Top 10 cars for summer

5. Ford F-150 Raptor

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    The Ford F-150 Raptor looks destined to achieve legendary status with its polarizing styling, wild graphics, and Dakar Rally racing technology.
    Courtesy of Ford Motor Co./File
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When Kenny Chesney sang about “Young Love in an Old Ford,” this variant of the F-150 was not what he had in mind. But it probably won’t be long until the Ford Raptor achieves legendary status and becomes a topic of celebration in country songs. With polarizing styling, wild graphics, and Dakar Rally racing technology, this machine was not designed for hauling lumber (although it certainly could).

This truck is built for tearing up the sand at Pismo Beach, blasting down fire roads of northern New England, and jumping school buses in dirt arenas.

Well, maybe not so much on that last one, but the FOX Racing Shox suspension is quite literally designed to allow the vehicle to survive jumps – how’s that for regaining your youth?

A standard F-150 starts at $23,300, but Ford has deemed this variant worth almost twice that, hitting the showrooms with a suggested retail price of $42,725.

Loaded with skid plates and a front grille that could only have been forged in the fires of Mordor, the Raptor’s certainly got the look.

And given its substantial sales success in a time when you’d think it would be hard to sell a 13 m.p.g. vehicle, it seems as though it’s got the credibility to match.

Direct competition will come in the form of Toyota’s Tacoma TRD T|X Baja Series, set to go on sale this month. The Tacoma will be the first real contender in the (very) niche market of high-speed open-country recreation vehicles created single-handedly by the Raptor.

Despite Toyota’s legendary reputation both on and off-road, the Tacoma is lacking in one major department against the Ford: It’s not as cool. The “BAJA” graphics look forced and goofy slapped on the Toyota’s conservative bodywork, while the Ford owns its aggressive look from every angle. Being cool’s not all there is to being an off-roader, but when the summer heats up it sure doesn’t hurt.

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