Car Reviews

2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R First Drive Review: The ‘Big Raptor’ gets the big V8

Up till very not too long ago, there was just one Ford Raptor — no Ranger, no Bronco, simply the F-150, or as its engineering staff likes to name it, “Huge Raptor.” The OG. The king. In Huge Raptor’s little nook of the Ford Efficiency world, bringing the V8 again was at all times a matter of when, not if. However the realities of the market held sway and different tasks took precedence — together with an overhaul of the truck’s suspension. Then TRX occurred.

For fairly some time, Raptor successfully had no opponents. We’d like look no additional than the Stellantis lineup to see what being alone out there does to innovation: the Bronco has clearly awoken Jeep from an analogous torpor. Because the outdated saying goes, competitors betters the breed. In plain phrases, we now have a substitute for the 702-horsepower supercharged Ram within the type of a 700-horsepower, also-supercharged F-150. What a world.

In contrast to TRX, although, the 2023 Ford Raptor R had the advantage of an current framework. Oftentimes it’s dismissive to explain a efficiency variant as merely the bottom car with a much bigger engine, however on this case it’s the literal fact. Other than some visible particulars and swapping just a few suspension parts to account for the load of the V8, the Raptor R actually is only a extra highly effective Raptor with the 37-inch tire choice made commonplace. Particularly, including the GT500’s 5.2-liter supercharged V8 pumps issues as much as 700 hp and 640 pound-feet of torque from 450 hp and 510 lb-ft with the three.5-liter turbo V6.

The stiffer springs preserve the bottom clearance similar to a V6 Raptor with 37s (13.1 inches), and the identical goes for all the opposite important off-road specs. Method, breakover and departure angles stay at 33.1, 24.9 and 24.4 levels, respectively, and the R presents the identical quantity of suspension journey (13 inches up entrance and 14.1 within the rear).

The Raptor’s engineers tinkered with the drive modes a bit for R, altering the default Sport Mode powertrain setup to be the automated 4WD setting (it’s 2WD in the usual Raptor) so as to put all that energy to good use.  The usual 37s on the Raptor R don’t do the truck any favors off the road, and in reality could preserve a drag race between the R and the TRX perilously shut, however the V8 can nonetheless rip that off-road rubber to shreds if that’s what you’re going for. We had been solely given the chance to observe acceleration runs on sand — ineffective for knowledge gathering, however immensely enjoyable.

The differentiation is minimal in observe, too. Setting apart the Raptor R’s dramatic acceleration, the drive is nearly similar. That’s factor, and due at the least partly to the truth that minimal alterations translate to minimal weight acquire. The R weighs roughly 5,950 kilos — about 100 kilos greater than a V6 Raptor with the 37s (or 200 kilos greater than with out). Yeah, that’s a hefty curb weight, however keep in mind that the iron-block Hellcat V8 within the TRX helps push that all-steel truck north of 6,350 kilos. The Raptor’s comparatively light-weight aluminum physique offers it a reasonably critical edge.

The Raptor by no means actually feels small, however Ford’s efforts to regulate the R’s food regimen bore fruit. Plodding round city, the R doesn’t actually really feel that completely different from a Coyote-equipped F-150 except you begin exploring the decrease 2/3 of the throttle’s journey, which leads to fantastic noises and fast gasoline consumption. The official EPA estimate stands at 15 mpg mixed, which can smoke the TRX’s 12 mpg mixed, however a pair hours spent shuttling to and from Michigan’s Silver Lake Sand Dunes resulted in averages between 10 and 12 mpg for our caravan of a dozen vehicles. Possibly the TRX would’ve carried out higher versus its estimates in the identical driving, possibly it might’ve been within the single digits, however both method, our expertise with the Raptor R within the sand was much more petroleum-dependent. 

Not that we actually paid consideration to gasoline consumption whereas blasting round Silver Lake. The park’s monumental dunes and beneficiant (learn: barely there) restrictions make it an ideal four-wheel playground. Apart from its closely trafficked transit roads, it has no velocity limits. As a substitute, it’s organized in an enormous, one-way loop designed to maintain everyone pointed in roughly the identical course, limiting the potential for catastrophic encounters over blind crests — of which there are an ideal many.

And Ford allow us to do all of it, from dune climbs to pull racing and every part else in between. It was straightforward to lose observe of what number of instances the vehicles visibly caught air lengthy earlier than most of America was executed making morning espresso. “It’ll do that each one day lengthy” was the fixed chorus from Ford’s engineers and check drivers. They usually had been confirmed proper. Neither the supercharged V8 nor the brakes confirmed any indicators of giving up, regardless of the fish market funk of sizzling friction surfaces that wafted alongside in our wake. That traction management system has its palms full on a floor like this, however man, the brakes seize these 37s exhausting even on unfastened sand. This factor is not any joke.

The key to a really nice supertruck is within the suspension. For off-roading, a fragile steadiness should be struck between journey, consolation and management — not your skill to level the truck the place you need it to go, thoughts you, however management over the truck’s physique motions, particularly the vertical jacking that comes with touring quick over rutted and washboarded surfaces.

In case your shocks are too agency, they’ll yank the truck down after each bump, leading to a paint shaker type of journey. Too smooth and it received’t settle, leaving you in a relentless state of gradual undulation that robs you of grip and invitations you to spend so much of time using round on the suspension’s bump stops. That’s how shocks get blown out and management arms get bent and damaged, or worse, you land the truck’s smooth stomach on a not-so-soft rock and puncture one thing essential, just like the 5.2-liter’s oil pan, as an example.

Ford’s five-link, coil-sprung rear suspension works absolute wonders each on- and off-road. As hard-nosed because the Raptor is, it’s an absolute kitten to cruise round in, even on crappy surfaces. The rear suspension is a dream, making the Raptor really feel extra SUV-like than truck-like on asphalt. However whereas it drives small, it’s inescapably massive — and by that I imply extensive. And that’s exacerbated by the truth that the R drives so tight despite its measurement and substance. It doesn’t really feel like a automotive it’s essential thread rigorously by way of building zones, however its width will catch you out if you happen to’re not cautious. I obtained extra hits from the R’s lane-departure warning than I ever have driving a Tremendous Responsibility. Protecting it between the traces is tougher than sticking the touchdown after yeeting it off a sand dune, I child you not.

After which there’s the cabin. Like the outside, it’s principally carry-over. Except you’ll be able to assure an allocation and special-order a Raptor R, likelihood is the one method you’ll ever see one is loaded, as a result of Ford says that’s how the sellers are requesting them. Regardless of this, it’s nonetheless a half-step behind the Ram by way of supplies and design. The upgraded seats are nothing just like the sculpted buckets present in a Mustang Mach 1 or GT500, however they’re supportive and comfy sufficient for the belongings you’d count on an F-150 to do — even this one.

The Raptor occupies a lonely nook of the pickup panorama. For a very long time, it was the one full-size pickup attempting to play within the Baja fanatic house. It’s a distinct segment Ford carved out for itself greater than a decade in the past. Whereas Ram was the primary to escalate the supertruck wars to their up to date ranges of absurdity, this actually appears like Ford’s combat to lose. It has the tighter, lighter, more-focused truck, but it surely additionally has the almost certainly different buy in the usual Raptor. Each are excellent at what they do. Actually, I can’t assist however consider Cadillac’s Blackwings; the perfect argument towards buying both is that the different one exists.

The Raptor R is every part it seems to be. It’s massive, boisterous and prepared — each bit the equal (at minimal) of Ram’s Hellcat-powered TRX. The V8 is straight-up nasty, with an off-road exhaust mode that may liquefy kids’s ear drums. It’ll do every part the V6 Raptor does just a bit bit faster and with an entire lot extra fanfare. If that’s ticking your bins, then you definately’re in enterprise. Hopefully enterprise is sweet, since you’ll be forking over a six-figure sum to get one — $109,145 to be exact, at the least earlier than any vendor shenanigans.

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