2021 Ford Raptor Preview

Jack R. Nerad | Feb 03, 2021
  • Designed especially for high-speed desert travel
  • Entirely new exterior and interior styling
  • New 5-link coil spring rear suspension
  • Improved wheel travel with revised electronically controlled shock absorbers
  • Available 37-inch tires 
  • Official pricing is unavailable, but the 2021 Raptor is expected to have a base of about $55,000 and will appear in showrooms this summer

Introduction - Find the best Ford deals!

The 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor is the third generation of Ford's high-performance desert-duster, and it takes the concept to an even higher level of sophistication and capability. 

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor Orange Front View

Fully redesigned in conjunction with the recently introduced 2021 Ford F-150, the all-new Raptor deviates from its sibling with the addition of a 5-link coil-spring rear suspension that replaces the former leaf-spring arrangement. The new 2021 Ford Raptor offers improved wheel travel, electronically controlled FOX shocks with Live Valve technology, and available 37-inch tires and wheels. Ford says the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine will deliver better low-end torque, but it wouldn't quote a horsepower figure. 

What is certain is the new 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor will offer a higher maximum tow rating and increased payload capability. All Raptors are 4-wheel-drive (4WD) with a 2-speed transfer case.

Exterior Features - Find the best Ford deals!

The 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor echoes the design of the new F-150, but presents it in a more rugged, aggressive form. It's like the older brother of the F-150 that works out a lot. 

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor Orange Rear View

Width is the theme here. The Raptor is almost seven inches wider than the F-150 and has a track that is also about seven inches wider. A blacked-out grille featuring bold F-O-R-D lettering accentuates the added girth.

A wide and prominent front skid plate offers significant side-to-side protection from obstacles and extends that protection up and forward to the front bumper. Both front and rear bumpers are fashioned of steel to ward off the sticks and stones of off-roading. 

The Raptor's hood features several details inspired by the F-22 Raptor fighter jet. The "power-dome" features a heat extractor plus functional side vents at the trailing edges of the squared-off front fenders. The Raptor design team says the front and rear fenders "emulate the windswept look of dust billowing off the top of the tires at high speed." 

Understated taillights and side-marker lights flank a bold F-O-R-D appliqué on the tailgate that repeats the front grille's motif. Three different 17-inch wheels are available, as is Rigid off-road lighting mounted in the front bumper. 

Interior Features - Find the best Ford deals!

The 2021 Raptor's interior makes good use of the all-new interior of the current F-150

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor Interior Dashboard

Compared to the previous Raptor, it offers enhanced materials, new soft-touch surface finishes, and significantly more storage. The standard interior package features a lot of aluminum trim, while an optional package switches to carbon fiber to dress up the doors, instrument panel, and center console. Mimicking the F-150's design, the center console offers a folding gear shifter and a flat surface that folds out to serve as a writing surface or just to lay out lunch. 

The 4-spoke steering wheel has a thick rim and features a laser-etched logo, top centering mark, and aluminum paddle shifters. The standard front seats are fitted with large bolsters to keep occupants from sliding side-to-side during passes through the whoops. Even bolder Recaro bucket seats are optionally available. 

One of the features new Raptor owners are most likely to appreciate is its additional lockable rear storage. The area under the back seat becomes a secure vault, and it's a convenient place to stash a wide variety of items. Another appealing thing is the Pro Power Onboard feature that enables Raptor owners to use their truck as if it were a mobile generator. It offers 2.0 kilowatts of exportable electricity to run power tools, camp lights, and other equipment.

Under the Hood - Find the best Ford deals!

The 2021 Raptor has a third-generation, twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6. This time around, Ford says it is tuned to offer more low-end torque and a broader torque band for better drivability. At the same time, Ford engineers have neither finalized nor certified the peak horsepower and torque figures. The 2020 Raptor supplies 450 horsepower and 510 lb.-ft. of torque. 

The EcoBoost V6 features revised turbochargers, a 10.5:1 (vs. 2020's 10.0:1) compression ratio, and new high-power fans built into the cooling system. The 3-inch equal-length exhaust system with a patent-pending built-in X-pipe, unique "trombone loop," and active valves is also new. With a true pass-through muffler design, the driver can configure four sound modes – Quiet, Normal, Sport, and Baja.

Ford backs the V6 with a 10-speed automatic transmission built in-house and a torque-on-demand transfer case. Both the standard electronic locking rear differential and available Torsen front limited-slip differential have 4:10 final drive ratios. For 2021, the Raptor's maximum payload increases to 1,400 pounds while the maximum tow rating is 8,200 lbs., up 200 lbs. from 2020. With its standard 36-gallon fuel tank, the Raptor has a projected EPA-estimated range of more than 500 miles.

The new 5-link rear suspension features extra-long trailing arms, a Panhard rod, and 24-inch coil springs. The arrangement better maintains axle position even when crossing rough terrain. In addition to its apparent benefits in off-roading, the new suspension design, combined with more sophisticated engine management software, means the truck can put more torque to the rear wheels for quicker starts off of the line, faster acceleration, and better throttle responsiveness. The overall result is improved comfort, stability, handling, control, and traction at speed.

The Terrain Management System offers seven selectable drive modes, allowing Raptor owners to choose the setting best suited to driving conditions. Standard Trail Control functions include a low-speed cruise control system for off-roading. 

Safety Systems - Find the best Ford deals!

Ford offers a long list of advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) for the new 2021 Raptor. For example, standard Trail 1-Pedal Drive helps make rock crawling safer and easier by combining acceleration and braking into the accelerator pedal. The driver presses the pedal to move the truck forward and releases the pedal to brake. 

Standard driver aids include:

  • Brake auto-hold for heavy traffic and intersections
  • Automatic high-beam headlights
  • Hill-start assist 
  • Backup camera with hitch support

Standard safety systems are:

  • Forward-collision warning with brake support and pedestrian detection
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Blind-spot warning with trailer coverage
  • Rear cross-traffic warning with automatic reverse braking

Optionally available driver aids and safety systems include:

  • Active Drive Assist prep kit (Level 2+ ADAS technology)
  • Distance alert/distance indication
  • Forward-sensing systems
  • Pro Trailer Backup Assist
  • Trailer Reverse Guidance

Infotainment and Technology - Find the best Ford deals!

The 2021 F-150 Raptor puts a bold, new standard 12-inch digital gauge cluster right in front of the driver. The display is customizable, and it features Raptor-specific graphics and animations, off-road data, and presents turn-by-turn navigation. 

A customizable new 12-inch center infotainment screen is also standard. It offers a split-screen view, enabling occupants to control navigation, music, and vehicle features and configurations simultaneously. 

The Sync 4 infotainment system offers real-time mapping and customizable information on demand. Ford also promises more natural voice control that doesn't require structured phrases. The system supports wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as Sync AppLink apps like Ford+Alexa. The available high-end audio choice is an 18-speaker B&O Unleashed system by Bang & Olufsen.

Over-the-air update capability keeps Sync 4 fresh and offers possible upgrades. The Raptor also offers FordPass, allowing owners to remotely lock or unlock their vehicle, check tire pressure and fuel level, and control features like Zone Lighting, Trailer Theft Alert, Trailer Light Check, and the available Pro Power Onboard outlet. 

2021 Ford Raptor Competitors - Find the best Ford deals!

When it comes to the Raptor's competition, the elephant — or should we say, apex predator — in the room is the new 2021 Ram 1500 TRX. It, just like the Raptor, is designed to travel rapidly across the wilds of the desert. It, just like the Raptor, has extensive wheel travel and a suspension specially tailored for that specialized off-road duty. And it, just like the Raptor, can also function as an everyday truck with large payload and towing capabilities.

The difference lies under the Ram's wide hood. The 2021 Ram 1500 TRX sports a 702-horsepower supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi V8 engine. It has various electronic driver aids, including launch control, that enable it to jet from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds. 

While Ford hasn't shared the new Raptor's precise horsepower figure, we can be sure that it won't reach 700 horsepower. To jump the lofty bar that the Ram 1500 TRX has set, Ford fans will have to wait for the upcoming Raptor R.

Ford and Ram are the sources of information in this article. It was accurate as of February 3, 2021, but it may have changed since that date. Always confirm product details and availability with the automaker's website or your local dealership.

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