I love a bit of subtlety and I know a good subtle cue when I see one. Hence my unbridled excitement at the small orange ‘R’ badge on the black grill of the Azure Blue Raptor that sits in my driveway.

I am already a big fan of the Raptor and wrote about my off-road escapades with this highly capable machine in one of my articles last year when I took the Raptor on a jaunt to the Knoxville OHV park. Built for Baja and to conquer the desert, the Raptor has long been considered the benchmark of the sector with its off-road capabilities. But now, Ford has taken things to a whole new level with the introduction of the F-150 Raptor R. 

So what does the R stand for. Well, it is clearly something along the lines of rambunctious, raucous, rapacious, riotous, racy, rascally, rollicking, rowdy, robust and certainly rapid. The F150 in Raptor R guise is certainly ready to roughhouse and cause a bit of a ruckus. As well it might. This is the most powerful and most capable Raptor that Ford has ever produced. The Raptor R is powered by a supercharged 5.2-liter V8 engine that produces 700 horsepower and 640 lb-ft of torque, which rockets the Raptor from a standstill to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, which is mind-blowing for a pick-up truck that weighs in at almost 6,000 pounds and can tow up to 6,000 pounds.

The Raptor is already a well-designed, aggressive and intimidating looking machine and the styling of the R dials this up a notch, albeit quite subtlety. The most obvious sign that there is something considerably more potent lurking under the hood is the black power dome and hood air extractor that sits an inch taller than the standard Raptor. There are also the Code Orange R badges on the grille, power dome and tailgate and the special graphics package on the rear fenders that mirrors the tough conditions of cracked desert earth. I particularly like that this is designed using small ‘8’s to signify the V8 configuration.

These styling cues are extended throughout the interior of the Raptor R, with Code Orange R badges on the Recaro sports seats and glove box. With its combination of black leather, Alcantara suede and genuine carbon fiber, the interior of the Raptor combines luxury, sports performance and the functionality you would expect from the F150, underscoring the purpose-built design intended to withstand the toughest and most rugged environments. 

In designing the Raptor R, Ford engineers used the most powerful engine available in the Ford line-up which is the same unit used in the Mustang Shelby GT500 and optimized it for off-road use and durability. The supercharger has been recalibrated with a new pulley system to adapt to off-road use and increase torque delivery at the low-end and mid-range. The exhaust manifolds have been upgraded to a cast stainless design and unique oil cooler and filter, with deeper oil pan has been added to enable the Raptor to take on more aggressive and steeper grades. The air intake volume has also been increased by 66% with a wider air intake inlet and higher flow filters. The end result is that the Raptor R is produces the highest torque from a supercharged V8 in a production pick-up truck. 

Designing a truck for speed is one thing but adapting it for high performance and durability in the demanding and unforgiving off-road environments of desert terrain is entirely another. Ford has a deep bench of expertise and experience in this regard. The transmission and driveline have been upgraded from the base Raptor to adapt to the higher torque through the 10-speed transmission. This includes a larger, wider diameter aluminum driveshaft and a new specially tuned torque converter with a heavy-duty turbine damper and four-pinion rear output assembly. There is also a new front axle with higher strength carrier casting. 

The suspension has also been optimized to provide exceptional stability while tackling desert terrain at high speed. The five-link rear suspension is equipped with extra-long trailing arms a Panhard rod and coil springs. The Raptor has Fox Live Valve shocks, which are electronically controlled dampers that use suspension height sensors and adjust to the terrain conditions hundreds of times a second, balancing the ride quality and control both on and off-road. The R spec includes as standard the 37 Performance package, which features the 37-inch BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO2 tires and, with wheel travel of 13 inches at the front and 14.1 in the rear, it provides the Raptor with outstanding capabilities to traverse rocky terrain. 

The dual exhaust system on the Raptor R has a true pass-through muffler and active valve system which includes several different modes for Normal. Sport, Quiet and Baja. These can all be adjusted in the MyMode feature which enables customization of settings for drive, steering and suspension modes. There is also an option to store customized settings which can be conveniently deployed through the “R” button on the steering wheel. The Raptor R also comes with the standard suite of smart technology available on other Raptor models, including ‘Trail Turn Assist’ to reduce turning radii, ‘Trail Control’ which is a form or off-road cruise control and 1-Pedal Drive, which enables synchronized throttle control and braking with one pedal for extreme off-roading and rock crawling. 

Ford developed the Raptor to appeal to enthusiasts looking for a more powerful version over the base model with its 3.5L EcoBoost V6 engine that produces 450hp and there will be a clear demand and market for those who want a more capable and extreme off-road machine. I love performance cars, but on the road the Raptor R almost feels a little too fast and for a truck of this size you really need to have your wits about you when driving it quickly. 

The clear competitor and alternative to the Raptor R is the RAM 1500 TRX, both trucks are supercharged with the TRX using a 6.2L V8 that produces 702hp and 650 lb-torque. I have not driven the TRX, but the Raptor R has a more sophisticated suspension system, which likely gives it a slightly more refined and smoother ride. 

I have a real affinity for trucks and the Raptor in particular, the design, universal appeal and combination of performance, luxury and functionality are superb. The Raptor R is an exceptionally capable machine, the performance for a truck of this size is astonishing and the supercharged V8 sounds fabulous. All that said, I think for my money I would opt for the base Raptor with the 3.5L V6 Ecoboost, it doesn’t have the grunt and blistering performance of the R, but it is still a fast and nimble truck and with the trombone modifications to the exhaust it still sounds terrific. You would also save $30,575. Though I can also fully see the appeal of the R, particularly for those that are true off-road enthusiasts and are Baja bound. 

The Ford F-150 Raptor R is the ultimate expression of off-road performance and capability. With its jaw-dropping power, advanced technology, and commanding design, this truck is a true game-changer in the world of high-performance pickups. Whether you’re looking to conquer challenging terrains or simply want an exhilarating driving experience on the road, the Raptor R delivers on all fronts. It’s a truck that’s not afraid to push the boundaries. 

The Ford F150 Raptor R that I drove starts at $109,950 and includes the R exterior and interior design accents, black Alcantara suede and leather Recaro seats and 37 Performance package with the 17” forged aluminum bead-lock capable wheels. 

For more information on the 2024 Ford F150 Raptor R visit the Ford website here.

Photographs by James Henderson.