The fans asked for it, and Ford responded. After the previous generation Ford F-150 Raptor was omitted with a V8 engine, the new 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor has a V8 once again under the hood. So is this Raptor V8 better than the other “Super truck” on sale today; the Ram TRX?
Engine – The V8 under the hood of the F-150 Raptor R is no ordinary V8. It is a 5.2L supercharged V8 from the Shelby GT500. Albeit, the engine had to be tuned to be more truck friendly so it doesn’t produce quite as much power as it does in the GT500. But it’s still a potent 700 hp and 640 lb-ft of torque (522 kW & 868 Nm). With the truck tipping the scales at 2,756 kg (6,077 lbs), it can still accelerate from a stop to 60 mph (96 km/h) in about 3.7 seconds. No matter how you look at it, that is seriously fast. It almost boggles the mind seeing and feeling something this big accelerate so quickly. The top speed is limited to about 185 km/h.
Like the V8 engine in the Ram TRX, the engine in this Raptor R overshadows everything else about this truck when you’re putting your foot down. It has gobs of power everywhere in the rpm range. If left in 2WD mode, the rear tires will spin even when the truck is moving at 100 km/h. Additionally, this engine sounds amazing as all supercharged V8’s do. However, unlike the TRX, the Raptor R can be quiet because it has a valved exhaust. In Quiet mode, it’s as though you’re driving a normal V8 pickup truck like a Chevy Silverado. In Normal mode, the “bark” is there but it’s not too obnoxious. In Sport & Baja modes, the volume is turned up to 11 and it could get you into trouble with the 5-0.
Fuel Economy – Of course with such a big engine and such a big truck, fuel economy is going to be worse than dreadful. Officially the 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R is rated for 22.8 L/100km (10.3 MPG) in a city and 15.9 L/100km 14.8 MPG) on a highway. During my time with the truck, I averaged 19.6 L/100km (12 MPG) which was mostly highway driving. The previous auto journalist who had the truck before me, averaged 24.5 L/100km (9.6 MPG). So it all depends on how you drive the truck which dictates what sort of fuel economy you’ll be getting.
Transmission – Paired with this engine is a 10-speed automatic that is really good at doing its job. Under normal driving conditions, the shifts are pretty much imperceivable. In the more sporty drive modes, the shifts are quick, the computer holds the gears for longer, and the paddle shifters are responsive should you want to take over control.
Braking – The Raptor R doesn’t have some fancy 8-piston, race car derived, fixed piston front calipers. Instead, it relies on good ol’ floating dual-piston calipers with 13.8-inch brake discs on the front axle and 13.2-inch discs on the rear axle. The brakes provide plenty of stopping force with a firm feeling brake pedal. The limiting factor of stopping this big truck are the tires. On pavement under hard braking situations, you can feel the ABS stepping in to prevent the front and rear wheels from locking.
Handling – It’s hard to get away from the fact that this is a big and heavy truck. Push it too hard through corners on paved roads and those 37” all-terrain tires will squeal in agony as the truck understeers. But you know what? If you’re a bit more gentle with the corner entry speeds and the steering inputs, the truck doesn’t feel half bad. There is body roll but it’s kept in check by the Fox Live Valve dampers. You can adjust the stiffness via buttons on the steering wheel on the fly. You can also change the steering effort and exhaust note as well. Additionally, you can be a complete hooligan in this truck because it has a 2WD mode unlike the Ram TRX which is 4WD Auto all the time. So that means that you can drift or powerslide the Raptor R until those beadlock capable tires blow up. Unfortunately you cannot lock the rear differential in 2WD mode but the truck still tries to imitate a locking differential through the use of the brakes. The rear brakes also help to turn the big truck when you’re off the beaten path. The Raptor R has Trail Turn Assist which will lock the inside rear wheel to better rotate the truck on tight off-road turns.
Speaking of driving the truck off the beaten path, it’s in the wilderness and wide open sandy plains where this truck really shines. There are a few different drive modes to help the truck get over the rough stuff. There are the aforementioned Fox Live Valve Dampers with Normal, Sport, and Baja settings. There is 4WD Auto, 4WD High and 4WD Low drivetrain settings with a locking rear differential. There are steel plates under the body to protect the vital components and there are the massive 37” all-terrain tires with beadlock capable 17” wheels. The Raptor R is only available with these tires.
Driving this truck through sand and mud ruts is unbelievably easy. The big tires and long travel dampers absorb the roughest bumps that you may find yourself driving over. The Raptor R has an approach angle of 33.1 degrees, a breakover angle of 24.4 degrees, a departure angle of 24.9 degrees and 13.1-inches of ground clearance. Unfortunately I could not explore the full potential of this super truck because I was given instructions from Ford Canada to not go deep in the woods or fast on uneven road surfaces. So the best I was able to do was take it to a small, rocky beach and drive slowly through some of the puddles. But even so, this truck still put a smile on my face because it all felt so easy in this truck.
Capability – Like many other off-road focused pickup trucks, the 2023 Ford F-150 raptor R is only available as a crew cab with a 5 and a half foot long bed. The bed can be exposed metal or you can option it with a drop it liner or a spray-on liner. There is an optional power operated tailgate and an optional tailgate step. The bed has one tie down point in each corner, bed-lighting, and a power outlet. The Raptor R can tow up to 8,700 lbs and carry up to 1,400 lbs.
Ride Comfort – Thanks to those big tires and electric dampers, the ride of the 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R is phenomenal for what it is. You can basically drive over speed bumps without slowing down and the shunt is barely noticeable in the cabin. Rough roads that can cause a normal car to disintegrate feels almost buttery smooth in this truck. Switching between the different damper settings doesn’t really change the ride comfort all that much. In Sport mode, more of the body roll is resisted but the ride is still very comfortable.
Further helping the occupants have a comfortable ride are the brilliant Recaro seats. At least for the front passengers. They provide good support through corners and the suede center further helps to keep you firmly planted.
Interior Space – This being a crew cab pickup truck, there is a lot of space even if you’re as tall as Shaquille O’Neal. There’s loads of space in the front seats and loads of space in the back seats. The rear seats can flip up 60/40 to allow for tall item storage and there’s a collapsible storage space underneath them. Unfortunately the rear seats do not recline like how they do in the Ram TRX but the seats are still comfortable.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – There are V8 noises and then there’s the sound of a race car derived supercharged V8 engine. Like the Ram TRX, this engine provides your ears with some very intoxicating sounds when the exhaust valves are wide open. However, unlike the TRX, the Raptor R can be quiet. You neighbours will thank you in the mornings when you have the exhaust set to the quiet mode. You can also set at what times of the day the truck starts up in quiet mode.
When the exhaust valves are closed, the sound of the tires is the next most evident noise into the cabin. It’s not too loud thanks to the sound insulation that the F-150 comes with. Wind noise is also pretty well subdued.
Odds and Ends
Pricing – Like the other supertruck on sale today, the 2023 Ford F-150 raptor R is expensive. The V6 Raptor starts at $105,275 CAD ($76,775 USD). The Raptor R Supercharged V8 is part of a package that will cost you $40,730 CAD ($30,575 USD). With a few extras added on, this demo truck came equipped at a price of $149,955 CAD ($110,140 USD). That is about $25,000 CAD more than the Ram TRX that I test drove a couple years ago.
Gadgets – For the 6-figure price tag, the Raptor R is equipped like a fully spec’d F-150. It has pretty much every interior and exterior feature added onto it. Heated & ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, panoramic sunroof, automatic climate control, wireless phone charging, surround view cameras, 18-speaker B&O sound system, satellite navigation, and a whole lot more. The only features that it’s missing, although not a dealbreaker by any means, are a head-up display and Blue Cruise.
The infotainment system is displayed on a 12-inch touchscreen and it is a Sync4 infotainment system. It allows for wireless Apple CarPlay & wireless Android Auto connectivity. The graphics are crisp, the navigation is straightforward, and I did not experience any crashing issues with the infotainment system.
Interior Design – For the most part, the interior of the 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R has a feeling of familiarity as it is so similar to a normal F-150. The climate controls are physical buttons & knobs, the touchscreen is within easy reach, it has the folding fear shifter and flip over table from the center console arm-rest, and all other controls are straightforward to use.
The Raptor R does let you know that you’re in a special truck with carbon fiber trim across the dashboard, steering wheel, and door panels. There’s Raptor badging on the steering wheel, seats and center arm-rest. There’s also “Code Orange” highlights in the stitching and dashboard trim pieces.
Exterior Design – The F-150 Raptor has a presence that is unavoidable. The R further enhances that presence with the larger tires and bright orange graphics on the side and hood. In case you ever forget what kind of engine is under the hood, the graphics are made of eights with just one V hidden among them. On the hood, more eights and “Supercharged V8” in bright orange next to the larger hood bulge. This is a wide, long, and tall truck that has everyone turning their heads in admiration or disbelief that such a truck is even road legal.
Safety – The Raptor R is equipped with automatic emergency braking, blind spot sensors with trailer tow coverage, rear cross traffic alert, auto high-beam headlamps, lane departure warning with lane keep and lane centering. As mentioned earlier, the Raptor R is not available with Blue Cruise which is Ford’s version of a semi-autonomous hands-free highway driving assist system.
Warranty – With this powerful V8 engine, the 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R still comes with the same warranty that other F-series trucks are equipped with. 3 years / 60,000 km new vehicle warranty and a 5 year / 100,000 km powertrain warranty. In America, these warranties are 3 years / 36,000 miles and 5 years / 60,000 miles respectively. For more information on Canadian warranty, click here. For USA warranty information, click here.
Conclusion – Between the Raptor R and the TRX, which one is better? Well the Raptor R is slightly faster because it is lighter but they are both very capable off-road supertrucks. One of the key differences between the two is the price. The Raptor is quite a bit more expensive. The other difference is that the Raptor can be a bit more civil when you want it to just be a truck. The TRX brings out your inner child more often as it is always loud and always rearing to go. But whichever one you choose, both will always put a huge smile on your face. Now we just have to wait for GM to give us a supercharged V8 supertruck to complete the trifecta.
Thank you to Ford Canada for providing the truck. www.Ford.ca