2021 FORD F-150 RAPTOR
Four Wheeler|July 2021
More wheel travel, bigger shocks, 37-inch tires, but still no V-8
Jason Gonderman

Ford rocked the pickup world in 2009 when it introduced the go-fast, desert-oriented F-150 Raptor. The truck’s big tires, big shocks, bulging body, and bad-boy attitude made the truck an instant hit. And it’s only gotten more popular and more capable from there. Now, for the ’21 model year and in its third generation, Ford has pulled back the camouflage on its latest Raptor creation. Come along as we take an in-depth look at the most unique Raptor Ford has produced to date.

Yes, it has (Optional) 37-inch Tires

Since day zero, Raptor owners have been asking for 37-inch tires. Now, for the first time, buyers will be able to choose between 35- or 37-inch BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO2 tires. Selecting the 37-inch tires gets buyers a specific beadlock-capable wheel, custom “Raptor 37” bedside graphics, and a unique interior that includes Recaro bucket seats.

Selecting 37-inch tires comes with a couple of trade-offs. The 37s bring with them more sidewall and improved ground clearance, from 12 inches to 13.1 inches. On the downside, wheel travel is reduced from 14 inches front and 15 rear to 13 front and 14.1 rear. One of the biggest complaints from second-generation Raptor owners who have gone to a 37-inch tire is that a spare won’t fit underthe bed. Ford has fixed this for the ’21 model. Raptors with 37-inch tires come with a unique frame with a trailer hitch tailored to fit the larger rolling stock.

No, it Doesn’t Have a V-8 … Yet

We were a bit surprised to find that Ford isn’t ready to bring out an answer to the Ram TRX’s fiery 702hp 6.2L supercharged V-8 engine. Instead, under the hood of the ’21 Raptor is a third-generation 3.5L EcoBoost V-6 engine. Although specific outputs aren’t available yet, Ford has said to expect power to remain in the ballpark of the outgoing high-output EcoBoost sported by the second-generation Raptor.

Ford has bumped up the compression ratio of the 3.5L EcoBoost from 10.0:1 to 10.5:1. The standard 3.5L EcoBoost-equipped F-150 saw a bump of 25 hp and 30 lb-ft for the ’21 model year. We’d love to see the Raptor follow suit and bump output from 450 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque to something closer to 475 hp and 550 lb-ft.

One thing Ford has said is that with a 36-gallon fuel tank, the ’21 Raptor will have a range greater than 500 miles. Doing the math, that equates to an average fuel economy of 14 mpg combined. Considering that the ’20 Raptor SuperCrew was fitted with a 36-gallon tank and rated at 16 mpg combined, we found this stat a bit confusing (unless fuel economy is actually going down).

Backing the 3.5L EcoBoost engine is Ford’s familiar 10-speed automatic transmission, which is the same unit backing all the company’s F-150 engines for the ’21 model year. The final drive ratio remains the same as it has always been for the Raptor, 4.10:1.

Two New Raptor-Specific Frames

Beginning with the second-generation Raptor in 2017, Ford’s high-performance off-road machine has sported a unique frame, different from the standard F-150 pickup. This is no different for the third-generation ’21 Raptor, which now uses two different and unique frames. How are the frames different than a standard F-150? Well, for starters, the front coil buckets are both taller and stronger. The rear lower control arm pivot is also updated. Turning to the rear, provisions for the standard leaf-spring suspension have beenremoved and instead the Raptor frames include the needed hardware to support the truck’s new five-link rear suspension.

Raptor 37 models receive a frame that is different still than the standard 35-inch-tireequipped trucks. Modifications were needed to both support the added stress of the larger tire and to fit the spare in the standard location. Reinforcements have been made to the areawhere the rear jounce bumpers mount, one of the rear crossmembers had to be moved slightly, and the spare tire winch plate is updated. Fitting the spare tire also required a new, Raptorspecific trailer hitch and towhooks. However, this piece is shared with the standard Raptor frame, as well.

Both frames are fully boxed and constructed from high-strength steel.

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