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SUPERCHARGED V8 POWER Ford Pulls Out All The Stops For The 2023 Raptor R By Dan Sanchez Photos Courtesy Ford Motor Co. When Ford unveiled its 2023 model F-150 Raptor R, they made sure it was the most powerful Raptor ever built. While some may argue that the change from a twin-turbo V6 to a V8 came after Ram introduced its TRX off-road beast, Ford engineers claim it was the generations of Ford Raptor trucks and their history in desert racing that inspired them to pull out all the stops with the 2023 model. “Raptor R is our ultimate Raptor,” said Carl Widmann, Ford Performance’s chief engineer. “When customers experience Raptor R in the desert and beyond, it will make the hairs on the back of their necks stand up – and they’ll love every second of it.” The heart of the Raptor R is its 5.2L supercharged V8 making 700 horsepower and 640 lb-ft of torque. Maybe Ford wanted to go back to the Raptor’s roots when the first-generation Raptors came equipped with either 320 hp 5.4L or 411 hp 6.2L V8 engines. These were dropped in 2017 when the second-generation models appeared with the EcoBoost V6 that made 450 horsepower and 510 lbs-ft of torque. While that didn’t stop Ford truck and off-road fans from purchasing the V6 Raptor, most had a hard time getting accustomed to not having the sound of a V8 emanating from the exhaust. But this new 5.2L isn’t just a brand-new design– it comes from the Mustang Shelby GT500 with some updates to make it more suitable for the F-150 Raptor platform and to handle rugged off-road situations. High-powered Shelby Mustangs feature a water-cooled supercharger and this one is also a 2.6L water-cooled design that puts out 12-PSI of boost. Ford powertrain engineers changed the supercharger’s pulley to bring in power in the lower RPM range, giving it more useable low-end and mid-range torque. Forced induction works best when intake air temperatures are cool, so the Raptor R has its own air intake system with a large cone filter that increases volume sixty six percent over previous models. Further air intake cooling comes from a large front hood air extractor as well as a model-specific supercharger intercooler and oil cooler that are built to handle harsh environments. The engine also has some internal modifications unique to the Raptor R. It has twin dual-overhead cams with variable cam timing, a forged steel cross-plane crankshaft, a deeper oil pan, and forged aluminum pistons. Cast stainless steel exhaust headers add extra strength while allowing for maximum flow to a unique dual exhaust system that features a true pass-through muffler and active valve system. This allows the driver to change exhaust modes for Normal, Sport, Quiet, and Baja via the MyMode™ feature. This feature also allows drivers to customize multiple settings – including drive, steering, suspension modes, and others – and save one as a single mode easily accessed with the press of the “R” button on the steering wheel. Baja Ready Suspension The Raptor’s reputation in Baja comes from its unique suspension design and capabilities. For 2023, the Raptor’s front suspension system remains the same as 2021 models, with heavy-duty A-arms and coil-over shocks. The rear has been upgraded for 2023 with a new five-link rear suspension with longer trailing arms, Panhard rod, and 24-inch coil springs. A set of FOX Live Valve shocks are tuned to balance ride quality and roll control on- and off-road. These are electronically controlled dampers that use suspension sensors to monitor terrain conditions independently, hundreds of times a second, while adjusting suspension tuning accordingly. In all, the Raptor R has 13 inches of wheel travel in the front and 14.1 inches in the back. Equipped with 37-inch BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A tires, the Raptor R has 13.1 inches of ground clearance. 10-Speed Transmission In the past, transmissions were limited to working only with the engine, but as drivetrain technology increased, units like Ford’s 10-speed SelectShift® transmission can be calibrated to change with the truck’s various modes and adapt to the various speed and terrain to provide optimum power. To beef-up the 10-speed and the truck’s powertrain, a new front axle with a high-strength carrier casting is used, along with an aluminum-ribbed structural cover and a larger-diameter aluminum driveshaft. A new specially tuned torque converter with a heavy-duty turbine damper and four-pinion rear output assembly makes the truck even better equipped to transfer torque and provide a smoother powertrain feel when driving both on- and off-road. Visually Still Looks Like A Raptor One of the best things about the F-150 Raptor model, is that you can distinguish it from any F-150 truck. Ford continued to make the Raptor R unique, starting with the aggressive hood with air extractor, orange “R” badges, wider fender flares, and the recognizable Raptor front grille with large F O R D letters on it. The aggressive appearance also extends into the Raptor R’s unique interior with black leather Recaro® seats with carbon fiber accents. The cab also features the latest technology such as Trail Turn Assist which allows drivers to shrink their turning radius on tight turns, and Ford Trail Control™ which lets drivers select a set speed and steer through challenging conditions while the truck handles throttle and braking. Trail 1-Pedal Drive† allows customers to control throttle and braking with just one pedal to make extreme off-roading like rock crawling even easier. Connectivity features include a standard 12-inch touch screen with SYNC® 4 technology, Apple CarPlay®, and Android Auto™ compatibility. The Raptor R also has Ford Power-Up over-the-air software update capability.  Ford confirmed that the 2023 Raptor R with its 37-inch tires weighs in at 5950 lbs., which is 916 lbs. lighter than the Ram TRX. The starting price for the Raptor R is at $109,145 and comes in eight color options, including new Avalanche and Azure Gray Tri-Coat exterior paint offered on the Raptor lineup for the first time. After dealer mark-ups, many off-road fans are thinking they may as well build a capable pre-runner from scratch. The difference, however, is that although the Raptor R isn’t a pre-runner by any means, it’s still the most desirable off-road truck on the market, and the steep price won’t keep those who want one from getting it and enjoying the hell out of it. SJ

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