Car lists Auto Show First drive review: 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor still awes,...

First drive review: 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor still awes, but creates internal conflict

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The 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor arrives in a brand new actuality through which it’s not essentially the most over-the-top pickup anymore.

That reality doesn’t make the third-generation Raptor any much less enjoyable or excessive, and it doesn’t imply it will probably’t get extra succesful.

With a brand new coil-spring five-like rear suspension, extra suspension journey, and smarter programming, the 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor closely updates an already succesful truck. But it surely’s the obtainable 37-inch tires and commonplace 35-inchers that create inner drama for patrons when ticking the choices containers.

Ford flew journalists to Las Vegas, tossed us the keys to a 2021 F-150 Raptor, and despatched us out to the Dumont Dunes OHV park within the searing desert warmth to expertise the capabilities of this over-the-top, Baja-inspired pickup.

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor

Warmth waves rose from the desert asphalt on the hour-plus drive from the Las Vegas strip to Pahrump, Nevada. I saved ready for mirages to seem forward of the Antimatter Blue Raptor because the cooled seats did their finest to maintain my internals from overheating. With the 35-inch tires, the truck absorbed each ripple within the pavement to create a cushty journey. Revised entrance ball joints, knuckles, and management arms hooked collectively in an up to date geometry now act in live performance with the brand new five-link coil-spring rear suspension to make the entrance and rear really feel extra tied collectively than the earlier rear leaf spring setup.

Chief engineer Carl Widmann of Ford’s Efficiency division advised me the staff put in journey top sensors in any respect 4 corners that discuss by means of a Hitachi controller board. The outgoing truck had two journey top sensors, each within the entrance, and the system “guessed what the rear was doing,” Widmann stated. New code makes the communication faster to regulate the shocks each 80 milliseconds. These shocks are 0.1-inch thicker Fox racing shocks with inner bypass valves and 600 psi extra strain (900 psi on vans with 37-inch rubber). Whereas suspension journey has elevated by an inch—now 14 inches up entrance and 15 within the rear—that inch goes away with 37-inch tires, although that model features 1.2 inches of floor clearance.

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor

As I mashed the accelerator on Hwy 15 the brand new twin exhaust system with its “trumpet” design and 1:1 equal-length tubing set free a nice howl. The Raptor lastly sounds good once more 4 years after the twin-turbo V-6 changed a V-8 with the second technology.

The truck surged ahead with authority because of the carryover twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6’s 450 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque. It didn’t squat on its rear tires, raise the entrance finish, or launch like a rocket the way in which the Ram TRX does. It’s not near the TRX’s 702 hp and it lacks launch management; it’s merely not the identical type of truck, although subsequent yr’s Raptor R ought to invade that territory. Nonetheless, with 640 lb much less weight to haul round than a TRX (499 lb on 37s), the Raptor feels lighter on its ft and fewer like a blunt object than the Ram.

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor

Midway to Pahrump I hopped right into a Code Orange Raptor with the 37-inch tires. Mashing the throttle didn’t ship the identical type of surge as within the Raptor on 35s; it felt as if every wheel had an additional cinder block’s value of weight strapped to it. That checked out as every tire provides about 6 lb, and in whole a Raptor with 37-inch tires lugs round an additional 141 lb in comparison with a Raptor on 35s. An inner battle instantly arose. The 37s look cooler, and extra sidewall is healthier for journey high quality, however they make the truck really feel heavier, slower, and sloppier.

I slept on it and woke at 3:00 a.m, to the sound of a Raptor cold-starting exterior our Vacation Inn Categorical. Ford had us stand up so early so we may beat the warmth for our drive on the dunes of Dumont Dunes OHV park.

Nonetheless, it was above 80 levels by 6:00 a.m. and 100-plus-degree temps have been on the docket. In the course of the security briefing we have been advised “for those who see a snake, stroll away, and if it begins following you, stroll sooner.” Sage recommendation.

The warmth was no drawback for the twin-turbo V-6 or any of the Raptor’s mechanical bits, even when working the truck by means of the off-road gauntlet. All Raptors proceed with commonplace four-wheel drive with low-range gearing, digital entrance and rear locking differentials, and an obtainable Torsen entrance limited-slip differential. Max payload will increase 200 lb to 1,400 lb and max towing additionally rises 200 lb to eight,200 lb, however testing these rankings weren’t on the schedule. One other time.

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor

Each Raptor additionally sports activities a Terrain Administration System with seven modes: Slippery, Tow/Haul, Sport, Regular, Off-Street, Baja, and Rock Crawl. Every mode adjusts the dampers, steering weight, throttle mapping and transmission shift factors, switch case habits, stability management, exhaust sound, and the show within the digital gauge cluster. I drove in Baja mode whereas off-road to permit excessive revs whereas protecting the digital nannies at bay whereas letting issues get unfastened earlier than attempting to avoid wasting my butt. On the road, Sport mode kicked the Raptor into overdrive with faster downshifts, increased revs, and faster throttle response, although the heavy steering felt like I used to be pulling it by means of molasses.

I’ve performed with the Raptor’s Path Management, an off-road cruise management that may be set from 1-20 mph, and Ford’s Path One-Pedal Drive system that lets drivers use solely the throttle pedal for tough off-roading, however this journey I left all that automation off and simply drove.

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor

Cresting a hill within the Raptor, which spreads 6.0 inches wider than an ordinary F-150, may be nerve-wracking, however the forward-facing digicam eased my fears as a result of I may see what was about to occur in entrance of me whereas the windshield solely confirmed the sky.

Whether or not it was the whoops (constant bumps to punish the long-travel suspension), the sand wash, the autocross or climbing over rocks on rutted trails, the Raptor’s five-link rear finish and coil springs took the pounding and absorbed the impacts. We have been advised to go about 45 mph in many of the sections, however I pushed the Raptor to simply over 70 mph. It didn’t blink and neither did the Ford representatives. On the sand wash course, the truck with 37s saved straight and adopted the tracks left by the truck in entrance of me, however the truck on 35s was like a child in a sweet retailer kicking out the rear and begging for some counter lock from the steering within the corners. Over the whoops, the truck on 37s stabilized faster than the truck on 35s, which took extra time to get into the rhythm of absorbing the impacts.

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor

I’ve jumped a Raptor earlier than, and each time the truck leaves the bottom my abdomen drops. This time was no totally different. I lined up for the soar over a sand dune and hit the throttle. Stopping and slowing down weren’t an choice as a result of they’ll trigger the truck to sink into the sand. Up forward, the sand simply fell away to create a dropoff I couldn’t see. We have been warned that the truck would go airborne at any pace over 50 mph. The odometer learn 56 mph when the entrance tires hit the highest of the crest, and immediately the truck was floating by means of the air. Because the almost 6,000-lb of American iron got here crashing down the Fox shocks took the influence as if it have been no huge deal. No drama. No fuss.

Each course revealed the identical factor: Raptors with 37-inch tires are extra composed, secure, and comfy, however really feel slower and fewer partaking. The 35s make the Raptor extra nimble, and it acts extra like a rally truck with a rear finish that wishes to kick out when pushed by means of activates sand or dust.

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor

Raptor influencing Raptor

Photos don’t do the third-generation Raptor justice. Menacing in particular person, it appears extra like a trophy truck because of a blockier entrance finish framed within the now trademark amber working lights. The practical hood vent and fender vents have been impressed by F-22 Raptor fighter jets, in response to F-150 line director Travis Calhoun. The most important request from prospects have been fog lights, and the 2021 Raptor may be ordered with Inflexible LED fog lights that embrace a set of high-intensity off-road lights, the latter tied into the Auxiliary 1 overhead console swap.

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor

Inside, the 2021 F-150’s upgrades carry over to the Raptor with a reconfigurable 12.0-inch digital gauge cluster, a 12.0-inch horizontal touchscreen, and a gear selector that folds into the middle console on the push of a button to create a flat floor. Sadly, the motor that folds the gear selector nonetheless feels like marbles shaken in a jar and the shifter nonetheless wiggles whereas upright. I dearly miss the beefy console-mounted gear selector from the second-generation Raptor. The sprint pad and mushy door panel materials has a texture that comes off as a cross between blue denim and linen, and it goes effectively with the 37-inch truck’s blue Recaro seats. Sadly, Recaros should not obtainable on Raptors with 35s.

The Raptor additionally boasts some intelligent options, resembling over-the-air updates, computerized emergency braking, a 2.0-kw onboard generator, and Ford’s hands-free driver-assist system dubbed Bluecruise.

At a beginning worth of $65,840 the 2021 Raptor undercuts the TRX by $6,050, however the Raptor you need will value almost $74,000. Add within the 37s and the price swells to $81,485, which is about $7,000 lower than the TRX you need.

Cheaper, lighter, friskier than the TRX, the 2021 Ford Raptor has gotten smarter, extra succesful, and extra comfy because of the bigger tire choice and five-link rear suspension. Deciding whether or not to get the 35s or 37s comes right down to this: Do you set a precedence over how powerful your Raptor will look or how enjoyable it’ll be? And, for those who’re like me, you’ll need to determine how one can persuade Ford to promote a Raptor with 35s and blue Recaros.

Ford flew us to the desert the place there are venom-filled snakes and put us in a Vacation Inn Categorical so we may convey you this primary drive overview.

Excessive-Res Gallery: 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor

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