Beware the Raptor, the name Ford has used for its toughest and most aggressive truck lines, including versions of both the Bronco and F-150 lines.
But with the pickup version of Raptor now one-upped by the Ram 1500 TRX, what’s the Blue Oval brand to do? Simple: launch the new, V-8-powered F-150 Raptor R — which TheDetroitBureau.com got a brief look at during a visit to the Johnson Valley desert outside Palms Springs.
Plans for the Raptor R weren’t exactly a state secret, of course, Ford already promising to add a new version of the F-150 that would get the sort of V-8 muscle needed to challenge Ram’s TRX. But this was the first time we could see — and hear — the brute in action.
What can we expect?
With the Raptor-R kicking up plenty of dust during its media debut it was difficult to pick out much detail, but between that “unveiling” and the information Ford insiders have let dribble out, here’s what we so far know.
To start with, Ford has confirmed the Raptor R will get the big V-8 needed to take on the Ram 1500 TRX with its 6.2-liter supercharged Hellcat V-8 engine making 702 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque. What V-8? Ah, that’s where Ford officially falls silent, but it’s widely expected that it will give the Raptor-R a version of the supercharged 5.2-liter powerplant currently used for the Mustang Shelby GT500.
That 32-valve 8-banger punches out 760 hp and 625 lb-ft of torque under the hood of the pony car. Few would be surprised to see Ford make some tweaks altering those numbers after stuffing the V-8 into an F-150.
Known as the Predator V-8, its paired with a 7-speed Tremec dual-clutch gearbox in the Shelby. Whether that would carry over into the F-150 package is uncertain, but it’s more likely than having to upgrade the 10-speed in the current Raptor, which just has to cope with a peak 450 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque.
If the upgrades made by Ram to the TRX offers any clues, expect to find a significantly upgraded all-wheel-drive system on the F-150 Raptor R. After all, it’s expected to not only handle a lot of power, but to thrive in Baja racing conditions.
Going fast means big bumps
That very well may also mean some major upgrades to the current Raptor’s suspension.
Zooming in on the images we snapped at the Johnson Valley OHV park last week suggests that there won’t be many visual changes from the third-generation F-150 Raptor, at least when it comes to sheet metal.
But keen eyes might spot some suspension upgrades. Reports have suggested the Raptor R will get a new five-link rear with coil springs and Fox shocks — more like the TRX. Right now, the F-150 Lightning is the only version of the truck to use an independent rear suspension.
As the Raptor R did a few laps we also spotted what appeared to be a revised exhaust system — no surprise considering the extra air the Predator V-8 gulps down.
Look for the 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R to make a formal debut by late summer, perhaps early autumn if production is delayed due to the ongoing semiconductor shortage. The order bank isn’t supposed to open until then but there’ve been some reports suggesting dealers have already lined up enough customers to fill demand for the 2023 model year.