As we've made abundantly clear by our first reports on the Special Vehicle Team's latest pickup truck offering, the wider, taller, brawnier Raptor is optimized for Baja 1000 duty, from its fortified long-travel suspension and Fox Racing Shox to its BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A tires. But not all that many folks live near a swath of open desert. More potential buyers have handier access to dunes and trails in more humid climes, so Ford invited us to sling some mud at its Romeo Michigan Proving Ground during one of the wetter Spring seasons on record, and then allowed us to hose the truck off and strap on our test gear to get some dry-pavement performance stats.
The day's exercises were chosen to highlight many of the Raptor's unique features, some of which were demonstrated on newly blazed trails and facilities conceived especially for this unique truck. Paved grades varying from 19 to 60 percent served to demonstrate SVT's interpretation of Hill Descent Control, which will hold any speed up to 20 mph. Just accelerate or brake to the exact speed you want and the system will dither the brakes to maintain it. HDC will also resume holding that speed if you accelerate to a speed above the 20-mph cutoff but under 40 mph (as when crossing a brief flat before descending again). The system switches off completely above 40 mph. It also works in reverse, but only at the minimum set speed of a few miles per hour.
On a big new gravel skidpad we had a chance to sample the three SVT-tuned AdvanceTrac modes: On, Sport, and Off, which behave like high-ground-clearance, 6100-pound riffs on Ferrari's On, Race, and CST-Off manettino settings. In fully "On" mode the chassis is almost entirely immune to throttle-goosing or Finnish flicking of the steering wheel in corners; it responds to such shenanigans with easily controlled oversteer in Sport. Switch it off and it'll allow Baja 1000 victors to do Alex Zanardi style donuts, spraying their fans with gravel.