First Look: 2019 Ford F-150 Raptor

Trail-blazing.

by on May.24, 2018

Ford launched its off-road truck in 2010, originally naming it the SVT Raptor.

While most of today’s sport-utility vehicles have migrated to soft-roading, there’s still a solid market for serious trail-blazers, especially in the pickup segment, and Ford’s F-150 has earned serious credibility since the launch of what was originally known as the SVT Raptor in 2010.

The latest version, simply known as the Raptor has underscored Ford’s claims for the ruggedness and capabilities of its aluminum-bodied F-150. And the automaker intend to enhance that off-road credibility even more with the updated 2019 model. Among other features, the update gets what Ford is billing as “smarter,” electronically controlled shocks, a new Trail Control system and Recaro sport seats.

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“Raptor’s success is rooted in its incredible suspension, superb vehicle control and the confidence the truck instills in its owners,” Hermann Salenbauch, global director of the Ford Performance vehicle program, said in a statement announcing the update. “Upgrades to the 2019 F-150 Raptor have improved all three to new levels that the competition will have to benchmark – again.”

From a powertrain perspective, there are no notable changes for 2019, the Raptor retaining its 3.5-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6 paired with a specially tuned 10-speed automatic gearbox. Considering that package makes 450 horsepower and, at 510 pound-feet of torque, incredible grunt, that’s nothing to apologize for.

The continuously variable Fox Shicks are meant to improve traction and control off-road.

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What Ford is focusing on this year is enhanced off-road grip, handling and, yes, even comfort.

Ford worked directly with Fox to develop new shocks for its off-roader, the electronically controlled Line Valve technology able to respond to road conditions and driver input in real time, using sensors mounted both on the suspension and in the body.

“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,” explained Salenbauch. “The 2019 Raptor is not just more capable off-road. It’s smarter.”

The sensors can even detect when a wheel is grabbing air, setting the dampers to full stiffness for when the truck lands, Salenbauch added.

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The new Fox shocks are paired with Raptor’s Terrain Management System which can be used by the driver to instantly set a variety of vehicle functions, including transmission shifts and shock damping, adapting to conditions as varied as snow, sand, rocks or mud and ruts.

A key goal for the 2019 update was to improve Raptor’s performance off-road, and the new Trail Control system adds another layer of stability and handling by serving as what might be described as an off-road version of cruise control. It adjusts power to individual wheels to maintain a steady pace at speeds ranging from 1 to 20 miles per hour. Trail Control not only can help maintain the chosen speed crawling over an obstacle but then brake individual wheels as Raptor comes down on the other side.

The shocks automatically adjust went a wheel loses , going to full stiffness.

The new seats by Recaro – better known for its racing buckets – are meant to improve comfort on-road while also keeping driver and passenger firmly in place on rough terrain. The seats feature Alcantara inserts and accent stitching that Ford says was inspired by its GT supercar.

From an exterior perspective, Ford is adding three new Raptor colors for 2019, Ford Performance Blue, Velocity Blue and Agate Black.

The updated truck will start rolling out of Ford’s Dearborn Truck Plant and into U.S. showrooms late this year.

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