2017 Ford F-150 Raptor First Drive: Baja boss

– Borrego Springs, California

“Go ahead and put it in Baja mode.” Baja mode. That’s what my instructor tells me as I point the Ford F-150 Raptor’s nose down the start of a 50-mile course carved out through the California desert. With a thumbs-up from the spotter, I’m off like a prom dress, and before I know it, doing 70 miles per hour over rocks and packed sand. I fly over enough small bumps and jumps that, by the end of the run, the FitBit on my wrist shows 11,000 steps I never actually took. I’m dodging shrubs, thrashing a 5,500-pound pickup like it’s indestructible. And hell, as far as I’m concerned, it might be. With so much capability packed into a vehicle this big and badass, it’s easy to assume a state of invincibility from behind the wheel.

But hold on, the Raptor’s story isn’t just limited to its crazy off-road abilities. No doubt, it’ll jump a dune and storm across sand better than any other brand-new, street-legal vehicle you can buy today, but it’s also super comfortable and packed with every modern convenience you could ask for. The high-speed off-road course out in Borrego Springs is indeed the highlight of my Raptor test drive, but here’s the real surprise: it’s silly good fun on paved roads, too.

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor: First Drive
2017 Ford F-150 Raptor: First Drive
2017 Ford F-150 Raptor: First Drive
2017 Ford F-150 Raptor: First Drive

The high-speed off-road course out in Borrego Springs is indeed the highlight of my Raptor test drive, but here’s the real surprise: it’s silly good fun on paved roads, too.

As you’d expect, there’s immense power on hand. Ford’s biturbocharged 3.5-liter V6 w...