When Ford introduced the third-generation F-150 Raptor in February 2021, our first question was “Where is the V8?” With the Ram TRX taking part in a segment that Ford has long owned, there is hope that the next Raptor will return with eight cylinders. While we’d have preferred to see the so-called Raptor R right then and there, we’re now greeting the real thing about 17 months later and it was worth the wait.
Ford confirmed the eight-cylinder Raptor and rumors seem to fall into two camps regarding a V8 to be built under the hood. While some have suggested a naturally aspirated 7.3-liter “Godzilla” pushrod, the winning bet is also a favourite: the supercharged 5.2-liter V8 from the Shelby GT500. But it’s not the same V8 from Ford’s super pony.
Where the GT500 makes 760 horsepower (567 kilowatts) and 625 pound-feet (847 Newton-meters) of torque, Ford recalibrated and revamped the “Predator” V8 to improve low- and mid-range performance. As a result, there’s 650 lb-ft (867 Nm) of torque with the V8 Raptor R, and it’s all available from 4,250 rpm versus 5,000 rpm. The average torque curve is more generous across the rev range as well.
Ford achieved this by recalibrating the 2.65-liter V8 supercharger and installing a smaller pulley – the 74 millimeters versus the 80 in the GT500. But peak power falls to 700 horses (522 kW) which the internet will spend the rest of the Raptor’s life clocking down on the 702-hp (523.4 kW) TRX.
How Ford will handle that inevitable narrative is in the air, but Ford’s rep Motor1.com defiantly noted that the Raptor R weighs just 5,950 pounds (2,699 kilograms) – that’s just 100 pounds (45 kg) more than the V6 Raptor and 400 pounds (181 kg) less than the Ram TRX. So when your Mopar-loving friend shows you his two extra truck ponies, be sure to point out the Raptor R’s superior power-to-weight ratio. That will tell them.
Ford also made adjustments in the name of durability, with the supercharged V8 adopting a new oil cooler and filter, a deeper oil pan for aggressive tilting, and a revised intake system with wider air intakes. But striking in its absence is its usual 5.2-liter V8 counterpart, a dual-clutch transmission sourced from Tremec. Instead, the standard Raptor’s 10-speed automatic remains in full charge with unchanged gear ratios – a major change aimed at maintaining reliability when paired with a high-torque supercharged V8.
If you were expecting Ford to reinvent the wheel instead of just sticking a big V8 under the hood of the Raptor, sure, we have bad news. Apart from the slightly stiffer front springs to manage the extra weight of the engine, the ultra-capable suspension and various driving modes are identical to the base Raptor. Ford standardizes on 37-inch tires (these are optional on the V6), so this will still be a very capable vehicle over rough terrain, but don’t expect dramatic revisions for even more suspension capabilities.
What’s even more disappointing is the restraint that Ford has placed on the interior and exterior. The power dome on the hood is an inch higher, and a new R badge adorns the lower side corners of the driver’s grille. The badge, along with the final R on the “Raptor” badge on the hood and tailgate, sport Ford’s signature Code Orange, which you’ll also find on the tow hook and with graphics (luckily optional). The wheel arches are painted black. In the cabin, black upholstery alternates between leather and Alcantara on the standard Recaro seats.
And the price for a certain mix of Raptor R madness? A staggering $109,145. Yes, the base price of this half-ton truck has crossed the six-figure mark. But before anyone lining up in Dearborn sues Ford’s chief accountant, keep in mind that the Raptor R’s price tag includes every option on the Raptor base except premium paint and a sunroof. That includes 37s and beadlock-capable wheels, all active safety gear, the most powerful audio system, the richest interior complete with standard carbon fiber trim, and a 700-hp V8.
Life is a little better with the TRX, which starts at over $80,000, but the options catalog demands $20,000 to match the equipment level on the Raptor R. The $10,000 gap between the loaded TRX and the standard Raptor R might seem big, but if you have the money to buy it and refueling a 700-hp off-road pickup truck, how much is $10K?
The 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R will hit dealerships later this year and we can promise there will be more of these trucks in the coming months. For now, rest easy knowing that Ford has finally taken up the challenge Ram threw at it with the TRX.