2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor
2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor. Click image to enlarge

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Ford Motor Company of Canada

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Review and photos by Jil McIntosh

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2010 F-150 SVT Raptor

Borrego Springs, California – Mention SVT, Ford’s Special Vehicle Team performance division, and most people think of speed. But this time around, there’s more to it than that, as the team rolls out its latest creation, the 2010 F-150 SVT Raptor pickup truck.

Yes, they’ve done trucks before, the last being the 2004 Lightning. This time around, though, it isn’t just about going fast, but going boldly where no truck has gone before – at least, not one straight out of the box. You can take this truck well into the 190 km/h range, and if you’ve got the nerve, it’s possible to do it over roads where other trucks could merely crawl. Bred in the Baja, the Raptor is intended to be a high-speed off-road racer right off the showroom floor, and when it comes to specialty trucks, this might be Ford’s best effort yet.

2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor
2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor. Click image to enlarge

It’s got trail cred that you’d normally expect to get only out of a home-built racer – so much so that a pre-production model placed third in its class in the Baja 1000 race, where it competed against hand-built race trucks. But what differentiates it from those gnarly brethren is that, once it’s back on the tarmac, this version is even smoother than the conventional F-150 upon which it’s based.

The company’s got about 550 of them scheduled for sale in Canada, all sold strictly through dealers that handle SVT vehicles. At a base price of $48,299 – which includes a standard “Luxury Package” of dual-zone automatic climate control, 10-way heated leather seats with memory, auto-dimming exterior mirror, power-adjustable pedals, and six-CD stereo that’s an option on U.S. trucks – it isn’t cheap. On the other hand, its unique components mean that you can’t build one out of aftermarket parts on a conventional F-150, no matter how much you’re willing to spend. And with its on-road manners, unlike most purpose-built vehicles, you won’t have to buy a separate commuter car to get to work when the weekend’s fun is over; this almost ridiculously comfortable truck goes effortlessly from bandana to black-tie.

2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor
2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor
2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor
2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor. Click image to enlarge

The company starts with an F-150 Super Cab and short box – the only configuration available, as the short wheelbase helps keep it agile on trails – with a 5.4-litre V8 engine, producing 320 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and with four-wheel drive. This coming winter, an all-new 6.2-litre V8 will be added as an option, delivering an estimated 400 horses.

The differences start with the exterior styling, with fenders that round off the conventional F-150’s sharp corners, and a unique grille stamped with a huge rendition of the brand’s name. The body is widened almost 178 mm (7 inches), necessary to clear the suspension and 35-inch Raptor-specific BF Goodrich tires (there’s also a full-size spare, wrapped around a 17-inch alloy wheel identical to the other four; those tackling the most serious terrain can buy an accessory mount that holds two of them). The truck is wide enough to require clearance lights, but instead of tacking them on, Ford has moulded LED lights into the four corners, with three more across the grille, which really looks sharp when the running lights are on. There are tow hooks front and rear, cast aluminum running boards, Raptor-specific bumpers and skid plate, hood vents and SVT-badged side vents as well.

2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor
2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor. Click image to enlarge

Inside you’ll find SVT gauges, special instrument panel trim, available two-tone leather seats (which look simply awesome when matched to the “Molten Orange” paint, one of four exterior colours), and a Raptor-specific wheel with centre contrasting colour strip, which is very handy for determining “straight ahead” when the trail gets difficult. There are buttons for sport and off-road modes, allowing you to either optimize traction control or to turn off the electronic stability control, and dial back the anti-lock brakes for better stopping distances on loose surfaces. There’s an integrated trailer brake control, borrowed from the stock F-150, and a series of four auxiliary switches, each pre-wired, fused and with an easily-accessible harness, for adding such extras as a winch or lights.

But none of that matters without the suspension, for that’s where the heart and soul of this model lies. It features a new axle, beefy SVT-badged cast aluminum lower A-arm, new upper A-arm, and special half-shaft joints. The company joined forces with Fox Engineering, manufacturers of racing shocks, to produce what Ford says is the first use of an internal-triple-bypass shock absorber on a production vehicle.

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