2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R – V8 Redemption

Raptor R

Over the last few decades, half-ton trucks have become the Swiss army knife of the auto industry in North America. They are no longer considered just work trucks for most people. It has become a grocery getter, family hauler, adventure tool to discover new places, and eventually a status symbol. The reason why we have performance-oriented off-road capable trucks like the Raptor R is that performance figures are just as important for people to see their trucks as a status symbol.

So here we have the new Raptor R. Ford invented the performance-oriented truck segment back in 2010 with the Raptor, and it changed the whole industry. It was a perfect one-vehicle solution for people who want a fast and fun car, and need a half-ton truck for work, but it was more than that. People love the idea of fast trucks, even though it still doesn’t make sense from a pure performance standpoint.

The Looks: Exterior & Interior

Both Raptors have very similar looks and are hard to distinguish. They both have very rugged looks and excellent road presence, but the Raptor R differentiates itself when you pay attention to the details. There are more red accents in the front fascia, including tow hooks and the bright red “R” logo. The hood bulge is significantly bigger, indicating this one has a giant V8 engine. Thanks to the 37″ tires and widebody, the Raptor R looks very bold and aggressive from all angles. It is one of the vehicles that you don’t want to see in your rearview mirror.

From the side profile, it is harder to find the differences except for fender liners, giant wheels and Raptor R graphics. However, it also means you get the same interior space and practicality when you compare it to the regular F-150, including the bed features. If you are planning to use it as a work truck, it comes with all the useful features that you would find in other regular F-150 models, which makes your life easier, such as the tailgate step, built-in ruler and workbench, and 400w onboard charging to charge your power tools. Due to increased ride height, it is slightly harder to place heavier objects simply because the bed floor is technically higher than other F-150 models.

Unlike the exterior design, the interior looks much more similar to a regular F-150. The “Raptor R” differences are minimal, such as the seats, red accents, paddle shifters, and Raptor logos in the interior. However, the differences even get less noticeable if you are comparing it with the regular Raptor with very minor differences. On the positive side, you get all the nice features that you would find in high trim F-150s, such as the console work surface, a giant infotainment screen and a digital gauge cluster – which are very configurable, show a lot of useful information and easy to use.

The material choice and the build quality are solid, as expected from a flagship model. However, I wish there were more soft-touch surfaces, especially in the center console, it just does not feel as special. The good thing is that there are many physical buttons for all essential features, and everything is easy to find. Thankfully Ford did not use any touch-sensitive buttons anywhere. HVAC controls, drive modes, trailer brake controller, and towing modes are easily accessible without going through the menus.

All physical controls feel sturdy with the exception of the shifter column, which feels a little cheap when you switch gears and takes a lot of usable space in the center console. Ford could have switched to a rotary shifter and put it on the dashboard to allow more storage space, just like the way RAM does. However, what the F-150 does better is the lower and sloping belt line, which offers much better visibility than the competition.

The front seats are the sportier “Raptor” specific seats, but they are not too aggressively bolstered. You won’t get luxury features like the massage seats, but they are still exceptionally comfortable. Even for large adults, interior space is not an issue. As we made our way to the rear seats, we found the rear legroom and headroom quite impressive.

Rear seat passengers also can enjoy creature comforts like heated seats, cup holders and air vents. If you are not carrying rear seat passengers, you can simply lift the bottom cushion up, and utilize the whole rear floorboard to carry larger items in the interior. There is also a small storage area that can be utilized under the rear seats.

The Powertrain: Engine & Transmission

The F-150 is one of the few vehicles that comes with several different trims, and several different drivetrains including the fully electric version. There are currently two different performance-oriented drivetrains, the Raptor has been on the market for a while with its twin-turbo V6 engine. However, if you want all-out performance and a V8 sound note, Ford got you covered with the new Raptor R.

There is a lot to talk about the powertrain, but to simplify things – Ford basically dropped the Shelby GT500 engine to the F-150 chassis to make it the fastest F-150 ever made. The Supercharged V8 engine generates 700 horsepower and a whopping 640 lb-ft of torque. Technically Ford joined the horsepower war as they brought a faster version of the Raptor. Even though the Raptor R puts out 2 less horsepower, it delivers faster 0-60 times than the TRX.

The V8 engine is matched with Ford’s corporate 10-speed automatic transmission. Ford has done a good job with the transmission tune, as it offers smooth shifting especially in 2WD mode. You feel that it goes through a lot of gears, especially at half-throttle applications and it still does gear hunting at lower RPMs. The transmission is smart enough to shift two gears at wide-open throttle applications, due to the short gear ratios.

Just as expected from an off-road capable machine, it comes with decent features to make it more capable off the beaten path, such as the two-speed transfer case, and a locking rear differential. I wish Ford allowed more flexibility as you have to be in four-wheel-drive mode to activate the locking rear differential. You can also choose several different driving modes for off-road driving or towing – so there is no compromise when it comes to the fundamental features that you would expect from a work truck. The Raptor R has 1400 lbs payload capacity, it can also tow up to 8700 lbs, which is 500 lbs more than the regular Raptor.

The Experience: Ride & Driving Impressions

No matter what type of surface it is on, the Raptor R loves tearing up the road. Dirt, gravel, or pavement, just goes over anything with full confidence. What’s more impressive is that it does everything without punishing the driver. There is absolutely no compromise except the MPG figures. It is exceptionally comfortable, and comfort settings can be adjusted through the physical button on the steering wheel to choose four different suspension settings, including the Baja mode.

Just by looking at those bulky 37″ wheels, it’s not nimble, or agile, and it does not pretend to be a race car – it is a truck that doesn’t have to make sense, or doesn’t have to be a rational choice as long as it is fun to drive on any surface. The raised ride height along with the Fox Racing dampers contributes a lot to providing a confidence-inspiring driving experience anywhere at any speed. The remote reservoirs and expertly tuned progressive springs allow the Raptor R to go over bumps competently.

Behind the steering wheel, it just feels like a regular F-150 when driven like a normal F-150 in “Comfort” mode, and it can be a genuinely pleasant highway cruiser. When you switch to Sport mode or choose custom “Raptor” driving settings, it provides the thrill you would expect to feel from a 700-horsepower truck. If you want to have a little drama, Ford allows you to fully disable all driving assist, and if you don’t switch to four-wheel-drive mode, you will shred the rear tires quite easily.

The Raptor R automatically switches to four-wheel-drive mode when you switch to Sport mode, but Ford made a great decision by allowing the driver to fine-tune each setting for suspension, exhaust note and steering wheel no matter which drive mode you choose. The Baja mode is meant for off-road driving, but you can still choose it if you want the loudest exhaust note, or if you switch to quiet mode, it completely eliminates the exhaust drone.

The engine is very well suited to the size of the vehicle, maybe a little bit too much if you are not an experienced driver. Just like any truck with too much horsepower, it is extremely fun to push the Raptor R to its limits. I just wish there was a little bit more supercharger whine at higher load/RPM, you really have to pay attention to hear it – it is a little bit less dramatic than TRX’s supercharged V8 engine.

The Verdict

The moral of the story is competition makes everyone better. The long-awaited F-150 Raptor R didn’t have to exist until the arrival of the RAM TRX, but both entries instantly became future classics as the days for internal combustion engines are numbered. The new Ford F-150 Raptor R is not available in Canada yet, but if you live in the States, the Raptor R is the fastest, coolest and the most expensive out-of-the-box half-ton truck money can buy.

Engine5.2 litre supercharged and intercooled V8
Transmission & Drivetrain10-speed automatic & 2-speed transfer case, four-wheel drive
Max power700 hp @ 6650 rpm
Max torque640 lb-ft @ 4250 rpm
0-100 km/h3.7 sec
Curb Weight6077 lbs – 2756 kg
Fuel Economy (observed)10 MPG – 23.5 L/100 km
Starting at (as tested)$111,935 USD

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *