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

You can find anything wholly satisfying about working with a nicely-designed instrument to its full opportunity. The best instruments are arguably those people that produce far better outcomes the harder they are worked. Simply call it grace below strain, call it conditioning of purpose, call it whatsoever you like, it can be distinct the 2021 Ford F-one hundred fifty Raptor 4×4 has particularly this sort of virtue baked into the marrow of its frame, and boy, is it a thrill to uncover and exploit.

While it arguably isn’t going to search a great deal diverse from last year’s model, this Raptor is without a doubt substantially new. This pickup truck not only benefits from just about all of the 2021 F-one hundred fifty model line’s considerable inside and tech improvements, it also gains even more amazing off-street chops thanks to a refined new 5-connection rear suspension and the availability of hulking 37-inch tires. 

Right before you request, just one matter that stays largely unchanged is the three.5-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V6, once all over again matched to a ten-speed automatic transmission and tuned for 450 horsepower and 510-pound-toes of torque. You can find a better compression ratio, revised application for far better throttle reaction and new superior-electric power cooling fans for more self-confident off-roading and towing, but that’s about the scope of the improvements underhood.

Now entering its 3rd era and last but not least dealing with its first real competitors in the type of Ram’s formidable 1500 TRX, this is the model that will carry the Raptor nameplate into its teenage decades. The good thing is, a day of pounding via the Mojave desert, assaulting sand dunes, blitzing in excess of whoops and galloping across rock-strewn washes reveals not a trace of uncomfortable adolescence. Far better continue to, thanks to an all-new multi-manner exhaust program, the Raptor’s voice has dropped appreciably, bellowing more loudly and more authoritatively in a reduced register. 

37-inch tires on the street

My first travel of the Michigan-built 2021 Ford Raptor starts off off innocuously adequate, in the shadow of the casinos and hotels of Las Vegas. I established off from Sin City, driving on paved roadways an hour out to Pahrump, a city of close to forty,000 whose notable economic motorists consist of — [checks Wikipedia] — Spring Mountain Motor Athletics Ranch, Front Sight Firearms Coaching Institute and a pair of legal brothels. 

Right here be 37-inch monsters.

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The travel, like a detour to test out Nevada’s attractive Red Rock Canyon Nationwide Conservation Location, offers me a possibility to get acquainted with my check car or truck, which is riding on mondo meats: a established of recently optional 37×12.5-inch BFGoodrich T/A K02s, the largest tires I’ve ever found fitted to a manufacturing pickup (they are actually even bigger than the Sasquatch toes on Ford’s new Bronco SUV). These tires arrive as element of the Raptor 37 Functionality Deal, a multifaceted $seven,five hundred possibility group that incorporates beadlock-able wheels, one of a kind shock absorbers, fetching Rhapsody Blue Recaro seats and a slew of inside and exterior trim tweaks. The tires produce killer appears to be like and far better ground clearance, albeit at the cost of some suspension journey and unsprung weight (close to six lbs per corner).

Major cabin and tech upgrades

Like most roadways in Nevada that usually are not in the mountains, the street to Pahrump is featurelessly flat, straight and sunbaked. But while it isn’t a excellent place to check the Raptor’s dealing with, it is a superior time to notice the Raptor’s supple ride high-quality and very nicely-managed NVH (noise, vibration and harshness). The major tread blocks on the BFGs don’t produce too much tire roar and while the steering is gentle on really feel and a little squishy just off middle, it can be just great and should not be off-putting to any one applied to driving a full-size pickup.

It is really also a superior time to choose inventory of the largest information for the Raptor’s on-street manners, which have nothing at all to do with the vehicle’s dynamics: the new cabin. Like the rest of its F-one hundred fifty siblings, it can be below where Ford experienced fallen at the rear of its arch rival, the Ram 1500 (and relatively substantially, at that). For 2021, the 14th-era F-150’s inside is of noticeably better high-quality. 

Raptor’s vastly enhanced cabin is a major high-quality-of-lifestyle update.


The dashboard is entirely new and it can be anything of a tech bonanza. With a conventional twelve-inch digital gauge cluster and a matching twelve-inch touchscreen working Sync four infotainment, you happen to be looking at a major high-quality-of-lifestyle upgrade as opposed to the 2020 model. The graphics are sharper, the reaction occasions are snappier and the characteristic established is further, bringing conveniences like wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Vehicle. Importantly, the program also incorporates a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, enabling bumper-to-bumper in excess of-the-air updates for the first time. This assures that not only will the Sync four go on to give the hottest and greatest infotainment options, new functions and bug fixes can be downloaded for the rest of the truck, much too — powertrain included. Further options like the $765 360-diploma digital camera offer (which reveals true-time tire paths for smarter off-roading), a deployable middle console desk and an available 18-speaker Bang & Olufsen Unleashed audio program are true pot sweeteners, much too.

Prodigious thirst apart, Raptors have always made incredibly excellent each day motorists, but this new inside and tech must definitely make daily lifestyle a great deal easier, even if you don’t choose for stuff like Pro Power Onboard, a built-in 2.-kilowatt generator able of powering a smaller career 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 begin to beat the late-summertime warmth. 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 an additional fifty-mile travel to achieve California’s Dumont Dunes, a wide, seven,620-acre playland that lies in the shadow of volcanic hills and alongside the financial institutions of the Amargosa River. 

When I get there, it can be continue to pitch dim, giving me time air down the tires to about 24 psi and to bolt on superior-visibility dune flags, as nicely as don a helmet and HANS device for basic safety. The sunlight quickly catches fireplace, illuminating a stunning martian backdrop that feels like a person clicked the “widescreen” button on my lifestyle. It’ll be nicely in excess of one hundred ten degrees right before the day is out, so I load in adequate h2o bottles to consume the suggested liter or more an hour and head for the numerous classes that Ford’s crew established up.

Participating in in the dunes at speed where the Raptor is happiest. 

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

Whoops! This effectiveness is no incident

Even though it can be not the first process I tackle, it can be the Raptor’s effectiveness on the whoops — a long discipline of of smaller, rolling jumps that create a speedily undulating floor — that impress me most. Credit history goes to the engineers who developed the Raptor’s fully new rear suspension, which ditches the leaf springs applied on all other F-Collection vehicles other than the Lightning EV. This all-new 5-connection set up employs long rear trailing arms, a Panhard rod and gigundous 24-inch coil springs to present serious journey (fifteen inches out back again on 35-inch-tire-outfitted models, or 14.1-inches on my pickup’s 37-inch BFGs). Ford states this 2021 model has twenty five% more suspension journey than the primary Raptor, which wasn’t particularly lacking in that department. 

Perhaps most importantly, this refined rear suspension enables a great deal more precise area of the axle through the suspension’s journey — not just up and down, but fore/aft and laterally, as nicely. The consequence is that the truck has an easier time putting the electric power down and maintaining it there, particularly with a established of more substantial, up coming-era Fox Live Valve shocks. These electronically managed, interior-bypass units characteristic more substantial three.1-inch tubes to far better manage the punishing thermal load of superior-speed desert working. 

How this works out in true lifestyle is that the a lot quicker you go, the far better the Raptor performs across the whoops. What feels juddery at forty mph smoothes out remarkably at 60-furthermore mph, the Raptor’s recently strengthened chassis keeping incredibly amount while its suspension executes a punishing superior-speed dance as the truck streaks across the desert washboard. It is really a exceptional effectiveness at speeds that could nicely send out the mattress on a lesser truck mule-kicking uncontrollably — typical ol’ leaf springs might’ve subjected this Code Orange Raptor to a Code Brown second. Alternatively, I locate myself pushing to accelerate to even better speeds all the faster, forcing me to count ever harder on Raptor’s able brakes (13.seven-inch discs up front,13.2 inches out back again).

The Raptor is a far better performer in desert whoops.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

Beadlocks for all

Ford coned off a couple of large sand classes that run up and down Dumont’s large dunes, much too, giving me the possibility to kick up some serious rooster tails while evaluating reduced-grip dealing with on tires that have been aired down even even further to just fifteen psi. The critical below is momentum — you hardly ever want to slow down for fear of burying the Raptor up to its axles. The ten-speed gearbox is primed to hold the revs up in Baja manner and it can be large enjoyable to dangle the tail out and leap ever better and even further in excess of a crest. Or, at minimum it is until I load up the outer front tire in a corner much too hard, the BFG rolling in excess of on its sidewalls and popping a bead, deflating the tire and bringing the action a screeching halt. (Other routines highlighted the Raptor’s available beadlock-able wheels, but not this just one, oddly.) Ford minders quickly shuttle me to an additional Raptor, afterwards reuniting me with my primary Code Orange tester just after a refreshing rubber swap.

Concerning the whoops, the dune working and piling alongside a superior-speed class on a wash, it can be distinct the Raptor is more able than ever in the tough stuff. Even avid off-roaders are considerably more likely to run out of expertise long right before this truck operates out of capacity. I’ll 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 5-connection set up and more substantial tires hasn’t appreciably damage the Raptor’s on-street livability, possibly.

Sound views

As to the carryover powertrain’s new sound, Ford fitted a radically diverse exhaust set up to the 2021 F-one hundred fifty Raptor, comprehensive with a funky-looking 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. Mixed with energetic valves with 4 driver-selectable modes (Silent, Normal, Sport and Baja), the new exhaust assures the Raptor has a a great deal more assertive voice when you want it and a don’t-wake-the-neighbors tone when you don’t. Baja mode’s howl is a big improvement in excess of the relatively flaccid-sounding 2nd-era Raptor, but it stays a long way from the intrinsically satisfying guttural V8 bellow of the Ram 1500 TRX.

The three.5-liter twin-turbo V6 motor hasn’t adjusted a great deal, but at minimum the exhaust seems far better.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

Thirsty, but not TRX thirsty

On the furthermore side, the 2021 Raptor, while rarely thrifty, handily outpoints the a great deal more powerful Ram in gas economic climate. Designs outfitted with 35-inch tires must see fifteen mpg city, 18 mpg highway and 16 mpg merged, while 37-inch-tire models fall to fifteen, 16 and fifteen, respectively. The considerably heavier Mopar, meanwhile, nets a comparatively reprehensible ten mpg city, 14 mpg highway and twelve mpg merged. 

In contrast to the TRX, the Raptor is happy to dwell on typical 87-octane gas and the Ford has a more substantial 36-gallon gas tank, much too, enabling more than five hundred miles amongst fill-ups. Your bladder might not last that long on the freeway, but you can expect to be thankful for the more potential when you happen to be caning the EcoBoost off-street in some distant area, obtaining considerably fewer than EPA estimates.

Major rate increase

I loathe to dwell on the amount comparison game with the Ram, but there is just one other vital established of figures I will need to explore: pricing. The outgoing Raptor held a big price tag advantage as opposed to the Ram, beginning about $fifteen,000 fewer. That is adequate of a pricing gulf that just one could argue these two motor vehicles actually existed in diverse lessons — supertruck as opposed to hypertruck, most likely. 

No more time the 2021 Raptor’s improvements have brought on a major rate increase. The outgoing 2020 Raptor started off at $55,090 like a steep $1,645 for delivery. For 2021, a foundation Raptor will established you back again $sixty five,840 (like $1,695 delivery) and a full-boat model can conveniently top $80,000. By distinction, the TRX starts off at $seventy two,one hundred twenty delivered and can climb over $94,000. You can find continue to a considerable rate differential, but it can be principally visible on superior-material models and with only close to $six,000 separating foundation MSRPs, the Raptor’s price proposition is drastically fewer apparent than it once was.

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

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

How did this take place? In element, it can be due to the fact Ford nixed last year’s fewer-high-priced SuperCab human body design just after just four% of consumers selected the shorter model’s rear-hinged 50 percent-doors. For 2021, the only way you can get a Raptor is with Ford’s more substantial 4-door SuperCrew human body paired with a 5.5-foot mattress and its 1,400-pound max payload (towing sits at eight,two hundred lbs). Even further bloating the bottom line is all of that new tech, like a brace of smart towing aids and Ford’s Co-Pilot 360 suite of energetic basic safety gear, which bundles conventional ahead-collision warning with automatic unexpected emergency braking, adaptive cruise regulate, blind-spot checking, automatic superior beams and so on. A prep kit for BlueCruise, Ford’s forthcoming partly automatic fingers-no cost driving tech, is optional.

At the stop of the day, the 2021 Ford Raptor is a substantially enhanced truck, constructing on what was currently a massively amazing pickup. This truck’s considerably more advanced suspension will give hardcore off-roaders enough rationale to contemplate the new model, but it can be the cabin’s a great deal-wanted overhaul and the large infusion of usefulness and basic safety tech that they are going to take pleasure in most in each day lifestyle. Sad to say, the new model’s considerable rate increase blunts the Raptor’s appeal relatively and it does have me wondering how stratospherically the forthcoming V8-powered Raptor R will be priced when it comes up coming 12 months. That apart, there are more motives than ever to contemplate parking this 4×4 in your garage. It is really just one of the best, most expressive motor vehicles The united states will make.

Editors’ notice: Travel charges similar to this story had been lined by the producer, which is widespread in the auto business. The judgments and views of Roadshow’s personnel are our have and we do not accept paid editorial material.