More Than Just 101 Extra Horsepower
When the Raptor was finally announced last year, Ford made it known that the optional 6.2L V-8 engine would suffer from "Late Availability" and cost a $3,000 premium over the base $38,995 truck with the venerable 5.4L. Well the time has come, and thanks to generous reader Matt Davis from svtoffroad.com and a collaboration with pickuptrucks.com, we got our hands on one of the very first production 6.2L trucks to roll out of the factory.
For those who need to be brought up to speed: The 6.2L, originally known as the Hurricane before it was cancelled in 2005 and then revived in 2006 as the Boss, is an all-new engine designed to replace the modular gas motors (4.6/5.4L) in premium applications of the F-150 such as the Raptor. At 379 cubic inches, the 6.2L is an iron-blocked, aluminum-headed, oversquare (4.01-inch bore x 3.74-inch stroke) beast of an engine that is rated at 411 horsepower and 434 lb-ft of torque (on premium fuel) in the Raptor. The 6.2L will also be the gas engine of choice in the 2011 Super Duty, albeit rated at 385 horsepower and 405 lb-ft.
The 6.2L features a deep skirt block, cross-bolted main caps with four bolts, forged connecting rods, an overhead-camshaft valvetrain with variable cam timing, two valves per cylinder, and two spark plugs per cylinder. Bore spacing is much wider than the modular engines at 4.53 inches (compared to 3.937 inches), giving this engine the ability to grow in displacement. We are told that in 6.2L configuration, the engine is capable of a reliable 500 horsepower and 500 lb-ft of torque, so the ultimate potential has yet to be revealed.
Mated to the 6.2L is Ford's six-speed automatic, which has been altered to provide firmer shifts and hold gears longer when driven aggressively. Despite this, it is still tuned way too soft for our tastes, taking far too long to initiate throttle kickdowns and lacking crispness between shifts when on the pavement. However, none of the gear-hunting associated with the 5.4 model is apparent in the 6.2 truck. In fact, the 6.2L doles out big gobs of torque with a nice flat curve, making the Raptor deceptively powerful. You won't necessarily feel the power pushing you back in the seat, yet you will seamlessly be going 90 mph in a blink. Passing traffic on two-lane roads is effortless, once the trans decides to kick down.
With the vehicle in hand, we headed out to K&N Engineering in Riverside, California, to borrow their DynoJet chassis dyno. We wanted to see what kind of numbers the 6.2L would be putting at the wheels of the Raptor.
After several consistent runs, our best was a solid 344 horsepower and 361 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheels, which is slightly better than the expected 20-percent drivetrain loss. And this was on 87-octane gasoline, where the 6.2L is rated at 401 horsepower and 434 lb-ft of torque. So the 6.2L in the Raptor puts out more horsepower and almost as much torque at the wheels as the 5.4L (310 horsepower/365lb-ft) is rated at the crank-absolutely incredible. The Raptor finally has an engine worthy of its chassis, and don't worry, you'll be reminded by the exhaust every time you turn the key, because the exhaust sound is lively enough to make any aftermarket system for these trucks obsolete.
While it would be easy to only focus only on the new engine, the truth is that the revised suspension feels much more supple and refined over the Raptor 5.4. Weighing in at approximately 150 pounds more than a similarly equipped 5.4 truck, the 6.2's spring rates are different, as is the tuning of the Fox Racing Shox internal bypass shocks. The suspension offers the same 11.4 inches of front and 12.2 inches of rear wheel travel as the base truck.
From the rollers of the DynoJet to the rollers of the desert, we headed north from K&N to one of our favorite spots in the Mojave to run the Raptor up and down desert washes, crawl over terrain, blast down desert roads, all to get a feel for the Raptor 6.2's performance.
Because the Raptor was originally going to be launched with the 6.2L and production delays with the premium engine were longer than expected, the 5.4L was a late development to get the performance truck launched. As such, the 6.2 received the bulk of the chassis tuning, and the difference is immediately noticeable. The 6.2 feels much more polished, no matter where you drive it. No longer does broken pavement or roads with small chop feel harsh, and the highway ride feels more compliant than the 5.4L truck. Overall the Raptor 6.2 gives the impression of stability and solidity. Considering that the 6.2L's additional weight is all over the front axle, this is a remarkable achievement.
With a more confidence-inspiring chassis setup, coupled with a corresponding increase in power, the Raptor 6.2 is capable of attaining speed with an urgency usually reserved for one-off race trucks. In the dirt, there is no question that the 6.2 reigns supreme. No longer does the truck bog down in deep sand, as the 6.2L has enough power to launch right out of it. Corners are a blast, and on just about any terrain it is finally possible to overcome the grip of the LT315/70R17 BFGoodrich A/Ts and steer with the throttle. If the base Raptor is fun, the Raptor 6.2 is sublime.
Because of the higher limits of the 6.2 truck, we are thankful that all Raptors are equipped with impressive brakes. The 13.8-inch front and 13.7-inch rear rotors are massive, with incredible and progressive pedal feel and fade resistance. No lie, these could be the best brakes Ford has ever installed on a truck-and even most cars, for that matter.
Just like the base Raptor, the 6.2 truck has all of the goodies, such as Hill Descent Control (which works in forward or reverse gears), the any-speed rear locker, Off-Road mode, beefy CV axles, a strengthened rear axle, auxiliary switches, and full skidplating.
If there are any objections to voice, it is that the leaf-sprung rear axle is susceptible to axle wrap and that there are no exterior cues to identify that the Raptor is equipped with the 6.2L option. The Raptor also feels every bit of its 6,000-pound curb weight, which is not helped by slow steering and substantial understeer on twisty paved roads. However, as with the base truck, the steering is just about perfect in the dirt. On our wish list: a mechanical front traction device and passenger grab handles.
After covering nearly 400 miles of testing on a stormy and windy day, we recorded 10 mpg in mixed driving and 14 mpg on the highway. Our feeling is that 15 mpg is a reasonably attainable highway figure without the headwinds and weather.
So is it worth the $3,000 price of admission over a 5.4L truck? We wouldn't hesitate to recommend it. So far more than 7,000 Raptors have been ordered, with nearly half going to 6.2 production, and Ford has announced that 2011 will bring with it a new color (silver) and the long-awaited Raptor Super Crew.
Expect to see the Raptor 6.2 trucks in our 2011 Four Wheeler Pickup Truck of the Year competition.