Ford F-150 SVT Raptor unveiled in its natural environment

Ford has officially taken the wraps off its latest variant of the F-150, the 2010 SVT Raptor. Just like it did in 1993 with the SVT Lightning, Ford has paved the way for a new segment of trucks, although this time with a dedicated off-roader capable of handing both sand dunes and trips to the grocery store. Major differences between the Raptor and the standard F-150 include a unique grille and a body that is a full seven inches wider. Other design elements include functional hood extractors and a special optional graphics package.

Don't think for a second that this is a simple exterior package, however. The Raptor comes with a completely redesigned front suspension utilizing new upper and lower A arms, upgraded tie rods, new half shaft joints, and shocks from Fox Racing. In total, the front suspension has a full 11.2 inches of travel and 13.4 inches in the rear. BFGoodrich All-Terrain TA/KO 315/70-17 tires with a unique rubber compound provide a compromise of off-road capability and on-road civility. Power comes from the tried and true 5.4L Triton V8 pumping out 320 horsepower and 390 lb-ft torque, although Ford's new 6.2L V8 will be available at a later date.

While the Raptor will be on the show floor tomorrow at SEMA, we were fortunate enough to get an early peek today including a ride across the Nevada desert outside Las Vegas. We can truly say we were immensely impressed with the Raptor's off-road capabilities and, like everyone else who got a ride, exited the passenger seat with a huge smile. We usually think of sports cars as being the best vehicles to get our adrenaline going, but skimming over the desert at high speeds apparently does it just as well.