As cool as the Raptor was when it debuted last year, there wasn’t a whole lot to appreciate under the hood. Massive suspension modifications were enough to make the Raptor a hit among the niche set of off-roaders that wants to go fast in the sand but doesn’t really want to build their own trucks. If you’ve never experienced a lifted truck with a properly dialed-in suspension, the Raptor is probably the most amazing truck in the world. But it came with a boat anchor for an engine.
A year later the same truck has an all-new 6.2-liter V-8 rated at 411 hp, an impressive 101 hp increase over the 5.4-liter V-8 offered before. One would imagine this increase in power totally transforms the truck, but that’s not quite the case. With a 3-ton curb weight to overcome, the 6.2-liter engine still feels lackadaisical when you floor the gas pedal. Is it better than the 5.4? Certainly. But the 5.4-liter was not very good to start with, and the 6.2 doesn’t significantly raise the performance bar for $3000.
Ford has made huge strides with its powertrain offerings in the past few years, in vehicles like the Fusion Hybrid and anything with an EcoBoost V-6. Hopefully the performance vehicles will be treated to worthwhile, modern powerplants soon. I’d love a Raptor that had the engine performance to match its aggressive looks.
– Phil Floraday, Senior Web Editor
This is my first exposure to the Raptor, and I have to say that even to the casual pickup truck observer, this thing is pretty cool. Appearance-wise, I was especially struck by the front end. As the regular F-series, and even more so the Super Duty, present ever taller and more preposterous blocky chrome faces to the world, the Raptor’s far lower and sleeker black grille with integrated “FORD” letters looks way more badass.
Towering 4×4 pickups aren’t really my thing, but the fact that this one was built to such a specific purpose (off-road racing) imbues it with real authenticity. I love the neat details like the colored stripe at the top of the steering-wheel rim.
All that said, the Raptor is pretty huge to wield around town. The backup camera is essential, but expect to do a lot of extra maneuvering. And the fact that this truck is too tall for our public parking garage is a drag, and the climb up to get inside the cabin would eventually get tiresome. The big, soft tires float over pavement imperfections, but larger bumps cause plenty of shuddering.
This is a purpose-built vehicle that shouldn’t really be used to make a fashion statement, even if it does ooze machismo.
– Joe Lorio, Senior Editor
I totally agree with Phil: The original 5.4-liter-powered Raptor begged for more power, but the optional new 6.2-liter engine just doesn’t quite satisfy me. You’d think that 411 hp would make just about anything quick, but that’s clearly not the case with a tall, three-ton F-150. I’m not saying that the 6.2-liter is a slouch — I just expected more oomph. On the plus side, at least the new engine teams with the six-speed automatic for more responsive passing. That alone would be worth the extra $3000 to me, since any 5.4-liter F-150 can be extremely sluggish in its kickdown maneuvers.
No matter the engine, the Raptor is a very wild-looking vehicle. I crossed the U.S./Canada border twice on my evening with the big Ford, and the customs agents on both shores of the Detroit River were curious about the truck, but fortunately not in a “Please step out of the vehicle” kind of way. I went to Windsor to retrieve a hard top for an MGB roadster that our New York bureau chief Jamie Kitman recently bought. The Raptor’s box isn’t huge, but the hard top slid in with no problems, proving that the Raptor is more than just a statement-maker with some racing credibility. The seller of the top was a retired Ford man who was particularly impressed with the truck’s finer details, like LED running lights in the grille, aluminum control arms, and double dampers.
Were it not for the antique hard top in the bed, I would’ve loved to have blasted down some muddy, rutted back roads in the Raptor. Oh well. At least SVT’s new truck drives well enough on-road, as long as you’re not in tight quarters with other traffic.
– Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
Sixty miles per hour on a muddy, bumpy dirt road? No problem. Just remember to select four-wheel-drive high, lock the differential, and turn up the radio so that the sound of rocks pinging against your skidplates doesn’t drown out NPR.
The new 6.2-liter V-8 cures the one chink in the Raptor’s decal-covered armor. You still won’t win a drag race against a Hemi-powered Ram 1500, but that’s no matter. The story with this truck was never its engine. All the Raptor needed was a bit more passing power on the road and a bit more climbing power in the rocks. Check and check.
I’ve yet to see a Raptor in the hands of a private owner, so I’m guessing it won’t be a huge volume seller. Nevertheless, I feel like Ford has caught lighting in a bottle (not Lightning) with this truck. It’s a very cool concept and now, thanks to its new engine, is nearly perfect in its execution.
– David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
When you’re behind the wheel of the Baja-tuned Raptor and life presents you with a semi-muddy off-road trail, your right foot becomes amazingly twitchy. I succumbed to the irritation, mashed my foot down, and blitzed across what appeared to be an abandoned subdivision development. The Raptor never flinched one bit — even when plowing through a foot of water, which applied a lovely wall of mud to the exterior sheetmetal in a very Jackson Pollack fashion.
This is what the Raptor is built to do. Yes, it’s big; yes, it’s tall; yes, it’s wide (in fact, Ford was legally required to put clearance lamps on the front and rear).
Then again, a stock F-150 is a huge beast. The Raptor is no harder to weave through urban roads and parking garages than an XLT, King Ranch, or Harley-Davidson model. The only downside to the taller stance that I noted is a tall cargo bed that’s difficult to load (perhaps that integrated tailgate step isn’t such a bad idea).
– Evan McCausland, Web Producer
While the new 6.2-liter engine doesn’t feel significantly faster than the 5.4-liter V-8 in the Ford F-150 Raptor, it offers a substantial improvement in drivability. Specifically, the six-speed transmission is much more confident in selecting cogs and accelerating from the current gear. The result is less frenetic and less frequent shifting. Whether that’s worth the $3000 premium is debatable, but I imagine buyers won’t have to make that decision for long. The 5.4-liter is likely to make an exit as it’s squeezed by the turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 from below and the 6.2-liter V-8 from above. On most paved roads, the Raptor rides comfortably. However, hitting a transverse bump while in a turn causes the rear end to shimmy and squirm. The loft-like ride height is also a reminder that the Raptor is more than just an image-builder. It’s a bona fide off-roader, complete with the requisite compromises.
– Eric Tingwall, Assistant Editor
2010 Ford SVT Raptor
Base price (with destination): $38,995
Price as tested: $47,550
5.4-liter V-8 engine
6-speed automatic transmission
Leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel
Power sliding rear window
Sirius satellite radio
Auto-dimming rear view mirror
Tire pressure monitoring system
Trailer towing package
Shift on the fly 4×4
Options on this vehicle:
6.2-liter V-8 engine — $3000
Luxury package — $1950
Power adjustable pedals
Power heated signal mirrors
Power driver and front passenger seat
Heated front seats
Graphics package — $1075
Sony navigation package — $2430
Trailer brake controller — $230
Rear view camera — $450
Raptor orange accent seat — $395
Key options not on vehicle:
Power moonroof — $995
Integrated tailgate step — $375
Fuel economy: N/A (city/hwy/combined)
Size: 6.2L V-8
Horsepower: 411 hp @ 5500 rpm
Torque: 434 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm
Drive: Rear- and 4-wheel
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Curb weight: 6006 lb
17-inch machined-aluminum wheels
315/70R17 BF Goodrich all terrain tires