The 2019 Ford F-150 Raptor upgrades the now-legendary off-pavement dirt flinger with some added goodies. These improve the Raptor's already impressive off-road performance with better digging, crawling, and bouncing capabilities. We loved the redneck dream truck in 2017 and love it even more now.

Compared to the test model of the Raptor we drove in 2017, the 2019 model we drove was only different in that it had received the upgrades now standard for 2019. The greatest of those changes are with the industry-exclusive use of Fox Racing Shox with live-valve technology, which adjust to the terrain in real-time. Both driver input and sensors program those adjustments, aiming for comfort, better stability, or stronger bottom-out resistance.

"Paired with Raptor's Terrain Management System, Live Valve suspension technology uses sensors in the suspension and body to continually adjust damping in real-time and can increase the truck's high-speed off-road capability while also improving low-speed off-road performance with new Trail Control," says Samantha Vanhoef, Truck Communications Manager at Ford.

That Trail Control system she mentions is another major upgrade for the 2019 Raptor. It works kind of like cruise control for low speeds while off-roading. It's like a next-generation crawl control, adding throttle management and braking at each wheel independently so that the driver can concentrate on the trail instead of power management.

The Raptor also has newly-designed Recaro sport seats for better driver and front passenger comfort and security in both low- and high-speed off-road driving. The seats are not as aggressive or lightweight as those found in other Ford performance models, keeping the comfort of a pickup truck in mind with their design. Both my bulky six-foot three-inch (1.9 m) frame and a friend's thinner build were well accommodated in these new seats.

Other changes to the 2019 Ford Raptor are mostly cosmetic, with the Raptor graphic at the rear fender being larger and more legible, and new colors being offered for this model year, including the Velocity Blue our test model was painted with.

The 2019 Raptor otherwise keeps things as they were. The 450-horsepower (335.5-kW) turbocharged V6 begins spooling the turbos at 1,800 rpm and they're spinning at full speed by 2,200 rpm. This means full power delivery at relatively low rpm rates, which is a big deal in a truck like the Raptor. Maximum horsepower is delivered at 5,000 rpm and maximum torque at just 3,500 rpm. Gear ratios, starting at 4.69 in first gear, are also aggressive for the truck with the top gears in the 10-speed automatic transmission aiming towards highway fuel economy.

Another thing we noticed in our week of off-pavement good times in the 2019 Ford F-150 Raptor was the amazing amount of wheel reach it achieves. There are 13 inches of suspension travel up front and 13.9 inches in the rear, but adding the crawl feature and newer shocks, the Raptor now appears better at keeping its wheels flat to the ground and delivering power more evenly. That amount of reach meant that the Raptor was capable of going places we normally reserve only for Jeep Wranglers and similar rock-crawling rigs on our short list of extreme capability machines.

The Raptor sports 11.5 inches (29.2 cm) of ground clearance at the lowest point, a 30.2-degree approach angle, and a 23-degree departure angle. Breakover is 21.8 degrees (SuperCrew cab) or 22.9 degrees (SuperCab). That last number changes with the wheelbase difference between the shorter SuperCab option at 134.2 inches (340.8 cm) and 146 inches (370.8 cm) with the larger SuperCrew cabin.

The 2019 Ford Raptor is a surprisingly excellent off-road vehicle that has earned its reputation for hootin-hollerin' good times.

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