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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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The IIHS may increase the speeds it uses to test advanced driver aids.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently announced that it is considering changing the speeds it uses to test vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention systems. The agency currently tests the systems at 12 and 25 mph, but says that the speeds don't accurately represent the types of crashes the safety tech is meant to prevent.

Front crash preventionwww.youtube.com

Automatic emergency braking (AEB) is designed to notify of a possible collision and help respond with automatic application of braking. Just like a human using the brake pedal, it can stop the car, but higher speeds make it difficult to stop in time. The new tests would be conducted at 35 to 45 mph, which is the range where a large number of rear-end crashes occur. As Automotive News noted, an IIHS study showed 43 percent of rear-end crashes occur at speeds of 45 mph or less, so it's important to have a test that shows how well the tech performs at those levels.

A whopping 85 percent of 2022 vehicles earned a "Superior" rating in the current testing regime, so the IIHS will remove it from 2023 testing and Top Safety Pick award evaluations. Their view is that, since the majority of vehicles meet the criteria, it's no longer an accurate way of evaluating performance. In its place, the agency introduced a night test for automatic emergency braking systems that will begin next year.

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Lincoln will not make a performance variant to compete with Cadillac.

Lincoln

TheLincoln Navigator and Cadillac Escalade have been duking it out at the top of luxury SUV rankings for decades, but there’s one area of the Caddy’s development that Lincoln won’t touch. In a recent interview, a company executive told Ford Authority that it has no plans to create a performance variant of the Navigator to compete with the upcoming Escalade V from Cadillac.

2022 Lincoln NavigatorThe new Navigator features several upscale touches and excellent tech. Lincoln

That means the Navigator will stick with the powertrain it’s carried for years, which is a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine that makes 440 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired with a smooth ten-speed automatic and either rear- or four-wheel drive. While there’s more than enough power to get the hulking Lincoln moving, it’s not a powertrain that inspires excitement or engagement, and though beefy, it’s tuned much more for comfort and quietness than drama.

Though more than adequate, those specs are a far cry from the numbers we expect from the Escalade V. The full-size bruiser from Cadillac is expected to get a supercharged 6.2-liter V8, similar to the unit seen in the CT5-V Blackwing and Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. We don’t know power numbers yet, but the engine should deliver horsepower and torque numbers in the high 600s.

Cadillac Escalade VThe Escalade V will be massively powerful. Cadillac

That Lincoln is taking a different approach isn’t surprising. The automaker has already announced its intention to go all-electric, so pouring more time and resources into creating a performance gas-powered SUV isn’t in line with its goals. Company executives have also expressed a desire to avoid imitating rivals, so the decision to leave a performance Navigator behind is not surprising.

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