It took Ford representatives all of five minutes to go through the changes for the 2019 Ford F-150 Raptor, but the brevity is not representative of the significance. Although the new off-road beast’s visual changes are extremely minor, Ford upgraded the part that matters most: the shock absorbers, which now electronically adapt to how and where the truck is driving.
For 2019, Ford left the F-150 Raptor’s powertrain, a majority of the suspension, and the visual design essentially the same. Stick your head under the wheel wells, however, and a major difference is apparent. Although Ford is continuing to use the same size of internal-bypass shocks from Fox Racing, each damper has a new pressure pocket solenoid and a few more cords wrapped around it.
Working with a vehicle-dynamics module and ride-height sensors (the fronts are attached to the upper control arms and are borrowed from the new Expedition), the solenoid allows the Raptor to electronically control and continually adjust the dampers automatically. While the previous front and rear shocks had nine zones for handling force, Ford claims the zones on the new shocks are “basically infinite.” That’s the result of making the truck constantly read and adjust every millisecond. Ford calls it Live Valve suspension technology.
According to Ford vehicle dynamics engineer Chris Paiva, numerous algorithms were developed for specific situations the trucks might encounter. When the truck is in its Off-Road drive mode (Normal, Sport, and Off-Road are available), it focuses on three occasions: Terrain Recognition, Jump Mode, and Loud Pedal. Terrain Recognition softens the ride, Jump Mode recognizes when the wheels are fully extended and fully stiffens the shocks, and Loud Pedal has stiffer settings for more aggressive driving. When the truck is not off-road, it is generally intended to have a wafty trophy-truck feel to it, but Ford knows that’s not great for everyday driving. Addressing this, Ford incorporated an active roll-control algorithm that stiffens the shocks during turns for easier and more accurate handling.
That is not the extent of Ford’s improvements for off-roading, either. Replacing the Hill Descent Control button on the passenger side above the infotainment screen is a new button for Trail Control. Simply put, it acts as a cruise control for off-roading. Adjustable from 1 mph to 20 mph, the new system automatically manages the throttle and braking, which frees up the driver’s attention to focus solely on steering. The speed can be adjusted using the same buttons used to increase or decrease the truck’s normal cruise control. Trail Control can be applied at virtually any time out on the trails, including while crawling up or down a hill.
While the truck’s capabilities have been significantly altered, the exterior and interior designs have not. Raptor-exclusive Ford Performance Blue, Agate Black, and Velocity Blue paint colors replace Lightning Blue, Lead Foot, and Shadow Black. The tailgate FORD lettering has been slightly altered to make the letters stand out more, and the 2019 model brings a newly designed beadlock wheel (it comes with a decorative ring, but the ring kit is available for purchase). The 17-inch wheels and 35-inch-diameter tires remain standard.
The interior changes take inspiration from a fellow Ford Performance vehicle, the GT supercar. Ford cribbed the Light Speed package from the GT and will offer it for the Raptor, with some changes. For the first time, Raptors come with Recaro front seats as well as carbon-fiber accents on the doors, dashboard, cupholder cover, and gearshift lever. Additionally, the front and rear seats get the same blue seat inserts seen in the GT, and the texture design elsewhere on the dash and center console is new. This replaces the orange-and-black package offered on the current Raptor.
Everything else on the 2019 Raptor remains the same. Power and off-road specs do not change, as Ford seemed perfectly content with the response from customers. Pricing will be announced closer to the truck’s on-sale date, which will be sometime in late 2018.
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