Those who think that focusing on performance is an irresponsible waste of time probably have a field day with the Ford SVT Raptor, which is, as Joe notes, an absurd vehicle that gets very poor gas mileage. I'd say just the opposite. The Raptor proves how important a performance perspective can be. You see, Ford's SVT engineers didn't just make the F-150 better at racing across gravel at 100 mph or clawing across rocks. They made it better at nearly everything. The team wasn't quite satisfied with the brakes, so they went with the biggest rotors they could find and put in a different master cylinder. As a result, the brake pedal sponginess that afflicts nearly every mainstream Ford vehicle is nonexistent here. They didn't like the steering, so they swapped in new control arms and put in a faster rack. Now the Raptor turns more confidently than any normal pickup. As Phil notes, these improvements come at a surprisingly minimal additional tarif. I'd argue there's no vehicle that wouldn't benefit from this sort of attention, even those that aren't strictly performance offerings.
No doubt, the Raptor isn't for everyone. Parking is a chore. Ingress is difficult, to put it mildly ("How the f---- am I supposed to climb into this thing?" was how my sister phrased it). People do tend to stare at a seven-foot wide truck with 35-inch off-road tires and billboard-sized decals. And, yes, the fuel economy stinks -- I saw about 11 to 13 mpg in mixed city and highway driving. Despite all those drawbacks though, the SVT Raptor remains one of the only trucks I genuinely enjoy driving, even when I don't stray from the pavement.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
I love the SVT Raptor, and I'm not alone, considering Ford sold 8614 units last year, and 1072 already in 2011 (as of March 2, 2011). To put that in perspective, Suzuki sold 7500 Kizashis last year. So more people are willing to buy a big honky-tonk truck than a nice gas-sipping sedan.
People will complain about the Raptor's size and poor fuel mileage, but it's no worse than a high-powered two-door sports car. Your weekend fun would be off-road trails rather than open track days. And since it's a truck, you can actually haul or tow stuff and drive it year round when all the pretty sports cars are hiding under their cotton covers in a warm garage. Don't get me wrong, I consider myself a sports car guy more than a truck guy, but there's something to be said for a truck that can perform like the SVT Raptor and definitely a place in the market for it, too. Kudos to the SVT team, keep em coming!
Mike Ofiara, Road Test Coordinator