For over a decade, the Ford F-150 Raptor has been one of the main players in the off-road segment, and for several years it was the undisputed leader before the Ram TRX, and its Hellcat V8-powered muscle ripped the performance benchmark away from the Raptor. But the folks at Dearborn weren’t keen on letting Ram be the king of the jungle for long and have unveiled the 2023 Ford Raptor R, which ups the ante for Raptor performance in a number of key areas.
Raptor R Supercharges Trailbusting
The bulk of the changes here on the Raptor are found under the hood, with all R models being powered by the same 5.2 liter supercharged V8 that also sees duty in the GT500 Mustang. Here in the Raptor it still makes 700 hp and 640 lb-ft of torque with these figures being a noticeable boost over the 3,5 liter twin-turbo V6. These figures are still a tad short of beating the TRX’s 707 hp, but we’re glad to see that Ford has finally come to the dance ready to duel with the best that Auburn Hills offers.
The 10-speed automatic is carried over from the standard Raptor but it benefits from revised calibration to improve responsiveness. The Fox-sourced Live Valve suspension has also been reworked to better cope with the V8’s extra power and torque. Massive 37-inch tires are standard on the R, and they help the truck have 13.1 inches of ground clearance which is more than the TRX’s 11.8-inch figure and allows the Raptor R to have the most clearance in the off-road performance truck segment. The engine itself has also been reworked for off-road performance thanks to the addition of a new pulley and some recalibration work that improves the torque density and allows the R to have plenty of low-end grunt for trail work. Sadly, Ford didn’t release formal performance numbers for the truck but look for those items to be revealed in the near future.
Ford added new cast stainless steel exhaust manifolds to the Raptor R and eliminated the trumpet-style design seen in the V6 version, while changes to the oil cooling components allow the Raptor R to climb over obstacles without fear of overheating from lack of oil.
R Styling Cues Adds Polish To Raptor Lines; Interior Gets Enhanced Features
The exterior styling of the Raptor R shares alot of core attributes with the standard Raptor, but the R slightly spices things up to make it stand out from the rest. A power dome hood helps the V8 fit snugly into place and sits 1-inch higher than a standard Raptor. The truck also comes with Code Orange-hued accents, including small splashes of orange on the R badges. The bed sides also feature a model-exclusive graphics package that’s supposed to resemble the cracked terrain of the desert floor.
“Raptor R is visually designed like a desert predator to catch the attention of Raptor customers and off-road enthusiasts,” said Tom Liu Raptor lead designer. “There are details big and small – from the more aggressive air extractor to the Code Orange R badges that visually communicate next level off-road performance under the Raptor R banner.”
The interior of the Raptor R also shares the core essentials with its less powerful siblings, but Ford designers chose to increase the R’s appeal by using a higher level of upscale trim pieces and a monotone black color scheme. Real carbon fiber accents adorn the center stack, dashboard, and doors. These accents use a special tri-axial weave pattern that’s supposed to embody the three pillars that define the Raptor R (performance, toughness, and durability. Recaro sport seats are standard, but the jet black interior now incorporates Alcantara accents and the thrones themselves have improved amounts of bolstering. A 12-inch infotainment system is standard on all R models, with the Sync 4-powered software receiving wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities.
When Can I Buy A 2023 Ford Raptor R?
Ford also stopped short of revealing when the truck will exactly roll out to dealerships, but the company confirmed that it has formally opened up order books for the Raptor R and that production is slated to begin in late 2022 at the Dearborn Truck Plant. When the Raptor R does make its way to dealerships, buyers will have eight different colors to choose from, including two new colors (Avalanche and Azure Grey Tri-Coat.)
Pricing information wasn’t announced either, but with a base V6-powered Raptor starting at just over $70,000, look for these spicier R models to march closer to $100,000, with fully optioned models potentially eclipsing that figure. It will be interesting to see if the Raptor R will be able to make up ground over the Ram TRX with that model having time to get a sizable head start on the Ford in both sales and customer acceptance. However, we think that the Mustang-sourced engine and the balanced mixture of upgrades will make this R a hit with customers and allow it to be another unique piece of the broader F-150 sales machine moving forward.
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.