2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R Review and Test Drive
The ultimate off-road F-150, now with supercharged V8 power.
Ten years ago, Ford introduced its first Raptor, an extreme-performance F-150 pickup designed to tackle the most challenging terrain. The all-new third-generation Raptor arrived for the 2021 model year, but that new version didn't bring the V8 power that enthusiasts had grown to expect.
For 2023, Ford rectifies that issue with the first F-150 Raptor R. Residing at the top of the F-150 lineup, this truck is the ultimate F-Series off-roader with massive tires, off-road suspension, and of course, a big V8 under the hood pumping out 700 horsepower.
Ford offers two versions of the F-150 Raptor: the standard Raptor and the Raptor R. Prices range from just under $80,000 for the base Raptor to almost $110,000 for the new Raptor R. Prices include the $1,895 destination charge to ship the truck from its assembly location in Dearborn, Michigan, to your local dealership.
Ford invited me to western Michigan to properly experience the F-150 Raptor R in the sand dunes at Silver Lake State Park and the country roads in the area, covering my travel, lodging, and meal expenses. The company provided a 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R for evaluation, painted in Agate Black Metallic.
The Raptor R comes rather loaded; the only added option on my test truck was the spray-in bedliner. The manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) for the F-150 Raptor R test truck was $109,840, including the destination charge.
2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R Review: The Design
The F-150 Raptor stands out from the standard F-150 with a wide, blacked-out grille with "FORD" spelled out in large letters and amber running lights above the grille. The prominent power dome hood with functional side vents adds to the Raptor's bold style.
The new Raptor R goes bolder yet, with black accents all around, a larger hood vent, and Code Orange tow hooks and accents that include an R in the grille and on the tailgate. The massive 37-inch BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/A K02 tires with unique 17-inch forged aluminum wheels are standard, and the hood has "RAPTOR" across the side featuring the last R of the name in Code Orange.
It may look like a beast on the outside, but one could call the Raptor R's cabin luxurious. Recaro sport seats trimmed in soft Alcantara and black leather are comfortable and stylish, and feature orange stitching and a Raptor R logo embossed on the seatbacks. The dashboard and doors come trimmed in carbon fiber, and there are orange accents throughout the cabin. Overall, the materials have a high-end feel and appearance, befitting a truck with a sticker price above $100,000.
The front seats are quite comfortable, with soft surfaces and nice side and thigh bolsters that lend great support, especially when pushing the Raptor R through rugged terrain. Seat heating and cooling are standard, and multiple power adjustments make it easy to find the proper driving position. I spent several hours behind the wheel of the Raptor R, both off-road and on pavement, and experienced no fatigue or other discomfort at the end of the day.
The Raptor R features nicely laid out controls with a large 12-inch center touchscreen display that permanently features shortcuts to audio, phone, and other menu items at the bottom of the screen. Climate and audio controls are separate, with hard buttons and dials that are within easy reach of the driver, as are the drive-mode selector and trailering controls.
The back seat in any F-150 crew cab is quite spacious, and the Raptor R is no exception. Legroom and headroom are abundant, and with the flat floor, three adults can comfortably sit in the back, although the middle seat is a bit stiff. Rear-seat styling is similar to that found up front, and the outboard seats are heated. Folding up the seat bottoms creates a versatile cargo space, and you can keep smaller items secure and out of sight with the storage box that unfolds out of the floor.
Like other F-150s I've tested, the Raptor R features one of my favorite tailgate features. A step and telescoping handle extend from the end of the tailgate, creating an easy step up into the bed without having to put your hands or knees on the hard, dirty surface.
2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R Review: The Technology
The F-150 Raptor R comes equipped with Ford's latest Sync 4 infotainment system. Its screen is large enough to show navigation on one side and audio or other information on the other. This is especially nice when running Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. Navigating the system is simple and intuitive, with dedicated menu items remaining at the bottom of the screen.
Alternatively, the driver can perform tasks like setting a destination, changing the audio selection, or setting the cabin temperature via voice control. Sync 4 features one of the better voice-recognition systems on the market. I could select a destination, change the music source, and tune a station via natural voice requests without any issues or mistaken commands.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connect wirelessly, and for added convenience, the Raptor R comes standard with a wireless phone charger. I connected my Galaxy S21 Android phone via Bluetooth in just a few seconds with easy-to-follow on-screen prompts. Android Auto worked as expected, connecting automatically every time I got in and started the truck.
Adding to the Raptor R's high-tech vibe is the 12-inch digital driver's display. With plenty of real estate, the screen can simultaneously show engine gauges, drive-mode settings, the current music selection, driver-assist status, and the standard tachometer and speedometer, all nicely laid out without looking too busy. The center section is configurable and can display features like trip-computer readings or navigation instructions.
The Raptor R comes standard with a range of advanced driver-assist features. Highlights include forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and a rear automatic braking system.
Ford doesn't offer its BlueCruise semi-autonomous driving setup on the Raptor R, but the big truck does get adaptive cruise control with lane-keeping assist. The system worked well for me and is easy to activate and set up via steering wheel controls.
Neither the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) nor the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has performed crash tests on the Raptor R. However, the IIHS gave the 2023 Ford F-150 the highest-possible Good ratings in all crashworthiness tests. Additionally, the 2023 F-150 earned a Top Safety Pick award from the institute for the 2022 calendar year. NHTSA gives the 2023 Ford F-150 SuperCrew 4WD the highest overall rating of five stars.
2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R Review: The Drive
Powering the Ford F-150 Raptor R is a supercharged 5.2-liter V8 engine originally designed for the Mustang Shelby GT500. Optimized specifically for off-road performance with increased torque delivery at lower engine revs, the big V8 puts out 700 horsepower — 250 more horses than the EcoBoost-powered standard Raptor — and 640 lb-ft of torque. A smooth-shifting 10-speed automatic transmission pairs with the engine.
While the chassis remains essentially the same as that found in the standard Raptor, the V8-powered truck gets a new higher-strength front axle, a larger-diameter aluminum drive shaft, and a specially tuned torque converter. Enhancing its off-road performance, the Raptor R gets a five-link rear suspension, 24-inch coil springs, and Fox Live Valve shocks designed to provide the best ride quality on and off the road.
As a final touch, Ford engineers gave the Raptor R a new dual-exhaust system with an active valve setup that delivers a monstrous roar, making sure passers-by know that this Raptor has a V8. And it sounds awesome.
Fuel economy is not one of this truck's strong points. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Raptor R's gas mileage at 10 mpg city, 15 mpg highway, and 12 mpg combined. Based on my experience, these figures are difficult to achieve. Driving at slightly less than highway speeds on the back roads of western Michigan, I struggled to get the big truck to 10 mpg. During several hours off-roading through the sand, rocks, and hills, the trip computer indicated a meager 3.5 mpg.
Acceleration is impressively strong off the line, especially for a truck that weighs almost 6,000 pounds. Off-road performance may be its primary purpose, but with 700 horsepower on tap, the F-150 Raptor R is quick on the pavement. For improved performance, selecting Sport mode puts the truck in automatic 4WD, providing maximum traction when unleashing all of that horsepower and torque.
Even at highway speeds, full throttle acceleration is exciting. The massive thrust of the big V8 pushes passengers back in their seats, and the weight shifts to the rear with the front end lifting up so much that when driving in the dark, my headlights briefly shone into the sky rather than down the road.
The Raptor R was surprisingly smooth and easy to handle when cruising on the highway or driving on backroads through the countryside. The steering is good, and the brakes are strong and easy to modulate, but cornering at speed is not one of this truck's high points. With its high center of gravity and hefty weight, it is definitely not a sport truck. The big off-road tires add considerable road noise at higher speeds, and the engine isn't exactly quiet, but overall the truck works well for everyday driving.
Where the Raptor R really shines is when the pavement ends. The truck can handle the most challenging terrain thanks to its off-road suspension, massive tires, and 13 inches of wheel travel in the front and 14.1 inches in the rear. Tackling steep dunes, crossing rocky surfaces, or launching over crests at high speed was no problem for the Raptor R, which always stayed composed and never seemed to lack power.
More importantly, the Raptor R does an excellent job of keeping the ride comfortable and smooth even when the way forward gets rough. Typically, after several hours of off-road adventures, I would feel beat up and fatigued, but that wasn't the case with the Raptor R. With comfortable seats and a suspension that seemed to absorb any rough terrain, I could have kept going all day.
Is the 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R a Good Truck?
Ford built the F-150 Raptor R with a specific purpose: to be the ultimate high-performance off-road pickup truck available directly from the factory. After spending time pushing the Raptor R through its paces in the Michigan dunes, it seems the company has hit the mark. The Raptor R is supremely capable with power to spare, and it keeps the ride comfortable, which adds to the overall enjoyment of the off-road experience.
Best of all, the Raptor R is still an F-150 — one of the best full-size trucks on the market. With a roomy and stylish cabin, easy and intuitive controls, a well-thought-out infotainment system, and the latest advanced driver-assist features, the Raptor R doesn't sacrifice the niceties to be an off-road beast.
With a price tag north of $100,000 and a thirsty V8 engine, this truck is clearly not for everyone. But for those looking for one of the most capable off-road pickups on the market, the Raptor R is worthy of consideration.