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$63,000 Ford Raptor versus the $58,000 Chevy Silverado Z71

Business Insider logo Business Insider 2/22/2018 Matthew DeBord

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© Matthew DeBord/BI

The good old crosstown Detroit Ford-Chevy rivalry plays out in many vehicles, from everyday sedans to powerhouse muscle cars, such as the Mustang and the Camaro.

Lately, as pickup trucks have boomed in popularity, another battle has developed: high-performance rides with a bed in the back.

Last year, we were shocked and awed by the greatness of the Ford F-150 Raptor. Early in 2018, we borrowed a 2018 Chevy Silverado 1500 LTZ with a Z71 package — the closest thing Chevy has to a Raptor fighter.

Would it be a fair fight? Let's find out.

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First up: the mighty Raptor!

Based on the F-150 full-size pickup, the Raptor is part of the Ford Performance division. As-tested, the Raptor was a not-inexpensive $62,500. But I thought it was worth it when I reviewed the machine last year. "A high-performance Ford pickup has been around in one form or another since the early 1990s," I wrote.

"The Raptor is the latest iteration, and its reputation thoroughly precedes it. I knew what I was getting into. But that didn't make climbing up into the cab and slipping behind the wheel any less exciting. This pickup ain't cheap. But performance comes at a price, and in this case, it's worth it."

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The bed was plenty large in my test truck. Sadly, I didn't to use it to haul anything more serious than some camping gear.

The bed was lined for extra durability. The Raptor is a versatile truck, but it isn't really pitched to customers who are going to put logs, lumber, dirt, bricks, and rocks back here. Think mountain bikes, motocross machines, and other outdoorsy active-lifestyle stuff.

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Our SuperCab Raptor had "suicide doors" and a relatively comfortable interior, with some sporty touches. The cabin is big. You can get five adults in without too much trouble. The interior of our tester was covered in luxurious black leather.

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The Raptor is an amped-up-looking truck, in Ingot Silver. There's a 3.5-liter turbocharged V6 engine under the hood, cranking out 450 horsepower with 510 pound-feet of torque. The 0-60 mph speed is just over six seconds — and the Supercab Raptor can still tow 6,000 lbs! Fuel economy is not a strong point: 15 mph city/18 highway/16 combined. Performance comes at a price, folks!

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The Raptor features Ford's SYNC 3 infotainment system, with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto You also have the usual Bluetooth connectivity, with USB and AUX ports, as well as actual 110V plugs for all your charging needs. SYNC3 has come on strong in the past year as a superb infotainment system. It operates along the same simplified lines as the Chevy MyLink system, which we'll look at in a bit. In all the recent Ford's I've tested, it has performed very well.

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Now on to the demonic Z71. This pickup is an amped-up version of the Silverado 1500 truck.

The Z71 was cheaper, as tested, than the Raptor — about $58,000.

I didn't post an independent review, mainly because Chevy will roll out a new Silverado in 2018, and with it a new Z71. In fact, when Chevy revealed the new pickup in late 2017, it was in Z71 kit. That vehicle won't go on sale until later this year, so for now, if you want a Chevy to do battle with a Ford in this sub-segment, the current Z71 is your baby. 

The "Z71" designation, by the way, isn't a stand-alone name like "Raptor," but rather a performance package that is added to certain Silverado 1500 trim levels. Of course, a Raptor is really a F-150 Raptor — an F-150 with upgrades. But for obvious reasons, the Raptor name really pops and has become a shorthand for the pickup.

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As with the Raptor, I didn't get to make much use of the bed. Also, the weather as wintry when I conducted my test, so there was no way to keep the snow out!

The Silverado's bed was also lined for durability. Silverado owners who upgrade to the Z71 package are, like Raptor owners, going to be connecting the dots on a high-performance lifestyle.

That said, the Silverado struck me as being closer to a work truck than the Raptor. Not that close, but with adequate striking distance to give me the impression that the high-performance 1500 might be able to engage in more humble activities, if called upon, than the  Thoroughbred Raptor.

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The Silverado Z71 interior was a bit more purposeful than the Raptor's. Note the workmanlike column-shifter on the steering rack.

No push-button start in this generation, either! You get to turn an old-school key to fire up the Silverado Z71. Our "Jet Black"-interior Chevy test truck had a bigger cab than the Raptor and traditional rear doors, making a better choice if you want to use the Silverado Z71 as a family vehicle.

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The 5.3-liter V8 engine in the Silverado Z71 makes 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque, routing the power to the four-wheel-drive system through an eight-speed transmission.

OK, so the Raptor obviously takes this round, even though the Chevy's "Hot Red" paint job was something special. The Silverado gives up 100 horsepower to the Ford. Still, the 0-60 mph dash is respectable, for a big pickup: about seven seconds.  Fuel economy obviously isn't going to great with a vehicle like this, but 15 mpg city/20 highway/17 combined isn't terrible.

The Silverado with the big V8 can also tow more than the Raptor. But in fairness, the Raptor isn't optimized for towing — other F-150s outdo the Silverado on this front.

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The infotainment system is Chevy's MyLink, running on an eight-inch touchscreen. We've been big fans of this system on numerous vehicles from General Motors' brands. Chevy had a lead on Ford with infotainment, thanks for OnStar and 4G LTE wifi connectivity, but Ford's SYNC3 has closed the gap. MyLink is still easier to the use than SYNC3, although not by much. And both systems provide the usual features, from navigation to Bluetooth device pairing to USB options. Our Silverado tester also came with SiriusXM radio and sweet-sounding Bose premium audio upgrade. Apple CarPlay and Android auto are also available.

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And the winner is the Raptor!

Well, obviously. The Raptor is the most intense version of the new aluminum-bodied F-150, with an engine based on technology that Ford has been using in race cars. It's the gnarliest pickup on the block because it wants to be — and because Ford designed it to be a cut above.

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The Silverado Z71 has its virtues, however. A beefy, old-school engine and a little less high performance, but probably better pickup-truck versatility than the specialized Raptor. In the end, it was kinda not a fair fight. And the Silverado will be back once the new 1500 fully launches this year. So expect a rematch.

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