What is Ford Trail Control?

Christian Wardlaw | Jun 25, 2021

Ford Trail Control is an off-road cruise control system that handles acceleration and braking in extreme off-roading conditions so the driver can focus on steering and choosing the best path forward. It debuted in the previous-generation F-150 Raptor and has since expanded to other vehicles in the Ford lineup of pickup trucks and rugged SUVs.

2021 Ford Bronco Sasquatch Area 51 On Trail

How Does Ford Trail Control Work? - Find the best Ford deals!

Ford Trail Control works similar to a highway adaptive cruise control system but operates only in low-speed, off-roading situations. To use Trail Control, the driver activates the 4-wheel-drive system, turns on the technology, and sets a speed between 1 mph and 20 mph.

From this point on, Trail Control manages throttle and braking inputs to maintain that set speed whether the vehicle is traveling up a hill, descending a grade, or powering across challenging terrain. It works in all 4WD modes and automatically directs engine torque to the wheels with traction.

Drivers can also adjust the set speed. For example, if you descend a grade at 4 mph, and then the trail levels out and becomes less challenging, you can increase the vehicle’s speed to up to 20 mph. Upon reaching another problematic portion of the trail, you can reduce the speed again.

When to Use Ford Trail Control - Find the best Ford deals!

If you’ve ever taken a pickup truck or an SUV on a challenging trail and encountered seemingly insurmountable hills, death-defying descents, or rain-carved crevasses, you know how hard it can be to accelerate, brake, and steer in the smoothest manner possible to maintain or limit momentum as is necessary. This difficulty is especially acute if boulders that require careful navigation are strewn across the trail.

In these situations, Ford Trail Control is instrumental. Drivers can choose a speed between 1 mph and 20 mph, and Trail Control takes over the acceleration and braking tasks to maintain a steady rate of speed up, down, over, and around the challenges that lay ahead. This action allows the driver to focus solely on steering the vehicle, ever mindful of roll angle to ensure the vehicle doesn’t slip sideways off the trail or roll over onto its side. Ford also says that Trail Control is helpful if your vehicle gets stuck in the sand. 

Naturally, before you tackle any part of an unknown trail or section of terrain, you must scout the way forward. Assess your intended path of travel to ensure your vehicle can pass through or over the terrain, determine where you might turn around should you reach an impasse, and consider your vehicle’s approach, breakover, and departure angles in addition to ground clearance.

Ford Trail Control can help a driver, but it cannot rescue you from poor judgment. 

What is the Ford Trail Toolbox? - Find the best Ford deals!

Starting with the 2021 Ford Bronco, the automaker began offering a package of off-roading technology it calls the Ford Trail Toolbox. This collection of systems includes Trail Control and adds Trail One-Pedal Drive and Trail Turn Assist.

Trail One-Pedal Drive works similarly to one-pedal driving in an electric vehicle. You press on the accelerator to make the truck or SUV go, and when you release your foot, the brakes activate to slow the vehicle down. This technology is most effective in extreme off-roading situations, such as rock crawling.

Trail Turn Assist is also part of the Ford Trail Toolbox. This technology helps to make a truck or SUV more maneuverable when negotiating tight turns in a trail. It brakes the inside rear wheel to tighten the turning radius.

What Ford models have Trail Control? - Find the best Ford deals!

In addition to the Ford F-150 Raptor, Trail Control is available on several of the company’s trucks and SUVs. For example, the new-for-2021 Ford F-150 Tremor offers the technology, as do the Tremor versions of the F-250 and F-350 Super Duty. You can also get Trail Control on the Ford Ranger midsize pickup truck, the new 2021 Bronco, and the smaller Bronco Sport.

Summary - Find the best Ford deals!

Ford Trail Control, and the other contents of the Ford Trail Toolbox, are helpful to anyone who plans to tackle challenging off-roading situations. To off-road driving enthusiasts, they’re akin to a launch-control or a drift-control system in a high-performance car, helping any driver take maximum advantage of a vehicle’s capabilities. Plus, they offer an extra measure of safety to handle unanticipated situations. 

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