2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R
What The Raptor Needed
While no one has ever questioned the off-road chops of the Ford F-150 Raptor, quite a few fans were not happy when the 2nd-generation raptor arrived with a turbo-6 under the hood instead of a V8.
Well, it’s taken Ford until now to finally address that situation, and boy did they ever!
While the benefits of turbocharging are well-proven, for many truck fans, only a V8 will do. Combine that conviction with the arrival of Ram’s 702-horsepower TRX pickup, and for the last few years, some have viewed Ford’s Raptor as more of a pretender than a contender.
Well, the 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R not only sets things right with a V8, but does it with a high-output supercharged powerplant packing 700-horsepower.
This overhead cam 5.2-liter V8 is mostly the same as the Shelby GT500’s, but the supercharger was recalibrated and features a different pulley setup to optimize the low-end of its 640 lb-ft. of torque. Exhaust manifolds are upgraded, and oil system revised with deeper oil pan, plus different cooler and filter setups. Finally, air volume was increased by 66% with a much larger intake.
The complete driveline, including the 10-speed automatic transmission, has been upgraded to handle the increased power, featuring a different torque converter and whole new front axle.
In order to make best use of all of that, Ford has also upgraded the suspension with a retuning of the springs and active Fox Live Valve shocks, and made 37-inch tires standard with the R; providing 13.1-inches of ground clearance, about an inch over the standard Raptor. Rear suspension is the same 5-link coil spring setup of other Raptors.
While designed primarily with high-speed desert runs in mind, these updates certainly improve the experience on any surface that’s not smoothly paved. That was mostly mud in our case, and nothing we came across in our off-road course presented any real challenge to the R, which will probably be the case for every Raptor R that does indeed venture off pavement. On pavement, it was impressively comfortable, and as maneuverable as any lesser F-150.
Now, just to set it apart from lesser Raptors, R’s get a taller power dome on the hood, R badges, and blacked out bumpers, grille, and fender flares; plus “desert-inspired” graphics that we could probably do without. The dark theme is applied liberally inside as well, broken up with splashes of real carbon fiber and Code Orange R accents.
Ford has kept capability intact, as the 1,400-lbs. payload limit remains the same, but with a tow rating of 8,700-lbs, the R can even pull 500-lbs. more, thanks to structural enhancements to the frame. And it truly does haul, as we found out at our Mason Dixon test track…
Where the Raptor R ripped off 0-60s of just 3.7-seconds, a tenth quicker than we saw in the TRX, and between the raucous exhaust note and supercharger whine, boy does this thing sound terrific. That, more than anything, is indeed what the V6 Raptor was missing.
All that rubber digging into the pavement makes for an extremely aggressive launch, with a big time squat of the rear before it explodes off the line. It quickly levels off and starts rapid fire shifting through gears as you glide through the ¼-mile in just 12.1-seconds. But before we got there, we were clearly bumping up against some type of limiter, as power started falling just shy of tripping the lights at an indicated 113 miles-per-hour. Whipping in and out of cone courses is not this rig’s forte, so most buyers will be willing to accept the excessive body roll, heavy steering, and appreciable understeer.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are a very low 10-City, 15-Highway, and 12-Combined. We averaged just 12.4 miles-per-gallon of Regular.
Now don’t get us wrong here, we love all that power and the roaring chorus the Raptor R makes, and upping off-road chops is something we can all appreciate. But at the end of the day, one must make a hard decision as to whether adding the R to the Raptor is worth it for the way most of us drive.
Standard Raptor pricing starts at $78,670; already not a small sum. Then tack on another $30,575 to get to the Raptor R’s base of $109,245.
Pickup trucks may have started out as simple tools to get jobs done, but they’ve become much more than that to many people. They are now status symbols. The 2023 Ford Raptor R is indeed the closest thing you can get to owning an actual Trophy Truck, ready to conquer both Baja and Suburbia. And, the fact that it’s now singing in the key of V8, means all the world to the F-Series faithful.
- Engine: 5.2L Supercharged V8
- Torque: 640 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 12.1 seconds at 113 mph
- MW Fuel Economy: 12.4 mpg (Regular)
- Horsepower: 700
- 0-60 mph: 3.7 seconds
- EPA: 10 City / 15 Highway / 12 Combined
- Starting Price: $109,245