Ford’s F-150 Raptor is one of the meanest off-roaders you can purchase from the factory and, for the 2019 model year, the automaker’s doing its part to further improve its trail worthiness. Instead of going for visual upgrades that might tempt impulsive shoppers, Ford is sticking with hardware and technology.
The 2019 Raptor will receive upgraded shocks, Recaro sport seats, and a new Trail Control system that allows the pickup to cruise through seriously rugged terrain at low speeds — allowing the driver to focus on steering, instead of maintaining momentum and traction. According to the manufacturer, the system automatically adjusts power and braking to each individual wheel and is functional up to speeds of 20 mph. It also works for hill ascent and descent, even on craggy landscapes.
While a lot of the fun of off-roading is controlling the vehicle on dicey terrain, Trail Control sounds like a good helper for those who aren’t interested in doing it all of the time, or perhaps lack the necessary skills. A neat feature, but we’re more excited by the new suspension setup.
Developed with help from Fox, the shocks include updated internal bypass valves that can electronically adjust damping. The system continuously adapts to changing conditions to maximize ride comfort, handling, and resist bottoming out in extreme situations.
“By automatically varying compression rates, Raptor can now make the most of its suspension travel of 13 inches at the front and 13.9 inches at the rear,” said Hermann Salenbauch, global director of Ford Performance. “The 2019 Raptor is not just more capable off-road. It’s smarter.”
Ford says the Raptor’s new shocks, paired with the terrain management system, does everything from smoothing out bumps on the highway to helping the truck settle in after a jump. “Not many trucks need sensors to detect when you are midair,” Salenbauch boasted. “Raptor sets the dampers to full stiffness to help smooth shock performance as the truck lands.”
Airtime should be easy enough to come by, too. Even though the pickup won’t see an engine upgrade for the coming model year, the Raptor’s 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 still sends an impressive 450 horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels via its 10-speed automatic transmission.
Further improvements to the Raptor include new Recaro sport seats. Prettier than the standard buckets in the current model, Ford says they’re intended as a functional upgrade. They do appear to have a teensy bit more bolstering on the sides and the blue Alcantara inserts will definitely be better at keeping you from sliding around on than smooth leather. Unfortunately, they’re an optional extra.
Despite an adherence to hardware, Ford didn’t abandon the Raptor’s looks entirely. There are a few new colors for 2019, including Performance Blue (dark), Velocity Blue (light) and Agate Black. The automaker also says there are new graphics on the back end, which aren’t immediately obvious. Ford just changed the lettering on the tailgate to a contrasting color. New beadlock-capable wheels are another option for those who like the look or who intend on slamming partially deflated tires into rocks every weekend.
Production of the 2019 F-150 Raptor should commence at the Dearborn Truck Plant later this year.
[Images: Ford Motor Co.]