New Ford F-150 Raptor lands

Or perhaps that should be takes off. Either way, prepare to be jealous of Americans. Again

By Sam Sheehan / Wednesday, February 3, 2021 / Loading comments

Ford has presented us with a second reason to be jealous of the US market this week with the launch of its “most off-road capable” F-150 Raptor yet. Mixing 3.5-litre EcoBoost power (yep, still no V8) with a chassis wearing a new rear-suspension setup and 610mm (!) springs, this is a tougher, faster and, apparently, more comfortable machine than before – and, as demonstrated by the lead pic, it’s easily capable of getting airborne. You don't need us to tell you that the pickup is big business in America, with Ford claiming that its last-gen F-150 Raptor outsold Porsche’s entire line-up of sports cars, and also the ever-popular Chevrolet Corvette.

Accordingly the manufacturer has gone big with the new version. It hasn’t confirmed the output of the Raptor’s turbocharged V6 yet – it gets 400hp in the non-Raptor F-150 already – but in truth, the focus for this model is the chassis. The 2021 pickup has a 333mm ground clearance in top spec and plus-24-degree departure and breakover angles, with Fox ‘Live Valve’ shocks that use “state-of-the-art” electronic control technology, said to offer “position-sensitive” damping adjustability. These are the largest dampers yet fitted to a Raptor, made to be highly resistant to heat build-up and quicker to react over rough terrain. We don’t doubt it.

Not only are they complex, they’re also beasty, with a 78.7mm diameter, anodised aluminium bodies and low-friction fluid, said to be “specially designed to decrease frictional losses”. Apparently, with those new valves and the electronics to control them (including sensors that monitor 500 times a second), the shocks can each absorb 1,000lbs of damping. Good for landings. Better still, the added benefit of their setup is a very comfortable ride, whether the Raptor’s on or off road. To aid that, the Raptor gets a five-link rear setup, something that was encouraged by Ford’s experience at the Baja 1000, according to Carl Widmann, Ford Performance chief engineer. He said, “like a trophy truck, every aspect of [the] Raptor has been engineered to deliver precision capability when your foot is flat on the floor, way out in the middle of nowhere roaring across the desert”. 

While the numbers are TBC, Ford has said that its EcoBoost motor will come with a “high output” and deliver “torque low in the rev range right where it counts”, helped by the fitment of a 10-speed auto and free-flowing pipework. The brand said the motor gets new high-power fans built into the cooling system to ensure temps are kept under control under hard driving. As Widmann suggests, Ford wants this to be a car you can head out into the wilderness in; the Raptor gets a 36-gallon tank, providing a range of more than 500 miles – although we suspect that might but cut down a fair bit if said journey involves dunes and jumps. As for the car’s driveline, the Raptor gets standard-fit electronic locking front and rear differentials, as well as an optional Torsen front limited-slip differential.

It promises to be eminently practical, too, with a maximum payload that increases by 90kg to 635kg, while maximum towing also increases to over 3.7 tonnes. This is a 5.9-metre-long pick-up truck, so there’s certainly space aboard. And it’s not short of cabin tech, with Ford’s latest Sync 4 infotainment system and Alexa voice control – because even customers of brutish pick-ups need Apple Carplay. They also need somewhere to plug in their tools, apparently, with the Raptor capable of powering anything from external ancillaries to a buzzsaw. Handy if you come across any fallen trees. Or want to decorate the campsite with fairly lights.

It’s a lot of car, then, literally – and because this is America it’ll be much cheaper than you expect. Pricing is yet to be confirmed – and no, we’ve no details of the following Raptor R, which is expected to get a 5.2-litre V8 next year. Nor do we have any word on UK sales because obviously the F-150 won’t officially be coming to Britain. It wouldn’t fit.

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