Examined: 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor Chases the TRX

UPDATE 11/19/21: This overview has been up to date with take a look at outcomes.

It is not misplaced on Ford that the F-150 Raptor must up its recreation to maintain tempo with its new crosstown rival, the extremely spectacular and much more highly effective Ram 1500 TRX. As we realized from a 2020 Raptor SuperCrew’s comparison-test defeat towards that large 702-hp Ram, it is time for the Blue Oval’s beast to get severe. However earlier than it may well bulk up the engine room with an upcoming V-8-powered Raptor R variant, the usual truck must make higher use of the 450 horses it has. Consider the up to date 2021 F-150 Raptor as the primary strike of Ford’s counterattack.

For top-performance off-road vans which are designed to bomb throughout open terrain, the suspension’s capability to soak up the terrain is as essential, if no more vital, than uncooked horsepower. The up to date Raptor ditches the rear leaf springs on this technology and replaces them with coils. Whereas the leaf spring works for the heavy workloads most pickups endure—together with all different F-150s, besides the Lightning—that old-school setup cannot keep good wheel management in brutal high-speed desert circumstances. The race vans that impressed the Raptor deserted the setup in favor of big coil-over shocks many years in the past. Simply as vital, all of Ram’s present pickups have proven that rear coils can also enhance trip consolation and drivability with out sacrificing a lot in the way in which of cargo capability.

Michael SimariAutomotive and Driver

HIGHS: New suspension improves wheel and physique management, accessible 37-inch tires, extra aggressive exhaust notice, up to date inside.

For the brand new Raptor, Ford Efficiency’s engineers bolstered the most recent F-150’s body and fitted the reside axle with coil springs. Finding the axle are 4 trailing hyperlinks and a Panhard rod. Up entrance, the impartial control-arm entrance suspension has been modified with out lowering floor clearance. It advantages from new geometry and a handful of beefed-up parts together with uprights, decrease ball joints, and wheel bearings. To higher management the wheel motions, Ford suits Fox’s newest Dwell Valve adaptive dampers which have 3.1-inch-diameter our bodies and internal-bypass chambers. Suspension journey is elevated to 14.0 inches in entrance and 15.0 inches on the rear—roughly an inch extra at each ends than the outgoing mannequin and, in accordance with Ford, greater than the TRX.

Michael SimariAutomotive and Driver

That wheel journey is measured on the usual 35-inch BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 tires. Patrons can improve to 37-inch KO2s, which Ford says is the tallest rubber ever fitted to a half-ton manufacturing pickup. However what the larger-tired Raptor loses in wheel journey (about one inch), it features in floor clearance (13.1 inches versus 12.0) and improved method, departure, and breakover angles. And, just like the 35s, vans with the bigger 37s get a full-size spare slung below the cargo mattress.

LOWS: Costlier than earlier than, unimpressive grip and braking on pavement, nonetheless lacks the management and total efficiency of Ram’s TRX.

Michael SimariAutomotive and Driver

Our drive time got here primarily at California’s Dumont Dunes off-road car space, a 7620-acre playground set within the Mojave Desert simply west of Las Vegas. However one of many Raptor’s best enhancements was evident earlier than we even left our lodge’s car parking zone: a extra distinguished and characterful engine notice, courtesy of a brand new energetic exhaust system. Comprising an intricately twisted set of equal-length pipes and digital valves, the system has 4 settings (Quiet, Regular, Sport, and Baja) that may be toggled independently of the Raptor’s quite a few drive modes. Quiet mode is ideal for an early-morning departure, whereas Baja is nice for uncorking a menacing, 85-decibel growl that pleasantly rises in pitch as you stand on the accelerator. It lacks the intoxicating V-8 roar that appears so becoming in an off-road truck—and which the supercharged TRX does so, so properly—however it’s a couple decibels louder than earlier than and lends the Raptor the aggressive voice that it is wanted for the reason that second technology debuted with a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6.

That V-6 basically carries over for 2021, as does the Raptor’s 10-speed automated and variable four-wheel-drive system with a locking rear differential and an elective Torsen limited-slip entrance diff. Output stays a good 450 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque, however the engine and transmission have been retuned for a more practical energy supply. Along with faster, higher coordinated shifts from the 10-speed, peak torque now arrives 500 rpm sooner, at 3000 revs, and full energy hits at 5850 rpm versus the earlier 5000, which makes it extra rewarding to wind out the Raptor’s tachometer. Ford says that it additionally quickened the motion of the steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, however they’re nonetheless not as responsive as we would like, and there are too many ratios to juggle anyway. We discovered it finest to let the truck do its factor in Sport mode on the road, which retains the powertrain on alert but calm sufficient to cruise. Change to Baja for slicing unfastened off-road and all of the programs go into assault mode, together with a lenient stability-control system that lightly steps in solely when the truck begins to get manner off form.

Michael SimariAutomotive and Driver

There’s nonetheless no mistaking the Raptor’s turbocharged engine for a giant, naturally aspirated V-8, because it must be on enhance to supply significant thrust. However its gearbox by no means stumbled throughout our day of abuse within the dunes, and the brand new suspension makes it simpler to keep up velocity over tough floor. Its entrance and rear anti-roll bars are softer than earlier than whereas its springs are a bit stiffer, with the rears being progressive triple-rate models that Ford says assist preserve the suspension from sagging below heavy hundreds. The rear-coil setup alone saves a claimed 11 kilos, with the 5947-pound instance we examined again in Michigan weighing 50 kilos lower than the 2020 crew cab mannequin we final evaluated.

Snaking by means of desert washes at near 100 mph revealed a strong really feel to the brand new Raptor’s chassis and an improved sense of total stability. The fast-reacting Fox dampers soaked up the impacts as we skipped throughout the tops of undulating whoop-de-doos at freeway speeds, and the rear axle is now extra proof against hopping and shaking when accelerating on unfastened terrain. Touchdowns from large jumps are smoother than ever. The Raptor’s better composure additionally is obvious when tackling difficult paved roads, although it nonetheless would not really feel fairly as planted because the TRX, thanks partly to the Ram’s much-heavier curb weight and its spectacular Bilstein dampers. As for the distinction between the Raptor’s two tire sizes, the lighter 35-inchers spin up faster and improve the truck’s total sense of agility, however the 37s convey a extra substantial and unstoppable really feel that we got here to favor. Plus, they higher fill out the Raptor’s wheel wells. Unsurprisingly, the 37s additionally trim 2 mpg from the truck’s EPA freeway ranking, knocking it all the way down to a wallet-emptying 16 mpg.

Michael SimariAutomotive and Driver

Fitted with the 35s, our take a look at truck was a tenth of second faster each to 60 mph and thru the quarter-mile—5.2 and 13.9 seconds, respectively—and its 98-mph entice velocity was a smidge quicker than earlier than. Whereas awfully fast for a giant truck, these figures are nonetheless properly off the tempo of the TRX’s 3.7- and 12.2-second runs, and we estimate the 37s will add a minimum of a tenth of a second or two to the Raptor’s occasions. We additionally anticipate the bigger tires to provide even poorer fuel-economy outcomes, which for our truck amounted to a 12-mpg common and an EPA-highway-estimate-matching 18-mpg consequence on our 75-mph freeway take a look at. Our truck’s 0.69 g of skidpad grip and its lengthy 214-foot cease from 70 mph weren’t that shocking, however the outcomes had been under common in comparison with what we have seen from earlier second-gen Raptors. The brand new mannequin did considerably enhance in a single metric: high velocity. It is now ruled to 120 mph, up from 107, which does give it minor bragging rights over the TRX’s 118-mph V-max.

Together with some minor exterior tweaks, you’ll be able to spot the brand new Raptor by its extra pronounced headlight signature and bigger marker lights. Huge-tired fashions may even be had with bedside graphics that publicize the scale of their footwear. As with all 2021 F-150s, the inside has been freshened with a good-looking redesign, nicer supplies, and up to date infotainment, together with 12.0-inch shows for the instrument cluster and heart touchscreen. Since most Raptors promote as well-equipped crew-cab fashions, Ford has killed off the smaller SuperCab model and upped the usual content material in addition to the bottom value to $65,840, a $7705 improve over the 2020 SuperCrew mannequin. A number of giant choice teams function trim ranges, however if you’d like the most important tires, you may must swing for the highest Raptor 37 Efficiency bundle, which is bundled with a ton of different upgrades as a $13,650 upcharge—pushing the worth some $7370 above the 2021 Ram TRX’s entry level. Our $78,545 take a look at truck featured a number of choice packages that added a number of luxuries, a Torsen limited-slip entrance differential (as half of a bigger 801A bundle), a 2.0-kW AC-power generator, and bead-lock-capable 17-inch solid wheels.

So, the place does all this put the brand new Raptor in comparison with its archrival? The TRX is the usual of this wild phase not simply due to its immense energy that makes it faster than some sports activities vehicles, but in addition for its tanklike solidity and superior composure on nearly any floor. The Raptor has noticeably closed the hole, with this subsequent step in its evolution bringing extra pleasure, refinement, and higher at-the-limit management when pounding by means of the desert. Now it simply wants the 700-hp V-8 of the R mannequin.

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Patrick Moore

Patrick is our chief editor and he's very passionate about cars. He has a bachelor's degree in marketing and he studies journalism. His favorite brand is BMW and he drives an X5 series. When he's not writing for Vehiclenews.net, he enjoys spending time with his family and 9 years old son.

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