The Truth About Cars » ford svt raptor http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 28 Aug 2015 20:00:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » ford svt raptor http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Capsule Review: Ford SVT Raptor – United States Border Patrol Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/capsule-review-ford-svt-raptor-united-states-border-patrol-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/capsule-review-ford-svt-raptor-united-states-border-patrol-edition/#comments Mon, 16 Feb 2015 13:50:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1001114 I’m driving down a narrow dirt track somewhere in a South Texas at a hurried but not unreasonable pace. As I round a bend, the ground arches up into a tall “whoop” just a few meters in front of me. I can’t go around it, and hitting the brakes will only send me skidding into […]

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I’m driving down a narrow dirt track somewhere in a South Texas at a hurried but not unreasonable pace. As I round a bend, the ground arches up into a tall “whoop” just a few meters in front of me. I can’t go around it, and hitting the brakes will only send me skidding into it at nearly the same speed.

Until now, I’ve mostly driven the Ford Super Duty, in F250 or F350 guise, while on patrol. They can be surprisingly capable out here in the desert, but they don’t like to be driven fast on rough terrain. Hitting one of these “Border Patrol speedbumps” at anything above a cautious crawl transforms the cabin into a world of violence as the industrial suspension crashes to the stops and your head crashes into the ceiling. I brace for the inevitable.

Moments later, I’m past it and all is well. My ass never left the seat cushion, and as far as I can tell, my tires never left the ground. Hell, even my water bottle is still resting serenely in the cupholder where I left it. There’s a reason for that. Today I’m not in a Super Duty. Today, I’m in a Raptor.

 

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I wonder if a couple engineers sat down in Dearborn one day and said, “How bout we design the perfect truck for the U.S. Border Patrol?” It wouldn’t be an enviable job. Our trucks are operated in the some of the roughest conditions faced outside of pure military duty, and they have to withstand those conditions every day. They are piloted over steep, rocky mountain roads; across expanses of deep, soft sand that will trap you in place if you apply just a bit too much or too little throttle; through patches of dense, wet clay that wraps itself around your tires in thick, slick layers. They are driven by adrenaline junkies who are not financially liable for their repair or maintenance, and whose supervisors don’t particularly care how much unnecessary abuse is hurled at the chassis so long as you don’t dent the bodywork. We ask a lot, often way too much, of our fleet.

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Our mildly modified Chevrolet Tahoe and Ford Super Duty vehicles can do almost all the things the Ford SVT Raptor is capable of doing. The difference is the ease (and speed) with which the Raptor does them. Where a Tahoe scrabbles up a steep slope, struggling to find purchase in loose rock, the Raptor simply ascends. Where an F350 churns through soft sand, fighting to keep its massive bulk afloat, the Raptor seems to glide over the surface. Our other trucks can be made to work in this environment, but the Raptor is to the manor born.

Raptor 1

Every component on the Raptor is intended to be used this way, under these conditions. Anecdotally at least, this means fewer repairs due to parts being pushed beyond their limits. Even if an agent is not willfully abusive towards his mount, conditions in the desert sometimes require that one drive less than lovingly. Getting across a flooded ditch or a patch of large rocks often requires a bit of momentum going in. I’ve seen this technique result in shattered suspension components, dislodged coolant and/or turbo plumbing, busted oil pans, and dented rims.

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Not with the Raptor. I’ve yet to see a single one sidelined for damage caused by routine overuse. That’s not to say we haven’t “deadlined” a few; if you want to find a product’s limits, give it to a Border Patrol Agent. The Patrol has determined that the Raptor will not float across a running arroyo during monsoon season. Also, if you have too much fun playing with the included inclinometer display, it will roll sideways down a mountain. Yet to my knowledge, not even our wildest/dumbest agents have managed to bend the frame on one.

Raptor 4

We have other trucks that can give the Raptor a run for its money in some circumstances, but none of them do it without significant compromise. The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon’s short wheelbase is a delight when crawling through narrow canyons and up tight switchbacks, but it gets skittish when you have to dial in a bit more speed. The old HMMWV/Hummer H1 can bash its way across any landscape, but it is deeply unpleasant in every other regard and driving them makes me feel sad. Also, every fluid in that venerable military vehicle will boil if it’s hot or hilly, which can be a problem in the Southwest. The Raptor may be outclassed by a particular competitor in that competitor’s one-percent scenario, but you’ll be glad to have the big Ford when you realize 99% of the drive is still ahead of you.

When duty takes us back onto pavement, this off-road savant behaves with polite road manners as well. Pin the throttle coming off a soft shoulder, and the forgiving traction control allows the rear end to kick out a bit as the exhaust plays a thunderous siren song. Disappointingly, the government doesn’t trust us enough to remove the 98 MPH electronic limiter, but the Raptor will get to that limiter in a big damn hurry for such a big damn truck.

Fortunately, the typical smuggler’s vehicle is a circa 1997 Ford Expedition or Chevrolet Suburban loaded well beyond the manufacturer’s recommended GVWR, so 98 is usually fast enough. On an open road, the Raptor will only begrudgingly do anything under 90, the quiet cabin and stable handling cutting your perceived speed about in half. On the rare occasion that the Southwestern hardtop gets twisty, Ford’s desert racer inspires more confidence than most vehicles in the 3-ton+ class. The suspension resists leaning too far into its twelve inches of travel as the 315mm BFGoodrich All-Terrains brace against the pavement and the lateral momentum shifts smoothly from one side to the other. Your average driver will have found his way off the road, through a fence, and into a tree long before a pursuing Raptor hits its limits.

F250

Beyond the apparent savings in repair costs, purchase costs look pretty favorable as well. An F-250 built to standard Border Patrol spec, with the PowerStroke turbodiesel engine and an extended cab, goes for $44,710 according to Ford’s configurator. A base 4×4 Chevy Tahoe stickers over $50,000 nowadays. A 2014 Raptor starts at $44,995, and it requires no additional options for our purposes. Frankly, I’m not sure why the Patrol has purchased anything else since the Raptor arrived in 2010. SVT is taking a hiatus from the OEM off-roader game for the 2015 and 2016 model years, but they’ve already announced the Raptor will return with a lighter, aluminum-clad successor as a MY 2017. The 6.2L V8 will be retired in favor of a tuned 3.5L EcoBoost V6 producing more power and torque than its naturally aspirated ancestor. I can only expect that the price will rise proportionately, I just hope it remains within reach of the U.S. federal government and its humble civil servants like me. Does Uncle Sam qualify for 90 month financing?

F250 Raptor 1 Raptor 4 Raptor 5 Raptor 6 Drowned Raptor 3

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2016 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor Spied http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/2016-ford-f150-svt-raptor-spied/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/2016-ford-f150-svt-raptor-spied/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 11:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=870330 We don’t even know power or fuel economy figures for the next-generation Ford F-150, but these spy shots of the next-generation Raptor have emerged. All we know so far is that the Raptor will appear as a 2016 model year. No word on powertrains or technical details – maybe we’ll see an Ecoboost version this […]

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We don’t even know power or fuel economy figures for the next-generation Ford F-150, but these spy shots of the next-generation Raptor have emerged.

All we know so far is that the Raptor will appear as a 2016 model year. No word on powertrains or technical details – maybe we’ll see an Ecoboost version this time around?

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GM Plans Ford Raptor-Fighter With Upcoming Colorado http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/gm-plans-ford-raptor-fighter-with-upcoming-colorado/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/gm-plans-ford-raptor-fighter-with-upcoming-colorado/#comments Fri, 18 Jul 2014 11:30:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=868258 When the next generation Chevrolet Colorado was announced last fall, it was heralded as the start of a new era in mid-size trucks in the US. Aside from the diesel engine and manual gearbox we were promised, the Colorado might also get a Ford SVT Raptor-rivaling off-road variant. SVT thoroughly redesigned the F150’s suspension to make […]

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When the next generation Chevrolet Colorado was announced last fall, it was heralded as the start of a new era in mid-size trucks in the US. Aside from the diesel engine and manual gearbox we were promised, the Colorado might also get a Ford SVT Raptor-rivaling off-road variant.

SVT thoroughly redesigned the F150’s suspension to make a capable “pre-runner” style truck. Up front, new control arms and revised geometry gave an impressive 11.2″ of travel, controlled by a triple-bypass FOX Racing shock. In rear, revised leaf springs, a reinforced rear axle housing, and more FOX Racing shocks allowed for just over 12″ of travel. The entire suspension package also widened the track width by seven inches, for increased roll stability, and raised the suspension about two inches over a standard 4×4 F150. Composite bodywork wrapped the widened suspension up nicely, and changes were made to the F150’s stability control to allow for more curious use of the new capabilities, though when toying with one at a friendly local rallycross track down here in San Marcos, Texas, we found that the stability systems would still nag during modest maneuvers. But the package was downright impressive, where SVT made the package work was in the suspension tuning, especially with the triple-bypass FOX Racing shocks, something typically reserved for desert prerunner and race trucks.

A bypass shock has a series of “bypass valves” along the shock piston’s travel, which bypass shock oil around the piston and through a valve that controls the rate of flow, with each bypass allowing for a different rate of flow. This allows different amounts of damping at different points of a shock’s travel, where as a standard shock has the same damping over its entire length of travel, by allowing fluid to bypass the shock piston and flow through the different bypass valves at set locations along the piston’s travel. More information and detailed photos of an external bypass shock can be seen here.

This gives the Raptor its secret sauce: soft dampening at lesser lengths of travel allow for the suspension to quickly absorb small bumps at speed — gravel, ruts and other minor deformations — while still being able to slow the compression travel of the shock as the truck lands larger hits and jumps, preventing the suspension from bottoming out. Perhaps the only weakness of the SVT Raptor was its size, and more noticeably, its weight.
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This is where the upcoming Colorado can make a difference. While offroad packages are no stranger to compact trucks, with Toyota’s TRD package standing out in the Tacoma, most really only equip you for mild jeep-trails. The emphasis on travel and suspension dampening are unique to the Raptor. But where the F150’s size and weight are ultimately weaknesses, the Colorado’s compact size and relatively low weight would make the platform a great choice for the Prerunner suspension design used in the Raptor. Less weight translates into better handling, better braking, lower center of gravity, and less of the suspension travel being used to absorb the energy of the vehicles body weight as it inevitably attempts to land a 75 mile per hour jump at a motocross track.

GM also refreshed the trademarks on the ZR2 moniker, not long ago. S10 fanatics will remember the ZR2 as a healthy offroad package for the second generation S10, including 1″ wider track, 3″ taller ride height, upgraded front differential and rear axle, and a few other additions. It would make sense that the ZR2 moniker could return with the Colorado and Canyon should this Raptor-fighter appear.

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Of Virtuous V6s And Crappy Raptors http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/of-virtuous-v6s-and-crappy-raptors/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/of-virtuous-v6s-and-crappy-raptors/#comments Wed, 30 May 2012 18:08:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=443934 For someone who prides himself on slaughtering the sacred cows of automotive journalism, such as the irrational infatuation with the CTS-V Wagon, it was about time that I got a taste of my own medicine. The Ford Mustang V6 ended up being the bitter pill that finally bitch slapped by bloated, post-adolescent head back down […]

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For someone who prides himself on slaughtering the sacred cows of automotive journalism, such as the irrational infatuation with the CTS-V Wagon, it was about time that I got a taste of my own medicine. The Ford Mustang V6 ended up being the bitter pill that finally bitch slapped by bloated, post-adolescent head back down to normal proportions. But just as I had swallowed the last bit of humble pie, there came another vehicle that led me to question the received wisdom propagated by enthusiast publications.

In my mind, the V6 Mustang carried an inexoribale stigma of poor moral character, prior credit delinquencies and even borderline femininity. One buys a Mustang for the booming, belligerent V8 engine. A V6, no matter how good, would never be right, and the failure of the SVO edition (yes, I know it’s a turbocharged 4-cylinder) despite its dynamic superiority was, in my mind, vindication of my idea that all Mustangs must have 8 cylinders.

Not even the critical acclaim for the 305 horsepower 2011 Mustang V6 was enough to sway me. Like a stubborn, pig-headed Car Lounge regular convinced of the inferiority of “fail-wheel drive”, I firmly supported V8 Mustang hegemony, turning down V6 Mustang press cars and doing whatever I could to book myself into the Boss 302 or Shelby GT500 versions. It was Davey G. Johnson of Autoweek who first put me on to the fact that the V6 Mustang was worth driving. “It’s great,” he said in between drags of American Spirits. “It’s lighter, there’s less weight over the front wheels, it’s still fast. It’s what I’d buy if I wanted a new ‘Stang.”

I couldn’t believe that a grown man, an auto enthusiast no less, would profess his admiration for what I thought of as mere fodder for administrative assistants and the Hertz Fort Lauderdale rental lot. I let him know as much, but Davey wasn’t having any of it.

“Dude, you’re like 7 years old. You don’t even remember when the V6 Mustang really was a secretary’s car. Yeah, the Boss is cool, but I’m telling you, the V6 is awesome.” Fast forward 7 months and I’ve been bugging the Ford fleet guys for first crack at the Boss and the upcoming 2013 Shelby GT500. I’ve just sold my Miata and my first press car since is a Mustang. A V6 Mustang. I’m hardly petulant or jaded enough to complain about my disappointment in getting a free car for a week, but I felt a certain twinge of irony when i thought about the idea of my nimble, flickable elementally pure Miata being replaced by the Mustang Low T edition – all of the weight and heft of the Ford ponycars, none of the ragining masculine essence that makes them so anti-social and fun.

This one was different. Although it conspicuously lacked the 5.0 badges that I longed for in a Mustang, it had the wonderful fabric Recaro bucket seats from the Boss. Unlike its track-focused brother, the 6-speed manual was light and crisp, the clutch easy to operate and it still made a burly burble when prodded – it just sounded more 370Z than 351 Windsor. Put the power down in a V8 Mustang, and the back-end bucks and jives, like an adolescent girl performing a racy hip-hop routine in front of her mortified parents. If the V8 is like an out of control Miley Cyrus, the V6 is like Taylor Swift, putting the power down in a demure, dignified manner with minimal histrionics.

As good as the Mustang V6 is, I’d still have to have the V8, no matter how flawed. The wart-laden driving experience (as someone used to Japanese cars, the Mustang’s seat position, vague steering and overall heft are alien to me) and price premium is all negated by the gurgling V8’s note and superior forward thrust. “Coital” is the word to describe the feeling of tearing through the gears in a 5.0 Track Pack, the ultimate street Mustang. The Boss 302 is a bit much for the daily grind. The GT500 just screams “I NEED CIALIS” and the interior looks like a brothel.

On the other hand, there is a V6 powered Ford that is unreservedly better than the much hyped V8, and it only came to light after spending some time with the F-150 SVT Raptor.

The Raptor may be the most hyped American vehicle next to the CTS-V Wagon, but unlike the two-box Caddy, which is admittedly versatile and somewhat practical, the Raptor is a single-purpose vehicle. Once you get past all the hyperbolic copy about blasting through the desert and long-travel Fox shocks, the Raptor really is an utterly miserable vehicle in 99 percent of situations that you encounter behind the wheel. In mixed driving, I got 11.4 mpg as the vaunted chassis and suspension setup did its best to make sure I knew about every frost heave and pavement patch on the road. The 6.2L V8 was full of sound and fury but all did was signify to other drivers that I was a goofy looking show-off with a noisy orange truck. Those who knew better (i.e. use trucks for manual labor jobs) mocked the short bed, and the additional 7 inches of width did not come in hand when navigating the two-lane city streets on my commute to work.

Reconciling the overwhelmingly positive reviews of the Raptor with reality seemed impossible, until I read that almost all of the test drives praising it to high heaven were conducted off-road, whether at a Ford-sponsored press event in a desert locale, or somewhere else sandy and rugged. Living with the car every day outside of those environments made the idea of setting it ablaze for an insurance payout seem favorable. The 26 gallon fuel tank would ensure a fiery death, like a Buddhist Monk protesting Burma’s military junta, and then I’d take the insurance money and buy my favorite truck, an F-150 Ecoboost Platinum. The Platinum may be a truck for someone who comes to the job site for an hour and then heads to the golf course, but it’s far more useful for me to have a cushy, leather-lined SuperCrew than a dune-bashing brotruck considering that the nearest desert is halfway across the country. Up here, the Platinum, generously equipped, is $62,000, while a loaded Raptor is about $65,000. Even a Lariat, at about $49,000, would be fine. The truly rapid acceleration of the Ecoboost combined with the reduced heft and additional creature comforts are right up my alley. The silly posturing and off-road pretensions that go along with the Raptor are not – I’m the kind of person who calls an electrician to change a light bulb. But the F-150, to me, is a Ford product where having the lesser model with a V6 is actually a benefit. But I still want to see a new Mustang SVO, with the 3.5L Ecoboost, so I can do awesome burnouts full of whistling turbos and fluttering wastegates. Maybe I’m still as immature as Davey G suggests?

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