2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor: Hit List
August 30, 2010
The more I drive the Raptor the more I like it, so now might be a good time to talk about what I don't like about it. Driving it day-to-day, it feels about 1000 pounds too heavy, as evidenced by the way it takes the 6.2-liter mill time to build up a head of steam. It's also remarkable that they chose to use the extended cab version of the F-150 for the Raptor launch, as you really notice the chassis flex on rough pavement at low speeds, an effect no doubt amplified by the huge daylight opening created by the anchor-less front and rear doors.
This chassis shimmy gets amplified at low speeds on uneven pavement in a way that makes the whole machine seem active, which is more annoying than unsettling. Over 30 mph, or as soon as the suspension gets involved this all settles down. Will the wheelbase trade-off be worth a B-pillar when the four-door appears? How about a regular-cab Raptor?
Thanks to the freakishly quiet tires, wide track and poster-boy shocks, you can hustle the Raptor on the pavement in a way that's far more satisfying than anything else in the current F-150 lineup. Unfortunately, such abilities may lead you to corner charging, in which instance the brakes that are plenty powerful for off-road duty can seem overtasked. Thank all that weight and the limited space inside 17-inch off-road wheels. And the fuel economy stinks (I seem to average about 12 mpg). I'd go broke having a blast in this thing.
That's about all the nitpicks I have so far, and I only long for a massive set of Brembos because the Raptor is such a hoot to hustle on the pavement. It reminds of Subaru tuning, where there's a fair amount of initial body roll, followed by a hunkered line. Once you get used to the lean/settle, Bob's your uncle. There's also tire squirm closer to the limit thanks to the deep tread, which can raise your heartbeat a few ticks, but much like the suspension, once the tires settle, they grip well.
All the stuff that can cause concern in other road-going vehicles (potholes, road imperfections, the edge of the road...) don't really matter in a Raptor. If you've got a gently graded curb, or dirt at your apex, well, that just became part of the route. Day to day, this gets somewhat addictive, and you have to recalibrate your brain. That dip in the road that would remove the oil pan in your Camry and the whole front clip of a Viper? Don't even bother lifting off the gas, and you'll still hardly feel it. It's much like riding a dirtbike on the street, where the pogo penalties of long suspension travel can turn into assets.
So then you want charge up some 18-percent dirt grade for a sweeping view of the Pacific? No drama. The hardest thing is convincing your brain that off-road obstacle can also be taken at a generous clip, or that the Hill Descent Control will bring you safely back down. This is just me, and I ride dirtbikes on the street, but if I worked for an oil company, I'd already own one of these.
Paul Seredynski, Executive Editor @ 5,202 miles