2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R: Ford Answers the Challenge of the Ram TRX

ford-raptor-r-2023-13-exterior-rear-angle 2022 Ford F-150 Raptor R | photo by Christian Lantry

Ford isn’t taking the arrival of the Ram 1500 TRX lying down — the crosstown competitor to the company’s own F-150 Raptor pickup truck arrived on scene in 2021 sporting a supercharged Hellcat-derived V-8 engine and ungodly power. No sooner had it landed in showrooms than everyone turned to look at Ford as if to say, “Rebuttal?”

Well, Ford’s answer has been delivered in spectacular fashion: The 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R has been revealed, sporting a new V-8 engine and more power than the Raptor has ever had.

Related: 2022 Ford Bronco Raptor Review: A Better Bronco in Nearly Every Way

The Dirty Bits

The Ram TRX took the Challenger Hellcat’s supercharged V-8 engine, and Ford’s done the same trick with the Raptor R — under its sculpted hood is the beating heart of the Mustang Shelby GT500, a supercharged 5.2-liter V-8 engine making 700 horsepower and 640 pounds-feet of torque. Of course, the engine has been recalibrated more for off-road use than drag-strip runs, with a new pulley that optimizes power and torque delivery for low- and mid-range speeds. There are also new exhaust headers made of cast stainless steel, a unique oil cooler and filter, and a deeper oil pan for improved durability in difficult conditions. Finally, air-intake volume has been increased by 66% thanks to a wider inlet and high-efficiency conical filter.

The rest of the driveline has also seen some love, with the calibration of the 10-speed SelectShift automatic transmission getting some attention for faster shifts and durability. All the added torque from the supercharged V-8 will be handled by a new front axle with a higher-strength carrier casting and aluminum-ribbed structural cover. A thicker aluminum driveshaft has been fitted, and a new torque converter with a heavy-duty turbine damper and four-pinion rear output assembly have been included, as well. All of it is meant to help the new, more powerful Raptor R handle the massive engine output yet maintain durability and drivability, both on and off road, according to Ford.

There’s a new true dual exhaust now, with a selectable pass-through muffler design, and it’s tuned to respond to the various selectable drive modes that are part of the MyMode system. Normal, Sport, Quiet and Baja modes are selectable, and all of it is customizable, as well — even allowing drivers to store their settings to a custom mode to be easily selected by pressing the “R” button on the steering wheel.

The suspension isn’t changed much from base Raptors. It still uses a five-link rear with extra-long trailing arms, a Panhard rod and 24-inch coil springs. Electronically controlled Fox Live Valve shocks are still present, with a host of sensors employed to monitor terrain conditions and adjust suspension responses as needed. There’s 13 inches of wheel travel up front and 14.1 inches of it for the rear, while what Ford claims is a class-leading 13.1-inch ground clearance is maintained through the use of standard 37-inch tires (2 inches bigger than the Ram TRX’s 35-inchers).

Looking Good, Too

The looks of the Raptor R don’t differ greatly from the appearance of the rest of the Raptor lineup, but there are a few bits that help fans recognize what they’re looking at if the rumbling roar from the V-8 doesn’t immediately give it away. There’s a new, nearly 1-inch-higher hood with improved air-extraction vents, and the iconic grille, bumpers and fender flares are all painted black. The grille gets Code Orange accents, and there’s a unique “R” badge on the grille, hood and tailgate. You can get beadlock-capable wheels with orange beadlock rings and a unique graphics package for the bed and rear doors.

On the inside, the Raptor R comes only in black with orange accents, with genuine carbon-fiber trim on the doors, media bin door and dashboard. Standard Recaro sport seats are included, covered in a combination of black leather and Alcantara faux suede.

As for the electronics, it all carries over from the well-equipped base Raptor, including items like Trail Turn Assist that selectively brakes one wheel to tighten up off-road turning circles, Trail Control (a kind of off-road, low-speed cruise control), and Trail 1-Pedal Drive functions for extreme rock crawling. There’s a big 12-inch touchscreen running Ford’s Sync 4 multimedia system, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard.

Ordering is open now, with production set to begin later in the year.

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How Does It Stack Up Against the TRX?

It’s obvious that the Ram 1500 TRX is the target for this new Raptor R, and on paper, the numbers are very close. The Ram still outguns the Raptor R by the slimmest margin, with its larger supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi V-8 pumping out 702 hp and 650 pounds-feet of torque. We don’t have any 0-60 mph numbers for the Raptor R just yet, but the company is calling it “scary fast,” which is certainly something the Ram already is, too. The Ford has the edge in ground clearance (13.1 inches for the Ford, 11.8 inches for the Ram), but pop some 37-inch tires on the Ram and watch that change. Suspension travel is almost even — 13 inches for both trucks up front, and the Ram edging out the Ford by an immaterial 0.1 inch in the rear. As for the rest of it, well, they’re both too big to fit in most home garages, and they both get crap fuel economy.

The kicker in terms of the difference between the Ram TRX and the Raptor R? The price: The new Ford F-150 Raptor R is going to sticker at just a tick less than $110,000. That’s $20,000-$30,000 more than the TRX’s sticker price, and a big ask — although Ford points out that the Raptor R is basically a loaded, only-one-option (moonroof delete) spec truck. Still: Ouch.

Suffice it to say that these are not trucks for everyone’s tastes, but they’ll be absolutely perfect for those who want them.

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Detroit Bureau Chief Aaron Bragman has had over 25 years of experience in the auto industry as a journalist, analyst, purchasing agent and program manager. Bragman grew up around his father’s classic Triumph sports cars (which were all sold and gone when he turned 16, much to his frustration) and comes from a Detroit family where cars put food on tables as much as smiles on faces. Today, he’s a member of the Automotive Press Association and the Midwest Automotive Media Association. His pronouns are he/him, but his adjectives are fat/sassy. Email Aaron Bragman

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