The Ford Raptor has seen several updates, drivetrain configurations, and levels of performance for over the last decade that it’s been in production. It’s been tested, reviewed endlessly, modified for the high-desert, and entered in many competitions the world-over.
It’s “high-performancne upgrade” been lauded as long-overdue, but it’s finally here; the GT500-powered Ford Raptor R, the Raptor that we should have had since its inception, and the truck billed as a direct competitor for the Hellcat-infused RAM TRX.
Cranking out an even 700hp to the TRX’s 702hp, the Raptor earns a clear edge in horsepower/weight ratio with its svelte-by-comparison 5950-lb curb weight, to the TRX’s 6439-lb weigh-in. The boost in horsepower comes from the 5.2L supercharged V8 engine that’s been borrowed from the current Mustang GT500. Yeah, it’s sick. Follow along for all of the details from Ford Performance below.
NEW FORD F-150 RAPTOR R IS MOST POWERFUL RAPTOR EVER FOR HIGH-PERFORMANCE OFF-ROADING
DEARBORN, Mich. – After more than a decade spent braving harsh conditions and conquering massive desert dunes over three generations of off-road trucks, Ford unleashes the new F-150® Raptor R™ – the fastest, most powerful, most extreme high-performance offroad desert Raptor yet.
All three generations of F-150 Raptor have been inspired by the extreme desert-racing trophy trucks that compete in the Baja 1000. Designed and engineered by Ford Performance, the 2023 F-150 Raptor R is the closest yet to delivering this type of performance.
“Raptor R is our ultimate Raptor,” said Carl Widmann, Ford Performance chief engineer. “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.”
The heart of Raptor R
The heart of Raptor R is a new 5.2-liter supercharged V8 engine that delivers 700 horsepower and 640 lb.-ft. of torque to give it incredible desert-running power. Ford Performance enlisted the most powerful engine in its lineup – previously seen in the Mustang Shelby GT500® – optimizing it for Raptor-level off-road performance and Built Ford Tough® durability. The result is the most torque-dense supercharged V8 yet in a production pickup.
Ford Performance recalibrated this V8 engine’s supercharger and installed a new pulley to optimize its power for off-road use, increasing 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.
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 66% via a wider air intake inlet and a higher-flow, higher-efficiency conical air filter.
Built Ford Tough to conquer the desert
F-150 Raptor is about more than going fast – it must conquer brutal off-road environments. Its capability and durability comes from more than a decade of Ford expertise in engineering and torture testing high-performance trucks. Ford Performance upgraded the base truck’s transmission and driveline to help ensure Raptor R can smoothly handle what this V8 can throw at it.
Raptor R delivers a 10-speed SelectShift® transmission with improved calibration. The truck features a new front axle with a more robust, higher-strength carrier casting and an aluminumribbed structural cover to manage the powertrain’s added torque, as well as a unique largerdiameter aluminum driveshaft. A new, specially tuned torque converter with heavy-duty turbine damper and four-pinion rear output assembly makes the truck even better equipped to transfer torque and provide a smoother powertrain feel when driving both on- and off-road.
Drivers get even more control over how their Raptor R expresses its additional power, courtesy of a unique dual exhaust system with a true pass-through muffler and active valve system, with modes for Normal, Sport, Quiet and Baja. These can be adjusted in the MyMode™ feature, allowing drivers to customize multiple settings – including drive, steering, suspension modes and others – and save one as a single mode easily accessed with the press of the “R” button on the steering wheel.
If the heart of Raptor R is the supercharged V8, the soul remains its incredibly capable suspension. The five-link rear suspension features extra-long trailing arms to better maintain axle position on rough terrain, a Panhard rod and 24-inch coil springs – all optimized for outstanding stability while traversing desert terrain at high speeds. Advanced FOX Live Valve shocks are tuned to balance ride quality and roll control on- and off-road. These electronically controlled dampers use suspension height sensors and other sensors to monitor terrain conditions independently, hundreds of times a second, while adjusting suspension tuning accordingly. Wheel travel of 13 inches in front and 14.1 inches in back facilitates Raptor R’s ability to traverse sand and rocks with outstanding capability.
“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.”
Each drive mode is tuned to account for the added power of the supercharged V8, including an optimized Baja mode for maximum performance and control in high-speed off-roading. A 5% increase in the front spring rate helps maintain comfortable ride quality, while Raptor R boasts class-leading* 13.1-inch ground clearance and standard class-exclusive* 37-inch tires straight from the factory for improved obstacle clearing.
Iconic Raptor styling taken to the next level
The most powerful Raptor yet takes the off-road truck’s purpose-built design legacy up a notch, with unique styling that further drives home its supercharged capability. A larger, more aggressively styled power dome on the hood sits nearly 1 inch taller than on the base Raptor, helping extract warm air from underneath. Iconic F O R D grille, bumpers and fender flares painted black underscore its menacing looks.
“Raptor R is visually designed like a desert predator to catch the attention of Raptor customers and off-road enthusiasts,” said Tom Liu, Raptor R lead designer. “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.”
Ford Performance-exclusive Code Orange accents include a unique “R” badge on the grille, power dome and tailgate. A special graphics package on the rear fenders feature a unique design that mirrors the harsh, cracked desert earth, reinforcing the type of environment Raptor R is built to conquer.
That aggressive feel carries over to a black interior. Standard Recaro® seats sport a combination of black leather and Alcantara® suede – cleverly placed for added grip when the terrain gets nasty. Genuine carbon fiber adorns the doors, media bin door and upper parts of the instrument panel, featuring a unique tri-axial weave designed to convey Raptor R’s combination of performance, toughness and durability.
Like the rest of the Raptor family, Raptor R comes standard with a suite of smart technology to make off-roading easier. Trail Turn Assist** allows drivers to shrink their turning radius on tight turns and go even further off-road. Ford Trail Control™ – think cruise control for off-roading – lets drivers select a set speed and steer through challenging conditions while the truck handles throttle and braking. Trail 1-Pedal Drive† allows customers to control throttle and braking with just one pedal to make extreme off-roading like rock crawling even easier.
Keeping you connected is a standard 12-inch touch screen with SYNC® 4 technology, Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™ compatibility††. Raptor R also benefits from Ford Power-Up overthe-air software update capability‡. These wireless updates can offer improvements throughout the vehicle – from the SYNC system to enhanced quality, capability and convenience upgrades that improve the ownership experience over time.
F-150 Raptor R will be available in eight color options, including new Avalanche and Azure Gray Tri-Coat exterior paint offered on the Raptor lineup for the first time.
Ordering for F-150 Raptor R opens today and production starts this fall at Dearborn Truck Plant. Contact your dealer for more information.
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*Class is full-size pickups under 8,500 pounds GVWR.
**Driver-assist features are supplemental and do not replace the driver’s attention, judgment and need to control the vehicle. It does
not replace safe driving. See owner’s manual for details and limitations.
†One-Pedal Drive is an extra driving aid. It does not replace the driver’s attention and judgment, or the need to apply the brakes.
See owner’s manual for details and limitations.
††Requires phone with active data service and compatible software. SYNC 4 does not control third party products while in use. Third
parties are solely responsible for their respective functionality.
‡FordPass Connect (optional on select vehicles), the FordPass app and complimentary connected service are required for remote
features (see FordPass terms for details). Connected Service and features depend on compatible AT&T network availability.
Evolving technology/cellular networks/vehicle capability may limit functionality and prevent operation of connected features.
Connected service excludes Wi-Fi hotspot.
Rick Seitz is the owner and founder of AutoCentric Media, and has a true love and passion for all vehicles. When he isn’t tuning, testing, or competing with the brand’s current crop of project vehicles, he’s busy tinkering and planning the next modifications for his own cars.