Prior to today’s unveiling of the 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R, the current Raptor model family was defined by its use of twin-turbocharged V6 engines with the 3.5 liter for the F-150 and the smaller 3.0 liter for the Bronco version. However, it can be easy to forget that a V8 once lurked under the hood of older Raptor models before the Blue Oval axed it for better fuel economy and less weight. So why did Ford reverse course and bring an eight-cylinder back into the fold? Read on to find out.
The Return Of The V8 Was Demanded By Customers, And Ford Listened
When Ford pivoted direction in the mid-2010s and made the Raptor a V6-only offering, many Raptor fans were upset by this change. They missed the primal snarl of the V8 and Ford’s attempts at justifying the potential fuel and weight savings did little to damper their repeated calls to add one back into the lineup in some shape or form. This also blended with the fact that Ram made the bold decision to stick its Hellcat V8 into the Ram TRX, which helped make the Raptor an oddball that was on the outside looking in while the TRX gobbled up sales.
That said, Ford didn’t have a knee-jerk reaction to the TRX and decided to add a V8 to have it come back again in a lazily crafted fashion. Rather, the company bided its time and waited until key technologies were in place to make it happen. That included new engine technologies that would make the engine smaller and lighter (something that couldn’t be said of the outgoing 6.2 liter V8 that powered the last of the first generation Raptor models) as well as new supercharger technology to help it be a more responsive unit when driven hard.
Eight Cylinder Will Supercharge Sales
In addition to customers that demanded a V8-powered reboot, there were also dealerships that requested the return of the V8 to the Raptor. In their case, some of these franchises wanted an offering that would help them enhance sales while also stealing a few away from rival Ram. Looking at the broader market as a whole, it’s easy to see why they would want such a truck, with many truck buyers here in the U.S. still preferring a V8 to a smaller V6 or even a four-cylinder offering. Many of these buyers want enhanced towing, but a smaller percentage want the raw performance and soundtrack that can only be delivered to its fullest by a V8.
Lastly, the Raptor R would be a better halo model than the standard Raptor, with many dealerships often putting at least one halo on the showroom floor to lure in a wider pool of customers in a fashion akin to fishing for gamefish at your favorite fishing spot. Dealerships that do this are not only looking for Raptor R buyers (always a plus) but also buyers that might see it in the showroom and then go on to buy another model instead. That will undoubtedly be a welcome boost for some of Ford’s more bread and butter models like the Explorer and Escape SUVs, which are targeted towards families and are better suited for a more mass sales number strategy. Lesser F-150 models will also benefit from this tactic, especially since they would have the same core technologies and styling as the wild Raptor models.
The battle for attention and customer dollars has never been more important, and look for the 2023 F-150 Raptor to not only be a welcome return to normal for Raptor diehards but also a handy sales driver for dealerships that are still grappling with the effects of reduced inventory and the broader challenges that currently define the new vehicle buying experience.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.