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

There is certainly one thing wholly satisfying about employing a properly-made device to its full opportunity. The most effective tools are arguably those people that provide far better results the more durable they are worked. Call it grace less than force, contact it conditioning of purpose, contact it whatsoever you like, it really is apparent the 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor 4×4 has particularly this sort of virtue baked into the marrow of its frame, and boy, is it a thrill to explore and exploit.

Even though it arguably will not glance significantly different from previous year’s model, this Raptor is in truth substantially new. This pickup truck not only benefits from almost all of the 2021 F-150 model line’s considerable interior and tech enhancements, it also gains even extra remarkable off-street chops many thanks to a subtle new five-link rear suspension and the availability of hulking 37-inch tires. 

Right before you ask, 1 thing that continues to be mainly unchanged is the three.5-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V6, at the time again matched to a ten-velocity automatic transmission and tuned for 450 horsepower and 510-pound-feet of torque. There is certainly a greater compression ratio, revised computer software for far better throttle response and new higher-electricity cooling lovers for extra assured off-roading and towing, but that’s about the scope of the modifications underhood.

Now coming into its 3rd era and eventually going through its initial authentic competitiveness in the kind of Ram’s formidable 1500 TRX, this is the model that will carry the Raptor nameplate into its teenage many years. The good thing is, a day of pounding by the Mojave desert, assaulting sand dunes, blitzing over whoops and galloping across rock-strewn washes reveals not a trace of awkward adolescence. Better however, many thanks to an all-new multi-method exhaust procedure, the Raptor’s voice has dropped appreciably, bellowing extra loudly and extra authoritatively in a lessen sign-up. 

37-inch tires on the street

My initial generate of the Michigan-created 2021 Ford Raptor starts off off innocuously sufficient, in the shadow of the casinos and motels of Las Vegas. I set off from Sin Metropolis, driving on paved streets an hour out to Pahrump, a city of all around 40,000 whose noteworthy economic motorists consist of — [checks Wikipedia] — Spring Mountain Motor Sporting activities Ranch, Front Sight Firearms Training Institute and a pair of legal brothels. 

Listed here be 37-inch monsters.

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The generate, including a detour to check out Nevada’s gorgeous Purple Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, offers me a chance to get acquainted with my check automobile, which is riding on mondo meats: a set of newly optional 37×12.5-inch BFGoodrich T/A K02s, the largest tires I have ever noticed fitted to a manufacturing pickup (they are in fact bigger than the Sasquatch feet on Ford’s new Bronco SUV). These tires arrive as element of the Raptor 37 Overall performance Package deal, a multifaceted $seven,five hundred selection team that features beadlock-able wheels, exceptional shock absorbers, fetching Rhapsody Blue Recaro seats and a slew of interior and exterior trim tweaks. The tires provide killer appears to be and far better floor clearance, albeit at the cost of some suspension travel and unsprung weight (all around six lbs per corner).

Large cabin and tech updates

Like most streets in Nevada that are not in the mountains, the street to Pahrump is featurelessly flat, straight and sunbaked. But though it isn’t really a fantastic put to check the Raptor’s dealing with, it is a superior time to note the Raptor’s supple ride quality and pretty properly-managed NVH (sound, vibration and harshness). The massive tread blocks on the BFGs you should not provide extreme tire roar and though the steering is light on sense and a tiny squishy just off middle, it really is just wonderful and should not be off-putting to anyone applied to driving a full-dimensions pickup.

It is also a superior time to just take stock of the most significant information for the Raptor’s on-street manners, which have practically nothing to do with the vehicle’s dynamics: the new cabin. Like the relaxation of its F-150 siblings, it really is right here where by Ford had fallen driving its arch rival, the Ram 1500 (and relatively substantially, at that). For 2021, the 14th-era F-150’s interior is of noticeably greater quality. 

Raptor’s vastly improved cabin is a major quality-of-everyday living update.


The dashboard is thoroughly new and it really is one thing of a tech bonanza. With a typical twelve-inch electronic gauge cluster and a matching twelve-inch touchscreen operating Sync four infotainment, you might be seeking at a major quality-of-everyday living improve as opposed to the 2020 model. The graphics are sharper, the response periods are snappier and the element set is deeper, bringing conveniences like wi-fi Apple CarPlay and Android Car. Importantly, the procedure also incorporates a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, enabling bumper-to-bumper over-the-air updates for the initial time. This guarantees that not only will the Sync four continue to give the most current and greatest infotainment attributes, new features and bug fixes can be downloaded for the relaxation of the truck, much too — powertrain bundled. More attributes like the $765 360-diploma camera bundle (which exhibits serious-time tire paths for smarter off-roading), a deployable middle console table and an readily available eighteen-speaker Bang & Olufsen Unleashed audio procedure are serious pot sweeteners, much too.

Prodigious thirst aside, Raptors have normally produced incredibly fantastic day-to-day motorists, but this new interior and tech should really actually make everyday everyday living significantly less difficult, even if you you should not opt for stuff like Professional Electric power Onboard, a created-in 2.-kilowatt generator able of powering a smaller occupation site or a killer tailgate bash.

Off-street impressions

The convoy of check Raptors spends the night time in Pahrump in order to get an early get started to beat the late-summer time heat. How early? I’m in the hotel’s foyer by four:00 a.m., then caffeinated and on the street by four:fifteen a.m. I have a different fifty-mile generate to achieve California’s Dumont Dunes, a broad, seven,620-acre playland that lies in the shadow of volcanic hills and together the financial institutions of the Amargosa River. 

When I arrive, it really is however pitch dim, supplying me time air down the tires to about 24 psi and to bolt on higher-visibility dune flags, as properly as don a helmet and HANS device for security. The sun immediately catches hearth, illuminating a amazing martian backdrop that feels like an individual clicked the “widescreen” button on my everyday living. It will be properly over one hundred ten degrees in advance of the day is out, so I load in sufficient h2o bottles to eat the encouraged liter or extra an hour and head for the various programs that Ford’s crew set up.

Participating in in the dunes at velocity where by the Raptor is happiest. 

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Whoops! This effectiveness is no accident

Although it really is not the initial job I tackle, it really is the Raptor’s effectiveness on the whoops — a extended industry of of smaller, rolling jumps that create a rapidly undulating area — that impress me most. Credit history goes to the engineers who designed the Raptor’s wholly new rear suspension, which ditches the leaf springs applied on all other F-Series trucks other than the Lightning EV. This all-new five-link set up employs extended rear trailing arms, a Panhard rod and gigundous 24-inch coil springs to give critical travel (fifteen inches out again on 35-inch-tire-outfitted models, or 14.one-inches on my pickup’s 37-inch BFGs). Ford claims this 2021 model has twenty five% extra suspension travel than the original Raptor, which was not particularly lacking in that office. 

Maybe most importantly, this subtle rear suspension allows significantly extra specific site of the axle through the suspension’s travel — not just up and down, but fore/aft and laterally, as properly. The result is that the truck has an less difficult time putting the electricity down and trying to keep it there, specifically with a set of greater, following-era Fox Live Valve shocks. These electronically managed, internal-bypass models element greater three.one-inch tubes to far better manage the punishing thermal load of higher-velocity desert operating. 

How this will work out in serious everyday living is that the quicker you go, the far better the Raptor performs across the whoops. What feels juddery at 40 mph smoothes out remarkably at 60-moreover mph, the Raptor’s newly bolstered chassis staying incredibly degree though its suspension executes a punishing higher-velocity dance as the truck streaks across the desert washboard. It is a outstanding effectiveness at speeds that could properly send out the bed on a lesser truck mule-kicking uncontrollably — regular ol’ leaf springs might’ve subjected this Code Orange Raptor to a Code Brown second. As an alternative, I locate myself pushing to accelerate to even greater speeds all the faster, forcing me to rely ever more durable on Raptor’s able brakes (13.seven-inch discs up front,13.2 inches out again).

The Raptor is a far better performer in desert whoops.

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Beadlocks for all

Ford coned off a few of substantial sand programs that run up and down Dumont’s substantial dunes, much too, supplying me the chance to kick up some critical rooster tails though assessing low-grip dealing with on tires that have been aired down even even more to just fifteen psi. The vital right here is momentum — you under no circumstances want to slow down for dread of burying the Raptor up to its axles. The ten-velocity gearbox is primed to preserve the revs up in Baja method and it really is tremendous exciting to hang the tail out and soar ever greater and even more over a crest. Or, at minimum it is till I load up the outer front tire in a corner much too tough, the BFG rolling over on its sidewalls and popping a bead, deflating the tire and bringing the action a screeching halt. (Other workouts highlighted the Raptor’s readily available beadlock-able wheels, but not this 1, oddly.) Ford minders immediately shuttle me to a different Raptor, afterwards reuniting me with my original Code Orange tester immediately after a refreshing rubber swap.

Involving the whoops, the dune operating and piling together a higher-velocity program on a clean, it really is apparent the Raptor is extra able than ever in the rough stuff. Even avid off-roaders are much extra possible to run out of talent extended in advance of this truck operates out of capability. I will have to hold out for a future engagement to see how the new suspension stands up to the rigors of rock crawling, but the swap to a five-link set up and greater tires hasn’t appreciably damage the Raptor’s on-street livability, both.

Seem views

As to the carryover powertrain’s new seem, Ford fitted a radically different exhaust set up to the 2021 F-150 Raptor, full with a funky-seeking midpipe trombone loop ahead of the muffler to equalize the three-inch pipe lengths from side to side to be certain the best possible acoustics. Put together with active valves with 4 driver-selectable modes (Quiet, Typical, Activity and Baja), the new exhaust guarantees the Raptor has a significantly extra 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 enormous improvement over the relatively flaccid-sounding next-era Raptor, but it continues to be a extended way from the intrinsically satisfying guttural V8 bellow of the Ram 1500 TRX.

The three.5-liter twin-turbo V6 engine hasn’t changed significantly, but at minimum the exhaust appears far better.

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Thirsty, but not TRX thirsty

On the moreover side, the 2021 Raptor, though rarely thrifty, handily outpoints the significantly extra impressive Ram in gasoline economic climate. Versions outfitted with 35-inch tires should really see fifteen mpg metropolis, eighteen mpg freeway and sixteen mpg merged, though 37-inch-tire models tumble to fifteen, sixteen and fifteen, respectively. The much heavier Mopar, meanwhile, nets a comparatively reprehensible ten mpg metropolis, 14 mpg freeway and twelve mpg merged. 

Compared with the TRX, the Raptor is happy to stay on regular 87-octane gasoline and the Ford has a greater 36-gallon gasoline tank, much too, enabling extra than five hundred miles in between fill-ups. Your bladder may well not previous that extended on the freeway, but you are going to be thankful for the more capability when you might be caning the EcoBoost off-street in some distant site, having much considerably less than EPA estimates.

Large value boost

I detest to dwell on the number comparison match with the Ram, but there is certainly 1 other important set of figures I will need to go over: pricing. The outgoing Raptor held a enormous charge benefit as opposed to the Ram, starting off about $fifteen,000 considerably less. That’s sufficient of a pricing gulf that 1 could argue these two automobiles in fact existed in different courses — supertruck as opposed to hypertruck, possibly. 

No lengthier the 2021 Raptor’s enhancements have induced a major value boost. The outgoing 2020 Raptor begun at $fifty five,090 including a steep $one,645 for supply. For 2021, a foundation Raptor will set you again $sixty five,840 (including $one,695 supply) and a full-boat model can easily leading $80,000. By contrast, the TRX starts off at $seventy two,a hundred and twenty sent and can climb previously mentioned $94,000. There is certainly however a considerable value differential, but it really is mainly visible on higher-material models and with only all around $six,000 separating foundation MSRPs, the Raptor’s worth proposition is substantially considerably less apparent than it at the time was.

You are not able to get into a 2021 Raptor for considerably less than $sixty five,840.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

How did this happen? In element, it really is because Ford nixed previous year’s considerably less-expensive SuperCab human body design immediately after just four% of potential buyers selected the shorter model’s rear-hinged fifty percent-doorways. For 2021, the only way you can get a Raptor is with Ford’s greater 4-doorway SuperCrew human body paired with a 5.5-foot bed and its one,four hundred-pound max payload (towing sits at 8,200 lbs). Further more bloating the bottom line is all of that new tech, including a brace of clever towing aids and Ford’s Co-Pilot 360 suite of active security equipment, which bundles typical forward-collision warning with automatic crisis braking, adaptive cruise management, blind-spot checking, automatic higher beams and so on. A prep package for BlueCruise, Ford’s forthcoming partially automated palms-absolutely free driving tech, is optional.

At the conclude of the day, the 2021 Ford Raptor is a substantially improved truck, making on what was currently a vastly remarkable pickup. This truck’s much extra advanced suspension will give hardcore off-roaders ample explanation to look at the new model, but it really is the cabin’s significantly-essential overhaul and the substantial infusion of benefit and security tech that they’ll enjoy most in day-to-day everyday living. Regretably, the new model’s considerable value boost blunts the Raptor’s charm somewhat and it does have me thinking how stratospherically the forthcoming V8-run Raptor R will be priced when it comes following calendar year. That aside, there are extra good reasons than ever to look at parking this 4×4 in your garage. It is 1 of the most effective, most expressive automobiles The usa can make.

Editors’ note: Journey expenses similar to this story ended up protected by the manufacturer, which is frequent in the auto sector. The judgments and views of Roadshow’s staff members are our possess and we do not accept compensated editorial material.