The Ford F-150 has been Canada’s best-selling truck for 55 years straight. It’s a workhorse built for the construction site or playground, but one model takes it even further – the high-performance F-150 Raptor. First introduced in 2009, the desert, racing-inspired Raptor is still going strong; it undergoes a full redesign for the third-generation. It has to raise the bar higher, adding more off-roading capabilities to take on new competitors, like the 2021 RAM 1500 TRX, in the escalating high-performance, off-roading truck wars.
Sure the Raptor doesn’t have the power of the RAM 1500 TRX’s Hellcat engine – that’s a supercharged 6.2-litre Hemi V-8 that pumps out 702 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque. For now, the Raptor gets a twin-turbo 3.5-litre EcoBoost engine mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. Official horsepower and torque numbers aren’t available, yet. But expect to see a more powerful engine to take on the TRX; rumours are circulating of a supercharged V-8 in the upcoming F-150 Raptor R, which comes out next year.
Visually, it’s clear this is no run-of-the-mill F-150. While not as aggressive in its styling as the TRX, the Raptor is completely redesigned with rugged, bad-boy good looks. Available in a SuperCrew configuration on a 145-inch wheelbase, it seats five and has a 5.5-ft long bed. It’s the most eye-catching F-150 ever built with impossible-to-miss design details such as Ford’s name plastered in big, bold capital letters on the blacked-out front grille. The headlights stretch fender to fender for a menacing look. It also has functional side vents, blacked-out tail lights, and steel rear bumpers with dual-exhaust tips tucked high up against the truck to prevent damage when going off the beaten track.
Off-roading capabilities will be key to the Raptor’s success. For 2021, the running gear is completely redesigned. It’s re-engineered with an all-new five-link rear suspension with extra-long trailing arms to better maintain axle position on rough terrain and Raptor’s largest-ever shocks designed to resist heat buildup and to react faster to terrain changes. Other off-roading features include a Trail One-Pedal, which helps with extreme driving situations, such as rock crawling, by letting the driver use one pedal, the throttle, to move forward or brake. There’s also a Trail Control system, which operates like cruise control for off-roading. Select a set speed and the system controls the throttle and braking so the driver can focus on steering through challenging off-road conditions. Seven driving modes are available via the Terrain Management System – Slippery, Tow/Haul, Sport, Normal, Off-road, Baja and Rock Crawl. The modes adjust many features including steering feel, transfer case behaviour, and transmission shift points depending on the terrain.
For the first time, Raptor comes with either 35-inch or 37-inch tires. With 35-inch tires, it can clear 12-inch obstacles with an approach angle of 31 degrees, maximum departure angle of 23.9 degrees and breakover angle of 22.7 degrees, according to Ford officials. Fitted with 37-inch tires, the running clearance rises to 13.1 inches, the approach angle is 33.1 degrees, the departure angle 24.9 degrees and the breakover angle 24.4 degrees. Staying true to its roots, towing and payload capacities have also increased, both by 200 pounds – maximum payload is now 1,400 pounds, while towing is 8,200 pounds.
Inside, the cockpit is more modern, high-tech, and huge with a new 12-inch digital gauge cluster, 12-inch touchscreen, and a big beefy steering wheel with the Raptor name etched into it. When it comes to connectivity features, it’s well equipped with 4G LTE with a Wi-Fi hotspot, over-the-air updates, SYNC4 with real-time mapping and wirelessly connectivity for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and the FordPass mobile app, which lets drivers lock or unlock their vehicle remotely from almost anywhere, check tire pressure and fuel level, and schedule remote start times just by using their smartphones and the app.
Built at Ford’s Dearborn Truck Plant in Dearborn, Michigan, the F-150 Raptor will be available at dealerships this summer, followed by the Raptor R. Prices haven’t been announced yet, but expect to pay a big price premium for the Raptor over the base F-150. The 2020 F-150 Raptor started at $76,699. And the 2021 RAM 1500 TRX starts at a whopping $93,995.
2021 Ford F-150 Raptor
- Base price: TBC
- Engine: 3.5L twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 – horsepower and torque TBC
- Transmission/Drive: 10-speed automatic, 4WD
- Fuel economy (litres/100 km city and highway): TBC
- Alternatives: RAM 1500 TRX, Jeep Gladiator Mojave
Stay on top of all our Drive stories. We have a Drive newsletter covering car reviews, innovative new cars and the ups and downs of everyday driving. Sign up for the weekly Drive newsletter, delivered to your inbox for free. Follow us on Instagram, @globedrive.