2021 Ford F-150 Raptor Review: A Meaner, Smarter Dino

Kyle Patrick
by Kyle Patrick


Engine: 3.5L V6 Turbo
Output: 450 hp, 510 lb-ft
Transmission: 10AT, 4WD
US fuel economy (MPG): 18/23/20 (V6 4x2)
CAN fuel economy (L/100KM): 16.0/14.4/15.3
Starting Price (USD): $65,840 (inc. dest.)
As-Tested Price (USD): $82,080 (inc. dest.)
Starting Price (CAD): $88,344 (inc. dest.)
As-Tested Price (CAD): $111,434 (inc. dest.)

The Raptor has found its roar.

There are many impressive aspects of the 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor. The truck that signalled a direction change for the industry remains supremely talented off-road, especially the high-speed stuff. It’s still enormous, too. This new model sounds better now, a growl in tune with its conquer-everything attitude.

The Raptor can’t match the shock and awe of the 702-horsepower Ram 1500 TRX. But in the realm of ultimate off-roader pickups, the F-150 Raptor banks on its all-rounder status, lighter and nimbler, with a new rear suspension doing the heavy lifting (no pun intended). Combine that with the slew of interior upgrades brought in with the fourteenth-generation F-150, and the Raptor has never been better.

What’s new?

Ford has ditched the rear leaf springs for a multi-link setup. Absolutely enormous 24-inch coil springs give the Raptor 15 inches of dune-running suspension travel on the standard 35-inch tires. Spec the optional 37s, as are present here, and that drops to “only” 14.1 inches. Electronically controlled, internal-bypass Fox Live Valve shocks are also part of the package, ensuring a smoother ride over the majority of that travel, while stiffening up at either end of the compression and rebound cycles to avoid harsh bottoming or topping out. The whole chassis is also reinforced.

SEE ALSO: 2021 Ram 1500 TRX Review: First Drive

You won’t find much change underhood, however. The Raptor continues to use a pumped-up version of Ford’s 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6. It spits out 450 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque, routed through a beefed-up version of the 10-speed automatic transmission. A new exhaust system with 1:1 equal-length tubing gives it a much throatier sound, especially under full throttle.

Outside, the Raptor gets the wide-boy treatment, with flared arches and a front bumper optimized for approach angles. No Blue Oval in the grille here, just big “FORD” lettering and the required amber lights for vehicles over 80 inches wide. The current F-150 is an evolutionary design, and its squared-off front-end looks particularly good in Raptor form. Standard adaptive LED headlights are joined by mirror- and bed-mounted spotlights.

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor driving impressions

Southern Ontario is not known for its abundance of sand dunes. Without the Raptor’s stomping grounds available, we take it to the next-best place, an off-road trail with plenty of yumps and water holes, plus a few rock-strewn climbs for good measure. Bikes and side-by-sides frequent this area, so the bumps are suited to their smaller footprints—it’s a good test of how composed the F-150 can remain over uneven surfaces.

Sure enough, the Raptor makes short work of the path, the body staying level as the wheels dance over the dirt. Like a high-downforce race car, the Raptor works better in these situations the more speed it’s carrying. The road might look like a skier’s dream, but from the cockpit, it might as well be well-worn highway.

The Raptor has no less than seven drive modes, many tailored to a specific task. Each mode alters things like transmission shift points, the stability control, steering weight, and dampers. In Baja, there’s less electronic intervention, allowing for more slip to keep the truck moving forward. It’s a little too damp to really put it to test on the trail, but there is a distinct change in attitude on a sandy route through the forest. Switch to Rock Crawl and it’s all about low-speed precision. The low-range gearing plus electronic front and rear locking differentials ensure the Raptor ably climbs up the slick, rocky hill.

The 37-inch tires, complete with beadlock-capable wheels, add considerable weight right where you don’t typically want it—unsprung—but it’s hard to tell how much of an impact they make on steering feel without a back-to-back test with a stock Raptor.

Sheer width is the Raptor’s biggest obstacle on certain trails. That said, it has excellent visibility, so it doesn’t feel unwieldy out here. A front-facing camera helps, too.

Once we’re done at this vehicular playground, the Raptor is happy to switch to its Auto 4WD setting and head home. The modifications that make it so adept off the road also turn it into a comfortable rig on the tarmac. There’s more road roar from the tires, sure, but the suspension smoothes over even the biggest imperfections. The steering is light and quick, so the Raptor avoids feeling aloof the way some big rigs do. It’s secure and confident everywhere.

It’s also thirsty. Speccing the 37-inch tires doesn’t help: the Raptor scores 15 mpg city and 16 mpg highway thus equipped, and 18 mpg highway with the stock 35s. Canadian figures for the 37-inch-tire edition is 16.0 L/100 km in the city, 14.4 L/100 km on the highway, and 15.3 L/100 km combined. We did closer to 13 mpg (18.0 L/100 km) during the week. Oof.

SEE ALSO: Jeep Wrangler vs Toyota 4Runner Comparison

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor interior and comfort

The other major upgrade for the Raptor happens inside. Ford invested in the F-150’s interior for this generation, imbuing its bread and butter with a welcome suite of new technology. A wide 12.0-inch touchscreen sits in the middle of the dashboard, running Ford’s smooth Sync 4 system. Another screen the same size sits behind the steering wheel—which features a red 12-o’clock marker—offering up crisp graphics and a panoply of important information. The trick fold-down gear selector is here too, allowing for a large, flat work surface when tucked away. Not that I imagine many Raptors will be used as work vehicles…

Cabin materials and fit and finish are much improved, especially with this truck’s optional blue interior. There’s soft-touch faux-suede all over the place, including the excellent Recaro front seats. They look as good as they feel, with great support during serious driving, and lots of comfort in between. Plus, they’re heated and ventilated, so the Raptor keeps your backside at the right temperature. The steering wheel gets properly hot, as well. Unfortunately, you can’t spec these terrific thrones without the rest of the 37 Performance Package, a pricy one at $7,500 ($10,000 CAD).

As a full-size, crew-cab truck, the F-150 has oodles of space front and back. Fitting three of your tallest friends in the back? Yeah, no problem.

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor features and technology

That 12.0-inch touchscreen is similar to the one found in the Mustang Mach-E, only landscape-oriented. Unlike the setup in the EV, the F-150 still features physical controls for the most-used features. We’re big fans of the digital instrument cluster too, with a stylish, chunky type face, and satisfying animations between drive modes. It’s an easy spot to check on the various bits of information the truck shares, like pitch and roll.

Other standard goodies dual-zone climate control, a power-sliding rear window, and adaptive LED headlights. This tester piles on more optional equipment, like the front-facing camera, under-seat storage, an 18-speaker Bang & Olufsen stereo, towing package, huge twin-panel moonroof, and more. It also includes the 2 kW onboard generator, capable of powering a small work (or camp) site.

On the safety front, the Raptor includes automated emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring (with trailer support), auto high beams, and reverse sensing. This tester includes a very-appreciated 360-degree camera, too. Ford will offer it’s hands-free BlueCruise adaptive cruise control system on the Raptor as well.

Towing capacity is capped at 8,200 lb (3,719 kg), with a 1,410-lb (639-kg) max payload limit. The tailgate features a handy step ladder to make the climb up, where the roof of the Raptor definitely wasn’t used as a makeshift McDonald’s table for lunch. Nope, not at all.

SEE ALSO: 2021 Ford Bronco First Drive Review: The Real Deal

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor pricing and competition

We’ve all seen Jurassic Park. We know what a Raptor faces off against.

The F-150 is down about a Bronco Sport’s worth of horsepower against the Ram 1500 TRX. Both are so incredibly over-engineered for the average driver that we couldn’t begin to suggest which is more accomplished out on the dunes, especially without a direct head-to-head. The Raptor does enjoy a significant weight advantage, which should make it the nimbler of the two.

SEE ALSO: Ford Bronco Sport vs Subaru Outback Wilderness Comparison

Next year will see the battle grow, as Chevrolet pitches the Silverado ZR2 into the ring, and Ford goes T-Rex hunting with a V8-powered Raptor R.

Until then, the Blue Oval rig does hold a price advantage over its cross-town competitor. It’s still not cheap, mind you: all this dune-hopping engineering adds up. Pricing begins at $65,840 ($88,344 CAD) including destination, and this well-optioned model brings that up to $82,080 ($111,434 CAD). That’s still substantially less than the TRX.

Verdict: 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor Review

The 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor builds on the values the original introduced a decade ago. It’s incredibly over-qualified for most tasks, but that’s true of sports cars, too. And just like those, the Raptor pegs the desirability meter, because there’s something deeply satisfying about using a tool so completely well-suited for the job at hand. That job being rolling up and over whatever the Earth throws at you.

It might be the size of a studio apartment, but the F-150 Raptor is clever, too. If you want the sort of rig that can conceivably conquer the Baja, there’s nothing that can match it at this price point. When it isn’t bashing dunes into submission, it’s also a surprisingly smooth daily driver. Just make sure you open up that engine from time to time. Your ears will thank you.


How much is a 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor worth?

The 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor starts from $65,840 ($88,344 CAD), including non-negotiable destination charges.

Is there a new Ford F-150 Raptor f0r 2021?

Yes, this is a new generation of the truck, built on the fourteenth-generation F-150 pickup.

Will the 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor have a V8?

No, that’s for the upcoming Raptor R.

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  • Just as capable as before, now more comfortable
  • Engine note to match
  • Impressive tech suite


  • 37s add a lot of unsprung weight
  • No V8 (yet)
  • Inching ever closer to TRX price
Kyle Patrick
Kyle Patrick

Kyle began his automotive obsession before he even started school, courtesy of a remote control Porsche and various LEGO sets. He later studied advertising and graphic design at Humber College, which led him to writing about cars (both real and digital). He is now a proud member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), where he was the Journalist of the Year runner-up for 2021.

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