The rap about "street trucks" like Dodge's Ram SRT-10, Chevy's Silverado SS and Ford's own F-150 SVT Lightning is that they handled and performed well...for trucks.

In designing a performance version of Ford's iconic pickup, Special Vehicle Teams chose a different direction for the 2010 F-150 SVT Raptor. Widen the body of a Supercrew, redo front and rear suspensions, tweak the four-wheel-drive calibration and make it an off-road capable pre-runner.

The Raptor also gets a new truck engine, a 6.2L, two-valve (for better torque characteristics than multivalvers) overhead-cam V-8. Tuning isn't final, but SVT says the oversquare engine will be rated about 400 hp and about 400 lb-ft of torque. The engine was an on-again, off-again project known as the Hurricane V-8. Its official name is simply "6.2," and Ford will not use it in any other F-150s, so it's mainly a Super Duty truck engine that might also be used in whatever is left of the Expedition and Lincoln Navigator lines.

From the A-pillar forward, the Raptor has unique sheetmetal from other F-150s and is bereft of a Blue Oval badge in the grille. SVT widened the track by 7 in., and so its 5.5-ft box is unique to the Raptor as well. Height is up 2 in.over a standard Supercrew. It has new, internal bypass shocks, designed by Fox Racing Shox for a smooth ride on-road that stiffens up when the driver reaches high speeds off-road. Fox's new shocks are designed to do what external bypass shocks do, without the packaging problems. The Raptor has new leaf springs and shocks, new front upper- and lower-A-arms, and a new, wider, thicker-walled rear axle.

It's the first Ford with hill-descent control and comes with a differential locker that lets the driver keep it locked at high speeds. It tows up to 6000 lb and has a 1000-lb payload. Interior changes include unique, high-bolster seats, a special steering wheel, and redesigned center console. Ford hasn't determined price or volume yet, though it promises a "value price" and a multiyear run. SVT's latest F-150 is far from perfectly timed, though by foregoing a high-performance street truck for one that's highly capable off-road, it's more in line with the move to pickups with "authentic" capabilities as suburban cowboys leave the segment in droves.

The Raptor goes on sale in the summer of 2009 with the base, 5.4L three-valve engine. The 6.2L becomes available the following winter.