Leave it to SVT to create yet another product that can't be used to its full potential on public roads. Still, kudos to the group for pursuing an off-road truck instead of the traditional drag-strip special or track car. I encounter cratered, dirt roads in my daily driving more frequently than I do a 1320-foot stretch of pavement or a perfectly shaped apex with runoff strip.
Still, I'm sure that what I put the Raptor through the other night was absolutely nothing compared with the terrain it was designed for. Any machine designed for flying (literally) over dunes and bouncing over anything short of land mines will greet even the worst of Michigan's dirt roads with a stifled yawn -- and that's just what the Raptor did. Thanks in part to its custom-built suspension (to say nothing of those giant, shiny Fox racing shocks), this is one F-150 that rarely feels unsettled at speed, even over sizable potholes.
I can't think of much else this truck could use, apart from extra power and some additional lighting (the stock headlamps aren't strong enough for nighttime pre-running). Ford seems to have those corners addressed -- the 6.2-liter V-8 is now a $3000 option, and those four auxiliary switches on the center console are perfect for wiring up some KC Daylighters.
What really strikes me is how usable this truck is in daily life. Apart from feeling slightly wider than a run-of-the-mill F-series, the Raptor drives like any other F-150 offering, albeit with some additional (and understandable) tire noise. It's entirely possible to drive into town after a day on the trail, and I like the premise of extrapolating the "run what you brung" mantra to the off-road motorsports environment. It's also still fully usable as a pickup -- the 6000-pound maximum trailer weight is down slightly from other F-150 configurations, but that figure is still quite substantial.
I'm not sold on the splash graphics, the orange hue, or the wild color-keyed interior. The F-150 Raptor is wild enough in concept and execution, you don't need those visual gimmicks to command attention.
Evan McCausland, Web Producer