2021 Ford F-150 Raptor first drive review: American badass

Nancy J. Delong

There is certainly some thing wholly enjoyable about using a well-intended device to its comprehensive possible. The best instruments are arguably those that provide greater results the more challenging they are labored. Call it grace underneath pressure, call it physical fitness of goal, call it what ever you like, it can be obvious the 2021 Ford F-one hundred fifty Raptor 4×4 has specifically this type of advantage baked into the marrow of its body, and boy, is it a thrill to discover and exploit.

While it arguably won’t glance substantially distinctive from last year’s model, this Raptor is in fact significantly new. This pickup truck not only positive aspects from practically all of the 2021 F-one hundred fifty model line’s significant inside and tech advancements, it also gains even extra extraordinary off-highway chops many thanks to a advanced new 5-hyperlink rear suspension and the availability of hulking 37-inch tires. 

Ahead of you request, a person factor that remains mostly unchanged is the 3.5-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V6, the moment all over again matched to a ten-velocity automatic transmission and tuned for 450 horsepower and 510-pound-toes of torque. There is certainly a greater compression ratio, revised software package for greater throttle reaction and new substantial-energy cooling enthusiasts for extra self-confident off-roading and towing, but that’s about the scope of the variations underhood.

Now moving into its 3rd generation and eventually struggling with its initially genuine levels of competition in the variety of Ram’s formidable 1500 TRX, this is the model that will carry the Raptor nameplate into its teenage a long time. Fortunately, a working day of pounding by means of the Mojave desert, assaulting sand dunes, blitzing over whoops and galloping across rock-strewn washes reveals not a trace of awkward adolescence. Improved even now, many thanks to an all-new multi-mode exhaust technique, the Raptor’s voice has dropped appreciably, bellowing extra loudly and extra authoritatively in a decrease sign-up. 

37-inch tires on the highway

My initially push of the Michigan-crafted 2021 Ford Raptor commences off innocuously adequate, in the shadow of the casinos and lodges of Las Vegas. I established off from Sin Town, driving on paved streets an hour out to Pahrump, a city of around forty,000 whose notable economic drivers involve — [checks Wikipedia] — Spring Mountain Motor Sports activities Ranch, Front Sight Firearms Education Institute and a pair of authorized brothels. 

In this article be 37-inch monsters.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

The push, including a detour to verify out Nevada’s beautiful Purple Rock Canyon National Conservation Region, offers me a prospect to get acquainted with my test car or truck, which is using on mondo meats: a established of freshly optional 37×12.5-inch BFGoodrich T/A K02s, the premier tires I have at any time viewed fitted to a manufacturing pickup (they are basically bigger than the Sasquatch toes on Ford’s new Bronco SUV). These tires appear as aspect of the Raptor 37 Functionality Package, a multifaceted $7,500 possibility team that features beadlock-able wheels, special shock absorbers, fetching Rhapsody Blue Recaro seats and a slew of inside and exterior trim tweaks. The tires provide killer seems to be and greater ground clearance, albeit at the expenditure of some suspension travel and unsprung weight (around six kilos for every corner).

Huge cabin and tech updates

Like most streets in Nevada that usually are not in the mountains, the highway to Pahrump is featurelessly flat, straight and sunbaked. But when it is not a wonderful position to test the Raptor’s dealing with, it is a great time to take note the Raptor’s supple experience quality and rather well-managed NVH (sounds, vibration and harshness). The big tread blocks on the BFGs never provide excessive tire roar and when the steering is light on sense and a small squishy just off centre, it can be just wonderful and shouldn’t be off-placing to anybody utilised to driving a comprehensive-size pickup.

It truly is also a great time to acquire stock of the major information for the Raptor’s on-highway manners, which have nothing to do with the vehicle’s dynamics: the new cabin. Like the relaxation of its F-one hundred fifty siblings, it can be in this article wherever Ford had fallen powering its arch rival, the Ram 1500 (and instead significantly, at that). For 2021, the 14th-generation F-150’s inside is of significantly greater quality. 

Raptor’s vastly improved cabin is a main quality-of-existence update.


The dashboard is entirely new and it can be some thing of a tech bonanza. With a typical twelve-inch electronic gauge cluster and a matching twelve-inch touchscreen managing Sync 4 infotainment, you happen to be searching at a main quality-of-existence enhance compared to the 2020 model. The graphics are sharper, the reaction instances are snappier and the attribute established is deeper, bringing conveniences like wi-fi Apple CarPlay and Android Car. Importantly, the technique also incorporates a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, enabling bumper-to-bumper over-the-air updates for the initially time. This guarantees that not only will the Sync 4 continue to supply the most up-to-date and best infotainment functions, new features and bug fixes can be downloaded for the relaxation of the truck, too — powertrain bundled. Additional functions like the $765 360-diploma digicam bundle (which reveals actual-time tire paths for smarter off-roading), a deployable centre console table and an readily available 18-speaker Bang & Olufsen Unleashed audio technique are actual pot sweeteners, too.

Prodigious thirst apart, Raptors have constantly created incredibly wonderful day-to-day drivers, but this new inside and tech should really definitely make day to day existence substantially a lot easier, even if you never decide for stuff like Pro Energy Onboard, a crafted-in 2.-kilowatt generator able of powering a smaller task web site or a killer tailgate bash.

Off-highway impressions

The convoy of test Raptors spends the night time in Pahrump in buy to get an early start out to beat the late-summer warmth. How early? I’m in the hotel’s lobby by 4:00 a.m., then caffeinated and on the highway by 4:fifteen a.m. I have one more fifty-mile push to reach California’s Dumont Dunes, a large, 7,620-acre playland that lies in the shadow of volcanic hills and together the banking companies of the Amargosa River. 

When I get there, it can be even now pitch darkish, offering me time air down the tires to about 24 psi and to bolt on substantial-visibility dune flags, as well as don a helmet and HANS device for security. The solar promptly catches hearth, illuminating a stunning martian backdrop that feels like another person clicked the “widescreen” button on my existence. It’ll be well over one hundred ten levels ahead of the working day is out, so I load in adequate drinking water bottles to consume the advised liter or extra an hour and head for the various courses that Ford’s crew established up.

Enjoying in the dunes at velocity wherever the Raptor is happiest. 

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

Whoops! This overall performance is no accident

When it can be not the initially undertaking I deal with, it can be the Raptor’s overall performance on the whoops — a long discipline of of smaller, rolling jumps that create a quickly undulating floor — that impress me most. Credit goes to the engineers who designed the Raptor’s completely new rear suspension, which ditches the leaf springs utilised on all other F-Series vehicles other than the Lightning EV. This all-new 5-hyperlink setup employs long rear trailing arms, a Panhard rod and gigundous 24-inch coil springs to supply significant travel (fifteen inches out again on 35-inch-tire-geared up products, or fourteen.1-inches on my pickup’s 37-inch BFGs). Ford suggests this 2021 model has twenty five% extra suspension travel than the first Raptor, which was not specifically lacking in that section. 

Probably most importantly, this advanced rear suspension permits substantially extra exact locale of the axle through the suspension’s travel — not just up and down, but fore/aft and laterally, as well. The final result is that the truck has an a lot easier time placing the energy down and maintaining it there, especially with a established of larger sized, following-generation Fox Stay Valve shocks. These electronically managed, interior-bypass units attribute larger sized 3.1-inch tubes to greater take care of the punishing thermal load of substantial-velocity desert managing. 

How this functions out in actual existence is that the a lot quicker you go, the greater the Raptor performs across the whoops. What feels juddery at forty mph smoothes out remarkably at sixty-furthermore mph, the Raptor’s freshly bolstered chassis remaining incredibly degree when its suspension executes a punishing substantial-velocity dance as the truck streaks across the desert washboard. It truly is a amazing overall performance at speeds that could well send out the mattress on a lesser truck mule-kicking uncontrollably — common ol’ leaf springs might’ve subjected this Code Orange Raptor to a Code Brown second. As an alternative, I find myself pushing to accelerate to even greater speeds all the sooner, forcing me to count at any time more challenging on Raptor’s able brakes (thirteen.7-inch discs up front,thirteen.2 inches out again).

The Raptor is a greater performer in desert whoops.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

Beadlocks for all

Ford coned off a pair of significant sand courses that operate up and down Dumont’s significant dunes, too, offering me the prospect to kick up some significant rooster tails when assessing lower-grip dealing with on tires that have been aired down even additional to just fifteen psi. The vital in this article is momentum — you by no means want to slow down for concern of burying the Raptor up to its axles. The ten-velocity gearbox is primed to keep the revs up in Baja mode and it can be tremendous exciting to hang the tail out and soar at any time greater and additional over a crest. Or, at the very least it is until eventually I load up the outer front tire in a corner too challenging, the BFG rolling over on its sidewalls and popping a bead, deflating the tire and bringing the action a screeching halt. (Other physical exercises showcased the Raptor’s readily available beadlock-able wheels, but not this a person, oddly.) Ford minders promptly shuttle me to one more Raptor, later on reuniting me with my first Code Orange tester right after a new rubber swap.

Amongst the whoops, the dune managing and piling together a substantial-velocity study course on a clean, it can be obvious the Raptor is extra able than at any time in the rough stuff. Even avid off-roaders are significantly extra probably to operate out of expertise long ahead of this truck runs out of capability. I am going to have to wait for a future engagement to see how the new suspension stands up to the rigors of rock crawling, but the switch to a 5-hyperlink setup and larger sized tires hasn’t appreciably harm the Raptor’s on-highway livability, either.

Sound thoughts

As to the carryover powertrain’s new sound, Ford fitted a radically distinctive exhaust setup to the 2021 F-one hundred fifty Raptor, total with a funky-searching midpipe trombone loop in advance of the muffler to equalize the 3-inch pipe lengths from side to side to guarantee the best possible acoustics. Mixed with energetic valves with four driver-selectable modes (Silent, Typical, Sport and Baja), the new exhaust guarantees the Raptor has a substantially extra assertive voice when you want it and a never-wake-the-neighbors tone when you never. Baja mode’s howl is a big enhancement over the instead flaccid-sounding next-generation Raptor, but it remains a long way from the intrinsically enjoyable guttural V8 bellow of the Ram 1500 TRX.

The 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 motor hasn’t altered substantially, but at the very least the exhaust appears greater.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

Thirsty, but not TRX thirsty

On the furthermore side, the 2021 Raptor, when barely thrifty, handily outpoints the substantially extra highly effective Ram in gas financial state. Products geared up with 35-inch tires should really see fifteen mpg metropolis, 18 mpg highway and 16 mpg blended, when 37-inch-tire products fall to fifteen, 16 and fifteen, respectively. The significantly heavier Mopar, in the meantime, nets a comparatively reprehensible ten mpg metropolis, fourteen mpg highway and twelve mpg blended. 

Contrary to the TRX, the Raptor is delighted to dwell on common 87-octane gas and the Ford has a larger sized 36-gallon gas tank, too, enabling extra than 500 miles concerning fill-ups. Your bladder may not last that long on the freeway, but you’ll be grateful for the more ability when you happen to be caning the EcoBoost off-highway in some remote locale, receiving significantly much less than EPA estimates.

Huge price tag improve

I dislike to dwell on the variety comparison game with the Ram, but there is certainly a person other important established of figures I will need to focus on: pricing. The outgoing Raptor held a big expense edge compared to the Ram, setting up about $fifteen,000 much less. Which is adequate of a pricing gulf that a person could argue these two cars basically existed in distinctive courses — supertruck compared to hypertruck, possibly. 

No extended the 2021 Raptor’s advancements have triggered a main price tag improve. The outgoing 2020 Raptor started off at $fifty five,090 including a steep $1,645 for shipping and delivery. For 2021, a base Raptor will established you again $65,840 (including $1,695 shipping and delivery) and a comprehensive-boat model can quickly top $80,000. By distinction, the TRX commences at $72,a hundred and twenty sent and can climb earlier mentioned $ninety four,000. There is certainly even now a significant price tag differential, but it can be generally recognizable on substantial-articles products and with only around $six,000 separating base MSRPs, the Raptor’s worth proposition is noticeably much less apparent than it the moment was.

You cannot get into a 2021 Raptor for much less than $65,840.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

How did this take place? In aspect, it can be simply because Ford nixed last year’s much less-highly-priced SuperCab overall body style right after just 4% of potential buyers chose the shorter model’s rear-hinged half-doors. For 2021, the only way you can get a Raptor is with Ford’s larger sized four-door SuperCrew overall body paired with a 5.5-foot mattress and its 1,400-pound max payload (towing sits at eight,200 kilos). Further bloating the base line is all of that new tech, including a brace of intelligent towing aids and Ford’s Co-Pilot 360 suite of energetic security gear, which bundles typical forward-collision warning with automatic crisis braking, adaptive cruise manage, blind-spot monitoring, automatic substantial beams and so on. A prep package for BlueCruise, Ford’s forthcoming partly automated fingers-cost-free driving tech, is optional.

At the finish of the working day, the 2021 Ford Raptor is a significantly improved truck, building on what was currently a vastly extraordinary pickup. This truck’s significantly extra superior suspension will give hardcore off-roaders enough cause to consider the new model, but it can be the cabin’s substantially-necessary overhaul and the significant infusion of convenience and security tech that they’re going to respect most in day-to-day existence. Sadly, the new model’s significant price tag improve blunts the Raptor’s enchantment to some degree and it does have me questioning how stratospherically the forthcoming V8-powered Raptor R will be priced when it comes following 12 months. That apart, there are extra motives than at any time to consider parking this 4×4 in your garage. It truly is a person of the best, most expressive cars America makes.

Editors’ take note: Vacation expenses linked to this story ended up coated by the maker, which is popular in the car industry. The judgments and thoughts of Roadshow’s workers are our very own and we do not accept compensated editorial articles.

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