Ford Raptor covers terrain efficiently

Driving modes - Normal, Sport, Weather, Mud/Sand, Baja, Rock Crawl

Published: July 10, 2016, 5:30 PM
Updated: November 21, 2021, 3:26 PM

2017 Ford Raptor terrain-modes display

The all-new Ford F-150 Raptor was designed with desert racing in mind and as such, it’s meant to take on just about any type of terrain, and its driver selectable 6-mode driving terrain selector makes sure it can perform at top efficiency during each type of driving.

Beyond the Normal mode (meant for everyday driving duties in and around the urban landscape by offering a blend of riding comfort and under-load performance), the F-150 can also be used in Sport mode, which increases throttle and steering response, and modifies the transmission shift map to hold gears longer in order to keep the engine in the optimum power band, while executing shifts more quickly in order to not lose power delivery during upshifts.

The other “around-town” driving mode is Weather. Choosing it again adjusts the throttle response and the shift map in order to grant the gentle control needed for slippery conditions. Weather mode also engages 4 Auto drive mode (all-wheel drive, if you will) and adjusts the tolerance in the AdvanceTrac stability control system.

But Raptor’s prime attraction is its ability to successfully and confidently tackle off-road terrain and the three remaining driving modes are meant to optimize performance in specific applications. Mud/Sand is the “mild” off-road setting for trails and paths whose surfaces are moderately loose or soft. Mud/Sand electronically locks the differential and engages 4 High (4-wheel-drive for higher speeds). Steering is also more relaxed to ensure better vehicle control on tight trails or to get past some obstacles.

At the other end of the off-road driving spectrum, Rock Crawl features low speed 4-wheel drive (4 Low) engagement and differential locking to make sure all wheels turn at the same speed. AdvanceTrac is set to the least intrusive setting (because you want all wheels turning when you’re climbing a rock face) and throttle and transmission response are both optimized for better control over power delivery. It also allows the use of the front camera so you can see what is directly in front of the truck.

But the setting that most Raptor users crave (even if they likely won’t use it much, if at all) is Baja mode. Designed for high-speed desert running, Baja mode locks the differential and places the vehicle in 4 High, programs AdvanceTrac to its least intrusive settings, and adjusts the throttle map for more linear power delivery and improved engine response. The transmission is again set to shift more quickly and hold gears longer – keeping the vehicle in its power band for optimum power delivery and usage.