by Michael Butler
If it's off-road fun you're after, there is little else that can touch the 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor pickup truck. It's based on America's best-selling truck but comes fully kitted with some of the best off-roading parts and suspension improvements offered on a production car. This truck gets wide fenders, a trick suspension setup, up to 700 horsepower in the case of the new Raptor R, and enough attitude to tame a bobcat. That new Ford F-150 Raptor R truck finally gives the Blue Oval a genuine alternative to the Ram 1500 TRX in the USA, a bruiser that has been practically unmatched in terms of power and performance in this class until now. We've been in love with the Raptor ever since it made its first appearance, and now it's more capable, more stylish, and more comfortable than ever. This is the ultimate off-road Ford, and we're in love. If you can look past the high price and the poor gas mileage, you'll probably fall for the Raptor too.
The 2023 model year sees the introduction of the model we've all been waiting for, namely the Raptor R. This beast makes use of a supercharged 5.2-liter V8 engine that produces a massive 700 horses. The Raptor R also features chunky 37-inch tires, forged aluminum beadlock-capable wheels, and more ground clearance than the standard Raptor. The suspension gets a retune, and the cabin gets some slick carbon fiber bits and stylish Recaro front seats.
Elsewhere, Avalanche and Azure Gray have been added as new additions to the palette, while some previously optional equipment has now been made standard.
You've got to pay to play as they say and to get behind the wheel of this off-road toy, you'll have to pay Ford $76,775 of your hard-earned dollars. This MSRP excludes tax, registration, and a destination fee of $1,795. Most owners will add a few accessories, pushing the price of the Ford F-150 Raptor beyond the $80k mark, and fully loaded, you can expect to pay over $85k.
If you want the V8 in the new Raptor R, that will add $30,575 to the price. That raises the price to a steep $107,350 excluding destination.
See trim levels and configurations:
This truck is all about going off-road, but let's talk about its on-road manners first. The Raptor features highly technical internal-bypass dampers and a five-link rear coil-spring setup which has been developed to take on the harshest of terrain, but on the road, it delivers an amazingly smooth and composed ride, and those 37-inch tires are surprisingly quiet on the open road. Despite weighing in at around 6,000 pounds, the Raptor is still eager to please on the road, and with the suspension in its stiffest setting, this truck becomes enjoyable to throw around corners. Understeer will rear its head when you push too hard into tight corners, but as a point-and-shoot machine, this truck is hard to beat, especially the Raptor R, which buckles down, and lays its power down neatly, resulting in near cardiac arrest for most passengers. We also found the steering to be precise for a vehicle like this.
Off-road, the F150 Raptor is in a class of its own. With multiple driving modes on offer, the Raptor has an answer for everything and will make the most corrugated roads feel buttery smooth. In our first drive review of the Ford F-150 Raptor R on loose sand, we were astounded at how agile it felt, and how it can jump across large sand dunes and land again without you feeling like you're losing control. While both engines are powerful enough, the 450-horsepower EcoBoost V6 in the regular Raptor can't match the power or exhaust note of the Raptor R's 700-hp supercharged V8. There is a Quiet mode if you prefer not to alarm the neighbors, though.
Ford F-150 Raptor competitors like the Ram 1500 TRX are similarly large. For that reason, these trucks excel at high-speed off-roading rather than technical off-roading where space is limited; here, the large bodies become a hindrance.
Ever since the advent of the super truck class, the Ford F-150 Raptor has been sitting comfortably at the helm, with other competitors slowly starting to wake up to the fact that people are hungry for hardcore off-road machines. The F-150 Raptor has had three generations of practice to get the recipe right, and it's now bordering on perfection in many ways. We love the aggressive styling and sporty interior; both suit the capabilities of this truck to a tee. Both engines deliver the goods, and the handling and drivability of this truck are off the charts. From city cruising family truck to trophy racer, this thing does it all. The Raptor R adds a whole new dimension to this already capable platform and is poised to steal the super-truck crown from the Ram 1500 TRX. When it comes to factory off-road machines, the F-150 Raptor is hard to beat.
There's only one trim, so we'd suggest adding a few optional packages to make your Raptor your own. The Raptor is already a highly capable machine in stock form, so we'll skip the 37-inch tire package and simply go straight for the regular model. If money is no object, the Raptor R is a spectacularly capable and wildly enjoyable pickup.
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