Ford's Newest Raptor Sinks Its Talons Into The Future Of Off-Roading

When Ford first took the veil off the Raptor it was something of a game changer. They served up a versatile truck you didn't have to modify to go seriously fast off-road.

Naturally, the newest version surpasses previous iterations—Ford won't give specifics yet, other than to say it's now got "more than" the previous model's 411 hp. But the most amazing thing is under the hood, or rather, what's not there.

The engine's a 3.5L EcoBoost V6. There's no V8 option even available in the new Raptor, though if the new V6 can match the power and heat characteristics of the old engine while cutting weight at the same time, the V8 is reduced to gratuitous aural enhancement.

The V6 partners with Ford's much-publicized aluminum F-150 frame to shave over 500 pounds off the total weight. In other words, the shock absorbers don't need to work as hard to keep the truck from bottoming out as it descends to Earth. Still, the suspension's been revamped and offers up quite a bit more travel than before.

Of course, all the numbers don't mean anything without performance to back them up, so Ford's engineers completely revamped the four-wheel-drive system to make it more versatile. You can keep moving whether you're in two foot deep mud or charging up a sandy embankment.

There's an excellent chance that, unless you're a professional off-road racer, this is a better truck than you are a driver, so it comes with six different traction control modes so you don't kill yourself, or your Raptor. There are even two settings for deserts, to help out when you're either trudging through a dune or blasting across a lakebed.

The interior's a few steps up from the F-150 in terms of materials, but the real change is the paddle shifters used to control the cutting-edge 10-speed transmission. It's one less thing to think about while you're bouncing around.

There's also a set of switches built into the roof, so that if you decide to add some aftermarket goodies (e.g. a winch to pull you out of a bad spot), it'll still look original.

Getting down into the details, Ford's engineers spent a good amount of time working on the Raptor's front and rear cameras, so you can clearly see which rocks are about to pop your tires, even if it's in the middle of a nighttime dust storm.

Aaron Miller is the Rides editor for Supercompressor, and can be found on Twitter. He's looking forward to getting dirty in this one.