Caraganza Review 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R: A rhino with a rocket on its back

The last time I had a week with a Ford F-150 Raptor was in 2017. That was the “before times” when we only wore masks in an operating room and still worked from things called “offices” that we “commuted” to.

Those were the days huh.

The F-150 Raptor has been in the lineup since 2010. That 2017 model had a turbocharged V6 with 450 horses under the hood. There’s also a Bronco Raptor that was introduced 2020 which has 400 horses under the hood.

I’ve always liked the F-150 and after that week with the F-150 Raptor in 2017, I liked it even more. Not only was there more power but a lot more off-road capability and that, to me, is where a truck can really shine.

Ford gave the 150 a redesign in 2021, and that included the Raptor. In 2023 though they upped the game a bit more, okay a lot more, by introducing an “R” model Raptor. It was still off-road capable and had even more power under the hood. In this case of the R a supercharged 5.2-liter V8 Ford took from the Shelby GT500 delivering 700 horses.

You might think that an old school muscle car guy like me would be over the moon at such a thing. A supercharger under the hood with nearly double the horsepower of the regular Raptor.  Yes, please.

You’d be wrong, however.

Let me explain.

On the road, the big F-150 with 700 ponies under its massive hood is like strapping a rocket to a rhino and letting it loose on the street. The truth is this thing is not for the faint-hearted or the average Joe looking to run errands.

The R is like injecting a lion with steroids. You tap the accelerator, and this truck doesn’t just go from 0 to 60 mph; it teleports. If you’re not careful, you might find yourself in a different time zone before you know it.

The handling – or should I say, taming – of this monster requires skills beyond the average driver’s repertoire. It’s like trying to control a tornado with a steering wheel. The suspension system is stiffer than your grandma’s posture when she catches you misbehaving. Every bump on the road sends shockwaves through your spine, and you better pray that your dental work is up to par.

Trying to manhandle over 6000 pounds of truck powered by a rocket that would make SpaceX engineers proud on the road is an edge of your seat, please leave your hands and arms inside the ride at all times, experience. It can be downright terrifying if you aren’t ready for it.

Sure, it’s exhilarating, to say the least, and the power is intoxicating, but it’s a double-edged sword. Danger lurks around every corner for the uninitiated. You have to be as vigilant as a hawk on espresso to handle this beast. One wrong move, and you’re in the bushes wondering what just happened.

I could drone on about all the off-road features on the Raptor like Raptor-specific off-roading suspension with adaptive Fox shock absorbers, selectable terrain driving modes, 4WD with low-range gearing, and locking rear differential, but I won’t. However, when all is said and done that’s where this Raptor R belongs, off road. It’s not for a grocery run, nor – God-forbid- school pickup.

The pavement should only be trod upon in the Raptor R when you are going from one mud hole to another, or the desert to play in the sand. In those climes that 700 horsepower and 640 pounds of torque will get you through just about anything.

Of course, this is America, and nothing can stop you from heading to a Ford dealer and plopping down six figures to buy a Raptor R. And if you spend most of your time playing in the mud, or the sand, then there’s probably few trucks equal to the off-road capability of the Raptor R, nor with 700 supercharged horses under the hood so why not get one.

But for the rest of us here’s the thing – despite the dangers, the F-150 Raptor R is a thrill-seeker’s dream, a symphony of power and adrenaline that commands respect. Just make sure you’ve got the skills of a Formula 1 driver and nerves of steel before you attempt to tame it.

Finally, in the interest of fairness, the first truck I had with over 700 horsepower was a RAM TRX in August of 2022. Stellantis decided it would be a good idea to shove a Hellcat engine into a RAM. It was nice, and I had a lot of fun, but the F-150 is the best-selling truck in America and has been for awhile for good reason. I tend to like the F-150 design a big more than a RAM. Take an engine out of a Shelby and cram it into an F-150 and the comparisons end there. I’ll take an F-150 any day of the week.


The 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R
MSRP: $107,350
Engine: 5.2 liter supercharged V8, 700 hp @6,650 rpm, 640 lb-ft torque @ 4,250 rpm
Transmission: 10-speed shiftable automatic
Fuel Mileage (EPA): 10 city, 15 highway, 12 combined
Fuel Mileage (as tested mixed conditions): 14 mpg
Base Curb Weight: 2040 lbs.
Maximum towing capacity 8,700 lbs.
Maximum payload 1,400 lbs.

Exterior Dimensions
Length: 232.6 in.
Overall width with mirrors: 96.0 in.
Height: 80.6 in.
Wheelbase: 145.4 in.
Ground clearance: 13.1 in.

Interior Dimensions
Front head room: 40.8 in.
Front leg room: 43.9 in.
Front shoulder room: 66.6 in.
Front hip room: 62.5 in.

Rear head room: 40.4 in.
Rear leg room: 43.6 in.
Rear shoulder room: 65.8 in.
Rear hip room: 62.6 in.

Basic: 3 yr./ 36,000 mi.
Drivetrain: 5 yr./ 60,000 mi.
Rust: 5 yr./ unlimited mi.
Roadside assistance: 5 yr./ 60,000 mi.


Greg Engle