The Ford F-150 SVT Raptor is like no other truck. It comes factory-ready to conquer dunes, run over rocks, and tear up the desert. For the 2012 model year, Ford upped the Raptor's off-road game, adding a locking-front differential and more. But just because the Raptor may be more capable off-road for 2012, doesn't mean we're also more capable.
I say that because the Raptor is ultimately so comfortable off-road that it causes hubris, as I discovered at California's El Mirage Dry Lake Bed. At the dried-up lake, you show up, pay $15, and go as fast as you want on the hard-packed lake bed, and then continue on to the many, many off-road trails in the land surrounding the lake. This was clearly Raptor territory.
To get to El Mirage, I met with associate online editor Erick Ayapana who would be piloting a Nissan Frontier with the PRO-4X package as a support vehicle, and convoyed 100 miles out of Los Angeles to El Mirage. The Raptor's ride on the broken-up highways of Los Angeles is superb for a truck, thanks to its Fox Racing Shox. The Raptor handles twists and turns well enough, and despite its extra girth, it feels as if it’s the best-handling version of the current-generation F-150. The Raptor's 6.2-liter 411-hp and 434 lb-ft V-8 offers up plenty of grunt with an abundance of torque spread throughout the rev range.
On the pavement the Raptor puts out stout 0-60 mph and quarter mile times, despite the additional weight of its new-for-2012 Torsen front differential. The Raptor needed 6.9 seconds to accelerate from 0-60 mph, and 15.4 seconds to complete the quarter mile at 91.0 mph flat. Given its 6260 lb. curb weight and off-road tires, this dinosaur needed 146 ft. to come to a complete stop from 60 mph. At the track the Raptor isn't much of a handler either; it needed 29.3 seconds to complete our figure eight at an average of 0.57 g, and the best it could muster on the skidpad was an 0.71 g average.
But all of those test numbers are beside the point.
Off-road the Raptor shines. When our little convoy pulled up to El Mirage we immediately hit the dry lake bed for some high-speed runs. After a quick pre-run of the surface looking for any blemishes that might upset the Raptor (not likely) I pointed its nose towards the other end of the lake, mashed the throttle, and took off. Soon enough the Raptor had hit its 100 mph electronic governor and I was flying across the lake bed like it was nothing. For such a big, heavy, and high truck, the Raptor was rock solid at its top speed. Were it not for the speedometer and rooster tail of dust trailing the truck, I'd have had no idea the Raptor had hit triple digit speeds.
After a few runs back and forth across the lakebed, I headed toward El Mirage's off-road area. On the outskirts of the off-road trails are big hardened-dirt berms. I decided it would be a good idea to run over all of them. Why? Because like all automotive journalists, I'm secretly five years old. Also, one of my brothers is an environmental science major in college, and I've vowed to cancel out any and all of the good he does. We have a good relationship.
At around four feet tall and five feet wide at their widest point, the Raptor conquered most of the berms in off-road mode and two-wheel drive. Feeling confident, I started going for bigger berms, engaging four-high and smiting mother Earth as I went. With 11.2 in. of ground clearance, the Raptor had no problems -- that is until I got cocky over a particularly big mound and decided to stop for a photo op. Stopping for the photo op with the Raptor pulverizing the berm was no problem -- getting going again though, was. I high-centered the long-wheelbase Raptor on the berm. The Raptor's front wheels were hanging uselessly in the air, while the rear wheels had nothing but soft sand to grip. I was stuck.
I tried locking the diff and shifting the Raptor into four-low and rocking the Raptor off the berm but I was going nowhere fast. Thankfully, we came prepared with tow straps, and after hooking them up to the Raptor's rear tow hooks and the Frontier's tow hitch, our Raptor was running free in no time.
With my ego slightly bruised, our little convoy continued on to El Mirage's off-road trails. Getting there required going down a sand-washed road the Raptor devoured at speed with ease. Next came narrow windy trails better suited for Jeeps and ATVs than the big-boy dinosaur. Still -- despite the extra width, the Raptor effortlessly handled the trail. The trails weren't difficult by any means (well they might be for an Audi Q5) but they still were a great way to get the Raptor to stretch its legs off-road. The Ford was so capable that we were essentially able to point at obstacles, decide, "Hey, I want to be on that," and the Raptor would do it, no problem.
One of the newest additions to the 2012 Raptor aside from the locking front differential is its new front-facing camera. Only accessible in either four-low, or off-road mode with the rear diff locked (though we wish it were also usable during low-speed parking maneuvers too), the new camera is designed to help make crawling over rocks and avoiding obstacles easier. During the minor-to-moderate rock crawling the camera was a godsend. It allowed me to better plan my path up and down steep inclines without the use of a spotter, and it also showed which direction the front tires were facing, allowing me to avoid any day-ending punctures.
Throughout the day (and despite the 100-plus degree heat) the Raptor's interior remained a nice place to be. Though pricey, the Raptor's $2970 Luxury Package with its heated and cooled seats and premium interior helped keep the cabin comfortable, even with the windows open the whole time. Our Blue Flame 2012 Raptor SuperCrew also came with the $2470 Sony Navigation Radio, $1075 Exterior Graphics Package (an option we can live without), and the $525 Front and Rear Camera System (an option we can't), bringing our tester's price from the base $46,870 to the as-tested price of $53,910.
The 2012 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor remains unlike any other truck out there. It’s uniquely capable of devouring any and all obstacles in front of it -- often at speeds more often seen on the highway than off the beaten path. Sure, it may cause hubris, but damn if it isn’t deserved.
|2012 Ford F150 Raptor |
|BASE PRICE|| $46,870 |
|PRICE AS TESTED ||$53,910 |
|VEHICLE LAYOUT ||Front-engine, 4WD, 5-pass, 4-door truck|
|ENGINE ||6.2L/411-hp/434-lb-ft SOHC 16-valve V-8 |
|TRANSMISSION|| 6-speed automatic|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)|| 6260 lb (57/43%)|
|WHEELBASE ||145.2 in|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT|| 232.1 x 86.3 x 78.4 in|
|0-60 MPH|| 6.9 sec|
|QUARTER MILE|| 15.4 sec @ 91.0 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH|| 146 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION|| 0.71 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT ||29.3 sec @ 0.57 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON|| 11/16 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY|| 306/211 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS|| 1.52 lb/mile|