The 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor is back for round three. Can it answer the huge gauntlet thrown down by the new RAM TRX?
The Ford F-150 Raptor is the OG of factory go-fast off-road trucks. The truck first hit the market in 2010, and 2021 marks the third generation of the speedy beast. Ford has finally taken the covers off the cage and revealed to us what its new creature is all about.
We’ve still got lots of questions, but let’s dive into what we do know.
The 2021 Raptor will come in one format — SuperCrew — with a 5.5-foot bed. At least initially, it will be powered by an updated version of the twin-turbo 3.5L V6 EcoBoost High Output engine found in the current gen-2 Raptors, backed by the same 10-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters.
While we don’t know any of the performance numbers on this new motor just yet, we’re sure it will best the current one on which it’s based, which puts out 450 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque.
You don’t buy a truck like this for fuel economy, but Ford has yet to release official EPA numbers. It has let us know that we can expect 500-plus miles to each 36-gallon tank of fuel. With some basic math, that works out to an expected average of about 14 mpg. I have no doubt that my lead foot would produce much worse results, as this truck is sure to beg for speed over nearly any terrain.
While the twin-turbo V6 will be more than enough to have a good time, it’s not the return of the V8 that many had hoped for. There’s light at the end of the tunnel, however, as Ford announced a Raptor R for 2022.
Our best guess is that the 2022 Raptor R will have the supercharged 5.2L Predator V8 under its hood, a motor currently in the Shelby Mustang GT500 putting out 760 horsepower. The Raptor R will be the true competitor to the RAM TRX‘s 702 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque.
2021 Raptor Suspension
Fox Racing Shox continues to make incredibly capable high-speed off-road suspension for the Raptor, which is also rugged enough to be backed by a massive auto manufacturer like Ford.
For the latest Raptor, Fox showcases its smartest suspension yet, with an update of the Live Valve tech it introduced on the 2019 Raptor. These new electronically controlled internal bypass 3.1 Fox shocks create a super-smooth ride over the harshest terrain by changing their damping rates 500 times per second, independently at each corner of the truck.
The other huge news on the ride and handling front is an all-new rear suspension setup. The archaic leaf springs have been replaced with a five-link coil-sprung rear suspension, utilizing a massive 24-inch coil.
This new setup should provide a much more compliant ride while offering more controlled wheel travel in extreme off-road conditions. This setup should sound familiar, as it’s nearly identical to the one used in the RAM TRX.
While the Raptor has never been small, Ford decided to supersize everything for 2021. The truck itself is a few inches shy of 8 feet wide and 20 feet long, with a just over 12-foot wheelbase. That’s a big truck by any measure!
The 2021 Raptor is just a bit wider, a full 12.6 inches longer, and has a wheelbase 12 inches longer than that of the gen-2 Raptor. The extra room is nearly all in the passenger compartment, creating a more spacious interior for guests and gear.
Big All-Terrain Tires
The 2021 Raptor comes standard with 35-inch all-terrain tires — like it always has. But for the first time ever, Ford is also offering a 37-inch BFG KO2 tire option from the factory. Yep, you heard that right, 37s from the factory!
The 35s offer 12 inches of ground clearance while the 37s offer 13.1 inches of ground clearance. Over rough terrain, wheel travel also matters quite a bit, and the 2021 Raptor offers an impressive 13 to 15 inches depending on the tire size and corner of the vehicle.
Both tire size options come on three different 17-inch wheel choices, two of which are beadlock-capable. These big tire and small wheel options provide a ton of sidewall for an improved ride as well as improved traction when off road and aired down. The beadlock option helps you keep the tire on the rim when you need to air way down and tackle extreme terrain.
For reference, the TRX is nearly the same size in all dimensions and is fitted with 35-inch all-terrain tires on 18-inch beadlock-capable wheels. Sadly, no 37-inch tire options are available from RAM — yet.
No modern vehicle would be complete without massive screens inside. For 2021, the Raptor gets two 12-inch displays, one digital gauge cluster behind the steering wheel, and one touchscreen infotainment screen centered on the dash.
Both are standard equipment, ultra-configurable, and show off a ton of Raptor-specific features, animations, and graphics.
Loaded With Big Tech
The “infotainment” system can now receive over-the-air updates, which should unlock new features in the future. The system runs on the latest cloud-connected SYNC 4 system and includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Remote functionality abounds with the latest FordPass mobile app. The app will allow you to lock and unlock the Raptor, check fuel levels and tire pressures, monitor an attached trailer, and so much more.
This is an off-road truck, and Ford hasn’t forgotten to add the latest driver aids for whatever terrain you might find yourself on. The 2021 Raptor comes standard with Trail Control off-road cruise control, Trail 1-Pedal Drive, and a selectable Terrain Management System with seven modes.
A 360-degree camera package is also available, which offers real-time tire overlay and even a dash-mounted hard button to pull up the camera system at any time.
True Off-Road Capability
Besides 4WD, plenty of power, big tires, and amazing suspension, the new Raptor is also set up with the right hardgoods to make it properly off-road-capable.
It has 4:10 gears and comes standard with a rear e-locker. An optional Torsen front limited-slip differential is available. The front skid plate has been widened for more protection, and high-clearance steel bumpers at both ends of the truck provide vehicle protection and recovery points.
Even the inside of the new Raptor is set up for off-road action. The standard front seats have more bolstering to keep you in place when the terrain gets rough. Under the rear seat is an optional lockable fold-flat storage locker that’s perfect for storing all your off-road recovery gear.
More Ford Raptor Upgrades
The 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor is a feature-rich vehicle packed with all kinds of cool and useful parts and systems.
A really cool new feature for 2021 is an active valve, equal length dual-exhaust system that should really make the twin-turbo V6 growl. The exhaust system allows you to choose between four sound level modes (Quiet, Normal, Sport, and Baja) while on the move.
A hot feature on the latest F-150 that has now carried over to the Raptor is the Pro Power OnBoard system. This system brings 110V power to your truck bed, basically turning your truck into a mobile generator. This 2kW system allows you to power tools for work or things like refrigerators, lights, and heated blankets around camp.
The new Raptor also gets a 200-pound payload and towing capacity bump. This means the 2021 Raptor can haul 1,400 pounds of gear and tow up to 8,200 pounds. That should be plenty to get you and your toys out into the wilderness. But remember: Ford made this truck more for going fast off road than hauling heavy loads.
While Ford dropped a surprising level of detailed info about its latest off-road predator, the brand still left us with many important questions. The most pressing is probably pricing, followed by power figures, performance numbers, and curb weight.
In the end, maybe the real question isn’t if the 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor is better than the 2021 RAM TRX, as both of those trucks fit a very specific niche in the market. Maybe the question to ask is if the new Raptor is really a better adventure tool than the Super Duty Tremor, F-150 Tremor, or even the smaller Ranger Tremor.
No matter our questions and comparisons, the 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor will no doubt be an absolute blast to drive. We’re ready to get behind the wheel and make some dust! Get your hands on one this summer.