Extended test drive in ultimate off-road pickup

When I was asked if I was interested in logging some extended seat time in the 2011 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor, I jumped at the chance.

While Iíve reviewed Fordís ultimate off-road pickup designed by the companyís special vehicle team, I never pass up the chance to gain more time behind the wheel, especially for such a unique vehicle.

Powered by a 6.2-liter V-8 engine cranking out 411 horsepower, the Raptor is the first-ever high-speed off-road performance truck offered by any manufacturer.

While it is designed to tame the wilderness of the famed Baja course, itís also a pretty good truck to drive around town.

Admittedly, I didnít have a chance to go off roading during my extended test drive.

I wanted to, though, but this thing called ďworkĒ kept getting in the way.

But I did have plenty of pot-holed filled streets around town that served as a nice substitute to test out the Raptorís unbelievable suspension system that provides 11.2 inches of front suspension travel and 12.1 inches in the rear.

And to make me feel better about not being able to go play in the dirt, my wife loaded me up with a list of honey-do projects for her garden.

While I wasnít driving in the dirt, I was, as she so cleverly pointed out, at least hauling it.

Several loads of it, to be exact.

No question about it, the Raptor is a neat truck, especially if youíre into off-road racing.††

Neal White has been covering the automotive industry for more than 20 years and is affiliated with the Texas Auto Writers Association.