Exterior view of the 2020 Ford F-150 Raptor

When Ford unveiled the aluminum-bodied 2015 F-150, I remember being impressed by its reduced weight, chiseled good looks and thoughtful engineering. But like so many other truck fans, I couldn't help but wonder, When is the new Raptor coming out? Two agonizing years later, Ford took the wraps off of the lighter and more capable 2017 Raptor.

This time around, Ford is going full-throttle with the all-new 2021 F-150. Soon after we got an official eyeful of that, Ford announced it was going to make a new Tremor model for off-road enthusiasts. And now comes news Ford already has a new Raptor ready to take on the RAM 1500 TRX.

2020 Ford F-150 Raptor Exterior

Exterior view of the 2020 Ford F-150 Raptor

It'll be easy to tell the Raptor apart from its F-150 siblings. I'm not just talking about its bold F-O-R-D grille, although that certainly helps. The Raptor is wide. It has to be to stay stable during high-speed desert runs. Ford significantly stretched the width of its front and rear tracks. Not counting its mirrors, the Raptor measures 86.6 inches vented fender to vented fender, which means those amber clearance lights above its distinctive grille are there to look cool AND meet regulations. The front bumper is made out of steel and sits above a broader skid plate designed to protect some of the Raptor's vital components from rough terrain.

As of right now, it looks as if the Raptor will only be available in the SuperCrew body style. The upside is that it will come standard with 35-inch all-terrain tires mounted on 17-inch wheels. When the going gets bumpy, those can travel 14 inches up front and 15 inches in the back. They give the Raptor 12 inches of ground clearance, a 31-degree approach angle, 22.7-degree breakover angle and 23.9-degree departure angle. For the ultimate wheel/tire combo, there's the Raptor 37 Performance Package, which includes 37-inch tires mounted on bead-lock capable 17s. That ups ground clearance to 13.1 inches and increases the approach, breakover and departure angles to 33.1, 24.4 and 24.9 degrees, respectively.

The tailgate gets the same big, blocky F-O-R-D treatment as the grille. To keep the dual tips of the new multi-mode exhaust system from getting crunched on tough trails, Ford tucked them under the high-clearance steel rear bumper.

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2020 Ford F-150 Raptor Interior

Interior view of the 2020 Ford F-150 Raptor

The cockpit combines the best features available in high-line F-150s with gear specific to the Raptor. The steering wheel has a center stripe at the 12 o'clock mark and sits in front of a pair of aluminum paddle shifters. That coordinates with the standard aluminum trim on the doors, instrument panel and center console. A carbon fiber accent package is available to add an even sportier look.

Ford's trick new 12-inch digital gauge cluster comes standard and features Raptor-specific graphics and animations. The 12-inch center touchscreen with SYNC 4, split-screen functionality and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is another no-cost feature. Over-the-air updates will allow the system to download updates and even trail maps. The regular seats have large bolsters to keep front passengers in place during off-road adventures; Recaro buckets are available for the most aggressive, needle-pegging action.

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2020 Ford F-150 Raptor Powertrain

View of the engine block of the 2020 Ford F-150 Raptor


Yes, Ford is going to offer the Raptor with a V8…eventually. The 2022 Raptor R will have eight cylinders under its hood. Judging by the hint that a Ford representative dropped on Twitter, it will more than likely be a version of the 760-horsepower supercharged 5.2-liter V8 that powers the Shelby GT500 Mustang.

For now, the Raptor carries on with a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 mated to an updated 10-speed automatic. No word on the engine's exact specs yet. Its predecessor produced 450 horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque in the 2017-2020 Raptor, so it's safe to assume it'll probably generate more in the 2021 model. Whatever its exact figures are, they help the new Raptor haul and tow more than before. Its payload rating is up by 200 pounds to 1,400 and its max towing capacity has increased by the same amount to 8,200 pounds. An optional Pro Power Onboard generator system can supply two kilowatts of electricity for lighting or blowing up air mattresses at faraway campsites.

One of the common complaints about the last Raptor (aside from its lack of a V8) was its exhaust sound. Ford addressed that by coming up with a completely new design for the 2021 model, which features three-inch pipes, built-in X-pipe and active valves that open or close depending on which mode (Quiet, Normal, Sport or Baja) the exhaust is set to.

A Raptor just wouldn't be a Raptor without its hardcore suspension. Ford made sure to substantially upgrade it for dirty work in the 2021 model. The next-generation Fox Live Valve internal bypass shocks have larger 3.1-inch housings filled with low-friction fluid to combat overheating from the constant compression and rebound strokes required for Baja-style driving. According to Ford, the Fox units respond to terrain changes "at the same speed the human brain processes visual information."

Instead of leaf springs in the rear, the 2021 Raptor has a five-link setup that includes extra-long trailing arms, a Panhard rod and 24-inch coil springs. The new suspension enables the Raptor to keep its rear tires more connected to the ground. A standard locking rear differential and available Torsen limited-slip front differential (both of which have 4.10 gearing) help it push through challenging conditions.

The Raptor gets plenty of cool tech to go with that hardware. The Terrain Management System's seven different drive modes cover almost every type of driving scenario, including normal driving, towing and hauling, and, of course, Baja. Trail Control functions as a sort of off-road cruise control so that the driver only has to worry about steering the Raptor where it needs to go. Trail 1-Pedal Drive makes rock crawling easier by only requiring throttle inputs to get over gnarly obstacles. An available 360-degree camera system provides a multitude of helpful feeds so that the Raptor leaves the wild unscathed.

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2020 Ford F-150 Raptor Safety

View of the safety features of the 2020 Ford F-150 Raptor

In its most basic form, the Raptor comes standard with a long list of Ford Co-Pilot360 driver aids and safety features. Automatic high beams, Forward Collision Warning and Dynamic Brake Support, and Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking and Pedestrian Detection are just some of them.

The Active Drive Assist Prep Kit is one of the most noteworthy optional features. That means the Raptor will be able to download an over-the-air software update in the third quarter of 2021 that will unlock hands-free driving capability on more than 100,000 miles of divided highways in all 50 states and Canada.

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2020 Ford F-150 Raptor Overall

Exterior view of the 2020 Ford F-150 Raptor

Ford has been rolling out the 2021 F-150 lineup at an incredibly rapid pace. It's hard to believe that Ford is going to release an all-new Raptor in the same model year as the main lineup and the purpose-built Tremor…but it's easy to be excited about. Check out the Raptor in person at an AutoNation Ford dealership this summer and look for our review of the 2021 Raptor later this year.

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Derek Shiekhi | Feb 05, 2021

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