Owners of pickup trucks, station wagons and electric vehicles sometimes get stereotyped as having specific political beliefs and varying lifestyles. It’s a ridiculous notion.
What’s intriguing is to consider why a neighbor, co-worker or passerby would purchase a 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor for $118,000 or a 2023 Mitsubishi Mirage for $18,000.
A potential buyer of one of the most expensive pickup trucks on the market would likely never consider purchasing the cheapest available new vehicle in the United States. The reverse buying scenario is also likely true.
Both vehicles are on the bookends of the auto industry and both have worthy consumer interest. Neither option is a vehicle for the masses. But the F-150 Raptor R is far more difficult to experience and appreciate as a daily driver.
The Mirage provides transportation. It has a 3-cylinder, 78-horsepower engine, a 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty and can achieve 43 miles per gallon on the highway. It weighs 2,084 pounds and has 14-inch wheels. It defines economic and automotive frugality. It advances slowly with a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
The Raptor R, a recent review vehicle, has an 8-cylinder, 700-horsepower engine, a 3-year, 36,000-mile powertrain warranty and can achieve 15 miles per gallon on the highway, with its 10-speed automatic transmission. It weighs 7,050 pounds and has 35-inch wheels. It defines several automotive misnomers, including bigger is better and power rules. Environmental considerations are irrelevant in the Raptor R; It averages 10 miles per gallon in city driving.
Ford introduced the third-generation F-150 Raptor in February 2021. While certainly available for road use, it’s not practical in many situations. Part of Ford’s debut of its iconic truck’s 14th generation, the Raptor R doesn’t fit into standard-sized parking lot spaces and its turning radius is massive.
Pickup trucks are versatile workhorses, and the Raptor is at its best off the grid when dirt roads, undulating terrain, carrying heavy cargo and encountering unknowns around the next bend are all handled impressively.
But a truck’s performance isn’t relevant when the Raptor R is at its best. Why it’s important the truck advances from 0-60 miles per hour in 4.0 seconds and has a top speed of 112.9 mph is unknown. Would those specs ever be needed? The Raptor R also has an exhaust system with four adjustable sound levels. What purpose different levels of neighborhood abuse serve is unknown.
Beyond its power and limited road usefulness, the Raptor R is impressive in two areas — comfort and technology. As a full-sized pickup, the F-150 has a correspondingly large 12-inch dashboard touchscreen that supports a chock-full-of-features infotainment system. Standard are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Amazon Alexa with over-the-air updates is unique.
The full-sized pickup segment has one universal trait. Seating is comfortable and spacious, with front-and-backseat occupants riding in tiny houses on wheels. One caveat: the Raptor R has a high step up into the cabin. It’s inconvenient to enter or exit, but the end game for all is a terrific view of the road.
Several optional features are worthwhile, including an 18-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system and a 2.0 kW mobile generator. It can be mounted in the cargo bed and is ideal for running power tools and other off-roading crowds’ needs. The interior bed gate is substantial and unyielding but includes a built-in ruler. The concept isn’t new but it’s a worthwhile tool for measuring lumber or the length of the fish caught on a getaway weekend.
Buy the 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R if showcasing some perceived masculinity is important when visiting the shopping mall or while powering down a country road. Given the choice, I’d buy six Mitsubishi Mirages for the same total price.
Article Last Updated: October 11, 2023.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.