NEWS

Is the 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor a Good Truck? 7 Pros and 4 Cons

ford-f-150-raptor-2021-03-dynamic-exterior-front-angle-orange-truck 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

The Ford F-150 is consistently the top-selling vehicle in the U.S. The half-ton pickup truck took home the top prize among Cars.com’s Best of 2021 honorees. Oh, and The Rock likes it. The 2021 redesign improved on an already-good (if past its prime) thing, spurring Cars.com to purchase one for its long-term test-car fleet. But that’s the one you marry, when what performance and off-road enthusiasts have been fantasizing about since the latest overhaul is the one you get down and dirty with: the Raptor.

Related: 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor Review: Better, But With a Big Problem

Let’s just say we’ve now had our little fling with this asphalt-eschewing F-150 incarnation. And, while we didn’t get an opportunity to take it for a roll over the rocks — we can imagine what it’d be like if we did. The Raptor gets so much right and improves markedly on the outgoing version, but we must confess that the whole time we were together, we couldn’t help thinking about … the Ram 1500 TRX.

For the full details on our romp with the Raptor, be sure to check out Cars.com reviewer Brian Normile’s comprehensive critique via the related link above. But for a rapid-fire roundup of the pickup’s pros and cons, keep reading.

Here are seven things we like, and four things we don’t, about the 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor:

Things We Like

1. A Dash of Excellence

ford-f-150-raptor-2021-31-center-stack-display-dashboard-front-row-interior-steering-wheel-truck 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

A new 12-inch digital instrument panel and a 12-inch touchscreen display featuring Ford’s excellent Sync 4 operating system (yay for physical controls!) are standouts among cabin upgrades, boasting vivid graphics, user-friendly menus and convenient over-the-air updates. Meanwhile, a redesigned steering wheel features a centering mark that’s helpful in negotiating uneven terrain, as well as new aluminum shift paddles that exude quality.

2. Console-ation Prize

A work station integrated into the Raptor’s center console provides a convenient flat surface on which to set up your laptop so you can edit the videos of your off-road exploits as you go — or just keep up appearances while you’re “working from home.”

3. Pleasant Place to Park It

ford-f-150-raptor-2021-62-badge-drivers-seat-interior-truck 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

We found the standard seats to be accommodating to our seats even on long hauls, and Ford says they’re upgraded with additional bolstering. Meanwhile, backseat passengers should find themselves with abundant space to stretch out.

4. Extra Absorbent!

The Raptor reins in the roughness with a new five-link rear suspension, a Panhard rod and 24-inch coil springs. That’s in addition to Fox Live Valve shock absorbers purporting to be the largest, hardiest and most heat-resistant ever for the Raptor. From a day-to-day practicality standpoint, potholes are no longer your worst fear, even after a road-ravaging winter.

5. F(ast)-150

The Raptor’s twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 produces an F-150-best 450 horsepower and second-best 510 pounds-feet of torque. Cars.com clocked its own F-150’s 0-60 mph time at 5.74 seconds, with a quarter-mile time of 13.9 seconds at 99.3 mph — and although the Raptor likely would fall short of that hybrid-boosted model’s sprints, it wouldn’t be by much.

6. Improved Efficiency

ford-f-150-raptor-2021-15-exterior-orange-rear-angle-truck 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

If you’re the type who buys offsets as a carbon-emissions mea culpa, your Raptor purchase will do little to assuage your guilt — but at least you’ll look more environmentally responsible than your TRX-trucking neighbor. The Raptor is EPA-rated at 15/18/16 mpg city/highway/combined with its standard 35-inch tires and 15/16/15 with 37-inchers, compared with the TRX’s EPA-rated 10/14/12 mpg.

7. Power to Spare

The optional Pro Power Onboard generator allows the Raptor to be used as a generator, enabling users to plug in electronic devices to outlets in the bed or cabin and have them powered for as long as the truck has gasoline. The Raptor’s generator is a 2.0-kilowatt version versus the hybrid F-150’s 7.2-kW unit — but you’ll be happy it’s there if you’ve underestimated your overlanding mileage and need to call AAA.

More From Cars.com:

Things We Don’t

1. A See-Minus for Visibility

Depending on your seating position, the A-pillars may obstruct your view out the front windshield. The bulging hood won’t do your forward visibility any favors either.

2. It Might Get Tight

ford-f-150-raptor-2021-25-engine-exterior-orange-truck 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

The Raptor is a husky boy, measuring nearly 87 inches in width without side mirrors. That makes for tense negotiations on city streets and canyon passes alike. How’s your spatial awareness?

3. You’ll Pay for This!

The crew-cab-only Raptor starts at $66,000, a substantial increase over the previous generation, which had an available extended cab for a condensed price. The Raptor that Normile tested ran over $78,000, treading into TRX territory.

4. It’s Not the TRX

Speaking of the TRX … the Ram’s yin to the Raptor’s yang overpowers its nemesis with its supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 and accompanying exhaust growl. The forthcoming Raptor R variant should balance things out better with a V-8 engine purportedly boosted from the Mustang Shelby GT500. Fingers crossed for Ford.

As Normile states in his review (keeping with the motif of these dinosaur-derived truck names): “Until Ford answers the challenge laid down by that truck with its own Raptor R … the off-road truck battle will look just like the ending of ‘Jurassic Park’: a T-Rex easily fending off the challenges posed by some clever but ultimately weaker Raptors.”

Related Video:

Cars.com’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

Latest expert reviews