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Review: 2024 Ford F-150 Raptor R – the “Ultimate” Off-Road Beast

by | May 23, 2024

Ford has long been the king-of-the-hill in the full-size pickup market, outselling all competitors, domestic and foreign. So, it’s no surprise to see it determined to rule the off-road segment, as well. With the big F-150 getting a major update for 2024 that means a new version of the rugged Raptor R, as well. Ford’s “ultimate” off-roader gets more power, and new features designed to help it overcome the toughest obstacles – whether you’re crawling a boulder-strewn trail or racing down the Baja.

2024 Ford Raptor R - low angle front

The 2024 Ford F-150 Raptor R delivers more power and plenty of new features.

California’s Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Park is a sun-bleached wasteland. And that’s precisely why I’ve come here to check out the 2024 Ford F-150. More precisely, I’m about to get my first drive behind the wheel of the automaker’s beastly new Raptor R.

First introduced 14 years ago, the Raptor was designed to be the most rugged of the various F-150 off-road trims. The Raptor R took things to a new level in what has become a nuclear arms race among the traditional full-sized truck manufacturers.

The battle joined, Ford is taking things to a new level with the 2024 F-150 Raptor R. To start with, it ekes out another 20 horsepower from the already beefy supercharged 6.2-liter V-8. It now delivers a neck-snapping 720 ponies, delivering a body slam to the nearest competitor, Ram’s intimidating TRX. Raptor R’s already capable suspension gets an update that improves the truck’s manners, both on-road and off. And there’s plenty of new technology designed to keep you safe and entertained, wherever you drive.

An intimidating appearance

2024 Ford F-150 Raptor R - side on sand

This is a massive, intimidating beast — and the Raptor R graphics add to its menacing appearance.

This is one massive beast, stretching 232.6 inches, nose-to-tail, with a 145.4-inch wheelbase. The 2024 Ford F-150 Raptor R has a width of 87.0 inches and a height of 80.6 inches. It also boasts a 13.1-inch ride height, with knobby 37-inch off-road tires adding to the imposing appearance of the truck I’ve taken into Johnson Valley.

To accommodate the big V-8 under the hood, Raptor R adopts larger air intakes and a large power bulge on the hood. The menacing appearance is enhanced by the black-out grille and oversized black wheel flares. Around back, you’ll find hefty 3-inch dual exhaust pipes. Distinctive “R” badges and decals covering the rear quarter-panels complete the look.

While designed for off-road adventures, Raptor R picks up on some of the exterior features you find on other F-Series models, such as the multi-functional tailgate with its built-in rulers and a fold-down step making it easy to climb into the bed. It also adds features you might find especially handy when you’ve strayed far from civilization, including bed lights and 120-volt power outlets in the bed if you’ve equipped your truck with the 2-kilowatt mobile generator.

2024 Ford F-150 Raptor R- interior

The Raptor R shares many features with more mainstream F-150 trims – but the Recaro seats are unique.

A rugged interior

The cabin also borrows some welcome features found on more mainstream versions of Ford’s full-size truck, from the lie-flat seats to the gear shifter that folds into the roomy center console. Add distinctively luxurious touches, such as Alcantara suede fabric, carbon fiber accents and contrast-colored stitching – in sharp contrast to the more plebian Ram 1500 TRX.

But there’s an emphasis on functionality, starting with unique leather-trimmed sport seats developed for Ford by Recaro. They’re comfortable yet supportive enough to keep you from bouncing all over the cabin when rock crawling or racing along the Baja desert.

2024 Ford F-150 Raptor R - IP

Raptor R gets a number of dedicated controls – and the displays are customized for off-roading.

The little knob on the instrument panel makes it easy for a driver to maneuver even the bulkiest trailer with the automaker’s Pro Backup Trailer Assist. And twin 12-inch gauge and infotainment screens add unique displays and controls specifically designed for off-roading. That’s echoed by the truck’s new head-up display which can show how the truck is tilting and leaning as it attacks a rugged trail.

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F-150 RaptorPhoto: James Lipman

The Raptor R draws power from a 720-hp supercharged V-8.

Here’s where the 2024 Ford F-150 Raptor R gets down to business. The outgoing model took things to the next level, introducing the “Predator” V-8 lifted from the Mustang Shelby GT500. Ford engineers made an assortment of upgrades essential for surviving the rugged conditions the truck is likely to face.

That includes ruggedized pulleys, upgraded exhaust manifolds, a deeper oil pan and significantly enhanced cooling. A wider air intake increased airflow volume by 66%, meanwhile. Improved filtration also kept the engine from sucking up dust. There’s also a modified dual exhaust system with a true pass-through muffler and active valving to control the exhaust note.

It’s hard to imagine needing any more muscle than you got with the outgoing Raptor R, yet those engineers managed to take things up from 700 to 720 horsepower, while maintaining the prior 640 pound-feet of torque. By comparison, the Ram TRX delivers a “mere” 702 hp, though it does hold the lead in the torque department at 650 lb-ft.

Tuned for the trail

2024 Ford Raptor R - rock crawling

The Raptor’s 13.1 inches of ground clearance helps it easily overcome a rock-strewn trail.

That’s enough to pull a 1,400-lb payload and tow up to 8,200-lbs. On pavement, that will help you launch to 60 at around 4 seconds, if personal experience is any indication, and blow through the traps at the end of a quarter mile in just over 12 seconds.

While you won’t quite match those number on a Baja-style course, Raptor R shows its capabilities as I race down a barely visible, and deeply rutted, trail that climbs out of Johnson Valley’s dry lake bed. I’ve switched into Baja Mode, one of the many unique settings on the truck’s Driver Mode Control. Each is tuned to a specific driving situation, such as mud and ruts or rock-crawling, and adjusts an assortment of different vehicle functions. In Baja Mode, for example, the truck’s engine controller compensates for the way my foot bouncing on and off the throttle as I jounce across the hard-scrabble course.

The system also controls the four-stage active exhaust system, the truck’s ruggedized 10-speed automatic transmission, two-speed transfer case and differentials, as well as the Fox Dual Live Valve dampers.

F-150 RaptorPhoto: James Lipman

A variety of features, like Fox Dual Live Valve dampers, as well as a ruggedized chassis, help the F-150 Raptor R overcome seemingly every obstacle.

For off-roaders, those shocks are a critical feature, helping the Raptor R absorb the punishment it takes on rally-style courses, as well as boulder-strewn trails. The overall suspension is a marvelous piece of engineering, delivering 13.5 inches of travel up front, 14 in the rear. Ground clearance is 13.1 inches.

Driving Impressions

If you’re an off-roader, Johnson Valley offers you seemingly every type of terrain – a perfect opportunity to test out the 2024 Raptor R’s capabilities — – as well as some of the truck’s technology specifically designed to enhance its off-road manners.

These include Trail Turn which effectively locks the truck’s inside rear wheel to help you pivot around tight corners. One-Pedal Mode allows you to accelerate and decelerate simply by modulating the throttle, a feature normally associated with electric vehicles. And an off-road version of cruise control lets you set a speed of 1 to 5 mph when you’re climbing or descending a hill without having to use either brake or throttle. (Raptor R also gets a variety of more conventional advanced driver assistance systems, such as forward collision warning and emergency auto-braking.)

2024 Ford Raptor R - kicking up sand best

The 2024 Ford F-150 Raptor R kicks up sand as it blasts through Johnson Valley.

Wandering across the landscape I come across a mountain of sand. I’ve actually seen it on prior trips but have always steered clear. This time, I’m set to attack it head on. Switching the selector to sand mode, I rev the engine and charge up the hill, the truck’s slightly deflated tires catching a firm foothold as I weave and bob, sending off massive plumes of sand.

As I level off, I next encounter a rock and boulder-strewn trail. Here’s where those Fox dampers and the truck’s suspension are put to the test. So is the engine which is now shifted to low gear. On courses like this, progress is measured in inches, rather than miles. But the Raptor R makes it all seem like child’s play as I clear the last obstacle and find myself on a smoother and more level part of the trail.


2024 Ford Raptor R - rear facing hills

Happy Trails to You! The Raptor R and I finish up a long day of off-roading.

It’s time to take a break and I steer back onto solid pavement – where I’m in for another surprise. No, the Raptor R isn’t as smooth as an F-150 King Ranch or Platinum series but the updates made to the suspension deliver a much more pleasant on-road ride than you might expect. You might even use the Raptor R as your daily driver – as long as your pockets are deep enough to afford its less than impressive fuel economy which means around 10 to 11 mpg.

Of course, you’ve already shown you have deep pockets, the 2024 model $111,500 – even before factoring in delivery fees.

The good news is that, for your money, you also get a number of welcome creature comforts, including not only those Recaro seats but the latest Ford Sync 4 infotainment system, as well as wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Add a WiFi hotspot that can handle up to 10 devices. And you can order an 18-speaker Bang & Olufson sound system.

For those who are looking for the ultimate off-road capabilities in a full-size truck, the 2024 Ford F-150 Raptor R really does deliver the ultimate in features and capabilities.



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