2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor: Help, I Can't See
February 25, 2011
Maybe I'm having as much fun as Darren Skilton and my friend Sue Mead had while winning their class in a Ford F-150 SVT Raptor at the 2011 Dakar Rally, but I'm not really sure.
That's because I can't really see where I'm going.
This might be an asset while carving up muddy trails, rocky desert hardpan or narrow mountain tracks in South America, but it's not a good thing when you're driving through traffic in Los Angeles. Any day now I'm expecting to turn up in my driveway with a Smart Fortwo rolled up into one of the Raptor's fender wells like some oversize insect from Argentina.
I wish I could blame the Raptor's nose-up attitude, a signature of desert racing machinery because it maximizes front suspension travel when you plow headlong into one of those inevitable whoop-de-doos. This is what you want in desert racing, of course, since you're speeding across the dirt and you fear the next bump far ahead of you since it's too late to fear the bump that's already under your tires. The F-150 has a pretty high, bluff nose anyway, and there's not much hope of keeping track of the terrain when the horizon line is somewhere in the middle distance.
And yet it's not the Raptor's nose-high trim that bothers me. Instead it's the cabin itself and where you sit in relation to the A-pillar and the dashboard. Somehow I always feel too far back, as if I'm peering over the dashboard of a Ford sedan from the 1970s. It's not like I'm sitting with the seat on the floor in the full Dale Earnhardt driving position, either.
Maybe I need some kind of booster seat or a couple of pillows. Dodge pickups sure seem like they offer a better driving position than this, though. I still remember crawling rocks in Moab a couple years ago with a heavy-duty Ram 2500 Power Wagon without a problem.
Maybe I remember pickups of the bad old past when the dash was right there in front of you and the rear glass of the cabin was right behind you. Things were perfect then. Of course, if you hit a bump at any kind of speed, you first would get a bloody nose from banging the steering wheel, and then you'd slam your head against the glass behind you. And then you wouldn't have any problems seeing anymore, since you'd be unconscious.
Apparently Sue Mead is way tougher than I am.
Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com