The world may be going to small cars right now, but when civilization ends, you need to hope there's a 2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor in your driveway.

It's uncivilized in all the right ways.

Post-apocalyptic life will require a gun-running, off-road monster able to handle the daily chores of killing off the infected, scouring for food in impassable areas and rescuing friends from certain death and destruction. Try that in the Ford Fiesta.

The Raptor can transform almost anyone into an action hero. It's muscle and power and tough and beautiful. It's in your face like a bouncer at closing time, and it's meaner than a drill sergeant during the first week of boot camp. But when you end up on a dirt trail, this truck rewards you with absolute horrifying fun.

You don't take this truck to work, you take it to war. Work is just there so you can afford a good stockpile.

This is the kind of turn-key performance off-road beast built to fly over bumps and humps and stumps, while shooting zombies out the passenger window. Secretly, about half the people in the world want to be among the 1 percent of the population to survive a nuclear blast, meteor strike or deadly virus. Ask any guy. Obstacles? Hardly

Automatic rifle racks don't come standard but Fox Racing Shoxs and 35-inch BFGoodrich all-terrain wheels do. The suspension allows 12.1 inches of usable travel in the rear and 11.2 inches in the front. That means it can climb over or through just about any obstacle. The suspension may feel a little soft on asphalt, but that's exactly what you need to crawl over big stones and debris.

Its four-wheel drive system includes an electronic locking differential with a switch in the cabin to easily lock or unlock without having to drive at a crawl and hope the gears catch. In an apocalyptic world, that could cost you your life. When it's in 4x4 mode, this truck feels unstoppable. (There's also an off-road setting that changes how the throttle and transmission react for better off-road performance.)

The additional 7 inches of width to the Raptor's track also help its off-road prowess, as do the massive skid plates protecting the Raptor's underbelly. Having dropped a few vehicles on big rocks during serious rock crawling, the only thing worse than hearing a vehicle crack against a rock is hearing the vehicle drive off of it. Good skid plates are worth more than gold -- which you may also want to add to your stockpile.

During my testing around Detroit, a city known for post-apocalyptic scenery, I never worried. I just drove over anything in front of me. My apologies to those subcompacts idling on Woodward.

The Raptor even comes with Hill Descent Control, which allows you to maintain a safe speed while driving down a steep hill without touching the brake pedal. It's a nifty feature you'll learn to love quickly once you're off road and you don't have to burn up your brakes. Rugged and distinctive

My test vehicle had the 320-horsepower 5.4-liter Triton V-8, which produces 390-pound-feet of torque. Another version will soon arrive with an even more powerful (400 horsepower) 6.2-liter V-8 that will surely allow you a quick getaway from anything scared of daylight.

On regular roads the Raptor remained tame but powerful and people certainly noticed it.

They should. The End is Nigh Orange (Ford calls it Molten Orange) and black color scheme make the truck stand out. Ford replaced the three-bar grille with a brick-wall pattern and the word "Ford" written across it. Three orange lights shine atop the grille -- a distinct marker for friends and foes on the open road. The black bumper also adds to the truck's rugged looks.

There are a few additional details that complete its overall appearance, such as the SVT badging on the fenders and black air extractors on the hood. It looks so good that when you're approaching it, you can feel your pulse quicken. You're just one whistle away from shaking your head and saying, "Yippee ki-ya" in your best "Die Hard" impersonation.

But this is not simply a hot rod with big wheels (though it is that,too). The Raptor can tow 6,000 pounds of canned goods and ammo, as well as haul half a ton of soylent green in the bed. The truck includes Ford's trailer-sway control to help keep a heavy load steady. The system can detect when a trailer is starting to move side-to-side and take counter measures to dampen the movement.

There's also a standard electronic brake control in the cabin to assist the driver and ensure smooth stopping. (Ford also offers its slightly geeky looking but very functional tailgate step for those who dislike crushing their knees climbing into the bed.) Day-Glo cockpit

If you think the exterior is outrageous, step onto the aluminum running board tucked up tightly against the body (for better clearance) and hop into the cabin. It's like someone exploded an Orange Julius claymore inside -- you could lose your night vision just looking at it.

The center of the dash radiates in bright orange and the leather seat inserts have a matching half life. But just like seeing in the dark, it only takes a few minutes to adjust and then everything looks perfectly normal.

The seats are well bolstered and comfortable -- no doubt ready to handle rough off-road obstacles. An orange stripe at the top of the steering wheel provides an extra-fashionable touch, as well as a marker for when the wheels are straight for extreme off-road maneuvering.

The Raptor comes with many of the Ford features you'd expect. Sync (which after careful testing can even recognize swear words on your iPod), a backup camera, Sony stereo and an auxiliary switch board stripped across the center console to easily connect all of your after-market accessories. This could include cannons, rocket launchers and smoke grenades. Roof lights and a winch might also be useful as well.

Because the driving position is so high, the Raptor does take a little adjusting to climb into. You have to grab the steering wheel and hoist yourself up. But from there, as you look over your command vehicle, you can already feel the transformation taking place inside your body.

You're tougher, stronger, and no one, and I mean no one, is going to mess with the maddest Max in the valley.

Take a moment to listen to the engine rumble to life. Then rev it. Rev it again.

Lock and load, double check the navigation system and head out. Church starts at 9:45 sharp. (313) 223-3217

2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor

Type: Five-passenger performance pickup truck with serious off-road abilities.

Price: $38,995

Engine: 5.4-liter V-8

Power: 320 horsepower, 390-pound-feet torque

Transmission: Six-speed automatic transmission with tow haul mode

EPA gas mileage: 14 mpg city / 18 mpg highway

Report Card

Overall: ****

Exterior: Excellent. Bold and in your face. The Raptor will make an impression.

Interior: Excellent. Comfortable with lots of features. The color scheme inside is original and unforgettable.

Performance: Excellent. This truck was made to go fast and just about everywhere you wouldn't think possible.

Pros: Powerful and fun, the ideal pickup for someone who craves off-road performance.

Cons: People who want to blend into the crowd shouldn't even park next to the Raptor.

Grading Scale

**** Excellent *** Good ** Fair * Poor