It’s tough to contain a smile when you're looking at a Ford F-150 SVT Raptor sitting at your curb. I had the experience a few months back while spending a few days driving Ford's newest supertruck, an extreme off-road variant of Ford's best selling pickup. Its flashy orange paint job and pixelated-paint swipe supergraphics shout “play with me.” This Baja beast begs to be tossed around like a toy.
The only problem? Maxim’s Manhattan backyard doesn't have the obstacle-laden terrain that the Raptor was designed to bound over at 100+mph. Unless you count tourists. So I hit the highway and headed for the muddy roads of the Delaware Water Gap NRA in Pennsylvania.
The $40 grand Raptor did not disappoint. I won’t claim to have taken the truck to its off-road limits (see video of drivers doing that below HERE), but I will claim to have barreled down some seriously sketchy gravel ridgeline roads — I mean, potholes the size of baby pools — without wrapping the thing around a tree.
The truck’s main point of differentiation from other F-150s are its one-of-a-kind internal racing shocks that compress 13 inches in front and 11 in back. They're designed to keep the Raptor upright after landing leaps in the desert — but for a mortal dudes like me, they just made it easy to splatter mud without spilling my Starbucks.
I drove a vehicle with the supremely able 320-hp 5.4-liter Triton V-8 engine; an even mightier 411hp 6.2-liter V-8 powerplant will be available in the coming weeks. Both are mated to a six-speed transmission with 4.1 gears. I didn't get a chance to test out its hill descent control, first among Ford vehicles, which allows you to travel down steep terrain at slow speeds, foot off the brake, while transferring power to only the wheels that can use it.
But I did get to test out another facet of the F-150 SVT Raptor: its awesome ability to scare wildlife. I.e. the big black bear pictured inset above. This beast saw the Raptor's big Ford grille and ran. Guy must have known his trucks.
After this encounter I took to the highway and headed back to the city, the Raptor's mission accomplished.