Active Damping Controls Ride on 2019 Ford Raptor on 2019 Ford RaptorA new stock Ford Raptor could go off-road racing at Baja with the addition of a roll cage and some other tweaks. Late this year when the 2019 version debuts, Raptor will have electronically-controlled Fox racing dampers, and Recaro bucket seats that should hold you in place from take-off to touch-down while leaving dust clouds behind.

While Raptor has always had plenty of motor – 450 horsepower and 510 lb. ft. of torque, it now has better suspension control, although travel is carryover at 13 inches front and 13.9 inches at the rear.  On compression the new electronically-controlled shocks now can be varied real time so that when the front wheels encounter high amplitude movement, the rear dampers can be programmed for the impending thump/bump/jolt… on 2019 Ford RaptorAside from its obvious off-road applicability, on-road driving is enhanced by the system, which in theory can provide a smoother, more comfortable ride – a real challenge given the huge tires with 17-inch forged alloy bead-lock capable rims at each corner which supply enough unsprung weight that would make a championship bench presser fail. This age-old design problem needs controlling or at least some finishing school training so the lady is not a tramp.

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

As with generations of cars before Raptor, electronics allow for increasingly sophisticated and complicated algorithms that – when working properly – add refinement that was once impossible with mechanical set-ups. Here the new Trail Control system – cruise control for off roading that takes over throttle and braking while the driver only can steer when engaged at speeds up to 20 mph is another electron induced breakthrough. (Think of a mud-encrusted Ford GT or Chevrolet Corvette – common for decades with sophisticated electronically-controlled suspensions designed for the track.)

Terrain Management System

There is also the Terrain Management System that debuted with the last update. This is a 6-mode driver control system that automatically selects the most suitable two-, four- (high/low) and all-wheel drive mode as well as re-calibrates engine, transmission, braking and stability control systems for optimum all-terrain performance.

Terrain modes include:
  • Normal – Uses 2H for normal everyday driving an optimal fuel efficiency
  • Weather – Ideal AWD setting for inclement weather, while throttle response and AdvanceTrac is optimized for reduced traction
  • Mud and Sand – 4H locked through the transfer case for increase traction in deep, loose surfaces, such as mud and sand. The rear differential is automatically locked.
  • Baja – 4H with locked transfer case with unique transmission shift schedule and engine controls with anti-lag technology enabling maximum performance and quick response
  • Rock Crawl – 4L with locking rear differential, while using additional gear reduction (2.64:1 ratio) to provide a 50:1 crawl ratio for enhanced capability with improved powertrain response

The F-150 based Raptor is getting a freshening just two years after the current version debuted. The ~$50,000 -$68,000 desert hauler had a serious claim to be and now remain the wildest off-road pickup truck available.

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About Ken Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print, broadcast and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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