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THE NEW "IT" VEHICLE

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sun, Jun 28, 2009

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

THE NEW "IT" VEHICLE Words by Brian Kennedy Pictures by Gabriela Moya You probably don't know yet that you want a Ford F-150 Raptor, because as an Angelino, a truck is probably far from your mind. Don't think of it as a truck, though. Think of it as the new "it" car, and you're probably closer to the truth. The Raptor is an SVT project (that's the Ford skunkworks, for those of you who have wasted the last dozen or so years). That division has produced notable cars like the Lightning pickup and the Cobra of various generations. Now, their attention is focused on a vehicle that can be produced on a regular production line alongside plain Jane Ford pickups, but can be used to run the desert on the weekends, and still be under factory warranty.

  "But I don't go out to the desert" you say. You're not listening. This is not about what you do; it's about what your vehicle says you do. Most of the people driving Hummers don't go out and practice with militias on the weekends, either (at least, I hope not), but they look like they might. The point is, you're going to buy the Raptor because it's big and nasty (though quite pretty) and has oodles of suspension travel and special Fox shocks and on and on (you'll learn all the right lingo when you read the dealer sales brochure). If you wanted to, you can take it off-road. And that's just what a bunch of Ford engineers did. The Baja 1000 is probably the roughest test of a vehicle around, aside from that Dakar Rally of years ago. It's a punishing, more than 24-hour ride through badlands filled with whoops (that's truck-guy-speak for really uncomfortable ridges in the road) and dust so thick it could make a Bedouin lose his camel. But people race it year after year anyhow, and a group of off-roaders, with several Ford engineers working as the crew, took on the challenge in the stock class, modifying a Raptor (christened the Raptor "R") to meet race safety standards and then running it in the 2008 version of the race. They survived the test, albeit not without some makeshift repairs and welding done at various checkpoints. All of that is detailed in a new film made to highlight the Raptor's debut. (You can see a one-hour version on Speed Channel on July 12th at 4pm EST.) And the fact that they lasted the event through, and placed third in their class to boot, suggests that the truck is meant to take a beating.

  None of which says that you should beat on it. Instead, you might think about buying it for its looks, which are wide and tall with a handsome "FORD" logo integrated into the grille right across the front, complemented by a first-class interior of color-keyed leather and the usual great Ford quality fit and finish. Then drive it to work. The sound of you pulling into the parking lot will make your boss fearful of including you in any upcoming layoffs, and you'll feel like the King all of us are in our imaginations. As the Ford literature says, "The F-150 SVT Raptor is a street-legal, high-performance off-road truck, for all those times when you'd rather be off the road than on it." Read that a little cleverly, and it doesn't say to go off-road. It says that there are times when you'd "rather be." So you can drive the Raptor and appear badass - but keep the truck safely within the confines of your suburban existence. The optional 6.2-liter V8 with 400hp and 400lb-ft. will get you to work just fine. Or go for the standard 5.4-liter engine with 320hp and 390 lb-ft. and you'll save a little gas while still hauling like heck wherever you go. (You know your physics, right? It's the torque you feel, and the numbers from one engine to the other aren't that different.) In fact, don't even worry about the reason you're in the Raptor. Just enjoy the experience. And if, some weekend, Anza-Borrego seems like a destination you'd like to hit, then know that that's available as an option, too.

  Editor's Note: The truck made its SoCal debut late in June in the form of a movie premiere for the documentary Raptor - Born in Baja. Photos accompanying this story are from that red-carpet event, held at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood. The most notable celebrity guest was Jay Leno. Others present included the Baja 1000 driving crew along with Ford engineers. A lengthy list of other TV and movie people also turned up. For more coverage on the premiere, go to Lights...Camera...Raptor! For more information: www.fordvehicles.com/f150raptor 

  SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor Price: TBA Engines: SVT-tuned 5.4-liter SOHC 24-valve Triton V8, with 320 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque (standard) SVT-tuned 6.2-liter SOHC 24-valve V8, with 400 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque (optional) Transmission: Electronically Adjustable five-speed automatic with dedicated Off-Road Gear Mapping Setting Powertrain configuration: Front Engine, four-wheel drive Suspension: Fox Racing Shox-developed dedicated off-road suspension, 13.4 inches of usable travel in the rear suspension and 11.2 in the front Technology specifications: Technologies include: AdvanceTrac® with RSC® (Roll Stability Controlâ„¢) predicts the vehicle's path using a sensor to detect and measure oversteer and yaw by monitoring the vehicle's speed, throttle position and steering wheel angle. When the system senses wheel slip or the loss of traction, it applies braking where needed to keep the truck tracking safely on its intended path. If a significant roll rate is detected, the system applies additional countermeasures to enhance vehicle roll resistance. The off-road enthusiast has the option to switch to two available settings - sport mode and full off-road mode depending on their driving situation. The sport mode shuts off traction control enabling the vehicle to have more yaw movement. Full off-road mode shuts off all electronic stability programs and the ABS system switches to a special off-road setting. Widening the threshold of sport mode, the wheels will lock more which is helpful in off-road terrain. Also in full off-road mode, the locking rear differential is allowed to stay locked at elevated speeds to mimic a spool differential found on racing trucks. Trailer Sway Control works in conjunction with AdvanceTrac with RSC and can determine from the yaw motion of the truck if the trailer is swaying and take measures - such as applying precise braking or reduced engine torque - to bring both vehicle and trailer under control. Integrated Trailer Brake Controller is factory-installed and allows direct operation of the trailer's electronic brakes by squeezing the control module on the instrument panel with more confidence than the typical aftermarket system. Electronic Locking Differential uses a true mechanical connection to lock the left and right axle shafts together so both turn at the same speed with the same amount of torque. This switch-controlled feature maximizes traction capability at the wheel with grip, without having to stop the truck. Hill Descent Control on the F-150 SVT Raptor is Ford's first application of the technology. Utilizing ABS, the driver can control hill descent without applying the brakes. The speed is set for the truck to descend the hill by pushing a button and allows for the driver to concentrate on driving, rather than on how to modulate the brakes on a steep decline. Off-Road Mode engages a third throttle map and a third shift schedule for improved off-road performance. Third throttle map alters the throttle by changing the driver demand table so it is better suited to high and low-speed off-road driving conditions. A third shift schedule is a unique strategy for the off-road environment that holds the transmission in each gear for a longer period of time, allowing better engine throttle modulation to control the vehicle. Auxiliary Switch Board on the center console makes aftermarket customization easier, with four prewired switches attached to the power distribution box for electrical accessories. Also located on the auxiliary switch board are two switches for improved off-road performance - Hill Descent Control and Off-Road Mode. EPA gas mileage rating (city miles per gallon/highway miles per gallon): TBA

   Go big and crank up the suspension on your truck with Ford F150 lift kits shipped for free only from AmericanTrucks.com.

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