Ford surfed the downsizing wave sweeping across the industry when it put a twin-turbocharged V6 under the hood of the second-generation F-150 Raptor launched for 2017. It's allegedly about to backpedal by releasing the third-generation model with a massive, 700-plus-horsepower V8 borrowed from the Mustang GT500.
Tentatively due out for the 2021 model year, the hotly-anticipated Raptor will be powered by a 5.2-liter V8 supercharged to make anywhere between 725 and 750 horsepower, according to an anonymous source at Ford who spoke to a "well-sourced informant" who spoke to The Drive. That's a remarkable increase over the outgoing truck, whose 3.5-liter six delivers 450 horses, and a slight drop compared to the GT500, which puts 760 horsepower under the driver's right foot.
It's reasonable to assume the Raptor will again boast a comprehensive list of suspension upgrades, a set of beefy tires, and a model-specific design. Ford certainly isn't about to tone it down. Whether buyers are demanding supercar-like power is a moot point, because the firm's main priority is one-upping the rival Ram TRX.
"Honestly, we had to counter Ram once we knew it installed the Hellcat in the TRX," an insider told The Drive. As the publication pointed out, recent spy shots suggest the Blue Oval will also install coil springs in the back.
Inttroduced days ago, the Ram 1500 TRX stands proud as the Raptor's first direct rival. It's based on the Ram 1500, and it receives a 702-horsepower variant of the supercharged, 6.2-liter Hellcat V8 found in a growing number of cars. Response to the truck has been overwhelmingly positive; Ram sold the 702 units of the Launch Edition model priced at $90,265 in merely three hours. Ford's new V8-powered Raptor will likely be just as successful.
Official details about the next Raptor are few and far between. It will be based on the 14th-generation F-150, and rumors claiming it will again offer a V8 have been swirling around Dearborn for several months. Ford has been quiet about the truck; it confirmed the nameplate will return, and it told us it will share more "at a later date."
We're curious to find out what effect the GT500's V8 will have on pricing, which currently starts at $55,150 including a mandatory $1,695 destination charge. For context, Ram's starting price is $71,690 for the TRX, including the same destination charge. Could the extra cylinders bump the Raptor's price above the $70,000 threshold? It's not unfeasible, though Ford would risk alienating customers. Another possibility (and one that's purely speculative) is that there might be cheaper, less powerful variant of the next Raptor priced in the vicinity of $55,000. Ram hinted it hasn't ruled out delivering a TRX with a naturally-aspirated engine, though it won't be offered at launch.
Or, could Ford move the Raptor upmarket and fill the void with the next Ranger Raptor? It's not impossible, either, especially because rumors claim the truck will finally arrive on American shores in the coming years.
What's certain is that, if the 1960s were the golden age of the muscle car, it looks like the 2020s are the muscle truck's time to shine. What remains to be seen is what — if anything — General Motors will pelt onto the ring.