Type to search

Ford Raptor R: It really is just that good [First Drive]


The 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R is the best version of the Raptor ever built. Full stop.

It is simply amazing how a few things can completely change a vehicle. A new engine, upgraded suspension, stock 37-inch tires and a few badges truly do add up to a remarkable version of the Raptor — albeit with a shocking price tag.

All about the Supercharged V-8 engine

Without a doubt, the big news for the Ford F-150 Raptor R is the use of the Mustang performance engine. Yup, the 5.2-liter supercharged V-8 from the muscle car, with very minor changes for air flow and overall performance, is now available on a truck.

What does this mean? Well, during my day of driving — including an epic jump — in the Silver Lake Sand Dunes near Hart, Michigan, it means smiles per mile, definitely not miles per gallon.

This beastly V-8 produces 700 horsepower with 640 pound-feet of torque and has an equally amazing exhaust note. Just listening to this truck idle is an experience that gets your blood pumping.

Plus, you can directly change the exhaust note through software settings, which open and close valves to release as much growling sound as you’d like. You can also adjust the dampers and steering response. All of these changes can be done individually or automatically through selecting a variety of drive modes, including the much-loved Baja mode.

I drove in this mode for hours blasting through the sand, climbing up the dunes and then breaking the rear end loose while sliding through the corners. Baja mode unleashes everything you want from the truck, and it really does change the truck into an off-road machine.

Baja mode, which opens up all the exhaust note valves, not only sounds amazing but also limits the shifting to keep you in gear longer and tap into the maximum torque output. Plus, the graphics and the flat-out, smash-the-accelerator (ignore the other pedal to the left) feeling makes everyone want to drive past their ability.

With 13 inches of front wheel travel and 14 inches of rear wheel travel combined with an electronically controlled rear locker, the Raptor R can chew up more desert landscape faster than other off-road trucks and get itself, and the driver, to climb or descend out of trouble through locking the rear differential.

What about the on-road pavement drive?

I can go on and on (and on) about the off-road driving characteristics of this truck, yet I know a lot of these trucks will end up being daily drivers.

Typically, with an off-road focused truck, you can either do off-road well or on-road well. In this truck, however, both were pretty darn good and it is hard to see any sacrifices made to help the on-road comfort.

It is just that good.

Even the 37-inch BF Goodrich K02 tires did really well on the pavement. Typically, off-road tires will wander over the road, and you’ll hear the tires whine at the idea of being on asphalt and not on dirt.

Now, the F-150 Raptor R did wander a bit at first on the pavement, but I quickly got used to it, and it was far less than I’d experienced in the past. Compared to the Ram TRX, the Raptor R has very similar on-road performance.

Plus, you can finally tow with this truck with up to 8,700 pounds of maximum towing and slightly more than 1,600 pounds of payload.

Lack of choices doesn’t matter for 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R?

One of the interesting things about the Raptor R is the lack of choices compared to a traditional F-150.

First, the truck comes in a crew cab only with just a few exterior and interior colors.

Second, you can option a full moon-roof going over the front and rear passengers.

Third, you can option for a tailgate that raises itself.

Fourth, you can add 2.0 kWh of power onboard via the Ford build-and -price tool.

Yup, one cab configuration, two different options, a slightly more usable power on board generator versus the standard 110V plug and just a few exterior and interior colors. That’s it and it doesn’t matter.

On the exterior, there isn’t a lot I’d change. It looks great, and it has just the right amount of Raptor “R” badges without being overwhelming.

Inside, it has the same layout as the regular Raptor, except it gets some fancier Alcantara seat materials and a Raptor “R” badge on the seat back.

The Raptor R is about perfect, really, and I can’t see people running out to change things the way they would with a stock F-150.

2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R

The interior of the 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R. (Image courtesy of Ford Motor Co.)

What about the OMG price?

About the only downside for the Raptor R is going to be the price.

Before I tell you what it is, make sure you are sitting down.

The starting MSRP for the 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R is $109,145. This represents more than a $30k increase over the Raptor with its 3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost engine.

The bottom line

Now I’m not saying the Raptor R is worth $30,000 more than Raptor. Nor am I telling you the price isn’t just a bit insane. What I am saying is this: I want a Raptor R and, in fact, make that two for me please. One for me and one for the wife.

Related posts:


Tim Esterdahl

Automotive Journalist Tim Esterdahl has been a lover of trucks and SUVs for years. He has covered the industry since 2011 and has pieces in many national magazines and newspapers. In his spare time, he is often found tinkering on his '62 C10 pickup, playing golf, going hunting and hanging out with his wife and kids in Nebraska.

  • 1

You Might also Like

Leave a Comment

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

Related Stories