The 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor arrived with a problem. It was outclassed by the Ram TRX and no more marked peak truck.
In the most American decision possible, Ford threw more power at the Raptor to create 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R and thus solved the problem.
That roar you heard last Monday was me in a 700hp Raptor R. Sorry, not sorry.
The Raptor R stuffs a supercharged V-8 under the hood of a fully loaded Baja-inspired Blue Oval pickup and bumps the price up to $109,375 to put the Raptor back in the hunt as one of the funniest trucks money can buy.
Ford let me out of the interchange in the Raptor R at Michigan’s Silver Lake State Park to drive through the sand dunes and fly through the air. It turned into a competition to see which limit you would reach first: mine or the truck’s.
The 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R brings the V-8 engine back to the Raptor lineup
Finally, the fire and fury of the V-8
As the gap between the leading Raptor R and mine widened on the pitch-black highway at 6:15 a.m., I pedaled the Raptor R. The front of the truck lifted noticeably as the rear squatted and the truck lunged forward. Running in Baja mode with the exhaust baffles open, the exhaust roared to a decibel level that would certainly annoy the neighbors and possibly alert the local police.
Laughing maniacally, I said to no one, “Hey! Ford solved the Raptor power problem.” The Raptor R is stunning in its outrageousness.
Twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6 Raptor with a more than adequate 450 hp. and 510 lb-ft of torque was dropped for R duties. Bye Felicia.
The 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R features a 2.7-liter supercharged V-8 engine
He stands in his place Mustang Shelby GT5005.2-liter supercharged V-8 with 700 hp. and 640 lb-ft of torque. Yes, it is 2 hp. less than Ram TRX.
When I asked Carl Widmann, Ford’s chief performance engineer, if it would really be that big of a deal to tune the engine to 705 horsepower, he just laughed. After all, the Raptor R weighs about 400 pounds less than the TRX.
Widmann’s answer makes sense after spending time both on and off-road in the Raptor R. A few extra horsepower would be just for bragging rights. The Raptor R feels noticeably lighter on its rubber feet than the TRX in both dynamic transitions and overall ride quality.
While the engine uses the same 2.7-liter liquid-cooled inverted supercharger that cranks up to 12 psi of boost as the muscle car, it has been revised for off-road truck use. Mustangs do not jump into the air, do not overcome steep slopes and do not tear through the desert on the sand at high speeds.
2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R – Photo by Perry Stern
A new supercharger pulley increases low- and midrange torque over the Shelby. Unlike the TRX, the whine of the supercharger is not always present in the cabin and can only be heard if you listen carefully to it. The Raptor R’s power doesn’t drop instantly, either, but it does kick hard and push the occupants, along with everything else in the truck, backwards after a little bump to get the supercharger to twist.
To keep things lubricated and cool, Ford installed a new oil cooler and filter, as well as a deeper oil pan. For better breathability, a new, wider air intake is paired with a high-flow conical air filter that’s 66% larger than the Mustang.
It’s no surprise, but the supercharged V-8’s fire and fury will be worth a lot of money even after spending six figures to buy the Raptor R. Off-road, the supercharged V-8 used less than 3 mpg. For those who think that might be an unfair estimate, during 85 miles of highway driving, the trip computer said I averaged 11.9 mpg. EPA fuel economy ratings are not yet available. For a reality check, those numbers are similar to the numbers we’ve seen in the TRX, and not much worse than the Raptor’s turbo V-6. Stay tuned for more real-world challenges in the future.
The 10-speed automatic transmission has a new calibration to handle the extra power, but like the standard Raptor, gear changes are quick, always precise, and become sharper in Sport and Baja modes. To ensure things don’t go boom, a heavy-duty turbo damper and four-gear rear output have been added to the torque converter. Ford also swapped in a 5.0-inch aluminum driveshaft (standard Raptors have a 4.5-inch driveshaft) along with a gear damper to keep things from moving too much during hard launches.
Speaking of launches, the Raptor R lacks launch control. The TRX has it, but Widmann told MA that the team is focused on off-road performance: “Why do you need launch control?” This is not a dragstrip truck, noted the engineer.
Soft suspension and 37-inch tires 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R makes a lot of splash
Dive, crouch, kick, repeat
With its increased power, the Raptor R crouches, dives and rolls like the trophy truck it emulates. This required two more cylinders, a supercharger and a power of 250 hp.
The Raptor’s Fox shocks with remote reservoirs carry over to the R, but on the supercharged model, the front spring rate is increased by 5% to accommodate the V-8’s extra 100 pounds per front axle.
The 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R has the same braking system as the standard Raptor
Ford did not upgrade the brakes from the standard Raptor, despite the increased power. In what I could only consider extreme but limited testing, two other journalists and I raced through the sand non-stop for nearly 30 minutes. I consistently pushed the Raptor R to about 70 mph before running out of room and slamming on the brakes. The brakes never faded, but I could smell them after repeatedly hauling a 6,000-pound pickup truck back to reality.
To ensure the front axle can handle the increased speed that comes with the increased power, Ford uses a finned aluminum front differential cover to dissipate heat. Ford is also replacing stiffer front axle bushings and an internal travel limiter.
2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R – Photo by Perry Stern
Even with 13 inches of travel in the front and 14.1 inches in the rear, I reached the front end of the Raptor R three times in about five hours off-road. It is capable of carrying such great speed that potential dangers arrive quickly. Two of the three times I’ve had the truck blown up, the other was after crossing a sand dune and heading into another one at too much speed. The truck didn’t care, and neither did the Ford engineers, who pointed out that that’s what the shields were for.
Unlike the more pedestrian Raptor (words I never thought I’d type), the Model R only comes with 37-inch soft tires. There’s no 35-inch rubber option, which on the non-R model is a more interesting option thanks to the lighter weight of the tires and the ability to spin faster in the sand. The R’s extra power solves most of that problem, as the 37s’ extra weight isn’t felt as much, giving the truck a 33-degree approach angle and an extra 1.3 inches of ground clearance over the Raptor’s 35s.
2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R – Photo by Perry Stern
Yes, it can be loud
After spending the day blasting through sand dunes, I think the Raptor R might be too loud. I must be getting old.
Widdman told me that at full throttle in Baja mode (which has the active exhaust pipes open), the exhaust reaches 80dB in the cockpit and 130dB at the tips. As a point of reference, Silver Lake State Park’s exhaust noise limit is 94 dB. Not that anyone but me noticed that point on the park rules map.
The second-generation Raptor, produced from 2017 to 2020, with its twin-turbo V-6, sounded bad. Ford knew it and we knew it. The current third-generation truck has rectified this problem with a new exhaust system that features a “pipe” design and equal-length pipes. The result is a sound almost like a straight-piped Nissan GT-R mixed with a Z.
2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R Exhaust Features
The Raptor R features a straight design with “wrapped tips”. Weedman explained that the packed tips are composed of a material similar to muffler filler, which combined to help remove high-frequency noise and hiss.
In Quiet, Normal, Sport, and Baja modes, the truck can operate with the baffles fully closed, slightly open, more open, or fully open, and the baffles are always open above 4,000 rpm regardless of mode. Default will be normal mode unless programmed to run in silent mode. While the normal mode certainly provides some bark on startup, it’s tame compared to the TRX, and it’s downright soft at idle. Opening the dumpsters in Baja mode sounds better overall, but it can border on fatigue, as I experienced when I hit the throttle over and over off-road. On the road, even in Baja mode, the exhaust doesn’t rattle or buzz, but we’ll need more time with the truck in the real world to really determine that.
The 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R will be hard to tell apart from the standard Raptor
Is the Raptor sleeping?
It seems like a stretch to call any Raptor a sleeper, but it takes a keen eye to tell the R model apart from the stock Raptor.
Visually, the only differences between the Raptor R and the standard Raptor are blacked-out trim, orange tow hooks, a 1.0-inch taller hood vent, tiny R badges on the grille and tailgate, and available R-specific fender and hood graphics with The V-8 showered them.
The interior of the 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R will look familiar to anyone who has spent time in an F-150
Inside, the Raptor R is equipped like a loaded Raptor, including Recaro front seats, suede and leather seating surfaces, carbon fiber trim, a 12.0-inch digital instrument cluster, and a 12.0-inch touchscreen.
The 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R just wants to be king
What is the result?
At $109,145, the Raptor R adds a $37,445 premium over the base Raptor, though this truck lacks many features found in the R. Apples, there’s a $25,245 price delta between the comparably equipped Raptor and the Raptor R. That’s a lot of money for a supercharged V-8. Then again, can you really put a price on being king?
Ford took off Motor organ to cold, windy and wet western Michigan and put us up at a small town Marriott so we could bring you this first drive review.