Gadget & Uber Geek Truck – 2011 Ford Raptor SVT SuperCrew
by Troy Saxton-Getty
We never thought to include a car or truck in the quest for amazing and useful gadgets, but after spending some time in a Ford Raptor truck a few weeks ago in Baja Mexico, it was clear to me this truck was truly a gadget and a geek ride. Just as Scion, KIA and other car companies focused on the youth market, Ford has done something similar with the Raptor SVT, they included lots of electronics, services, gadget and accessories choices and built an eco-system of 3rd party products, reminds me of Apple with their products. From the first time we stepped into Raptor, it was a geek love fest meets great off-road utility and a combined load of fun.
After the Rip to the Tip ride a few weeks ago, BajaSAR Search & Rescue decided to add an SVT Raptor to the collection of useful vehicles focused on supporting its mission in the desert southwest. (And because the truck is just bad-ass fun!). In less than a week, we’ve rolled nearly 2000 miles onto the odometer and I must say, it is pure fun.
So let’s talk about why this truck makes the dropSKIP gadget cut. First, it’s the gadget option packages with the largest in-dash screen we’ve seen in a vehicle and it’s based on Microsoft SYNC – the media and entertainment options, navigation, weather, voice control and the pre-wired 3rd party accessories, not to mention that the factory supports jumping the vehicle, yes, off the ground on all fours… crazy huh!?!
From the moment you get behind the wheel, the layout of comfort, fun, usefulness and special functionality becomes obvious, that is why we had to have one.
Gauge layout, in-console multi-purpose screen, large Media screen in the center console and great seat comfort start you off, as you add miles, the fun level goes up.
Microsoft SYNC offers several solutions, some with minimal video screens as well as great support when you have more video real estate. Although we are a bit disappointed in some of the features that are disabled after 5 mph due to liability (Toyota and others do the same thing), nearly all of those restrictions are lifted if you use voice control. (I guess BMW and other fine cars aren’t as worried and give you full control, touch and voice, under regular driving speeds).
My real beef here is, why can’t the passenger operate the unit and plug in the new NAV destination? (I am sure we will find a hack….) I can understand the DVD video being disabled in the front of the cab, but basics? Go figure, I will learn the voice commands and quit complaining.
In addition to navigation, music, climate, and other great features Microsoft and XM/Sirius have tossed in some other cool things such as live weather maps, local fuel prices, movie times and other goodies such as Text messaging with presets such as “I can’t text now, I am driving”, “Got your message, will get back to you later” and of course the ability to type your own message. This is all linked to the wired or Bluetooth phone you have connected. Since we test phones in the real-world pretty extensively, we tested 9 different phone models of various OS and model types. As you would expect, it works great with nearly all smart phones, but it works even better with Microsoft Win 7 Mobile. We had the option to add quite a few different phones at the same time, regardless of what we marked as primary/favorite, it would default to the HTC HD7 running Microsoft Win 7 mobile. Oddly enough, it was the only phone we connected that supported sending text messages. We are just really digging in and exploring the media and entertainment capabilities as the more time we spend in the rig, the more new and cool things we discover.
Weather maps from XM/Sirius were a nice touch, as you can see in the behind the wheel picture, rain is ahead – here is the weather map shot.
We found it to be very accurate and updated frequently. You can zoom in/out and actually select wind directional icons with wind speeds to get an idea of the conditions.
When the truck is placed into reverse, the video display becomes a full screen backup camera, zoom features also offer different angles, including close in, which is the trailer hitch location, pretty handy for hooking up, of course, the trailer brake control is nicely setup in the dash too.
Dropping in a CD, the Jukebox tab allows you to rip the CD into the local in-dash storage, it appears to be fairly large, the docs say “Over 2400 songs”.
Additionally, you can drop a CD or DVD in with JPG photos and it will copy them over and store and display them.
We plugged in a USB thumb drive to the dash mounted port and updated the Microsoft SYNC system, this thing is more of a geekfest than you would imagine. I pushed a button and the truck uploaded a vehicle health report to the http://www.syncmyride.com website. I downloaded the SYNC Destinations App for the iPhone, searched for something and saved the info, it was available for SYNC turn-by-turn directions immediately.
The truck comes pre-wired for external “bolt-on” accessories, like off-road lights, there are several 3rd party vendors which offer light bars, even some fully ready with lights, HID, Halogen or grill mounted LED light bars. The wiring is set, fused and the switch is ready to go.
Off-Road mode and Hill-Descent mode buttons are also on this panel.
Off-Road mode changes the shifting patterns, keeping the truck in a more off-road friendly RPM range, Throttle mapping sensitivity changes, Anti-lock braking becomes less aggressive and better set to dirt surfaces. Yaw stability changes for better dirt cornering as well while increasing stability.
Hill-Descent mode allows the driver to control the vehicle on downhill grades without having to apply brakes.
The rear axle can be electronically locked, this works in forward and reverse giving full posi-traction capability.
Each key can be programmed to different settings, including limiting top speed, and access to certain features, including the volume level of the audio system, or a full Valet mode is also included.
This truck is truly an electronic marvel, but let’s talk about the other amazing stock / included power and drive train specifications:
A 6.2L 411 HP, 434ft lb. of torque engine, select-shift automatic transmission, the engine was tested at the infamous Ford Desert Loop testing center which simulates Baja 1000 testing. For the suspension Ford teamed up with Fox and they put Fox Shox all the way around and the front lower arms are special cast aluminum.
These are a totally stock offering for shocks and the ride is really nothing like any normal pickup truck we’ve ever been in, on rough terrain the ride is very similar to what I would expect in a Baja pre-running rig. Absolutely wonderful compared to the classic truck suspension.
The stock tires are BF Goodrich Baja 315x70x17 inch tires, 35 inch tires and wheels you would normally buy after the fact.
Not bad for truck that can haul 8000 lb. and has built-in trailer brake control and anti-sway capability.
This truck is loaded with feature after feature, including a stowable bed extender, allowing the tailgate to be left down to accommodate a longer load the the bed itself. Something else we found which absolutely made sense is the rear tailgate step and handle. This pop-up handle and slide-out step make it very easy to climb up in the lifted bed of the truck with minimal effort.
A quick lever pull and you can lift the handle into place, grab onto the end of the tailgate and pull the step down and into place. Simply reverse the order to put it all back to normal.
The stock Sony 12 speaker and 390 watt continuously rated audio system also includes an under seat rear subwoofer and it will play video DVD’s when parked.
Keyless code entry, Auto-Engine start for those cold or hot situations with fully customizable A/C and heater pre-sets, you simply program what you want and the truck will use those climate settings on auto-start.
There are a multitude of color and decal/graphic options, check out their Raptor specific website for more details. Ford Raptor Media Site
Here are a few more pictures, what a great truck, we are really having fun with this, now if we could just figure out a way to work from this truck versus an office… WFT…