The speedometer touches 83 mph after standing on the fuel whereas exiting a nook in a abandoned sand wash, with the 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor’s tires resolutely planted to the uneven floor. One other rutted bend comes rapidly into view, at which level I elevate off the throttle and evenly path brake into the nook. The truck drifts predictably and regularly till I sight the nook exit, bury the loud pedal and ship it down the following transient straight. I’ve barely pushed this truck in anger and have by no means seen this stretch of wash earlier than, however I’ve already developed full religion in how the brand new Raptor will reply.
Comparable ideas undergo my head as I later ship it skimming throughout the highest of deep whoop-de-doos, scramble up hills and over unsure rocky terrain, and schuss it by cone gates which are laid out like a sandy Tremendous-G large slalom course on the flanks of humongous dunes. The brand new Raptor gobbles all of it up and spits all of it out – in twin roosts of sand, at occasions – with higher stability and extra persistent energy supply than any earlier Raptor earlier than it. It frankly behaves as if it was constructed to do nothing else.
However that is nothing like a one-dimensional machine. Round city, the now crew-cab-only Raptor advantages from all the comforts and considerate touches that adorn the newest F-150’s cabin, and it comes commonplace with a 12-inch instrument panel and a 12-inch middle display with Sync 4 and wi-fi smartphone connectivity. Its daily-drive experience is easy, flat and largely devoid of aftershake after hitting tough patches. You’d be very happy to spend all day behind the wheel, which is a helpful factor as a result of its 36-gallon gasoline tank offers it properly over 500 miles of freeway driving vary.
One single change is accountable for most of this, and that’s the third-generation Raptor’s abandonment of leaf spring rear suspension in favor of a five-link setup with coil springs. If that sounds acquainted, that’s what underpins most Ram pickups, together with the Raptor’s most evident competitor, the Ram 1500 TRX. This setup makes for a smoother on-road experience, but it surely additionally helps a truck put energy to the pavement (or filth) with far much less axle hop. No towing was concerned on this occasion, however I absolutely count on improved trailering stability in crosswinds and on winding descents because of the brand new suspension’s fifth hyperlink, the lateral panhard rod.
The Raptor’s interpretation of link-coil suspension is notably totally different from the TRX’s in two methods. Its 4 main axle-locating hyperlinks are significantly longer and join farther ahead on the body, and its huge three-stage, progressive-rate coil springs connect with decrease spring seat brackets which are bolted behind the rear axle as an alternative of sitting atop it. The longer hyperlinks open up efficiency potential, and the bolt-on spring seats create fascinating prospects for the upcoming Raptor R – to not point out aftermarket suspension kits.
In showroom configuration, it provides as a lot as a full 15 inches of rear axle journey, which is 1.1 inches greater than the outgoing Raptor and a full inch greater than the TRX. What’s extra, elevated journey is an indicator of a attainable improve in axle articulation. Alert readers might bear in mind how the TRX practically maxed out my Flex Index ramp, so I won’t be capable to make a profitable Raptor RTI measurement with out first constructing a ramp extension. However the case for extra total articulation and the potential for a TRX-beating RTI rating doesn’t start and finish within the rear.
That’s as a result of the brand new Raptor’s entrance suspension has additionally undergone enhancements that improve its journey to 14.0 inches, which is a full inch greater than each the outgoing Raptor and the Ram TRX. That is extra a case of design optimization, as a result of the identical type of wide-track double-wishbone suspension stays in play up entrance. The brand new Raptor will get new aluminum steering knuckles that optimize the higher ball joint’s vary of movement, its axle joints have been massaged to extend most angularity, and the entrance axle and differential meeting was lowered a few quarter-inch.
The above suspension journey enhancements apply to Raptors fitted with the usual 35-inch tires (LT315/70R17 Load Vary C). There’s additionally a brand new class-exclusive 37-inch tire choice (37×12.5R17LT Load Vary C), however they arrive with an inch much less entrance and rear journey due to tighter wheel-well clearance. Each of them are BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 tires mounted on 17-by-8.5-inch rims, however the 37-inch setup has a distinct wheel offset to assist them match. The 35-inch setup provides bead-lock-succesful rims as an choice, however such rims are commonplace on the 37-inch fitment. In every case, the particular bead-lock ring itself is an after-sale accent.
Each tires are paired with the identical 4.10-to-1 axle ratio, so the 35-inch model feels extra energetic out of the outlet as a result of shorter tires produce shorter total efficient gearing. A 37-inch Raptor typically floats a bit higher over the whoops, and it completely has extra floor clearance (13.1 versus 12.0) and higher method, departure, and breakover angles (33.1/24.9/24.4 levels versus 31/23.9/22.7, respectively). However don’t be too exhausting on the 35-inch Raptor. All 4 of its above stats beat these of the Ram TRX, and I by no means discovered the boundaries whereas horsing one round within the desert.
I lean towards the 35s as a result of I’m an articulation and acceleration snob. The 35-inch setup additionally returns higher gasoline financial system, particularly on the freeway, to the tune of 15 mpg metropolis, 18 mpg freeway and 16 mpg mixed versus 15/16/15 mpg for a 37-inch truck. You’ll need to make this selection before you purchase, too. Becoming a 37-inch full-size matching spare underneath the mattress wasn’t trivial. It required significant adjustments to sure crossmembers, the spare tire winch, and the rearmost crossmember/trailer hitch. The 2 vans are bodily totally different. In different phrases, you gained’t be capable to merely slap a 37-inch aftermarket spare beneath in case you begin with a 35-inch Raptor.
Totally different bump stops account for the bodily journey and articulation variations, however the coil springs themselves are the identical. It’s the place of the decrease spring seats that differs, in addition to the inner tuning of the Fox Stay Valve 3.1-inch place delicate adaptive dampers. These dampers are fairly candy, with a number of circuits of passive place delicate internal-bypass valving layered atop an electronically-regulated secondary base valve that’s actuated by a predictive algorithm to make additional bypass changes. It makes an attempt to foretell the terrain forward by monitoring each the driving force’s throttle and steering inputs, and the profile of the terrain utilizing suspension place sensors in any respect 4 corners.
Do these shocks work higher than the Bilstein BlackHawk E2 dampers fitted to the Ram 1500 TRX? On pavement, I give the sting to the Raptor, but it surely’s an open query off-road as a result of I’ve not pushed a TRX on the identical programs in back-to-back situations. However the Raptor has one thing going for it which may be an even bigger issue than the shocks: it weighs significantly lower than a TRX. A 2020 Raptor weighs 5,697 kilos, and the 2021 Raptor, regardless of all its variations, solely weighs a smidge extra at 5,710 lbs. Including 37-inch tires brings the curb weight as much as 5,851 lbs, however even that is nonetheless practically 500 lbs lighter than the portly 6,350-lb TRX.
That is maybe why the Raptor’s largely carryover 3.5-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 doesn’t really feel like a comparative anchor round your neck regardless of making the identical 450 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque as earlier than. The Raptor merely has 640 fewer kilos to take care of than the TRX. And I say largely carryover due to two adjustments: the engine administration software program has been tweaked to decrease the torque peak from 3,500 to three,000 rpm, and the exhaust system has been reworked to remove the flatulent drone that EcoBoost Raptors have up to now been saddled with. There’s an additional “trombone loop” on the appropriate exhaust financial institution’s midpipe that offers either side equal tube size forward of the muffler, and there’s a drive mode-dependent valve system farther downstream that opens if you want full beans.
There’s no denying that the TRX’s 6.2-liter Hemi has the Raptor outclassed on paper. It’s exhausting to argue in opposition to 702 hp and 650 lb-ft of V8 grunt, until you’d be embarrassed by its dismal gasoline financial system of 12 mpg mixed. Or bankrupted by it. The EPA says you’d spend a mean of $1,650 extra per 12 months filling the TRX vs a 2021 Raptor sporting 37-inch tires.
Past that, the Raptor additionally has gearing on its aspect. Its transmission has 10 gears as an alternative of eight, and its final-drive ratio is 4.10-to-1 as an alternative of three.55-to-1. Nonetheless, individuals will grouse in regards to the energy distinction. Ford ought to have a solution for that with the 2022 Ford Raptor R, however the best way this new Raptor’s suspension is put collectively makes me consider the R may be greater than only a racier motor.
Regardless of these adjustments, 2021 Ford Raptor payload and tow rankings are increased than they have been final 12 months. Payload has risen from 1,200 to 1,400 kilos, and the tow ranking has been elevated from 8,000 kilos to eight,200 kilos. Each rankings apply whether or not you stick with the usual 35-inch tires or select the 37-inch choice.
The vans I drove have been additionally outfitted with acquainted choices like Ford’s tailgate step and a 360-degree digital camera system. That they had elective Inflexible fog and off-road driving lights, the latter manufacturing unit pre-wired into place 1 within the overhead auxiliary change panel. Every had the two.0-kilowatt model of Professional Energy Onboard (the upper 7.2 kW model will not be out there as a result of this isn’t a hybrid.) You’ll see varied graphics packages within the above photograph galleries, however these may be omitted in case you’re not into the entire sticker factor.
Ford Raptors are transport now, and the bottom value is $65,840, together with $1,695 in vacation spot expenses. That’s $7,705 greater than final 12 months’s crew cab, however there’s extra commonplace gear constructed into the brand new increased value. The 37-inch tire choice is one other $7,500, and with that you just additionally get distinctive Recaro bucket seats and different trim variations. However there’s a gotcha that makes the efficient value actually $13,650: 37-inch tires can solely be ordered in case you additionally take the $6,150 801A gear package deal. That’s a gorgeous package deal that features a whole lot of goodies like a Torsen entrance differential, Blue-Cruise prep, B&O premium audio, the 360-degree digital camera, the Tow Know-how group and different bits and items. Personally, although, I’d somewhat take 801A by itself with out the 37-inch rubber.
I’ve been a giant fan of link-coil rear suspension in pickups ever since Ram got here out with it, however I wasn’t ready for a way a lot off-road steadiness and poise it has given the Ford Raptor. It in all probability has to do with the truth that it’s a Raptor-only execution that’s not discovered underneath all F-150s. That allowed engineers to actually optimize it for the Raptor’s off-road mission, and it doesn’t take lengthy to really feel the way it makes the chassis come alive and to understand the way it can lay down all the ability that the three.5-liter EcoBoost can muster. The Raptor’s inventory has risen considerably for 2021, but it surely’s additionally exhausting not to consider how a lot increased it will probably go when Ford takes the wraps off the Raptor R subsequent 12 months.