2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R new car reviews

Photography by J.G. Pasterjak

The F-150 Raptor R is pretty much what happens when you put a supercharged V8 into the more "pedestrian" Raptor.

And before you ask, no, we didn't jump it.

 

 

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J.G. Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak
Production/Art Director

From time to time, the services that manage the logistics for the fleets of media cars we take delivery from, or the manufacturers themselves, will have special requests regarding the care of the vehicles they loan us. “Please no street parking” is a common request for high-end cars looking to avoid costly nicks and dings, and “Try and return fully charged” is becoming more common with EV loaners, so the delivery drivers can make the 150+ mile trek back to their South Florida warehouse without having to worry about finding a working charger along I-95.

These are all completely reasonable requests, and we always go over and above to accommodate them, as maintaining favorable relationships with the suppliers that help us do our jobs is a key tenet of our business ethic.

So when the crew dropped off a 700hp Ford Raptor R, with external reservoir Fox Shocks and over a foot of suspension travel, along with the first set of 37-inch diameter tires ever factory equipped on a truck in the US, they had a simple request: “Please, no off-roading.”

Uh… guys?

But, look, we aim to please, and this wasn’t a battle we felt was worth fighting. Ultimately, we’re not an off-road magazine, so we’ll save our political capital for a more relevant battle. Had Ford sent a Mustang GT with a Track Pack and asked us to refrain from track testing, we’d have put up much more of a fight. But in this case, we feel we can give the Raptor a thorough evaluation while honoring Ford’s request and deferring the off-road testing to our colleagues with a more appropriate outlet.

So, first stop: The pickleball club.

More than many modern high-end automobiles, driving a Raptor—particularly a snarling V8-powered R model—is an exercise in self-consciousness. Not only are you piloting a vehicle with a sticker price north of $100,000, but it’s also the size of a tugboat and has the presence of an alpha silverback gorilla in a preschool for artistically inclined nerds.

Still, it was easy to park at pickleball, despite its vastness, and after five games we departed for home 4-1. Try that in a RAM TRX.

But really, the most stunning thing about the trip was that until you exit the vehicle, which, for us, meant a step waaay down to the ground from the very tall running boards, you almost forget about its capabilities. With the drive mode set in a more conservative slot, the exhaust is not intrusive, the ride is as good as you’ll get from any modern pickup–which is to say quite good since they come with coil springs all around and normie-friendly suspension tuning–and the throttle response from the supercharged V8 is smooth and controllable. It’s shockingly normal.

So then we picked up some groceries.

The 5.5-foot bed, although nicely appointed with a spray-in liner, was uncovered, so we opted to place our provisions in the rear seat. Once folded up, the bottom of the rear seat reveals a clever folding cargo container that turns the back seat of your Raptor into quite a handy receptacle for your stuff. Since we could not take the vehicle off-road, we have no idea how well the stowable cargo unit would handle full-throttle whoops, but it handled the Publix parking lot just fine.

Our final task for our week with the Raptor was fetching some wildlife because, after all, this truck should be able to do truck things. A 100-mile drive to a fish farm in Ocala later, we loaded three Asian grass carp into the rear seat area of the air-conditioned cabin of the Raptor.

Oh, did you think we were going to strap a deer carcass to the hood? No, that’s far too pedestrian for a truck of this capability. Instead, we loaded three exotic swimming death missiles with a taste for human flesh (probably) into the same passenger compartment and relied on their mercy for the 90-minute drive home.

And, here’s the crazy thing: A 700hp Ford Raptor R gets better mileage on the highway than my Tundra. I mean, V8 Tundras are notoriously thirsty, but they also have about half the power. It’s crazy that a vehicle with such an obscene mechanical atrocity under the hood can just hum along getting 20mpg on the highway like it ain’t no thing.

And that’s kind of the magic of the Raptor. Although we didn’t get to experience it, it’s doubtlessly capable off-road with its high-tech suspension, massive rubber and enough suspension travel to earn it Delta Medallion status.

But, somehow, it also does normal truck stuff remarkably well, which is a testament to some amazing engineering. And, let’s face it, most Raptors that get released into the wild are probably going to see more action at the mall than in Moab. It was exciting getting a chance to prove that.

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