2010 Ford F-150 SVT RaptorPosted on August 8th, 2010
Special Vehicle Team transforms Ford’s full-sized pickup into the ultimate off-road machine
By Nina Russin
If the definition of an active lifestyle vehicle includes getting jiggy on two wheels and eating mouthfuls of dirt, the Ford SVT Raptor may be the ultimate ALV. The automaker drew from its trophy truck experience to make a vehicle that can go off-road racing out of the box.
The difference between the Raptor and the race-prepared trucks it’s based on is that the Raptor is street legal. The test car, equipped with a luxury package, is actually pretty comfy for the daily commute.
While high-tech features such as Ford’s sync voice-activated controls proliferate through the interior, the off-road technology is pretty old fashioned. I don’t say this to be disparaging. Anybody who’s followed a Baja race knows that checkpoints can be few and far between. The drivers that win have tied-and-true technology that works, and after miles of pre-running, know how to make the best of it.
The Raptor chassis is significantly wider than the stock F-150 to accommodate large wheels and a wider suspension. Fox racing shocks become stiffer as they travel into compression to avoid bottoming out. High-profile tires serve the same purpose.
The suspension is soft, so it can glide over obstacles without beating up the driver.
Base price on the F-150 4X4 is $38,020, not including a $975 delivery charge. Options on the test car, including the Raptor package, custom paint, luxury interior, rear back-up camera, Sony navigation radio and a trailer brake controller bring the price as tested to $49,395.
Two available engines
The Raptor comes with a choice of two V-8 engines. A 6.2-liter block on the test car produces 411 horsepower and 424 foot-pounds of torque, giving it exceptional low-end acceleration. Baja racers don’t travel that fast as compared to circle-track racing, but they have to come out of the box fast.
All models come with a six-speed automatic transmission with overdrive and a tow-haul mode. The Raptor can tow up to 6000 pounds: almost double our ALV minimum standard. Because of its size and weight, the EPA doesn’t require Ford to list fuel economy specifications on its Monroney. The gas tank holds 26 gallons: I used up approximately a quarter tank of gas on my 120-mile test drive.
Large and in charge
The Raptor’s exterior is not for the faint of heart. Molten orange is a good description for the base color. A blacked-out grille and black exterior graphics make the truck visible for miles. The truck is also taller than almost anything else on the road, including most full-sized sport-utility vehicles.
While running boards on some trucks seem more of fashion statement than necessity, such is not the case here. Getting in and out of the Raptor is easy enough in casual clothes, but doing so in dress clothes can be a challenge.
The chassis is seven inches wider than the stock F-150. It fits into a standard parking spot, but with little to spare on either side. I wouldn’t want to try parallel parking the truck on the street. The chassis’ extra wide suspension results in a larger-than-normal turning radius: 44.6 feet.
Considering its high ride height, visibility to the front and sides of the car is remarkably good. I had no problems monitoring traffic on either side of the truck, and had excellent visibility entering the highway.
As with any high-profile vehicle, there is a large blind spot beneath the rear window. Therefore, I’d highly recommend purchasing the optional rear-view camera.
Considering its long wheelbase and wide footprint, the Raptor handles surprisingly well around town. Despite its extreme suspension travel, the truck is quite stable at speed, including maneuvering through cloverleaf turns. Narrow streets can be difficult due to the chassis width, but maneuverability on the wider suburban streets in my neighborhood was no problem.
The 6.2-liter engine is an impressive performer with a wonderful exhaust note. The transmission shifts harder than the typical luxury car, but it’s not unpleasant.
Four-wheel disc brakes with four-channel antilock braking stop the truck in a firm, linear fashion.
The Raptor’s live rear axle makes for a bumpier ride, both on and off-road, than a fully-independent suspension. But the live axle has performance advantages for racing, and is better suited for towing a trailer.
Off-road trails are the Raptor’s ace-in-the-hole. To see what the truck would do, I headed northeast of Phoenix into the Tonto National Forest. An area of off-road trails designed for modified trucks and ATVs was the perfect playground for the F-150.
The Raptor’s extreme suspension travel and large wheels take some getting used to. The chassis can feel as if it’s floating, even though the truck has excellent traction.
I started down a washed-out dirt road that was badly in need of grading after the summer monsoons. It was hard to believe that the truck was travelling over such rough terrain. I expected to feel a lot more in my lower back.
The suspension has over a foot of travel in back and eleven inches up front, enough to keep all four wheels on the ground when most trucks would be balancing on two. The effect is like riding in a Snowcat, except with wheels instead of tracks. I suppose it would be possible to roll the truck over, but between the suspension and stability roll control system, doing so would take a perverse form of talent.
Steering feedback, both on and off-road is surprisingly good. I had no problem feeling connected to the wheels, or making some quick direction changes.
Considering the Raptor’s primary purpose, its stylish upscale interior is a bit surprising. The luxury package on the test car includes power driver and front passenger seats and power adjustable pedals. Seat heaters make the truck more comfortable in temperature extremes.
Second-row seats don’t have an abundance of legroom, but they are capable of holding small adults.
Redundant steering wheel controls minimize driver distraction. Controls on the center stack are easy to reach from either front seating position, and intuitive to operate.
Designers included a USB port for plugging in a music stick. Standard satellite radio includes a three-month complimentary subscription.
As with most pickup trucks, most of the Raptor’s cargo space is in its open cargo bed. The crew cab provides more interior storage space than a traditional pickup: enough for some luggage or groceries. But due to the truck’s ride height and suicide doors, loading up the back can be a challenge.
All models come with front, side and side curtain airbags. Ford’s safety canopy keeps the airbags tethered to the sides of the car in the event of a rollover, to prevent passengers’ heads from hitting the side glass. Other standard safety features include antilock brakes, stability and traction control.
Ford’s keypad keyless entry allows multiple passengers to unlock the car using a numeric code. It’s a great feature when friends share the vehicle at a trailhead.
Ford builds the Raptor at its Dearborn, Michigan assembly plant.
Likes: Exceptional off-road capability in a street-legal truck
Dislikes: Poor turning radius, difficult access and egress
Model: F-150 4X4 SVT Raptor
Base price: $ 38,020
As tested: $49,395
Horsepower: 411 Hp @ 5500 rpm
Torque: 434 lbs.-ft. @ 4500 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Fuel economy: N/A
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