It was tempting to go off-road into the median on M-14 this morning, as snow squalls turned the highway into a parking lot. Though this is a stiffly sprung truck, it was actually fairly comfortable on my 2-hour commutes during rush hour. Roads were so slick that it was easy to slide the Raptor around a bit, and I did so as I drove into our office park.
Otherwise, I think of this truck like the Gary Fisher-signature 2007 SuperCaliber mountain bicycle that my wife talked me into buying; it took me two or three years to use up its serious off-road tires. Still, I wouldn’t want to drive this truck every day, and I’m glad I give it up before the weekend. Please note power-folding mirrors; they’ll come in handy on this wide, wide truck.
Todd Lassa, Executive Editor
I wish I could regale you with tales of blasting through a foot of snow in this Ford SVT Raptor, but sadly a weekend of driving yielded only an inch of the white stuff and a handful of miles on unpaved roads. I convinced my girlfriend that we should take a detour on the way home from dinner to barrel down some dirt roads, but doing so actually turned out to be a non-event. The Raptor's abundant suspension travel and fat tires (meaty 315/70s!) soak up most major impacts and so you only feel the jiggling, wobbling ride common to any big pickup truck.
Nonetheless, the Raptor is impressive even if you drive it on pavement. The roaring 6.2-liter engine, skyscraper-tall vantage point from the driver’s seat, and surprisingly car-like steering prevent this giant truck from being a bore in quotidian driving. The massive front end and its bold, enormous “FORD” lettering are ridiculously imposing. I also love the way that the electric-blue Fox Racing shocks are visible from outside the truck. Meanwhile, the black splash-style graphics imply performance without looking too obnoxious. It's easy to see why so many customers have been sucked in by the appeal of such a beefy, overbuilt pickup.
To really appreciate the prowess and engineering in the SVT Raptor, you'd need to take it away from even the least-maintained roads to rural fields and trails. So it might sound hard to justify buying a Raptor, since it is expensive, very thirsty, firm-riding, and overly capable for most drivers. But it helps to think of this truck as analogous to a sports car. The Raptor is somewhat impractical and silly, but it's still huge fun to drive.
Jake Holmes, Associate Web Editor
If I so choose, I can turn my 22-mile highway commute into a 35-mile trip home almost completely on dirt roads. While many of the roads are well-graded enough that most cars can traverse them, this didn't stop me from taking the Raptor as off-road as I could get during a rainy evening after work. The difference between taking a Raptor down these car-and-a-half-wide tracks as compared with a Fusion or a Focus is the speed. While most cars (and SUVs) need to carefully traverse the mud, rocks, and potholes at less than 30 mph, the Raptor has zero problem hurting itself along at twice that speed.
That dirt-road ability is thanks mostly to the fact that the upgrade kit from F-150 to Raptor includes a 4.10 Torsen differential to enhance traction, 35-inch all-terrain tires with bead-lock wheels, and long-travel Fox Racing shocks (11.2 inches front/12.1 inches rear). It's these dampers that make the Raptor shockingly comfortable in bad-ass driving situations, on road or off.
This truck is at home in the mud. In fact, our tester came painted in a hue the color of dried mud that’s called "Terrain" and graphics that represent the splatter of wet mud. This is not to say that the Raptor didn't look better once coated with the real stuff. However, this truck is perfectly comfortable on the road, too. That long-travel suspension soaks up bumps and road imperfections, giving the most rough-and-tumble F-150 a ride as comfy (and floaty) as a Ford Crown Victoria.
Donny Nordlicht, Associate Web Editor