The 411-horse, 434-pound-foot 6.2-liter V-8 that joined the Raptor lineup midway through its freshman year now comes standard, and required little modification to shoulder the increased load capability. A higher wattage cooling fan (600 to 800 W) and a higher pressure radiator cap (20 versus 16 psi) did the trick. A new one-way clutch in the standard six-speed automatic improves the smoothness of the 1-2 upshift and permits 2-1, 3-1, and even 4-1 downshifts at wide-open throttle. But the best news on the transmission front is that after decades of bleating on the part of practically every enthusiast car critic, Ford is providing full manual control of ratio selection, via a simple +/- rocker switch on the shifter. Slip the gearshift into the "M" position and she won't upshift at redline or WOT, and downshifts are allowed at any speed that won't over-rev the engine. Or leave the shifter in "D" and click the minus switch to lock out some of the upper gear ratios, permitting full automatic shifting up to the top selected gear. This setup is just a pair of steering-wheel shift-paddles shy of perfection.

Further efforts at continuous improvement include new standard features like telescoping steering, a picture-in-picture convex spotting mirror on the driver's side, a 110-volt plug in the console, and a 4.2-inch information screen in the main gauge cluster that tells the driver which way the wheels are pointing, the truck's pitch and roll angles and fuel consumption, and what modes the various off-roading aids are set to. Two new option packages bundle power-folding mirrors and remote starting, and a backup camera and trailer-brake controller.