Tag: sonyalphaimages

2018 Lexus LC 500h : Green Grand Tourer?

2018 Lexus LC 500h : Green Grand Tourer?

Do you like being watched and looked at? Being in the 2018 Lexus LC 500h is kinda like being inside the cage at the zoo. People look and point at you along the way. It was a similar feeling to what we experienced driving around our HQ in West Palm Beach, FL.

But, honestly, we didn’t mind.

Because damn it, we were behind the wheels of one of the sexiest shapes to come out of the Lexus design shop in quite some  time. Available in a buyer’s choice of the Lexus LC 500, with a 5.0-liter naturally aspirated V8 engine, or, as in the case of our tester, as the LC 500h , which is a gas electric hybrid powered by a 3.5-Liter V6 gasoline engine add to electric motor generators that combined to produce 354 total horsepower. The hybrid has a top speed of 155 mph, clicks off naught to 60 mph in 4.7-seconds, and manages 26 miles per gallon city/ 35 miles per gallon highway with a combined total of 30 miles per gallon overall.

And before you go thinking of a Toyota Prius with its hybrid drive system, fuhgeddaboutit.

2018 Lexus LC 500h
2018 Lexus LC 500h

The Lexus LC 500h incorporates Lexus’s hybrid synergy drive which uses a continuously variable transmission (CVT) with the paddle shifters, coupled to a more traditional four-speed slush box which does it’s best to keep the 3.5-liter V6 running in the middle of its powerband’s sweet spot. We are not quite sure how they’re able to do it, but the gearbox is able to simulate the operation of actually being a 10-speed automatic transmission.

Perhaps the engine is a tiny bit thin when it comes to sheer grunt from the tailpipes, but maybe that’s why Lexus engineer chose to pipe some of that noise back into the cabin through an intake manifold baffle on the top of the engine.

The Lexus LC 500h rides on a multilink suspension that provides control by steering handled through an electrically assisted rack and pinion kit in front. An optional rear-steering system is part of the LC’s Performance package for a more-agile steering system. Lexus officials told us the car was more rigid than the LF-A supercar.

As for cross shopping, buyers will likely conside fellow green cars, the Acura NSX, BMW i8, and Porsche Panamera Hybrid.

Looks matter.

The spindle grille, while looking awkward on other Lexus models appears more comfortable here. Think of it as growing into one’s skin. As people reach a certain age they become more agreeable with their outer appearance. That’s the case here as the LC 500h  nose actually looks to belong.

2018 Lexus LC 500h
2018 Lexus LC 500h

From the side, it’s a hunkered-down look reminiscent of drawings done in school while we were supposed to be paying attention to math and science lessons. Long nose, short tail, and shoulders that could rival any cut-and-buffed athlete, it is a well-executed look at what a grand touring near-supercar should be. As an added bonus, the hood, fender and door panels are aluminum, while much of the rest of the car is composed of composite material.

Lexus LC 500h
Lexus LC 500h

Inside the LC 500h, are a few hits, and a couple of misses, too. Two well-crafted seats are there with a wide variety of adjustments. We loved the wide view of the high-definition TFT screens but wish they found another input device from which to control it. The Lexus touch pad is not amongst our favorites. And those rear seats? Don’t even think about sitting back there unless you have a chiropractor on speed dial. They are better suited to a duffle or camera bag, or even a bambino in a safety seat. But overall? As much as we like the rest of the interior with its tan finish, we can’t help but think that it is not as pretty as that found in the Dodge Viper before it made its exit from the automotive scene. That car’s Italian heritage shone through with a tan interior from a company that supplies Ferrari. The result? Sublime.

Behind the wheel.

Our drivetime in the LC500h was a tale of both the green and high-performance worlds. A tale of two cities, if you will. Driving around town found us making the most of the Multi Stage Hybrid system with two electric motors assisting the Aktinson-cycle six-cylinder engine.

Acceleration was potent with a slight electric whine that actually contributed to the overall effect, and that wasn’t a bad thing. The car uses a two-stage continuously variable transmission (CVT) that combines with an Aisin brand four-speed gearbox that actually allows the LC500h to stretch its legs more with greater (sports car) feel.

Handling on our test loop found a GT car that felt at home going right and left, and accelerating cleanly out of a turn, to boot. Despite its electric gimcrackery under the hood, we loved the sound and feel of the engine power unit as it pushed the envelope of hybrid performance. As gorgeous as it is, it is not a svelte young thing. We never were quite able to achieve the 30-mpg average that the EPA tells us to expect but we could easily live with the 27.5 mpg that we actually saw.

2018 Lexus LC 500h
2018 Lexus LC 500h

About the Lexus touchpad: We find it touchy, finicky and in some cases downright dangerous, what with everything else going on around and within, and dealing with other traffic. Some items were so buried in the menus that we actually needed to pull over to adjust them.

Still, this is a Grand Tourer that will accommodate a wide variety of driving styles. Available in extremely limited numbers, there is almost a guarantee that you will be the only one in your neighborhood, heck, in your region, who owns one. 

2018 Lexus LC500h

Story and Photos by Mark Elias

Base MSRP:  $96,510. As tested: $102,039.

Includes: Convenience Package, $1000; Heads Up display, $900; Premium Paint, $595; Touring Package, $1,790; Cargo Net, $249; Destination Fee: $995. 

Key Specs                                            LC 500h

Cylinders:                                            6 + two electric motors

Displacement:                                     3.5-liter

Power:                                                 354 hp (combined)

Torque:                                                256.7 @4,900 rpm

Fuel System:                                       Direct Injection

Fuel:                                                    Premium

Acceleration:                                       0-60mph in 4.7 seconds

Drive Type                                           RWD

Gearbox:                                             Multi-stage Hybrid

Tire Size:                                             245/45RF20, Rr: 275/40RF20

Unladen Weight:                                4,521-pounds

Length:                                                187.4-inches

Width:                                                 75.6-inches

Height:                                                53.0-inches

Wheelbase:                                         113.0-inches

Cargo Volume:                                   5.4-cubic feet

Cd:                                                       0.33

City:                                                     26

Highway:                                             35

Combined:                                           30

 

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”111″ gal_title=”2018 Lexus LC 500h”]

Something is wrong.
Instagram token error.

mark_elias

Follow
Load More
 

 

2018 Audi S5 Sportback

2018 Audi S5 Sportback

2018 Audi S5 Sportback
2018 Audi S5 Sportback

Honey, I shrunk the Audi S7.

The 2018 Audi S5 Sportback is the latest vehicle of interest from Ingolstadt, Germany. It’s also one of those cars that continues to blur the distinction between a coupe and a sedan, seemingly defying naming convention as we have acknowledged it up to this point.

Follow us here for a moment.

When we started this journey, each model had its own name, which when we heard it, instantly triggered in our minds, what it was. A Dodge Charger was a two-door large muscle car. A BMW 3-series was a two-door coupe. Those two examples have given way to new four-door sedans that look nothing like what we remember when first being introduced to them. The same can be said for the 2018 Audi S5 Sportback. All bets are off now as the two-door coupe has become part of a family that now includes a coupé, a cabriolet and this four-door liftback. But it’s quite a satisfying four-door liftback.

As Ordered.

2018 Audi S5 Sportback
2018 Audi S5 Sportback

While the Audi A5 Sportback is equipped with a 2.0-liter TFSI turbocharged four-cylinder engine as standard, our 2018 Audi S5 Sportback is loaded with a 3.0-liter TFSI V6 engine producing 354 hp and 369-pound feet of torque that pushes power through an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission. That in-turn sends all the torque, via Quattro, to all four corners of the car. The Quattro system features a 40:60 asymmetric torque split which is variable up to 70:30 bias. Zero to 60 mph, Audi claims, comes in 4.5 seconds.

The S5 Sportback relies on a five-link front independent steel spring suspension with another five-link independent suspension bringing up the rear. It also included Audi’s Sport adaptive damping suspension which is part of the S sport package ($2,500) that also includes red brake calipers and a sport rear differential.

2018 Audi S5 Sportback
2018 Audi S5 Sportback

Walk around The Block.

The Exterior of the new S5 Sportback is not dissimilar in appearance from big brother Audi S7. The familiar singleframe grille surround appears once again. Strangely under this iteration it seems closer in appearance to vehicles in the Hyundai lineup, which is no coincidence considering who Audi’s former design chief and Hyundai’s current design chief is. That would be Peter Schreyer. We know that nearly every story ever written about either the Audi or Hyundai brands includes his name but the fact is that his influence continues to weigh heavily across the industry.

Just above the grille, the hood rises up from its downward lilt, probably a result of pedestrian safety regulations throughout the EU. Sweeping up over the windshield, we are treated to a fantastic ultra-wide panoramic glass roof that can make the cockpit as bright and airy or as dark as you would like. Futuristic LED lighting crisps up the forward corners of the S5 Sportback, and lead rearward with a look that is still unmistakably Audi. In fact, the look is distinctly like that of a fastback A4/S4 variant. The rear flank continues with the crease that is seen on contemporary Audi vehicles today, but what is that we see at the leading edge of the D-pillar? Why, it seems like Audi has appropriated the Hofmeister kink, adapting BMW designer Wilhelm Hofmeister’s kinkiness as their own. At the rear, the S5 Sportback features a distinctive rear diffuser that mimics one found on its Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) road racers, down to a quad of chrome-tipped exhaust finishers.

Shoppers in the market for a four-door “coupé” will likely cross-shop the Audi against the Mercedes-Benz C43 AMG and the BMW 440 xDrive Gran Coupe. The new four-door S5 must have connected with consumers in a positive way: It now accounts for almost half of all A5/S5 models sold.

Inside Out.

The interior of the S5 Sportback is all-Audi. The 12.3-inch virtual cockpit gauge binnacle is a TFT style display that shows off all gauges and styling cues necessary to match the drive mode you have the car set up for in the first place. If engaged, it can also display a bird’s eye view of Google Earth as seen in our photo below. It is matched by a 7.0-inch standing display atop the center console that works with the Audi Multi Media Interface (MMI) to operate telephone, audio, navigation and climate functions and includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. Since our tester was the S5 sport sedan, it included Classic, Technology and Sport modes that catered to those specific disciplines.

2018 Audi S5 Sportback
2018 Audi S5 Sportback

Instead of the normally gorgeous wood trim seen in standard A5 models, our S5 was equipped with a techno carbon fiber trim panel that was seen on the dashboard, doors and console. We think the carbon look is getting played out already and would welcome the use of a more luxurious open-pore wood trim instead.

Heading to the rear seat found surprisingly roomy accommodations for three passengers or two with the armrest/cupholder engaged. Rear seat climate controls were found on the rear of the center console. They offered surprising comfort during a semi-long road trip across the state.

Drivetime.

Acceleration from the twin-scroll turbocharged V6 was generally strong when in dynamic mode, but really began to sing when using the paddles for more aggression. Handling from the Quattro system had us sure-footedly cutting corners with purpose while putting the Sportback through its paces on our test loop. Zero to 60 comes in 4.5-seconds. Top speed slots in at a respectable (but governed) 155 mph.

We love the ability of the Audi S5 Sportback Quattro system to act like we’ve applied glue to the pavement. The torque vectoring from Audi’s Sport Differential worked well in a variety of situations seemingly trying to shorten the turning radius of some tighter turns. The effort in steering this sport sedan could be varied between comfort, sport and dynamic modes. Our choice overall was to set it in Dynamic which found the steering adapting according to what we, and the road, asked of it.

Overall it was quite the boulevardier, that garnered looks from most viewers. Others were mildly blasé about it, but that’s their loss, not ours.

Story and photos by Mark Elias
2018 Audi S5 Sportback
Base MSRP:  $54,400          As tested: $68,350.
Includes:  Tango Red Metallic paint, $575; Prestige Package, $4,400; S-Sport Package, $2,500; Driver Assistance Package, $1,800; Dynamic Steering, $1,150; Nappa Leather Interior, $1,250; 19-inch Wheels $800; Carbon Fiber Inlays, $500; Destination fee, $975.
Key Specification
Cylinders:                                Six-cylinders V6
Displacement:                       3.0-liter
Power:                                     354 hp @ 5,400-6,400 rpm
Torque:                                    369 lb-ft @ 1,370-4,500 rpm
Fuel System:                           Turbocharged Fuel Injection
Fuel:                                           Premium
Acceleration:                           0-60mph in 4.5 seconds
Drive Type                               Quattro All-Wheel-Drive
Gearbox:                                   Eight-speed Tiptronic
Top Speed:                                155 mph
Tire Size:                                   255/35/R19 Three Season Tires
Unladen Weight:                   3,924-pounds
Length:                                      187.1-inches
Width:                                       79.9-inches
Height:                                       54.5-inches
Wheelbase:                               111.2-inches
Cargo Volume:                        35 cubic feet rear seat folded
                                                     21.8 cubic feet rear seat up
Cd:                                                       0.29
City:                                                     21
Highway:                                             30
Combined:                                           24
[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”103″ gal_title=”2018 Audi S5 Sportback”]
2018 Nissan Leaf EV First Drive.

2018 Nissan Leaf EV First Drive.

Nissan Leaf
Nissan Leaf

The 2018 Nissan Leaf is the latest edition of the brand’s all-electric mobility solution. Improved in almost every way, it has turned the corner, away from the awkward looks of its predecessor, to a style resembling other vehicles in the Nissan lineup. Along the way, it receives a lot more content for a lot less money.

And lest you think Nissan is a relative newcomer to the electrification game, think again: The brand introduced its first electric vehicle more than 70-years ago with the 1947 Tama EV, which was built by Tokyo Electro Automobile Company, which was later to become part of the Nissan corporate umbrella.

The 2018 Nissan Leaf features a look that brings it more in line with the internal combustion engine side of the family, even going so far as to incorporate the floating roof of its big-brother Nissan Murano. The V-Motion grille is also along for the ride and a new revised charging port appears directly above the company logo, which requires less effort and bending to plug in the charging cords. We photographed it in the Napa Valley and at Trefethen Family Vineyards.

Three-Legged Stool.

Along with the new 2018 Nissan Leaf, the company introduced its new Intelligent Mobility initiative. Built like a three-legged stool, it is comprised of Intelligent Driving, Intelligent Power and Intelligent Integration. It’s the next step towards autonomous driving, at least as far as Nissan is concerned. To that end, they have introduced a lot of innovation that along the way makes way for a surprising amount of driving fun. That’s a big deal for us to say as we have found totally electric vehicles generally less than engaging.

Intelligent Driving.

The triumvirate starts with Intelligent Driving. Nissan’s ProPilot Assist offers a hands-on driver assistance function that tracks highway lines to assist in keeping the Leaf within its lanes. Combined with adaptive cruise control, the system uses cameras and works best on a limited access highway. It helps to make lane keeping a less fatiguing task, thanks to torque generating sensors that check the positions of the vehicle within the lines or when making lane changes. Hands ARE required, otherwise an alert will subtly remind you to replace them on the tiller. Failure to do so results in a visual, dashboard-based alert, followed by an annoying fast beep that will have your hands back on the wheel in no time.

Also a part of the Intelligent Driving suite, the Leaf’s e-Pedal simplifies driving controls to a single pedal although the brake pedal remains. With the e-Pedal, control is placed in the accelerator only, which delivers power while being pressed by the foot, and conversely offering braking when the accelerator is released, bringing the vehicle to a slowdown and complete stop depending on speed and following distance. Similar to the operations seen in the Chevrolet Bolt EV, it makes the operations in the Leaf more satisfying and engaging. A multi-function pedal, engaged by flicking a switch on the center console, it is capable of accelerating, decelerating, stopping and holding the Leaf on grades up to 30-percent. Along the way, it can also use regenerative and friction braking to send power back to the battery, which in turn helps extend the range of the vehicle. When it feels the e-Pedal feels won’t do the job, the standard brake pedal is still there for the driver to apply full braking pressure.

Intelligent Power.

Nissan Leaf
Nissan Leaf

Power for the 2018 Nissan Leaf comes from a new electric motor making 110 kW, a 37-percent kick in the pants, going from 107- to 147 horsepower. Torque has improved from 187 to 236 lb-ft of torque, a gain of 26-percent. Both help to present instantaneous torque and more than enough power to safely merge onto high-speed motorways.

The Leaf’s battery pack is larger, climbing from 30kW to 40kW. That’s a 33-percent increase in power from a series of battery cells that fit the same footprint. The range has increased, give or take a few miles depending on driving style and power regeneration, but with an expected range of 150-miles, it sits within a white space that Nissan says is not currently being served. The battery cells sit under the front and back seats, just as they did on the previous version. Charging is improved, with a portable Level 1 and Level 2 charging cable included. It supports 240 and 120 volt charging and no longer requires a 240 charger hard-wired into the garage. Using a DC Quick Charger, an 80-percent charge, good for approximately 105 miles, can be had in 40 minutes. A Level 2 charger can do the same task in 7.5-hours while the Level 1 120V charger can do the job in about 35 hours.

Nissan Leaf
Nissan Leaf

Inside, the Leaf features three grades of interior ranging from fabric to leather-faced seating. A seven-inch display helps to control nearly every aspect of the car, including the navigation and Bose premium audio system. The Leaf provides a comfortable ride with a couple of caveats: The steering wheel does not telescope which might make for a difficult driving position for some bodies, and the center console only sports a single USB port. With most Leaf buyers, and their friends, likely to be tech-geeks, there is a good chance of charge-port wars breaking out.

From the standpoint of competitors, the 2018 Leaf goes up against the Ford Focus Electric, Hyundai’s Ionic Electric, Volkswagen’s E-Golf, the Tesla Model 3 and the Chevrolet Bolt EV.

Intelligent Integration.

Nissan Leaf
Nissan Leaf

The 2018 Nissan Leaf takes a full buy-in on the concept of connected car. Nissan Connect with Navigation is front and center, while Apple CarPlay and Android Auto Integration is included. From a safety standpoint, Standard Automatic Emergency Braking, and Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection are now part of the suite.

NissanConnect EVs and Services incorporates features from the smartphone app that includes Find My Car, Cool My Car, a customizable dashboard and remote door lock and unlock. Amazon’s Alexa is part of the effort and includes such functions as saying “Alexa, cool my car or set the radio to Sirius Outlaw Country.”

A Value Proposition.

The 2018 Nissan Leaf plays the added-value game, being loaded with a lot more content for a lot less money. Available in three levels ranging from base model S at $29,990, it features $4,500 more content for $690 less dollars (2.2-percent decrease). The mid-ranged Leaf SV includes an extra $5,000 in content and a price reduction of $1,710 (5-percent decrease) starting at $32,490. Finally, the top-shelf Leaf SL that we sampled on the roads around California’s Napa Valley, arrive with an additional $6,783 in value and a 1.6-percent price reduction to $35,200.

Behind the Wheel.

Our previous ride in the 2014 Nissan Leaf, had us in a mood that can be summed up as anxious. Anxious because of the limited range of +/- 87 miles per charge; it had us driving with one eye on the road and the other on the power meter. We needed a shower when finished.

What a difference a few years makes. We found the 2018 Leaf more elegantly refined over its predecessor, offering an inviting interior that didn’t dwell so much on the electrification of the car as much as the enjoyment of the ride.

Acceleration rivaled a high-performance hot-rod, without the Brrrrrrrrrrrp from the tailpipes, because truthfully there are none. Instead, think of it as a slot car without the slot. There’s no gas cap either. Just some subtle blue badging to let you know that this is an e-vehicle.

In standard mode the Leaf is very car-like with a ride that is less artificial than the previous version. But our real joy happened while driving in the e-Pedal mode, which applied the brakes as soon as the accelerator is released. Truly engaging and exciting, it turned out to be our favorite available driving style.

The new Leaf is the perfect car for those needing more than an around town cruiser, but not as much as a higher mileage Tesla Model 3 or Chevy Bolt EV. It bridges the gap between both realms, but if you need even more, sit tight until 2019, when Nissan announced they will bring a Leaf with battery range that reaches over 200 miles.

2017 Nissan Leaf

Story and photos © by Mark Elias

Leaf S $29,990

Leaf SV $32,490

Leaf SL $36,200

 

Configuration: Five Passenger, four door midsize hatchback.

Power:           147-horsepower electric motor

Torque:         236 lb-ft

Charging:     220V-7.5 hours

110V-35 hours

Range:          150 miles

Battery:        40kWh Lithium-Ion battery. 192 cells.

Drive:           Front Wheel Drive

Transmission: Single Speed Reducer

Drive Mode: Normal

Eco-Mode

B-Mode

Wheelbase:   106.3-inches

Length:          176.4-inches

Width:            70.5-inches

Height:          61.4-inches

Ground Clearance: 5.9-inches

Curb Weight: 4,453 pounds

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”87″ gal_title=”2018 Nissan Leaf”]

 

 

 

2017 Ford F150 Raptor

2017 Ford F150 Raptor

We were all set. I was even contemplating an appointment with a chiropractor to follow my week in the 2017 Ford F150 Raptor. The Raptor is essentially an ultra high-performance version of the Ford F150 pickup truck that is nearly race-ready, minus a few necessary safety features. The fascinating thing is that I don’t really believe in the benefits of Chiropractic.

The few days prior to the Raptor’s arrival were spent obsessing over whether there was a need for kidney belts that hold your guts in place to prevent your innards from getting beat up. By week’s end, it was clear I would need to find another way to meet my medical insurance plan deductible.

It’s a Trophy Truck…almost.

2017 Ford F150 Raptor
2017 Ford F150 Raptor

It’s an impressive truck. Starting with what is essentially a Ford F150 pickup truck, Blue Oval engineers have utilized the latest in military-grade aluminum alloy as seen in other F150s, and placed it on a modified boxed-steel frame chassis designed specifically for the Raptor.

Power for the Ford F150 Raptor comes from a Ford EcoBoost twin turbocharged 3.5-liter V6, which is the basis for the somewhat tamer version found in the Ford SHO Taurus and Ford Police Interceptor vehicles. In the case of the Raptor, it offers 450-horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque in its High Output configuration. Power gets to the rear or all four wheels via Ford’s 10-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters to flick your way through, should you think your brain is more adept at quick changes than the millions-per-second from the Raptor’s CPU.

2017 Ford F150 Raptor
2017 Ford F150 Raptor

From there, it heads to an AWD/4WD transfer case whose function varies according to sensors that provide torque on-demand between the front and rear wheels, as well as a 4×4 Hi and 4×4 lo locking differential.

Ford’s Terrain Management System makes the 2017 Ford F150 Raptor behave essentially like a Land Rover, because it is similar to the TMS developed for the English-brand while their were under Ford stewardship. With it, drivers can select between two, four and All-Wheel drive modes with protocols built in for specific driving conditions ranging from street to snow to gravel to nearly everything in between.

The Killer.

If looks could kill, the 2017 Ford F150 Raptor would be on Death Row. Featuring a wider face with bold Ford lettering, twinkle running lights, and a six-inch wider gait thanks to the special issue BFGoodrich on/off high performance meats all around, it’s clear this is a purpose-built vehicle. In fact, the only difference between this and the Raptor that competed in the 2016 Baja 1000 was the addition of a full roll cage and other safety equipment as dictated by the off-road corporate racing honchos at SCORE. When all is said and done, the Raptor looks like an off-road Trophy Truck, as seen running down the Baja Peninsula in Mexico.

2017 Ford F150 Raptor
2017 Ford F150 Raptor

The ten speed automatic transmission never sent us on a hunt for the proper gearing and still managed to turn in the minimal EPA mileage expectations of 15 city / 18 highway with an actually observed 18 mpg average.

But wait! What is going on here? This ride is surprisingly plush! What we were truly expecting was a jarring, teeth-rattling drive whether on-road or off. Instead, what we got was a floaty-boaty cruiser heading down to Miami thanks to the Fox-branded High Performance shocks developed in conjunction with Ford Performance. Growing half an inch from 2.5 to 3.0-inches in diameter over the shocks from the previous Raptor, they offered a ride that even the spousal unit loved. Still, her love of high heels was likely the cause of grumblings about the high step in required to enter our truck. For those with a larger brood, the Raptor can be ordered in the larger SuperCrewCab option.

Daddy’s Money.

The new grille had a big bad-assed look to it with the aggressive FORD grille up front and minus the racerboy RAPTOR stickers all around the rear. To see the Raptor in plain view would have you think you were looking at a standard, but higher-riding version of the F150, modified with a liberal dusting of “Daddy’s Money.”

2017 Ford F150 Raptor
2017 Ford F150 Raptor

Interior-wise, our Raptor SuperCab had newly bolstered front seats with the requisite Raptor embroidery, and a bin under elbow that was large enough to store the latest MacBook Pro. Ford’s Sync3 system worked flawlessly, offering great tuneage through the Raptor’s high-end audio system. In the cheap seats, there was enough room to carry photography gear for several photo shoots, thanks to the flip-up rear bench seat. Tossing the seat bottoms into their upright and locked position meant you could actually store a 50-inch wide flat screen TV from Costco, on one of those secret-right-before-the-Super Bowl binge buys, only to return it the Monday after. By the way, anything over 50-inches could be carried in the step-equipped cargo box behind the cab.

We were surprised the Raptor did not include a telescoping steering wheel. At first glance, we thought we would be subjected to a week of contortionistic moves while trying to find a comfortable seating position. That was until we found the adjustable foot pedal switch that allowed us to move the pedals forward or back for an optimal driving position. The ventilated seats helped keep our backsides comfortable, which was essential during the peak of Hurricane season which starts with a feeling that once you leave an air conditioned dwelling, its as if you have become blanketed by a, uh, warm, wet blanket.

The 2017 Ford F150 Raptor is not for the meek of heart, or those who don’t wish to attract attention from others. Thankfully our example did not include the big screaming decals on the rear flanks that yell “look at me, look at me, I’m a Raptor!” Instead we were treated to a subtle yet aggressive vehicle that manages to talk softly but pack that extra wallop that appears once you step on the skinny pedal.

Sure, it’s not as eardrum piercing as the spawns from the Mother of Dragons on “Game of Thrones,” but this Raptor is a Mutha in its own right.

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor

Story and Photos by Mark Elias

Base MSRP: $48,325. As Tested: $61,685.

Includes Equipment Group 802A, $9,345; Tailgate Step, $375; Raptor Technology Package, $1,950; Spray-in Bedliner, $495; Destination and Delivery, $1,195.

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”44″ gal_title=”2017 Ford F150 Raptor”]