Test Hill is among the tallest piles of sand at West Michigan's Silver Lake Sand Dunes. For 20 minutes, I sit in my Roush Ford F-150 SC, looking at it and contemplating whether I should attempt a run up the monster hill. While numerous trucks make it to the top as I play spectator, many don't and have to reverse back down in shame.
Admittedly, I'm a newbie when it comes to driving on sand. Paved racetracks are my comfort zone, but the urge to conquer Test Hill overwhelms any doubts I have, compelling me to jump out of the truck to take a few more pounds of air out of the already deflated tires for more grip. Power isn't going to be a problem with the Roush's supercharged 5.0-liter V8, but hitting the hill at high speed doesn't seem to be the ticket to a successful run.
Instead, beginning the climb with just the right amount of momentum and gradually feeding in more power as you get higher seems to be the best strategy to prevent the truck from digging into the sand and getting stuck. With the truck's four-wheel-drive system in 4-Low and 10 pounds of pressure in the tires, I stomp on the throttle and shoot towards the base of the hill.
My heart threatens to explode out of my chest as I start my ascent. The Roush scampers up halfway without a problem, but I can feel momentum begin to bleed off. I squeeze in more power, and am careful not to mash the gas pedal to tear the tires off and beach the truck. I hold myself together long enough to get the F-150 to the summit, joining a gaggle of other trucks to take in the surrounding sights of other dunes and Lake Michigan.
It's a relief to not embarrass myself and the truck, which attracts lots of attention from folks at the top with its aggressive visual changes. A blacked-out Roush grille includes clearance lights that follow in the footsteps of Ford's own Raptor. It also has a new front bumper cover, fender flares with clearance lights and a tasteful slathering of Roush graphics. The entire package rides on dark-finish 20-inch Roush wheels wrapped in Mickey Thompson Baja ATZ tires.
From there, I motor around the rest of the off-road park, climbing other hills, charging through hoops and splashing through puddles of water where the Fox performance suspension works overtime to handle impacts. The SC's off-road capabilities prove to be plenty for the dunes, which Roush says targets trucks like the Ram 1500 Rebel and Chevrolet Silverado Z71. Power aside, what it definitely is not is a full-blown SVT Raptor fighter.
As capable as it is off-road, I think the F-150 SC is actually more in its element on the street, mainly because of the power it's packing under the hood. My test truck's 5.0-liter V8 originally left Ford's plant with 385 horsepower and 387 pound-feet of torque. After going through Roush's facility in Plymouth, Michigan, the engine now spits out 600 horsepower and 557 pound-feet of twist thanks to an Eaton supercharger and performance exhaust system.
On the pavement, all that muscle shoots the F-150 SC forward in a brisk manner, but obviously it doesn't build speed at the same rate as a 600-horsepower sports car. However, it is incredibility quick for a vehicle weighing nearly 4,900 pounds. Roush doesn't quote performance numbers, so I'm not exactly sure how quick the SC gets to 60 mph or covers the quarter mile, but when you drop the hammer the speedometer needle sweeps upwards pretty darn fast as you get pinned back into the seat.
In a way, I see the SC filling the high-performance street truck void left by OEMs vehicles like the F-150 SVT Lightning, Silverado SS and Ram SRT-10, all of which are a long way back in history's rearview mirror. Roush admittedly gives the SC more off-road ability, which isn't something normally found in a thoroughbred street truck's DNA. It's there, though, all packed into a pickup that's also a capable muscle truck with good handling and ride comfort. Consider the SC something of a dual-sport athlete, a slightly different performance truck specimen.
What is unquestionable is that the F-150 SC sounds like a muscle car trapped in a half-ton truck's body. The SC's performance exhaust is thunderous from the moment the engine fires. In fact, it caught the attention of a police officer who came over in a parking lot -- not to give me a ticket, but to ask me to rev it a little. I obliged, and we both laughed as I gave the gas pedal a few firm jabs.
Later on, while merging onto an expressway, I matted the throttle, the truck shot forward -- the blown V8's exhaust howling again as the transmission went up through the gears -- and I laughed again at the sound and absurdity of this 600-horsepower pickup truck. Totally unnecessary? Of course. But there's no denying it's fun.
Inside, the SC looks like a normal F-150, retaining all of its Ford infotainment equipment and switchgear. The 8-inch touchscreen features Sync 3 (which is Apple CarPlay- and Android Auto-capable), and there are other Ford-spec technologies including blind-spot monitoring, rear camera and backup sensors. The only touches Roush adds to the interior are branded WeatherTech floor liners and a serialized console badge.
The best thing of all is that this F-150 SC doesn't feel like a half-baked aftermarket machine. Everything on the truck is tight, and all of the additions perform like they came from the factory. Roush backs up this feeling of confidence by including a 3-year/36,000-mile warranty on all of its vehicles.
Are there any downsides to the F-150 SC? EPA fuel economy ratings do take a hit, going from 15 mpg city and 21 mpg highway in the stock truck to 12 mpg city and 15 mpg highway. Fuel requirements also go from regular to premium, meaning visits to the pump with the F-150 SC will happen more often and be more expensive.
Then there's the cost for the SC itself, which includes the base truck and the additional cheddar on top for Roush's work. All-in, my tester stickered for a heady $78,810, based on $56,210 for the solidly optioned F-150 4x4 Supercrew with the V8 engine and $22,600 in Roush parts and labor.
That's a heck of a lot of money, but the company says it's having no problems finding homes for all 100 of the modified F-150s it produces each month through its 400 Roush-certified Ford dealers in the US. In the grand scheme of things, 100 trucks a month is peanuts in the F-150's universe, but there's no doubt that all of the SC owners out there are having a ball, and I'm glad there's something out there filling the muscle truck void, even if it's not a straight-ahead street machine.