A formidable predator in factory form, the latest F-150 Raptor gets more fierce when the aftermarket turns up its aggression. Like most EcoBoost-powered Fords, the Ford Performance pickup shows off some muscular gains when fed a more aggressive calibration. Case in point is a 2017 F-150 Raptor sharpened by the tuning skills of Matt Alderman at ID Motorsports in Holly Hill, Florida.
The challenge to tuning a new EcoBoost platform is balance. — Matt Alderman, ID Motorsports
Having a long history of calibrating vehicles, including a stint as the in-house Calibration Engineer at SCT Performance, Matt knows his way around a powertrain control module. In fact, he has seen that Ford has really stepped up its game on the latest Raptor.
“We have noticed some improvements with this new setup over previous 3.5-liter EcoBoost platforms,” Matt said. “We have seen a more efficient intercooler. Our downstream air temps are lower at this boost level than in previous years. We have also noticed less high-pressure fuel pump pressure loss at peak torque than in previous years.”
Though the new Raptor is better, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. To dial things up, Matt relies on SCT Performance software and hardware to get the job done.
“Using SCT makes our task easier. We don’t need to search for what we need,” he explained. “With SCT it is reliable and consistent. So we know when we send a file and device to our customers it will work just as when we tested on our own vehicles.”
Using SCT’s Advantage III software suite, Matt dials up a custom calibration file that touches a number of areas that affect vehicle performance.
The tune has completely transformed the truck. — Matt Alderman, ID Motorsports
To deliver that new calibration, which was the only change for this test, Matt utilized the new Bully Dog BDX hand-held performance tuner, which features a full-color display and customizable gauges. This WiFi-enabled device connects to the Cloud to download the latest software and stay current with vehicle technology.
“For the Stage 1, we are using that for our base tune,” Matt said. “We will be coming out with a Stage 1 Hot as well. Then when we add a CAI and we will have that as Stage 2. Because of the gains we get and drastic characteristics changed with just a tune we believe it should not be just a ‘base.’”
So what’s it feel like to drive a Raptor that picks up chunks of peak power and torque as well as some impressive across the curve gains from nothing more than a custom calibration.
“The tune has completely transformed the truck,” Matt enthused. “Stock it would barely spin those big tires. Now we can do it from a roll. Even part-throttle tip-in is improved. You can feel the suspension transfer the weight now with Stage 1.”
Sounds like a good time, but it’s just the beginning for the ID Motorsports modding of the EcoBoosted pickup.
“There will be more to come with this platform,” Matt added. “We will be testing E85, a high-pressure fuel pump upgrade, larger direct injectors, larger port injectors, and really pushing the technology.”