The Things We Loved and Hated About the Ford F-150 Raptor R

With our time in the 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R now in the books, and a full review already out, I wanted to take some time to address the items that didn't make it to my review.
F-150 Raptor R 7 photos
Photo: Chase Bierenkoven/autoevolution
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These are also items that may have been mentioned but didn't get the space they should have. Space in a review is at a premium, and a few of these items were left on the cutting room floor. These are the details I loved and hated the most that didn't get the coverage they deserved in my review of the Raptor R.

Love: Four-mode exhaust

Ford knows that a 700-horsepower V8 is a lot, both in terms of power and noise. Thankfully, it was thoughtful enough to ensure the exhaust will work in a number of scenarios, ensuring you're not in the running for Most Hated Neighbor 2023.

The system, as with the car's other adjustable parameters like steering feel, features multiple levels of adjustment. There’s an "off-road only" mode that can absolutely be used on the street should you wish, and it is genuinely loud enough to set off car alarms if you're close enough. Things scale down from there, with a Sport and Normal mode, but the real shocker was Quiet mode. When Ford says quiet, it means quiet.

Switching to this mode changes the V8’s burly, macho rumble to a slight purr. At normal operating speeds, the engine can only just be heard on acceleration, and it's essentially impossible to hear it with audio playing unless you're really getting into the pedal. It's frankly a very impressive system, though I'm sure it's also incredibly heavy as a result.

Ford F\-150 Raptor R
Photo: Chase Bierenkoven/autoevolution

Hate: Bed size

"Hate" feels like a very strong word for some of these items, as hating anything on the Raptor R is pretty tough. Still, it's very clear that Ford prioritizes interior space over bed space in this version of the F-150. Other versions of the F-150 feature much larger, more work-suitable beds. For example, sizes range from 5.5 to 8-foot bed lengths in normal models. The R has the smallest bed available, at 5.5 feet.

I suspect that is because Ford sees the Raptor R as more of a recreational vehicle that can be occasionally used for real Truck Stuff rather than the other way 'round. This makes sense, but the interior is so massive I can't help but wonder if a smaller cab and a 6.5-foot bed would have made the Raptor a better all-rounder.

Ford F\-150 Raptor R
Photo: Chase Bierenkoven/autoevolution

Love: Interior Space and Storage

This is the other side of the bed size coin. By sacrificing bed size, Ford was able to give us a truly massive interior space in the Raptor (both R and non R models largely share the same interior). The rear seats will comfortably fit two taller adults, and any of the R's five seats offers plenty of headroom for occupants. This also has the added benefit of giving you a large amount of locked storage outside the truck’s bed.

What Ford really excels at here is giving buyers loads of clever storage solutions. The truck’s under-seat storage is perfect for smaller items, and the seat bases can be folded up to allow for large items to be stored behind the cockpit. I'm an especially big fan of the dash storage cubby, which is a very convenient place for anything you'd want to keep out of sight and handy.

Ford F\-150 Raptor R
Photo: Chase Bierenkoven/autoevolution

Hate: Size

This is something I truly do hate about the F-150 in general. The truck has swollen over the last decade or so, and the Raptor R is a fantastic example of this. The truck is so wide it legally requires marking lights like commercial trucks do- no one but people in the commercial sector should need a truck this wide.

Sure, you can argue that the Raptor R is supposed to be like this. It is, after all, a truck that's meant to take anything you throw at it, and fitting that kind of tech and versatility into any car will make it larger. But the Raptor R can be downright stressful to drive on the highway, in the city, or anywhere but the open, sprawling lanes of suburbia.

Lane-keep becomes a nuisance because the truck is constantly right on top of the lane markers. I honestly don't see the need for something this big- anyone that needs the size is buying a more work-oriented rig. More than anything, what I want is Raptor capability packed into a smaller truck.

Ford F\-150 Raptor R
Photo: Chase Bierenkoven/autoevolution

Love: Re-tuned Transmission

For the Raptor R, Ford made some changes to the truck's 10-speed automatic transmission that really brought it to life. In the past, the transmission was good, but not great. In the case of automatic transmissions, a quick upshift is generally a pretty easy thing to make happen quickly. However, downshifts are much more difficult due to the added complexity of making changes smooth while matching engine speed. That was exactly the weakness in the Raptor's transmission. Upshifts were great, but the downs were a little too slow for something so racy.

Ford has re-tuned the R’s transmission, in addition to adding a new torque converter. The result is a notable all-around improvement in the unit. Upshifts feel fast and crisp, and now the downshifts are on par with this. While the gearbox is no Porsche PDK, it is a notable improvement that really completed the Raptor experience and added some of that trophy truck feel you want in a truck like this.

Ford F\-150 Raptor R
Photo: Chase Bierenkoven/autoevolution
I certainly loved more than I hated with the Raptor R, which is how it should be with a halo product like the F-150 Raptor. This truck is tough to fault, and where I am able to fault it, it's easy to see why the items I didn't like are the way they are. Ford has built a remarkable vehicle with the Raptor R, and I just hope the Raptor brand can make its way to some smaller, more nimble trucks in Ford's lineup.
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About the author: Chase Bierenkoven
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Chase's first word was "truck," so it's no wonder he's been getting paid to write about cars for several years now. In his free time, Chase enjoys Colorado's great outdoors in a broken German sports car of some variety.
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