Ford’s 700-hp Raptor R takes the GT500’s V-8 to the desert
After an eight-year hiatus, Ford is putting a V-8 back in its top off-road F-150. Powering the new Raptor R for 2023 is a supercharged 5.2-liter V-8 that produces 700 horsepower, making it the most powerful Ford F-series ever built. This variant of the 760-hp Predator engine found in the Shelby GT500 uses a smaller supercharger pulley to build boost quickly for optimized low- and mid-range power where a truck needs it most. It seems that the faster spinning supercharger does come with a price, however, trading top-end power for low-end grunt. Peak output—all 700 hp of it—comes at 6650 rpm, 650 below the GT500’s power peak of 7300. Torque production peaks at 4250 rpm, when the engine twists out 640 lb.-ft. That’s 700 below the normal Predator’s torque peak of 5000 rpm. Not a bad trade.
Further modifications to turn the GT500’s track-capable engine into a proper truck powerplant include cast stainless-steel exhaust manifolds and a larger air intake that is fed by a huge, conical filter. The Raptor R comes with an 8700-pound tow rating, 500 pounds higher than that of its V-6 Ecoboost-powered F-150 Raptor sibling. To keep oil at its proper operating temperature, even when tearing across the desert or towing up steep grades, the Raptor R uses a unique oil cooler and filter as well as a deeper oil pan, carrying 11.5 quarts of 5W-50 synthetic in the system.
In case the eight-cylinder soundtrack and Tonka-sized, standard 37-inch tires weren’t enough, the Raptor R sets itself apart from the EcoBoost Raptor with a Code Orange “R” emblem in the grille and a unique hood featuring a larger power-bulge hood that helps evacuate hot air from the engine compartment. Likewise, emblems found elsewhere on the truck will highlight the second “R” in Raptor in the same Code Orange color.
Like the standard Raptor, all Raptor R units will be built in Super Crew configuration. Unlike the six-cylinder truck (on which they are an option), 37-inch BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 tires standard on the Raptor R. BFG All-Terrains have a reputation for being able to handle a wide variety of off-road situations and they manage to do so without the wail of road noise that comes with an aggressive tread. These shoes give the Raptor 13.1 inches of ground clearance, same as its EcoBoost-powered sibling.
The bulk of the hard parts of the suspension and drivetrain on the Raptor R are shared with the standard Raptor, although they were naturally optimized for the new powerplant. Front coils have five percent more spring rate to compensate for the slightly heavier engine and the R also received unique calibrations for each of the truck’s drive modes. Additionally, a new front differential casting, a larger-diameter driveshaft, and an upgraded 10-speed SelectShift transmission all help carry the burden of the additional torque output. Some of the transmission’s upgrades include a specially tuned torque converter and a four-pinion output shaft. The five-link rear axle uses the same 4.10:1 ring and pinion we’re used to, and the electronically controlled Fox Live Valve shocks still manage the same 13.0 and 14.1 inches of wheel travel, front, and rear as a 37-equipped EcoBoost Raptor.
At first glance, Ford’s V-8-powered Raptor has everything necessary to go toe-to-toe with its archnemesis, Ram’s Hemi-powered TRX. Ford is ready to take orders on this new off-road powerhouse and will start making the first deliveries to dealerships later this year. Ford Performance may have taken its sweet time rolling out a V-8 super truck—nearly two full years—but, even as it executed a genuinely capable, compelling electric F-series, the Blue Oval has risen to the TRX’s gloriously indulgent challenge with high style.