Trucks

2019 Ford F-150 Raptor adds adaptive off-road suspension

Fox Live Valve shocks go along with a Trail Control feature and new Recaro seats.

Ford

There's never been any disputing that the Ford F-150 Raptor is a capable beast off-road, but the 2019 one will be a little easier to live with on-road, too. Thanks to the addition of electronically adaptive Fox Racing Shox Live Valve suspension, this year's Raptor will deliver, "a greater level of driving refinement on-road," says program manager Tony Greco.

2019 Ford F-150 Raptor

Ford

The suspension is fundamentally similar to the Fox Racing shock absorbers that were already employed by the Raptor, but now with a solenoid that allows the truck's computer to constantly adjust the damping force at each corner. New ride-height sensors at each front wheel feed information about the terrain to that computer. Ford's in-house algorithms are designed to improve ride and handling, whether you're driving the Raptor in Normal, Sport or Off-Road modes.

For instance, for road driving, the suspension stiffens more as your speed increases, and when cornering the outside dampers will stiffen to reduce body roll. In the off-road mode, the suspension damping will generally be much softer, for compliance and handling.

The coolest news of all? The software has a special Jump mode that detects when the front tires are off the ground and stiffens the shocks pro-actively, preventing bottoming out the truck when you land. A Loud Pedal mode also detects when you're driving aggressively (i.e. with a lot of throttle input) and makes the damping changes more extreme.

2019 Ford F-150 Raptor

If you do this, the truck's suspension will prepare for the landing accordingly.

Ford

This is the first truck-specific application of the Live Valve technology, though the system is already offered in the UTV market. Weight gain from adding the new shock absorbers and associated electronics is "not much," says engineer Chris Paiva. No suspension components (springs, bushings, control arms) were changed.

The new shocks also don't change any of the Raptor's impressive off-road statistics; it still has 13.0 inches of front and 13.9 inches of rear suspension travel and a 30-degree approach angle.

To make all that off-road work easier, the Raptor now has Trail Control that replaces (and uses the same button location as) the prior hill-descent control. It allows the driver to pick a set speed between 1 and 20 miles per hour with the cruise-control buttons. It works in any driving mode, even two-wheel drive if you're a glutton for punishment. The truck will automatically accelerate or brake to keep that speed over any terrain, letting drivers focus more on picking a path through tough terrain.

"The goal is to really allow you to set the wheels where they need to be through steering," says Ford Performance engineer Ed Krenz.

2019 Ford F-150 Raptor

These Live Valve dampers are key to the ride-and-handling upgrades.

Ford

Other changes to the 2019 Raptor concern the way it looks. The cool Ford Performance Blue paint shown off on the Raptor at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show is now available for purchase. The design of the regular and the beadlock wheels is new and the tailgate applique is redesigned.

Inside, bolstered Recaro seats are offered for the first time to help keep occupants in place during enthusiastic driving. They have a blue insert called Light Speed, inspired by the eponymous color in the Ford GT, and are matched to carbon fiber trim for the upper door cards, shifter and dashboard.

The twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 engine has been unchanged and still delivers 450 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque. The 10-speed automatic's software has been retuned, however, to reduce shift harshness.

Ford doesn't break out sales of the Raptor from the F-Series truck line as a whole, but says so far this year Raptor sales are up compared to the start of 2017. The 2019 Ford F-150 Raptor goes on sale toward the end of this year. No pricing has been announced, but it's safe to figure there will be a mild increase over the current entry point of $51,510, with destination.