Debut: 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor

Desert Predator: Reborn

Ford pioneered the market of the desert-runner production truck with the introduction of the 2009 F-150 Raptor. Now, 12 years later, Ford is debuting the all-new 2021 F-150 Raptor; the original, the benchmark, the pride of the segment. And it’s based on the all-new 2021 F-150 platform we reviewed. Since its introduction, the Raptor has caught on like wildfire, selling more units over the last 4 years than Porsche’s entire lineup of sports cars and also the Chevrolet Corvette. 2021 brings many updates and thoughtful features to the Raptor, including several segment-firsts.

The Raptor isn’t your average truck- far from your average pickup, in fact. Designed to speed over rough terrain, and also to jump and catch air, Ford can’t just slap an appearance package on the regular F-150 and call it a day. A key aspect of what makes the Raptor unique is the upgraded suspension and chassis components. The Raptors debuts for ’21 with completely redesigned running gear. Out with the leafs and in with the coils, as the Raptor ditches its rear leaf springs and replaces them with coil springs and a new five-link rear suspension. In the rear, these coil springs are 24 inches long and have 15 inches of travel. Combine the new suspension with the new and more sophisticated engine management software and the Raptor promises better traction, quicker starts off the line, and faster acceleration while delivering improved ride, comfort and handling. These new coils are paired with next-generation FOX Live Valve internal bypass shocks, better designed to resist heat buildup and react more quickly to changes in terrain. Raptor is available with either 35 inch or 37 inch tires from the factory – the largest tires factory fitted to a production light-duty full-size pickup.

Ford’s Raptor enters its 3rd generation with a fully boxed high-strength steel frame and military-grade aluminum alloy body. The Raptor is motivated by the third-generation 3.5 liter EcoBoost V6, paired to a Ford-built 10 speed automatic transmission with an innovative torque-on-demand transfer case. Equipped with twin-turbos and a 10.5:1 compression ratio, the third-gen EcoBoost is both powerful and efficient, delivering torque low in the rev range and providing and EPA-estimated range of more than 500 miles on a full tank. Ford is debuting an innovative 3 inch equal-length exhaust on the new Raptor, featuring a built in X-pipe, unique “trombone loop” and first-for-Raptor active valves. You will get 4 distinct sound modes on the new Raptor: Quiet, Normal, Sport and Baja. Towing and payload are both up 200 pounds, to 8,200lbs and 1400lbs, respectively.

A new generation of Raptor means new tech and innovative solutions to alleviate real-world problems. If you find yourself in the desert, and need to plug into a household-style power outlet, the Raptor has you covered. Pro Power Onboard, debuted on the new F-150, can be optioned on the ’21 Raptor, providing 2.0 kilowatts of exportable output to run camp lights, power tools and other equipment. If you want to add accessory lights or equipment to the Raptor, Ford has you covered with its signature upfitter switches, built into the Raptor’s overhead console, ensuring you don’t have to add unsightly switches when you add accessories.

Raptor’s 3rd generation sees a major upgrade in teh, with a standard and customizable 12-inch digital gauge cluster and 12 inch center screen. Over-the-air updates add the capability for of digital upgrades, possibly including new trail maps, plus Trail Turn Assist, adding even more off-road capability. Ford Pass, a mobile app, offers the ability to control the Raptor from almost anywhere and to preform tasks like checking tire pressures and fuel levels, as well as locking and unlocking the Raptor. Raptor’s Terrain Management System offers a variety of drive modes, designed to offer the best performance parameters for particular conditions, including Slippery, Tow/Haul, Sport, Normal, Off-Road, and Baja and Rock Crawl. Further aiding offroad prowess is the available 360 degree camera, and standard Trail 1-Pedal Drive, a feature that allows braking by simply lifting off the throttle, with no need to step on the brake pedal. Simply press the throttle to move forward and release to brakde, and be amazed as the truck applies the brakes proportionally as the driver lifts off of the throttle. Standard Sync 4 can be paired with an available 18 speaker B&O Unleashed sound system, to further enhance the all-new interior. Ford has upgraded the Raptor’s interior with standard aluminum or available carbon fiber interior packages, and even available Recaro bucket seats.

The exterior of the Raptor has been a major selling point for the truck. Few trucks look so distinctive, aggressive or special as the Raptor. The signature FORD grille immediately identifies the new truck as Raptor, yet the exterior has been completely redesigned. The hood features a new heat extractor and functional side vents, inspired by the intakes of the F-22 Raptor fighter jet. The widebody fenders, a trademark of the Raptors of yore, are carried into this generation, designed to emulate the windswept look of dust billowing off the top of the tires at high speed. Dual exhausts with black tips and blacked-out taillights provide some aggression to the rear of the Raptor. Three different 17-inch wheels are available, including 2 with genuine beadlock capability.

The 2021 Raptor will be assembled with precision and pride in Dearborn, MI, and will be available in showrooms this summer. Raptor R will be coming next year. Once the only player in the segment, but now with real competition, Ford still has something to prove with the new Raptor. Time will tell if the new generation is a runaway success like the previous generations, but somethings are easy to predict: it will have you fantasizing about jumps, deserts and off-roading in no-time, just like a true Raptor should. And should you decide to make those fantasies into realities, the Raptor will be more than happy to oblige.

-Ken Wilson

Want more Raptor content? Check out our past reviews and more photos of the new 2021 Raptor below.

Sequel: 2017 Ford Raptor

The all-new 2017 Raptor follows the same formula as the original, but will the sequel be as good as the original?

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