2010 Ford SVT Raptor
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
The only reason to buy an SVT Raptor is the fully-vetted changes to the suspension. There is a dizzying array of aftermarket components available for any pickup truck on the road today, but virtually none of them are up to OEM quality, durability, and reliability standards. Ford managed to take all the guesswork out of the upgrade process by partnering with Fox Racing Shox to dampen the Raptor's ride. Having owned more off-road vehicles than I can remember, I know firsthand how difficult it can be to strike the right balance between ride, handling, and articulation on a vehicle that sees both pavement and dirt. To some people, the peace of mind that comes with buying a vehicle that comes with that balance right out of the box is worth the $39,000 entry price alone.
It's a good thing the suspension changes Ford made are so compelling, because there's little else here to warrant any additional cost over a base F-150. Until the 6.2-liter V-8 hits dealers next year, the Raptor doesn't really have enough power to match the suspension's capability. Yes, the 5.4-liter V-8 produces adequate power, but any owner of an SVT vehicle shouldn't have to settle for something that's just adequate.
Many people will dismiss the Raptor for being too big and irrelevant in today's market, but there are a lot of people who spend a lot of money on off-road vehicles. For proof, all you need to do is head out to Anza-Borrego State Park in California for a weekend. Ford made the right choice with an off-road SVT truck instead of another Lightning effort.
Phil Floraday, Senior Online Editor
Usable? Not so much, Evan! Yeah, sure, you COULD drive this thing on a daily basis, but it would be pretty miserable. It desperately needs power-folding side mirrors. I felt like I was going to clip them off when I was driving on narrow city streets.
I do agree with Evan, though, that the Raptor's weight and its suspension hardware mean that it can pound almost any crappy Michigan pavement -- of which we have a lot here in Ann Arbor -- into submission. My daily commute includes a long stretch of road that is positively Third World status in the way it's pockmarked and potholed. In most cars, I'm diving this way and that, trying to direct the front wheels over the visibly smooth areas to avoid ruining a wheel. But in the Raptor, it's full speed ahead in a straight line, and you're hardly aware there's anything wrong with the road below you.
For off-roading enthusiasts who want a factory-engineered and factory-warranted vehicle like this, I say, more power to you. I'm sure I'd be more enthused about the Raptor if I had an opportunity to bound over sand dunes at 80 mph in one, as some of my colleagues have.
Joe DeMatio, Executive Editor
Ford and its specialists at SVT clearly spent a lot of time and money transforming the workaday F-150 into this insane, desert-darting monster. It's got new body panels, lights, interior trim, and, last but not least, suspension and tire upgrades that couldn't have been cheap. And neither is the Raptor itself, at $39K. Regardless, this is one of the coolest factory-built trucks in history, along with the F-150 Lightning, the Dodge Ram SRT10, the Dodge Li'l Red Express, the GMC Typhoon and Syclone, and, arguably, the Chevy SSR.
I can't see actually owning a Raptor unless I had somewhere to drive it, ideally the desert. Like Joe, I see the mondo F-150's width as a negative: it's the only vehicle I've driven that's short enough (just barely) to fit in our parking structure but wider than the painted parking spaces. It's an absolute shame to drive the Raptor on paved roads at posted speeds, too. That said, I flew down some bumpy dirt roads on my evening with the Raptor, and the truck was incredible; at 75 mph, it was as smooth as 75 would be on a glasslike interstate.
I agree that the Raptor's audience is small, but Ford should have no problem moving the small number - 1500 --that it plans to build for the 2010 model year, as David Zenlea noted in our first drive of the Raptor.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
It's almost unfair to review a vehicle like the SVT Raptor after only driving on paved roads, but unfortunately I didn't get a chance to hit the dirt in my evening with the Raptor. Around town, it's loud and feels downright enormous. It felt especially so when navigating our vertically restrictive parking structure and hearing the fixed antenna thunk against every roof beam and metal sign. It seems to me that the possible damage, not to mention noise, of the flimsy metal antenna whipping from side to side as you bound across hillsides would be a problem. It could be unscrewed and removed before serious off-road pursuits, but the $46,000 price of this Raptor should include an integrated antenna. And it actually seemed somewhat archaic on this fully-optioned off-road warrior once I powered up my heated seat and selected my favorite satellite radio station on the $2500 Sony stereo/navigation system while using the backup camera to safely exit my parking spot. As Joe mentioned, it wouldn't hurt to add power-folding mirrors also, as they are enormous.
Jennifer Misaros, Production Editor
2010 Ford SVT Raptor
Base price (with destination): $38,995
Price as tested: $46,020
Leather steering wheel
6-way power driver seats
Sirius satellite radio
SYNC voice activated system
Auto-dimming rearview mirror
Easy capless fuel filler
Tire pressure monitoring system
Trailer towing package
Electronic shift-on-the-fly 4x4 system
Options on this vehicle:
Molten Orange - $495
SVT Raptor Package - No charge
-17" machined aluminum wheels
-315/70R-17 all-terrain tires
-4.10 electronic lock rear axle
Luxury Package - $1,950
-Power adjustable pedals
-Power heated signal mirrors
-Power driver and passenger seat
-Heated front seats
Graphics Package - $1,075
Sony Navigation Radio - $2,430
Trailer Brake Controller - $230
Rear View Camera - $450
Raptor Orange Accent Seat - $395
Key options not on vehicle:
14 / 18 / 15 mpg
Size: 5.4L V-8
Horsepower: 310 hp @ 5000 rpm
Torque: 390 lb-ft @ 3500 rpm
Weight: 5863 lb
17 x 12 in. machined cast aluminum wheels
315/70R17 BFG 35" all-terrain tires