Has the updated 2019 Ford Raptor improved enough to remain the king of off-road performance trucks? We took it for a first drive review to find out.
The Ford F-150 Raptor is often considered to be in class of one because it combines a unique chassis, special suspension, and the most powerful engine in the half-ton segment. While the chassis and the high-output 3.5L EcoBoost V6 remain the same (450 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque), the shocks are all new.
They are FOX Live Valve 3-inch diameter shocks front and rear. What’s the big deal? Do these shocks really make a big difference? The short answer is – yes. Here is the long answer as well.
Ford and FOX Shocks have worked together to develop these F-150 Raptor-specific shocks. They use an internal bypass design which has been seen before, but the LIVE Valve allows the shocks to dynamically adjust stiffness based on an electrically controlled needle valve.
The electric signal is determined by the truck’s computer brain that takes a multitude of sensor data into account to determine what the truck is doing, what terrain it might be on, and it can even predict certain situations. The computer takes input from ride-height sensors in the front, the accelerometers, throttle, brake, and steering angle sensors. If the truck determines that it’s about to “jump” because the front suspension is fully extended, or if the driver is being very aggressive with the throttle – then the LIVE Valve turns the shock to its stiffest setting to provide increased control and bottom-out resistance.
Shock absorbers are normally there to respond to the terrain and dampen the motion, but these new shocks can also predict a couple of situations and adjust ahead of time.
The driver may also adjust the shock stiffness by selecting among the seven drive modes. The “Normal” mode turns the shocks into their softest or most relaxed setting. Sport or Baja modes increase the stiffness.
No matter which mode you are in, the 2019 Raptor has a more tight and less floaty ride. Some people may miss the softer ride of the previous Raptor suspension, but I like how the new truck rides both on the highway and on dirt and rocks.
Indeed, the highway ride is more stiff, but the truck barely has any lean in higher speed corners. It feels solid and predictable on the highway. Put it into Sport or Baja mode, and it really wakes up. It holds higher rpm, makes the throttle more sensitive, turns the suspension stiffer, and the steering feel heavier. It lets the driver adjust all of these parameters. If you like technology and ability to tweak these aspects of your truck, this new Raptor will satisfy.
The extended cab and the crew cab have slightly different suspension feel. If you are a highly skilled off-road driver – the smaller and lighter Super cab will provide a more satisfying off-road drive as you approach the limits of man and machine.
Although, the payload and towing remain the same as before. The extended cab is rated to tow a maximum of 6,000 lbs and the crew a maximum of 8,000 lbs. Ford says this compromise is made in the name of more controlled off-road performance.
The new 2019 Raptor does not have a V8 under the hood, but the new shocks and availability of Trail Control (slow speed cruise control) take the truck to the next level. All of this comes at a price.
The 2019 Raptor crew cab starts at $55,840 before destination charges. A fully optioned crew cab truck can reach $77,590 or slightly more, depending on selected accessories.