When Ford launched the F-150 Raptor in late 2009, the high-speed off-roader set the pickup world on its ear. A lot of the truck’s inherent functionality and intercourse enchantment got here from its beefy suspension — particularly, its novel Fox Racing remote-reservoir shocks. For the second-gen 2017 Raptor, Fox was once more tapped to supply the Raptor’s secret sauce — even-larger dampers that includes 9 levels. Now, with the competitors lastly beginning to catch the Raptor’s scent, Ford has upgraded the 2019 mannequin in quite a few methods, together with a set of recent electronically adjustable Fox Dwell Valve shocks.

On the automaker’s invitation, I headed to Erda, Utah (simply outdoors Salt Lake Metropolis), to take part in Ford Efficiency Racing Faculty’s Raptor Assault program. The purpose? To get the lowdown on the truck’s new bouncy bits, in addition to expertise a battery of different updates that make one of many world’s most succesful autos much more so. 

For my cash, this newest Raptor replace stops wanting qualifying as a full refresh, as a result of Ford hasn’t touched the massive brute’s visuals. In equity, nevertheless, regardless of the looks of recent and upgraded opponents just like the 2019 Ram 1500 Insurgent and 2019 GMC Sierra 1500 AT4, the automaker in all probability did not must. Even with none visible tweaks, the widebody 2019 F-150 Raptor remains to be one badass mudder plugger. 

Dwell Valve chops

Whereas the Raptor’s beneficiant floor clearance stays unchanged at 13 inches up entrance and 13.9 inches out again, new Fox Dwell Valve tech implies that the shocks’ compression charges are adjusted in actual time. A community of sensors within the physique and suspension feed info to a central processor that additionally seems on the truck’s yaw and wheel-slip sensors, steering fee and pedal inputs, amongst different parameters. They agency up or slacken the shocks’ fee of journey as acceptable in milliseconds.

As I skilled firsthand on every little thing from mountain ascents to bombing down rock-strewn trails and, sure, wheels-in-the-air leaping, these new shocks are The Enterprise. Whereas leaping within the air at pace and touchdown with shocking softness and management is the Raptor’s trademark potential, the brand new Fox shocks shone most brightly whereas our Raptor convoy threaded its approach alongside the desert flooring at pace within the shadow of the Oquirrh Mountains. 

Appreciating simply how effectively these new shocks work nearly requires two Raptors: one to be in, and one to observe behind. If you’re hammering alongside a path full of baseball-to-football-sized rocks at a superb clip, it is tough to understand simply how exhausting the suspension is working, as a result of the truck’s experience isolation is so good and the perspective is so stage and undramatic. I could not assist however periodically fixate on the quickly compressing and rebounding suspension of the truck forward of me, its Fox shocks certainly being traumatized like cans of Sherwin Williams in a paint shaker.

Whether or not climbing mountains, bombing down rock-strewn trails or, sure, wheels-in-the-air leaping, these new shocks are The Enterprise.

Ford

(Professional Tip: When the path will get blindingly dusty and also you’re in a convoy of vehicles, you counterintuitively do not need to give in to the temptation to fall again — it is best to nuzzle nearer to the truck forward earlier than the mud plume has an opportunity to swirl and increase.)

These new Fox shocks are additionally stated to pay dividends on the road, too. The suspension options three modes: Regular, Off-Highway and Sport, with the latter being the selection for on-road efficiency driving. In corners, the Dwell Valve tech helps curb physique roll by firming up the shocks on the automobile’s outboard aspect and softening these on the within. Sadly, my on-road time was restricted, so I wasn’t capable of actually take a look at this facet of their efficiency. That stated, as with its predecessors, I’ve all the time been amazed at how daily-driver pleasant the Raptor’s suspension is. It’s neither wallowy (as you would possibly assume from its experience top) nor overly stiff.

Past these shock changes, the Raptor continues to make good use of its terrain mode selector, which options six totally different settings: Regular, Sport, Climate, Mud/Sand, Baja and Rock Crawl. Every setting optimizes not solely the suspension, but in addition the throttle and transmission mapping, in addition to the truck’s locking differential and numerous traction and brake-management methods. All of it works effectively, although I nonetheless want the settings have been accessible by a devoted knob as an alternative of getting to have a look at a small gauge cluster readout whereas thumbing steering wheel controls.

Every thing however the noise

Ford hasn’t touched the Raptor’s powertrain for 2019, that means you continue to get the identical twin-turbo three.5-liter EcoBoost V6, delivering 450 horsepower and — extra importantly — 510 pound-feet of torque from three,500 rpm. That is a well-stocked arsenal of energy, sufficient to hit 60 miles per hour in about 5 seconds. On the transfer, the obligatory 10-speed automated dutifully avoiding extra shifts. Ford officers I spoke with could not spotlight any transmission retuning, however the gearbox appeared to function extra thoughtfully than it did upon introduction (although it may well nonetheless be often lazy with kick-downs).

Gasoline economic system figures haven’t but been launched for the 2019 model-year Raptor, however there isn’t any cause to assume they may range enormously from the present truck’s 15 miles per gallon metropolis, 18 mpg freeway and 16 mpg mixed. Understandably, normal four-wheel drive and all that functionality aren’t precisely a recipe for parsimony — Raptors weigh upward of 5,500 kilos and have wall-like aerodynamics.

The EcoBoost’s largest deficiency is one thing you would possibly count on a Raptor to have in spades: A thunderous engine and exhaust observe. The high-output engine sounds someplace between muffled and underwhelming in comparison with the F-150’s accessible 5.Zero-liter naturally aspirated V8 (not to mention the first-generation Raptor’s 6.2-liter mill). 

The Raptor makes use of the identical three.5-liter EcoBoost V6 as earlier than, with an incredible 450 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque.

Ford

The V6’s considerably beefier energy and torque curves are well worth the tradeoff, in fact, however it’s a disgrace that the Blue Oval hasn’t fitted the Raptor with a richer-sounding exhaust. An non-compulsory active-valve setup with a derestricted path for extra noise would appear to be value investigating. Till then, there’s all the time the aftermarket.

Path Management

The opposite new-for-2019 mechanical function value noting is the appearance of Path Management, which capabilities like low-speed off-road cruise management. Should you’re aware of hill descent management tech, this method performs the identical approach, though you needn’t be selecting your approach downward so as to use it — it really works uphill and on stage floor simply the identical. Pace may be manually chosen from 1 to 20 mph, permitting the driving force to concentrate on exactly inserting the automobile’s wheels whereas the truck mechanically metes out energy and braking to every wheel as crucial. 

I’ve sampled an analogous system in latest Land Rover fashions, and Ford’s Path Management is simply as efficient. If something, TC is so competent as to take away a lot of the problem and thrill of off-roading, however it’s good to know it is there for actually bushy conditions if you’re within the tough stuff.

Newly accessible Recaro seats are a pleasant addition to the Raptor’s somewhat-dated cabin.

Ford

First-class seats, middling cabin

When the 13th-generation F-150 bowed for the 2015 mannequin yr, Ford instantly appeared decidedly forward of its crosstown rivals at Common Motors and Ram. Its aluminum-intensive structure and downsized turbocharged engines merely felt larger tech and extra ahead pondering. Quick-forward to current day, although, and the F-Sequence is definitely the oldest truck of the Detroit Three, and regardless of a 2018 refresh, in some methods, it feels it.

Most pointedly, like all 2019 F-150 fashions, the Raptor’s cabin is neither as refined nor as high-tech as what you’ll be able to spec in Ram’s wonderful new 1500. This pickup’s accessible area, materials high quality, switchgear really feel, infotainment, middle console utility and total aesthetic simply cannot match that of its Auburn Hills rival.

One key change for 2019 that helps elevate the Raptor’s inside? A brand new set of Recaro sport seats. They are a appreciable enchancment over the chairs in final yr’s mannequin, they usually do a yeoman’s job of holding driver and passenger in place when the going will get tough. (I have a tendency to sit down fairly upright for higher visibility, and particularly, this new design gives the quantity of upper-body and shoulder help I favor.)

The 2019 Ford F-150 Raptor is much more fascinating than it already was.

Ford

That is to not say the remainder of the Raptor’s cabin is a penalty field — removed from it. The Sync three infotainment system is streets forward of its predecessor, and being one of many costlier vehicles within the F-150 vary (beginning worth: $52,855 plus $1,495 vacation spot), the Raptor is outfitted fairly effectively. Nevertheless, it simply is not as properly appointed as a few of its rivals, a truth that may chafe, significantly for those who’re vulnerable to optioning up your truck into the mid sixties or past, which is kind of simple to do. (A minimum of the Raptor has stellar resale worth.)

True greatness made better

Ultimately, what the Blue Oval has completed is make an already outrageously succesful and fascinating truck much more so. Only a few house owners will ever method the efficiency limits of the 2019 Ford F-150 Raptor, however simply as it’s with the legions of customers who purchase or admire six- and seven-figure supercars, that is OK.

In truth, for those who view the Raptor as I do — as a supercar amongst vehicles — effectively, it is one thing of a cut price.

Editors’ observe: Journey prices associated to this function have been lined by the producer. That is widespread within the auto business, as it is extra economical to ship journalists to vehicles than to ship vehicles to journalists. Whereas Roadshow accepts multi-day automobile loans from producers so as to present scored editorial opinions, all scored automobile opinions are accomplished on our turf and on our phrases.

The judgments and opinions of Roadshow’s editorial workforce are our personal and we don’t settle for paid editorial content material.

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