2021 Ford F-150 Raptor Gains New Suspension, Tech

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Automotive Editor

Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

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, Automotive Editor - February 4, 2021

For nearly a decade, Ford enjoyed having the only high-speed off-roading pickup in the full-size market with the Raptor. Things changed when Ram introduced the 1500 TRX, as the Raptor finally received some serious competition. Entering its third generation, the 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor enters the scene with more off-roading equipment and technology.

Before we get into everything that’s changed, here are the few things that remain the same. Under the hood, the 2021 Raptor will continue to be powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 engine. Ford has updated the engine with a higher compression ratio, more cooling fans, and revised turbos, but everything else remains the same. The automaker isn’t providing any information on power or performance, but we expect the engine to make more power than the current engine’s output of 450 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque. Ford also focused on refining the sound output from the V6 with a 3-inch exhaust system that has a nifty “trombone” loop for both sides to be equal lengths and active valves with four different sound modes: Quiet, Normal, Sport, and Baja.

The overall design of the 2021 Raptor hasn’t changed much either, but that’s probably because the redesigned 2021 F-150 wasn’t a large departure from the previous model. Of course, you’ll still find a blacked-out grille, a power dome hood, massive fender flares, functional vents, large exhaust tips, and hefty bumpers, but there’s not a radical difference in the way the 2021 Raptor looks from last year.

Moving on to what’s changed, major news is the Raptor’s move to rear coil springs. Instead of last year’s traditional leaf springs, the 2021 Raptor is equipped with a five-link rear suspension that is meant to help the pickup put more power to the ground and provide the driver with more control at high speeds. Additionally, Ford claims the rear coil design also improves wheel travel, which is now up to 15 inches. Rear coil springs also improve axle motion, allowing Ford to use 37-inch tires.

Further suspension upgrades include a new set of Fox Live Valve shocks that have aluminum shock bodies that measure in at 3.1 inches in diameter – the largest dampers ever fitted to the Raptor. The dampers have a new shock fluid that’s more resistant to heat soak and is designed to decrease frictional losses inside the damper. The latter improves comfort on- and off-road. These electronically controlled dampers can adjust settings as much as 500 times per second.

Ford F-150 Raptor

Thanks to the suspension changes, Ford now offers massive 37-inch BFGoodrich TA K02 tires, which are the largest tires ever fitted to a light-duty pickup truck from the factory. With those enormous tires, the 2021 Raptor boasts 13.1 inches of ground clearance, a 33.1-degree approach angle, 24.4-degree breakover angle, and 24.9-degree departure angle. Those figures are better than the 1500 TRX’s. Of course, the Raptor will come with multiple drive modes, including Slippery, off-Road, Baja, and Rock Crawl.

While the Raptor has and will continue to be an off-roading first pickup truck, Ford has packed the vehicle with all sorts of tech features. The Raptor now comes with a 12-inch digital instrument cluster and a 12-inch touchscreen running Ford’s latest SYNC 4 infotainment system. The system brings wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, as well as over-the-air updates. Those updates, by the way, aren’t just for the infotainment system. Ford can update a host of issues with the pickup and add new features remotely. The automaker hinted that the Raptor could get the Bronco’s Trail Turn Assist feature, which allows for tighter turns when off-roading, as part of an over-the-air update down the road.

Consumers that expect to go off-roading often can choose the available 360-degree camera package that provides drivers with a view of the obstacles surrounding the pickup. The front view practically erases the need for a spotter, as it provides drivers with a dynamic, real-time track overlay of where the truck’s front tires are heading.

Trail Control, which operates similarly to cruise control when off-roading is standard, while Trail 1-Pedal Drive is also standard. The latter makes extreme off-roading easier by allowing drivers to focus on just the accelerator pedal. Instead of having to modulate the throttle and brake simultaneously when rock crawling, Trail 1-Pedal Drive allows the throttle to act as both – depressing it moves the truck forward, while releasing it acts as a brake.

Although we’re still waiting to see how much the pickup will cost – it certainly looks like it’s a massive step in the right direction when it comes to off-roading features and tech goodies. Usually, off-roaders don’t have this much tech.

Most people would look at the Raptor and think that it’s more than enough for their purposes. But Ford announced that an even more extreme Raptor R is coming next year. The pickup is rumored to get the same engine out of the Mustang GT500 and have more than 700 hp, but we’re going to have to wait an entire year before we get any official information.

Explore the 2021 Ford F-150 »

, Automotive Editor

Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

Follow On: Twitter

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