Ford Raptor packs in Baja mode for off-road shenanigans
As traction control, engine mapping and suspension systems become more sophisticated, it's becoming possible to change a car's character at the push of a button. In the Ford F-150 Raptor, those drive modes will let you turn your road-going truck into everything from a rock-crawler to a wannabe Baja racer.
There are six options on the Raptor's mode switch, kicking off with the fairly self-explanatory Normal. Flicking on from there will put you into Sport mode, with a sharper throttle, weighty steering and a more aggressive gearbox tune. This is the same setup you get on the Mustang, although you're sitting slightly higher in the Raptor.
When the going gets tough, you've got access to a weather mode, which softens the throttle, gives you earlier gearshifts and permanent four-wheel drive for improved traction. Unfortunately, that also spoils the fun on a wet, twisting road, so we'd steer clear unless you're traversing snowy passes.
Moving further off-road, there is a mud and sand mode with light steering, a locked rear differential and permanent four-wheel drive for easier trail-driving, while rock crawl puts the car in low range, locks the electronic differential and cuts electronic interference so drivers have full control over proceedings.
The icing on the cake is Baja mode, which is designed to combine the car's mechanical and electronic hardware for high-speed desert driving. Locked into four-wheel drive mode, Ford's electronic nannies will only intervene in extreme circumstances, allowing the driver to enjoy the linear power delivery, fast gearshifts and improved throttle response without being hindered by a flashing traction light.
These different modes will work with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 and a 10-speed automatic gearbox to make the Raptor faster, more efficient and more fun than the one before it. The car will be available from September 2016.
A video demonstration of the Raptor's drive modes is below.