August 08, 2011
It's official. My pathetic streak is over. I might not have needed to engage the Raptor's four-wheel drive, but I did spend some time in the dirt this weekend. Sideways, even.
Here's how things like this go in Orange County: There's one accessible (no gate, no long drive) dirt road in the county on which to have some fun. One. As a result, the stupidity level on that road is high on the weekends. It's five miles of the roughest, nastiest dirt anywhere. There are washboards sections, offest frame twisters, creek crossings, water bars and idiots.
Did I mention the idiots?
July 14, 2011
Here's a photo from yesterday's pre-Carmageddon commute home. We'll push the hype aside and just call it, Wednesday.
But if this weekend turns out to be as bad as they're saying, the Raptor would be a pretty good place to seek shelter.
Premium comfort and visibility combined with the ability to drive over obstructive medians.
And if things get really hairy: satellite radio.
Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 28,022 miles
May 31, 2011
With a few complaints lodged recently about the Raptor's transmission acting up, there was no guarantee we'd actually make it to northern California's Thunderhill Raceway for a motorcycle track day.
Luckily, the transmission worked just fine, with only some minor abruptness at low speed when cold. Other than that, the Raptor was awesome. It comes pre-wired for ballsiness, especially with the 6.2-liter V8 that's never at a loss for power, even when hauling two sportbikes, leathers, helmets, boots, tools, fuel and luggage.
So myself, The Wife and our friends JonE and OLI (names have been changed to protect the guilty) were off, ready to spend the majority of our Memorial Day weekend driving Ford pickups and riding sportbikes. And that was okay with us.
Both The Wife and JonE found the front seats to be surprisingly comfy, and the wife even found the rear seat adequate enough that she fell asleep for a short stint when we had three people in the truck (usually JonE rode with OLI in his truck).
Loading my bike into the Raptor's way-tall bed at home was aided greatly by our house-of-a-neighbor, Tony. Always good to have a neighbor like Tony at your disposal. Thanks, man.
The Raptor averaged 13.0 mpg during the 1,000-mile-plus round trip (12.0 worst, 14.7 best).
For a photo essay of the trip, follow the jump. If you don't care, don't follow it.
May 23, 2011
On Saturday, as predicted, the righteous ascended to heaven leaving the rest of us to suffer through six months of hell on Earth followed by total mass destruction sometime in October. I don't know about you, but so far, this sure sucks. True, the LA freeways only look slightly better than this on a Thursday afternoon, but for a Monday morning, it's just pure ... well, hell. And the heat! Oy vey.
But if I must be subjected to hell on Earth, at least the Rapture is made easier thanks to the Ford Raptor. Brute force needed to plow zombie horde? Check. Gorge-jumping abilities needed to clear rivers of lava? Check. Ice cold A/C? Check. Pumping stereo that now plays only Meat Loaf? Yep.
So for the next few months, you can bet which car I'll be taking when the clipboard comes around. The Fiat 500 could probably survive the plague of locusts that was just spotted north of Pasadena, but it's just not suited for the rest of this crap.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 23,795 miles
April 08, 2011
Our usual goal for a vehicle in our long-term fleet is 20,000 miles over 12 months. This here 2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor just crossed that marker in something like 8 months and 10 days.
It helps that it's already been to Oregon and back and it has towed Jay's championship-winning LeMons car to events a couple times. The desert isn't far away, but it is decidedly farther than going to the movies.
But it's not just the go-anywhere, do-anything nature of the Raptor that has made it a favorite of just about everyone in the office. The Raptor's got attitude, it's got a rip-snorting 6.2-liter V8, it looks badass and, well, if I'm being totally honest and thorough, it's got Sync and it rides OK, too. No one seems put-off by the slight issue of parking the big lug -- not enough to reject the keys, in any case.
It should be said that we've bought just over 1,500 gallons of gas along the way. A Prius would have used somewhere between 1,000 and 1,100 gallons less to cover the same distance. You gotta pay to play.
But even though we've reached our goal, we're not through with our Raptor just yet. No one is ready to send this beast packing. We're going for 30,000 miles, maybe more.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 20,010 miles
February 15, 2011
This is not where the Raptor wants to be. Creeping, braking, lurching through the backup of a highway accident. Our recently-repaired transmission handled it pretty well, though. A couple of slight shudders, but overall very well-behaved.
This is pure Valentine's Day misanthropy. And it started back at the office, our building bordered by four streets, all choked and frenzied with the rush to dates at restaurants and movies and Starbucks. Damn - who are all these people? Did all of coupled Los Angeles come out to the Westside tonight? Don't they have kids? A booming night for baby-sitters, no doubt. Now in a grizzled mood -- and hungry -- as my own return home is delayed.
By quittin' time, I have the keys to Raptor in hand and am ready to rain some creeping death on any Prius, Beetle or CNG Civic idling between me and dinner.
Raptor. Ride The Lightning. Barking stomach. Like mixing recreational poisons, this is a combination best avoided. Within minutes of entering the freeway, the Raptor inspires a heady belligerence. You really gotta check yourself in this machine. Of our current long-term fleet, only the Infiniti M56, which allows you to method-act as an Osaka crime boss, delivers the same sort of imperial swagger.
But wow, the Raptor is a nice ride. Soft and serene. You can really lay out in this cabin. Papa Crown Vic aesthetic, minus the front bench. A front bench in the Raptor would be awesome. Until you want to jump it, I suppose. As it is, the seats wrap themselves around you with firm, comforting bolsters. In its on-road mode, the Raptor's suspension neutralizes the lumps of highway life. They simply don't make it past the FOX shocks. Sure, you feel some motion and sway, but not the jolts of impact.
And except for the Z06, there's no other car in our long-term fleet that makes tailpipe music as sweet as the Raptor's. Good thing too, as the stock audio system is thoroughly mediocre: muddy, flat and lacking definition. I haven't driven the Mustang GT yet, but some of the fellas say its open-throttle song is also very pretty.
Once home, I've averaged 12.0 MPG. Managed 12.2 MPG on the return trip to the office this morning. I wonder if a small oil derrick exceeds the Raptor's towing capacity; it's gonna need its own. When the polar bears and rainforests rise up to reclaim the Earth, I don't want to be driving the Raptor. My 100-mile lap on the 405 freeway has set me back a couple of rungs on the Karmic Resource ladder, and I will need their mercy.
December 30, 2010
Post after post on this blog raves about how much we like our 2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor. I can't disagree that this truck is a heck of a lot of fun to drive. But when it comes time to park the Raptor just plain sucks.
James mentioned awhile back that the front doors need more detents. What he forgot to mention was the rear suicide doors make accessing the rear seat nearly impossible. The clamshell design does not work if the Raptor is parked beside another car. Its doors are just too big.
See the line for the parking stall? We edged the Raptor as far from the neighboring white truck as possible and there is still no access to the cab with both doors open. It may not have the visual appeal of the current door, but in situations like this the Raptor could benefit from a standard, front-hinged rear door.
Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 15,183 miles
December 04, 2010
Last Friday my family and I spent the day in our long-term Ford Raptor. Literally. We left Santa Monica about noon and drove about 170 freeway miles north to the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area on California's central coast where you can drive on 1,500 acres of Earth including endless open sand dunes and several miles of beach (yes you can skim the waves if you dare).
As soon as we got there we put the Raptor in 4x4 Low (just turn the knob on the dash) and used it as God and Ford's engineers intended for nearly two hours. Then, after the sun set over the Pacific, we hit the superslab and drove home.
Those 8 hours behind the wheel have convinced me that this is the absolute coolest pickup truck ever made, dethroning Dodge's 'Lil Red Express of 1979.
The Raptor is extremely comfortable on the highway and it could not be easier to drive in the dunes. I had the wife and kids with me so jumping the Raptor was off the menu, but we did put its front skid plate and its drivetrain to the test. Especially its engine. With the short gearing of 4x4 Low and the need to climb those hills, the Raptor burned nearly half a tank of fuel in two hours and less than 25 miles of actual driving. I had that 6.2-liter V8 perpetually riding the top of the tach. It sounded awesome and performed flawlessly, with the air conditioning on by the way (gotta keep the Mrs. comfortable).
I even left the tires at spec which is 44 psi. No air down needed. I should also mention that my fellow 4x4 enthusiasts were breaking their necks looking at the Raptor. In fact, in one of the photos below you can see the guy on the quad checking it out.
By the way, sorry there's no video of the truck in action, but it's hard to film yourself and drive at the same time.
Great day. Great truck. The Raptor and I will be back.
November 26, 2010
Our Raptor isn't the new crew cab bodystyle, but that doesn't mean it has fixed rear side glass. That's right, the small windows in those small rear doors go up and down with the push of a button. Cool touch Ford.
November 17, 2010
My commute home and back in the Raptor was pretty unremarkable, really. But sitting there in the truck, with nothing better to do, I dialed in the seats to the exact position I like to be in. These things are incredibly comfortable. The only issue I have with them is the fact the heavy side bolstering reminds me I'm rapidly approaching 40.
Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer
October 25, 2010
When people ask me "What's the best car out there?" I in return ask them how they intend to use it. There are great vehicles for various uses, and this past week I found the perfect vehicle for me: the Raptor
It has a dual personality like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It's a mean S.O.B. off-road and a gentleman on. Don't let those tough looks fool you. After 1,798 miles I put on it, I found the seats to be unbelievably comfortable. I never got numb butt/legs. Match that seat to the awesome grip of the steering wheel and you got yourself a long haul trucker to get you back home after hitting a distant OHV park.
The Raptor has got rugged good looks and people are drawn to it. I don't know how many conversations I had at gas pumps over the past 10 days. It ranged from dudes with cell phone cameras, to a guy in Truckee asking if this was the one with the 6.2 (he looked at it like a starry eyed kid when I said yes) to a creepy voice from the back of an Accord wagon in Lost Hills: "Is that the Raptor? Like it now before I take it from you, bro."
It's got meats. It's got power. It's got clearance. It's got attitude. It's like playing Super Off Road but in real life. I took it to the desolate Mojave Preserve, to the top of Red Mountain, up to Tahoe, and over a lot of canyons and sandy washes in between. It never gave me problems navigating rocky roads, traction on embankments of shale, or going down steep mountains. The ONLY concern I had was getting through some of the brush that crowds the edge of those roads. I didn't want to scratch her up!
Look, I know this thing isn't for everyone. It's big, expensive to own, and is a flavor most truck folk don't always trend too. Living in West LA, all you see are Prius, 3 Series, A4's and a few Escalades. This thing is a contrarian finger to all that and I dig it.There are great vehicles for specific tasks. The Raptor allowed me to do all the things I've been wanting to do for a long time all in one package with great ease and comfort. Pure awesome.
Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer @ 10,162 miles
October 21, 2010
I'm done with scaling rocks, miles of walking the desert floor and dirt boogers. It's time to pack it up and head north to Tahoe.
Though the Raptor is a monster off-road, it's surprisingly well mannered on-road. It's big, no doubt, but beyond that caveat it rolls like any other comfortable luxo-truck. The generous power plant is a nice bonus when passing on the freeway, too.
I'm actually looking forward to making the long drive to my family's cabin. I'm also looking forward to a hot water shower for the first time since entering Mojave. Then I have to close the cabin for winter and make the comfortable long drive back home.
Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer
October 06, 2010
I have no idea what Ford calls this thing, nor do I care, for Chevy did a pretty good job rechristening it the Man Step. In case you forgot, I've included the video below of former Raider, current Fox analyst and perpetual flat top aficianado Howie Long deriding a portly fellow who is struggles to disembark from his F-150's bed using the Man Step.
September 29, 2010
I've been the passenger in our 2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor lots of times but last night was the first time I actually got behind its wheel. And I have to say, it may surprise those of you who are familiar with my Mini obsession, but I LOVE the Raptor's size. Last night sitting in rush-hour traffic, I couldn't help but marvel over the fact that I could actually see over the gridlock. HA ha! Everyone else is so short!
And props really should be given to the Raptor for its visibility despite its intimidating stature. Even though you get a sense of its immensity while driving around on city streets, the large side mirrors and rearview mirror allow you to negotiate the roads with relative ease. See below. Just mind the cyclists and bikers.
For my parallel-parking worries, since I know for a fact this baby won't fit in my tiny garage, I had the handy-dandy backup camera.
Of course, one still has to be super aware of spatial relations around the truck but I appreciate all the help it offers.
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 6,687 miles
September 24, 2010
Yesterday afternoon I drove the Ford Raptor an hour-and-a-half south in traffic, from Santa Monica to Newport Beach, to help pick up a test car that was stranded in Orange County.
Normally I looooove driving the Raptor, but on the way back north, the sun on the driver's side of the truck was killing me. The truck's windows are so tall, there was no good way for me to avoid a full blast of sun on the left side of my face. I swung the visor to the side, but it was still way too high to be of use.
Sounds like a girly, nitpicky thing to complain about, but I can't remember the last vehicle I drove where the light annoyed me so much.
I'll still happily drive the Raptor whenever possible, but will prefer it on cloudy days.
Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 6,520 miles
September 22, 2010
The Ford Raptor and presumably the entire F-150 line desperately needs another door detent. As is, you're stuck with one of two choices. The first is shimmying through the narrower first detent, which is quite difficult given that the Raptor's cabin is located in the lower stratosphere and getting up there requires more maneuvering than with a shorter vehicle. Second, you could swing out the door fully and obliterate whatever is parked next to you. You can hold the door open when you get in, but trust me when I say it's harder to get out whether you use the running boards or just slither awkwardly out of the driver seat to the Earth below.
One solution I discovered last night was to park really far away from the grocery store and just take two spaces. Which, given the Raptor's width, wouldn't be a bad idea even if Ford smartly added one or more detents to the door.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 9,220 miles
September 11, 2010
This is the part of our 2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor road trip when things started moving fast. We were anxious to get to Yosemite but still had time to spare. So we crammed in some requisite tourist stops.
September 08, 2010
I like big trucks, high-heeled boots and wide running boards.
In that order.
Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 5,607 miles
September 06, 2010
Just weeks before we purchased our long-term 2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor, I road-tripped an identical truck up to Northern California. All told the trip spanned 10 days and 1,200 miles.
The plan was loose but there was some direction. We'd drive up Highway 395 to Mammoth Lakes, across the Tioga Pass into Yosemite National Park, further west to Napa and then head home. Everything in between was piloted by the seat of my pants. I spent quite a bit of time in the Raptor, and it left plenty of impressions.
Check back daily for each leg of the trip.
Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager
September 02, 2010
It's a bit overdue, but our F-150 SVT Raptor blew past the 5,000 mile marker a ways back. So far it's been a pretty trouble free ride. And I don't think there's anybody left in the office that doesn't like it either. It has carted kids to school, gone on long vacation road trips and, of course, been thrashed in the dirt. Still feels like a new truck, though, so something must be right.
Ed Hellwig, Editor, Inside Line @ 5,251 miles
August 19, 2010
At first, Ford said it would only make extended-cab Raptors. Then, earlier this year we got confirmation that a crew cab version is indeed on its way. Sounds good, but after checking out the back seats of our extended cab version, a crew cab seems a little overkill, no?
Granted, I haven't had to sit in back for any length of time, but just look at all that room, how bad can it be?
Ed Hellwig, Editor, Inside Line @ 4,683 miles
August 16, 2010
I hereby nominate the Raptor's front seats as some of the best in the business. Yes, a good ol' Ford pick'em has done what no Corvette of the last two decades has been able to muster.
Were you to do nothing but look at these buckets with their primitive-looking controls you might think they were a bit basic. Sit in them, however, and you will change your mind.
I didn't drive far this past weekend, but when I was behind the wheel it was a mighty comfortable place to be. Not sure what it is exactly that makes these buckets so pleasing, but the next time I head out for a long road trip, I may pick the Raptor for this reason alone.
Ed Hellwig, Editor, Inside Line @
August 13, 2010
Oh I'm sure the less-tall folks on staff find the running boards on our Raptor quite useful. They're big, sturdy and have a grippy surface.
For me, however, they are nothing but shin magnets. Every time I get in I have make a conscious effort to avoid smashing my lower leg into them. If I actually use them, I then have to crouch down to slide inside. It's quite annoying.
If this were my truck, and I kind of wish it was, I would take the boards off first thing.
Ed Hellwig, Editor, Inside Line @ 4,453 miles
August 11, 2010
Badass as our longterm 2010 Ford F-150 Raptor is -- and it really is -- fundamentally, it's still a pickup and needs to function well in that capacity, else it serves no purpose save for being a toy.
After towing 1100 miles to Willows, CA and back to SoCal, I can state with confidence that it is totally up to the task of serving duty as a truck in the traditional sense. Your towing needs must be relatively modest -- the Raptor's tow rating is 6000 pounds. Payload is 930 lb. The car/trailer you see above is about 4000 pounds.
The seats are exceptionally comfortable. They have fairly aggressive torso bolsters that I eyed with suspicion at first but after many, many hours in the saddle with no squirming and no road butt, I'm a fan. Better than our longterm Ram's seats, even. A smidge-longer thigh bolster would be my only nitpick.
Ride quality was never an issue, towing or not. Same with road noise. There's simply very little ride or NVH downside to the Raptor's off-road-slanted suspension and tires. I compared notes with Dan regarding the ride quality and concluded that he subjected the Raptor to a wider variety of terrain than did I in reaching his assessment that the Raptor is a wee busy over high frequency road inputs. Dan's got quite the well-calibrated derriere especially when it comes to the suspension tuning of pickups.
With tow/haul mode engaged, my (reasonably light) towing load posed little burden to the Raptor's 6.2-liter V8. Felt about as urgent as our old '07 Tundra. Twice and only twice, though, the Raptor's 2-3 upshift was especially hard. Like "mid-'80s F-body with a shift kit" hard. Odd.
I generally tow at 65-ish mph in CA. Average fuel economy for this towing trip was 10.7 mpg, which is 1.5 to 2 mpg less than what I garnered when towing with our '09 Ram.
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor @ 4,362 miles.
August 04, 2010
This picture of our 2010 SVT Raptor's front suspension was taken after it climbed to the top of "The Dog", Dad's name for the peak behind his house, the one atop the previously-mentioned "Wall of Death".
If you want to see more suspension shots, up to and including a full Suspension Walkaround, follow this link to the one I posted using another Raptor last year.
"But Dan," you may be thinking, "It took over 900 miles of paved road driving to get to the point where you could drive to this point. How did the Raptor fare on those paved roads?"
The short answer: not bad. More than tolerable, but not without flaws.
As we all know, the SVT Raptor was designed and built as an off-road vehicle. But anytime you emphasize something extreme, like high-speed off-road prowess in this case or circulating the Nurburgring in the low 7-minute range in other cases, you're going to lose some day-to-day "normal" performance.
The Raptor's triple-bitchin' triple-bypass Fox Racing shocks soak up desert whoop-de-doos like they're not even there. Pulling off that trick effectively takes a ton of travel and lots of damping force via the shock absorber -- things that aren't necessarily the friend of daily-use ride comfort.
Those bypass circuits help by cutting back on the maximum force the shock's internal valve is capable of by, in effect, short circuiting it. You need a cutaway to fully get how it works, but here's a verbal attempt anyway.
The three short circuits are arrayed along the length of the shock, and they're additive. The maximum total bypass is available at the unloaded smooth-road ride height. That is, the shocks are in their softest "mode" while cruising down the street. As the suspension and shocks compress toward the bump stops, the short circuits phase out, one by one. Approaching the end of travel, all of them are out of the picture and all of the shock oil must cram its way through the tiny passages of the main valve. The shock gets stiffer and stiffer as it compresses further and further.
This is flat-out awesome off-road, where the process is spread out over several inches to match the terrain. But on normal roads, the sorts of sharp bumps and cracks that matter amount to less than an inch. In this situation, the fully-bypassed valve doesn't always feel like it develops enough resistance quickly enough.
On top of that, those off-road wheels and tires weigh 97 pounds apiece. There's a lot of unsprung weight, especially out back, where everything rides on a heavy solid axle and leaf springs, to boot.
Bottom line: the Raptor's ride is generally smooth and soft (but no overly so) on smooth pavement, even if the surface texture itself is coarse. It deals gracefully with swells and dips and other low-frequency stuff. Its wide stance helps it feel planted in corners, even.
But hit a high-frequency crack or bump of a certain size and there's a shudder, usually from the back. Sometimes the rear hops to one side a little as one of the big tires bounces off the pavement. This behavior isn't foreign to pickups, but it's more obvious here than it is on your average new pickup with a standard leaf-spring suspension.
As for tire noise, yes, these BFG All-Terrain T/A tires do emit some pattern noise. But it's not excessive, and it's certainly consistent with the character and mission of the Raptor. But even this is largely drowned out by engine noise, as our Raptor's big 6.2-liter V8 burbles noticeably (but pleasantly) at all times. Even when idling down the freeway at 2,000 rpm, the murmur of the 6.2-liter V8 essentially relegates wind and tire noise to the background.
All of this is fine by me. The overall ride isn't tiresome over long distances and the occasional quirk is a worthwhile trade-off for those who appreciate the Raptor's intended mission, like me. In fact, if the Raptor was too quiet or rode too well on paved roads, I'd wonder if the off-road claims were nothing more than hype.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 2,393 miles
July 29, 2010
I haven't driven our new long term 2010 Ford Raptor yet. It's up north in Oregon with Dan. But I did take an extended road trip in a nearly identical version just last month. I don't want to step on Dan's toes, so I'll post more on my road trip once his wraps up. Meanwhile, I do have something to say about its highway ride.
Just 5 miles into my commute home down the 405 freeway I was already regretting my decision to take the Raptor on an 1,800-mile road trip. The ride was horrible. Along the concrete slabs of the 405 it was as bouncy as the unladen F-350 I'd driven just days prior. Then I caught a stretch of asphalt. The ride smoothed out considerably. I would even go so far as to say the highway ride was great on asphalt. It was at least as good as that of our long term Ram 1500. And we liked that a lot.
When I learned that highway 395, the main artery of my road trip, was paved with ashpalt, I was elated. More on the road trip to come.
Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager