Using Our Truck As A Trail Rig
Over the last year we’ve used our long-term Ford Raptor relentlessly on- and off-road. It’s blasted 100-mph down isolated desert dirt roads, hauled a 6,000-pound trailer up and down steep mountain grades, carried bed-loads of motorcycles, gear, and railroad ties, yet has remained civil enough to be one of our favorite commuter vehicles that can even go out on a Friday night. In a word, it’s versatile.
During the final quarter of evaluation we had the opportunity to spend a lot of time on the trail in our Ford Raptor F-150 SVT. This included several long-distance tours of the Southern California and Nevada deserts. And even on the return from these trips we decided to veer off the paved highways in favor of some desert two-track. The suspension, while much better off-road than what you would find on a stock ½-ton 4x4 is comparable to an aftermarket lower mid-travel truck suspension. It will handle some bumps in graded roads, but hitting a deep whoop section at speed will beat the truck excessively. You have to pay attention and keep in mind you are only working with 11.2 inches of wheel travel up front and 12.1 inches in the rear.
We noticed that it took significant effort to keep the truck within the confines of the rock-littered edges of a typical trail. The Raptor is quite a bit wider than most other 4x4s. You’ll probably be driving the widest truck on the trail unless someone in your group is behind the wheel of a Hummer H1 or a dualie. This becomes even more noticeable on trails where Jeeps and other small vehicles are the norm. Needless to say, the Raptor’s tires become very vulnerable at speed when the terrain is loose and rocky. Fortunately we never popped one of the BFG All-Terrain tires but they certainly experienced a few unexpected impacts.
The Raptor suspension flexes well enough to keep the tires on the ground on twisty trails and in most cases you rarely need to actuate the rear locker. Of course since it is a fullsize truck, visibility is limited. We inadvertently nudged a boulder with one of the cast aluminum steps and it simply broke. These steps are not built to be rock sliders, so you’ll probably want to limit your rock crawling ventures.
The multiple smaller storage compartments inside the SuperCab Raptor proved to be quite handy, although we wished they had more capacity, especially for off-road camping trips. Also, even though the rear seat folds up for more room in back, the factory subwoofer box and tire jack take up valuable cargo space. At the very least we’d like to see the jack and lug wrench moved elsewhere, perhaps under the hood.
Overall the 2010½ Ford F-150 SVT Raptor 6.2L has been one of our favorite trucks to get behind the wheel of both on- and off-road. It’s already an extremely versatile truck. With additional rear storage and more towing capacity it could be even better. Of course, there’s always the desire for better fuel economy as well, but we’d be extremely reluctant to give up the 411hp V-8. FW
REPORT: 4 OF 4
Previous reports: Jan. ’12, Feb. ’12, May ’12
Base price: $38,020
Price as tested: $49,020
Four-wheel drive system: Two-speed, part-time, shift-on-the-fly
Miles to date: 17,534
Miles since last report: 6,361
Average mpg (this report): 12.70
Test best tank (mpg): 15.83
Test worst tank (mpg): 8.08 (high-speed off-road)
This period: Oil service and tire rotation: $79.95
Problem areas: Rear shock leaking, broke cast aluminum side step in the rocks
What’s Hot, What’s Not
Hot: Fast and fun down wide, semi-graded dirt roads
Not: Doesn’t fit well on tight Jeep-style trails
Our Take: It’s an extremely versatile truck on- and off-road.
“This truck is wide; it feels like you are driving a dualie on tight trails.”
“It’s the most fun you can have in a truck that’s not stolen.”
“The cast aluminum rocker/step broke kinda easily.”
“Rear shock guards are extremely abraded, passenger side rear shock is leaking.”
“Ford nailed the exhaust note on this truck!”