As the 2013 Texas Truck Rodeo began its two day grueling series of drives and rides, the skies above threatened to drop a load of rain on Knibbe Ranch site near San Antonio. This created significant concern for the several manufacturers of off-road competing vehicles - that the weather would make the course too difficult to navigate for the media drivers.
All except the 2014 Ford SVT Raptor team that is.
They knew their truck had the right stuff to just turn that weather into a walk in the park. Fortunately the weather held giving the competition a running shot at the Raptor - but, in the end, Raptor won the honors again.
The off-road test track at Knibbe Ranch was already going to be a most serious challenge at the annual Texas Auto Writers Association 2013 Truck Rodeo held last week at Knibbe Ranch near San Antonio.
Following several days of almost torrential rains (Central Texas needed that badly) - the terrain on the off-road course was full of deep ruts and holes with multiple areas of exposed rock just looking for tires, wheels, suspension or undercarriage to wreak havoc on.
For the 2014 Ford SVT Raptor, it was just another day at the ranch on the way to earning it the Off-Road Truck of Texas honor for 2013.
“Members of Texas Auto Writers pushed Raptor to the limit on one of the most rugged off-road courses in Texas,” said Doug Scott, Ford truck group marketing manager. “Raptor again showed why it’s the most capable off-road pickup in America, as well as America’s favorite.”
The Raptor’s impressive performance comes from functional design cues and segment-exclusive suspension technology starting with the Raptor being seven inches wider than a base F-150 to make room for the additional suspension components that enable its off-road capabilities.
Internal triple-bypass shocks by FOX Racing Shox – the first on a production truck – give Raptor 11.2 inches of front suspension travel and 12.1 inches at the rear to handle tough terrain at high speeds. An electronic locking rear differential and Torsen limited-slip front differential provide excellent capability for rock crawling and other low-speed off-road activities.
Industry-exclusive beadlock-capable wheels are available to further help increase grip in low-traction conditions, along with high-intensity discharge headlamps for improved visibility. SYNC with MyFord Touch is available for added connectivity.
The exclusive forward front-grille mounted camera with display on the center stack screen provides unmatched competitive advantage to Raptor when off-road. The camera operates at speeds up to 15 mpg, showing the terrain in front - below and out of visual range of the driver. Using the onscreen guide on the display, the driver can steer the Raptor and its wheels onto and/or around rocks and through extreme terrain for both safety and performance.
At the Texas Truck Rodeo event, the last hill climb on the extreme off-road course culminates with a crawl over the crest and an immediate hard turn (about 145 degrees) to the left to start down. There is a set of wicked rocks just looking to punch holes in tires (or separate tires from rims) hiding in the hole just over the crest as you turn down..
With this camera and the beadlock wheels (just in case) - no problem.
SVT Raptor is available exclusively with a 6.2-liter V8 engine producing 411 horsepower and 434 lb.-ft. of torque, mated to an electronic six-speed SelectShift Automatic transmission with tow/haul mode.
The Raptor is not just an off-road recreational truck, it works too. The Raptor SuperCrew is rated to tow up to 8,000 pounds, complementing its segment-leading off-road capabilities.
Since coming to market in 2009, Ford F-150 SVT Raptor continues to find new fans and achieve sales success. Raptor sold a record 13,000 vehicles in 2013 and now, with record sales performance eight of the past 10 months and sales up 14 percent this year, the Raptor could well sell more than 15,000 in 2013.
In response to that demand, Scott shared with this writer (as he rode along with us) that Ford is increasing Raptor production from three trucks per hour to five trucks.
For 2014, the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor Special Edition – the latest variant – adds interior and exterior upgrades to further differentiate its appearance, and to appeal to luxury truck buyers seeking uncompromised performance off-road.
Expect Raptor to be back in 2014 to run at winning this event again.