Remember the scene in Jurassic Park (the original, not one of the 52 remakes that have been made) where the velociraptors take on the T-Rex and end up destroying it? As fearsome as the T-Rex was it was the velociraptors that struck the most fear as they were both fast and tenacious.
That’s why the Ford F-150 Raptor is so appropriately named. And ironically it’s primary competitor is the Ram TRX (T-Rex) which has a big bad Hemi engine and likes to flex its teeth. And the 2021 Raptor doesn’t even have a V8 engine to go at the TRX, and yet it’s incredibly tenacious, aggressive and highly enjoyable.
Man, that was a great analogy that went a long way to explain the off-road showdown between two powerhouses in the truck world.
The 2021 Ford Raptor is now in its third generation and has been around longer than the Ram TRX. The Raptor has won a stout reputation as the full-size pickup truck that can be fast off the line, and also plow through gravel, water and just about any terrain. It’s that rare breed of vehicle that can go anywhere and be perfectly suited.
The looks alone show what a standout the Raptor is. First there’s the 37-inch tires and the tall posture. The ground clearance alone shows it’s much more than just an F-150 (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). The blacked out grille certainly differentiates it from other 2021 F-150s. There’s also special Raptor badging all around the truck, including on the hood scoop, over the fenders and on the tail gate. There’s even a Raptor icon embedded in the headlights. Plus, there’s a patriotic vibe going on throughout the Raptor as there’s an American flag emblem near the wheel well with a QR code and the Ford Performance logo.
Under the hood is Ford’s High Output EcoBoost engine. Yes, I know, it needs a V8 to compete against the TRX’s Hemi. And sure the 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 seems outmatched against the 700+ horsepower of the TRX. While the Raptor’s high output engine cranks out 450 horses and 510 lb.-ft. of torque, it actually performs quicker than those numbers indicate.
And there’s a sweet-sounding tune coming from the pipes in the back. Also, for the 2022 model year, Ford will introduce the Raptor R, which will have a V8 engine.
Even without the V8, the Raptor performs like a beast. And for this model year there’s 5-link rear suspension. The 4-wheel drive Raptor has a 10-speed automatic transmission with tow mode. In fact, the Raptor has a GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) of 7,150 pounds showing that it’s not just about performance but is still very much an F-150 and ready to work too.
The special Raptor badging and appearance is continued inside with the logo emblazoned on the seats and the center console. Plus the patriotic theme continues with an American flag near the door opening and the air vent.
The Raptor gets some nice interior features that are native to the 14th-generation F-150 such as the fold flat work area and the 12-inch touchscreen with Sync 4. The fold-flat area is nice if you use the Raptor for working as the gear knob retracts with the push of a button and a flap from the center console flips over the gear area to create a flat working area. Talk about a simple concept, but well-engineered.
The Sync 4 system with a 12-inch touchscreen is intuitive and seamlessly flows into smart phones. This is the best iteration of an infotainment system Ford has had.
The large backseat affords ample leg room and head room. There is under seat storage too which again is well engineered and well planned.
Adjustable pedals help the driver achieve a perfect driving position. It’s rare to see adjustable pedals, especially in trucks, but this shows the Raptor is designed for anyone. Clearly a lot of engineering and planning went into this truck.
Being a performance-oriented truck comes at a price. And The Raptor has a starting price higher than many F-150 trims. The Raptor’s MSRP starts at $65,840. It has an EPA rating of 14 mpg/city and 18 mpg/highway, but fuel economy is less on the mind of the average Raptor consumer.
Previous to this year’s Raptor, the 2017 Raptor was my all-time favorite truck I ever drove (and I’ve driven a lot). This 2021 version may just bump that 17 version from its pedestal. It’s such a complete truck that can go fast off the line, plow through sand and mud and still have all kinds of technology and creature comforts inside.