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When the second generation F-150 Raptor debuted back in 2017, it ushered in significant improvements in capability and overall refinement, but one of the biggest changes was met with some controversy: While original Raptor got its shove from a V8, the new machine was motivated by a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6.
Although the 450hp boosted six-cylinder offered more power than the naturally aspirated V8 it replaced, it was a sticking point for some; as we noted in our review of the 2022 F-150 Raptor, the soundtrack has never really seemed to match the aesthetic and overall mission of the truck. And when the Hellcat-powered Ram 1500 TRX roared on to the scene back in 2020, the F-150 Raptor suddenly found itself on the defensive after a decade of having the hardcore desert-running pickup segment all to itself.
The aesthetic of the Raptor R doesn’t stray far from the standard Raptor, but tweaks like the black fender flares, red badges, and unique graphics help to subtly differentiate the R from the base truck.
Blue Oval fanatics demanded a proper response, but the folks at Ford Performance weren’t content to simply toss the V6 for an eight-cylinder powerplant and call it a day. “We’ve heard our customers demanding the sound and power of a V8 back in Raptor,” said Carl Widmann, Ford Performance chief engineer. “That’s not something we were going to rush.”
The company announced that a new top-tier V8 Raptor was on the way when the standard third generation F-150 Raptor broke cover in early 2021, but at the time they offered very little information to pore over otherwise. Now, after roughly a year and half of rumors and speculation, we’ve got all of the official details on what’s in store for Ford’s latest and greatest off-road pickup.
The Raptor R is outfitted with a larger power dome hood to help extract the heat that’s produced by its supercharged 5.2-liter V8. The boosted eight cylinder dishes out 700 horsepower and 640 pound-feet of torque, improvements of 250 horsepower and 130 lb-ft of torque over the turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 found in the base Raptor.
While the Raptor R boasts an array of upgrades throughout, undoubtedly the biggest news is what’s under the hood. The new engine is a modified version of DOHC V8 used in the latest Mustang Shelby GT500, an all-aluminum 5.2-liter mill with a cross-plane crankshaft that’s paired up with a 2.7-liter Roots-type Eaton supercharger. Ford wanted this powerplant to deliver big horsepower and high revs in the Mustang, but low and mid-range torque is a higher priority for a truck like the F-150 Raptor. To optimize the power for this application, engineers recalibrated the blower and installed a new pulley, efforts which result in peak output numbers of 700 horsepower and 640 pound-feet of torque.
Those figures make the R the most powerful factory-built F-150 Raptor by a wide margin, and the additional grunt bumps the truck’s towing capacity up to 8700 pounds. Although the TRX still bests those figures by two horsepower and ten pound-feet of torque, the Raptor R tips the scales at 5950lbs – about 400 pounds lighter than the Ram – which gives the Ford a slight power-to-weight advantage over the Mopar.
While 37-inch BF Goodrich All Terrain T/A KO2 tires wrapped in 17 x 8.5-inch beadlock-capable forged aluminum wheels come as part of the optional Raptor 37 Performance Package on the base Raptor, they’re standard equipment for the Raptor R.
Ford engineers also swapped out the GT500 exhaust manifolds for a cast stainless steel design and outfitted it with a unique oil cooler and filter as well as a deeper oil pan, upgrades which should improve engine oil cooling while tackling aggressive grades. Engineers also outfitted the engine with a wider air intake inlet and a higher-flow, higher-efficiency conical air filter to ensure that the supercharged V8 is never short of breath. And to help ensure that the blown V8 delivers a rousing soundtrack, the Raptor R also scores a unique active exhaust system with Quiet, Normal, Sport, and Baja modes.
Some speculated that Ford would repurpose the GT500’s seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox for use in the Raptor R, but the new truck instead utilizes the ten-speed automatic found in the standard F-150 Raptor with a revised calibration. Drivetrain durability is further improved elsewhere thanks to a new front axle with a more robust carrier casting and an aluminum-ribbed structural cover to manage the powertrain’s added torque, as well as a unique, larger-diameter aluminum driveshaft. A new, specially-tuned torque converter with a heavy-duty turbine damper and four-pinion rear output assembly is also on hand to improve power delivery both on and off-road.
The springs and Fox Live Valve dampers have been retuned to dial in the Raptor R’s suspension for the additional horsepower on tap.
While the Raptor R retains the vast majority of the standard Raptor’s suspension setup, there are a few tricks on hand. The 37-inch BFG all-terrain tires that are optional on the V6 Raptor are standard equipment here, and that means that the Raptor R offers 13.1 inches of ground clearance, 13 inches of wheel travel up front, 14.1 inches of wheel travel in the rear, and approach, breakover, and departure angles of 33.1°, 24.4°, and 24.9°, respectively.
The spring rates and active Fox Live Valve shocks have also been re-tuned to dial the suspension in for the additional 250 horsepower and 130 pound-feet of torque on tap, along with the additional hundred pounds of weight the that R carries around as result of its various upgrades. The drive modes have been reworked to account for the added power of the supercharged V8 as well.
A unique, four-mode active exhaust system allows the supercharged V8’s soundtrack to go from mellow to rowdy at the push of a button.
Ford decided to keep the Raptor R’s aesthetic changes relatively low-key versus the base Raptor, but there are some subtle cues to be found throughout the truck. Perhaps the most obvious difference is the larger and more aggressively styled power dome hood, which sits roughly an inch higher than the bulge on the standard Raptor’s hood does in order to help evacuate more hot air from the engine bay. Unique R badges adorn the front grille and tailgate, while the painted black grille, bumpers, and fender flares give the R a more sinister look overall. An exclusive graphics package also helps to visually differentiate the R from the base Raptor.
Interior changes are subtle when compared to a fully loaded base Raptor. Recaro sport seats with orange stitching come standard here, and the Raptor name (with an orange-accented second “R”) is embroidered on the front seats and armrest.
The Raptor R will debut with more or less every option that’s offered on the base Raptor as standard equipment, so that means that creature comforts like the B&O sound system, the 12-inch touchscreen infotainment, and off-road features like Trail Turn Assist, Trail 1-Pedal Drive and Ford Trail Control are all included by default.
The only option that’s exclusive to the Raptor R is a unique tri-axial carbon fiber weave that’s applied to the doors, media bin, and the upper parts of the instrument panel. A moon roof is also optional, and you can opt to delete the exterior graphics package, but that’s about it.
The orange accents on the Recaro seats and the armrest are perhaps the most obvious visual differences between a Raptor R interior and that of a well-appointed standard Raptor. The Raptor R can also be equipped with an exclusive carbon fiber interior package that’s applied to the doors, media bin, and upper instrument panel.
While that means that every Raptor R will come fully loaded, it also means that they won’t come cheap. The base price of the 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R is $109,145 including the destination fee. That makes the new V8-powered Raptor approximately $23,000 more expensive than a similarly equipped V6 Raptor and roughly $30,000 more than a base Ram 1500 TRX. It’s worth noting, however, that checking every single option box on a TRX will bring its final price to just under $105,000.
The order books for Ford’s new supertruck are open now, and production is scheduled to begin this fall.