Road Test Review: 2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor

Road Test Review: 2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor

Staring at a Molten Orange Ford F-150 SVT Raptor, it doesn’t take long for the truck to sear itself onto your retinas, creating an afterimage once you close your eyes. Afterimages disappear after a few seconds, but that’s not the case with the visceral impression of the Raptor, which has been permanently fused with our pickup-truck-driving neurons.

After all of the technical, first-drive and comparison coverage we've given the Raptor, you’d think we'd be bored with it. But every time we get in the factory prerunner, it's a new experience that leaves us wanting more.

As we enthusiastically prepare for the powerful, new 411-horsepower, 6.2-liter V-8 Raptor to arrive any day now, we thought we'd spend one last week hitting the trails in the 310-hp, 5.4-liter V-8 version.

We were fortunate to receive the Raptor at PUTC's headquarters in Southern California. The truck was developed only 150 miles away — in the unforgiving terrain of the Anza-Borrego desert wilderness — and much of the undeveloped land in SoCal is just about perfectly matched to the Raptor's strengths. But before we could make a run across California's badlands, we first had to escape from Los Angeles.

Driving a clean Raptor on city streets feels about as natural as brake torquing a hybrid before leaving a stoplight; it borders on embarrassing. The last thing we wanted to be mistaken for was being a commuter in a Raptor. We'd rather be caught with pec and calf implants. There was a perceptible difference in the reaction of drivers, too. We got more thumbs up when the Raptor was dirty than when it was shiny.

Raptor at Trona Pinnacles State Park

The Raptor was impossible to hide in Los Angeles. Its color, width (6.6-inches more than a standard F-150) and height were immediately noticeable. That helped in traffic because most drivers gave it a respectable cushion of space, but parking it could be almost as challenging as running the Raptor over a technical trail. Both required some recon and planning before executing, but we weren't going to tear the roof off the Raptor in the desert like we might maneuvering it in a garage. If we thought driving a clean Raptor was embarrassing, we imagined it would be infinitely more humiliating to air down the tires to squeeze out from under a support beam.

This might sound trivial, but if there was ever a truck that could beat Southern California's notorious freeway expansion joints, it's the Raptor and its Baja racing-inspired suspension. The joints are regularly spaced breaks between concrete sections of highway surface, giving roads room to flex and breathe.

Extended cab pickups, like the Raptor, are notoriously prone to up-and-down “beaming” that frequently occurs while driving over these joints. You can go for miles where you have to hold onto your coffee to keep it from spilling.

Raptor in the sand

The Raptor’s special Fox Racing-engineered front and rear shocks feature three shock fluid gates inside their barrels that change the dampening rate as the shock responds to every surface condition the truck encounters, from pothole to mudhole. The ride felt a bit stiffer than expected on the freeway, but it virtually muted all beaming in places where we’ve suffered it before in other extended cabs. We consider this a valuable bonus.

During our first drive of the Raptor several months ago, we mentioned how its six-speed automatic transmission constantly hunted or lazily shifted as it tried to optimize fuel economy over performance. That was our experience again with the truck, and it was particularly noticeable climbing steady grades with slight inclines. The Raptor couldn’t seem to decide whether it wanted to be in 5th or 6th gear, even when we held the truck’s speed using cruise control. As before on our first drive, our solution was to keep the truck in tow/haul mode to hold each gear a bit longer before upshifting. Driving became much more satisfying this way, though on downgrades we’d let the gearbox have full control to avoid an unexpected downshift as the truck tried to slow itself with engine braking, thinking a trailer might be attached.

Off the line performance wasn’t bad though for a heavy off-road truck with a 310 hp engine. In an earlier drive, we timed the Raptor with our VBOX taking a reasonable 8.8-seconds to go from 0 to 60 mph.

Raptor interior

One of the marvelous things about the Raptor that doesn’t get talked about enough is its excellent cockpit. The seats are well bolstered and hug your back and hips. Hopping in, you immediately feel supported by the truck and confident driving it. When you close the door, all the controls wrap around you and are easily reachable. The console-mounted shifter, off-road mode and hill-descent control buttons and auxiliary power switches fall on your right side at waist height, so you can adjust the truck’s performance quickly as driving conditions change. And just so you don’t forget it’s Molten Orange on the outside, the seats and instrument panel feature the same colored inserts and highlights.

We’re huge fans of Ford’s Sync system, which easily detected our Blackberry and provided traffic conditions at a glance so we could steel ourselves for gridlock or try to plot alternative routes around LA’s crowded freeways and major streets. But as we prepared to set course for one off-road destination, we noticed one major shortcoming with Sync that really stood out in the Raptor. We couldn’t input latitude and longitude coordinates into the navigation system like we could on other trucks, such as the Ram Power Wagon. Geographic coordinates are important in reaching points off-road where the trails aren’t mapped or you need to carve your own path. Ford spokesman Alan Hall says the next version of Sync, called MyFord Touch, will allow us to enter latitude and longitude.

Our Raptor also came equipped with Ford’s optional Sony audio system. Sound quality was quite good, particularly playing satellite radio, but we weren’t so happy with the aluminum mesh speaker grates in the doors. They scraped the back of our hands like a cheese grater when we reached for stuff in the door pockets.

City driving behind us, we turned our attention to wheeling in the Raptor. Much of the year, desert temperatures are a furnace that can quickly turn you into beef jerky if you get into a jam before help arrives. But in the wintertime, it's much more hospitable to off-road exploration.

Raptor in a wash that makes the truck dirty, not clean

We took the Raptor to three off-road spots: the Trona Pinnacles, Red Rock Canyon and Hungry Valley. Each offered its own unique trails to challenge the Raptor. At Trona, we headed for a wide riverbed that runs between the park’s stunning rock formations. The sandy wash was bone dry on the surface but wet underneath with the moisture left over from last week’s big storms.

Aside from running flat out on a dirt road, there’s probably no better way to get familiar with the Raptor’s high-speed off-road capability than a dry wash. You can run flat out for hundreds of yards or more with little risk of hitting anything larger than worn river rock or a hardy bush. If you need to slow down, letting off the accelerator is usually all that’s needed because the Raptor’s 6,000-pound mass ensures it will start to sink into the sand as it sheds speed, slowing it even further.

We ran the Raptor in four-wheel drive with Off-Road Mode engaged. Off-Road Mode gives the Raptor a linear throttle response, like a race truck, instead of high power at the beginning and tapered at the end, like a street truck. We noticed that characteristic right away, as it took a few moments for the engine and mass of the truck to spool up to Baja-worthy speeds in the silt. Once in the zone and flying through the wash, the Raptor’s transmission found its sweet spot in the power range and held onto its RPMs instead of upshifting, similar to tow/haul mode. Even when we let our foot off the accelerator, using the sand’s friction and depth to scrub speed as we picked different channels to run through, the power was readily available when we needed to call on it again once we knew the way was clear.

Raptor in the wash

Some of the most fun we had was trying to get the Raptor sideways. As much as we gripe about wanting more power from the 5.4-liter V-8 in the F-150, in the Raptor it lets you tail-slide with precision instead of overpowering the truck if you’re accidentally too strong with the throttle. You simply angle the wheel, hit the throttle and enjoy the tail-slide. In flat stretches, you can really let the Raptor rip and drift through the bends. The grippy 315/70R17 BF Goodrich tires and wide stance (about 6.5-inches wider than a standard F-150) add to the stability. Body control is excellent.

After Trona, we headed to Red Rock Canyon’s sandy and rocky trails. Here, we played with the Raptor’s agility on tight paths and followed trails that were little more than single tracks in places. Instead of high-speed stunts, we picked our way around sharp rocks and large bushes with little more than adding a few more desert pinstripes to the sides of the Raptor’s wide fenders.

All day we had looked for a place to jump the Raptor, and in Trona we found just the right bump to get the truck airborne. The amazing part of the jump was that it only took 20 to 30 mph to do it, and from the driver’s seat we almost couldn’t tell. As the Raptor’s suspension fully extended itself in midair, it was totally quiet in the cabin. On landing, the shocks and jounces soaked up the impact, so we weren’t violently pushed toward the roof. The triple bypass Fox dampeners we spoke of earlier only perform stronger the harder they’re pushed. Shock absorption is almost four times better at the end of the travel than when the shock is first compressed. It was simply an amazing performance in an act that probably would have destroyed 99 percent of the vehicles on the highway. Ford’s SVT engineers and the folks at Fox Racing deserve mad props for their suspension tuning and durability in the Raptor.

Raptor in the snow

Finally, at Hungry Park near Gorman, Calif., we played with the Raptor on muddy trails still wet from the runoff of fresh snow. The Raptor didn’t feel quite as comfortable in this situation. The F-150’s weight played against it a bit as it sunk into sticky mud, but the truck’ never let us down when we needed extra power to scoot out of a slick situation.

Though it wasn’t as dramatic as power sliding in a wash, we played with the Raptor’s Hill Descent Control. Several times we let the truck crawl its way down some very steep hills. The HDC walks the truck by modulating the antilock braking system automatically so you can keep your foot off the brake and simply steer the truck in the proper direction. The Raptor’s HDC is the quietest we’ve experienced. The ABS modulations were smooth and unobtrusive. Once, the Raptor started to slide a bit going downhill because of the slick mud, but it quickly regained its footing as the tires bit into more solid dirt.

Each time we started crawling the truck down the grades, a small group of spectators and passing dirt bikers stopped to watch, and each time we gave what was probably a less dramatic show then they thought they’d see.

After two days of off-roading in the Raptor, we returned to city driving before giving the Raptor back to Ford. But before we cleaned it up, we drove around Los Angeles like we were wearing medals of honor. The Raptor was covered in a layer of dried mud and dust. The Molten Orange color was obscured and didn’t blind us with its brilliance as before. But that was OK. The memories of wheeling in the truck are going to last much longer. The Raptor is a truck that makes us want to play in the dirt every chance we get.

2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor ready to attack

Comments

This is the ONLY Ford I would ever consider buying...

I have owned nothing but Chevy's over the last 20 years.. but I am seriously in lust with this truck. Got a chance to sit in one at a Auto Show.. and that has just about sold me on it. Waiting for the 6.2L to hit the show rooms, though the $3K markup for that option is over the top.

Thanks Mike for the cool article on the Raptor.

I agree with Quagmire. I would also consider a Mustang though.

This bastard would look nice next to my SVT Cobra Mustang.

Hey Guys,

I live in Northern Ontario Canada. I was invited for a ride to a Place called detour lake. Its a 3 hour ride north of Timmins, Ontario. The hook is it was in a Jet Black F150 Raptor. The roads had woop de doos and 4-6' snow banks. We were running well over 100 MPH in the straights and 50-80 miles/Hr in the corners ...I remind you on snow and Ice. I wasen't a religious man but am now lololol Kudos Ford, we jumped snow banks and ran through deep fields of snow........almost didn't make it back, we onoly had 3 5 Gal cans of Gas. YouTube should have the movie soon lololl HGB

Does the Nav system work in Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) coordinate system? I find this system easier to work with.

This is a good article. Yes I've been getting kind of bored with these raptor articles, but this was interesting. I'll be much more interested when there's a review of the 6.2 raptor though.
I'm just sick of seeing the red color with the gay graphics. I want to see a solid black one. Also the truck as wide as it is it will be hard to keep scratches off of it from the sagebrush here in Idaho.

I get goose bumps looking at this truck!! AHH AMAZING! im a college student and i own a 04 F150 4x4 now and run it to its limit i could only imagine what i would do with this lol

Seems a like a lot of Ford sponsorship and promo reviews on this site.

@WLT: Check back next every day. We're gearing up for the Chicago Auto Show next week. The new Chevy Silverado HDs are going to be there. Got a big (HUGE) story in the pipeline for that. I'm driving a 2010 Dodge Dakota right now and we've got Nissan Titan and Frontier reviews coming up in the next few weeks.

Well WLT, what else are they supposed to review right now? Just what kind of offroad trip would it be with any other? Mike took the Power Wagon out. Chevy has nothing to drive offroad, neither does Toyota or Nissan.

What I take from this article is:
1. The 5.4's just fine. So what if the tranny shifts, it's supposed to. It's got six speeds, not two.
2. I wish I could've gone also. It looked like a hoot.

Why even produce this truck with the 5.4?

8.8 seconds in not impressive. I know that is isn't made for 1/4 miles but, one would expect to see a truck that is made to "go fast", at least be able to impress when accelerating from a stop light.

Any chance of the use of video in your upcoming articles. Great photos but there is no comparison to video. Just curious. Use as a supplement to the text not to take the place of your print articles.

@Jeff: Yes, there will be more video, especially with the 2011 Chevrolet HDs. Deep dives. When we test the Raptor 6.2, we'll also do video. And just wait until the Shootout. ;-)

Looks like fun times. I have no use for this type of truck ,but for those that do it seems awesome. Like a big ATV with heat and a/c. Lucky you Mike!

@WLT -quote" Seems a like a lot of Ford sponsorship and promo reviews on this site."
Why do you think Ford built the Raptor?
The Raptor provides Ford and it's owners with lots of
"air time".

That is a really awesome truck, but who in their right mind would buy one before the 6.2L is introduced?

Thanks Mike, looking forward to them.

I'd to have one to romp around on the weekends, and during the week I could commute back and forth to the City with it.

I love it, people who have never driven it don't have a clue about how good the 5.4 propels this truck. The traction control has to be turned OFF on it already. The only place the 6.2 will truly be able to stretch it's legs is on clean dry pavement where it can hook up. If Raptor owners wanted a pavement queen, they'd buy a used SRT10. The 5.4 coupled with the awesome 6 speed is completely adequate for the Raptor. THe 6.2 will be icing on the cake, but those 5.4 owners will have been enjoying their Raptors for almost a half a year before those wanting 6.2s ever touch the steering wheel of theirs. The difference isn't going to be that astounding.

It needs the 6.2 !! 8.8 0-60 isnt bad,well not earth shattering either !! So if you have a 5.4 dont race a 4.0 Dodge Grand Caravan the mommy and kids will blow your doors off !! That is why it needs a 6.2 people,guys who buy these want a truck to perform on and off road !!

I am wondering if one can take an f150 and replace the shocks for these fox beauties... I know suspension travel is not the same due to shorter OEM arms... but wondering if it will make the std F150 a better rid on and off road... any suggestions? (I need a crewcab)

@Mike
Im pretty certain calf and peck implant are a pre req for buying one of these things as a commuter vehicle. That a a Nickleback CD.

I've reviewed this truck, and a couple of things struck me when it was all said and done: It does well off-road, true, provided (like the H2 Hummer) you don't need to go anywhere with a narrow trail and it absolutely drinks gas. It's really costly ($46K) and could only tow 6,000 lbs and haul 1020 lbs. That's less than a Tacoma 4X4 Crew I tested recently. But, this thing is basically a big toy anyway, and not a serious work truck. It does its job well as an Image Enhancement Device, I guess, which is why it exists.

Mike,

thanks for the Info about the Silverado HD storty, can't wait to read what GM has up their sleeves.


this truck is nice, and can really handle its own, but that grille is butt ugly and cheap looking, and that interior looks like something i would see out of my friends Dodge Calibur...

Huck
I think a 100 horsepower increase is going to make a HUGE difference. More than just icing on the cake. This truck is completely awesome, except the mediocre 5.4. Sure it get's the job done, but not when you are requesting awesomeness. This truck is not complete without the 6.2. I guess I can't say too much because I've never driven the 5.4, but 310 horsepower seems pretty weak. I think I'd rather have any other full size 4x4 truck with 411 horsepower than a raptor with 310. Thats just me though. For me most of the fun comes from the power of the engine.

Awesome article. This truck has me excited! Took me 2 thou in mods to jump my truck and not break it! No... wait.... it broke! I think the 5.4 is ok. BUT for that kind of money,I'd want the 6.2!

I wouldn't buy it simply because the bed doesn't line up with the cab right. Gosh that annoys the crap out of me.

djg, I run out of dirt most of the time long before I run out of motor. The traction control MUST be turned off and offroad mode on just to let the engine loose. Think about that, the traction control is keeping the tires from spinning, not the lack of power. You can break 'em loose anytime, any speed. The 6.2 will be a great boon for the racer types on the dry pavement where that will be the biggest single advantage of the beefy motor. I love the 6.2. I've been driving my Raptor for months now, the 6.2 fans have been driving... The only people who own Raptors now who think they need a 6.2 are the ones justifying it in to their poor wallets to take the hit on the sale/trade-in! That there's the truth.

i think you guys should do a 4x4 shoot-out.
HUMMER H3T
RAM POWER WAGON
Ford raptor

Well maybe you're right huck you seem to know from experience. I bet the raptor is still a lot of fun with the 5.4, but you know it's gonna get burned on or off-road by the 6.2. Sounds like you don't do a ton of Off-roading with other people. Where I live it's a big deal. There's plenty of situations where 100 horsepower is gonna make a huge difference. Especially driving through sand or a soft plowed field or trying to climb a steep mountain. I'd just hate to see someone show up with a raptor and get beat by some other everyday truck simply because the engine is soo much weaker. I'm sure you have plenty of fun with you're truck, but around here a truck with 310 horsepower is gonna struggle next to a chevy or dodge with around 400. That's my biggest problem with fords, they're always underpowered. Looks like that finally might change with the new engine choices for alot of fords in the next year.

I agree with you Huck, the 5.4L 3 valve is fast. Yes, the 6.2 will have 100HP or so more. But if I plant my accelerator at the lights, I get a lot of wheelspin. If I had a 6.2, I would just have more wheelspin! Trucks need torque more than they need horse power, and the 5.4 has bucketloads. If I had the option between 5.4 and 6.2, i would still take the 6.2, but people talk about the 5.4 as if it is gutless. It's far from gutless.

Not trying to take anything away from the Raptor but it got me thinking that it would be cool to see a return of a full size Bronco with the Raptors suspension,and of course a 6.2 L.,hell they could even badge it as an SVT Bronco.Anybody heard anymore about that Bronco concept,or any Bronco news for that matter?

Jeff,

I agree completely. Ford needs some kind of small/medium sized off-road capable SUV. The Explorer used to fill that niche, but has since become little more than a big car.

My wife and I ordered and own a white Raptor (picked it up from the dealer Oct. 26 2009). It's a lot of fun to drive and ride around. I had no idea until reading this article that 0-60 was just under 9 secs; it seems to take longer but this is what we expected for a 6K pound truck. We're planning on a lot of seat time this summer with a month long tour of western states and Canada planned. And we will do some off-road exploring. This truck is way overkill for us and our planned use (landscape photography in remote southwest areas) but the kids are grown and we could afford it, so why not. Thanks for the nice read about our Raptor's capabilities.

dj, I guess if not getting "burned" is a priority, you should get the 6.2, and then, do the mods on it so it makes 500hp.

I agree with the small SVT offroad concept. The field's ripe for the pickins.

Gary, here's why you thought the truck was slower than that and an aspect of the Raptor that no one talks about: It's insanely quiet. Seriously, go to Edmunds.com and look up the interior db levels. You'll be shocked.

I ride ATVs with guys who put pipes on and think their machines are faster. No, they're noisier. That's the Raptor's problem (if getting burned bothers you) it's super quiet. More quiet than a BMW 745i.

Yup, I'd have bought a 6.2 if there were one available. But I've been enjoying my Raptor for months like I said.

@Huck BB62: You have no idea how jealous I am of you. I'd be driving the heck out of that Raptor every day.

Huck, thanks for the update on the silence of the Raptor. All I can do is confirm your note: we live in No. New Mexico and it can be cold at times; with the windows up, the heated seats at maximum and the iPod & Sony sound at max, we have no idea where we are! But when you start the truck there's a low rumble that sounds so sweet! Much more "adult" sounding than our Mach 1.

I dont see many people using this truck as an seroius off roader..C'mon you are not going to have a loan on it for 50 grand and beat on it !! Buy an old Ranger 4X to beat on and use the Raptor for a daily or weekend toy,light off roading at 10 mph..watch for rock chips..ouch !! I just cant see people thrashing on these after 2 months it will be shot !! And you will owe 50k on it !! Unless you are lucky and loaded enough ,some people are but very ,very few !!

Well Capit, head on over to raptorforumz.com and see for yourself. A lot of guys are shaggin' 'em like a rented horse like me. I had mine offroad bangin', slidin', and creek crossin' a few days after I had it. I do it at every opportunity.

Mike, you should gitcherself one!

Looks like a chick magnet. Too bad I cannot afford one

@Huck BB62 - I'd tend to agree with you in relation to horsepower. Since when is 310 hp. not enough? I find that big HP in poor traction conditions can make life very very interesting.
One of the best winter vehicles I ever drove was an F250 with an old camperette style canopy and a 5.0 195 Hp engine. I rarely ever needed 4 wheel drive. The engine rarely overwelmed traction.
I'm envious - a Raptor would be a blast.

"the 5.4L 3 valve is fast."
HAHAHAHAA HAHAAHHAAA HAHAHAHAAAAA, no it is not.

"Trucks need torque more than they need horse power, and the 5.4 has bucketloads."
I wouldn't consider 365 ft. lbs. bucket loads. It is an adequate amount of torque (when compared to other optional engines in the full-size truck market, it still ranks last), but the engine should have about 30 more HP to give it a fighting chance in the market.

"It's far from gutless".
Pound for pound it is the weakest, not to mention the least fuel efficient, engine in the full-size truck market.

The End

End Game said it right.
Why wouldn't you use this truck as a serious off-roader? That's ridiculous. That's what this truck is all about. It's a serious off-road truck. It needs a serious engine. If you aren't a serious off-roader no point in having this truck. You must be one of those guys that just wants to look cool when you drive around the city. Makes me sick. Thats probably most of the people who buy these trucks. They go find a construction site with a mud puddle and drive through it a bunch of times so they can look like a cool tough guy in their dirty badass truck. I bet 90 percent of the people who buy these trucks are like that. It's a shame. SO yeah if you're that kind of guy, the 5.4 is more than adequate.

@End Game

OK so are you saying the 454SS was not a good racetruck? Afterall it only had 255hp. According to you its just a minibike. Tell that to all those who bought and raced them and smoked the tires.

And just so you are aware this was a souped up version of the engine they put in the 3500 which were used for heavyduty hauling and towing.

There is nothing to compare with hyperbole.

smtrthnu re-read my post. At no time during it did I ever bash the 454. It was a good truck 15 YEARS AGO. It can't compair to todays trucks.

I stated in todays market the 5.4 is way out classed, and in my opinion, should have never been released with Ford's "new redesign" trucks.

I just love the comments from tools who've never driven the truck. So, anyone who reads Mike's review, or ANY of the reviews, and reads customer comments from people who actually own and drive the trucks, take the peanut gallery comments for what they are, troll snot.

I'm sorry I had an opinion that I wanted to voice, and most of what I posted above were facts, not opinion.

1) The the f150 with its optional engine is the slowest halfton in the class.
2) The f150 still has the lowest available HP and TQ numbers of all the halftons in the class (until the 6.2 comes out)
3) The 5.4, while having the lowest power numbers, still returns the lowest MPGs.

I just think it is stupid that Ford would take a truck built for speed and put a weak engine in it. That would be like Dodge putting a V-6 in the Viper.

This is not a complaint on the truck, it is the motor I'm not a fan of.

1) The the f150 with its optional engine is the slowest halfton in the class.
2) The f150 still has the lowest available HP and TQ numbers of all the halftons in the class (until the 6.2 comes out)
3) The 5.4, while having the lowest power numbers, still returns the lowest MPGs.


We get you're point. Fact is, it still outsells whatever you praise.




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