2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor: In Search of Edison
November 11, 2010
About a week ago a friend of mine was telling me how he was interested in checking out some of the historic hydroelectric sites in the Sierras that supply electrical power to Southern California; specifically, Southern California Edison's (the utility, not the person) massive Big Creek project that was built in the early 1900s. The only problem: my friend's Lexus IS wouldn't be suitable for the roads and trails needed to get there. No worries, I told him. I've got a Raptor.
We both took the day off work yesterday and headed up to find Old Railway Grade Road (Google mapped here), a road/trail that was at one time the route of the custom railroad that Edison built to supply material for the project. I had read that the trail was dirt and generally smooth and suitable for passenger vehicles but "should be avoided if the surface is wet from rain or snow." It had rained a lot two days previous. Well, you never know until you go, right?
When we got to the trail, it was indeed wet and muddy (woo hoo!) in places, but nothing the SVT Raptor couldn't handle. It also ended up pretty ideal; wide enough to avoid "pinstriping" the Raptor's ample flanks on trees and bushes and smooth enough to match the Raptor's high-speed-oriented off-road suspension. Of course, it was still a mountain trail with lots of trail-side trees, cliff faces and drop-offs; there'd be no high-speed Baja action like in our Raptor full-test. I had the truck in four-wheel-high for most of it and never needed low-range gearing or the rear locker.
The Raptor performed admirably and seemed very much at home in the high country. The only thing I really found fault with was the truck's slow and somewhat heavy steering; after multiple hours of tight trail driving, it got old sawing at the wheel. A quicker ratio would be appreciated.
photo courtesy of Victor Gonzalez
Shock photo courtesy of Victor Gonzalez. Exhaust: Gets really dirty being right behind the rear wheel. Apple iPhone: No need for a map. Until the battery dies, that is.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor