Until now, you had two choices for four-wheel-drive systems in trucks.
The electronic torque-on-demand route is more of an all-wheel-drive setup, using clutches to engage and disengage the not-normally-driven axle—in a full-size pickup's case, the front. Shift-on-the-fly systems employ mechanical locks in the transfer case to transmit power and torque with more of a full-time commitment. The new Ford Raptor gets both.
The 2016 Raptor's transfer case will be able to switch to four-wheel when necessary for on-road duties via electronic clutches. When it's time to leave the pavement—or, indeed, the ground entirely—mechanical locks will kick in and provide solid, durable power transfer for that desert run or rock-crawling excursion. Ford tells us this is the first system of this kind.
This new t-case will weigh marginally more than the previous on-the-fly system, but we're told the benefits greatly outweigh that, making the new Raptor a lot more streetable. Add to that the fact that the new Raptor will be 500 pounds lighter and more powerful than before, and we can easily let the added weight of the more complex system slide.
In fact, because of the lower weight, we're told the new truck had a tendency to spin tires, so the normal mode, which will call up the front axle just like an all-wheel-drive vehicle, was almost necessary. (We may have to switch to another mode for that gratuitous tire spinning anyway.)
While the big, hulking 2017 truck won't quite be the Lightning replacement some have hoped for, it sure sounds like it has made up for some roadgoing shortcomings of the old model.
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The Terrain Select system offers a Street mode, and there's a new 10-speed automatic transmission that should aid acceleration and also keep things civil at highway speeds while not using a barrel of fuel an hour. Slap some street tires on it and this should bethe quickest F-150 at the drag strip.
On second thought, who needs a Lightning?