There’s a new Ford Raptor hitting sand dunes this summer with improved suspension, bigger wheels and rumors of a V8-powered R model on the horizon.
For 2021, Ford is releasing the third-generation of its ludicrous, street-legal Baja rally truck – the new Ford Raptor. In case you’ve been living under a rock, Ford has been selling Raptors for over 10 years to those who wish to run at wide-open throttle in the desert and catch serious air. The best part? The Raptor can legitimately do it, thanks to a huge motor, long-travel suspension and a host of upgrades over regular F-150s. Expected this summer, the new Raptor promises to get even better.
One of the biggest updates for gen-three Ford Raptors is the replacement of rear-leaf springs with a 5-link coil-sprung setup. The live-axle is still there but the multi-link configuration includes a Panhard rod for lateral locating and huge, 24” coil springs. All of this will serve to improve handling and reduce the sideways “skittering” effect, known to drivers of leaf-sprung pickups, as they traverse rough roads.
Along with improved suspension control, the revised rear setup allows room for new 37” tires, which will be optional. Larger than the standard – and already oversized – 35” tires, new Raptors wearing size 37’s will also have a unique frame in order to accommodate this larger hardware. And to control all the force from those meaty tires slamming up and down, there will be revised Fox brand shocks. They will feature electronically controlled damping based on position of the wheel within its travel.
Freer flowing induction and a new, active valve exhaust should bring improved responsiveness to the carryover engine in the new Ford Raptor. But to be clear, the “carryover” motor is a 450 horse, twin-turbo V6 making 510 lb-ft of torque, so perhaps “rip-roaring” is more apropos. That new exhaust feature will include a Quiet mode for those wishing to stay on good terms with the neighbors. Drivers will still be able to paddle shift the 10-speed automatic and select from seven different drive modes ranging from Normal to Baja – which should probably be the default setting.
With the standard F-150 already released, new Raptors are likely to include similar 2021 features. The Interior Work Surface takes advantage of a foldaway shift lever by covering it with a pop out table-like work area. When you’re done for the day, the Max Recline front seats fold completely flat for taking a snooze. And hopefully the Pro Power onboard generator from 2021 F-150s will be available in the new Ford Raptor, perfect for powering your lifestyle in middle-of-nowhere, post desert-run locations.
Outside, the front-end styling is expected to be more aggressive – if that’s possible – than the outgoing model. Inspired by the F-22 Raptor fighter jet, Ford’s Raptor will have new LED headlights with a blacked-out grille plus a power dome hood with a revised heat extractor design. Ford is expected to offer a pair of exterior graphics layouts, one that shows trail maps and another resembling afterburners on a jet.
If you haven’t watched Ford’s sneak-peek video of the new Raptor, you really should do so. It’s three minutes of off-road awesomeness with Metallica’s Enter Sandman cranking in the background. Visions of Baja racing aside, the closing scene shows a new Raptor ripping donuts in the sand – to draw a letter “R”. Rumor has it that a V8 powered Raptor R is on the horizon to compete directly with the 707 horsepower, Hellcat powered Dodge 1500 TRX. Should be quite the beast.