The Ford F-150 SVT Raptor is the first vechicle to come from Ford’s Special Vehicle Team in some time. With none too much R&D money on the books, Ford SVT does not exactly have the resources to build niche market cars that may not sell. The SVT Raptor is a high-performance off-road version of Ford’s venerable F-150 pickup truck — and for the latest model year the truck received two major changes.
Developed by Ford’s high-performance-oriented Special Vehicle Team (SVT), the Raptor is a rugged version of the F-150 pickup truck aimed at young male buyers who are into desert off-roading. That means the Raptor is specifically designed to crawl over boulders and careen down rutted back roads at 70 miles per hour. Picture a pickup truck adapted to run the annual Baja 1000 race. The F-150 is still Ford’s most dominant cash cow, and releasing a super hot off-road version will bring buyers into the showroom who may just walk away with a bread-and-butter F-150 truck and a lot of great ideas.
After all, the modern conveniences of day-to-day life just don’t mix with such uncivilized activities as seeing how much air you can put between your truck’s skid plates and solid ground. Since late 2009, actually, when FoMoCo unleashed the first version of the F-150 SVT Raptor on an unsuspecting public. Unlike all previous products from Ford’s Specialty Vehicle Team, including the F-150-based SVT Lightning, this truck does its best work once the pavement ends and the really nasty stuff begins.
Ford has video of the Raptor on its Raptor specialty site showing the truck moving at triple digit speeds and jumping right off the show room floor. The Raptor is certainly capable of crossing rivers and running though mud all day, but the real purpose of the truck is high-speed off road Baja style driving. Since I live in the pine forests of East Texas there is no desert around to test the trucks capabilities and the thought of tearing up a $50,000 truck is more than I can bear anyway. I did find chance after one of the common Texas flash floods to take the beast through mud that was deep enough to suck the boots off your feet.
One totally new addition to the Raptor for the latest model year is the Supercrew cab configuration. While having four full-sized doors may not make for the best off-roader ever, as Jeep can attest with it’s four-door Wrangler, consumers have real demand for more people hauling ability while still having significant off-road capability. As such, Ford obliged.
Now the latest SVT Raptor comes standard with 411 horsepower and 434 lb.-ft. of torque, thanks to its 6.2-liter V8. This newly standard engine makes the F-150 SVT Raptor the most powerful half-ton pickup on the market. Ford says the 6.2-liter V8 improves the capability of the Raptor by giving customers new levels of capability by enabling low-speed maneuvers such as rock crawling, driving up a grade or accelerating through deep sand, which will now require much less throttle input because of the engine’s increased torque.
The Raptor has surprised Ford by selling better than expected. Since the model hit dealerships last June, about 2,500 have sold in the U.S. and Canada, and there’s a backlog of orders for about 4,500 more, according to Mark Grueber, Ford’s F-150 marketing manager. The company now expects to sell 7,000 or 8,000 Raptors this year, Grueber says. That’s a small fraction of overall F-Series pickup sales (413,625 in 2009)—but a lot for what was expected to be a tiny niche product.
High-tech features include: Trailer Sway Control, an Integrated Trailer Brake Controller, an Electronic Locking Differential, Hill Descent Control, an Off-Road Mode, and an Auxiliary Switch Board to facilitate aftermarket add-ons. The SVT Raptor is built alongside the new F-150 at Ford’s Dearborn Truck Plant at the Rouge Center in Dearborn, Michigan.
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