Ford’s Special Vehicle Team (SVT) left the truck market when they stopped producing their F150 Lightning and when Ford rolled out the 2009 F150, there were rumors of another performance truck from SVT. Ford denied that there was a new Lightning coming and when they unveiled the new SVT F150 Raptor, it was clear that this performance truck was very different from the Lightning as the 2010 Raptor is an all-out off road performance truck.
The SVT Lightning was a supercharged, track ready beast making quite a name for itself on the drag strip and road course – two venues where the new Raptor is incredibly out of place. The SVT Raptor F150 is a purpose built performance truck and before going on sale to the public, Ford showed off the abilities of the Raptor in a variety of off road races. The specially designed twin shock setup is something unseen before on a factory production pickup and when combined with the huge tires, the Raptor is ready to hit the trails straight off of the showroom floor.
Last week, I spent a few hours in a 2010 SVT Raptor F150 courtesy of Dorian Ford in Clinton Twp, Michigan. A road test can only do this truck so much justice, as it isn’t made to be a go-fast street truck, but aside from the off-road performance abilities the Raptor is also an incredibly comfortable truck. Like most of the Raptors sold so far, my SVT test truck was equipped was fully loaded with every available upgrade from the heated leather seats to the high end Sony AV system, so this off-road truck offers as much frill as you can hope for from Ford. The interior isn’t quite to the level of the F150 Platinum, but for one of the most capable factory equipped trucks, the Raptor should be able to satisfy most truck buyers.
On the outside, the Raptor is easy to distinguish from the standard F150s. All of the SVT Raptors use Ford’s Super Cab with a 5.5 foot Styleside bed, with black wheel flares and the black SVT wheels matching the unique Raptor grill treatment which proudly displays the Ford name. Along the front of the truck, the Raptor offers a set of standard tow hooks in the rare event that you get stuck somewhere and those poke through a standard skid plate to protect the engine on the trails. The hood carries the black trim theme with a set of functional vents to pull excess heat from the engine bay and the front fenders also feature black vents, also displaying the SVT name.
My 2010 SVT Raptor F150 was equipped with the 5.4L Triton V8, making 320 horsepower and the power was sent to the wheels via a 6-speed automatic transmission. This is the standard engine offering for the Raptor and during the initial run, the 5.4L was the only engine option. Starting during the 2010 calendar year, the new 6.2L V8 with 411 horsepower will become available. The 5.4L Raptor that I drove pulled well through the gears, but even with the 4.10 gears the large tires slowed the truck down a bit.
The Fox Racing shock setup was designed specifically for the Raptor to provide off-road readiness in stock form without making them unbearable on the street. The suspension is very stiff, which should be expected, but around town the Raptor still offered a smooth enough ride. If you want a truck that “rides like a Cadillac”, the Raptor probably isn’t for you, but I didn’t find the ride to be excessively rough and when you hit unpaved roads, the Raptor seems right at home. Granted, I didn’t get to tear through the desert at 90 miles an hour like Ford shows in their advertisements for the Raptor but in dealing with a few rough unpaved roads, the Raptor glided along better than any stock truck I’ve driven in those conditions.
The 2010 Ford SVT Raptor F150 is easily the most capable factory built off-road truck ever and thanks to the interior fit and finish, this performance truck offers a luxurious ride. It can take the rough trails with no modifications while still being able to offer a comfortable ride for co-workers – in a great looking truck. Ford has sold over 5,300 Raptors and those numbers are expected to climb as the new 6.2L V8 has become available, making the SVT Raptor F150 even more capable.
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