Raptor on the loose

This photo provided by Ford Motor Company shows the 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor. More than just an upgraded F-150, the Raptor is a re-worked version of the full-size pickup truck that has a go-anywhere, do-anything attitude. (Courtesy of Ford Motor Co. via AP)

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This photo provided by Ford Motor Company shows the 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor. More than just an upgraded F-150, the Raptor is a re-worked version of the full-size pickup truck that has a go-anywhere, do-anything attitude. (Courtesy of Ford Motor Co. via AP)

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor gets update, and major competition

When you drive as many vehicles as I drive a year, it’s rare when things stand out. It’s even rarer when time spent in a vehicle lingers over the years. But that’s exactly the case when I drove and reviewed the 2017 Ford Raptor. This was everything I wanted a truck to ever to be – fast on the road, but incredibly capable off the road. It was, as I recall fondly, the total package.

So obviously this week’s tester has big shoes to fill as I’m in the new iteration of the Ford F-150 Raptor. The 2021 Raptor is the third generation of the Ford Performance pickup truck and like the other F-150s in this model year, gets a major overhaul.

Although the looks are new and improved (more on that in a bit), the first thing to discuss is the performance. No, the Raptor doesn’t have a V8 and that’s one knock on it by some. Although my take is, it doesn’t really need it as it has ample power and is faster than a regular F-150, by a lot.

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Ford’s high output V6 engine does amazing work of propelling the Raptor down the highway, off the line, and over rugged terrain. The 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 EcoBoost engine yields 450 horsepower and 510 lb.-ft. of torque. Those numbers may look small compared to its main competitor the Ram TRX which has more than 700 horsepower.

But the Raptor drives bigger and badder than the numbers might indicate and there’s even a nice, tuned growl emitting from the tail pipe. From a performance standpoint, the Raptor is unlike any other Ford truck on the road. For 2022, Ford will produce a V8-power Raptor called the Raptor R.

For 2021, the Raptor boasts new looks that fall in line with the rest of the 14th-gen F-150. But the Raptor has graphics and aesthetics that are exclusive to it including on the hood graphics and over the fenders. Also, the Raptor has its own mean, aggressive-looking grille. The Raptor logo is emblazoned on the hood scoop, as well as the tail gate. Slick decals cover the hood and there’s a Ford Performance emblem, along with an American flag near the rear wheel. All in all, it’s a well assembled and completed look that shows this isn’t just an F-150, but a truck that oozes machismo.

Inside, the special Raptor touches continue with the logo prominently displayed on the interior. The best thing about this 2021 Raptor that is so much better than the 2017 is that it gets all the great upgrades that the regular F-150 gets too including a fold-flat work surface. The gear shift retracts with the push of a button, and a compartment from the center console folds up and over to create a flat workspace, perfect for laptops and paperwork.

A 12-inch touchscreen runs Ford’s brand-new Sync 4 system which makes it one of the best infotainment systems in the industry now. There is under seat storage in the massive second row too.

Another small feature that might go unnoticed are the adjustable pedals. This helps the driver get into the perfect driving position so they can go flying down the road, or traverse down a rocky hillside. The Raptor is all things it hopes to be in that regard.

The Raptor has a starting price of $65,840 which makes it significantly more expensive than most F-150 trims. The Raptor with its four-wheel drive, high-performance engine and 10-speed automatic transmissions tries hard to improve upon fuel economy and it does, versus the 2017 version (just barely). As such, the EPA rating for the 2021 F-150 Raptor is 14 mpg/city and 18 mpg/highway. Even with high fuel prices, you just don’t care about how much gas you’re consuming because this truck is just so much fun.

Even if you’re not a truck person, the Raptor is a pickup that will always be memorable and enjoyable. I thought the 2017 was the best pickup truck I’ve ever driven, and now the 2021 version is making me reconsider that.

Jimmy Dinsmore is a freelance automotive journalist. Email him at jimmydinsmore73@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @driversside

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor

  • Price/As tested price................................................ $65,840/$65,840
  • Mileage.......................................... 14 mpg/city; 18 mpg/hwy
  • Engine............................................. 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6
  • Horsepower................................. 450 hp/510 lbs./ft.
  • Transmission................................. 10-speed automatic
  • Drive wheels................ Four-wheel drive
  • Final assembly point................ Dearborn, MI

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