Ford took the F-150 Raptor and gave it back the V8 it always deserved to make the new 2023 Raptor R the sickest Baja truck on the market.
The ultimate pickup truck use case is not your weekend run to Home Depot for a load of lumber or gardening supplies. Neither is it towing a camper/boat/trailer for mile after highway mile. No, the ultimate pickup truck use case is blasting over southwestern desert dunes, ripping across the basin floor at speed, and leaving a plume of dust in your wake as the echoes of your V8’s roar reverberates off the canyon walls, the receding whine of the supercharger left ringing in the perked ears of local jackrabbits.
And with the advent of Ford’s new F-150 Raptor R, there is today no better vehicle for Baja bombing. The Ford Raptor was initially released with a V8, but following a three-year hiatus, the Raptor returned in 2017 with its V8 replaced by an EcoBoost turbocharged V6. That engine produces 450 horsepower and still allows the Raptor to do Raptor things, but Ford has seen fit to grace the new Raptor R with a rightful V8 once again.
The Raptor R’s engine is not your run-of-the-mill V8, either. It is, in fact, the 5.2L supercharged V8 out of the Shelby Mustang GT500 which, in the Raptor R, makes an absurd 700 horsepower and 640 lb-ft of torque. The Raptor R’s engine got a new supercharger pulley to add extra low-end torque. Power is channeled through Ford’s ubiquitous 10-speed automatic transmission.
For context, the RAM TRX, the Raptor R’s natural rival, makes 702 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque with its supercharged 6.2L V8, a difference on paper you’d find impossible to discern behind the wheel. Both trucks consistently produce four-wheel burnouts and elicit nervous giggles from grown men in work boots.
The Raptor R rides exclusively on 37-inch tires and comes only in the four-door Crew Cab configuration. The Raptor R’s suspension is basically unaltered from that of the regular Raptor, complete with Fox shocks. Drive modes include Baja, Sport, and Quiet (for when your neighbors have gotten fed up with your loud truck), each mode adjusting suspension and exhaust settings.
Fuel economy inevitably spoils the festivities with an abysmal yet predictable 10 mpg in city driving and 15 mpg on the highway. That averages out to a combined 12 mpg, which in 2022-2023 is cringy. However, one can safely assume environmentally conscious Raptor R buyers will be parking their new dino-juice junkie right next to their new 2023 Toyota Prius, the natural carbon emissions off-set.
Of course, the Raptor R is still an F-150 at heart with all the practical stuff that makes that truck great to live and work with daily. The interior is roomy, with comfortable, spacious seating fore and aft and lots of cubbies and cargo areas for your sundries. The infotainment system is snappy and straightforward to use. The F-150’s trick folding gear selector is here too, allowing the center console to flip into a work surface. The tailgate too is optimized for utility with clamp mounts, built-in ruler, and pull-out step.
The new 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R preserves everything that’s great about the F-150 and Raptor and dials things up a few notches. Those extra horses and the screaming V8 that produces them don’t come cheap. The Raptor R starts around $110,000, a big jump from the regular Raptor and the RAM TRX, both of which start just below $80,000. But that is apparently the price you’ll pay for being the Mesozoic’s apex pickup predator.