2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R Restores the Roar with a 700-HP V-8

·6 min read
Photo credit: Michael Simari - Car and Driver
Photo credit: Michael Simari - Car and Driver
  • The 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R arrives with a supercharged 5.2-liter V-8 that makes 700 horsepower and 640 pound-feet of torque.

  • Along with a restored roar, every Raptor R has 37-inch tires and subtle visual cues that differentiate it from the V-6 version.

  • The 2023 F-150 Raptor R starts at $109,145, with orders open now and production starting this fall.

As Jeff Goldblum's character says in the original Jurassic Park, "If there's one thing that evolution has taught us, it's that life will not be contained . . . life finds a way." Well, Ford finally found a way to fit the F-150 Raptor with a proper V-8 again. And it's not just any V-8—it's the supercharged 5.2-liter from the Shelby GT500, also known as the Predator. The epic engine upgrade is the justification for the new 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R. It also rings the bell signaling the start of the heavy-weight title fight that truck nuts have been waiting for: Raptor versus TRX.

A Predator in a Pickup Truck

As had been rumored and later confirmed, the Raptor R is powered by Ford's Predator V-8. However, there are some significant differences between the pickup-truck version and the one under the Shelby GT500's hood. In the mightiest Mustang, the blown motor makes 760 horsepower and 625 pound-feet of torque. In the Raptor R, the supercharged 5.2-liter V-8 makes 700 horses and 640 pound-feet. For further comparison, the regular-strength Raptor's twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6 makes 450 horses and 510 pound-feet.

Photo credit: Michael Simari - Car and Driver
Photo credit: Michael Simari - Car and Driver

The new power figures are a result of Ford's tailoring the truck's engine for optimal performance in conditions that it'll actually be driven in. Think pounding across the desert or crawling over obstacles rather than racing around a track or operating at triple-digit speeds. The Raptor's new engine still pairs with a 10-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. However, the transmission has a new calibration and an upgraded torque converter. The Raptor R also has a new, stronger front axle and a thicker driveshaft.

Ford says the changes that sacrificed 60 horsepower also helped discover 15 pound-feet. And—most important—the Raptor R's 640 pound-feet of twist is delivered at the low and middle sections of the rev range. We're told this is primarily caused by the recalibrated supercharger and its smaller-diameter pulley. And the Predator engine in the pickup truck features unique exhaust manifolds made of cast stainless steel, a different oil cooler and filter, and a deeper oil pan. Plus, it inhales 66 percent more air thanks to a wider intake as well as a filter that Ford says is more efficient and allows more airflow.

Photo credit: Michael Simari - Car and Driver
Photo credit: Michael Simari - Car and Driver

Huge power figures are fun to boast about, but a truck like the F-150 Raptor needs a roar to back up the specs. While the regular Raptor's twin-turbo V-6 has better vocals than the previous generation, its soundtrack is still more Fleetwood Mac than Metallica. Thankfully, the R-rated Raptor's V-8 and redesigned exhaust give this truck the sound and fury to rival the 702-hp Hellcat-powered Ram TRX. We've heard the Raptor R in person and can confirm that it'll wake the neighbors and scare children. It also has a mode for quieter cold starts to show some respect.

Big Power Comes with the Biggest Tires

By now, Ram stans are probably gloating about the fact that the TRX is still more powerful than the V-8 Raptor. While that is true, it's not that simple. The 5.2-liter Predator engine has a lighter aluminum block; the 6.2-liter Hellcat engine has a heavier iron block. Ford says the F-150 Raptor R has a 5950-pound curb weight. Ram lists the TRX's curb weight as 6350 pounds. Based on those manufacturer claims, the V-8–powered Raptor has a better power-to-weight ratio of 8.5 pounds per horsepower versus the TRX's 9.0 pounds per horsepower. Also, when it comes to off-road trucks named after prehistoric killing machines, the Raptor R has bigger claws.

Photo credit: Michael Simari - Car and Driver
Photo credit: Michael Simari - Car and Driver

Massive 37-inch BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 tires are fitted to every Raptor R. You won't currently find rubber that tall on the Ram TRX or any other factory-built truck. The huge BFGs are the same ones that are available on the V-6 Raptor. In fact, with the 37s included, the two models have the same 13.1 inches of ground clearance and virtually identical suspension setups. The biggest difference is that Ford gives the R version specially tuned dampers and 5 percent stiffer front springs to better handle the extra weight of the V-8, although we're told it adds less than 100 pounds overall.

How to Spot an F-150 Raptor R in the Wild

Because Ford didn't want regular Raptor owners to regret not having the more powerful version, it chose not to make the two trucks look vastly different. However, the company still wanted Raptor R owners to have something that distinguished their trucks as the big-motor models. One of the most telltale signs is the taller power dome on the hood, which sits about an inch higher than on V-6 versions.

Clues to the 700-hp V-8 located between the truck's bulging front fenders include several "R" callouts in a distinct shade of Code Orange. Along with small badges on the grille, power dome, and tailgate, the "R" in the Raptor lettering on the bedside graphics is orange. The graphic itself is also unique to the Raptor R, featuring an interesting pattern that's supposed to look like "harsh, cracked desert earth"—the interpretation is debatable. Luckily, those who prefer a cleaner look can opt to have the graphics removed at no cost.

Photo credit: Michael Simari - Car and Driver
Photo credit: Michael Simari - Car and Driver

Inside, the Raptor R looks like most other F-150 models, and it has most of the same tech and features as the regular Raptor. There are, however, a few distinct details. The carbon-fiber accents throughout the cabin have an exclusive pattern. Its upholstery is a mix of black leather and microsuede, and the R comes standard with pair of comfy and supportive Recaro front seats. The steering wheel also features an "R" button that lets the driver instantly access a customized, preset drive mode.

The 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R starts at $109,145. That's about $27K more than a '22 Raptor with the 37-inch-tire package, which has an $81,705 price tag with no other options. Orders for the Raptor R are now open, and Ford's off-road supertruck is set to start production this fall.

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