2021 Ford F-150 Raptor
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2021 Ford F-150 Raptor Review

Ringing in at close to the $100k mark, the updated Raptor is a completely different F-150 beast, boasting Baja-racer looks, mountain-traversing abilities, and a 450-hp V6 mill. Somehow, Ford managed to improve it for 2021.

Key Features:

  • High-speed off-road ability
  • Surprisingly balanced on-road manners
  • Handsome interior

Direct Competitors:

  • Chevrolet Silverado ZR2
  • GMC Sierra AT4X
  • Ram TRX

Every now and then, an automaker comes out with an over-the-top model that no one really needs, but you sure want one. At Ford, that’s the F-150 Raptor, built to be an off-road monster straight out of the box. It morphed into its third generation for 2021, based on the redesigned F-150 lineup.

It’s designed to be more of a desert racer, able to take rough roads and bumps at speed, but it’ll handle rock-crawls and off-road trails, providing they’re wide enough to accommodate it. For performance and bragging rights, the newly-available Raptor 37 Performance Package adds 37-inch tires on beadlock-capable 17-inch tires.

Pricing for the 2021 Raptor Crew Cab 

All that ability doesn’t come cheap. The Raptor comes only in Crew Cab configuration, starting at $86,349, but of course that’s only the beginning. The 37 Performance Package adds $10,000 – although that price includes suspension modifications so the tires will fit, along with sport-tuned shocks, Recaro seats in leather and synthetic suede, carbon-fibre trim and graphics – and you can further add on such items as a premium B&O stereo, 360-degree camera, and Ford’s Pro Power Onboard 2-kW integrated generator.

2021 F-150 Raptor | Photo: Ford 

It’s easy to check off enough boxes to top $100,000, and at that point some buyers may be looking at Ram’s TRX. But that horsepower monster starts around that price, and Ford will be targeting Ram’s 702 ponies when it finally unveils the upcoming V8-powered Raptor R.

Ford Raptor 2021 Interior

A truck at this price should look it, and the Raptor delivers. The redesigned cabin looks fresh and appealing, with the centre stack bisected by a chunky metallic accent. The 12-inch centre screen is incorporated seamlessly into the stack, rather than looking tacked-on and overwhelming the design. 

It runs the latest version of Ford’s SYNC4 operating system, which includes wireless smartphone integration. You can also download the FordPass App, which lets you use your phone to remotely start the vehicle, lock or unlock it, locate it, or check on its status.

2021 F-150 Raptor | Photo: Ford 

It’s common for companies to increasingly load functions into their screens, but the Raptor still retains buttons and dials for commonly-used ones, including stereo volume and tuning, and climate control. There are buttons to activate the Recaro seats’ heating and cooling functions, along with a heated steering wheel. That option package also heats the outboard rear seats.

F-150 drop-down shifter new for 2021

Ford opted to keep a conventional gearshift lever, rather than opt for a dial; the company’s reps say its customers felt it seemed “more like a truck.” It has a trick up its sleeve, too; press a button, and the shifter drops down flat in the console. From there, you can flip the centre console lid forward – a convenience option that’s tucked into a few available packages – to form a flat surface for work or lunch.

2021 F-150 Raptor | Photo: Ford 

The seats are very comfortable, both front and back, and the crew cab configuration gives rear-seat passengers a huge amount of legroom. The rear floor is flat, making it easy to slide cargo across, and the seat cushions flip up for extra storage space.

Performance and driving impressions

The Raptor is powered by the high-output version of the F-150’s 3.5L twin-turbo “EcoBoost” V6, making 450 horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque, and mated to a ten-speed automatic transmission. Four-wheel drive is standard, of course. It’s a part-time system with 4High and 4Low, but also includes 4Auto mode that lets you drive in 4x4 on hard surfaces, which you shouldn’t do in a vehicle that doesn’t have such a setting since it risks driveline damage.

Improved handling and redesigned undercarriage

The Raptor’s redesigned undercarriage includes a five-link suspension with coil springs, in place of the last-gen’s leaf springs, for improved ride and handling; improved front geometry for extra front suspension travel of up to 355 mm (14 inches); and larger Fox internal bypass shocks with continuously variable damping.

2021 F-150 Raptor | Photo: Ford 

Despite the truck’s size and heft, the Raptor’s acceleration is quick and linear. It even feels a bit smaller than it is, no doubt thanks to its quick steering response and the good visibility afforded by its dip-down side windows. 

Surprisingly nimble on its feet for everyday driving

The Raptor is styled as a Baja-style racer, and it excels at taking rough terrain at speed. It maintains its composure over bumps, and the rear end feels much more stable with the new suspension setup. What’s surprising is that, for all that ability, it’s remarkably smooth on pavement, without the annoying side-to-side wallow that’s part of the package on some tough off-roaders. You can adjust the steering weight, shocks and exhaust note using buttons on the steering wheel, taking it from quiet comfort through to full-on attitude.

Verdict: Is the Raptor worth it?

If you just want the Raptor as a high-end F-150, you’ll likely find it overwhelming. It’s expensive to buy, and with the bigger tires, fuel consumption is officially rated at 15.3 L/100 km. We went up a couple of litres-per-hundred while having only a little fun with it, and can only imagine the bill when those 37-inchers need replacement.

2021 F-150 Raptor | Photo: Ford 

But if wide-open off-road’s your thing, it’s hard to fault this good-looking beast. You’ll spend a lot of time and money on the aftermarket outfitting anything close to this, and it still won’t be a Raptor. In this case, the real thing is really the best. On the other end of the full-size pickup spectrum, if an all-electric Ford truck is on your wish list, check out the specs on the upcoming F-150 Lightning.

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