Ford’s most powerful and most expensive pickup yet, the 2023 Ford Raptor R, was revealed this week and—surprisingly—it did not take away the title of world’s most powerful factory-produced pickup from Ram.
In battle after pickup battle, manufacturers have worked hard to outperform their competition. In this case though, Ford fell short of surpassing the 702-hp Ram TRX after pushing Raptor R’s supercharged 5.2-liter to 700 hp. TRX also beats out Raptor R in torque with 650 lb.-ft., or ten more foot pounds.
With a starting price of $109,145—Ford’s most expensive pickup yet—the reasonable expectation is that Raptor R’s numbers would edge past the brutal TRX which starts roughly $30,000 less at $78,790. Hold on…some numbers do outpace TRX, but as the late, great Carroll Shelby pointed out, it’s not “as sexy as adding more horsepower.”
In the hypercompetitive world of muscle cars and trucks, numbers count like football and baseball stats where better numbers typically equate to better players. But not all stats are sound predictors of performance especially when other factors are at work.
Beyond horsepower, torque, axle ratios and software-driven shift points, there’s weight—a huge consideration in racing, and this is where Raptor R may have the advantage. TRX’s 6.2-liter V8 is considerably heavier than Raptor R’s 5.2-liter. And as the iconic Shelby soundly demonstrated years ago, powerful engines can make vehicles go even faster when weight is reduced.
"Cutting weight to improve performance is a tradition among hot rodders," Shelby told the Detroit Free Press after rolling out his 2011 Ford Shelby GT500. "It might not be as sexy as adding more horsepower, or bigger brakes, but shaving pounds off of a car is the single smartest move you can make."
In this case, the 2011 GT500 had 10 more horsepower and weighed 102 pounds less than the 2010 model. When it comes to designing Raptor R, it looks like engineers followed in Shelby’s footsteps. First up, the 5.2-liter V8 in Raptor R is the Predator 5.2-liter V8 used in the Ford Mustang Shelby GT500. Second, is the important but sometimes overlooked strategy of cutting weight.
“If we want to talk about hp, we should also talk about weight,” said Dawn McKenzie, Ford truck communication manager. “Curb weight for the 2023 F-150 Raptor R is expected to be 5,950 pounds, which is expected to be approximately 400 pounds lighter than Ram TRX – thanks in large part to the Ford truck’s all-aluminum engine block and high-strength, military-grade aluminum alloy body.”
Ford is also confident that Raptor R’s lighter weight will give it a handling advantage over the heavier TRX.
“This means Raptor R is fast and confident in many driving situations, not just in a straight line, McKenzie said. “It will feel more agile on the road and easier to control in spirited high-speed off-road driving, with better overall weight distribution.
“This lower weight enables Raptor R to be more agile off-road, while giving customers better control and confidence at high speed over rough terrain,” McKenzie continued. “It also allows Raptor R to use lighter, more compliant springs and chassis components, for lower unsprung weight and far superior off-road tracking – helping it get on plane much easier with greater control at speed. Plus, less mass means less stress on chassis components, helping ensure the Raptor R lives up to the legendary Built Ford Tough durability customers expect.”
So yes, Ford was obviously prepared to take on questions concerning the slightly more powerful TRX and leans on the wisdom of the legendary Shelby by pointing out the advantages of cutting weight. Now it’s just a matter of waiting to see how it matches up against TRX on-road and off. YouTube channels are going to explode.
In the meantime…look below at the impressive specs of Ford’s latest super truck compared to the 450-hp Raptor which is also available for model year 2023. Click here to see all the specs Ford has published to date (interesting to note that the brakes remained unchanged between Raptor models). Pre-orders for the 2023 Raptor R are open. Look for deliveries this fall.