Driven: 2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor 6.2

By Rex Roy

June 01, 2010

—Romeo, Michigan

It’s All About The Motor

Winding Road first drove the 2010 Ford Raptor last Fall. Its performance was genuinely stupefying. Never before had we held the wheel of a production truck that could fly across the desert like a cruise missile.

While the truck wasn't perfect, it was perfectly fun. But we still longed for the power Ford promised was coming. It's here now in the form of a 6.2-liter V-8. The bigger engine—a $3000 option—produces 411 horsepower at 5500 rpm, 101 more than the base 5.4-liter. Torque measures at 434 pound-feet at 4500 rpm, up a significant 69 from the old Triton V-8.

For those connecting the dots between the new 6.2-liter in the 2011 Ford Super Duty trucks and the Raptor, the engines are nearly identical. The Raptor's engine does make more power (26 horsepower and 29 pound-feet) thanks to more overlap in the two overhead cams (one per bank), an electrically driven radiator cooling fan, and a more aggressive engine management program that produces maximum thrust with premium unleaded. Run on regular, horsepower drops to 401.

The additional power pushes this three-ton extended-cab pickup to 60 mph in the mid-seven second range, about a second faster than the base truck. While this rate of acceleration won't win many stoplight sprints on paved roads, the beauty of the Raptor is that it don't need no stink'n roads. Especially with the bigger mill, the ability with which the truck carries its speed over any terrain boggles the mind.

Ford couldn't have chosen a more different environment to showcase the big-engined Raptor. The lush greenery of Michigan contrasted dramatically with the arid and barren Borrego Desert locale where we first drove the truck. Monsoon type rains preceded our drive by a few hours, creating thick mud in nearly every depression. The grass wore a sheen likened unto moose snot.

Within this perfectly Midwestern environment, Ford created a brutal off-road course to showcase the truck's new power. Keying the ignition brought forth a sweet V-8 rumble. The heavier cams added a hint of lumpiness at idle. Lighting off with a firm stomp on the accelerator, the induction system sounds like something from Detroit circa 1968. A satisfyingly appropriate roar filled the forest.

Ford engineers worked with BF Goodrich to develop the huge, 35-inch all-terrain tires that translate rotational energy into linear movement. They seem capable of biting into any surface. Energy is directed to the wheels via a heavy-duty six-speed automatic, shift-on-the-fly transfer case, 4.11 gear set, and 9 3/4-inch rear axle.

As the truck rocketed across verdant meadows, the Raptor showed its environmental side by having enough dynamic wherewithal to deftly avoid a family of pheasants and several wild turkeys. A full array of electronic controls helps drivers extract the most from the truck's hardware. The reprogrammed anti-lock braking system allows for the wheels to lock on certain surfaces at speeds under 20 mph, significantly shortening stopping distances on plenty of off-road surfaces, including on sand, snow and gravel.

A sport mode for the stability control system and a special off-road setting can be engaged, plus the rear axle features electric-locking that operates in 2WD, 4WD High, and 4WD Low. Hill decent control is standard and works in drive as well as reverse, providing a fully automatic "speed control" for safely descending steep grades. All electronic nannies can be de-powered, leaving control totally in the hands (and feet) of the pilot.

And pilot was the appropriate noun as we exited an off-camber grassy right-hander and pointed the Raptor toward a purpose-built "table" jump that mimics an event incorporated into the truck's durability testing schedule. Hitting the jump at speed sends the truck skyward and leaves the big BFGs hanging at the end of the truck's ample suspension travel (11.2 inches front, 12.1 inches rear). After soaring some 20 yards, the landing uses every bit of the travel. What energy wasn't absorbed by the sophisticated Foxx dampers was used to brutalize the front skid plate.

After this enjoyable display of testosterone, the Raptor was equally capable of returning to civilization's paved roads. Aside from the additional power, the 6.2-liter Raptor is otherwise dynamically nearly identical to the base truck. On road the suspension is almost Toyota Avalon-like in its ability to waft. While the ride is soft, it never feels out of control or unpleasantly vague. While its steering isn't as direct as a Lotus Elise, it gets the job done with a lightness that belies the truck's three-ton mass. To make too much of these nicks misses the point of the Raptor's design intent. The on-road ride is compromised to enable its off-road capabilities, a trade-off some drivers are eager to make.

After a thoroughly enjoyable romp in the 2010 Raptor, it's clear why SVT wanted to launch the truck with this motor. Production delays with the 6.2-liter caused staggered cadence of the rollout. Now that it's here, it seems foolish to order the truck with the less powerful engine. As a matter of fact, the chassis proved so competent, we expect Ford or the aftermarket to come up with an even more powerful version. Ford insiders acknowledged the opportunity then went mute.

What Ford did confirm was that a crew cab Raptor was coming for 2011. The 6.2-liter will be standard. Bring it on, we'll be waiting.

2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor 6.2
Engine: V-8, 6.2 liter, 16v
Output: 411 hp/434 lb-ft
Weight: 6006 lb
Towing Capacity: 6000 lb
Base Price: $41,020