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Supertruck Ford Raptor R is King of Beasts

Henry Payne, The Detroit News on

Published in Automotive News

JOHNSON VALLEY, California — Supercars conquer the Earth’s most challenging race tracks. Supertrucks conquer the Earth.

At 90 mph, my 2024 Ford F-150 Raptor R cyborg skimmed the sandy, undulating surface of the Johnson Valley desert miles from civilization. With its electronic brain making millisecond calculations, the Baja racing-developed, dual-valve Fox shocks negotiated the terrain with remarkable agility for a 6,000-pound beast.

With 13.5 inches of suspension travel, the V8-powered Raptor R put its massive 720 horsepower to the ground with four, aired-down-for-maximum-traction, 37-inch all-terrain claws. That’s McLaren 720S supercar-sized horsepower. On sand.

The trail narrowed to a 90-degree turn into the desert’s low brush and I stomped on huge 14-inch brakes to slow the 720 horses. I hurtled a washed ravine. WHUMP. Over a series of washboard ruts created by bike trails crisscrossing the desert. KA-KA-KA-THUMP. Back into the throttle. ROAAARRR.

Comfortably removed from the violence outside by a seat belt, bolstered heated-and-cooled Recaro seats and generous headroom, I focused on the beautiful landscape rushing past — one of a half-dozen Raptor Rs on a desert adventure.

Pinch me.

 

The $112,895 R (one-third the price of that McLaren 720S, while seating five comfortably) is the world's premier production supertruck. It sits atop a Raptor food chain that now includes the $57K Ranger Raptor, $80K twin-turbo V-6 “base” Raptor and $92K Bronco Raptor.

Like its supercar peer the Mustang GT500, Raptor R stuffs a 5.2-liter, supercharged V-8 “Predator” engine into the front bay of a $35,000 base production vehicle to push the limits of production performance. Unlike the GT500, the Raptor R is built on a ladder-frame truck. Is there anything that has the bandwidth of a Ford pickup?

No wonder the F-series is the best-selling vehicle in North America. It can do everything from landscape a house to tow a race car to shred a desert race course — taking first place in the 2023 Baja 1000 Stock Class.

When 720 horsepower meets sand, sometimes Mother Nature gets the upper hand.

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