The new Ford F-150 Raptor is the latest iteration of Ford’s trophy-truck-inspired nameplate. The 2021 model emerges from the far side of Ford’s overhaul of its entire F-150 lineup looking on paper like merely an update of last year’s truck, but while the changes may be largely evolutionary, their impacts could prove to be revolutionary. The powertrain may largely carry over from 2019, but new features like a completely redesigned, coil-based suspension and 37-inch factory tire option will turn some heads.
“Raptor is the original desert truck. We just took it to another level,” said Ali Jammoul, Ford Performance vehicle program director. “The all-new Raptor splices high-speed off-road performance muscle with advanced technology and connectivity that come together in a unique Built Ford Tough way.”
By far, the biggest news here is the Raptor’s rear suspension, which is now a coil-sprung, five-link setup employing extra-long trailing arms and a Panhard rod along with Fox Live Valve internal-bypass shocks with double the damping capability of the outgoing truck’s. The new coil springs should also substantially improve the Raptor’s on-road manners, keeping it in line with Ram’s 702-horsepower TRX in the ride and handling department, at least.
Ford bases the Raptor on the same fundamental frame as the max-payload variant of the base F-150, but the Raptor gets unique reinforcements and re-engineering out back to accommodate the coil suspension. Sorry, max-payload F-150 owners, but you won’t be swapping in the Raptor’s rear setup without some custom fabrication; anything is possible with enough time and money, right?
Thanks to this new setup, total suspension travel now checks in at 14 inches up front and 15 in the rear — up from 13″ and 13.9″, respectively, for the outgoing truck. That’s for Raptors with the standard 35-inch tire setup; the 37-inch option drops those to 13″ up front and 14.1″ in the rear.
Like the rear suspension, the 37-inch wheel and tire package is more than just a bolt-on affair. Opting for it will pigeon-hole you into a bed/subframe configuration that was engineered specifically to clear the larger-diameter tires, and it also comes with an even beefier variant of the standard Fox shocks. So, while Ford may be offering the truck with 37s from the factory, that doesn’t mean you can just mount 37s (OEM or otherwise) to any old Raptor.
With the standard 35-inchers, you get 12 inches of ground clearance, an approach angle of 31 degrees, departure angle of 23.9° and a breakover angle of 22.7°. The 37-inch tire buys you another 1.1 inches of ground clearance, a 0.1° approach angle improvement, a 1.0° degree departure angle improvement, and a sweet 1.4° improvement in breakover angle. The total body lift provided by the 37-inch tires is approximately 1.8 inches.
With that out of the way, let’s move on to powertrain. The Raptor gets a standard four-wheel-drive system with an electronic locking rear differential and optional limited-slip up front. As in the rest of the F-150 lineup, the standard transmission is a 10-speed automatic, which is offered here with a one-pedal driving mode similar to that found in many newer EVs.
Frustratingly, Ford is keeping a tight lid on its plans for what lurks beneath the hood of the 2021 Raptor. All we know is that the High Output variant of the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 is returning; both its power and torque figures have yet to be finalized.
Keep in mind, the standard 3.5-liter EcoBoost now produces 400 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque in a garden-variety F-150. Last time around, there was a 75-horsepower gap between the base and High Output variants of that engine, which makes it safe to assume that this year’s Raptor will offer somewhere in the ballpark of 475 horsepower standard, which would be a bump of 25 horses over the old Raptor. For added sportiness, the Raptor gets a new active dual exhaust system (complete with “good neighbor” mode).
For now, all of this is pure speculation, but there have also been rumors that Ford will go with a two-engine strategy for the updated Raptor, with the 3.5L High Output anchoring the mainstream end of the lineup and either a 5.2L supercharged V8 (lifted from the Mustang Shelby GT500) or perhaps a juiced-up version of the 3.5L PowerBoost hybrid in a high-performance model intended to compete with the aforementioned TRX.
When it came time to tackle the bodywork, Ford turned to one of the Raptor’s long-running inspirations: the F-22 fighter jet of the same name. The angular outline of the ultra-wide grille (sorry, that’s going to be a tough swap, too, folks) hints at the stealth fighter’s gaping intakes, which also inspired the heat extraction vents on the truck’s fenders. There’s even an available bed graphics package with a pattern designed to mimic the F22’s afterburners.
Inside, there are plenty of Raptor-exclusive goodies, starting with its unique steering wheel with contrast-color suede inserts. Like all F-150s, Raptor gets Ford’s new Sync 4 infotainment system, which Ford hopes to one day upgrade to allow for trail map downloads via its new over-the-air update system. All of the rest of the F-150’s equipment largely carries over, including options like the interior work surface and the 2.0-kilowatt Pro Power On Board generator. Notable exceptions include the fold-flat front seats, the park assist system and the multi-contour seating option (which isn’t compatible with the Raptor’s more pronounced bolsters).
We expect full packaging and pricing to be announced late this spring. Ford says production should start by the end of Q2 (barring any unforeseen calamities) with the first deliveries starting in late summer.