy suspension does add some unease to the procedure, it was never to the point of feeling scary or dangerous. It’s also significantly improved from the previous generation Raptor, which was also a beast off road, but pretty sloppy on road. And the trade off for the softer suspension is worth it, because remember, the Raptor now has 13 inches of front-suspension travel and 13.9 inches at the back.
Take the Raptor off-road and it dominates the terrain, soaking up the rocks, crags and divots while insulating its passengers from what should be skull cracking impacts. Running at speed, the truck feels controllable and responsive, while the switch into Baja mode takes it to a new level, keeping the power accessible under your right foot at all times and tailoring the stability control settings to let you really play in the sand, mud and snow.
SEE ALSO: 2017 Ford Raptor Review
While its big brother the F-250 and the all-new Honda Ridgeline were in close contention for the award, the combination of strong capability and achieving its purpose so spectacularly well had us land on the Raptor. Not to mention, the truck starts at $49,520 in SuperCab form, a good value considering all the capability you get for that price.
There are some capable off-roaders on the market right now in the pickup segment, but none that take things quite as far as the Ford Raptor. On road and in hard work situations, the truck is slightly compromised, but the dividends paid when running through the vast open desert are massive.