The 2011 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor represents a remarkable engineering achievement on Ford's part, as this truck is perfectly reasonable to drive on the street and yet, from all reports and the videos I've seen, masterful at the off-road game while remaining refined and comfortable. There are indeed reasons for a truck like this to exist, legitimate uses for it, as evidenced by the story that our own Ezra Dyer did of a Raptor on border patrol.
Ford is being rational about how it rolls out the Raptor, bringing out the extended-length cab last year and this year adding the SuperCrew. This is how you keep a model fresh and keep consumer attention, by dribbling out variants slowly and carefully.
From an aesthetics point of view, I like the black-on-orangish-red graphic treatment on the Raptor's body sides. This is not a subtle truck, so why should its exterior be at all subtle? You also have to love the fact that so much of the Raptor's capability is on display, in the form of the oversized suspension and frame components that are clearly visible to even the most casual observer. This is the equivalent, really, of a Ferrari V-8 under glass.
Despite all this, and despite the fact that people like my colleague Phil Floraday get so excited by the coolness of the Raptor that they start imagining it as a reasonable personal-use vehicle, I would say that it's not. The Raptor is sort-of the opposite end of the performance spectrum from a twelve-cylinder supercar-it offers extreme performance but extremely poor efficiency. I saw readouts of an average of 9.5 mpg on the way into work the other morning, although when I drove the Raptor on the freeway over the weekend, my average crept up to a slightly more palatable 12 mpg. So, the Raptor is like a weekend sports car: great for when you need it, great for when you want to have fun, not great for your daily commute to work, unless you're a border-patrol officer.
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor