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.
Deserts? Yes. But Mud Likes It, Too
A few days after Tech Editor Sean Holman gave the 6.2L Raptor his own unique test treatment in the Upper Mojave, I received an invite from the folks at Ford SVT to testdrive the truck at their Romeo, Michigan, proving grounds. Torrential rains had pelted eastern Michigan in the days before my arrival, so when I showed up in Romeo on a sunny spring morning, Ford's network of off-road test trails (over 50 miles in all) had been reduced to a muddy morass, with rocker-deep water holes everywhere. This worried me for two reasons: (1) I'm a So Cal native, born and raised, so I drive in mud about as often as Obama goes bowling (and generally, with the same results); and (2) because I was chosen to lead our pack of Raptor test mules for the day, I wouldn't have anyone else's ruts to follow.
But after a full day of testing in Michigan mud, even with a relative novice behind the wheel, rest assured that the Raptor's got all the makings of a fine mud machine. We played with the locker and the "Off-Road" mode, switching them on and off to see what affect they'd have on the truck's performance and handling. And except for a handful of soupy, grille-deep water holes-where a front traction aid would have been an added bonus-the Raptor seemed to take to mud just about as easily as it handles desert whoops. The 6.2L does seem to have slight "dead" spot in the powerband below two grand, so you need to lean on the throttle a bit in lower gears to maintain the desired level of momentum, and my tester's BFG All-Terrains tended to pack up with some of the greasier goo, making high-speed corners an adventure at times (praise be to the rear locker, which did a great job of inhibiting rear slide-outs and giving Bozo the Testdriver the extra split-second he needed to make the proper steering correction).
All in all, the more time I spent driving the Raptor in mud, the more confident I grew in this truck's ability to handle virtually anything I could throw at it (which included some wheels-up berm-jumping; the SVT guys actually encouraged us scribes to whomp on their trucks). I'd still like to see some "manumatic" quick-shift tranny option with this truck (it's more intuitive to me than feeling for detents along a shift column, and as Sean mentioned, the transmission can be a bit slow to kick down on its own), but otherwise it was hard to find much cause for complaint, and there was much indeed to praise. As Sean notes above, the new truck's suspension tuning has been greatly refined, and overall ride quality has improved a bunch.
And when all else fails, you mud guys know better than anyone that there's no substitute in the bog for plenty of ponies under the hood, and the 6.2L Raptor's got 'em in spades-411, to be precise. -Douglas McColloch
Vehicle model: 2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor 6.2
Base price: $41,995
Engine type: 6.2L EFI V-8
Valvetrain: SOHC, 2-valves per cylinder, variable camshaft timing
Mfg.'s hp @ rpm: 411 hp @ 5,500 (premium fuel)
Mfg.'s torque (lb-ft) @ rpm: 434 ft.-lb. @ 4,500
Transmission: Six-speed automatic Overdrive
Axle ratio: 4.10:1
Crawl ratio: 48.4:1
Suspension (f/r): Coil-on-shock, long-spindle double-wishbone independent, aluminum lower control arm, forged steel upper arm/ Hotchkiss-type non-independent live, leaf springs and outboard shock absorbers
Steering: Power rack-and-pinion
Brakes (f/r): 13.8-inch vented discs/13.7-inch vented discs
Wheels/Tires: 17x8.5 cast aluminum/LT315/70R17 BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A
Wheelbase (in): 133
Length (in): 220.9
Width (in): 86.3
Height (in): 78.4
Track (in): 73.6
Curb weight (lb): 6006
Min ground clearance (in): 10.0
Approach (deg): 31.1
Departure (deg): 24.9
Breakover (deg): 20.8
Max payload capacity (lb.): 930
Max towing capacity (lb): 6,000
Fuel capacity (gal): 26
EPA mileage estimates (mpg): TBD
Seating capacity: 5