In 2021, the Ford F-Series line of pickup trucks continued its more than four-decade streak of being the best-selling vehicle in the United States. While sales were down 7.8% from the previous year, Ford still managed to deliver over 726,000 units. to their intended customers.
The lion’s share of F-Series sales goes to its half-ton model, the F-150.
Granted, our community generally dictates the vehicles we drive. Some polls indicate that we would buy the F-150 on a relative scale, like everyone else in the country. You’d think our favorite full-size half-ton pickup would be the Ram 1500, but not necessarily.
In the pickup truck market, the key to success is to offer something for every type of consumer. If you own a business, you really need a work truck. If you plan on towing something, you can get away with a trim that offers leather (or leatherette) seats.
Then you get into the more expensive trim levels. These are trucks that offer the luxuries typically found on high-end sedans. Then there are those that make you want to realize your more adventurous side – the 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor does that and more. It’s an absolute beast of a pickup truck.
This third-generation model is based on the upgraded F-150 introduced about a year ago. As with the last two generations, the folks at Ford Performance would take a simple F-150, drop its most powerful engine, raise the suspension with an off-road kit, slap some serious off-road tires and let it run on the desert floor.
The result is this orange colored stud. The one where the fattest of us, regardless of sex or gender expression, would dare to go to the cabin, to the lake or to participate in a future Pride Parade.
However, the Raptor turns heads. It’s something you can’t ignore. Extended fender flares extend the overall width to about 86 inches, before stretching the mirrors. A normal F-150 is usually about 80 inches wide. It also sports its own grille, its own light signature with the position lamps on the grille, the air vents on the hood and the front fenders, as well as its own set of decals and its tailgate appliqué.
If you’re looking at tires, don’t be intimidated. These are 35-inch off-road tires mounted on a set of 17-inch alloy wheels. These are standard on the Raptor.
Our tester came with the four-door SuperCrew cab and a five-and-a-half-foot box. It’s one of two cab choices you get in this model, the other being the shorter SuperCab. To access the box, there’s a power tailgate that you open and close from your key fob. Additionally, there is a step and a handle that retracts from the tailgate for easier access. Inside the box you can plug in a few items via two 110/120 volt outlets.
To get into the Raptor’s cabin, the side steps can support your weight and more. You’ll thank Ford for installing them for you. Once you go up and enter you are greeted by a raised interior which is also helpful. The large leather seats up front are comfortable and can accommodate just about anyone. Rear-seat space is exceptional with plenty of headroom and legroom for three.
The latest F-150 was praised for the new level of technology found on the dashboard. A 12-inch all-digital instrument cluster can be customized for the kind of information you need. Accessing each screen is easy with a few buttons on the steering wheel. The shift lever can be retracted into the console, with the armrest folding down to create a desk in the cabin.
Additionally, the Raptor is equipped with an 18-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system. It’s driven by a larger 12-inch touchscreen using Ford’s latest SYNC 4 infotainment system. It offers wireless smartphone connectivity and a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Where the Raptor comes to life begins under the hood. It is equipped with a high-output 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 with 450 horsepower. It also produces 510 foot-pounds of torque. It is a powerful truck that can carry a maximum payload of 1,410 pounds and tow up to 8,200 pounds.
This engine is linked to a 10-speed automatic transmission and a four-wheel-drive system with a two-speed transfer case and predetermined drive modes designed to manage traction in specific conditions. You can choose between Normal, Slippery, Sand/Deep Snow mode for optimal winter conditions.
As for fuel economy, we averaged 14.1 MPG.
New to the F-150 Raptor is a five-link independent rear suspension with a Panhard rod, a set of FOX shocks and a set of 24-inch coil springs. That might not mean anything to the average pickup truck buyer, but the Raptor is designed primarily for high-performance off-road driving. The result is a smooth ride that is needed to handle rougher terrain, including the potholes in our streets that will appear after winter is over.
The Raptor brakes very well. Pedal feel is great and stops are sure on any road or off-road condition. As for the steering, be prepared to give it a bit of effort in difficult situations. You have a big steering wheel that requires a bit of patience to access parking spaces in the city. The center feel is acceptable with a bit of play to get it in the lanes and between some tight spots on the way to the cabin.
How much does a Ford F-150 Raptor cost? Consider that the price of new vehicles has increased in the face of supply chain challenges induced by the COVID-19 pandemic, more so for pickup trucks. Therefore, the starting price of this truck is $64,145. Our SuperCrew tester came with a sticker price of $78,545. Please note that our tester was not even equipped with all available options.
Yes, it seems a bit ridiculous to present in these pages a high-performance pickup truck developed on desert ground thousands of miles away. However, the Ford F-150 Raptor seems to be quite popular and desirable throughout the Upper Midwest. It started a new subgenre of these pickup trucks which were joined by Ram and, soon, Chevrolet.
One thing Ford can claim is to be an original in this type of pickup. It also continues to claim the crown of the nation’s best-selling vehicle. We’re sure you want an F-150 Raptor. After all, we buy them too!