Raptor 4-Door-Only for 2021; R Version Coming Next Year
The Ford off-road maven gets more tech and a suspension makeover.
Ford has unveiled its new Raptor, the third generation of the high-speed, off-road version of the F-150 pickup truck. Available only in a four-door SuperCrew configuration, the 2021 Raptor receives loads of new connectivity tech and expansive in-cabin screens. Mechanically, a new 5-link rear suspension along with revised suspension kinematics complement updated Fox Live Valve shocks and a new 37-inch tire option. With Raptor competition finally existing via the supercharged Ram TRX, Ford has responded by announcing a Raptor R coming in 2022.
The Raptor’s drivetrain remains mostly unchanged, though Ford notes new “high-power” cooling-system fans to extend off-road capability. Improved low-end torque from the Raptor’s standard 3.5-liter EcoBoost twin-turbocharged V-6 arrives via a new active dual-exhaust setup. The new 3-inch (7.6 cm) equal-length system features a built-in X-pipe and a unique “trombone loop” to provide a rortier engine note. The increased grunt and Raptor-specific frame upgrades help deliver a 200 lb (91 kg) increase in the Raptor’s max towing and payload capacity.
The 2021 Raptor receives much of the new in-cabin tech as the updated 2021 F-150, with small aesthetic tweaks to the new 12-inch display screen (optional in F-150) to control its off-road modes. A new electronic feature exclusive to the Raptor is a standard “Trail 1-Pedal Drive” designed to reduce rock-crawling stress. Trail 1-Pedal Drive permits throttle and brake control using only the accelerator pedal, braking proportionally as the driver lifts from the throttle.
The 2021 Raptor’s chassis kinematics have been completely revised, including an all-new 5-link rear-suspension. According to Ford, the new rear architecture improves wheel travel and traction over rough terrain at high speeds (see punishment clip, below). The 5-link rear suspension features trailing arms, a Panhard rod and triple-rate, 24-inch (61 cm) coil springs. Suspension travel (F/R) increases 1.0/1.1 in (2.5/2.8 cm) over the current-gen Raptor.
“Several years ago when we started thinking of the third-gen Raptor, we knew we needed a different rear suspension if we wanted to continue to grow the off-road capability,” explained Tony Greco, program manager for the new Raptor. According to Greco, the new rear suspension has two key advantages: “It stabilizes the rear axle laterally and dramatically improves traction, which allows more torque to the rear wheels to be put to the ground.”
Managing the new suspension geometries are updated versions of Fox’s Live Valve active shocks, which have been modified to better resist heat buildup and react more quickly to terrain changes. Larger, 3.1-in (7.9-cm) diameter shock bodies feature an all-new shock fluid designed to decrease frictional losses, and new electronically controlled base valves have been upgraded to provide more than 1,000 lb (454 kg) of damping force per corner – double the current setup. Sensors can alter the Raptor’s suspension damping rates independently at each corner 500 times a second.
Available for the first time on the Raptor will be optional 37-inch tires – which Ford claims are the largest factory fitment to a production light-duty full-size pickup. The 37-inch tires increase ground clearance to 13.1 in (33 cm), an increase of 1.6 in/4 cm over the current model’s 35-inch tire setup. The 2021 Raptor will only be available in the 145-in (3,683 mm) wheelbase, four-door SuperCrew configuration, but perhaps the more agile SuperCab version will return with the Raptor R announced for next year. The 2021 F-150 Raptor will be assembled at Ford’s truck plant in Dearborn, Michigan, and is expected in dealerships by “summer” 2021.
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