Which is precisely the point. Back in 2006, when Ford's Special Vehicles Team set out to create a performance variant of the next-generation F150, they considered creating another slammed and supercharged street truck like the 1999-2004 SVT Lighting. Then SVT chief engineer Jamal Hameedi studied what was hot and what was not at the annual SEMA aftermarket show. What he saw was a resurging trend among Southern California truck enthusiasts toward lifted full-size trucks and prerunners modeled after desert racers. So he issued a challenge to his SVT team: Build the baddest off-road truck ever offered by an OEM. They call it the 2010 F-150 SVT Raptor, and it's an unquestionable success.

Just look at the numbers: Compared with a standard F-150, the Raptor's track is 6.6 inches wider to accommodate the longer and stronger upper-and-lower control arms, tie-rods, and halfshafts unique to this vehicle. The Raptor uses special composite fenders flared out by eight inches (four on each side) to help cover this wider track and the specially designed, 35-inch BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A tires. In fact, the Raptor is so wide, it's required to run the federally mandated marker lights normally seen on dually trucks.

Clearance from the lowest skidplate to the ground is 10 inches, which is easily soaked up by 11.2 inches of front and 12.1 inches of rear suspension travel provided by the specially designed Fox Racing shocks. These shocks use Fox Racing's patented internal bypass technology and are an industry first for a production vehicle. At normal ride height, Raptor shocks are three times stiffer than those in a standard F-150, yet they're supple and compliant. Near the bottom of travel, the Raptor shocks grow roughly seven times stiffer than the F-150's, which prevents hard impacts and the destruction of components and body work.

While bodywork and suspension from the A-pillar forward are almost entirely unique, the engine and interior are only slightly tweaked. Underhood is Ford's stalwart 5.4-liter V-8 that makes 320 horsepower at 5000 rpm and 390 pound-feet of torque at 3500 rpm and mates to a six-speed automatic transmission. It's enough to get the job done, but the real desert racers will want the all-new, high-feature 6.2-liter V-8 that comes out early next year. That engine will make an estimated 400 horsepower and 400 pound feet of torque.

Inside, the Raptor is treated to upgrades that match its aggressive exterior and badge, including a leather-wrapped steering wheel with centering sightline, beefed-up leather seat bolsters, and a four-pack of prewired and fused auxiliary switches, perfect for controlling everything from KC lights to a winch.

With its huge tires, flared fenders, enormous grille, and optional graphics package, the Raptor looks like the ultimate desert toy. But it's more than just a toy; with a 1000-pound payload, 6000-pound towing capacity, and all the bells and whistles of the regular F-150--including the factory-installed integrated trailer brake controller and trailer sway control, the Raptor can serve as the toy hauler and everyday work truck as well.