When thinking about the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor, one tends to picture an orange meteor barreling across the desert at absurd velocities, flying through the air, long-travel suspension dangling its dirty bits below. That's partially because desert storming and bombing down muddy, root-strewn fire roads was the Special Vehicle Team's design brief, and partially because those environs have dominated Ford's advertising efforts. Marketing shtick aside, there's little doubt that the Raptor has that Kool-Aid Man "Oooh, Yeah!" wall-crashing thing going on better than any other vehicle on sale today.
In fact, if you tend to picture the Raptor exclusively in terms of yumps and dry creekbeds, you're not alone.Ford and SVT kind of admit they did, too. But in building this street-legal trophy truck, they've come to realize that they unwittingly created a vehicle that's far more versatile than originally envisioned. Case in point: Back in 2009, a massive snowstorm crippled the ability of Ford staffers and media members trying to reach the Chicago Auto Show. In particular, Mark Fields and other key execs had to journey from Dearborn to the Windy City, and company pilots refused to take off in the horrible weather. Fields and some other executives settled on boarding the train, arriving haggard eight hours later and barely making their press conference. SVT boss Jamal Hameedi and his crew elected to travel by Raptor. Driving their trucks through inches of thick slush and ice in the fast lane at more-or-less normal highway speeds (while what little traffic was sharing the road crawled along with hazard lights aglow) was a revelation. Despite building the thing, Team SVT simply didn't expect something with wide, knobby tires and a higher center of gravity to cut through the frigid slurry like that.
It's exactly this sort of discovery process that led us to the foot of the smoothly picturesque red rocks seen here. We had arrived in a convoy of eight 2012 Raptors, having taken the easy hour's drive from Grand Junction, Colorado to Moab, Utah to tackle Hell's Revenge, a well-known 4x4 trail over this otherworldly terrain that doesn't take kindly to larger vehicles like our full-size SuperCab pickups. Solid bets for tackling Hell's Revenge include Jeep CJs and Wranglers, Toyota FJ Cruiser 4x4s and so on � vehicles with exceptional arrival, departure and breakover angles. Even with its raised suspension and ground clearance of 11.2 inches front and 12.1 rear, we couldn't help but feel a bit sheepish about the Raptor's chances.