Car News

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor to Boast Baja Drive Mode

Ford continues to tease the forthcoming second-generation F-150 Raptor high-performance pickup, and the latest nugget brings details of the truck's six drive modes.

Settings include the expected mud/sand and rock crawl choices, but there are a couple of surprises here, like a sport mode for "spirited on-road driving" and a "Baja" mode Ford says was conceived for "high-speed desert running".

Sure, generally speaking, there's nothing new about a sport mode -- which boosts throttle response and steering feel and commands the transmission to hold gears longer -- in a sports car, but this is not the kind of thing you expect in a pickup, at least not one designed to be ace off paved surfaces rather than on them.

"Baja" mode seems a better fit. Ford says this setting optimizes the truck for sprinting across sand dunes by shifting it into 4WD high, dialing back traction and stability control intrusion and altering throttle response for what the automaker calls "more linear power and improved engine response." Honestly, this is probably the only drive mode the Raptor actually needs, as dune running is exactly what the truck was designed for, with its long-travel suspension and big power.

That said, one smart idea is the ability to use the truck's front parking camera in rock crawl mode to show what's immediately in front of the truck. Curiously, though, Ford says the rock crawl setting locks up the rear diff automatically but only prompts the driver to engage the 4WD transfer case's low-range setting, rather than make the shift automatically. We can only imagine there's some banal legal worry behind that decision.

Other settings include a weather mode that engages 4WD auto and alters traction/stability control, throttle response and transmission behaviour to improve confidence on slippery surfaces; mud/sand mode uses 4WD high and the Raptor's electronic locking diff to make the truck more sure-footed on loose surfaces, and steering assist is ramped up to make for easier navigating of tight trails at low speeds; finally, there's a "normal" mode for those epic drives to the grocery store.

The 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor is expected to go on sale this fall with a turbocharged EcoBoost engine making more than 500 hp and a new GM/Ford ten-speed automatic transmission that will be shared with the Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro, among other vehicles.