Bold graphics on the 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R body side are optional. (Ford)

Bold graphics on the 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R body side are optional. (Ford)

2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R is a big sandbox toy for grownups

The Raptor, previous king of capability, is now the ‘regular’ Raptor, dethroned by this new arrival.

For one solid week I was the titleholder for Driver of the Gnarliest Pickup in Snohomish County. That would be the 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R.

Based on the F-150 Raptor inspired by the extreme desert-racing trophy trucks that compete in the Baja 1000, the Raptor R switches out the V6 for the Mustang Shelby GT500 engine, a 5.2-liter supercharged V8 delivering 700 horsepower and 640 pound-feet of torque.

This astounding energy is designed to help maximize Raptor R’s desert-running capability, and I’ve no doubt about its effectiveness in that regard. Street driving is a different story, where punching the pedal after a stop is courting a neck fracture.

The Raptor R’s astounding energy also inflicts a sharp cut in fuel economy: 12 mpg city, 15 mpg highway, and 12 mpg combined. The gas mileage for deep sand driving probably plunges into single digits.

Every mechanical element of the Raptor R is crafted for optimum off-road performance. I’m covering the topic with that broad brush of a single sentence because itemizing and detailing each one is more than I can bear.

The Raptor R’s 700-horsepower supercharged V8 makes child’s play out of deep sand. (Ford)

The Raptor R’s 700-horsepower supercharged V8 makes child’s play out of deep sand. (Ford)

The engine is outrageously loud, which was fun for seven days but I wouldn’t want to live with it. Fortunately, I was born with two X chromosomes and was thereby spared the Y-chromosome curse of being enthralled by obnoxious loud noises and the my-engine-is-bigger-than-your-engine outlook on life.

The Raptor R is enormously tall and wide. From behind the wheel, painted driving lanes on the road seem too narrow for it. Getting around town requires special attention when turning corners. “Go wide, Mare, go wide” is the guiding principle I adopted after once hopping a curb with the right rear tire.

I did all right with the considerable effort of getting into and out of the truck, but a short person would need to belay and rappel.

Even with its extreme ruggedness, the F-150 Raptor R is refined. It rides with civility on pavement at all speeds. The handsomely upscale interior is replete with comfort and convenience features, technology, and a magnificent array of variously-shaped bins and cubbies for placing things.

Big bold desert-themed graphics on the truck’s body sides above the rear wheels are a bit much but they’re optional.

Pricing for the Raptor R starts at $77,570 including a $1,795 destination charge. With all available goodies added, it jumps well into six figures.

The 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R was created with sand-driving performance in mind. (Ford)

The 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R was created with sand-driving performance in mind. (Ford)

2023 FORD F-150 RAPTOR R

Base price, including destination charge: $77,570

Price as driven: $111,935

Mary Lowry is a member of the Motor Press Guild and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. She lives in Snohomish County. Vehicles are provided by automotive manufacturers as a one-week loan for evaluation purposes only. Manufacturers do not control content of the reviews.

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