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

Maria J. Danford

You will find anything wholly fulfilling about working with a perfectly-made software to its whole possible. The very best instruments are arguably those people that provide better outcomes the harder they are worked. Contact it grace underneath tension, get in touch with it physical fitness of goal, get in touch with it what ever you like, it is really very clear the 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor 4×4 has exactly this kind of virtue baked into the marrow of its body, and boy, is it a thrill to explore and exploit.

While it arguably will not appear a great deal diverse from last year’s model, this Raptor is without a doubt considerably new. This pickup truck not only benefits from nearly all of the 2021 F-150 model line’s significant interior and tech advancements, it also gains even far more remarkable off-highway chops many thanks to a innovative new 5-website link rear suspension and the availability of hulking 37-inch tires. 

In advance of you talk to, a person thing that continues to be mainly unchanged is the 3.five-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V6, after all over again matched to a 10-speed automated transmission and tuned for 450 horsepower and 510-pound-feet of torque. You will find a greater compression ratio, revised application for better throttle reaction and new significant-ability cooling followers for far more self-confident off-roading and towing, but that’s about the scope of the variations underhood.

Now coming into its third era and lastly experiencing its first legitimate opposition in the type of Ram’s formidable 1500 TRX, this is the model that will carry the Raptor nameplate into its teenage a long time. Thankfully, a day of pounding as a result of the Mojave desert, assaulting sand dunes, blitzing in excess of whoops and galloping throughout rock-strewn washes reveals not a trace of awkward adolescence. Greater however, many thanks to an all-new multi-manner exhaust program, the Raptor’s voice has dropped appreciably, bellowing far more loudly and far more authoritatively in a decrease sign up. 

37-inch tires on the highway

My first travel of the Michigan-crafted 2021 Ford Raptor begins off innocuously enough, in the shadow of the casinos and hotels of Las Vegas. I set off from Sin Town, driving on paved streets an hour out to Pahrump, a city of all over forty,000 whose notable financial motorists contain — [checks Wikipedia] — Spring Mountain Motor Sporting activities Ranch, Front Sight Firearms Training Institute and a pair of lawful brothels. 

Here be 37-inch monsters.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

The travel, which includes a detour to examine out Nevada’s lovely Crimson Rock Canyon National Conservation Place, offers me a probability to get acquainted with my exam automobile, which is riding on mondo meats: a set of newly optional 37×12.five-inch BFGoodrich T/A K02s, the most significant tires I have at any time observed equipped to a manufacturing pickup (they’re basically even larger than the Sasquatch feet on Ford’s new Bronco SUV). These tires arrive as portion of the Raptor 37 General performance Package, a multifaceted $seven,five hundred possibility group that involves beadlock-capable wheels, distinctive shock absorbers, fetching Rhapsody Blue Recaro seats and a slew of interior and exterior trim tweaks. The tires provide killer seems and better ground clearance, albeit at the price of some suspension journey and unsprung weight (all over six kilos per corner).

Large 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 though it isn’t a great put to exam the Raptor’s dealing with, it is a superior time to be aware the Raptor’s supple journey excellent and fairly perfectly-managed NVH (sounds, vibration and harshness). The huge tread blocks on the BFGs you should not provide extreme tire roar and though the steering is mild on sense and a little squishy just off heart, it is really just wonderful and shouldn’t be off-placing to anybody used to driving a whole-sizing pickup.

It really is also a superior time to take stock of the greatest news for the Raptor’s on-highway manners, which have nothing at all to do with the vehicle’s dynamics: the new cabin. Like the relaxation of its F-150 siblings, it is really in this article exactly where Ford had fallen behind its arch rival, the Ram 1500 (and fairly considerably, at that). For 2021, the 14th-era F-150’s interior is of significantly greater excellent. 

Raptor’s vastly improved cabin is a significant excellent-of-daily life update.


The dashboard is completely new and it is really anything of a tech bonanza. With a normal twelve-inch electronic gauge cluster and a matching twelve-inch touchscreen running Sync four infotainment, you’re hunting at a significant excellent-of-daily life improve as opposed to the 2020 model. The graphics are sharper, the reaction occasions are snappier and the aspect set is further, bringing conveniences like wi-fi Apple CarPlay and Android Automobile. Importantly, the program also incorporates a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, enabling bumper-to-bumper in excess of-the-air updates for the first time. This makes certain that not only will the Sync four keep on to supply the most current and greatest infotainment characteristics, new functions and bug fixes can be downloaded for the relaxation of the truck, way too — powertrain provided. Extra characteristics like the $765 360-degree digital camera deal (which shows true-time tire paths for smarter off-roading), a deployable heart console table and an readily available eighteen-speaker Bang & Olufsen Unleashed audio program are true pot sweeteners, way too.

Prodigious thirst apart, Raptors have constantly produced shockingly great day by day motorists, but this new interior and tech ought to actually make each day daily life a great deal a lot easier, even if you you should not decide for stuff like Professional Power Onboard, a crafted-in two.-kilowatt generator capable of powering a small position web page or a killer tailgate get together.

Off-highway impressions

The convoy of exam Raptors spends the night time in Pahrump in purchase to get an early start off to beat the late-summer time warmth. How early? I’m in the hotel’s lobby by four:00 a.m., then caffeinated and on the highway by four:fifteen a.m. I have one more fifty-mile travel to get to California’s Dumont Dunes, a wide, seven,620-acre playland that lies in the shadow of volcanic hills and alongside the financial institutions of the Amargosa River. 

When I get there, it is really however pitch dim, providing me time air down the tires to about 24 psi and to bolt on significant-visibility dune flags, as perfectly as don a helmet and HANS device for safety. The sun swiftly catches fireplace, illuminating a amazing martian backdrop that feels like somebody clicked the “widescreen” button on my daily life. It’s going to be perfectly in excess of a hundred and ten degrees ahead of the day is out, so I load in enough drinking water bottles to consume the proposed liter or far more an hour and head for the various courses that Ford’s workforce set up.

Playing in the dunes at speed exactly where the Raptor is happiest. 

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

Whoops! This overall performance is no incident

Although it is really not the first process I tackle, it is really the Raptor’s overall performance on the whoops — a very long subject of of small, rolling jumps that create a promptly undulating surface — that impress me most. Credit goes to the engineers who formulated the Raptor’s completely new rear suspension, which ditches the leaf springs used on all other F-Collection vehicles other than the Lightning EV. This all-new 5-website link setup employs very long rear trailing arms, a Panhard rod and gigundous 24-inch coil springs to deliver major journey (fifteen inches out back on 35-inch-tire-geared up models, or 14.one-inches on my pickup’s 37-inch BFGs). Ford claims this 2021 model has 25% far more suspension journey than the initial Raptor, which was not exactly missing in that section. 

Possibly most importantly, this innovative rear suspension permits a great deal far more specific site of the axle during the suspension’s journey — not just up and down, but fore/aft and laterally, as perfectly. The consequence is that the truck has an a lot easier time placing the ability down and retaining it there, particularly with a set of greater, subsequent-era Fox Stay Valve shocks. These electronically managed, internal-bypass models aspect greater 3.one-inch tubes to better regulate the punishing thermal load of significant-speed desert running. 

How this is effective out in true daily life is that the quicker you go, the better the Raptor performs throughout the whoops. What feels juddery at forty mph smoothes out remarkably at sixty-furthermore mph, the Raptor’s newly reinforced chassis keeping shockingly level though its suspension executes a punishing significant-speed dance as the truck streaks throughout the desert washboard. It really is a outstanding overall performance at speeds that could perfectly send the bed on a lesser truck mule-kicking uncontrollably — frequent 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 rely at any time harder on Raptor’s capable brakes (thirteen.seven-inch discs up front,thirteen.two inches out back).

The Raptor is a better performer in desert whoops.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

Beadlocks for all

Ford coned off a couple of substantial sand courses that operate up and down Dumont’s enormous dunes, way too, providing me the probability to kick up some major rooster tails though evaluating reduced-grip dealing with on tires that have been aired down even further to just fifteen psi. The essential in this article is momentum — you in no way want to slow down for concern of burying the Raptor up to its axles. The 10-speed gearbox is primed to continue to keep the revs up in Baja manner and it is really great exciting to hold the tail out and jump at any time greater and further in excess of a crest. Or, at least it is until eventually I load up the outer front tire in a corner way too difficult, the BFG rolling in excess of on its sidewalls and popping a bead, deflating the tire and bringing the action a screeching halt. (Other exercises showcased the Raptor’s readily available beadlock-capable wheels, but not this a person, oddly.) Ford minders swiftly shuttle me to one more Raptor, later reuniting me with my initial Code Orange tester immediately after a contemporary rubber swap.

Involving the whoops, the dune running and piling alongside a significant-speed course on a clean, it is really very clear the Raptor is far more capable than at any time in the rough stuff. Even avid off-roaders are significantly far more probable to operate out of expertise very long ahead of this truck runs out of capacity. I am going to have to wait for a upcoming engagement to see how the new suspension stands up to the rigors of rock crawling, but the change to a 5-website link setup and greater tires has not appreciably hurt the Raptor’s on-highway livability, either.

Seem opinions

As to the carryover powertrain’s new sound, Ford equipped a radically diverse exhaust setup to the 2021 F-150 Raptor, finish with a funky-hunting midpipe trombone loop in advance of the muffler to equalize the 3-inch pipe lengths from aspect to aspect to make certain the best possible acoustics. Merged with lively valves with 4 driver-selectable modes (Quiet, Typical, Sport and Baja), the new exhaust makes certain the Raptor has a a great deal far more assertive voice when you want it and a you should not-wake-the-neighbors tone when you you should not. Baja mode’s howl is a massive enhancement in excess of the fairly flaccid-sounding 2nd-era Raptor, but it continues to be a very long way from the intrinsically fulfilling guttural V8 bellow of the Ram 1500 TRX.

The 3.five-liter twin-turbo V6 engine has not altered a great deal, but at least the exhaust seems better.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

Thirsty, but not TRX thirsty

On the furthermore aspect, the 2021 Raptor, though hardly thrifty, handily outpoints the a great deal far more highly effective Ram in fuel financial state. Versions geared up with 35-inch tires ought to see fifteen mpg town, eighteen mpg freeway and sixteen mpg merged, though 37-inch-tire models tumble to fifteen, sixteen and fifteen, respectively. The significantly heavier Mopar, meanwhile, nets a comparatively reprehensible 10 mpg town, 14 mpg freeway and twelve mpg merged. 

Not like the TRX, the Raptor is joyful to stay on frequent 87-octane fuel and the Ford has a greater 36-gallon fuel tank, way too, enabling far more than five hundred miles concerning fill-ups. Your bladder might not last that very long on the freeway, but you can expect to be thankful for the added ability when you’re caning the EcoBoost off-highway in some remote site, getting significantly less than EPA estimates.

Large selling price improve

I despise to dwell on the range comparison sport with the Ram, but you can find a person other essential set of figures I need to have to go over: pricing. The outgoing Raptor held a massive charge edge as opposed to the Ram, starting about $fifteen,000 less. That is enough of a pricing gulf that a person could argue these two motor vehicles basically existed in diverse classes — supertruck as opposed to hypertruck, potentially. 

No extended the 2021 Raptor’s advancements have triggered a significant selling price improve. The outgoing 2020 Raptor commenced at $55,090 which includes a steep $one,645 for shipping. For 2021, a base Raptor will set you back $65,840 (which includes $one,695 shipping) and a whole-boat model can very easily best $80,000. By distinction, the TRX begins at $seventy two,one hundred twenty delivered and can climb over $94,000. You will find however a significant selling price differential, but it is really generally recognizable on significant-written content models and with only all over $six,000 separating base MSRPs, the Raptor’s benefit proposition is appreciably less evident than it after was.

You won’t be able to get into a 2021 Raptor for less than $65,840.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

How did this occur? In portion, it is really mainly because Ford nixed last year’s less-costly SuperCab entire body fashion immediately after just four% of customers chose the shorter model’s rear-hinged 50 %-doorways. For 2021, the only way you can get a Raptor is with Ford’s greater 4-doorway SuperCrew entire body paired with a five.five-foot bed and its one,four hundred-pound max payload (towing sits at eight,two hundred kilos). Further bloating the bottom line is all of that new tech, which includes a brace of smart towing aids and Ford’s Co-Pilot 360 suite of lively safety gear, which bundles normal ahead-collision warning with automated unexpected emergency braking, adaptive cruise handle, blind-place monitoring, automated significant beams and so on. A prep kit for BlueCruise, Ford’s forthcoming partly automated arms-no cost driving tech, is optional.

At the conclude of the day, the 2021 Ford Raptor is a considerably improved truck, setting up on what was by now a vastly remarkable pickup. This truck’s significantly far more sophisticated suspension will give hardcore off-roaders sufficient rationale to look at the new model, but it is really the cabin’s a great deal-required overhaul and the enormous infusion of convenience and safety tech that they are going to respect most in day by day daily life. Sadly, the new model’s significant selling price improve blunts the Raptor’s attractiveness considerably and it does have me thinking how stratospherically the forthcoming V8-driven Raptor R will be priced when it arrives subsequent year. That apart, there are far more good reasons than at any time to look at parking this 4×4 in your garage. It really is a person of the very best, most expressive motor vehicles The us would make.

Editors’ be aware: Journey prices associated to this story ended up coated by the producer, which is common in the vehicle business. The judgments and opinions of Roadshow’s team are our personal and we do not acknowledge compensated editorial written content.

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