Rarely does a vehicle come along that makes me think, “People should be issued one of these at birth.” The 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor is such a vehicle. The fact it’s one of the only production vehicles in the world designed – from the factory – to jump, is all you need to know about it. And Ford keeps making it better. For 2021, the Raptor gets a new set of beadlock wheels that hold the tires on when pressuring them down for rock crawling, available Recaros for front seat passengers, and a new adaptive suspension system that helps the highly capable Fox shocks match their aggressiveness to the terrain (or the air above it).
The Ford F-150 Raptor owns the road—and pretty much anywhere else you drive it—thanks to its big all-terrain tires, lane-filling stance, and widened F-150 body. The Raptor’s long-travel suspension gives it both awesome off-road capability and impressive ride comfort. Its 450-hp twin-turbo V-6 and 10-speed automatic transmission can shoot it to 60 mph in as little as 5.1 seconds. While its massive dimensions make it a bear to maneuver in tight quarters, it also can roll over pesky parking curbs with ease. Compared with conventional full-size pickups, the Raptor is on a whole other level—mixing serious capability and pure, dumb fun like no other.
New Ford F-150 Raptor 2021
The new 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor features Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system, which is average amongst its competitive set. Its graphics are monotone but clearly laid out, its response times are acceptable, and it offers a fair number of connectivity options. Missing are extras such as wireless phone charging, but you do get plenty of 12-volt outlets and one 110-volt paired with a 400-watt inverter. This particular Raptor doesn’t come with navigation, but Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility comes to the rescue when directions are needed. One thing we ding nearly all Fords for are the way their optional features are packaged. There are a few large option packages, but many of the most desirable options are sold individually, which lends to the feeling of being nickel and dimed when you’re spec’ing out your dream truck.
The Raptor’s comfy, laid-back interior is at odds with its macho visage. It’s utilitarian in base form, but available features such as heated and cooled front seats, leather seating surfaces, and unique color choices can add a touch of luxury. The Raptor’s 5.5-foot cargo bed is as useful as those of its short-bed rivals, and its interior cubby storage is the best among rivals. Those needing a longer bed that’s easier for loading should consider the regular F-150.
Surprisingly, the 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor is an incredibly comfortable vehicle. It’s a little awkward to get in and out of because of its high ground clearance (running boards make a big difference), but once everyone’s in their seats, they’re as pampered as they would be in any well-optioned F-150.
This particular Raptor doesn’t have the new Recaros, which means the front seats are more forgiving with smaller bolstering. Rear-seat passengers, meanwhile, get the same bench seat found in other F-150s. Passenger space is incredibly generous, with more than enough room in every dimension for five adults.
The Raptor’s ride is very forgiving. Credit the new adaptive Fox suspension for tailoring the damping of each shock absorber to what the truck is doing at that moment and the ground it’s riding (or landing) on. Those big tires and the truck’s long suspension travel also make everything short of a felled tree barely noticeable from behind the wheel.
This is the Raptor’s secret selling point: the fact that it’s comfortable and well-mannered in normal circumstances. Unlike most purpose-built performance machines that are a chore to drive every day, the Raptor is amenable in every situation, from joining minivans in the pickup line at school to jumping dunes.
Telling the Raptor apart from other F-150s is not a tricky task. Its flared fenders, massive Ford badging on the front grille, unique bumpers and skid plates, and special vented hood make it clear that this is the most intimidatingly-styled F-150 you can buy. The 17-inch wheels, wrapped in chunky off-road tires, have a gap between them and the arches, allowing you to see the fancy Fox shocks. Quad-beam LED headlights adorn the front, with LEDs at the rear too, while the sides feature aluminum running boards. At the rear, a pair of exhaust tips help add visual width. An Extended Cab or a Crew Cab can be had, with either option paired to a 5.5-foot bed.
The base interior of the Raptor is not excessively luxurious, and the dated cabin is highlighted by demure colors on dark plastics and fabric upholstery. The base trim has black with grey accents on the seats, and plastic is abundant throughout the cabin. This is good though, as it means you can use the Raptor without stressing about muddying the interior. Optionally available are lashings of carbon fiber trimmings and a two-tone black/blue leather interior on Recaro seats.
Three new colors have been added to the palette for 2021, one of which is an extra-cost option. Rapid Red adds $395 to the build price, but if you want to save some ching and still show off that yours is a 2021 model, you can opt for Lead Foot instead. Other choices include a vibrant Race Red, a more demure Magnetic, the sinister-looking Agate Black, and a bright Oxford White. Velocity Blue is also available, but the color that most will associate with the Raptor is the iconic Ford Performance Blue. Whichever you choose, the Raptor is immediately distinguishable from other F-150s, and is one of the few vehicles that look good no matter what shade you paint it with.
- Ruby Red Metallic Tinted Clearcoat
- Agate Black Metallic
- Ford Performance Blue Metallic
- Ingot Silver Metallic
- Magnetic Metallic
- Oxford White
- Velocity Blue Metallic
- Race Red
The Raptor’s rip-roaring power and unrivaled capability aren’t diminished by poor fuel economy—at least not compared with its thirsty crew of competitors. Its EPA ratings also align with those of V-8 rivals. In our real-world testing, the Raptor matched its 18-mpg highway estimate, a number bettered by only one of its rivals. No competitor we tested exceeded its EPA figure, while the Nissan Titan and the GMC Sierra 1500 underperformed theirs by 3 mpg.
If you have to ask about the Raptor’s fuel economy, this truck’s probably not for you. The Environmental Protection Agency rates the Raptor at 15 miles per gallon in the city, 18 on the highway, and 16 combined. I experienced about 15-16 mpg while driving the Raptor, which included a few long stints on the highway. I suspect my heavy right foot is to blame, though I pass responsibility to the Raptor itself because it’s impossible not to play with. At least it runs on regular gas and not premium fuel.
F-150 Raptor Problems and Reliability
The new Ford F-150 Raptor 2021 range has thus far been subject to three recalls, the earliest of which was in August 2021 for an issue of reduced seat-back strength. The other two were issued late in 2021, with one for excessive sealant adhesive on a battery cable and another for a damaged spare tire. Still, J.D. Power awarded it an overall 81 out of 100.
In terms of warranty coverage, the Raptor is covered by a limited warranty for three years/36,000 miles. The powertrain is covered for five years or 60,000 miles, and no complimentary maintenance is included. However, five years/60,000 miles of roadside assistance is included.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The Raptor does its best to avoid passenger extinction with excellent crash-test ratings. While rivals have similar options for active safety, Ford’s full-size pickups offer several driver-assistance technologies. Key safety features include:
- Standard forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking
- Available lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
- Available blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
The Raptor has competitive limited and powertrain warranties that are only bettered by the Nissan Titan’s 5 years or 100,000 miles. The Ford doesn’t offer complimentary scheduled maintenance, unlike the Toyota Tundra and the GM pickups.
- Limited warranty covers 3 years or 36,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 5 years or 60,000 miles
- No complimentary maintenance
If you want to crush a trail and boast about having the biggest and baddest F-150 on the road, the Raptor is the ultimate off-road truck with mad bodywork and enough power to embarrass hot hatches. While it’s usable on the road, provided that said road is wide enough, the Ford F-150 Raptor 2021 is built for aggressive off-roading, with Fox shocks and long-travel suspension allowing owners to bulldoze over rocks and jumps without so much as a hint of complaint. Powered by the same 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6 found in the GT supercar, the Raptor produces 450 horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque. Managing the output is a ten-speed SelectShift automatic transmission that distributes thrust to all four wheels. The whole package combines to create a vehicle that is more than just an aggressive-looking truck – it’s a genuine trail thumper that enjoys abuse.
Bragging rights for the Raptor extend beyond its ability. Owners can justifiably say that their pickup is supercar-powered, as the Raptor has the same powerplant as the Ford GT. A 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 sits under the hood, producing 450 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque. Mated to a ten-speed SelectShift automatic transmission, the Raptor powers all four wheels and offers even more grunt than the old 6.2-liter V8 that used to sit over the front axle. Put your foot down, on any terrain, and the Raptor surges forward with the kind of ferocity that makes you forget that you’re in a lifted five-and-a-half-thousand-pound off-road truck. Acceleration is nearly instantaneous, even on gravel, with the Raptor seamlessly transmitting torque to the ground for neck-straining thrust. This is the benefit of a twin-turbocharged setup – lag is almost non-existent and peak boost arrives early. The transmission is just as good, almost never being caught out, and with steering-mounted paddles, you can take control whenever you want. Around town and when you want to take things easy, the Raptor is similarly impressive, with the throttle allowing for the kind of light modulation that prevents you from inadvertently mounting the Prius in front of you like an overeager bison during mating season.
- 3.5-liter Twin-Turbo V6 Gas
- 10-Speed Automatic
The Raptor is in a class of one; there’s nothing else like it out there. So by default, it offers the lowest starting price in its class. But what about the Jeep Gladiator Rubicon, the Ram Rebel, and the Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison, you ask? Those are all low-speed off-roaders, which, by the way, the Raptor can do too. But none of those three can follow the Raptor off-road at thrillingly fast speeds. Thus, the Raptor stands alone, and its $52,855 starting price is an entirely reasonable admission charge for the experience.
- SuperCab: $54,800
- SuperCrew: $57,785
Fancy, full-size pickups aren’t cheap, and the Raptor is no different. But considering its versatility and breadth of performance that no other production vehicle can match, its starting price is a relative bargain. The larger SuperCrew model is our pick for its capacious back seat, and the optional 4.10:1 front axle with a Torsen limited-slip differential is a must. Adding the Equipment Group 801A Mid and its power-sliding rear window, power-folding exterior mirrors, blind-spot monitoring, and other driver-assistance features makes for a well-rounded and reasonably priced package.
As mentioned, this particular Raptor isn’t fully loaded, but it does come with some options that push its price up to $63,515 – the price can get much higher. Those include the F-150’s 801A option package for $3,105 that comes with 10-way, heated, power front seats; leather upholstery; power adjustable pedals; a power sliding rear window; and a “FORD” applique plastered across the tailgate. Extra individual options on this truck include a spray-in bedliner ($595), lift-assist damping and a step for the tailgate ($375), a 4.10 front axle with Torsen differential ($500), a blind-spot monitoring system with cross-traffic alert that covers the truck and a trailer ($590), a surround-view camera ($375), and LED side-mirror spotlights ($175).
Did I miss having niceties such as a navigation system, adaptive cruise control, and the available premium Bang & Olufsen sound system? Not one bit. All the fun parts on the Raptor – its engine, suspension, and steering – come standard.
With Ford stuffing twin-turbo V-6 engines into everything from F-150s to its GT supercar, it’s no surprise that the company chose to power its high-performance desert truck with one. While ditching the previous Raptor’s thumping V-8 might seem blasphemous to purists, the new truck’s 450-hp twin-turbo V-6 is bonkers. The paddle-shifted 10-speed automatic transmission is a workhorse, but it sometimes fumbles to find the right gear. Ford’s pickup is pretty much a street-legal Trophy Truck. Its astonishing suspension allows composed cruising on the road as well as amazing control when you’re barreling across the Mojave Desert or soaring over state-park sand dunes. We admired the Raptor’s pothole-smoothing, family-transporting duality so much that we had one in our long-term fleet for a 40,000-mile test. On pavement, the brake pedal responds evenly to requests for deceleration. However, the soft suspension contributes to nose dive under hard braking. The sensation changes off-road, where its brakes and large all-terrain tires feel more reassuring.
The Raptor goes unaltered for the 2021 model year, yet still benefits from updated adaptive Fox Racing dampers and minor trim changes that were added for 2021. Three new paint colors grace the pallete: Iconic Silver, Lead Foot, and Rapid Red.