We’re all familiar with drivers who shell out for sports cars or exotic vehicles without ever pushing their limits beyond 50% capacity. The appeal is strictly style and exclusivity. Well, that’s also the case with the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor. Few will actually make use of its full capabilities, but many will nonetheless fall for its looks and personality. There’s something about the Raptor that is reminiscent of toy Tonka trucks, and getting behind the wheel of one is like fulfilling a childhood dream.
The first time you see the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor, you might think that it’s a modified 4X4 featuring a bunch of specialized accessories. But, of course, you’d be totally wrong. Aptly named after the fierce dinosaur, the Raptor is one of Ford’s rare SVT vehicles. Its sport capabilities have been specially adapted for off-road conditions. In case you’re wondering, it’s not modelled after the Jeep Wrangler, who specialty is mountain climbing. Rather, the Raptor is designed for high-speed use far from any asphalt!
The F-150 SVT Raptor is a testament to Ford’s high-performance and off-road advancements. After all, Ford has more than 20 years of experience at various off-road races, most notably the Baja, California event. These qualities are key components of this pick-up’s DNA. While this vehicle is probably not what you’d consider an essential work tool, it is without a doubt an exceptional machine.
First issued in 2010, the Raptor is available in two different configurations: the SuperCab with rear-hinged half doors or the more practical four-door SuperCrew. The only box length offered is 5.5 feet which, as the shortest length possible, lends the vehicle a more dynamic style. Obviously, there’s no use taking the Raptor to a construction site, unless you plan on playing in a sand pile.
Under the hood lies a 6.2-litre V8 that produces 411 horsepower and 434 pounds-foot of torque, making the Raptor the most powerful half-ton pick-up on the market. This is the same engine that powers the F-250 models.
Viewed from the exterior, the Raptor is unmistakeably unique. Firstly, it comes with its very own colour palette. Then there’s its sheer size, thanks in part to its gigantic wheels. Plus, there are all the exclusive style elements that boost its aggressive style. This includes its front grille whose brick-like design incorporates the Ford name, air intakes in the front hood, wider fenders, oversized assist steps and decorative stripes on the rear body. But the most striking feature are the marker lamps. Instead of being located on the roof, they are included in the front grille and on the fenders. If you see this beast coming up behind you at night, chances are you’re going to want to let it pass.
Inside the cabin, the Raptor offers the same luxury and comfort as the more costly F-150 trims. The SVT instrumentation is set on a white backdrop, making the indicators easier to read at high speed. The steering wheel is swathed in leather and features a red strip across the top of its centre as a visual aid when off-roading (it helps you keep your bearings as to where the centre of the steering wheel is). An auxiliary control module, borrowed from the Heavy Duty models, has also been included, allowing you to link and/or control different accessories, such as the daytime running lights. Incidentally, the central console, the middle panel on the seats and some of the door panels come in the same colour as the vehicle body.
What about the mechanics? The superior clearance provided by the wheels is not only essential for off-roading, it gives you a clear view of the blue Fox Racing shocks. These are married to special springs that promote more efficient handling on bumpy surfaces. In fact, the Raptor’s front and rear suspensions have been completely revamped. However, since they did away with some of the super springs and added a 4.10 axle, the loading capacity is down to 6,000 lbs. In other words, this is not a work vehicle.
On the road, it’s comfy and pleasant enough for normal driving. The precise steering gives you confidence on windy roads. The Raptor is designed to meet the expectations of extreme performance drives while keeping the comfort and capacity offered by the F-150. And they’ve managed to pull that balance off quite well. Put the pedal to the metal and the 6.2-litre V8 responds immediately – and with an unmistakeable sound. Of course, high fuel consumption is to be expected: 16.5 L/100 km on average, according to our figures. If you stick to the highway and behave, you might bring it down to 15 L/100 km.
Few production pick-ups can handle as much in off-road conditions. Take it out on sand roads and you’ll discover that the Raptor is up to the job. Starting at $57,599, the SVT Raptor is not the most affordable vehicle out there. Not to mention the fact that the options will send the price dramatically upward. And who would buy a Raptor without some of those little extras? For instance, add $1,100 for Raptor graphics on the hood and another $1,300 for graphics on the sides. After all, this is not a vehicle that should go unnoticed!
|Test model||2012 Ford F-150|
|Trim level||SVT Raptor 4x4 Super Crew Cab (5.5')|
|Price range||$20,099 - $58,799|
|Price as tested||$57,599|
|Warranty (basic)||3 years / 60,000 km|
|Warranty (powertrain)||5 years / 100,000 km|
|Competitive models||Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, Nissan Titan, RAM 1500, Toyota Tundra|
|Value for price|