2021 Ford F-150 Raptor unveiled – 3.5L EcoBoost engine, five-link rear suspension with 381 mm travel

The latest-generation Ford F-150 Raptor has arrived in sole SuperCrew four-door cab bodystyle, featuring a 3.5 litre EcoBoost turbo petrol engine and increased off-road capability with a new five-link rear suspension setup that offers up to 381 mm of suspension travel at the rear axle and 355 mm of suspension travel in front.

The new rear suspension is comprised of a five-link setup that employs extra-long trailing arms in order to better maintain axle position on rough terrain, a Panhard rod and 24-inch (610 mm) coil springs, the latter claimed to be the longest in its class.

Suspension specialists Fox continues to supply dampers for the Raptor in its 2021 guise, now with next-generation Live Valve internal bypass units and electronic control that enables position-sensitive damping adjustment. These are the largest-ever dampers to be fitted to the Raptor yet, says Ford.

The damper unit consists of a 3.1-inch (78.8 mm) diameter anodised aluminium body filled with new, low-friction shock fluid to reduce frictional losses, improving on- and off-road comfort as a result. New, electronically-controlled base valves come in an upgraded design, which enables upwards of 1,000 lb of damping force per corner at desert-running speeds, says Ford.

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor unveiled – 3.5L EcoBoost engine, five-link rear suspension with 381 mm travel

Based upon the fully boxed high-strength steel frame and ‘military-grade’ aluminium and composite body, the 2021 Raptor gets stronger, taller shock towers and rear control arm mounting points to go with its more capable suspension equipment to better withstand harsh off-road use.

The 2021 Raptor can be specified with either 35-inch or 37-inch BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 tyres, the latter size the largest-ever to be fitted as standard to a light-duty pick-up truck, according to the automaker. Fitted with 35-inch tyres, the Raptor has approach, breakover and departure angles of 31, 22.7 and 23.9 degrees respectively, while with 37-inch tyres, they are 33.1, 24.4 and 24.9 degrees, respectively.

Running clearance are 12 inches (305 mm) with 35-inch tyres and 13.1 inches (333 mm) with 37-inch tyres. The rated maximum suspension travel of 381 mm and 355 mm front and rear is with 35-inch tyres, so buyers can go with the larger tyres for better obstacle clearance, or slightly smaller for maximum wheel travel, such as for rock crawling and desert running, says Ford.

Ford has yet to reveal the official output figures for the 2021 F-150 Raptor, though the Blue Oval reveals a 10.5:1 compression ratio and says that torque is delivered low in its rev range, and outfitted with new, high-power fans to guard against overheating when taking on prolonged, intense off-road driving. A 136 litre fuel tank offers more than 800 km of range, it says.

The Raptor engine now exhales through a new, three-inch equal-length exhaust system with a built-in X-pipe, a ‘trombone loop’ and for the first time on a Raptor, active exhaust valves, which is mated to a true pass-through muffler design to improve sound quality, according to the company. Four sound modes are offered here – Quiet, Normal, Sport and Baja.

Its driveline features a Ford-built 10-speed automatic transmission paired to a torque-on-demand transfer case. An optional Torsen limited-slip differential features on the front axle while a an electronically locking rear differential comes as standard, both with 4:10 final drive ratios. For load lugging, maximum payload grows to 636 kg, while conventional towing capacity is 3,722 kg.

Inside, the F-150 Raptor cabin features a 12-inch digital instrument panel and a 12-inch centre screen as standard and as on the main F-150 range, albeit with Raptor graphics.

Available over-the-air upgrades for the Raptor include trail maps with Trail Turn Assist, while FordPass enables control of the Raptor’s systems such as remote locking and unlocking, monitoring tyre pressures and fuel level, as well as gain control of features such as zone lighting, trailer theft alert, trailer light check and the optional Pro Power Onboard.

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor unveiled – 3.5L EcoBoost engine, five-link rear suspension with 381 mm travel

Standard off-road driving features on the 2021 F-150 Raptor include Trail 1-Pedal Drive and Trail Control. Trail 1-Pedal Drive simplifies off-roading on difficult terrain by integrating throttle and brake inputs into the throttle pedal, where the system applies the brakes proportionally as the driver lifts from the throttle pedal. Meanwhile, Trail Control is essentially cruise control for off-road use, enabling the truck to operate at a set speed with control of throttle and brakes, while the driver focuses on steering.

In terms of creature comforts, SYNC 4 infotainment comes as standard with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, along with SYNC AppLink apps. The top audio specification in the 2021 F-150 Raptor is an 18-speaker B&O Unleashed sound system by Bang & Olufsen.

Identifying the Raptor interior from its regular F-150 range siblings include a new steering wheel with red stitching and central marking, along with aluminium shift paddles behind the wheel. Front seats come with larger side bolster as standard, or even more support is available with optional Recaro bucket seats. Aluminium interior trim is standard with carbon-fibre is optional, and lockable, flat-folding storage is located under the rear seats.

Assembled at the Dearborn Truck Plant in Michigan alongside its mainstream F-150 siblings, the 2021 F-150 Raptor goes on sale in the Northern Hemisphere summer, says Ford. For would-be customers of the Raptor who fear six cylinders can’t stack up against eight, specifically those of the Ram 1500 TRX, Ford says the Raptor R will debut next year.

No specification details for this have been revealed just yet, though to go head-to-head with the 702 hp/881 Nm of its domestic rival, a comparable engine candidate from within the Blue Oval’s inventory would be the 5.2 litre supercharged V8 engine that outputs 760 hp and 847 Nm of torque in the Mustang GT500.

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