Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: February 22, 2022
We’re still waiting for Ford to unveil a more powerful, V8-driven, possibly-supercharged Raptor to take the fight to the RAM 1500 TRX, but for now it’s business as usual with the blue oval’s most hardcore pick-up truck. The high-performance, desert racing, F-150 Raptor receives a decent overhaul for 2021 (2022 models are not in production just yet due to worldwide material shortages), and with it comes new looks, an improved interior, and a new exhaust note.
We praised the outgoing Raptor for its calm on-road demeanor and striking off-road performance. This new one gets a bit of a makeover with an imposing black front grill with FORD lettering and three light bars flanking from above, as well as stout, muscular proportions, which means it won’t fit into standard car washes and needes to be doused by hand. In all, it’s a chunky, wider, beefier version of the quintessential Ford workhorse, and we love every inch of it. The Raptor is also only available in the SuperCrew body trim with a four-door layout and a 5.5-inch bed.
The interior design has been uplifted with a brand new steering wheel that retains the red stripe on the 12-o’clock position because, race car. The instrument panel is now fully digital, along with a 12.0-inch center touchscreen and a nifty gear shifter that can fold flat into the center console when engaged in Park. This actually clears up a lot of cabin real estate, and is especially helpful during in-car pandemic dining. Furthermore, when the shifter is up, it unveils a square cubby that is perfect for storing your phone and other small items. Everything in this truck just feels cleverly engineered. Can’t speak about reliability as we only had the truck for a week but after a day of heavy snowfall, we did discover water and condensation leaking out of the headliner speakers.
The rest of the interior is plastic-laden but our nearly $110,000 spec’d up Raptor is also replete with leather surfaces, carbon fibre inlays, and suede inserts. We enjoyed Ford’s underreliance on haptic feedback buttons (unlike the RAM 1500), and its dedication to hard buttons that work without fault. It’s also nice to see auxiliary switches mounted on the headliner. There are six of them so you can hook up your flood flights or aftermarket compressors.
Again, the ergonomics here are excellent, and drivers will hardly ever have to move their arms with such a clear and concise array of buttons on the steering wheel. Ford even conveniently placed the adjustments for the steering, exhaust, and suspension right at the 3-o’clock position, and there’s never any ambiguity to input recognition with the button’s heavy and long travel. And the seats - it really is like riding around on your living room sofa. Soft, plush, and wide, the seats offer an incredible range of adjustment, as do the steering wheel and brake pedals, always ensuring the optimal driving position for any body type.
Yeah, the Raptor’s size is intimidating for someone not accustomed to driving pickup trucks, but the resulting outward visibility is expansive. Occupants have a perfect 180-degree view and the extensive side mirrors combined with blind spot monitoring add to the visual awareness. A 360-degree camera view, which can be summoned any time at low speeds, further provides a bird’s eye view around the truck.
Nestled under the redesigned front hood is the carried over 3.5-litre twin-turbocharged V6 that produces the same 450 hp and 510 lb-ft as before, but max torque now starts at 3,000 rpm instead of 3,500 rpm. The Raptor continues to route that output through a 10-speed automatic and an all-wheel drive system. The Raptor also brandishes a new exhaust system with adjustable valves aimed at improving air flow and acoustics, as well as an updated rear suspension, a five-link coil-spring setup that replaces the old leaf springs, larger internal bypass dampers, a revised cooling system, and optional 37-inch R17 BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO2 tires as part of the $10,000 Raptor 37 Performance Package - there’s even a full-size spare underneath the bed, probably the reason why this 2,670 kg truck is the heaviest thing we’ve driven in the last two years. That five-figure package also includes sport-tuned shock absorbers, Raptor decals on the hood and rear quarter panel, carbon fibre interior accents, and Recaro seats with blue leather and alcantara inserts.
After a lengthy hiatus of driving trucks, we sometimes forget how fun they really are. The Raptor is stable, grounded, and you could even call it comfortable when cruising at triple digit speeds, definitely moreso than a Jeep Gladiator or Ford Bronco. Paired with its meaty 37-inch tires, it doesn’t neutralize small movements and minor undulations very well, but it effectively melts large bumps and heavy impacts, so all you really feel is a constant but almost soothing rumble.
The V6 offers a decent amount of grunt in its mid-range, though it’s not as flexible as a naturally aspirated V8. You can feel a slight disconnect from the gas pedal to the engine and gearbox too. The response is never immediate despite its impressive 510 lb-ft of torque being available at a lower RPM than before. The turbos need time to spool and the 10-speed transmission is constantly lost in its myriad of gears. It’s not as cohesive or as engaging as what’s underpinning Ford’s sports cars like the GT500. So does the Raptor just need more power? Absolutely not. There’s enough on tap here for any situation. What we want from the upcoming V8 is a more responsive throttle map and a more polished gearbox that marries the ingredients together.
How do the FOX racing shocks with their new electronically-controlled valves stand up to heat buildup and high-speed desert runs? Couldn’t tell ya, and neither could 90% of Raptor owners. This truck harbours so much capability that most owners will hardly scratch the surface of what the Raptor can actually do. We don’t exactly have a desert or convenient off-roading dunes to trek across here around Ontario, but that doesn’t take away from its mystique and appeal. Afterall, no one is off-roading a Range Rover or Mercedes G-Wagon around these woods either.
One of our biggest criticisms of the last-generation Raptor was its muted and subdued exhaust note, especially when compared to the huffing and puffing of the V8 before it. This Raptor’s new exhaust system remedies that with a howling, belching, titillating soundtrack that finally befits its muscular physique. It even comes with four adjustable exhaust modes: Quiet, Normal, Sport, and Baja. The instrument panel will tell you that Baja is for ‘off-road use only’ due to its output of excessive decibels, but it’s what we wanted the Raptor to sound like all along. It makes a hell of a ruckus, like an AMG inline-six on steroids delivering a high-pitched, sonically abrasive wail. We love the ignition bark but it does annoyingly drone at moderate to high speeds. Good thing there’s a Quiet mode, which shuts everything up nicely. Ironically enough, Quiet mode sounds just like the last-generation Raptor.
Compared to the RAM 1500 TRX, the Ford F-150 Raptor falls short in acoustics and a sense of occasion, but it continues to thrill with a go-anywhere mentality and a muscular physique wrapped in a stunning Rapid Red suit. Furthermore, its extensive bandwidth of capability that ranges from everyday civility to beating down sandy and muddy mountain ranges never gets old. Bring on the V8.
Model: 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor 4X4 SuperCrew
Paint Type: Rapid Red
Base Price: $86,349
Price as Tested: $109,439
Length/Width/Height (mm): 5,908 / 2,200 (w/out mirrors) / 2,026 (cab height)
Curb weight (kg): 2,670
Engine: 3.5-litre twin-turbocharged V6
Horsepower: 450 hp @ 5,850 rpm
Torque: 510 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 16.0 / 14.4 / 15.3
Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 16.8
Tires: BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO2; 37-inch R17