Ford Raptor R at home on track as well as off-road trails

By Paul Borden

(September 18, 2023) As if the 450 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque in the standard Ford F-150 Raptor isn’t enough, Ford has blessed us with an “R” version that takes those figures up to a breathtaking 700 horsepower and 640 pound-feet for those hungering for sports car-like performance.The 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R zips from zero-to-60 miles per hour in a rapid 3.6 seconds with the capability of crushing anything that might have the misfortune of getting in its way.

When I was growing up I never figured a pickup truck might be my vehicle of choice for a drag race but here we are.

The 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R’s supercharged 5.2-liter V8 engine is adopted from the Mustang Shelby GT500 and is mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. A 2-speed transfer case for off-roading adventures is activated via a convenient panel of buttons on the lower dash.

The 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R rides on standard 37-inch wheels shod with all-terrain tires and, like the Raptor itself, is available only with a five-passenger SuperCrew cabin.

It comes with a wide range of creature comforts such as heated second-row seats, FordPass Connect with 4G wifi telematics, Sync4 infotainment system with a 12-inch touchscreen, leather-wrapped steering wheel, keyless entry and push-button start, Raptor branded floor mats, power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a distinct Raptor centerstack, a terrain management system, and and adaptive cruise control for highway.

Trail control, a system that allows you to select a specific speed for off-road ventures, also is standard. With this vehicle, you are at home off the road as well as the race track or drag strip.

Safety features include Ford’s Advancetrac system for stability control, blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert, and pre-collision assist with emergency braking and pedestrian detection.

My test 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R also came with a package of features that included leather seat surfaces, power-adjustable pedals, power-sliding rear window with privacy glass, dual-zone climate control, heated and cooled front seats, LED box lighting, and more.
Pricing was not included on the spec sheet since this particular vehicle is not for sale, but the 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R is going to cost you a lot more than the standard Raptor.

Starting MSRP for the 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R is $109,145, or around $30,000 more more than the EcoBoost-powered F-150 Raptors. Even the most expensive electric F-150 Lightning, the Platinum trim, is about $17,000 less.    

Speaking of less, it should be pointed out that despite the overall power boost in the 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R, towing capacity starts at 8,200, well below the 14,000-15,000 available on some standard V8 F-150s. Maximum payload is listed at 1,400 pounds, also well short of F-150s equipped with a slightly larger beds than the Raptor’s 5.5-foot box.

What I liked about the 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R: With its deep bass exhaust tones and rapid throttle response, it’s like driving a 1960s’ Muscle Car on steroids. The ride is surprisingly smooth and comfortable even with all-terrain tires and a firm suspension designed for off-road use. Infotainment features in the Sync 4 system are user-friendly and include knobs for adjusting the radio and temperature control.

The full-size running boards ease the way to get in and out of both rows of seating in the spacious Super Cab cabin. A surround-view camera view takes some of the angst of maneuvering in tight quarters. The auto hold system, activated via the Features menu on the touchscreen, prevents creeping at intersections.

What I didn’t like about the 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R: Negotiating narrow streets and jam-packed mall parking lots call for attentive handling. It’s a thirsty beast as the computer showed my mileage hovering at just over 11-mpg. Fortunately, a 36-gallon fuel tank extends the range.

Would I buy the 2023 Ford F-150Raptor R? Not for me personally but for someone with a big budget for more challenging off-road excursions it has to be at the top of the wish list.