Up till very not too long ago, there was just one Ford Raptor — no Ranger, no Bronco, simply the F-150, or as its engineering group likes to name it, “Massive Raptor.” The OG. The king. In Massive Raptor’s little nook of the Ford Efficiency world, bringing the V8 again was at all times a matter of when, not if. However the realities of the market held sway and different initiatives took precedence — together with an overhaul of the truck’s suspension. Then TRX occurred.
For fairly some time, Raptor successfully had no opponents. We’d like look no additional than the Stellantis lineup to see what being alone available in the market does to innovation: the Bronco has clearly awoken Jeep from an analogous torpor. Because the previous saying goes, competitors betters the breed. In plain phrases, we now have an alternative choice to the 702-horsepower supercharged Ram within the type of a 700-horsepower, also-supercharged F-150. What a world.
Not like TRX, although, the 2023 Ford Raptor R had the advantage of an present framework. Oftentimes it’s dismissive to explain a efficiency variant as merely the bottom car with a much bigger engine, however on this case it’s the literal fact. Other than some visible particulars and swapping just a few suspension parts to account for the burden of the V8, the Raptor R actually is only a extra highly effective Raptor with the 37-inch tire choice made commonplace. Particularly, including the GT500’s 5.2-liter supercharged V8 pumps issues as much as 700 hp and 640 pound-feet of torque from 450 hp and 510 lb-ft with the three.5-liter turbo V6.
The stiffer springs preserve the bottom clearance similar to a V6 Raptor with 37s (13.1 inches), and the identical goes for all the opposite important off-road specs. Strategy, breakover and departure angles stay at 33.1, 24.9 and 24.four levels, respectively, and the R presents the identical quantity of suspension journey (13 inches up entrance and 14.1 within the rear).
The Raptor’s engineers tinkered with the drive modes a bit for R, altering the default Sport Mode powertrain setup to be the automated 4WD setting (it’s 2WD in the usual Raptor) with a purpose to put all that energy to good use. The usual 37s on the Raptor R don’t do the truck any favors off the road, and in reality might preserve a drag race between the R and the TRX perilously shut, however the V8 can nonetheless rip that off-road rubber to shreds if that’s what you’re going for. We have been solely given the chance to apply acceleration runs on sand — ineffective for knowledge gathering, however immensely enjoyable.
The differentiation is minimal in apply, too. Setting apart the Raptor R’s dramatic acceleration, the drive is just about similar. That’s a superb factor, and due not less than partially to the truth that minimal alterations translate to minimal weight acquire. The R weighs roughly 5,950 kilos — about 100 kilos greater than a V6 Raptor with the 37s (or 200 kilos greater than with out). Yeah, that’s a hefty curb weight, however do not forget that the iron-block Hellcat V8 within the TRX helps push that all-steel truck north of 6,350 kilos. The Raptor’s comparatively light-weight aluminum physique provides it a fairly critical edge.
The Raptor by no means really feels small, however Ford’s efforts to manage the R’s weight loss program bore fruit. Plodding round city, the R doesn’t actually really feel that completely different from a Coyote-equipped F-150 except you begin exploring the decrease 2/three of the throttle’s journey, which leads to fantastic noises and speedy gas consumption. The official EPA estimate stands at 15 mpg mixed, which can smoke the TRX’s 12 mpg mixed, however a pair hours spent shuttling to and from Michigan’s Silver Lake Sand Dunes resulted in averages between 10 and 12 mpg for our caravan of a dozen vans. Perhaps the TRX would’ve carried out higher versus its estimates in the identical driving, perhaps it might’ve been within the single digits, however both manner, our expertise with the Raptor R within the sand was much more petroleum-dependent.
Not that we actually paid consideration to gas consumption whereas blasting round Silver Lake. The park’s huge dunes and beneficiant (learn: barely there) restrictions make it an ideal four-wheel playground. Except its closely trafficked transit roads, it has no velocity limits. As an alternative, it’s organized in a large, one-way loop designed to maintain everyone pointed in roughly the identical path, limiting the potential for catastrophic encounters over blind crests — of which there are an awesome many.
And Ford allow us to do all of it, from dune climbs to tug racing and the whole lot else in between. It was straightforward to lose observe of what number of instances the vans visibly caught air lengthy earlier than most of America was achieved making morning espresso. “It’ll do that every one day lengthy” was the fixed chorus from Ford’s engineers and check drivers. And so they have been confirmed proper. Neither the supercharged V8 nor the brakes confirmed any indicators of giving up, regardless of the fish market funk of sizzling friction surfaces that wafted alongside in our wake. That traction management system has its arms full on a floor like this, however man, the brakes seize these 37s laborious even on unfastened sand. This factor is not any joke.
The key to a very nice supertruck is within the suspension. For off-roading, a fragile stability have to be struck between journey, consolation and management — not your potential to level the truck the place you need it to go, thoughts you, however management over the truck’s physique motions, particularly the vertical jacking that comes with touring quick over rutted and washboarded surfaces.
In case your shocks are too agency, they’ll yank the truck down after each bump, leading to a paint shaker kind of journey. Too mushy and it gained’t settle, leaving you in a relentless state of gradual undulation that robs you of grip and invitations you to spend so much of time driving round on the suspension’s bump stops. That’s how shocks get blown out and management arms get bent and damaged, or worse, you land the truck’s mushy stomach on a not-so-soft rock and puncture one thing crucial, just like the 5.2-liter’s oil pan, for example.
Ford’s five-link, coil-sprung rear suspension works absolute wonders each on- and off-road. As hard-nosed because the Raptor is, it’s an absolute kitten to cruise round in, even on crappy surfaces. The rear suspension is a dream, making the Raptor really feel extra SUV-like than truck-like on asphalt. However whereas it drives small, it’s inescapably giant — and by that I imply broad. And that’s exacerbated by the truth that the R drives so tight despite its measurement and substance. It doesn’t really feel like a automotive it’s worthwhile to thread rigorously by way of building zones, however its width will catch you out for those who’re not cautious. I acquired extra hits from the R’s lane-departure warning than I ever have driving a Tremendous Responsibility. Holding it between the traces is tougher than sticking the touchdown after yeeting it off a sand dune, I child you not.
After which there’s the cabin. Like the outside, it’s largely carry-over. Until you may assure an allocation and special-order a Raptor R, chances are high the one manner you’ll ever see one is loaded, as a result of Ford says that’s how the sellers are requesting them. Regardless of this, it’s nonetheless a half-step behind the Ram by way of supplies and design. The upgraded seats are nothing just like the sculpted buckets present in a Mustang Mach 1 or GT500, however they’re supportive and comfy sufficient for the belongings you’d anticipate an F-150 to do — even this one.
The Raptor occupies a lonely nook of the pickup panorama. For a very long time, it was the one full-size pickup attempting to play within the Baja fanatic house. It’s a distinct segment Ford carved out for itself greater than a decade in the past. Whereas Ram was the primary to escalate the supertruck wars to their up to date ranges of absurdity, this actually seems like Ford’s combat to lose. It has the tighter, lighter, more-focused truck, but it surely additionally has the more than likely different buy in the usual Raptor. Each are excellent at what they do. In reality, I can’t assist however consider Cadillac’s Blackwings; the perfect argument towards buying both is that the different one exists.
The Raptor R is the whole lot it seems to be. It’s massive, boisterous and keen — each bit the equal (at minimal) of Ram’s Hellcat-powered TRX. The V8 is straight-up nasty, with an off-road exhaust mode that may liquefy kids’s ear drums. It’ll do the whole lot the V6 Raptor does just a bit bit faster and with an entire lot extra fanfare. If that’s ticking your packing containers, then you definately’re in enterprise. Hopefully enterprise is sweet, since you’ll be forking over a six-figure sum to get one — $109,145 to be exact, not less than earlier than any seller shenanigans.