2021 F-150 Raptor 37 | Full Review | Ford's Ever Improving Top-Tier Off-Roader

SID297

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2021 F-150 Raptor 37 | Full Review | Ford's Ever Improving Top-Tier Off-Roader

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Few modern trucks have had a greater impact on the market than the SVT F-150 Raptor. When Jamal and the crew were working to build the original, success was anything but guaranteed. Many inside Ford and in the enthusiast community believed it would be a flop. Yet here we are with the 3rd Generation of Full-Size Raptor and it represents the benchmark by which all others are measured. Just think to yourself, how many manufacturers have knocked-off the design of the grille? How are resale values holding? I’d say it’s been a success, and the Gen 3 adds to that lineage.

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It's a subtle difference, but the 37s make a bold statement. Their addition to the Raptor was a no-brainer.


For 2021, the F-150 Raptor gets some major underpinning modifications. The drivetrain is largely a carryover from the Gen 2 (a 3.5L EcoBoost HO making 450 hp @ 5,850 rpm and 510 lb-ft of torque @ 3,000), but the rear suspension is completely new. Gone are the traditional leaf springs. In their place is a coil-sprung 5 –Link (four long control arms and a panhard bar) system backed up by 3.1-Inch active valved Fox Racing Shocks. While Ford isn’t the first to use this style rear suspension on a truck, the Gen 3 Raptor has essentially perfected it.

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The updated 2021 F-150 interior is equipped to perfection in this loaded out Raptor.


I’ve had the pleasure of driving every generation of the Raptor both on and off road, and all they do is keep get better. The Gen 1 set the stage for factory trucks to pull off sweet jumps, the Gen 2 brought more power and much better balance, the Gen 3 takes control at speed to new heights. The revised front suspension geometry and completely new rear design combine to create gobs more confidence at the limit. I have difficulty finding words to describe the difference, but I think it’s readily apparent mid-way through this video:


Producing these vids is a ton of work, but I enjoy the process. I hope you guys like them.


The 2021 F-150 brought with it a completely new interior that is very well appointed, but the dash layout at a glance appears very similar to the outgoing model. Think of it as an evolution of an already good design. The massive center screen is the obvious attention draw, while the fully digital cluster display is a welcome addition. The Raptor’s Recaro seats are as comfortable as they are stylish. They are easily the best seats offered in an F-150, and I’ll be keeping my eyes open for a set to snag for a future project. Wind and road noise are minimal, and the engine is now capable of making some respectable sounds.

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Blue interiors are making a comeback. The Recaro seats are a welcome addition to the Gen 3 Raptor.


That’s in large part due to the massively redesigned exhaust system the Gen 3 Raptor received. We covered that much more extensively in a Previous Article (with Video), so we’ll just give a quick refresher here. Ford added an O-Pipe in order to equalize the length of the pipes, while also spec’ing a 2-in-3-out muffler and a post-muffler X-Pipe with electric exhaust flow control valves. The result is several choices of user selectable exhaust modes, the racier of which makes the Raptor’s 3.5L EcoBoost V6 sound very much like a Nissan GTR. While it’s not the sweet rumble of a V8, it is a marked improvement over the Gen 2 Raptor notes.

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The Gen 3 Raptor front end is aggressive, to say the least.


All the above combine to make the Raptor still the best driving F-150 model available, which has been the case dating all the way back to the Gen 1. Its smooth and responsive on-road manners lead it to feel like a much smaller vehicle. Where you notice its size is off-road. Unfortunately, there are very few challenging trails in my area that can support a rig of the Raptor’s width unless you really like the distressed-paint look. Still, we were able to get it out into some sand where it had absolutely no problems. This is the king daddy of Ford half-tons, so that is to be expected. The BFG 37s are hungry, feed them some terrain.

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The Code Orange paint really pops, but I prefer the old Gen 1 Molten Orange option.


Where the Raptor really shines is in its ability to smooth out rough terrain at high speed. I’m happy to report that the best just keeps getting better. I’ve never driven a factory vehicle that feels more planted at speed on a wash-board road than the Gen 3 Raptor. The faster you go the more this thing feels like it’s glued to the trail. The steering it point and shot, and the throttle unloads gobs of torque on demand. Trails that would force me to slow to 15MPH in my F-350 were easily traversed at 75+MPH in the Raptor. Make no mistake, the updates Ford has made to the Gen 3 (many of which will also be found on the Bronco Raptor) are the real deal.

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This is a more appropriate environment for the Raptor. This thing loves the sand. Tucks that rear wheel nicely.


The only place I can say I was left wanting with this 2021 F-150 Raptor test truck was in the power delivery department. It’s no secret at this point that I detest the tuning ford applies to the 10R80 transmission. 1-to-3 skip shift is trash, and ruins driving in normal mode for any Ford equipped with it. You can move to sport mode, which greatly improves the driving experience, but then you lose smooth coasting an braking because the truck wants to needlessly engine brake. All we really need is ECU access and a mild tune, then the Gen 3 Raptor would be nearly perfect. That would fix all the trans issues and add about 50HP/50TQ. All would be appreciated.

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These are some of the best lights on any new Ford. The fog lights by Ridged Industries are a nice touch.


While this 37 equipped Gen 3 Raptor may not be the V8 fire breather some were hoping for (more on that in the future) it is certainly a welcomed addition to the Ford Performance family. It is every bit as much a performance vehicle as the GT500 Mustang is, it just performs is a different medium. Much like every other factory muscle offering, the Raptor is capable of feats far beyond the abilities (and possibly the sensibilities) of your average driver. However, if you’re willing to hang it out and push your limits you’ll find that the Raptor can take you places you’ve only imagined. In this case, the best does just keep getting better.

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Coil springs are a pretty big change for the F-150, but they put in serious work on the Raptor.
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These Fox 3.1 Shocks are the star of the show, and take a look at those control arms.

For more Gen 3 Raptor info, check out this article ::


-SID297

Photos by StacyStangz
(the good ones) and SID297 (the ones shot with a potato)



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TORQUERULES

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I have tunes now from Unleashed on my Ranger that has normal very much like tow/haul as far as how much it holds rpm until it shifts (not as aggressive as Sport which is often too aggressive for anything besides giving it hell), but without as much engine braking, but downshifts on demand with no hesitation. Took a while to get it right, but Torrie was patient and worked with me. Then tow/haul adds a little engine braking to the mix which makes it very nice for rural roads and town, then Sport which on the Ranger is quite aggressive.
 

CobraBob

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Great review, Sid. There are so many things that I love about this F-150 Raptor, but I've never been a truck guy, and have never owned a truck. If I was to buy one, the Raptor would be at the very top of my list. I do like the darker blue interior. When I bought my GV70, I almost went with the Ultramarine Blue interior, which I think looks great. But I ended up going with Obsidian Black. Sometimes I wish I had gone with the blue.

The interior in this Raptor is so well done. Very rich looking. Very functional. And....it allows for the additional of a Console Vault gun safe.
 

TORQUERULES

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I don't like the grade braking of tow/haul mode unless I'm towing something heavy enough for it to actually help.

That's why I did not just have Torrie at Unleashed just copy over tow/haul strategies to the normal drive mode. Instead we concentrated on getting it to log less and stretch its legs a little more before shifting at part throttle. Plus NO skip shift.
 

SID297

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Great review, Sid. There are so many things that I love about this F-150 Raptor, but I've never been a truck guy, and have never owned a truck. If I was to buy one, the Raptor would be at the very top of my list. I do like the darker blue interior. When I bought my GV70, I almost went with the Ultramarine Blue interior, which I think looks great. But I ended up going with Obsidian Black. Sometimes I wish I had gone with the blue.

The interior in this Raptor is so well done. Very rich looking. Very functional. And....it allows for the additional of a Console Vault gun safe.

Thanks Bob.

That's why I did not just have Torrie at Unleashed just copy over tow/haul strategies to the normal drive mode. Instead we concentrated on getting it to log less and stretch its legs a little more before shifting at part throttle. Plus NO skip shift.

That'll do it.
 

TORQUERULES

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Actually I kind of like the downshifts and extra engine braking in tow/haul, at least on the Ranger, it shifts a lot like you would shift a manual if it was available. Seems to always be in the right gear when you have to get back on the accelerator. Zero lugging. Which is a good thing for a DI turbo engine. LSPI is the devil always lurking...
 

DriftwoodSVT

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While I like the 37 package, $5250 for it seems a bit much. The difference between 35s and 37s isn't nearly that much.
 

svtfocus2cobra

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I love the addition of the blue interior. Reminds me of the Lincoln Continental interior.
 

DriftwoodSVT

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There's actually more to it than just a set of tires. There's a decent amount of hard parts and suspension tuning involved.

OK, I wasn't sure since the info on Fords page is pretty vague with the details. They only mention 'Sport tuned shock absorbers' which is probably the same FOX 3.0 shocks the normal Raptor has.

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