2021 Ford F-150 Raptor aims to fly higher, pound across the desert faster, and look meaner than its predecessor. This all-new, third-generation Raptor remains a bulkier body double of the regular F-150, which means they share technology and several innovative features. However, Ford’s high-performance pickup truck is also fitted with impressive off-road equipment, such as a sophisticated long-travel suspension and available 37-inch all-terrain tires. Assisting the Raptor’s powerful twin-turbo V-6 is a paddle-shifted 10-speed automatic transmission and standard all-wheel drive. Though its engine produces 450 horsepower, that’s still relatively wimpy compared with the 702-hp Hellcat V-8 in the Ram 1500 TRX. That’s why Ford is developing an even more ferocious Raptor R that should mark the return of a raucous V-8 engine that earns it entry into the 700-hp club.
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Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Beneath the F-150 Raptor’s new hood, which now features a prominent heat extractor, is the familiar high-output version of Ford’s 450-hp twin-turbo 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6. It breathes through a new 3.0-inch exhaust system that reportedly enhances the truck’s V-6 soundtrack. The engine still pairs with a paddle-shifted 10-speed automatic transmission that feeds all four wheels through a standard all-wheel-drive system. If that’s not enough for you, just wait. Ford plans to counter Ram’s 702-hp, half-ton pickup truck—not-so-subtlety called the TRX—with an equally powerful engine in the upcoming Raptor R. Rumors suggest the R could inherit a version the Shelby GT500’s 760-hp supercharged V-8. Regardless of the powertrain, every Raptor rides on a new, more sophisticated suspension that now includes larger internal-bypass dampers and a five-link rear coil-spring setup that replaces the previous model’s leaf springs. Ford claims these updates help improve the truck’s traction, ride quality, and handling characteristics. Along with other chassis enhancements, a selection of 17-inch rims, and a standard set of 35-inch tires, the Raptor now also offers a set of 37-inch BFGoodrich all-terrain tires for better approach, departure, and breakover angles as well as ground clearance that increases from 12.0 to 13.1 inches.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The Raptor’s cabin enjoys the same design layout and passenger space as the regular F-150 SuperCrew. The high-performance version comes standard with a 12.0-inch digital gauge cluster and boasts more interior storage space as well as what Ford says are nicer materials. The new steering wheel wears a laser-etched logo and now has a race car-style orange mark at the 12 o’clock position; prominent aluminum paddle shifters still lurk behind the spokes. Along with the standard aluminum interior trim, the Raptor is available with optional carbon-fiber interior accents and more aggressively bolstered Recaro front buckets. The high-flying pickup will no longer be offered in the extended cab (a.k.a. SuperCab) body style. At least the SuperCrew crew cab version offers more back-seat space. It pairs with a 5.5-foot cargo box.