2020 Mil-Spec Ford F-150 First Drive | Driving impressions, pricing, specs

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Car manufacturers have discovered in recent years that people love powerful off-road pickups. The Ford F-150 Raptor really started the trend, with the Chevy Colorado ZR2 and now the Ram 1500 TRX. Off-road-oriented trims follow closely, like the Silverado Trail Boss. Despite this off-road boom, there are still some niches to fill, and Mil-Spec Automotive, a company first known for its main resto mods of Hummer H1s, has found one. The modified F-150 is for someone who wants a Raptor but needs a V8 rumble, and something even more powerful looking. It certainly fits the bill with just a few minor compromises.

So what exactly comes with the Mil-Spec F-150? Well, quite a lot. The company starts with a V8, four-wheel drive F-150 with a factory differential. Mil-Spec will upgrade any F-150 with these features from a simple XLT to a premium platinum. However, the company representative we spoke to recommends going with a lower trim as some of the equipment on high trim trucks will be replaced or removed, so there is no reason to spend more money than necessary .

2020 Mil-Spec Ford F-150

On the outside, Mil-Spec fits fiberglass pre-runner-style fenders with 37-inch tires wrapped around 20-inch Black Rhino wheels. To help the truck clear up these giant tires is the optional Baja Performance suspension package which includes adjustable Fox 3.0 shocks with remote reservoirs with Eibach springs in all four corners and BajaKits long-travel steering arms in the front. They bring the wheel travel to 11 inches in the front and 12 inches in the rear. The Addicted Desert Designs steel bumpers are fitted, along with a custom grille with Raptor-style LEDs, a large aluminum Mil-Spec emblem and Mil-Spec graphics for the tailgate and rear fenders. The result is a steroid Raptor, but the fact that Mil-Spec uses some more low-key wheels and only builds these trucks in black, white, or two shades of gray keeps it from looking too absurd.

Beneath the extreme exterior are some mild engine and interior upgrades. Mil-Spec adds a Ford Performance throttle body, intake and engine calibration to boost power up to 500 horsepower. A Borla cat-back exhaust adds some noise, and Mil-Specs custom tips pop right next to the steel bumpers so they don’t dangle in a vulnerable spot.

Inside, Mil-Spec Katzkin adds leather upholstery in black, gray or brown, which closely matches Ford’s factory colors, billet aluminum caps for the control buttons, a Raptor steering wheel with functional shift paddles and custom aluminum badges. These interior changes are very subtle, but also quite fun. The aluminum knobs lie comfortably in the hand and the subtle design and the closely matched leather give the interior an almost OEM look.

2020 Mil-Spec Ford F-150

Now that the list of upgrades is out of the way, we can finally talk about how these parts come together. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to find a spot to ride the Mil-Spec off-road, but we did get to spend a lot of time on the sidewalk, which will still be a big part of any owner’s driving experience. And speaking of “big”, that’s exactly what this truck is. It’s actually about seven inches wider than a Raptor, which itself is a few inches wider than a regular F-150. And if you’re not used to driving around two pickups, or Mil-Spec’s own Hummers for that matter, there will be an acclimation period where you’re constantly looking at your mirrors to make sure you’re not planning an unsuspecting Corolla against a pushing the wall. . The truck is also quite long, so you’ll want to think twice about driving into covered parking lots or garages.

Aside from its large size, the Mil-Spec F-150 is generally quite easy to drive and fairly civilized. Despite the off-road tires, the steering is precise and nicely weighted, and there is even some feedback from the handlebar. The tires do not even produce much noise in the cabin, which is also relatively unaffected by wind and road noise. The off-road suspension is also much more comfortable, and possibly a bit softer than the Raptor’s. Body roll isn’t bad either. There are some throbbing noises from the suspension going over bumps, but nothing alarming. Braking is fine, but some more powerful brakes would be welcome as it seems like it takes quite a bit of pedal pressure to drag this beast down. A company representative said there are plans for improved brakes.

Although the Mil-Spec delivers 500 horsepower, the truck doesn’t feel particularly fast. It’s probably because of the effectively higher gear ratios of the high tires and the weight of those tires. The Raptor handlebar’s shift paddles are fully functional, but being able to pick gears doesn’t make the experience feel any faster. It probably feels slower as the transmission is slow to change gears on request. However, this is not Mil-Spec’s fault. Also, the V8 doesn’t make the same kind of low-temperature torque as the Raptor’s 3.5-liter turbocharged V6, so it feels like you have to work harder to accelerate. The company has plans to offer the Ford Performance supercharger kit with the truck, and we think it would be worth it if you don’t have the scratch. But at least the engine makes all the V8 sounds you would expect from a large truck. Hit the accelerator and you’ll get a loud, thumping, truck-like roar. Press it hard enough and you would probably set off car alarms. Fortunately, it is only loud on hard acceleration. When driving down the highway or gently sniffing around town, the exhaust muffles to a muffled sound.

2020 Mil-Spec Ford F-150

If all of this sounds interesting to you, you also want to know the prices. The base price for the conversion is $ 34,950, plus the cost of the pickup truck being converted. The cheapest you can get for an F-150 XLT with a lockable rear differential is $ 42,295, so the cheapest you can get in a Mil-Spec is $ 77,245. Our test truck also had the $ 6,000 suspension package, and as a SuperCrew, he would have contributed at least $ 6,500 to the cost of the base truck. That’s a big extra cost over the $ 55,150 of a factory Raptor, and it even surpasses the Ram TRX’s $ 71,690. That makes the Mil-Spec a hard sell, as both are a bit easier to handle on a daily basis, and the Raptor has more torque and the Ram is much more powerful with 702 horses.

But there are likely other factors that come into play in a buyer’s choice to purchase a Mil-Spec F-150. It could be a Ford loyalist who would love a Raptor but are desperate for a V8 sound and feel. Or it could be someone looking for something even heavier than what the OEMs offer, while also covered by a bit of warranty – the Ford bits are all covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, and Mil-Spec guarantees all the parts the company requires. installs. 1 year / 15,000 miles, with a 3 year / 36,000 mile extended warranty available. For these niche cases, the Mil-Spec serves admirably.

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