Caution: What you’re about to read may be speculation…but hear us out, because we’ve been doing some digging, a little bench racing, a fair amount of dreaming and maybe, just maybe, we’re onto something.
As you probably know by now, some months ago, Ford pulled the covers off the 2021 Ford F-150, an all-new design with significant updates like new sheet metal (still aluminum), a wider track, tons of tech, a plush interior, and updated powertrains like a hybrid setup, available Pro Power Onboard generators and more. But what was absent from the launch and is still hidden under a veil of secrecy (even as the 2021 models hit dealerships) is the new Raptor. Is Ford planning a mild refresh or perhaps something more extreme? Dive down the rabbit hole with us and see what we find.
Two Engines: Pick Your Poison
We have a hunch that FoMoCo might be planning significant upgrades to the powertrain for the next Raptor, and according to the rumor mill, they’ll make not one, but two engines available. Why two engines? And what ones might Ford choose? Again, we’re only speculating here, but we think the base engine will be a hybridized EcoBoost V6 with an optional, more expensive, and more powerful V8.
An updated V6 makes sense, since the last generation 3.5 EcoBoost was capable, well-liked, and more fuel efficient than the 6.2L V8 it replaced. Not to mention, Ford has gone all-in with the EcoBoost engines and their impressive performance results speak for themselves.
So why would Ford possibly add a V8 again? For starters, while many second generation Raptor owners are happy with their EcoBoost V6s, there’s a vocal subset of enthusiasts who will settle for nothing outside a high-performance V8, and we’d wager Ford is well aware of these gearheads.
Let’s also address the elephant (or dinosaur) in the room — the newly released RAM TRX, a Hellcat-powered competitor with 702 horsepower, 650 lb-ft of torque, full-time AWD, active dampers and a seriously stout frame. It may have taken RAM a decade to respond to the Raptor, but their response is a proper one. True, the TRX hasn’t survived the Baja 1000 like the Raptor did, or been proven worthy in the hands of the public yet, but by every measure, it’s a serious truck. So it makes sense that Ford might decide to add an optional V8 with similar power levels.
As for which V6 and V8, this is where it gets fun. All aboard the speculation train!
The V6 Route
The EcoBoost V6 was such a success in the outgoing Raptor that it only makes sense that Ford would stick with the platform and hit it with some upgrades. While one might think it’s automatically going to be an updated version of the current 3.5L TT EcoBoost V6, we wonder otherwise. Here are the three avenues we could see Ford going with the V6 powertrain.
Scenario 1: Updated 3.5L EcoBoost V6
This makes the most sense from a packaging, performance, and cost-efficiency standpoint. We already know the engine fits in the chassis, has great torque and solid power, is light enough to keep the chassis level in flight (too much nose weight makes for a lawn dart when jumping) and is fuel efficient enough when out of boost to not hurt the CAFE fuel mileage standards all manufacturers must meet.
If Ford goes this route, we could see the 3.5L HO engine receiving some bigger turbos and other modifications to improve airflow in search of more power and torque across the board. This would make for a serious upgrade over the current powertrain while preserving similar driving characteristics.
Possible Power: 500-550 horsepower and 600 lb-ft of torque
Pros: Proven combination, no additional weight, lots of torque, good power, respectable fuel mileage
Cons: No V8 sound, not going to make over 700 horsepower like its competitor
Bottom Line: This seems like the most likely route since we already know it fits in the engine bay, is tried and true, and with some simple tweaks, the engine could easily bump the performance of the new Raptor up to new heights
Likelihood: Very likely
Possible Proof: Here’s a video with a Gen 3 Raptor prototype cruising about, and while the headlines tease the possibility of a V8, if you ask us, it sounds just like the current 3.5L EcoBoost V6. Turn up the volume and give it a listen. What do you think?
This option makes as much sense as the first scenario for many of the same reasons, except it offers additional torque and even better fuel economy. Unfortunately, it also comes with a weight penalty.
We already know that the regular 2021 F-150 with the standard 3.5L EcoBoost (non-HO motor) can be outfitted with an optional hybrid PowerBoost setup that uses a 1.5-kilowatt-per-hour battery and 35-kilowatt electric motor. The hybrid setup pushes power and torque up from the non-hybrid’s 400 horsepower and 500 lb-ft of torque to 430 horsepower and 570 lb-ft of torque for gains of 30 horses and 70 lb-ft torque.
If Ford goes this route, this would seem to fit into the Raptor just as easily as the standard F-150 and could add the same amount of power and torque, or possibly even more if turned up.
The downside is the weight, as poking around on the specs pages of the Ford website shows us that the hybrid option adds roughly 560 pounds to the truck. Added weight is never great for performance, especially jumping, running over bumps at 100 mph and for acceleration. But at least the bulk of the weight would be centralized and low in the chassis, as the electric motor is integrated into the transmission, and the battery is under the rear portion of the cab.
Possible Power: 500-600 horsepower and 600-700 lb-ft of torque
Pros: Keeps weight off the nose (better for jumping), lots of torque, great fuel mileage (especially in town), cutting-edge technology, optional Pro Power Onboard
Cons: Additional weight, additional complexity, no V8 sound, not likely to make over 700 horsepower like its competitor
Bottom Line: This seems about as likely as the non-hybrid version of an updated 3.5 EB engine for many of its same merits and we already know the hybrid easily fits the standard F-150. One might say it’s mean and green; fast when you want it, frugal when you want that too.
Likelihood: Very likely
Possible Proof: See previous scenario video link
Scenario 3: Hybridized 3.0L EcoBoost V6
This engine wasn’t on our radar until we watched the videos below, and realized the prototype Raptor in the first video sounds nearly identical to both the Ford GT’s V6 and the 3.0L EcoBoost V6 found in the Ford Explorer ST and the Lincoln Aviator. While a Ford GT supercar engine under the hood of the next Raptor would be insane, we’d guess those engines are simply too costly for this application, so we’re more inclined to lean toward the 3.0L EcoBoost here.
A step back in displacement from the current 3.5L V6 doesn’t make sense, especially in a heavy truck that also needs the ability to tow, but the smaller 3.0L EcoBoost is an impressive option making 400 horsepower and 415 lb-ft of torque on boost alone. In the Aviator, with an optional hybrid setup utilizing a 13.6-kilowatt-per-hour battery and 75-kilowatt motor, those figures jump to 494 horses and 630 lb-ft of torque, resulting in a gain of 94 horsepower and a stout 215 lb-ft of torque.
Like all hybrids, the increase in torque would be a welcomed addition, but it also adds weight. Checking the hybrid option on the Aviator adds nearly 800 pounds to the curb weight, which isn’t insignificant, especially in a performance truck like the Raptor. Sure, the additional weight would likely be centralized and low in the chassis, which is better than adding weight over the nose, but mass, is, well, mass.
Pros: Lots of torque, good fuel mileage, keeps weight off the nose
Cons: No V8 sound, adds nearly 800 pounds, not going to make over 700 horsepower like its competitor
Bottom Line: This doesn’t seem like a likely engine, but listen to both of the videos and tell us what you think. Sounds pretty close, huh?
Likelihood: Somewhat likely
Explorer ST with 3.0 EcoBoost and Exhaust:
The V8 Route
When Ford dropped the 6.2L naturally aspirated modular V8 in 2016 for the current EcoBoost V6, it created a divide in the performance community. Nobody could argue with the increased performance, the decreased weight over the nose, or the marked improvement in fuel economy when cruising, but some just couldn’t warm up to its unique sound and its unnatural power curve (tons of thrust down low that tapers with RPM). We won’t bore you with an engineering dictation as to why, but V8 powerplants tend to sound better and have that muscle car soul. So when rumors began to surface that Ford might return a V8 to the Raptor’s engine bay, V8 fans began to rejoice.
We can only guess why Ford would add the V8 again, but as mentioned earlier, we know that Ford recognizes what enthusiasts want, and they certainly aren’t going to leave the TRX unanswered. But here’s where the rumors get even more interesting. We hear that Ford could not only make a V8 engine an option, but that it would be a limited production option, which means it would certainly be a premium offering. Which V8 might Ford choose? Well, we have a couple of ideas.
The rumor mill has been swirling for months that Ford’s answer to the Hellcat-powered TRX will be a slightly de-tuned version of the supercharged 5.2L Predator V8 found in the 2020 GT500 where it makes 760 horsepower and 625 lb-ft of torque. Rumor has it the engine would be de-tuned to around 725-750 horsepower to cope with the unique rigors of long stints of loaded WOT pulls in the sand and other extreme situations that can be crippling to a highly tuned engine.
If you’re looking for an easy power answer to the TRX, look no further, as this engine already makes big power. We already know a Coyote fits under the hood of an F-150, so the added height of the blower could be the only packaging concern that should be easily addressed.
Sure, the Predator makes insane peak power numbers, but it’s not without its possible downsides in a Raptor application either. While it makes 625 lb-ft of torque, it does so at a lofty 5000 rpm, and power under the curve is crucial in a heavy truck that needs torque to turn its big tires in thick sand. Additionally, the GT500 engine is an engineering marvel, but it isn’t cheap (while providing great value per horsepower, the coming Predator crate engine is said to cost north of $20K), which would lead credence to Ford making a limited number of V8 Raptors that could be offered for a bit more money than a V6-powered Raptor.
Another obstacle we could potentially see would be the drivetrain; can the Raptor’s 10R80 transmission and transfer case take upwards of 700 horsepower and 600 lb-ft of torque? Would Ford make it full-time all-wheel-drive like the TRX, or could they get their current setup to hold, giving people an insane option to have a 700+ horsepower two-wheel-drive truck with selectable four-wheel-drive?! Lastly, we hate to talk about fuel mileage, but the GT500 is known to be thirsty when pushed, like single-digit thirsty, and throwing that engine in a heavy truck with big wheels could affect fuel consumption even further. We know fuel mileage doesn’t top the list of most gearheads’ concerns, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t at least mention it.
Possible Power: 725-750 horsepower and 600-625 lb-ft of torque
Pros: Proven combo, lots of power, and does it really get any cooler than a Shelby motor?!
Cons: Torque peak is high in the powerband, expensive, heavy, and can the current Raptor drivetrain handle this kind of power?
Bottom Line: Of all the V8 options, this seems like the most likely. It already makes the power needed to top the TRX, we know the Coyote-based V8s fit in the engine bay and, come on, how cool would a Raptor be with a Shelby V8 in it?!
Possible Proof: None, just a bunch of rumors
In our humble opinion, this one feels like a bit of a long shot, even though it would be pretty cool. While the big-block 7.3L Godzilla V8 is a mighty monster making 430 horsepower and 475 lb-ft of torque in a de-tuned truck state, we see too many obstacles to efficiently making it work in the Raptor.
Packaging concerns seem like a non-issue. Sure, it’s much taller than a Coyote, but it’s also much narrower too, and height isn’t much of an issue in a truck engine bay either. The Godzilla makes a ton of torque down low, right where you want it in a truck, and surprisingly gets decent mileage when towing, which is a good indicator that when driven in anger, it would do decently well on fuel too. In short, we think it’d fit and has favorable characteristics for a truck, but we have a hunch its 538 pounds (a Coyote weighs 445) is too much for a Raptor that’s made to jump, and without boost (which adds even more weight), it’s just not going to make enough power to run up against the competition.
Ford could easily boost power and torque without boost, but even adding 100-150 horsepower isn’t going to be enough, and anything more in all-motor form would be too rowdy for emissions constraints.
Adding boost would certainly give the Godzilla huge power, but it would be a lot more weight and quite the engineering undertaking to develop a blower system for the big-block engine. An EcoBoost Godzilla with twin turbos would be ludicrous, but again, cost prohibitive to design. If (and that’s a big IF) it’s going to be boosted, it would likely be a positive displacement blower.
Possible Power: Naturally Aspirated: 535-550 horsepower and 475-500 lb-ft of torque
Supercharged: 600-800 horsepower and 500-700 lb-ft of torque
Pros: Lots of torque, good power, pushrod engines are reliable, simple, and leave lots of room in the engine bay, and it would sound insane
Cons: Heavy, not enough power in naturally aspirated form, too many engineering costs associated with adding boost
Bottom Line: As cool as this would be and as perfect as the powerband would be for a big-inch, boosted Godzilla to live under the hood, threatening to tear through anything in its path, it just doesn’t seem likely.
Likelihood: Highly unlikely
Possible Proof: All speculation!
When a union representative let it slip recently that starting in 2022, Ford would be building a 6.8L version of the Godzilla that was slated for the F-150 and Mustang, we couldn’t help but wonder if any of it was true, and if so, which trucks would get it? In the past, the Raptor and the Limited both got the big 6.2L modular motor…could Ford do that again?
If this is the case, we’d guess the downsized Godzilla would probably adopt an aluminum block for less weight and probably give up some stroke to drop displacement and bring block height down, which means in theory it could easily fit in the next Raptor and a Mustang!
But like the Godzilla, we question if the powerplant could make enough power in naturally aspirated form to be competitive, and if Ford would be willing to sink the engineering dollars into adding boost. We’re not sure if this is a viable option, but we can only imagine how wicked a de-stroked, aluminum-block Godzilla would be! You’d still have a lot of the Godzilla’s torque, but with those big ol’ heads and a proper bottom end (and shorter stroke) it would have the rev ceiling to generate serious power. And throw a little boost at it, well, look out, because that thing would be a rocket!
Possible Power: Naturally Aspirated: 550-600 horsepower and 425-500 lb-ft of torque
Supercharged: 600-800 horsepower and 500-700 lb-ft of torque
Pros: Lots of torque, lots of power, pushrod motors are reliable, simple, and leave lots of room in the engine bay, it would sound insane, relatively lightweight
Cons: Not enough power in naturally aspirated form to compete with competition, too many engineering costs to add boost
Bottom Line: Of all the V8s here, if you could ignore the engineering costs associated with designing a boosted version, this would be the most ideal engine for a Raptor application since it would make insane torque, equal amounts of power, retain reliability and simplicity, and be relatively lightweight.
Possible Proof: All speculation!
Dropping a Coyote into the next Raptor has never been thrown into the rumor mill, but hear us out for a second. What if the optional V8 Raptor was CHEAPER than the EcoBoost option?
Yeah, that’s right! When you think about the number of people who like to modify their vehicles via the aftermarket, and the relatively affordable cost of adding a Coyote engine to the Raptor, well, it kind of makes sense.
Sure, in stock form it wouldn’t have the torque or power of a big EcoBoost or a supercharged V8, and the torque peak is awfully high on the Coyote, but Ford could go the opposite route the TRX went (heavy and expensive) and sell the Coyote-powered Raptors cheaper than the EcoBoost versions. Almost like a tuner special, just ripe for owners to buy and modify! We’d bet they’d sell a ton of them. Ford V8 enthusiasts would get the muscle car engine that they could easily add boost to, a Coyote would be “V8” enough for most buyers, and the EcoBoost would continue to be the halo power plant for the Raptor. Far-fetched, we know. But hey, one can dream!
Possible Power: 460-500 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque
Pros: Proven engine, no additional weight, cheaper to build than an EcoBoost
Cons: Not going to make over 700 horsepower like its competitor and possibly down on power and torque compared to an updated EcoBoost engine
Bottom Line: This goes against everything we’ve heard in the rumor mill, but we’d love to think Ford could build an LX Fox-body of sorts in the Raptor by doing this. A stripped down, affordable blank canvas for performance!
Likelihood: Highly unlikely
Possible Proof: Total speculation
Coil Spring Rear Suspension
The first two Raptors used Ford’s well-tested leaf spring rear suspension setup with upgraded dampers and suspension components. The later Gen 2 Raptors took the suspension up a notch with adaptive Fox shocks. We’re hearing FoMoCo might be taking the suspension further into trophy truck territory by moving to a coil spring, multi-link setup in the back.
This does mean that towing might suffer some, but it also would make the suspension much more compliant when hitting huge bumps at high speeds, and give it a more controlled, even cushier ride on the street!
When Will We See The Next Raptor?
We’ve heard that the new Raptor will make its debut on February 3rd — just a few weeks away! If we know the team at Ford, we know they’veFord’s got some cool things up their sleeve! With the TRX out in 2021, the performance wars aren’t just for the muscle cars, but now the “supertrucks,” too! It’s good to be a gearhead!
What Do You Think Will Power the Next Raptor?
Thanks for going down the Raptor rabbit hole with us! The question is, what do YOU think will be powering the next Raptor and WHY? Comment below and let’s compare notes!