us to test drive the SLP Thunderbolt at a track laid out at the Pontiac
Silverdome this June. We had three Thunderbolts — the 2003 SLP Content
on 2002 Ford Rangers — and one stock 2002 Ford Ranger. SLP also
showed off their Chevy Blazer based Adventure SUV, and adaptaions of the
Monte Carlo, the Grand Pix, and the Buick LeSabre. All were a pleasure
to drive, but naturally, we took the most interest in the Thunderbolts.
vehicles included SLP's performance package so we were greeted with a
hearty exhaust note once we started up the truck. A little horsepower
goes a long way, and the extra eight percent horsepower produced a noticeable
difference in quickness off the line and out of the corners.
improvement we noticed, however, came from the 16-inch wheels and upgraded
tires coupled with the handling package — a stabilzer bar in the
back and a strengthened one in the front. Two of the Thunderbolts were
equipped almost identically except for these options and the difference
was dramatic. The Thunderbolt with the upgraded wheels, tires, and stabilizer
bars ripped around the cones with grace and speed that the 15-inch wheels
on the other Thunderbolt (and on our stock Ranger) couldn't match. Consumers
interested in the performance aspects of the Thunderbolt definitely should
put the 16-inch wheels and handling package on their must-have list.
driving the Thunderbolt was quite enjoyable. In back to back driving comparisons
against the stock Ranger, the Thunderbolt made a bold statement as to
the grace and power SLP Engineering has added to Ford's compact truck.
Consumers interested in a pickup but looking for something that also sets
themselves apart from the pack should definitely check out the Thunderbolt.