After so many spy photos that we feel we already knew the truck pretty well anyway, Ford finally unveiled the F-150 Raptor way out in the Nevada desert the day before the SEMA show opened.
"This is a high-speed off-road performance truck," said Hermann Salenbach, director of SVT, hitting every truck category hot button possible in a single sentence. "It has the DNA of a Baja pre-runner," he then said, adding one more.
The Raptor is based on the F-150, of course, and will debut next summer with a 320-hp, 340-lb-ft 5.4-liter V8 driving all four wheels. The following winter a 400-hp, 400-lb-ft 6.2-liter will become available.
The truck comes in SuperCab configuration only, with wheel travel bumped up to 11.2 inches front and 13.1 inches rear as well as seven more inches in track. Wider fenders front and rear accommodate the big BFG Goodrich 315/70R17s. Most impressive were the internal bypass shocks engineered by Fox for better control over sustained off-highway driving. Ford engineers gleefully flung Raptors about the desert with members of the press strapped into the passenger seats, rattling off shock calibration stories while the scribes held on for dear life. The trucks were capable of soaking up plenty of rut wallop with a surprisingly smooth ride inside the cab.
But that was just in the production Raptor. In a couple weeks, a Raptor R will start the Baja 1000 in Class 8 with a 500-hp 6.2-liter engine powering all four wheels. The goal of that truck is just to finish.
So why go the off-road route in its specialty truck instead of following the paved route of the last SVT Lightning?
"Most of the major manufacturers have focused (on) on-road performance, so when we looked at what was available in off-road truck performance, it was somewhat limited,” said Mark Grueber, Ford product marketing manager for pickups and large SUVs. “This was the perfect opportunity for Ford to further differentiate the F-150 from other trucks on the market.”
It certainly does that.
Prices will be announced closer to the truck's summer debut.
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