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7 things on the 2021 Ford Raptor you should be really excited about

The Ford Raptor has been redesigned for the 2021 model year.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The 2021 Ford Raptor is here, and like the rest of the 2021 F-150 lineup, it has new technology and new capability. Since I like to go off-roading at high speeds – especially when it's not my truck – I'm excited to see what changes Ford made to its desert pre-runner. After giving the specs a look, talking to some folks at Ford, and eyeing up the photography, I can safely say these are 7 things you should really be excited about for the 2021 Ford Raptor.

Goodbye, leaf springs

One of the biggest functional changes to the 2021 Ford Raptor is also one of the biggest changes overall to the truck. To improve the off-road capability at speed, Ford made the decision to remove the leaf springs from the rear and replace them with a 5-link coil setup. While not surprising – the prototypes running around were obviously running the new setup – it is a big change for Ford in the United States.

Ford uses leaf springs while Ram goes full link coil because the company claims it's better for towing and payload. However, what is good for payload isn't as good for desert dune running. In fact, in global markets, the Ranger Raptor has a link coil setup, while the other Ranger models still use leaf springs.

Fundamentally this should improve ride quality both on and off the road and should improve handling and grip off road.

Available 37-inch tires

The second thing buyers should get excited about is the optional factory 37-inch tires. The BFGoodrich K02s are available in the larger size, improving ground clearance as well as approach and departure angles. The stock 37-inch setup also comes with a beefier Fox front suspension to handle the additional mass of the larger tires. The 37-inch wheels are also bead lock capable.

Updated Fox Racing Shox

Speaking of those Fox Racing Shox, they are updated for the 2021 truck. They come in a 3.1-inch damper up front, with a 1-inch rod diameter on the 37-inch wheel package. In the rear they are 3.1-inch dampers with 0.875-inch rod diameter (which is the same as the front on non-37 trucks).

The software for the continuous dampening has been updated to make the system even more responsive. It can change the dampening rates per corner at 500 times per second. Ford says that is as fast as the human brain can recognize the changes.

The new suspension setup also improves suspension travel. On standard wheel and tire trucks, Raptor gets an impressive 14-inch travel up front and a monstrous 15-inches of travel in the rear. That's 1 more inch front and rear than Ram's TRX. Opting for the 37-inch tires does reduce that to 13 and 14.1-inches, respectively.

Pro Power Onboard generator

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor generator truck bed

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

In addition to the go faster goodies off road, the Raptor has new technology from the 2021 F-150 lineup. For those who take their Raptors camping, a two-kilowatt Pro Power Onboard generator is there to power your campsite. That's enough to power an AC unit for a camper, or a TV and accessories for a tailgate, or really whatever you need. Powered by the truck itself, the generator is a fantastic addition to the F-150 lineup.

New exhaust note

Because one of Raptor's weak points is the sound, Ford changed out the exhaust. While the old truck with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost sounded more like a Focus RS than a trophy truck, an updated active exhaust with a built-in X-pipe and "trombone loop" enhances the sound. Ford provided us with a sound clip (listen above), but we look forward to hearing it in person.

Ford is quite adamant that they were on the right track with the active exhaust when they first sent prototypes out into the wild and discovered that spy photographers thought the truck had a V8. The exhaust has a Quiet, Normal, Sport, and Baja mode.

Driver assist tech

Because many Raptor drivers drive their trucks every day – and some never go off-road – Ford is including a variety of new standard and available driver's assist tech. It's worth getting excited about the prep for Active Drive Assist. When equipped with the software update that's coming, the Raptor will be able to drive on approved, digitally mapped highways without the driver having to keep their hands on the steering wheel. It's tech similar to Cadillac's Super Cruise and has active driver monitoring making it safer than Tesla's own "Full Self-Driving" software.

New graphics packages

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor stickers graphics

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Lastly, worth mentioning, is the 37-inch graphics package for the Raptor. Instead of just offering one set of graphics like in the past, Raptor has several to choose from. The one featured on the orange hero truck has the 37-inch package that includes the number 37 and trail maps on the fenders. If you're into graphics, it's cool to see the variety.

There are tons of other new features on Raptor that also come with the updated 2021 F-150. Overall, the truck features a ton more new tech, features and capability.

You should also be excited about the possibilities for 2022. If you're sad about it only having the 3.5-liter EcoBoost under the hood, Ford said that next year a Raptor R is coming. While they aren't providing any details, it'd make sense for that truck to have a V8 so it can go full-on TRX hunting.

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New off-roader

Ford Bronco Production Officially Begins

The Ford Bronco is finally ready for primetime.

Ford

The time is finally here. After years of speculation and several months of pandemic-related delays, the Ford Bronco is starting to roll off the assembly line. The SUV marks the first new Bronco model in Ford's lineup in 15 years, not counting the Bronco Sport, and is one of the most hyped and sought-after vehicles to hit the market in quite some time. Ford's announcement that production has begun will be accompanied by a special YouTube presentation that Ford says will include interviews with the Bronco team and with reservation holders at the automaker's new Modification Center.


2021 Ford Bronco Ford added 2,700 jobs to support Bronco production.Ford


Bronco production has driven Ford to invest $750 million into its Michigan Assembly Plant, and the automaker says it has added 2,700 jobs to support the rollout. Ford's push to begin production can't come soon enough. Over 125,000 Bronco orders have been placed, and multiple delays have pushed the vehicle's arrival back, meaning there is considerable demand for the off-road legend.

Ford is ready to capitalize on the craze and will offer several ways to customize the new vehicle. At its 1.7 million square-foot Modification Center, The Blue Oval will factory-install several optional modifications that include equipment such as a front bumper safari bar, graphics packages, roof racks, and more. That's on top of more than 200 factory-backed accessories that can be installed at the dealer, either at or after the time of purchase.


2021 Ford Bronco Delays and production difficulties have pushed the Bronco back.Ford


If you are hoping to get behind the wheel of a new Bronco, it could be a while. Even buyers that have been in line for a while now might not see their new vehicle until late 2021 or 2022, and the vehicle's official rollout will almost certainly re-spike demand. Even so, many feel it's worth the wait, and Ford's vehicle configuration tool is live, so go check it out for yourself.

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The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder arrives on dealer lots this summer.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder doesn't have to be capable of rock crawling or deep water fording. What it has to do is service the needs of families in their daily life and give them the opportunity to competently go off-roading on rocky trails should they desire. The new, fifth-generation models does just that and adds in enough nifty features to make it among the most compelling choices for three-row SUV buyers.

The 2022 Pathfinder is thoroughly modern though not the boxy off-roader it once was. The SUV's styling harkens back to that time with a tilted, darkened C-pillar and a return to a more muscular body style. That styling makes straightforward visibility good but for shorter drivers seeing what is immediately in front of the grille is a challenge that necessitates using surround view camera technology (available only in upper trim levels) when navigating challenging terrain.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The Pathfinder can easily handle the roads less traveled.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Under the hood is a 3.5-liter V6 that offers up 291 horsepower and torque - plenty to do the job without complaint. The SUV's nine-speed automatic transmission replaces the continuously variable transmission (CVT) from the previous generation and delivers smooth shifts. Though low-end torque isn't as robust as I like it to be, once up over 35 mph, the Pathfinder's powertrain delivers smooth, powerful sailing.

The redesigned architecture and components underpinning the Pathfinder make it stable on the road and don't allow it to wallow on winding roads. Even off-road, the suspension provides the right blend of stability while the drive dynamics allowing the driver to feel engaged with their surroundings whether on freshly paved roads, city streets, or muddy trails.

Nissan has given the Pathfinder a 6,000-pound towing capacity and even when maxed out the engine's functionality is strong as ever. The transmission can get held up in a gear mid-range when performing this function, however, with 5,000-6,000 rpms registering on the tachometer but a quick release of the gas pedal recalibrates the offering bringing it down to a more traditional 2,000 rpm range.

The eight-seater Pathfinder clearly has the Toyota Highlander in its sights, with good reason. It's the top-selling three-row SUV in the country. Nissan boasts that three adults can fit across the rear bench seat of the Pathfinder and, as long as they're average size or smaller, the marketing talking point holds up. There is gobs more room back there than there is in the Highlander.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder Nissan has given the Pathfinder ample cargo space.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Getting in and out of the third row is easy thanks to one-touch buttons on the outboard side of the second-row chairs that move the SUV's captain's seats forward creating enough room to get through to the back. Smartly, Nissan's engineers have put duplicates of these buttons on the back side of the same seats allowing third-row passengers to simply press the button to move the seat up.

The third row can also be accessed via a split between the captain's chairs as well, a space traditionally occupied by a center stowage bin/cup holders/arm rest. Owners can quickly remove the center console by opening a panel on the front and pulling the release mechanism. The one-handed operation takes seconds and the console can be easily stored in the under-floor trunk space behind the third row seat for ease.

Speaking of cargo space... The Pathfinder is one of the most spacious midsize SUVs on the market today for both passengers and cargo. There is a substantial amount of room behind the third-row seat and the under-floor storage area is nearly twice the size of the one in the Highlander. Plus, it has a feature that allows the area cover to be automatically propped up when pushed up by a user. This is especially help when carrying groceries or plants home and keeps them from being crushed.

The first- and second-row seats are suitably comfortable, even for extended periods of time and standard trig-zone climate control makes finding the right in-cabin mix easy. Bottle holders in the pockets of the front doors are exceptionally large, fitting even bulky water bottles.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The Pathfinder's front row seats are comfortable.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

In front of the driver is a standard tachometer, speedometer, and 7.0-inch driver information display. Buyers can upgrade to a fully digital 12.3-inch instrument cluster and head-up display but they're not reason enough to upgrade to the top-tier Pathfinder Platinum on their own.

Nissan packs the new Pathfinder with a host of desirable features that make living with the Pathfinder easier including one-touch auto up/down windows, a wireless phone charger, grocery hooks in the rear cargo area, USB ports in all three rows, second-row sunshades, rear door keyless entry, wireless Apple CarPlay, and a motion-activated lift gate.

The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is priced to start at $33,410 for the two-wheel drive S base model and $35,310 for the four-wheel drive S base model. The model tops out around $50,000 with destination and delivery included, which seems fair when comparing the Pathfinder to other vehicles in the market.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The Pathfinder can tow up to 6,000 pounds.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

If you're thinking of purchasing a Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride, Honda Pilot, or Highlander, do yourself a favor and schedule a test drive of the new Pathfinder when it arrives at a dealer lot near you. You may just be surprised how seamlessly it fits into your daily life compared to the competition.

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