The 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor restores the monster truck hierarchy

The 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor is back to reclaim lost glory. Ford's third-generation Baja-inspired monster truck is returning with a new set of legs, a host of new tech, and loads of attitude to match. Raptor fans are also expecting more power and the return of Ford's supercharged V8, but the American carmaker is yet to reveal the official power figures.

Here's what's sure, though: Raptor will still get Ford's venerable 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 from the Ford GT supercar, but the third-gen engine is promising more low-end torque and an EPA-estimated range of 500 miles on a full tank of gas.

The engine is connected to a 10-speed automatic transmission sending power to all four wheels via a torque-on-demand transfer case. The rear wheels have a standard electronic locking differential to improve grip, while the Raptor is available with a Torsen front limited-slip differential.

"Raptor is the original desert truck. We just took it to another level," said Ali Jammoul, Ford Performance vehicle program director. "The all-new Raptor splices high-speed off-road performance muscle with advanced technology and connectivity that comes together in a unique Built Ford Tough way."

Underneath, the 2021 Ford Raptor has a new five-link rear suspension with extra-long trailing arms, a Panhard rod, and 24-inch coil springs, while double wishbones suspend the front. New to the Raptor are next-gen Fox Live Valve internal bypass shock absorbers with electronic position-sensitive damping adjustability. The shocks are the largest-ever fitted to the Raptor and can relentlessly change the damping rates at each wheel up to 500 times per second, about the same speed the human brain processes visual information, said Ford.

"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," said Carl Widmann, Ford Performance chief engineer. "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."

Ford is offering the Raptor with a choice between 35-inch or 37-inch tires for the first time. If you choose the former, the Raptor can clear 12-inch obstacles while improving the approach angle, departure angle, and break over angle by 31-degrees, 23.9-degrees, and 22.7-degrees, respectively. Simultaneously, wheel travel improves by 25-percent over the first-gen Raptor, with 14-inches at the front and 15-inches at the back. Choose the larger 37-inch tires, though, and you get 13.1-inches of ground clearance along with a 33.1-degree approach angle, 24.9-degrees of departure angle, and a break over angle of 24.4-degrees.

Also new to the 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor is an equal length active exhaust system. It has a built-in X-Pipe with active valves to virtually function as a pass-through muffler at full chat, while the mid-pipe features a 'Trombone Loop' with a 3-inch exhaust pipe. The electronic valves allow four different sound levels: Quiet, Normal, Sport, and Baja, the latter being the loudest and most hardcore among the four. This means you can discreetly leave your driveway in the morning while having the option to crank up some noise when it's time to play.

The 2021 Ford Raptor is based on the fourteenth-generation F-150 and is available in SuperCrew body style with a 145-inch wheelbase. It has a fully-boxed steel frame with a high-strength aluminum-alloy composite body. New to the Raptor is a power dome hood, a blacked-out front grille with LED position markers, and new headlights. Ford is kind enough to install a wider front skid plate to protect critical engine components from damage.

Meanwhile, technology is at the forefront of Ford's new monster truck. The standard Terrain Management System has seven drive modes to alter the truck's behavior over varying terrain. It has a customizable 12-inch digital instrument cluster with Raptor-specific graphics and animations. It also has a 12-inch center touchscreen powered by SYNC 4 with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. Standard in the 2021 Raptor is Ford's Trail 1-Pedal Drive system that uses the gas pedal to modulate both the throttle and the brakes when crawling over demanding terrain. Best of all, the new Raptor has over-the-air updates (OTA) to unlock more off-road tech in the future.

Inside, the new Ford Raptor features better interior materials and more storage space. Seats with large bolsters are standard, while Recaro bucket seats remain available. Ford is also offering an available fold-flat rear storage vault under the rear seats, roomy enough to store high-lift jacks and recovery ropes.

The 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor arrives at U.S. dealerships this summer, while Ford promises the Raptor R (hopefully with the Shelby GT500's supercharged V8 engine) is entering the stage early next year, so the Ram TRX better watch out. Pricing and other information will follow suit, but we're expecting base prices to start at $53,000 to $54,000.

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor Gallery