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At 100 mph, the 2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor is barely breaking a sweat. Sure, just about any modern pickup truck can run smoothly at triple-digit speeds on the highway, but we're not on a highway.
No, we're sitting shotgun in the Raptor as it hammers down a rutted dirt road in the middle of the Nevada desert. It's the kind of road that would send standard trucks limping home with leaking shock absorbers and torn-up bodywork, but the likelihood of this happening in the Ford Raptor is slim.
You see, the 2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor has been built with conditions like this in mind. It's the latest project from Ford's Special Vehicles Team (SVT), a group of enthusiastic engineers within Ford that made its name building high-powered street vehicles like the Cobra Mustang and F-150 Lightning. This time the SVT engineers have focused their efforts on building something completely different, an off-road truck capable of running at high speed in the desert as effortlessly as it does down a suburban highway.
All the Best Parts
Most factory-supplied off-road packages before now have amounted to nothing more than slightly larger-capacity dampers, retuned springs and a few decals on the fenders. The 2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor has all these things, but it takes the premise several steps further.
Take the suspension, for instance. It's been completely revamped up front with all-new upper and lower wishbones, a revised tie rod, longer four-wheel-drive half-shafts and upgraded steering knuckles. The changes allow up to 11.2 inches of suspension travel in front and 13.4 inches in back.
Instead of using off-the-shelf dampers, SVT has worked with the off-road specialists at Fox Racing to build a set of unique items for the Raptor. Internal bypass valves help deliver increased damping as the shocks compress, a first in a factory off-road damper, says SVT's Jamal Hameedi, the Raptor's chief nameplate engineer. He notes, "The oil we use in them costs more that our competitor's entire shock."
A track that's 7 inches wider than a stock F-150 is also part of the Raptor's package. It gives the Raptor a low, wide stance, which requires wider flared fenders front and rear, giving the truck a Coke-bottle shape. It's so wide, in fact, that the Raptor requires the federally mandated marker lights you usually see perched atop dually tow trucks. For the Raptor, the front lights are incorporated into the grille, making for a cleaner appearance and unique light signature at night.
Underneath the big fenders sit a set of 35-inch BFGoodrich tires engineered specifically for the Raptor. They spin on 17-inch cast-aluminum wheels that look great as long as you like black.
Big V8 on the Way
The base-model 2010 Ford F-150 Raptor will be powered by the same 24-valve 5.4-liter V8 found in the standard F-150. Good for 320 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque, it should provide plenty of thrust since it puts down the power through a six-speed automatic transmission and 4.10:1 final-drive ratio.
Then again, off-road trucks tend to be a little over the top as a rule, so after the start of production the Raptor will offer an even more powerful 16-valve 6.2-liter V8. It's an all-new engine for Ford, and while final testing isn't finished, a rating of around 400 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque is expected. It will use the same six-speed transmission and 4.10 gears.
Every Raptor will feature four-wheel drive. This isn't typical among desert racing trucks, but it was necessary to make a good business case for the truck. The extended cab is another nod to street-friendly practicality, as SVT had to make a solid case for sales success to enable such a radical concept to move forward through Ford's product planning.
Making It Work in the Dirt
In order to take full advantage of the Raptor's hardware, SVT's engineers also made some changes to the Raptor's software. Engaging the "off-road mode" not only switches off the truck's electronic stability control system, but also changes the programming for the antilock brake system to allow more wheel lockup while reducing pedal flutter. The brake bias also changes, with more braking power directed to the rear wheels. "This lessens the truck's inherent understeer, so it turns in quicker when you're running in the dirt," Hameedi tells us.
Off-road mode also reprograms the transmission, so it holds gear ratios into the upper reaches of the rpm range while the throttle mapping changes to offer better control. Even more important, off-road mode commands the standard electronic locking differential in back to remain fully locked at any speed.
Last but not least, the 2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor is the first Ford truck to offer electronic hill descent control. It's not really a useful feature for fast desert running, but it broadens the truck's appeal even further by allowing some measure of capability when it comes to low-speed rock-crawling.
Looking the Part
Unlike typical off-road packages, the Raptor's cosmetic changes are substantial. From the A-pillars forward, the only parts directly carried over from the stock truck are the headlights. The hood, the front quarter panels and the front fascia all are unique to the Raptor. The revised rear quarters are a full 8 inches wider than a standard F-150.
Interior upgrades include new seats with additional side bolstering, a thicker, leather-wrapped steering wheel and an SVT-specific instrument panel. The center console also comes standard with a row of auxiliary switches so owners can easily add aftermarket accessories like floodlights or a winch.
An Unlikely SVT Project
It's easy to look at the Raptor and say it's a poorly timed project. Truck sales are down, gas prices remain higher than they've been in years and Ford is just trying to keep its head above water. All true, but SVT still thinks the 2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor is a good bet.
"I think the Raptor will do even better than the Lightning ever did," says Hameedi. "We had to build a solid business case for this truck and we did. We don't have to sell a lot of them for this project to be profitable."
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I will do what it takes to make my Z family succeed! I am not below some side dirty work either!! LOL
 
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