By Sean P. Holman
Further upgrades make the Raptor even more formidable
What could Ford’s Special Vehicles Team possibly do to make the Raptor better? Ever since its introduction in 2009 as a ’10 model, the fast Ford has been improved each year with upgrades such as the 411hp 6.2L V-8 and the SuperCrew body style, and SVT isn’t ending that practice for 2012. In addition to several styling upgrades, the Raptor receives practical features such as a front traction aid and front-facing camera.
The front traction aid, in this case a Torsen limited-slip differential, is a welcome upgrade and one that we have requested since we first tested the original truck, but a front-facing camera? Isn’t that a bit gimmicky for Ford’s halo truck product? Well, the Raptor team wanted us to experience it in person and flew us out to the red rock slopes of Moab to test the latest Raptor features firsthand.
One of the few glaring omissions when the Raptor launched was the lack of a front traction aid to compliment the any-speed electronic rear locker. For 2012, the Raptor gets a Torsen helical-geared limited slip, which means there are no clutches or cones to wear out over the life of the product. The Torsen acts as a torque multiplier, by using the torque of the wheel losing traction and sending it to the slower turning wheel with the most traction.
The Torsen in the front of the Raptor uses no preload (SVT wanted the front differential to be as seamless as possible), which typically means that a wheel in the air can only transfer torque if the brakes are applied, a sometimes tricky driving skill. However, SVT engineers removed the guesswork by using the Raptor’s traction control system to apply the brakes when needed, resulting in near instantaneous traction improvement for the driver without resorting to any new driving techniques.
Derived from the Mustang and GT500 programs, the Torsen in the Raptor maxes out with a 2.5:1 bias ratio under load and has an extremely high torque capacity for durability. When matched to the rear diff the Torsen helps to make the Raptor just about unstoppable, but without any of the negative characteristics of having a locked-up frontend, such as binding or torque steer. With a focus on low-speed capability, we weren’t able to do any high-speed testing, but our previous experience with front Torsen diffs at speed have always been exceedingly favorable, and we expect it to be no different in the Raptor.
The ’12 Raptor also receives a new set of Euroflange wheels that look incredible on the truck. With a design that is a more appropriate fit for the Raptor, no longer do the wheels appear under-sized. As a bonus, the wheel weights are now mounted on the inside of the rim and out of harms way. The exterior graphics have also been tweaked and feature a gloss and matte textured look while other changes include enhanced interior materials and optional cooled front seats. The loud orange interior accent package has been dropped in favor of a more sophisticated black and matte anodized blue color scheme and Race Red replaces Molten Orange on the color palette for 2012.
So what about that grille-mounted camera? Well, we have to admit, it is an awesome enhancement. We were skeptical at first, but after being able to use the camera on the steep drop offs of Hell’s Revenge, we changed our minds. No longer do you have to guess at what is beyond the massive hood and SVT engineers spent an incredible amount of time adjusting the image so what you see on the screen is similar in size and perspective to what you would see out the windshield, making the transition from the outside world to the 8-inch screen more natural. Just like with the rear camera image, colored lines are used to indicate how close you are to obstacles, while Ford engineers added blue lines that move to show the exact track of the front wheels. Amazing. The Raptor’s camera is only available in low range, under 15 mph and has a dedicated washer nozzle for those muddy days.
After experiencing the ’12 Raptor, we think the SVT team has done a great job of keeping the Raptor fresh and staying ahead of the competition. The enhancements make for a more refined and enjoyable truck and if Ford’s ultimate goal was to stay ahead of the competition and keep the Raptor relevant, we’d say it has hit a bull’s eye in 2012.
What’s Hot: New front Torsen, camera, styling improvements
What’s Not: Ummm…
Our Take: Hard to get much better than this
Vehicle model: 2012 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor SuperCab
Base price: $42,570
Engine type: 6.2L EFI V-8
Valvetrain: SOHC, 2-valves per cylinder, variable camshaft timing
Mfg.’s hp @ rpm: 411 @ 5,500 (premium fuel)
Mfg.’s torque (lb-ft) @ rpm: 434 @ 4,500
Transmission: 6-spd automatic Overdrive
Axle ratio: 4.10:1
Crawl ratio: 48.4:1 Suspension (f/r): Coil-on-shock, long-spindle double-wishbone independent, aluminum lower control arm, forged steel upper arm/ Hotchkiss-type non-independent live, leaf springs and outboard shock absorbers
Steering: Power rack-and-pinion
Brakes (f/r): 13.8-in vented discs/13.7-in vented discs
Wheels/Tires: 17×8.5 cast aluminum/LT315/70R17 BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A
Wheelbase (in): 133
Length (in): 220.6
Width (in): 86.3
Height (in): 78.5
Track (in): 73.6
Curb weight (lb): 6,016
Min ground clearance (in): 10.0
Approach (deg): 31.1
Departure (deg): 24.9
Breakover (deg): 20.8
Max payload capacity (lb): 920
Max towing capacity (lb): 6,000
Fuel capacity (gal): 26
EPA mileage estimates (mpg): N/A
Seating capacity: 5