2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R Raises Bar in Off-Road Performance

After more than a decade spent braving harsh conditions and conquering massive desert dunes over three generations of off-road trucks, Ford has just unleashed its new F-150 Raptor R—the fastest, most powerful, most extreme off-road desert Raptor yet for today’s truck camper adventures.

The heart of Raptor R is a new 5.2L supercharged gasoline V8 engine that delivers 700 horsepower and 640 pound-feet 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 durability. The result is the most torque-dense supercharged V8 yet in a production pickup.

With a curb weight of 5,950 pounds, the 2023 Raptor R offers a towing capacity of 8,700 pounds and a payload rating of 1,400 pounds.

Ford 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 engineers 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 percent via a wider air intake inlet and a higher-flow, higher-efficiency conical air filter.

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 5.2L 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 aluminum-ribbed structural cover to manage the powertrain’s added torque, as well as a unique larger-diameter 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.

Each drive mode is tuned to account for the added power of the supercharged 5.2L V8, including an optimized Baja mode for maximum performance and control in high-speed off-roading. A 5 percent 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.

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 FORD grille, bumpers and fender flares painted black underscore its menacing looks.

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 over-the-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 late 2022 at Dearborn Truck Plant.

About Mello Mike 683 Articles
Mello Mike is an Arizona native, author, and the founder of Truck Camper Adventure. He's been RV'ing since 2002, is a certified RVIA Level 1 RV Technician, and has restored several Airstream travel trailers. A communications expert and licensed ham radio operator, he retired from the U.S. Navy in 2004 as a CWO3 after 24 years, worked in project management, and now runs Truck Camper Adventure full-time. He also does some RV consulting, repairs, and inspections on the side. He currently rolls in a 4WD Ram 3500 outfitted with a SherpTek truck bed with a Bundutec Roadrunner mounted on top. - KK7TCA

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