2021 Ford F-150 Raptor Drops the Hammer

Jason R. Sakurai
by Jason R. Sakurai

Ford has a knack for pulling off high-profile reveals, and the 2021 F-150 Raptor is no exception. Launching it while the King of the Hammers is taking place is certainly apropos for a truck inspired by desert racing.

Ford’s most off-road capable F-150 Raptor was unveiled today, a truck defined by its suspension. The five-link rear suspension features extra-long trailing arms to maintain axle position on rough terrain, a Panhard rod, and 24-inch coil springs, the longest in its class for improved wheel travel. Next-gen Fox shocks with Live Valve electronic technology, and the first 37-inch tires offered on a full-size, light-duty pickup are on the Raptor.

“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,” said 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.”

The Raptor comes standard with over-the-air updates, a provision to share digital trail maps, and other off-road technologies to come. Cloud-connected navigation, voice search, and a FordPass mobile app that allows you to check on your truck, or to control the optional Rigid off-road lights remotely.

Ford’s high-output third-generation twin-turbo, 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine with 10.5:1 compression is said to deliver an EPA-estimated range of 500-plus miles, and at $2.69 a gallon, filling your tank and grabbing a Red Bull equates to one Benjamin. New high-power fans are built into the cooling system to ensure your off-highway sessions don’t end abruptly.

There’s a three-inch exhaust system featuring a built-in X-pipe, and first-for-Raptor active valves to improve sound quality. With it, you can choose between four sound level modes – Baja, Sport, Normal, or Quiet, for a rumbling sound that’s sure to be a hit with your neighbors in the ‘burbs. Improved engine management software increases torque to the rear wheels for quicker starts off the line, as you shoot away from the stoplight. Faster acceleration and better throttle response, while at the same time delivering comfort, stability, handling, control, and traction is a pretty neat trick, and it should be for such a capable truck.

Soaking up ginormous whoops and landings are why you need next-generation Fox Live Valve internal bypass shocks with position-sensitive damping adjustability. Ford claims the Raptor has the largest-ever 3.1-inch-diameter anodized aluminum shocks, filled with low-friction shock fluid to resist heat buildup, decrease frictional losses, and to react even faster to terrain changes over extended desert running. Definitely a must-have for traversing all the obstacles most Raptor owners encounter in the Walmart parking lot.

Raptors are available with either 35-inch or 37-inch BFGoodrich all-terrain T/A KO2 tires, the largest rubber fitted to production light-duty full-size pickups yet. On 35-inch tires, the Raptor can clear 12-inch obstacles or 13.1 inches on 37-inch tires. Desert runners and mall crawlers alike will appreciate 14 inches of wheel travel at the front and 15 inches at the rear on 35-inch tires, 25 percent more travel than the first-gen Raptor.

The Raptor features a fully boxed, 145-inch, high-strength steel frame, with a military-grade, aluminum alloy and composite SuperCrew-configured body. The more capable suspension, stronger, taller shock towers and rear control arm mounting points serve to withstand punishing off-road use, and tours of duty around construction sites.

A Ford-built 10-speed automatic transmission is bolted to a torque-on-demand transfer case. Standard electronic locking front and rear differentials and available Torsen front limited-slip differential are fitted with 4:10 gears. Maximum payload increases by 200 pounds, to 1,400 pounds, while maximum towing also increases 200 pounds, to 8,200 pounds of conventional towing.

The redesigned Raptor’s front fascia emphasizes the truck’s width with its power dome hood inspired by an F-22 Raptor fighter jet’s intakes. A blacked-out grille, immense headlights, and windswept-looking front fenders complete the front end. The same theme extends to the rear, with blacked-out taillights and an optional tailgate appliqué in case someone mistakes your Raptor for a more pedestrian truck.

Assembled at Ford’s Dearborn Truck Plant in Dearborn, Michigan, the 2021 F-150 Raptor will be available this summer. If this isn’t enough to get you to throw down for a new rig, there’s a Raptor R with V8 grunt coming next year.

[Images: Ford]

Jason R. Sakurai
Jason R. Sakurai

With a father who owned a dealership, I literally grew up in the business. After college, I worked for GM, Nissan and Mazda, writing articles for automotive enthusiast magazines as a side gig. I discovered you could make a living selling ad space at Four Wheeler magazine, before I moved on to selling TV for the National Hot Rod Association. After that, I started Roadhouse, a marketing, advertising and PR firm dedicated to the automotive, outdoor/apparel, and entertainment industries. Through the years, I continued writing, shooting, and editing. It keep things interesting.

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7 of 22 comments
  • Dan Dan on Feb 03, 2021

    I don't know how price conscious this segment is but when a Hellcat Ram starts at 75 this stops having any appeal whatsoever at 60.

  • Mackey Mackey on Feb 03, 2021

    Did I miss something? Following months of 'Will they/won't they regarding the horsepower war with the TRX, and this entire article doesn't mention the new horsepower rating, let along that of the planned R version?

    • See 4 previous
    • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Feb 04, 2021

      @Mackey - agreed. Ford must have assumed that the TRX was just another design exercise similar to those "new" Jeeps that come out at Moab every year.

  • ToolGuy I AM PLACING [sic] NICELY. There is NO NEED TO BAN ME. Personally I do lots of things which DON'T MAKE SENSE, sometimes to myself, often to others. WHO ELON MUSK ENDORSES is really kind of NONE OF MY BUSINESS. It is a FREE COUNTRY, in some ways, still. I wish I knew how to FORMAT MY COMMENT better. I USED TO KNOW HOW, maybe I am losing it slowly (lot of that going around, JUST SAYING).
  • Aja8888 I can't read those whole thread without throwing up....
  • ToolGuy Maybe I will GIVE IT A LISTEN. Probably when I'm MOWING THE LAWN. Probably with a BATTERY OPERATED MOWER. (There are also batteries IN MY HEADPHONES. And IN MY PHONE.) Does anyone remember how to make a NEW PARAGRAPH?
  • ToolGuy I am NOT SURE WHAT TO SAY. In fact I'M NOT EVEN SURE WHAT I JUST READ. I paid a premium for my last cordless drill/driver because it has a hydraulic front end which PRODUCES LESS NOISE AND VIBRATION.
  • ToolGuy Tim, THANK YOU FOR THE ALL CAPS. I think it ADDS A LOT to the discussion. I might USE it MYSELF in the future. Have a GREAT WEEKEND.