If it seems like reviews of certain brands seem to come in waves it is because I get the vehicles by brand in waves. There are five companies regionally located here in north Texas that rep for the major automakers. A couple of them only handle families of brands, i.e. the Ford office delivers Ford/Lincoln/Mercury product and the agency working for Toyota only brings Toyota/Lexus/Scion models.
As I have been on the rotation schedule with Ford recently, my columns seem to be leaning heavily with Ford headlines.
And here is another. This spring saw the arrival of a pair of specialty F-150 pickup models, two of the most highly requested vehicles in their fleet: The Harley-Davidson edition and the new SVT Raptor.
I will begin with the newest vehicle to come of a unique partnership between two storied American manufacturers – Ford and Harley-Davidson. This 2010 edition marks 14 models the pair have teamed up on to deliver in unique fashion. This time around (MY2010) the Harley package is offered only on the F-150 as the Super Duty underwent a mid-year full model makeover.
Our tester Harley-Davidson F-150 arrived in 4×2 format on a SuperCrew chassis. As is typical of the Harley trucks, unique emblems are affixed or embroidered in every direction. This year’s interior gets a nice two-tone application that replicates exterior body colors and the theme of the seats was designed to resemble a Harley-Davidson biker jacket.
The exterior of the 2010 Ford Harley-Davidson F-150 offers a bold front fascia and six-bar shaped billet style grille and boasts specialized forged aluminum and Harley-Davidson chrome badging. The truck has a lowered appearance because of fully integrated deployable running boards.
Also standard are 22-inch low-profile performance tires – the largest in the F-Series lineup – and Euroflange forged wheels with a polished and painted center wheel cap. The paint selection is classic Harley-Davidson – Tuxedo Black and the first Ford application of Lava, a deep maroon with three-color metal flake.
The vehicle can also be ordered with all-wheel-drive running gear, unique to the Harley editions as all other F-150 trucks offer four-wheel-drive.
Pricing begins at $42,690 with our loaded test model stickering out at $46,865.
This truck is rockin’ – literally – and the new interior scheme is the slickest the partnership has delivered yet. It still features the segment-anemic 320hp 5.4-liter V-8 under the hood but in future models perhaps we will see the availability of the Ford’s new 6.2-liter gas V-8 that will arrive soon under the hood of the SVT Raptor F-150.
And speaking of the Raptor …
Let me complete the statement of the last paragraph above by saying Ford is now offering the SVT Raptor with that 411hp 6.2-liter V-8 under the hood – although that is NOT the truck they sent us to test, dang it. To be fair though, the “old” Triton 5.4 did just fine.
What was a huge surprise with the Raptor is just how smooth a ride it offers on paved surfaces. This truck was built for offroad, for dirt and rocks, for Baja by golly, but it proved worthy of suburbia during our week behind the wheel. Sure, concrete and asphalt are going to have you visiting the tire vendor often but you probably needed another holiday greeting card each December anyway.
“With Raptor, we’re taking the established performance of the F-150 to the next level and proving just how much Ford trucks can do,” said Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s group vice president for Global Product Development. “The F-150 SVT Raptor doesn’t just appear to be off-road-ready. It is off-road-ready. It was built with the off-road enthusiast in mind and will give consumers an off-road experience no other vehicle can.”
Our tester certainly gave us that. And a separate story altogether.
No sooner did I get wind that the Raptor would soon be gracing my driveway than I began planning an excursion to my favorite offroading spot about two hours east of Dallas at Barnwell Mountain Recreation Area. Our day at Barnwell produced a few revelations in the Raptor: First, the vehicle is great on dirt and rocks and shallow mud in factory offering. Second, never leave camp without a chase vehicle.
Our trip through the sticky muck of east Texas ended up with Tish and I meeting some great new friends, aficionados of the Jeep lineage. After a mile walk in the darkening woods (that was quite literally uphill BOTH ways) we stumbled upon the campsite of Ed Kent and his “gang” of offroaders. They took one good look at us and welcomed us in like a pair of orphaned pups. Ed (owner of Elk Industrial Engine Service in Kilgore, Texas), his sons Kody and Zach, and family friend Robert, loaded me up in their Jeep Wrangler Unlimited and graciously spent the next several hours, after dark, finding the truck (and the trail leading to the rear end of it) and removing it from the muckpit that had swallowed the vehicle up to its frame.
Note to Ford engineers: Add a winch to the standard equipment on the Raptor if you’re gonna call it “offroad-ready” and while you’re at it also add offroad software to the nav unit, similar to what Land Rover uses. And what is up with the factory scissor-type jack in a vehicle with a suspension lift?
Noticeable exterior differences between the 2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor and the conventional F-150 start with a distinctive grille that has the Ford name carved into it. Additional exterior differentiation includes front bumper, front fascia and fenders, functional vented hood extractors, fender extractors with “SVT” bored out, visible FOX Racing Shox and skid plates on the underbody for protection.
Another key difference between Raptor and the base F-150 is that the SVT truck is more than seven inches wider, which was necessary to harness the wider suspension and larger tires. Designers took advantage of this difference and highlighted it with distinctive marker lamps integrated into the F-150 SVT Raptor’s front end, as opposed to on top of the cab. When lit up, Raptor’s imposing stance is immediately recognizable.
Design elements from the unique grille and front fascia have been carried through to the interior on the console and dashboard. The steering wheel is wrapped in black leather and features a Molten Orange leather strip that serves as a centering sight line – which is especially useful in extreme driving maneuvers. Two-tone leather-trimmed seats have upper and lower leather bolsters with fabric and perforated leather inserts, for a more comfortable ride.
Raptor rides on the extended cab F-150 XLT 4×4 platform and includes all of the safety features and technology F-series has to offer. Ford also includes its full host of technology in the specialty truck including a high end audio system, power adjustable pedals, rear view camera and SYNC.
The sticker on our test model SVT Raptor with the base 5.4-liter V-8 engine came to just a tick over 46 grand.
The truck looks good and rides great both onroad and off. The 35-inch tires and beefed up suspension offer tremendous ground clearance for a factory ride. And the sand, dirt and rocks proved no problem for the Raptor whatsoever no matter what the incline, just keep it away from the mud and the muck.