2021 Ford F-150 Raptor Pros and Cons Review: Coulda Had a V-8

Pros

  • Plenty of power from carryover powertrain
  • Excellent off-road capability
  • Nicer cabin and tech

 Cons

  • Difficult to distinguish from prior truck
  • Gets quite pricey with options
  • Feels like a stopgap

No, no—relax. There is no V-8 under the hood of the 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor. At least, not yet—Ford says the eight-cylinder Raptor R supertruck is rumbling its way toward the horizon break and will likely be here sometime next year. For now, the standard Raptor is the top-of-the-line off-road baddie from the F-150 family.

The Raptor was also the only F-150 Ford sent even though we invited the entire lineup to our 2022 Truck of the Year competition—including the new PowerBoost hybrid—as the refreshed 2021 trucks weren’t available in time for last year’s event.

Most of it is badass business as usual with the familiar 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 making its return for the third-gen truck, meaning you get the same stout 450 hp and same custard-thick 510 lb-ft routed through the same 10-speed automatic transmission. Our test truck’s optional 37-inch monster tires only slowed this carryover powertrain slightly: The Raptor cracked off a 0-60 run in 5.6 seconds, up from the previous model’s time of 5.2 seconds, but that was a lighter SuperCab variant.

It’s not quite as powerful—scratch that, it’s nowhere near as powerful—as the Ram TRX, but it sure is a damn sight more thrifty than the juiced-up gallon-glugging Ram, with an EPA-rated 14/16 mpg city/highway compared to the TRX’s 10/14 split. For 2022 the base F-150 Raptor starts out nearly $8,000 cheaper than the TRX, but adding the Raptor 37 Performance package (and other options that package requires) makes it $5,800 pricier than that Ram to start, and that doesn’t strike us as a great value.

Ford is perhaps frustrated with us drawing so many comparisons to the badder, madder Ram, but it needs to be said. “The Raptor 37 is built to be Ford’s stopgap answer to the Ram TRX until the Raptor R is ready, and the Raptor 37 just doesn’t feel quite as pure or organic as a TRX does,” features editor Christian Seabaugh said. “The V-6 doesn’t provide the same sort of visceral thrill the Hell-catted Ram does.”

Oh, well. We’ll try to be patient. Until then, if the prior Raptor satiated your Baja-bashing needs just fine, you’ll find the wrapper-fresh third gen to be quite the beastie, regardless of TRX.

“It feels more unstoppable than ever off-road,” features editor Scott Evans said. “Nothing slows it down, nothing challenges it, except maybe a narrow trail. The frame twister we have here is no concern to it. It barges through everything as easily as it drives down a paved road.”

It handles great, too, even with those outrageous 37-inch clodhoppers. “For something of this size and weight on these tires, it drives phenomenally well around a corner,” Evans continued. “Through the emergency lane change test it needed zero stability control intervention. Around the handling course, it’s only limited by its grip, not its handling capability.”

It’s nicer, too, combining all of its ability and face-punch aesthetics with the freshened interior and infotainment duds presented by the new-for-2021 F-150 family, meaning the Raptor’s got the gimmicky folding shifter and optional 12.0-inch infotainment screen.

Is the 14th-generation Ford F-150 Truck of the Year material? We’re not sure yet, as this highly optioned and very niche 2021 F-150 Raptor 37 is the only F-150 we had available for evaluation. Maybe the potentially world-shifting F-150 Lightning, house-powering hybrid PowerBoost, or V-8 Raptor R will make a stronger case at next year’s Truck of the Year event, but until then, the good but not great third-gen Raptor just wasn’t impressive enough to claim the laurels.

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