The high-speed off-roader uses a trick transfer case with clutch and and mechanical engagement.
What’s the difference between four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive? That’s a question many people have asked over the years, because they aren’t the same. To keep things simple, all-wheel drive systems are generally clutch-based, whereas four-wheel drive systems utilize a mechanical connection where components are locked. In real-world applications, all-wheel drive is better suited functioning all the time, on both loose and high-traction surfaces. Four-wheel drive systems are far more robust for off-roading, and because they use locked mechanical connections, are not suitable for full-time engagement. Just ask any pickup truck owner about replacing expensive front hubs because they didn’t unlock when four-wheel drive was disengaged.
We offer this description because Ford’s new F-150 Raptor has both designs. It uses a Terrain Management System with a dual-mode transfer case, featuring clutch-based all-wheel drive functionality and electronic lockers for proper mechanical connections when off-roading.
“Raptor’s transfer case provides the best of both worlds, with the natural benefits from all-wheel drive, such as increased traction in rain and snow, as well as extreme off-road capability that comes with a mechanically locked system,” said Tony Greco, Ford F-150 Raptor program manager, in a press release.
All functions are controlled through the Raptor’s Terrain Management System. For every day commuting, Raptor drivers can use the 4x4 auto setting. This uses the clutch-based feature of the transfer case to transmit power to the front axles, and can be fine-tuned by selecting weather mode for slippery conditions, or sport mode, which sends more power to the rear for spirited driving.
When the road ends, drivers can select mud/sand mode to automatically engage 4x4 high using a traditional, mechanical engagement. Rock crawl mode engages 4x4 low for low-speed maneuvering with an additional gear reduction ratio. Drivers can also manually override the settings to fine-tune the Raptor’s performance for the specific situation, be it sailing down trails at speed or navigating a crowded mall parking lot. We've had the opportunity to experience the Raptor's capabilities first hand, and we'll give credit where credit is due. Whether launching over dunes or towing a Mercedes wagon, the Raptor seems eager to please.
Combined with a 450-horsepower EcoBoost V6 and 10-speed automatic transmission, Ford is betting heavily on the new Raptor to be an even bigger success than the previous generation. That said, Ford F-Series sales declined slightly in April, though dealers report strong demand for the revamped off-roader.