If you’re into Ford trucks, then you may have seen recent rumors postulating that Ford will introduce an all-new F-150 Raptor for the 2021 model year. Those reports surmise that the 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor will be a completely new model to coincide with the launch of the next-gen F-150. But there’s ample evidence to suggest that this will actually not be the case. Let’s explore.
It all started in early April. We’re not talking about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that has imprisoned (most of) the world at large in their homes. What we are talking about is a VIN decoder document for the upcoming 2021 Ford F-150. The document, pictured above, contains one line item for a “SuperCrew-Raptor” model, as well as a completely unrelated line that reads “3.5L HEV”, also designating the motor as a “V-6” with “Electric” propulsion. There are those who put those two completely separate line items together to conclude three things.
First, that the 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor will be available exclusively in the SuperCrew cab, ditching the SuperCab body. Second, that the 2021 Raptor will get the aforementioned 3.5L HEV V-6 engine. And third, that Ford’s highly-acclaimed F-150 Raptor was confirmed for a complete makeover. But the VIN decoder doc doesn’t confirm any of those assumptions.
What we do know as fact is that Ford will introduce an all-new F-150 for the 2021 model year, giving its bread-and-butter pickup truck a complete overhaul that includes a redesign and re-engineering. But that does not mean that the Raptor variant will be part of the 2021 model year redesign, since the Raptor always trailed the “regular” F-150 model line in Ford’s strategically-planned launch cadence for its bread-and-butter vehicle. For instance, the current, 13th-generation F-150 launched for the 2015 model year, while the F-150 Raptor came to market for the 2017 model year. There is little evidence to support the notion that the 14th iteration of the F-150 will buck that trend. But wait, that’s not all.
A curious aspect of the the VIN decoder doc is that it doesn’t list the 450-horsepower, 3.5L V-6 GTDI motor – the high-output variant of the 3.5L EcoBoost V-6 currently used in the F-150 Raptor. This seems like a good time to point out that the VIN decoder sheet for the 2021 F-150 was actually created in January of 2020, and the packet that contains it (and VIN decoders for other Ford models) were then sent to NHTSA in March.
Sources familiar with the process surrounding these VIN decoder filings explain to Ford Authority that the documents go through a dozen revisions and submissions before being finalized – and even then, things are still subject to change. In other words, what you see in the VIN doc is not locked in stone, and can change at a moment’s notice.
Here’s how we see things actually playing out: Ford will launch the all-new, 14th-generation F-150 later this year, as planned (though COVID-19 will likely push the timetable back some). However, an all-new Raptor will not be part of that launch. Instead, such a model will likely end up arriving a year or two later.
Supporting that notion is the fact that we have seen the “regular” F-150 testing in many trim and model variants, but have yet to see a single integrated prototype of the next-gen Raptor. If Ford were planning to launch the F-150 Raptor for the 2021 model, year, then its development would have been much farther along at this point.
In all, we won’t be too surprised if the 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor is simply a carry-over of the current, 13th-generation model, one that streamlines the lineup by removing the SuperCab body configuration, leaving the popular SuperCrew as the only cab option. The range-topping truck will likely continue in that guise until the all-new F-150 Raptor, on the 14th-generation F-150 chassis, is ready for prime time.
And to that end, the high-output 3.5L EcoBoost V-6 should likely make its way back to the VIN decoder doc in the near future.