Funny, trucks were supposed to be a dead species two months ago when gas ran $4 a gallon. The 2009 Ford F-150 is running counter to those obituaries--Ford is actually increasing production of the best-seller--and with a new SVT-tuned Raptor edition, the F-150 is taking a defiant stand against extinction here at the SEMA show.
The Raptor edition wears a 2010 model designation and SVT initials--meaning, it's a real vehicle Ford plans to build, starting next year, alongside the more pedestrian versions of its most-popular F-Series truck. The Raptor is no regular Ford truck, though--it's made expressly for tramping around off-road while preserving some on-road talent for those of you who need a fun truck to deliver every day.
The obvious changes from F-150 to SVT Raptor come up front, where the F-Series front end is ditched for a new hood and fenders that are almost eight inches wider than the stock version. The new vented hood aids and abets performance, and the graphic come-on that is the "FORD" grille looks ready to stamp the company logo into much wildlife with poor timing. The electric-orange paint of the show truck is twinned with a black leather interior and more day-glo details.
Mechanical upgrades are all over the truck's chassis, though its 5.4-liter V-8 is shared with other F-150s. It delivers 320 horsepower in the Raptor and 390 pound-feet. Coming soon, Ford says, is a 6.2-liter V-8 engine that's been shrouded in secrecy and had been rumored as a fatality of new fuel-economy standards. Specially designed Fox racing shocks are the hallmark of the completely new front suspension, which sports about 13.4 inches of travel in the rear end and 11.2 inches in the front, for jouncing over Baja ruts and runs. Off-road tires are specified, but Ford engineers promise the Raptor will be polished enough to use in daily driving--by what kind of drivers, they left unsaid.
A version of the Raptor will compete in the annual Baja 1000 race, which begins in mid-November. The new Raptor goes on sale next year at an undisclosed price.
Ford says its SVT lineup--which had also been called dead, since there were no products in 2008 bearing the badge--will have one truck and one car from now on. What's to join the Raptor in wearing the SVT badge? More news is certain to come by January's 2009 Detroit auto show.
---Make sure you check out our partner sites dedicated to focused news, reviews and more for Ford, Chevrolet, Toyota, Honda, and the Toyota Prius.