2012 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor Off-Road Trail Test

Raptor 8
We have to admit it’s a little confusing. First, SVT goes to all the trouble to turn the new Ford F-150 into one of the world’s most capable desert-running full-size trucks. Sure, it took brand-new heavy-duty, long-travel suspension components to make it happen, and SVT was investing all this time and money to be the instant leader in a segment where really no one cared to be, but that didn’t matter. To its credit, SVT came out of the gate full speed, never looking back. 

But then something happened. In fact, many folks in the media said a pre-running pickup truck that you can beat up over rutted dirt roads and lumpy sand washes was fine, but why shy away from real four-wheel-drive prowess like the Ram Power Wagon has? Is that why you didn’t make a serious 4x4, they prodded. After all, they said, many more people use their 4x4 switch or lever or button to go slow — be it on a trail, to the cabin or for better pulling power — than they do blasting through remote open desert. 

Some of the hardcore four-wheeling journalists and consumer critics said the SVT Raptor was a good niche vehicle, but with an open diff on such a big truck, it really can’t be called a very good off-road vehicle. So that got the SVT engineers thinking, “What if?”

Eventually, that “what if” turned into the 2012 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor, which is pretty much identical to the 2011 model except for a new Torsen limited-slip differential for the front and a new front camera in the grille. 

We’ve already noted some of the pricing and U.S. sales figures in a previous post, so here we will talk specifically whether these slight additions make the Raptor as powerful going slowly through the rocks as it is going like a bat out of hell through the desert. 

Raptor 1
Again, to its credit, Ford didn’t shy away from this challenge and took a small group of journalists to the ultimate rock-crawling playground, in the hills in and around Moab, Utah. It’s an area famous for a certain type of geological rock, called slickrock by the locals, that feels like 100-grit sandpaper to the touch and provides an amazing amount of traction for big-tired Jeeps and four-wheelers. (The name slickrock was given to these formations in the 1800s when the only mode of transportation was horseback, and shoed and unshoed horses alike would skate on the rocks like they were made of ice. Many a bank robber successfully hid from a posse in these hills just for that reason, we’re told.) 

At the parking lot at the beginning of Hell’s Revenge trail, we could air down the 35-inch BFGoodrich all-terrain tires between 15 and 18 pounds per square inch, basically giving us 33-inch tires with a nice side bulge. Locked in low range and creeping in 1st gear, the extra grab from each tire was going to be needed. In front of us was a narrow ridge of slickrock, climbing onto a razorback just barely wider than the Raptor itself. 

After everyone got moving comfortably on the trail, thanks in part to our trail leader and Moab native Dan Mick, we settled in for hour after hour of steep hill climbs, narrow ledge crawls and unnerving side hill balancing acts, sometimes just 10 feet to the sandy bottom of the rock wall. Other times we were about 300 feet above the Colorado River, with the vertical face of the cliff just off the side of our sidewalls. 

All of our Raptors were SuperCab models to keep the wheelbase as short as possible because many of the obstacles on Hell’s Revenge deal with climb rock faces. It didn’t take long for several of our car-loving trail drivers to figure out that if you approach a rock face at a perpendicular angle, you’ll likely scrape the bumper or front tow hook. But if you approach the steep face at an angle, the flex of the suspension and traction at all four corners is the only way to navigate that section of steep trail.   

Raptor 10
In fact, it was only during these moments that the full benefits of the front Torsen were fully seen. (Actually, felt from the driver’s seat.)  The rest of the time, the front limited-slip diff was invisible. We were told this was because, unlike other race-tuned Torsens, Ford set the preload of the differential to zero so there would be very little detectable feedback when driven normally. However, when sensing slip at high or slow speed, the helical gears inside the diff ramp up on themselves and basically lock up at a given point to transfer torque from the slipping front tire to the tire with traction. 

As you might imagine, on the steep hill climbs and off-camber rock faces, the front Torsen gave us all the front grip we could handle. Naturally, many of our climbs required us to pull the four-wheel-drive selector out to engage the rear locker, and truthfully, we probably would have been just fine with most of the trail challenges simply with the rear locker. But, as our wise trail leader reminded us, very few people get in trouble in Moab by having too much traction. 

So we attacked the six-mile trail meandering over rocks and navigating through dry washes and onto slab surfaces as big as a shopping mall, all the while in low range speeding along at about 1 or 2 mph. We snaked through tree shrubs and even made our way into deep “bathtubs” where wind and rain had carved out truck-sized holes in the rock that allowed us to dip over the lip on one side, disappear into a 20-foot hole, then reappear on the other side as if we were climbing out of a grave. If it weren’t for the darkened tracks on the trail — from the hundreds of vehicles that come this way every year, each one leaving a tiny amount of tire rubber on the ground — no one would believe that this vehicle, let alone a full-size pickup truck, could enter the pit. 

Another particularly intimidating obstacle came at our lunch stop. Not only did we get to see some stunning radio-controlled helicopter acrobatics (our hosts invited them along to shoot video of us at various stops), but we got to watch a masterfully driven Raptor execute a flawless run up Hell’s Gate, a narrow wedge of rock that takes a delicate throttle and supernatural tire placement to keep from tipping over or wedging your vehicle sideways. The Raptor’s (and driver’s) performance was impressive.  

Raptor 13
Our favorite challenge, though, came after the snaking part of Hell’s Revenge where the trail winds around various bathtubs until you come to Dragon’s Back. As the name implies, it is a narrow ridge of rock with 100-foot drops on both sides, and you need to put your tires on either side of the dragon’s back ridge. And to complicate things, the ridge starts over a blind drop-off where you have to make a gentle left turn. At night, the darkness would be paralyzing, but even during the day it was a nerve-wracking panic attack of a drive. 

Still, this was the perfect situation to highlight one of Ford’s new options, the front-mounted camera. As we pulled up to the ledge, we saw that we needed to adjust our front tires slightly to the left then slowly proceed with the ridge between the blue lines. It was a little comforting once we got over the initial discomfort of not looking out the front window while driving. It’s worth mentioning that we’d normally not risk doing a trail like this without designated spotters to let us know where to turn and where to put the tires, but the camera seemed to act like a good spotter. 

Raptor 2
It does take some effort to remember you have the camera, unless it’s absolutely required. In some ways, it is just like using the rear camera only when hooking up a trailer or backing into a parking space. But on our trail drive, having the front camera turned on so that it always came on at speeds slower than 15 mph — which on our trail was all the time — was a nice added piece of information to keep our tires pointed in the right direction and on top of the right rocks. Visibility was quite good, with a healthy wide-angle aspect to the lens. Still, it gives you a clear idea of exactly what the front tires will make contact with in the near (or very near) future. 

The only damage to our vehicle was some slight scratches to the tailpipe and a few small scrapes to the side steps. With that said, we did notice the Raptor may not have been the best vehicle for this trail, given that just about everyone put some good scratches into the rocks with the rear tow hooks on several of the rock climbs. (Some just couldn’t get the hang of taking the rock faces at an angle). 

The final obstacle of the trail was a polished off-angle rock slab called Tip Over Challenge. The 20-yard section of rubber-rubbed rock slopes off to the right and has naturally formed grooves in the face that are just the right size to grab and twist at vehicle tires. At different points during the short climb (and it doesn’t matter what type of tire you have), you’ll find yourself steering to the left, wanting to climb in that direction, but sliding and slipping off to the right. The worst thing you can do at that moment is let off the throttle. The second-worst thing you can do is give too much throttle. So you modulate, fight your instincts, feather the throttle a little, then hunt for a touch more traction by slowly moving the steering wheel from right to left, all the time sliding deeper and deeper to the right. If you’re doing it right, you’ll feel one of the tires grab and give you a boost while another grabs a foothold and pulls you toward the large rock face up the hill. Then, right before you hit the outcropping much farther to the left than you think you should be, you turn to the right and climb off the slope. 

Raptor 14
Our guess is with more tire pressure, or without the Torsen front locker, or with a lesser driver, any one of those variables could have sent us over the edge, rolling into the waiting riverbed. Thankfully nothing bad happened. 

There’s no doubt that a Power Wagon, with its sway bar disconnects and front and rear lockers, would have done at least as well. Or it’s quite possible a Baja Series Toyota Tacoma, with its rugged frame and suspension, could have survived this trail as well. But given that fact many wouldn’t have put the 2011 Raptor in their company on this type of trail last year, this a particularly impressive feat. We knew the Raptor was good for desert-running off-road driving, but now it seems to be the king in all types of off-road terrain. We’re even told it is becoming famous for its winter driving prowess as well, though we’re not too sure about the BFG all-terrain as a snow or all-weather tire. But that debate is for another day. 

For this test, the score at the end of this trail ballgame was SVT Raptor 8 (we had eight trucks start the trail and all eight finished without drama), Hell’s Revenge 0.

Raptor 4

Raptor 5

Raptor 6

Raptor 7

Raptor 11

Raptor 12

Raptor TT


@oxi - how are you going to negotiate that uphill climb with your "nose up" stance and no front camera available on the taco? I guess you could ask your raptor buddies to help spot you!

LOL! I'm just messin with you...

ford will all ways be the best

lol so many haters, chevy fanboys need to get laid

wow this site has gone to the crapper since Mike Levine left ... should change the name to Fordnews.com

I love how all these ford haters are comparing Fords gas 6.7 to a Duramax diesel with a transmission not made by chevy. Lets compare apples to apples here guys. Chevy lovers are hating the fact that the Raptor is a bad a$$ truck. Stop hating!!


Chevy has its work cut out for them just for the new Silverado to match the current F150!!!

meanwhile... Chevy still offers the same Silverado 1500 Z71 with the awesome 5.3! LOL.

Wow...what's with all the Ford hating here? People, the numbers don't lie. Ford has done a remarkable job at improving quality and listening to their customers. The products reflect that and the company is doing great as well as putting out top notch products.

@ToyCrusher: Why the hell should Ford give any competitor a "chance" for anything? This is business and one-upping your competition is the name of the game. Government Motors is a complete mess right now, quite the contrast from Ford. I'm glad the new Mustang came out and kicked the Camaro's ass before it got out of the gate. Just further proof that Ford is leading the way.

@Hi Bob from Taco World: Blocks are unsafe? Wow, really? I guess your engineering degree at Taco World is going to waste...you should be designing the next Raptor instead huh? Blocks may not be ideal for all applications, but they are perfectly safe if installed correctly. Now get off the site and go do something productive other than ruin a great article.

Good job to the guys writing this. Looks like a fun day in Moab and a great writeup. Excellent pics but would have like to see video too!

Great story! Thanks.

It just makes me dream, even more so, of the 2013/2014 Ford F-150 S.V.T. Raptor SuperCrew I will add to my stable. I can not wait.

Thank you Ford Motor Company -for making such incredible vehicles; Taurus S.H.O., Ford G.T., Mustang S.V.T. Cobra, F-150 Lightning, Mustang Shelby G.T. 500/500K.R., F-150/ Super Duty, F-150 EcoBoost, Mustang Boss 302/Boss 302 Laguna Seca, etc.

Ford is -WINNING!!!

Those arent lift blocks. They are spring mounts and double as bump stops. Perhaps if Toyota used some of thoseon the Tacoma they wouldn't have such bad axle wrap.

This is how a Taco performs on the trail:

Never let a mid size do a full-size's job.

@Mark Williams,

You're pictures are astounding.

I love this truck!!!!

I agree this truck is better offroad then most pickups, but a jeep would be far better, and I can't see why anybody would use a pickup for this, you can see the gouges on the rocks where the pickups dragged thier butts.

With newer half tons now getting lower and lower to the ground to appeal more as around town trucks, it's good to see one that can actually go places. around where I live some of these Raptors are being used as pilot trucks on ice roads, and I see why. such great capability from a factory built reliable truck. I just wish I could get a longer (or long) box on one.....wonder if they'd consider a regular cab in this style of truck. Now that I'd love to have.

Man, some of these posts are hilarious! I have to admit the ford Craptor as someone above called it, I almost busted a gut on that one, the Ford Craptor. I have to admit the Ford Craptor to be a serious off road vehicle. I'm a GM man but I have to admit that ford has done a great job with the ford raptor or is it craptor? Good truck but a little pricey.

Fact: Ford sells more pickup trucks than GM or Ram.
Fact: The Raptor is an impressive vehicle. GM has nothing to compete with it.
I'd like to remind people who comment to be civil to the other readers. We all like trucks, and some of us are brand loyal. But there is no need to be rude.

I heard that the GM All Terrain was shelved. It won't see dealerships until 2016 if at all.

That's why you don't see as many GM posts. No truck + Nothing to test drive. = No articles

@ Biff, it is probably because not everyone can afford a garage full of toys including a dedicated rock crawler, so they may actually buy something that does everything well instead of one (in this case) a jeep that crawls rocks well, but can't tow, can't haul, and can't run as fast.

Front camera is a great addition.

grow up, people. if you dislike ford so much, then let's see you make something better.

The stupid comments are what distract from the news articles. I think the "fan boys" should go to the Forums, where they can go for their "bun fight" I am more interested in people actual experience of their vehicles.

GM wins again.

Kind of wierd how there's people here that don't realize that the "Bob's" aren't the only one's who start most of the trouble (*HINT: Lou, Frank, Alton etc..).

I also find it hilarious that once everything is out of control, They (Lou , Frank , Whatever) start crying to Mark Williams to ban our IP Address from the website. What's the matter, Can't seem to take the truth once in a while?

@Oxi - Mark pointed out that some of the journalists (quote: car-loving trail drivers) were not cluing in to approach angle.(quote:(Some just couldn’t get the hang of taking the rock faces at an angle).
He also pointed out: quote:we did notice the Raptor may not have been the best vehicle for this trail.
You can build task specific trucks e.g. desert pre-runners, mud boggers, rock crawlers, tight trail hounds, or even monster trucks, but how does a manufacturer come up with something that does everything well?
It can't be done.
I'd have to say the Raptor does a good job of covering as many bases as possible.
If you want more payload, then get a Power Wagon.
If neither truck fits your needs or wallet - obviously build your own.
Isn't that what you've done with yours?
Don't go on about 1000 lb of payload.
Your Taco, by your own admission isn't legally able to carry anything as you've come close to the maximum legal GVW of your truck.

@toycrusher84 - you make an interesting point. GMC is releasing new trucks 1014 MY or callendar year 2013. Ford and everyone else are slated to come out the following year.
I can't see GMC products being so vastly superior that they won't be rendered "also rans" in short order.

The Raptor has turned out to be more than a halo product for Ford.
From a factory standpoint it is in a class by itself.
The same can be said for the Power Wagon.
Each truck has absolutely no direct competition unless you spend big bucks building your own.

GMC needs to copy these 2 company's strategies (Bob will obviously protest that comment) and come up with a unique product of their own. The GMC "All Terrain" concept is not the way to go. It could not be as good as the Raptor and as good as the Power Wagon at the same time and be affordable/competitively priced.
A Colorado "All Terrain" would be the ideal strategy. Give it Raptor and Power Wagon traites as a halo vehicle for the new Colorado line and for GMC in general.
Make a stellar kick ass offroad compact.
(Cue oxi and his diatribe)

Ford will will never compete with Dodge, what these pictures don't show you is the frame cracks and bending.

@Bob -are you suggesting we take it to a vote as to who stays and who should be banned?

I'll make a deal with you:
- you stop multiple name posting
- you stop saying stupid things
- you stop the unsubstantiated anti-Ford (or Ram)comments
- you stop the negative personal comments e.g. girly man
- you stick to the topic at hand
In other words: you stop any dipsh-t trolling.
and I'll agree not to bait you or go out of my way to pound on your dumb assed commentary. Actually - you do your part and I won't have any dumb assed commentary to jump on.
You keep it clean, and I'll respond by keeping it clean.

You mean Government Motors ISUZU powerd DURAMAX built with my tax dollars.


NO... What i meant on my previous post was, NOT everything or everyone revolves around your little world. And also, i find it pathetic that the idiots that start all the trash talk are the first ones to go crying their butts off to the website's moderator.

Who cries to the Moderator? Show me one comment!

Don't kid yourself. I care less of who you are.

Ford will will never compete with Dodge, what these pictures don't show you is the frame cracks and bending.

you are right Ford will never compete with Dodge they don't have to they are already ahead of Dodge if they would compete they would take a step backwards

ford Sucks, always will. 3/4 of Americans are retarded. That's why ford is still in business.

@Mark Williams,

You're pictures are astounding.

I love this truck!!!!

Posted by: Frank | Nov 16, 2011 11:57:12 AM

You are (you're) pictures are astounding?!
I think you mean, your pictures are astounding.
I thought I would bring this up since you are being so particular about grammar and spelling. Good job sucking up to the moderator as well! Have a nice day.

@Bob Gourment Chef,

I give credit where credit is due. Mark Williams provides us with great photos.

I don't suck-up up to anybody.

Are you bitter because your Quiche taste rotten?

Thanks for the laugh. I know I can count on you.

You mean ISUZU powered DURAMAX !!!!!!!

Posted by: cory | Nov 15, 2011 11:10:23 PM

The Duramax was a joint venture between Isuzu and GM.
Ford used diesel engines built by Navistar from the 80's up until last year, and Dodge has done the same since the late 80's with Cummins. At least GM did have a hand in the design of the Duramax. Ford completely outsourced their diesel engines. You have nothing to base your argument on. Come up with something better next time!

"Who cries to the Moderator? Show me one comment!

Don't kid yourself. I care less of who you are." - Frank,

Do you really want me to embarrass you in front of everyone?

Get over it son, You don't have what it takes to reach my level of intelligence.

@ Frank

You are a real knee slapper yourself. My Quiche tastes fine. Thanks for asking.

@Bob's Gourmet Chef,

Don't waste your time with that moron. He has a VERY low IQ, all he's doing is bringing you down to his level of stupidity by responding to his uneducated comments.

@ Bob

You are right about Frank. My cooking is pretty damn good if I do say so myself. How dare he insult my Quiche or any dish that I prepare. I'm sure his idea of good food is take out from McDonald's.


Here is one that is better:


"Get over it son, You don't have what it takes to reach my level of intelligence."

You are correct. It's hard to be STUPID!

Have fun commenting to yourself on all PUTC posts.


Well.. Considering you're always fighting with people over the Internet. I suppose you already ARE stupid.

I am not fighting, I am debating with ignorant, unethical, and stupid people.

To be great is to be misunderstood - Emerson

I am not fighting, I am debating with ignorant, unethical, and stupid people.

To be great is to be misunderstood - Emerson

Posted by: Frank | Nov 16, 2011 4:22:48 PM

How funny. Are you implying that you are in the same league as Emerson?!! I believe that is the dumbest post I have ever seen on this site.

wy you dont take the hummer h3t compare whit ford raptor...do you no the winner,,,,,,h3t you dont believe just do the test...

Damn that looks like fun! Wish I could get the time to run my Wrangler over there to Moab :) just to test it anyway, I am sure that Raptor would decimate it due to better suspension and godly more power than my "minivan motor" ... lol.

This truck looks great doing what it is supposed to be doing. Now, get a PowerWagon over there to add to the phot op!

Buy American, you need to bring yours over to demonstrate :) j/k

Honestly I the first 15 or so comments couldn't continue. Enough with the flaming/hating posts. If you don't have anything constructive to say go play with the kids and leave the serious truck discussion to the adults.

Moderators figure out a way to fix this crap or lose this longtime reader.

Here is the list:

Bob Scratchit
Bob's gormet chef
#1 Bob
Bob's 21 year old wife
Michigan Bob
Bob Ryan
.... and the list gets longer.

Bob, come on man, let's get one article that does not have 50 posts of negative connotations towards Ford. I really don't understand why you really, really dislike/hate Ford so much. You don't have to buy one. Come on, I know ya got it in you, just try to stay on topic/try not to slander Ford so bad.

There trucks are Top NOTCH these days, no can deny that. I have stated that I don't like the chromed front end of their trucks (do, however really like the color-matched grill), but I do however like their drive trains whole heartedly.

I love my old beater work truck (ol' 1992 F150), still runs/looks good going down the road. I wish I could get Ford's EcoBoost 2.0L in my Jeep Wrangler! I know it would probably best the PentaStar. The raptor should be offered with a EcoBoost IMHO, they could tune the Eco to perform like the big 6.2L. But, maybe longevity is an issue?

I know, a slight bit off topic for the article, but I am directing this comment towards the comment section anyway.

Mike Williams: You are doing a great job, I understand that you cannot police these boards all the time. Just keep doing what you are doing.


@Lou Their was a Colorado Rally concept shown in Argentina.

GM has to produce an off road vehicle , that is as good as the Nissan Navarra, Mitsubishi and Hilux to get some "street cred". It looks like the new Ranger is going to be vastly better off road than the older models.

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