Ride Impression: Ford F-150 SVT Raptor

We test Ford's purpose-built off-road truck

Aug. 26, 2009 By Josh Burns

Ford F-150 Raptor Continued

The Raptor has optional features available such as power seats, moonroof, navigation, etc.

The next morning we woke up early to head out to the desert for what we came for – off-road testing of the Raptor. While developing the Raptor, the SVT testing team (consisting largely of the engineers that helped build the vehicle) set up a roughly 66-mile course to punish each Raptor prototype. Every time they reached a new stage and another prototype vehicle was created, it had to survive 1000 miles on the 66-mile off-road course filled with whoops, sand washes, off-camber turns and constantly changing terrain. Fortunately for the journalists in attendance, we had the chance to charge around 22 miles of this course to test out the Raptor.

Ford sent us off in onto the course with a five-minute gap between each truck. We donned helmets and had an SVT engineer in the passenger seat to guide us through the course – kind of like our own personal rally co-driver calling out turns. This was the moment of truth, where’d we see if all the hype was worth it. Once given the ok, I gunned it and only let off the gas slightly for sharp turns. We found sand wash sections, whoops, sharp right- and left-hand turns and some larger mounds – and none of it slowed down the Raptor. Owning a Tacoma pre-runner myself, I couldn’t help but think of the ride quality of my truck compared to the Ford, but I was very surprised how smooth the ride was. Despite the suspension and all the hub-hub we'd heard for a day, I expected a much bumpier ride, but I was pleasntly surprised at just how well the suspension absorbed every obstacle we found – even the few mounds and ruts I hit going a little too fast.

You never felt out of control in the Raptor. At all times, the Raptor felt solid and in its element. We would've like to feel the difference between the 5.4-liter engine and the 6.2 that wasn't quite ready yet, but the 5.4-liter engine had plenty of power for the riding we did.

We also tested the difference between driving with and without Off-Road Mode (the engine and trans. respond much better for off-road driving when on – it’s not even close), and we locked and unlocked the rear differential to feel the difference in control with and without it. The Raptor seemed to take everything in stride, and the only complaint I had after the ride was not being able to take to the course a second time to make get a faster run in.

After the “desert romp” ride, I jumped into another Raptor to tackle the hill course Ford set up to test the 4x4 capability of the Raptor. We charged a few hills, found some sand to get loose in, and then we had a few good hill climbs followed by downhill descents. The 4X4 capability of the Raptor is great, and we really had no issues to report. But the big test came at the end, where we would descend the big hill that overlooked our the camp. We crawled up the hill, made the tight turn and set our tires straight for the large downhill drop. Before going over the edge, we pressed the Hill Descent Control button and put our feet on the floorboards. Despite the natural reaction to stab at the breaks with our feet, the Hill Descent function does all the work for you, and all the driver has to do is … well, drive. It’s a great function that will come in handy for some drivers, but hard-core off-roaders may not find as much use in the function simply because it makes downhill descent so easy it’s almost cheating. It's a neat feature, though.

The Raptor is a solid truck. Very solid. Ford’s SVT division set out three years ago to produce a truck fully capable of handling the off-road terrain, and we feel it fully achieved this goal. Once we heard the price, we were pretty much sold. Where else can you find a brand new, fully capable off-road truck for under $40,000? Actually, let me rephrase that: Where can you find a brand-new off-road truck with a full factory warranty for under $40,000?

Sure, if you want to deck out the Raptor with the 6.2 engine or upgrade the truck to navigation (which we think is worth it on this truck, and it looks much better esthetically) you’re going to go over $40,000. But still, the Raptor offers great on- and off-road performance at a very fair price. If you’re an off-road enthusiast who wants a truck that can get you to work and play, the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor is definitely worth checking out.

The Raptor is available in four colors, with Blue Flame Metallic shown above.

2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor
Available Colors: Blue Flame Metallic, Tuxedo Black Metallic, Molten Orange Metallic Tri-Coat, Oxford White
Base MSRP: $38,995 (including destination and delivery)
6.2-Liter V-8/six speed: $3000
Navigation with Sony Audio (requires Luxury Package): $2430
Luxury Package - $1950
-40/Console/40, 10-way power driver and passenger seats with heat and driver memory
-DATC – dual automatic temperature control
-Sony Audio six-disc CD
-Power/heated/signal/driver-dimming memory side-view mirrors with body-color cap
-Power-adjustable pedals
-Memory System
Graphics Package: $1,075
Rearview Camera System (mirror-based or navigation-based): $450
Integrated Trailer Brake Controller: $230
Power Moonroof w/One-Touch Opening: $995
Tailgate Step: $350
Stowable Bed Extender: $195


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