The term Raptor refers to aggressive birds of prey, and they are badasses in their own right. But raptor is also short for velociraptor, an even nastier predatory dinosaur that achieved screen immortality in the movie Jurassic Park. Ford decided to name what is easily the wildest, most brutal production F-150 pickup ever built after these violent birds/lizards because it is built to traverse nasty terrain at high speed, especially in desert-racing situations, and to pretty much eat the competition alive.
The SVT designation allegedly stands for “Special Vehicle Team” (the engineers that reworked this popular truck into something savage), but a more fitting meaning would be “Severe Vehicular Tauntmaster.” The Raptor not only looks tougher than any Hummer, Jeep, or competing pick up by a stretch, but it is brilliantly reinforced from the ground up to walk the walk and beat rugged trails into submission. Beneath the trick body panels (including modified fenders with heat extractors; special hood, front bumper, and grill designs; and endless detail work), the chassis has been reinforced to do battle at high speeds with the roughest of trails. The goal is to conquer the elements without breaking either it or your spine, and it succeeds admirably. This starts with widening the track by a whopping seven inches, bolting on massive cast-aluminum SVT frontcontrol arms, and arming all four corners with huge Fox Racing Shox (that’s shocks to you and me). These units have sophisticated valving that prevents bottoming out after big hits and jumps, while allowing plenty of wheel mobility and a comfy ride. Special B. F. Goodrich 35-inch tires keep the Raptor riding high, and when you’re behind the wheel you (almost) feel like you’re peering down from the stratosphere. Back on Earth, rocks and potholes vanish with nary a quiver, and the truck’s ability to transit lunar-spec terrain is pretty amazing.
Obviously, this great suspension magic would be useless without a properly pumped-up 4×4 drivetrain—the Raptor scores well in this regard. A 5.4-liter V-8 with 310 horsepower is standard (320 horsepower if you run E85 ethanol), and teamed with a six speed automatic transmission. Power is good and there’s a deep, throaty exhaust burble, but for maximum havoc more grunt would be desirable. (A 6.2- liter V-8 should be available soon.) The trans mission is smooth and features a Tow/Haul mode; the Raptor can haul 1,020 pounds of payload or pull a trailer weighing up to 6,000 pounds.
If you kept up with the Jurassic Park franchise, you know that the velociraptor is one wicked-smart killing machine. The Raptor of this epoch is pretty brainy as well, with a host of brilliant black boxes to electronically keep you on target. A locking rear differential engages with the tug of a knob, ensuring both rear wheels get full power to extricate you from the nastiest bogs. A special off-road button retools the drivetrain tuning for better response in the bush, and a Hill Descent button works with the AdvanceTrac traction and roll stability controls to help keep you from sliding uncontrollably down steep inclines. Really supportive seats and good forward visibility (and an optional rearview camera that’s invaluable when backing up or turning around on the trail) keep you and your passengers comfortable and secure, and safe from any other predatory dinosaurs you may encounter.
When you top this monster off with a killer Sony sound system (including Ford’s SYNC communication/entertainment interface), the Raptor is a solid, capable, and—best of all—unique truck that is damn near unstoppable. Oh, and you can haul a lot of stuff with it, too, which is more than you can say for those skinny ol’ dinosaurs.