The 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor gets tough


A high-specification suspension is key to the off-road performance of the all-new, third-generation Ford F-150 Raptor. The 2021 model has completely redesigned running gear, with an all-new five-link rear suspension developed specifically for Raptor, designed to deliver more control and power to the ground.

The five-link rear suspension features extra-long trailing arms to better maintain axle position on rough terrain, a Panhard rod and 24in coil springs – the longest in the class (full-size pickups under 8,500 pounds GVWR). The suspension design, combined with more sophisticated engine management software, means the truck can put more torque to the rear wheels for quicker starts off the line, faster acceleration and better throttle responsiveness, while simultaneously delivering comfort, stability, handling, control and traction at speed – speed enabled by the twin-turbo 3.5-litre EcoBoost high-output engine.

“Raptor is rooted in Baja 1000 racing, and its suspension advances our capability and performance – a five-link rear setup with more wheel travel than any Raptor before it,” says Carl Widmann, chief engineer at Ford Performance. “And like a trophy truck, every aspect of Raptor has been engineered to deliver precision capability when your foot is flat on the floor, way out in the middle of nowhere roaring across the desert.”

Raptor drivers may enjoy big jumps, but to ensure a controlled landing, next-generation FOX Live Valve internal bypass shocks have been fitted, with state-of-the-art electronic control technology offering position-sensitive damping adjustability. These are the largest-ever shocks fitted to a Raptor, designed to better resist heat buildup and to react even faster to terrain changes. The 3.1in-diameter anodised aluminium shock bodies are filled with a low-friction shock fluid specially designed to decrease frictional losses inside the damper for improved off and on-road comfort. New electronically controlled base valves are race-proven, with an upgraded design enabling upward of 1,000 lbs of damping per corner at desert speeds.

Readings from suspension height sensors and other sensors around the truck change damping rates independently at each corner 500 times per second, with the shocks responding at the same speed the human brain processes visual information. The truck responds by the time the driver even registers a terrain change.

For the first time, Raptor is available with either 35in or 37in tyres – the largest factory-fitted to a production light-duty full-size pickup. These specially designed BFGoodrich all-terrain T/A KO2 tyres offer maximum traction and handling. When fitted with the 35in tyres, Raptor clears 12in obstacles with an approach angle of 31°, maximum departure angle of 23.9° and a breakover angle of 22.7°. With 37in tyres the pick-up offers 13.1in of running clearance, 33.1° of approach angle, a maximum 24.9° of departure angle and 24.4° of breakover angle. On the 35in tyres the wheel travel can reach 14in at the front and 15in at the rear – 25% more travel than the first-generation Raptor.

Available in SuperCrew configuration on a 145in wheelbase, Raptor features a fully boxed high-strength steel frame with a high-strength, military-grade, aluminium alloy and composite body.

The Terrain Management System has seven selectable drive modes, namely Slippery, Tow/Haul, Sport, Normal, Off-Road, Baja and Rock Crawl. Drive modes adjust steering feel, transfer case behaviour, stability control, active valve exhaust, active damping system, throttle mapping and transmission shift points, as well as the display on the digital gauge cluster.

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Adam divides his time as an editor between the worlds of aviation and motoring. These worlds may seem a little diverse today, but autonomous technology and future urban mobility is bringing them ever-closer. Adam is also chairman of the Vehicle Dynamics International Awards.

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