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Eye-Candy of Pickup Trucks: Ford F-150 SVT Raptor

By Sue Mead, March 3rd, 2012

Whether you like trucks or don't, you have to admit the 2012 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor is a truckload of bold eye-candy! And, if you motor the highways of America, then you know that pickups are some of the most popular and versatile vehicles today.

It's been refreshing and fun to test-drive Ford's SVT Raptor. It can be driven as an around-town daily driver or work truck, and it can be used as a slow-speed off-roader to take forays into the backcountry, or as a high-speed desert racer.

Ford's Raptor has become a super star. Its head-snapping looks and capability -- with talents engineered under the skin of a stock pickup that can be purchased off a showroom floor -- have led the F-150 Raptor to sales success. It's also won a number of awards and even a few of the world's top races.

The 2012 Ford SVT Raptor, which starts at $42,570, comes in two-door SuperCab and four-door SuperCrew models ($46,282). New for 2012 are upgrades to the mechanicals; new trim accents and bodyside graphics; new graphic design for the truck bed; 17-inch machined wheels; and a unique off-road front camera system with a washer.

Ford's SVT team (Special Vehicle Team) designed and developed the Raptor to tap into the growing off-road enthusiast market. Based on the Ford F-150, the SVT Raptor sits taller on 35-inch BFG tires and has a distinctive grille, vented hood, functional hood created with extractors, fender extractors with "SVT" bored out, and sports visible FOX Racing Shox suspension, riding on the only internal bypass shocks available on a street truck.

The 16-valve 6.2-liter V-8 SOHC engine is the standard engine on the 2012 Raptors. It puts out 411 horsepower and 434 lb.-ft. of torque. Towing capacities on the SuperCab and SuperCrew models are 6,000 and 8,000 pounds, respectively.

Inside is the black leather-wrapped steering wheel that features a molten-orange leather strip on the popular Molten Orange exterior -- it serves as a centering sight line; this is useful in extreme driving maneuvers that could cause you to lose perspective of the steering wheel's center point. This strip can also be color-coordinated to match Raptor's other exterior colors.

While Raptor differentials are from the conventional F-150, an electronic locking rear differential is standard, as are 4.10:1 gears. New for 2012 is a standard 4.10 Torsen front differential to aid in off-road control. Raptor's beefed-up suspension gets 13.4 inches of usable travel in the rear and 11.2 in the front. Other changes from its F-150 brethren include upgrades to the axle, upper and lower A arms, tie rod, and half-shaft joints.

BF Goodrich altered the tread of its All-Terrain TA/KO 315/70-17 tire, making the rubber softer for better performance on and off the road. A 17-inch cast aluminum wheel was designed to absorb impacts from extreme environments.

Also novel are personalization with two graphic choices rooted in the realm of extreme sports: an optional hood graphic inspired by the matte black hoods from racing performance Ford Broncos of the 1970s; and the "digital mud" that debuted on the 2010 Raptor, inspired by snowboard and ski-equipment graphics. Ford says that close to 50 percent of Raptor owners opt for the graphic.

Raptor's SelectShift auto transmission allows you to hold a gear. By engaging a toggle switch on the center console, you can take control of gear selection, even running to the redline; downshifts are allowed at the lowest gear possible considering engine speed.

We have driven each version of the Raptor. Our forays have taken us on-road and off-road, through conditions of extreme cold and hot-weather climes, as well as around town. While not for every pickup buyer's consideration, this unique truck is in a class by itself and has already found a faithful following.


Base price $42,570
Displacement 6.2-liter
Epa mileage rating NA
Fuel capacity 26.0 gal.
Horsepower (net) 411 at 5500 rpm
Motor type SOHC V-8 w/SMPFI
Overall length 220.6 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 434 at 4500 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Vehicle type 5-passenger 4x4 2-door pickup
Wheelbase 133.3 in.
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