The best selling truck in America just got bigger and a whole lot meaner thanks to Ford’s Special Vehicle Team (SVT). This off-road ready creation, dubbed the 2010 F-150 SVT Raptor, is already racking up pre-orders, will be used by the U.S. Border Patrol, and used the grueling Baja 1000 off-road race as a testing facility. Needless to say, excitement is building.
The premise of the Raptor is simple: make an F-150 that can handle any off-road situation, but won’t shake you teeth out if you drive it on the highway to work everyday. The solution was much easier said than done. The Special Vehicle Team, which created the high-performance F-150 Lightning in the 1990s and is also responsible for the Shelby GT500 Mustang model, went all-out, and one look at the Raptor is all the proof you need.
The exterior definitely lets you know this is an F-150, but not your average F-150. The killer Molten Orange Metallic paint job certainly helps, but its the dimensions themselves that give away the Raptor’s purpose. The Raptor is a full seven inches wider than the standard F-150, which must make it a pain to bring through vehicle assembly lines at Ford’s truck plant (not to mention squeeze onto trailers and railroad cars for deliver), but this is not “bigger for bigness sake.” That extra width helps the Raptor attain much better footing on rough terrain, which is aided by a specially designed front and rear suspension system.
When your average Joe turns a pickup into an off-roader, that process usually just involves a suspension lift, but that wasn’t enough for Ford’s SVT. They installed new control and A-arm architecture in the front end, upping the front suspension’s total travel length to 11.2 inches, and a comparable system in the rear allows for 13.4 inches of travel. These lengths make the truck better at tackling bigger obstacles or rougher terrain. Long suspension travel, however, usually translates to horrible on-road driving. When traveling at highway speeds, the suspension will be bouncing around at the slightest wind, making the trip pretty uncomfortable. The Raptor avoids this problem by using Fox Racing Shox with internal bypass. These shocks have internal dampening that notices when you’re driving on a nice, flat road, and stiffens the shock absorbers accordingly, making the truck better on the road.
Under the hood is Ford’s tried and true 5.4-liter Triton V8, a familiar engine to anyone who has driven an F-150 in recent years. The V8 is tuned to 320 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque (virtually identical to the regular 5.4-liter F-150′s 310 and 390, respectively). Later in the year (or early next year at the latest), Ford is introducing a new engine line: a 6.2-liter V8. This behemoth is the same used to power the Raptor through the Baja 1000 race. Though the engine was tuned to 500 horsepower for the race, market versions will probably be in the neighborhood of 400 horses. No torque figures have been released as of yet, but a safe bet is in the 450-500 lb-ft range.
About this time, you’re probably getting worried. This sounds like an incredible truck, so it’s probably attached to a hefty price tag, right? Well, fear not potential Raptor driver, because it’s not that bad. The 2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor is going on sale in the next few weeks for a base price of $38,995. Yes, that does seem high for a pickup, especially considering that the base F-150 (which has a 4.6-liter V8, starts at around $21k), but it’s only $3k more than the F-150 FX4. And, three F-150 models, the King Ranch, Platinum, and Harley-Davidson, are more expensive than the Raptor. Once the 6.2-liter V8 becomes an option, that’ll probably bump he price up by a few thousand, but that price increase would apply to any model upgrading to that engine.
The 2010 F-150 SVT Raptor, considering that it is a purpose built off-road machine, is pretty fairly priced, and 1,500 other drivers already think so as they’ve placed preorders. Also, the U.S. Border Patrol thinks that the Raptor is perfect for their duties, so they’ve put in an order as well (Ford hasn’t said exactly how many, yet). And, its inaugural test run was the ridiculously tough, 631-mile Baja 1000 race, which is unheard of for a new vehicle launch. That verdict? This one’s a winner. Just don’t expect it to have the gas mileage to qualify for the Cash For Clunkers program.