Our Rides: Ford’s Studly Raptor

Photo by Randy Stern
Photo by Randy Stern

In 2021, the Ford F-Series lineup of pickup trucks continued its four-plus decades streak of being the best-selling vehicle sold in the U.S.A. While sales were down from the previous year by 7.8 percent, Ford still managed to deliver over 726,000 units to their intended customers. 

The lion’s share of the F-Series sales goes to its half-ton model, the F-150. 

Granted, our community usually dictates the vehicles that we drive. There are some surveys that state that we would purchase the F-150 on a relative scale as does everyone else in this country. You would think that our preferred half-ton full-size pickup would be the Ram 1500, but not necessarily. 

Photo by Randy Stern

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’re planning to tow something, you can get away with a trim that offer leather (or leatherette) seating. 

Then you get into the more expensive trim levels. These are trucks that deliver on luxury that are usually found on top-of-the-line sedans. Then there are ones that make you want to fulfill your more adventurous side—the 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor does this and more. It’s an absolute beast of a pickup truck. 

Photo by Randy Stern

This third-generation model is based on the enhanced F-150 introduced about a year ago. As with the last two generations, the folks at Ford Performance would take a mere F-150, drop its most powerful engine, jack up the suspension with an off-road kit, slap on some serious all-terrain tires, and let it run on the desert floor. 

The result is this orange-colored stud. The one where the butchest of us—regardless of gender or gender expression—would dare to take to the cabin, the lakeside, or ride in a future Pride Parade. 

Photo by Randy Stern

However, the Raptor does turn heads. It’s something you cannot ignore. The extended fender flares stretch out the overall width to about 86 inches, before stretching out the mirrors. A normal F-150 is usually around 80 inches wide. It also sports its own grille, lighting signature with the marker lights on the grille, vents on the hood and front fenders, along with its own decal set and tailgate applique. 

If you look at the tires, don’t be intimidated. Those are 35-inch all-terrain tires riding on a set of 17-inch alloy wheels. Those 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 is a power tailgate that you open and close from your key fob. Plus, there’s a step and handle that retracts from the liftgate for easier access. Inside the box, you can plug in a couple of items through two 110/120-volt sockets.

Photo by Randy Stern

To step into the cab of the Raptor, the side steps can hold your weight and more. You’ll thank Ford for having them installed for you. Once you step up and in, you are greeted by an elevated interior that is also useful. The big leather seats up front are comfortable with room for just about anyone. Rear seat room is exceptional with lots of head and leg space for three. 

The latest F-150 was praised for the new level of technology found on the instrument panel. A 12-inch fully digital instrument cluster can be customized for the kind of information you need. Getting to each screen is easy through a few buttons on the steering wheel. The shifter can be retracted into the console, with the armrest folding over to create an in-cab desk. 

Photo by Randy Stern

In addition, the Raptor is equipped with an 18-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system. It is 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 alive starts under the hood. It has a 450-horsepower 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged High Output EcoBoost V6. It also puts down 510 pound-feet of torque. It’s a powerful truck that can haul a maximum payload of 1,410 pounds and can tow up to 8,200 pounds. 

This engine is connected to a 10-speed automatic transmission and a four-wheel drive system with a two-speed transfer case and pre-determined drive modes designed to manage traction for specific conditions. You can choose from Normal to Slippery to 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. This may not mean anything to the average pickup truck buyer, however the Raptor is designed primarily for high-performance off-roading. The result is a soft ride that is necessary to manage rougher terrain—including the potholes on our streets that will appear after winter is over. 

Photo by Randy Stern

The Raptor brakes very well. The pedal feel is great, and stops are confident on any road—or off-road—condition. As for steering, be prepared to give it some effort in tight situations. You have a large steering wheel that takes some patience to get into parking spaces around town. On-center feel is okay with a bit of play to get it within the lanes—and between some tight spots on the path to the cabin.  

How much does a Ford F-150 Raptor cost? Consider that the price of new vehicles has gone up in the face of supply chain challenges induced by the COVID-19 pandemic—more so for pickup trucks. Therefore, the starting price for this truck is at $64,145. Our SuperCrew tester came with a sticker price of $78,545. Please note that our tester was not even equipped with every option available. 

Photo by Randy Stern

Yes, it seems somewhat ridiculous to feature a high-performance pickup truck developed on a desert floor some thousands of miles away in these pages. However, the Ford F-150 Raptor appears to be quite popular—and desirable—across the Upper Midwest. It began a new sub-genre of such pickup trucks that have been joined by Ram and, soon, Chevrolet. 

One thing Ford can claim is being an original in this type of pickup truck. It also continues to claim the crown of the best-selling vehicle in this country. We’re sure you want an F-150 Raptor. After all, we buy them too! 

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