The 2023 Ford Raptor R is a certified beast. The specifications are incredible. The 5.2-liter supercharged V8 is pilfered from the Mustang GT500, cranking out 700 horsepower and 640 lb.-ft. of torque.
And it sounds incredible. That was the first thing I was nervous about, living in a community within close proximity to my neighbors. I know how rowdy the Mustang can be, and I know how much fun a spicy exhaust system can be. But after a few minutes in the vehicle, I saw the button on the steering wheel with an icon for the exhaust system. There are four modes: Quiet, Normal, Sport and Baja. You get a warning when you select Baja that it is for off-road use only (as it probably would fail the sound level ordinances in some communities). But you can select Quiet and leave at 5 a.m. for work like you’re in a mundane F-150. The active valve system works so well, there’s no need for an aftermarket exhaust.
Therein lies the thoughtfulness of this truck. It features the practicality of an F-150, coupled with extreme performance when you want it or need it. About the only things people can complain about are fuel economy and price. But that’s not the point of the Raptor R. If you want the ultimate pickup truck, look no further!
Power – and then Some!
Carl Widmann is Ford Performance’s chief engineer. He says, “Raptor R is our ultimate Raptor. When customers experience Raptor R in the desert and beyond, it will make the hairs on the back of their necks stand up – and they’ll love every second of it.”
Underneath the hood bulge that provides relief for the supercharger is the most torque-dense supercharged V8 yet in a production pickup. Ford Performance recalibrated that Mustang V8 engine supercharger and installed a new pulley to optimize its power for off-road use. This increases torque delivery at the low-end and mid-range. These changes help Raptor R offer more performance at the speeds where customers spend most of their time driving.
“We’ve heard our customers demanding the sound and power of a V8 back in Raptor,” said Widmann. “That’s not something we were going to rush. This supercharged 5.2-liter V8 is the ideal fusion of high-density power paired with the third-generation Raptor’s all-new rear suspension and shocks to deliver a one-two punch that goes far beyond the sum of its parts.”
Keep It Offroad
Unfortunately, many people who buy the Raptor R will never venture farther than a muddy parking overfill lot when the paved lot is filled up. But the Raptor R is the real deal offroad and can be compared to a Baja desert truck.
To maintain the extreme off-road durability the Raptor brand is known for, Ford Performance upgraded the original engine’s exhaust manifolds to a cast stainless steel design, including a unique oil cooler and filter, plus a deeper oil pan enabling it to tackle aggressive grades while keeping the engine oil cool. To help the engine breathe better, air intake volume is increased via a wider air intake inlet and a higher-flow, higher-efficiency conical air filter.
Next-level trail-conquering capability starts with long-travel suspension featuring FOX Live Valve shocks specially tuned to take advantage of the truck’s V8 power. Moreover, the Raptor sits on 37-inch tires from the factory! The look is imposing.
The Power of 10
The Raptor R features a 10-speed transmission that has also been calibrated for the truck. Although built to be tough, its torque converter shifts smoothly like a normal F-150. Along with the aforementioned exhaust, you can tweak the drive, steering and suspension modes on the truck from the steering wheel controls. Once you dial it in the way you like it, you can save it to the button on the steering wheel marked R to recall your favorite “rowdy mode” quickly.
Looks that Kill
When you walk up and look at the truck graphics, you notice the theme is a repeating number 8 within the graphic itself. This lets others know this isn’t a regular Raptor, but the R V8 version. Highlights such as the tow hooks are in Ford Code Orange. Lead designer Tom Liu says, “Raptor R is visually designed like a desert predator to catch the attention of Raptor customers and off-road enthusiasts. There are details big and small – from the more aggressive hood air extractor to the Code Orange ‘R’ badges – that visually communicate next-level off-road performance under the Raptor R banner.”
With all the looks and the performance, the interior gets Recaro seats wrapped in Alcantara, with carbon fiber touches everywhere. The 12-inch touchscreen has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Sync 4 system works great, and the native navigation can understand most addresses without frustration. The B&O sound system features 18 speakers, including a small subwoofer with a claimed 1,080 watts. It works great out of the box, but something this amazing should have aftermarket amplification and a subwoofer system to complement the amazing performance of the engine.
We have an amazing truck that can outrun a lot of sports cars with incredible offroad capability. I took my tester on a highway trip and got 14 mpg, but 12 mpg would be more common if you’re having fun. The price comes in right at under $112K with all the goodies, including a panoramic moonroof. This level of performance and practicality isn’t cheap, but it’s something we all can appreciate and aspire to!