When Ford first unleashed the F-150 Raptor back in 2009 it wanted to create a distinct mold that could separate it from other off-road trucks. While the Raptor was capable of going through rough trails, the company also wanted to create an offering that could allow owners to have fun especially when going high speed down sandy terrain and even catching hang time occasionally when going over a big jump. This formula has proven to be very successful for Ford, with the Raptor getting a sizable cult following over the years. But with the Ram TRX waving its battle flag in the off-road segment, Ford had to pull out all the stops to help make the 2021 Raptor stand out more than ever from the crowd.
A Sturdy Suspension Solidifies 2021 Raptor’s Desert Busting Reputation
A key ingredient of any off-road truck (especially one as extreme as the 2021 Raptor) is a solid suspension that needs to be able to take extreme levels of abuse. Ford engineers took this requirement to heart and completely revamped the Raptor’s suspension for 2021. An all new five link rear suspension delivers more power to the ground at high speeds while also allowing the driver to have greater amounts of control when going over rough surfaces. Longer trailing arms, a Panhard rod, and 24-inch coil springs further help in this endeavor and should make a diffrence when the truck is taken out into the wild.
Raptor fans will also be pleased to hear that Ford is continuing its partnership with the folks at FOX and that means the truck comes equipped with the firm’s next generation Live Valve internal bypass shocks that comes with electronically operated dampening technology. The new shocks are supposed to reduce the amount of heat buildup and also react quicker to terrain changes. The suspension has been proven in off-road race events and is capable of providing up to 1,000 lbs of damping per corner when the truck is doing high speed desert running.
“Raptor is rooted in Baja 1000 racing, and its suspension advances our capability and performance- a five-link rear setup with more wheel travel than any Raptor before it” stated Carl Widmann Ford Performance Chief Engineer. “And like a trophy truck every aspect of Raptor has been engineered to deliver precision capability when your foot is flat on the floor, way out in the middle of nowhere roaring across the desert.”
Aircraft Inspired Styling Defines 2021 Raptor Revamp
When it came to designing the exterior styling of the 2021 Raptor, Ford stylists looked to the skies at another dinosaur inspired creation to get their ideas off the ground. While the core design uses plenty of styling traits from the standard issue F-150 to get things rolling, Ford designers revealed that the F-22 Raptor fighter jet also played a role in some of the minor details that are found throughout the truck.
Every single inch of the Raptor has been redesigned with the front fascia featuring an all new grille design, a better emphasis on its width, as well as headlights that work their way from fender to fender. The fighter jet connection is really noticeable when you look at the top trailing edge of the fenders which were supposedly inspired by the air intakes that help channel air into the plane when its running at combat speeds. The rear of the truck also gets in on the act with the smoked taillights and an optional tailgate applique further enhancing the width of the truck. The front and rear bumpers are made out of steel, with the rear one retaining just enough clearance to allow the vulnerable exhaust tips to be mounted high up in the assembly.
Three different 17-inch wheel designs will be on hand for the Raptor with two of them having the ability to accommodate beadlock style tires. All three were engineered for maximum durability and they look pretty stylish too. Optional Rigid sourced lighting in the front bumper helps provide extra illumination at night and Ford designers even added a new optional graphics package on the bed sides that appears to simulate a map and coordinates.
The interior is textbook F-150 but since this is a Raptor, it goes far beyond what you would see on the F-150 Tremor with designers adding some special touches to further emphasize the Raptor’s rough and tumble nature. A new steering wheel retains a prominent center position mark while laser etched surfaces and distinctive materials help enhance overall interior quality. Seats with much larger bolstering are standard issue but buyers looking for even more support can go for more aggressive Recaro racing seats that were specially designed for high speed off-roading.
Splashes of aluminum trim comes standard in the cabin, but like before buyers can opt for an optional carbon fiber themed package that replaces the aluminum with the lightweight material on the doors, instrument panel, and center console. There’s no word if the seats can formally transform into a bed or not (the equivalent of having a race car bed,) but some of the F-150’s other tricks bleed over into this beast. That includes the clever vault in the rear seats as well as what appears to be a foldable shifter which allows the center console to transform into a flat workspace. SYNC 4 comes along for the ride in the infotainment system and a premium Bang & Olufsen stereo will please trail bred audiophiles.
Turbocharged Performance Continues, V8 Raptor R Is In The Pipeline
The biggest round of rumors centered around what would be lurking under the hood of the 2021 Raptor. As we suspected, Ford will continue to use the 3.5 liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 for 2021. Ford did not release formal horsepower and torque figures for the engine this time around, but we suspect that the horsepower figure could go up slightly from the current Raptor’s 450 ponies. Ford also confirmed that a Raptor R (the V8 powered one) is in the works but didn’t go much further than saying that it will appear next year.
As for the V6, that engine will be hooked up to Ford’s venerable 10-speed automatic which has been upgraded specifically for the Raptor. Buyers can choose from either 35 or 37-inch off-road tires with both of them being the largest tires that have been ever fitted to a light duty pickup truck offering. The BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 tires offer impressive amounts of traction and capability with the 35-inch tire having the ability to clear 12-inch obstacles while maintaining a 31 degree approach angle, 23.9 degree departure angle, and a breakover angle of 22.7 degrees. As expected the bigger 37-inch tires up the ante in all of these areas with the 33.1 degree approach angle being the most impressive figure of the bunch.
Desert runners and rock crawlers will also like the 25 percent higher wheel travel that the Raptor brings to the table when equipped with the 35-inch tires. The front wheels offer 14-inches of travel while the rear tires can travel up to 15-inches. This is more than the first generation Raptor and also appears to be a noticeable improvement over the second generation Raptor.
When Can I Buy A 2021 Ford Raptor?
Ford has not formally revealed pricing for the 2021 Raptor as of this writing, but when it eventually makes its way to dealerships this summer, it will offer plenty of goodies for buyers to enjoy. The standard F-150’s Pro Power Onboard system makes its way to the Raptor with the truck offering up to 2.0 kilowatts of usable power to run various accessories and equipment including power tools, generators, and even camp lights.
This kind of electrical versatility is absent from the Ram TRX and it could allow the Raptor to win over buyers looking for a rugged go anywhere work station on wheels. There’s a reason after all why the U.S. Border Patrol and other organizations have Raptors in their fleet pools, and there’s the matter of the Raptor consistently outselling Porsche’s entire sportscar lineup on a regular basis.
Like before, the 2021 Raptor will be limited to the SuperCrew configuration (sorry SuperCab fans) but that’s not a bad thing since that translates into the Raptor having plenty of room for your friends to come along for the ride especially when you take them over wild jumps.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.