2019 Ford F-150 Raptor adds more goodies for off-road junkies
For its first refresh since arriving on Ford’s new aluminum-bodied F-150, the 2019 Raptor is getting a short list of upgrades meant to enhance what people already love about the mean machine. The Raptor’s brutish, 450-horsepower, 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 and 10-speed automatic transmission will carry over unchanged, but Baja die-hards will now be treated to improved Fox Racing shocks, low-speed off-road cruise control, and new Recaro bucket seats.
Ford Performance’s holy matrimony with the southern-California based Fox Racing continues to bear fruit, this time with electronically controlled real-time damping. The updated system manages damper response with sensors placed on various points of the suspension and body. Ford even boasts that if you decide to “send it” and take flight off of a sick jump, the Raptor’s sensors will take note. “Not many trucks need sensors to detect when you are midair,” says Ford Performance global director Hermann Salenbauch. “[The] Raptor sets the dampers to full stiffness to help smooth shock performance as the truck lands.”
Off-roading is all about patience and control, but not all of us have the gift of throttle and brake finesse. Trail Control software is there to make just about any driver look like a hero, acting as a low-speed cruise control that leaves the thinking to the Raptor’s many computers. Manually activated at speeds up to 20 mph, this system allows for the driver to focus solely on steering through terrain, automatically optimizing power, braking, and traction control. Similar technology is already available on several other off-road vehicles across the market, including in Jaguar Land Rover vehicles like the F-Pace and Discovery.
As always, the tough-truck look matters to buyers, and so a newly designed set of beadlock wheels are there to lighten up the appearance of the truck’s lower half. The re-tooled tailgate now matches the bombastic block lettering on the Raptor’s grille. Ford Performance Blue, exclusively offered on this year’s Raptor, joins the lineup of paint choices to round out the exterior updates.
Ford’s incremental improvements to the Raptor also extend to the interior. New Recaro bucket seats promise to keep passengers’ love handles snug through off-road trials and rush-hour traffic alike. Carbon fiber graces the armrests and select areas of the front dash, as well.
The rough-and-tumble, high-powered Raptor is still in a league of its own in the pickup world, even with the smaller Chevy Colorado ZR2 recently arriving in its wake. With these latest updates, Ford is just sweetening the pot for its fans and customers. “We’d be happy to get some competition,” Ed Krenz, chief functional engineer for Ford Performance. “You get tired of competing against yourself.”
The first-generation Raptor was one of nine vehicles to make Hagerty’s Bull Market List for 2018, and with the monumental improvements we’ve seen in this latest generation, the 2019 model is poised to soar in more ways than one.