When it comes to full size pickups that will take you to the middle of nowhere at alarmingly high speeds,
Ford’s highly successful F-150 SVT Raptor
is in a class by itself. The already-capable truck gets a few significant upgrades for the 2012 model year, and the changes should help improve the truck’s rock-crawling and climbing ability.
First up is a new Torsen front differential, which will give the 2012 Raptor better front end grip over obstacles than its 2011 counterpart. The Torsen differential uses a helical gearset to transfer torque from a wheel that’s slipping to the wheel that still has traction. The system multiplies torque with a bias ratio of 2.5:1, and is designed and calibrated to minimize steering feedback (which is a good thing in an off-road setting).
Since the Raptor's now-standard 6.2-liter V-8 makes it the most powerful half-ton pickup on the market
, Ford’s SVT group and Torsen worked to ensure the new differential would meet Ford’s durability standards. Testing was carried out in both laboratory settings and on Ford’s 1,000 mile “torture test,” designed specifically for the SVT Raptor.
Next up is a class-exclusive front camera system designed specifically for low-speed, off-road driving. The camera, which displays a video feed on the Raptor’s 8-inch navigation display, allows the driver to see what’s immediately in front of the truck. In certain circumstances, the camera can even replace (or supplement) a spotter, and should prove useful for rock crawling, fording streams or climbing steep grades.
Other changes are mostly cosmetic, including a new exterior graphics package that blends glossy, matte and textured finishes for what Ford describes as a “one-of-a-kind” look. There’s a new interior color accent package, in matte anodized blue, and it’s available with every exterior color choice except Ford’s new Race Red.
Cooled seats become part of the optional Luxury Package for 2012, and a new “Euroflange” wheel is designed to hold balancing weights on the inside to protect them from off-road obstacles.
The 2012 Ford F150
SVT Raptor is available in both SuperCab (two door)
and SuperCrew (four door)
configurations, with 80 percent of buyers choosing the SuperCrew option. Prices for 2012 models have not yet been set, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see a slight bump from last year’s $43,055 starting point for SuperCab models.