Catching Air With the 2019 Ford F-150 Raptor: First Drive

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By Matthew Barnes

Today is your lucky day, especially if you want to buy a new 2019 Ford F-150 Raptor, because we had a free ticket to the same racing school all new Raptor buyers receive (at least since 2017), and we're ready to tell you how it is and what's new for the off-road monster for the 2019 model year. Completely included in the purchase price of your 2019 Ford Raptor is the opportunity for a one-day training session at the Ford Performance Racing School in Tooele Valley, Utah (owners have to pay for travel and lodging but not the class). The course allows new owners to drive the Raptor over various terrains while exposing them to Raptor's many features and capabilities. Ford invited us to attend the Raptor Assault Performance School in the newly updated 2019 Raptor and we gladly accepted.

What's New

While the 2019 Raptor has just three significant updates from the previous model year — Recaro seats, the Trail Control system and new Fox Racing Live Valve shocks — they provide some interesting benefits and expanded capabilities.

Related: 2019 Ford F-150 Raptor Will Share Trail Control With Ranger

The Recaro seats Ford is offering as an option in the 2019 F-150 Raptor are similar to those offered in the Ford GT supercar. They are comfortable and certainly helped hold drivers in place during our extreme off-road maneuvers; unfortunately, the side bolsters are not adjustable. That means they don't accommodate all body types. We advise testing them before you choose.

Think of Trail Control as a slow-motion cruise control system. It allows the driver to fine-tune the speed of the Raptor, both uphill and down, using the cruise control speed plus and minus buttons. In 4-High, the speed adjusts by 1 mph increments between 1 and 20 mph. In 4-Low, the speed adjusts by 0.5 mph increments with a range of 1 to 10 mph. Trail Control adjusts throttle and brake inputs automatically to keep the Raptor moving at your selected and desired speed; all the driver needs to do is steer.

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The final update for the 2019 Raptor is the Fox 3-inch diameter, Internal Bypass Live Valve shocks. These shocks have nine different zones and additional adjustable damping that uses a solenoid to adjust the hydraulic pressure within the shock. The Raptor uses inputs from the steering angle, throttle position, front ride height sensors, accelerometer and brakes to determine how much damping should be applied for the situation at hand. This adjustability provides a smooth, on-road ride while preserving the ability to jump without bottoming out the shocks.

So how did all this new technology work in the real world? In short, quite well, but there is always room for improvement.

How It Drives

We used Trail Control on various steep grades, both up and down, and found that the system was more fluid and quieter than many similar systems we've tried. The braking system is much less intrusive and noisy compared to Toyota and Land Rover systems, which means less jerking and fewer unnerving sounds from the anti-lock braking system.

Using Trail Control while driving in Baja mode in 4-High on some rough roads allowed us to run at speeds up to 20 mph. Trail Control kept us moving at the desired speed regardless of how rocky, steep or smooth the road was. On the other end of the spectrum, running Trail Control in Rock mode for climbing jagged shelves at more precise speeds made climbing a breeze. There were a few times when the Raptor, in order to climb a small obstacle, revved the engine speed higher than needed and lurched forward only to apply the brakes quickly to bring the speed back down. It took time to trust the Trail Control system to do its job; initially is was difficult to resist using the brakes.

When descending steeper grades, Trail Control functions just like a normal hill decent control system and keeps the Raptor moving at the set speed. There are no additional buttons to push to switch from climbing to descending, which makes the system incredibly easy to operate — just set it and forget it.

Still, there is room for improvement, especially when the front tires overcome an obstacle, but the rear tires still need to be careful. We had one situation where the engine throttled up our speed after the front tires made it through to the tough stuff, but the rear tires still had not hit the ruts. It seems like there needs to be some extra software tuning at the slowest settings. Still, Trail Control is a top-tier technology that few manufacturers have dialed in so well. We enjoyed using it in a variety of situations and found it exceptionally smooth over tough obstacles.

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As for the new Ranger-specific Fox Internal Bypass Live Valve shocks, standard on all 2019 Raptors, they are superbly integrated with the suspension in both high- and low-speed scenarios.

There are always compromises in a vehicle that is street legal and tuned for serious off-roading, but having adjustable shocks is the most obvious way to minimize having to choose between a good ride on or off pavement. Driving on pavement, the 2019 Raptor leans less in the corners than previous versions, and performs surprisingly well when pushed, delivering a firm-yet-comfortable ride. Heading onto high-speed dirt roads, the damping feels soft and accommodating of undulations. Get into whoops and the damping increases to prevent the shocks from bottoming out.

Additionally, the live valve shocks will adjust not only to the terrain, but the driver. In discussing how the inputs affect the damping of the shocks, Ford Performance instructor Chris Paiva said if the driver is being aggressive, the damping of the shocks will learn from those inputs over time and increase the firmness when compared to someone who takes it easy. The increased damping helps prevent the shocks from bottoming out when a sudden or unexpected hit happens.

Related: 2019 Ford F-150 Raptor Moves to Active Racing Shocks

At the end of the day on the trails, we headed back to the Ford Performance school to jump the Raptors on a dedicated, closed-course track. Most production vehicle engineers don't have to think about what to do with the shocks and suspension to compensate for landing an airborne vehicle. Ford engineers do. The Fox live valve shocks are smart enough to detect when the Raptor is off the ground and can instantly respond to set the shocks to the stiffest damping possible. This worked extremely well on the track. The shocks provided for a smooth, worry-free landing, without any of the harsh impacts we expected. If any of the Raptors that day bottomed out their shocks completely after a jump, we didn't notice.

Final Assessment

The 2019 Ford F-150 Raptor claims an immense amount of off-road capability for a street-legal production pickup and backs up those claims with almost unbelievable performance both on and off pavement. While Trail Control could still use some tuning work, it is one of the best off-road cruise-control systems we've ever driven (and for context, my most recent drives include Jeep's Selec-Speed Control in the Cherokee Trailhawk and Crawl Control in the Toyota Land Cruiser). What really makes a difference in the 2019 Raptor, compared to previous model-year Raptors and competitors' off-road vehicles, are the impressive Fox live valve shocks — just that technology alone is worth the price of admission for this ride.

You can find more information about the Raptor Assault Performance School on its website.

Cars.com photos by Matthew Barnes; manufacturer images

 

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Comments

The F150 platform, in general, is starting to look pretty dated. Only the Tundra looks more out of place alongside the updated offerings from GM, Nissan and RAM.

I see many Raptors in Eastern PA. Too bad most of them will only see life as mall crawlers. Say what you will about the Raptor but Ford sells more than it should. Most will never see their full potential used. Not practical for me but very cool truck if I lived in the Southwest

A cool truck and an expensive toy. Right or wrong the truck other off-road trucks are judged by.

Most production vehicle engineers don't have to think about what to do with the shocks and suspension to compensate for landing an airborne vehicle. Ford engineers do.----> NUTS!!! CRAZINESS!!!
I love the Raptor but, as Grnzel brought up..., it's hard to justify taking that much money and not use it to it's full potential.
However..., The Raptor is on my Christmas list..., along with the new 96" Lazer Z from eXmark…, Hey Santa...

......Right or wrong the truck other off-road trucks are judged by.


Posted by: Just the truth | Nov 20, 2018 6:42:13 AM


Excerpt from the article above:

"Still, there is room for improvement, ......."

Looks like someone out there is doing it better.

Big deal, where is the news on the off road Rivian truck scheduled for reveal in 10 days or less? Very likely, it will make this Raptor look even dumber. Off Road Rivian truck will have 450 miles of range and a 0-60 of 2.8 seconds.

Looks like a smooth ramp with a smooth landing pad, which rarely happens in real life.
I used to do that with my 63 Rambler 330 Classic.
Would like to see a video of a Raptor landing off kilter at speed.

Ford the only of the "Big 3" that is American, not gone bankrupt, has not been taken over/sold/given/traded/merged, didn't take a bailout and builds a world class Halo Super Car, and world class Halo Super Truck.

Oh and by the way the 3.5 EB V6 in the Raptor makes it the 1/2 ton class leading engine in power. Sorry Chevy, 6.2 High Country 420/460 is less than the Raptor HO's 450/510. Not that it matters in a recent "Best of" comparison the Chevy could only "best" the Titan.

Craptor economy boost, rated the highest power, but we all know GM knows how to put more power to the wheels,

OVERPRICED JUNK-----------HAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

how's your reaper coming?

@ clint

Class leading nonsense again. We all know it wint put the numbers down on the dyno. Just like the comparison test. Wake up and have a cup of coffee man.

@TNT
What you crying about now, you need to go away.

stop using invalid dyno #'s as reasoning. you haven't questioned the results when there are discrepancies with all trucks

@ frank

All u do is whine. I read talking to Clint. Not u clown.

We all know it wint put the numbers down on the dyno. Just like the comparison test. Wake up and have a cup of coffee man.


Posted by: TNTGMC | Nov 20, 2018 9:26:43 AM

ok let's take a moment here and think about what you just said

the 6.2 420 HP 460 TQ
the 3.5 Eco 375 HP 470 TQ

the best the 6.2 beat the Eco by .28 seconds empty
all this after 40 more HP, new 10 speed tranny, upgraded AFM, and it lost weight,
it seems to me that GM maybe the one having problems putting the power to the ground,

@ drools

Do u hear yourself? 280 is acceptable when Ford claims 470? Wow, and the truck had 11k miles in it! Class leading nonsense is a joke. Ford doesn't show up to the comparisons. Just like the diesel didn't. It claims class leading but get beat

The EcoBoost did not win 1 performance category on last test done. It only won the mpgs...lol, which it should have bc it was broken in! Even a clown on here who drives a car knows that!

U go ahead and keep believing the lies. I'll drive the truck the performs the best and does truck duties the best

Have a great day!

tntOnline has another hissy fit.

@ "it"

Bc it's the truth and u and the fanboys dont like the truth. Doesn't make it a hissy fit. You just can't handle the truth...bc its facts in front your 20 multiple personalities, instead of made up garbage that you spew out.

@tnt so you believe the ram and the titans dyno #'s are correct too?

@ drools

Do u hear yourself? 280 is acceptable when Ford claims 470? Wow, and the truck had 11k miles in it! Class leading nonsense is a joke. Ford doesn't show up to the comparisons. Just like the diesel didn't. It claims class leading but get beat

The EcoBoost did not win 1 performance category on last test done. It only won the mpgs...lol, which it should have bc it was broken in! Even a clown on here who drives a car knows that!

U go ahead and keep believing the lies. I'll drive the truck the performs the best and does truck duties the best

Have a great day!


Posted by: TNTGMC | Nov 20, 2018 11:53:26 AM

wow you really are a "tard" the 6.2 TQ came 315 that from 460 even you can't be that stupid can you
you keep believing them GM lies, they can't put the power to the ground the 6.2 struggles to beat the 3.5 and that's at sea
level, and a new 10 speed tranny, upgraded motor AGAIN and it lost weight and the best it can beat the 3.5 is by .28 seconds you do realize in the real world that ain't S&!t back to the drawing board for GM HAHAHAHAHAHA
take off the hate blinders son it makes you look like a fool

Does ram and titan claim "class leading"? That's my point. Wake up! Its nonsense

@ drools

Your hopeless. It lost ALL performance categories and your trying to defend it. You sound like Hillary Clinton!! Classic blinders there folks

What a complete clown u are!!

Btw...316 is way better than 280!! And gm doesn't claim class leading. I think u are the "tard" and a sucker!!

Butt hurt Fanboys make 9th grade hormonally imbalanced girls appear normal.

Just because your fav truck maker can't or won't make a Raptor fighter doesn't mean you can't buy something to compensate for your shortcomings.

tntOnline progresses to a multi-posting hissy fit.

@TNT. You are a smart guy and I know you do not believe that the dyno numbers are correct. PUTC put the 3.5 on a chassis dyno when the 3.5 first came out and the gen 1 produced 360 lb-ft. The 280 from this test is total error on the part of the operator set up. If you dont belive me, look it up. Its right here on this site. I never expected the 3.5 to be faster than the 6.2 at sea level. The 6.2 is a fantastic power plant. But you must admit the 3.5 gave it a good run for its money and I would bet the H.O 3.5 in the limited would take the 6.2 9 times out of 10

what smokin said. i would guess the 6.2 was dyno'd first and the dyno was only set up so that the wheel speed calibration was only correct for the 6.2 and was off for all of the others

The Raptor didn't need to be improved. Ford did it anyway.

@ drools

Your hopeless. It lost ALL performance categories and your trying to defend it. You sound like Hillary Clinton!! Classic blinders there folks

What a complete clown u are!!


Posted by: TNTGMC | Nov 20, 2018 12:21:10 PM

i'm not defending the 3.5 all i'm saying is the numbers for both trucks are down on the dyno
the point is the 3.5 has more TQ than the 6.2 but has less HP on paper if those numbers are correct why is the 6.2 not beating the 3.5 by FULL SECONDS instead of a mere .28 seconds, the only reason i'm beating your door down is when the news came out about the 2019 6.2 with it's 10 speed tranny, updated motor and losing weight you said it would blow the 3.5 away i'm still waiting for that to happen

@ Smokin

Oh I have seen many ecoboost post very good numbers on the dyno. I'm just pointing out that it was a terrible showing. Maybe it was or wasn't an error? We will probably never know. But the GM trucks put descent numbers down compared to a supposed class leading truck! You have to admit, it gets the fords guys all bent out of shape though

@Drools

we shall see how the 3.5HO does? Keep waiting bc thats what ford has been doing since the 6.2 was introduced. Waiting to find a way to beat it! Thats a fact!

Have a great day!

Excerpt from the article above:

"Still, there is room for improvement, ......."

Looks like someone out there is doing it better.


Posted by: GMSRGREAT | Nov 20, 2018 7:23:39 AM

And yet a clean sheet design 2019 Silverado comes in second to last in a recent PUTC comparison.

Looks like that truck is in need of major improvement

Looks like that truck is in need of major improvement
Posted by: papajim | Nov 20, 2018

FAKE Papa

we shall see how the 3.5HO does? Keep waiting bc thats what ford has been doing since the 6.2 was introduced. Waiting to find a way to beat it! Thats a fact!

Have a great day!


Posted by: TNTGMC | Nov 20, 2018 2:02:35 PM

yes it is a fact, i like the 6.2 in the GMC i think it's a nice looking truck, and is why i'm frustrated with GM they had a chance to put the competition to rest this year with it's refreshed line and instead no power increases, new 10 speed, lost weight, upgraded AFM and the best it can do is .28 seconds very frustrating

@ clint

Class leading nonsense again. We all know it wint put the numbers down on the dyno. Just like the comparison test. Wake up and have a cup of coffee man.


Posted by: TNTGMC | Nov 20, 2018 9:26:43 AM

The 6.2 lost to a 5.0 F-150 in the latest TFL real world drag results. LOL

@Drools

we shall see how the 3.5HO does? Keep waiting bc thats what ford has been doing since the 6.2 was introduced. Waiting to find a way to beat it! Thats a fact!

Have a great day!


Posted by: TNTGMC | Nov 20, 2018 2:02:35 PM

You need a nap. The Ford tows more, hauls more and sells more. Those are real Facts, not some bone head opinion like you call facts.

F-150 5.0 CRUSHES GM 6.2 in V8 drag race.
https://www.tfltruck.com/2018/11/2019-worlds-toughest-truck-drag-race-v8-edition/


F-150 Takes top 3 spots with Raptor, 3.5 Eco Boost and 2.7 Eco Boost all besting GM 6.2, scroll down to see results of Super Duty CRUSHING duramax...

https://www.tfltruck.com/2018/04/quickest-trucks-0-60-mph-in-america/

F-150 Wins again over GM 6.2....... yawn...

https://www.tfltruck.com/2018/11/whats-the-fastest-half-ton-you-can-buy-2019-toughest-truck-drag-race-1-video/

What of waste of money ,,, useless

The previous Raptors absolutely had a flawed rear suspension.

The independent testers all know about it, You can read it on their websites. I have posted the quotes here and other places way before Ford announced they had to change the rear suspension.

and owners know it too. Dealers know, but don't talk about it.

And Ford, knows about it very well, and that is why they changed the rear suspension.

So all you ignorrant people should stop claiming things you don't know about.

It is sometimes O.K. to be ignorant , but it is not to be ignorant and assert that you are not.

So please get things straight.

And yet a clean sheet design 2019 Silverado comes in second to last in a recent PUTC comparison.

Looks like that truck is in need of major improvement

Posted by: papajim | Nov 20, 2018 2:03:45 PM

No Worries, Ford still behind in all performance categories. Time for Ford to change out the grille again;

So how many folks are drinking from the gm koolaide dispenser?
It’s jealously of the Raptor being a superior vehicle to every truck gm designs/makes.
Remember gm fans..., Don’t Drink and Drive

It’s jealously of the Raptor being a superior vehicle to every truck gm designs/makes.

Posted by: The Lawn Ranger | Nov 20, 2018 10:16:09 PM

What is the towing and cargo capacity of this Raptor?

Gretta..., don't get mad or excited and have all your characters/personalities come out around the gm koolaide dispenser..., especially this close to a holiday!
Or at least..., Don't Drink and Drive...

That is pretty awesome that they can regularly jump that truck on the track that high without any worries of damage or even a hard landing. That would be incredibly fun. Jumping a side by sde on a track like that was one of the funnest things I've ever done. Funner than any rolllercoaster I've experienced.

Notice they only show the Crapter in the air. It's not the jumping that kills them it's the landing that destroys the front end.

I wonder if the frame bends in half like the others did? hahaha

GUTS

GLORY

CLASS LEADING

RAM REBEL AND POWER WAGON



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