Ford debuted the 2021 F-150 Raptor in the sands of the Baja desert. Our Raptor adventures have taken us through pastoral summer fields and muddy spring trails. But why haven’t we tested the F-150 Raptor’s capability in the snow? This was the question I could not leave unanswered when six inches of fresh powder fell and the temperature plummeted into the low single digits. While many of our local enthusiasts turned to their snowmobiles, I picked up Ken and took a slightly different approach to our snow day.
The 2021 F-150, be it in Lariat trim or this Raptor, feels modern and luxurious. The massive 12-inch touchscreen and digital gauge cluster are crisp and responsive and Ford hasn’t traded physical buttons for screen real estate. In fact, there is a plethora of buttons and knobs in here, all of which are easily used with gloved hands. Wireless Android Auto also worked excellently. The Raptor-specific Recaro bucket seats and our tester’s optional B&O Unleashed sound system and carbon fiber interior trim make this a very nice place to spend time. Name a modern creature comfort and the Raptor likely has it; heated and air-conditioned front seats with massage, heated power-adjustable steering wheel, adaptive cruise control with lane departure warning…the list goes on. Ford’s power folding shift lever and interior work surface with a full 120V interior outlet provide an excellent place to prep my camera equipment. What more could I possibly need I head out into the woods? How about 450 horsepower and a foot of ground clearance?
The major mechanical changes for the third-generation Raptor come in the rear suspension. As we detailed in our debut post, the F-150 Raptor now features a five-link rear suspension with rear coil springs and FOX Live Valve internal bypass shocks. I wouldn’t be testing the full 15 inches of suspension travel in the snow, but the coil springs do make a world of difference in the Raptor’s on-road driving. The ride quality, stability in corners, and body control under heavy breaking are all greatly improved over the previous generation. The Raptor handles like a sport truck with nicely weighted steering and a surprising amount of stability in corners even on 35-inch all-terrain tires. But what the suspension change did for the Raptor pales in comparison to the new exhaust. Ford Performance fitted a 3-inch equal-length exhaust with a built-in X-pipe and unique “trombone loop” to the Raptor. Also benefiting from new active valves, which can be fully opened in the “off-road only” Baja mode, the F-150 Raptor has finally found its sound. With modes ranging from Quiet to Sport to Baja, the Raptor changes from a whisper to a pronounced blat with the press of a button.
It was a cold 8 degrees when we set out for a nearby state park and its miles of seasonal roads. These roads remain open to legally registered vehicles year-round but go unplowed and largely unmaintained in the winter months. This means we could explore the fresh snow in a relatively predictable environment without worrying about tight trails or coming across snowmobiles or ATVs. Dialing the Raptor into the Deep Snow drive mode engaged 4×4 High, locked the rear differential, and set the steering effort to Comfort automatically. We could have made all those changes manually but Ford’s George Forman approach to tackling terrain is easy and intuitive. Just set it and forget it. Of course, without anyone else around, we set the exhaust to Baja mode. It wouldn’t have mattered if there was 6 inches or 12 inches of snow, the Raptor tore through the forest with the EcoBoost echoing off the surrounding hills. The locked rear differential also made it easy to make some Raptor-sized snow angles in an open field.
If you’ve ever spent time on a snowmobile, you know it can be a frigid, damp, and cramped experience. In the F-150 Raptor, however, it was a comfortable 68 degrees with a toasty heated seat and some classic rock in the mix on the superb sound system. A pair of sunglasses to cut down the glare of the bright snow and some good boots to trudge ahead on the trail with the camera were all the specialty gear required to enjoy a day out in the snow. The roomy cabin had plenty of storage space and was put together with materials fitting the $77k as-tested price of the truck. And that is the brilliance of the Raptor platform, combining the creature comforts of a luxury SUV with the power and capability of an off-road race truck. It’s a family hauler, sports sedan, and trail-ready 4×4 all combined into a technology-laden and aggressively styled package. The perfect toy for a snow day.
|2022 Ford F-150 Raptor 4×4 Supercrew||$64,145|
|Equipment Group 801A||$6,150|
|Power Tech Package||$1,995|
|Raptor Carbon Fiber Package||$995|
|17″ Forged Aluminum Wheels||$1,985|
|Bedliner – ToughBed Spray-In||$595|