2021 Gen-3 Ford F-150 Raptor | Undercarriage Inspection | Weird Stuff Found
There are few trucks that have made a bigger market impact over the past decade than the Ford SVT Raptor F-150. It was so hot from its drop in 2010 that basically ever other truck manufacturer has ripped it off in one way or another. Just look around, how many manufacturers now emboss brick-lettered versions of their company name in a truck grille? And Ford has wisely kept investing in their Premium-Level Cash-Cow Off-Roader over the years. That brings to the current 2021 F-150 Raptor from Ford Performance.
This is the big change for the Gen-3 Raptor is the new coil spring rear suspension which replaced the traditional leaf springs.
While out for a Friday evening cruise recently, I stopped in to harass the guys at 5 Star Tuning. That company is growing so quickly that they’re running out of places to put new employees, but they still find some space for a few new Fords ever couple months. This time around they had two new Ford trucks in for R&D work, a 2021 Ford Maverick (more on that in the future) and a 2021 F-150 Raptor.
The new rear control arms are fully boxed steel units that look extremely stout. Their length should translate to fairly long suspension travel.
The 2021 F-150 ECU encryption has thus far prevented 5 Star from working their typical magic, but they have been adding other mods as they become available. Currently, the truck has a JB4 boost enhancer installed. That resulted in 438.5 HP @ 4850 RPM and 516.7 lb-ft @ 4100 RPM, up from a 384.8 HP @ 4750 RPM and 448.3 lb-ft @ 4200 RPM baseline. There’s way more potential yet to be tapped in the 3.5L HO EcoBoost engine once HP Tuners finds a way to flash the factory computer, and I’m sure 5 Star will have this truck back on the rollers rounding up the stray ponies.
Is the Gen-3 Raptor's new rear suspension built heavily enough for severe off-road duty? I'll let this solid cast iron spring perch answer that question.
However, today we were just taking look at this new Raptor to check out the major changes from the Gen 2 trucks. While the styling updates are somewhat subtle, there are a couple big changes on the greasy side that jump out at you. First, there’s an entirely new coil-sprung rear suspension. The four control arms attaching the Sterling 9.75 axle to the fully-boxed frame are massive. The lower arms actually look somewhat similar to the trailing arm suspension on a NASCAR or trophy truck. The spring mounts are supremely tough cast iron pieces, and it’s all help in place by a track bar. This all combines to produce the best performing, and riding, Ford Raptor yet.
In case you were wondering, the upper rear spring mount is fully perimeter welded to Raptor's fully boxed frame.
The award for weirdest change hands-down has to go to the Gen 3 Raptor’s exhaust system. Not only do we have an O-Pipe than sends the exhaust on a 360 degree circular trip, there’s also a unique 2-In 3-Out muffler. The exhaust freak show doesn’t end there. The 3 pipes come out of the muffler, the two primary ones feature active exhaust valves, and enter what I can best describe as a 5-Limbed X-Pipe. I know, it’s all odd-ball and defies logic.
Here's a good look at the now infamous O-Pipe. Bask in its glory.
The Raptor's muffler is about the size of a VP Racing Fuel can, and is a 3-In-2-Out design. I don't even want to talk about the Post-Muffler X-Pipe.
However, I’m sure doubling the cost of the factory exhaust system was done for good reason. Perhaps to improve the sounds emanating from the V6 engine? Most Ford Performance fans would probably have preferred the engineers just add two more cylinders, but we may have to wait a few more years for that. On EcoBoost powered vehicles I’m personally a fan of keeping the exhaust quiet and making the turbos louder. That may not be the best solution for everyone though.
The frame section above the rear jounce bumper was a noted weak point on the Gen-1 Raptor, and it had been substantially beefed-up on the Gen-3 trucks. Note that it is now double layered.
There's just something about these aluminum front control arms that just scream "Performance and Durability."
Ultimately, the 2021 Raptor is a great looking truck that provides a step up in performance from its predecessor. While 5 Star, and the rest of the aftermarket, are still hampered by the lack of ECU access; that won’t last forever. The Gen 3 Raptor is the most capable one yet, and it’s only going to get better. Expect to see a full review from us in the future, but for now check out this under-hood/body inspection of 5 Star Tuning’s 2021 Raptor:
Even though the guys at 5 Star Tuning don't have access to program the 2021+ F-150 ECU, they still are trying various combinations of products to squeeze more power from their R&D trucks.