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A red 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor is shown in the air after going over a dirt jump.

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor and 2021 Ram 1500 TRX: Which Off-Road Beast Has the Edge?

In 2009, America’s truck leader, Ford Motor Company, introduced the off-road masterpiece F-150 Raptor. The iconic truck was designed to race through rough terrain and was the original desert truck. The 2021 Raptor is entering its third generation, and Ford has taken the born-again truck to the next level. The all-new Raptor promises to speed across the desert even faster, catch more air on jumps, and look as aggressive as ever. However, how does it stack up when put against the competition. The battle of the 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor vs 2021 Ram 1500 TRX is sure to be fierce.

Thanks to the rivalry between the Raptor and the Ram 1500 TRX, Ford upped the ante in its recent redesign by increasing performance and capability. Based on the popular regular F-150 series pickup truck, the Raptor is loaded, and we mean loaded, with an arsenal of performance features sure to impress even hardcore off-roaders. In addition to upgraded off-road equipment, the interior enjoys increased and updated technology. But just how do the Raptor and Ram 1500 TRX compare in terms of features and performance?

What is New for the 2021 Raptor

The new generation Ford F-150 Raptor is here. At first glance, it doesn’t look dramatically different than the 2020 model, but upon closer examination, you will notice that the hood has a new heat extractor and side vents that actually function at the top of the fender. It is easy to see that the design was inspired by the F-22 Raptor fighter jet. Other exterior updates include a cosmetically enhanced front and rear fascia, which goes a long way in giving the Raptor a look that says, “Don’t mess with me.”

The Ford F-150 Raptor also gets a new interior for the 2021 model year. A few interior highlights include a 12-inch touchscreen infotainment system, a fully digital gauge cluster, and a shifter that will fold flat into the center console. Ford went all-in tech with the latest version of the SYNC infotainment and connectivity system (the SYNC 4) and the introduction of the over-the-air (OTA) updates. The SYNC 4 now incorporates cloud-based services that are enabled by the FordPass Connect ecosystem. SYNC 4 boasts twice the computing power of SYNC 3, offers improved multitasking capabilities, and allows multiple apps to be displayed on the screen.

There’s more; the Raptor is also more capable than ever in off-road conditions thanks to a new five-link coil-spring setup that has replaced the old leaf spring suspension and available 37-inch tires. Since the truck is aimed for off-roading and high-speed desert running, wheel travel is critical. As such, class-leading 24-inch coils were employed for greater suspension travel. The 37-inch tires on 17-inch wheels are the largest ever to be fitted on a light-duty pickup truck and gives the Raptor 13.1 inches of ground clearance, but even the standard 35-inch tires net 12 inches of ground clearance, which is still better than the TRX. And as far as tire size, the TRX offers 18-inch wheels mounted with 35-inch tires.

A silver 2021 Ram TRX is kicking up sand as part of the 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor vs 2021 Ram 1500 TRX comparison.

Power, Payload, and Tearing Up the Trails

The 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor features a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6; mind you, it is an updated version. However, at this time, horsepower and torque are not available, but it is expected to exceed 450 horsepower. For anyone hoping for a V8 that will compete with the TRX’s 6.2-liter Hellcat V8, you will have to wait until next year. It is rumored that Ford is working on a V8 for the Raptor, known as the Raptor R, that will top the Hellcat’s 702 horsepower.

Still, the current V6 is quite impressive in its own right. With a towing capacity of 8,200 pounds, it still tops the best the Hellcat has to offer by 100 pounds. This is quite impressive, considering you are comparing a V6 to a V8. As far as payload, the Raptor once again tops the TRX’s 1,350 pounds with a max of 1,400 pounds.

While towing capacity and payload are always boast-worthy fodder for truck enthusiasts, the Raptor just isn’t what you would consider a working man’s truck. That is, you don’t buy the Raptor for its towing capacity; you buy it because of its off-road abilities and the fact it is designed to fly across loose sand and sail over dry river beds. That’s right, the Raptor flies, and Ford just took the Raptor to a whole new level. While the Raptor has always been a beefed up and modified F-150, Ford upped the ante with the 2021 model with a whole new frame. To be sure, the new frame was designed to accommodate the new and improved rear suspension and further revised to fit a 37-inch spare tire, but it is still a significant change.

A red 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor is driving on sand in front of mountains.

Inside the Belly of the Beast

The forces at Ford Motor Company thought it was important that you are comfortable while storming through desserts, mashing it up on mountain trails, and flying through the air, so they made sure the Raptor enjoyed a comfortable and connected interior. At the base level, fabric and leather seats offer large upper and lower side bolsters, probably to keep you better secured while jumping over sand dunes. The higher levels boast suede accents on the seats, and you can even choose Recaro bucket seats.

The Raptor sports a performance steering wheel that features paddle shifters and controls to access exhaust system modes and drive modes. The exhaust modes are designed to make the engine sound more appealing and fierce. The Raptor’s active exhaust offers quiet, normal, sport, and Baja settings that are changeable depending on your preference or drive mode.

As you are sitting in the Raptor, you will notice Raptor-specific graphics on the digital instrument cluster, which is a nice touch. In addition to the 12-inch cluster screen, a second 12-inch screen houses the infotainment system, which employs a 360-degree camera, offers traffic updates, and boasts wireless Apple AirPlay and Android Auto. And as mentioned earlier, the system is employed with SYNC 4, and the over-the-air updates include future trail maps.

Both the Ford Raptor and Ram TRX are filled with cool features like heated seats, impressive infotainment systems, and adaptive cruise control. One difference that sets them apart is the massive 12-inch digital gauge cluster employed by the Raptor. The 7.0-inch digital information screen in the TRX rather pales in comparison to what Ford is offering.

Breaking the Bank

Both the 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor and the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX are off-road beasts with impressive technologies. You can spend hours reading up on their specs to see which one is better, but in the end, they both fare quite well, and both are class leaders. There is also a lot we don’t know about the 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor, but we do know that it is evident that Ford made some significant improvements and upgrades over the 2020 model. If you don’t care so much about efficiency and price, then you might lean towards the TRX. But if you desire a truck with a high level of off-road capabilities and on-road efficiency at a much better price, then you should look into the Ford Raptor.

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