Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A white 2023 Ford F-150 is shown towing a trailer on an open road.

Which Ford F-150 Is Best for Going Off-Road?

If you’re looking for a full-size, off-road truck, then the 2023 Ford F-150 is a fantastic choice, but you have no shortage of impressive options available. Ford offers nine different F-150 models, not including the all-electric F-150 Lightning, and while they’re all excellent trucks, they’re certainly not all equally up to the task when it comes to hitting the trail. With so many different options to choose from, it can be tough to sort through them all and narrow down what you’re looking at to only those that can meet your needs.

But that’s why I’m here to help. Today, I’m going to take you through your best options for a Ford F-150 ready to go off-road and see what each one brings to the trail. I can’t choose the right one for you since I don’t know exactly what you need, but I can make it a lot easier for you to consider your options and make that call.

The Ford F-150 XL

Full disclosure: this is absolutely not the best F-150 for going off-road. In fact, this is the starting trim for this truck, but I’m going to quickly go over a few things it has so you can see what the baseline features are for the F-150. The XL is powered by a 3.3L V6 engine that delivers 290 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque, which comes paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. It comes with 4×2 standard, but 4×4 is available along with hill descent control, which helps you maintain speed while on a steep decline, ideal for going off-road.

The XL comes with 17-inch wheels wrapped in all-season tires, with basic features inside and out. Overall, this isn’t a great choice for serious off-roading, but it’s a very good basic pickup truck. The one thing I’ll note is that there’s an available FX4 Off-Road package that makes this a much better truck for hitting the trail by including off-road-tuned front shock absorbers, rear monotube shocks, underbody skid plates, a Rock Crawl mode, and more. So if you have very light off-road needs but you want a truck that can hold its own on a lot of dirt and gravel roads, the XL or a similar trim with the FX4 Off-Road package is a great choice.

The black interior of a 2023 Ford F-150 shows the steering wheel and infotainment screen.

The Ford F-150 Tremor

Now if you want something with far superior off-road capability, then the F-150 Tremor is where you should start your search. This will cost you quite a bit more since it starts at almost double the starting price of the baseline XL model, but you get what you pay for. For starters, the Tremor is powered by a beastly 5.0L V8 engine that delivers 400 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque, giving it greater overall performance and far superior off-road capability. 4×4 is standard on the F-150 Tremor (naturally), along with off-road-tuned front and rear shocks with unique Tremor arm controls for the suspension.

The F-150 Tremor features numerous selectable drive modes, including Normal, ECO, Sport, Slippery, Deep Snow/Sand, Mud/Rut, and Rock Crawl. This lets you adjust traction and performance based on what you’re dealing with from one moment to the next. You get hill descent control on the Tremor, though more advanced features like trail control and trail one-pedal drive are available options, not standard. There are numerous unique Tremor details inside and out, like hood and box-side decals, along with front tow hooks. The Tremor rides on 18-inch aluminum wheels wrapped in all-terrain tires, plus it has underbody skid plates, as you’d expect.

Inside the Tremor, you’ll find all sorts of comfort and tech features like sport cloth upholstery, a 10-way power driver’s seat, and power front-passenger seats. There’s a 12-inch infotainment screen inside the Tremor, along with an 8-inch digital productivity screen for the driver, dual-zone automatic temperature control, and a wide range of other niceties. If you want to take things further, available options include a larger driver display, a B&O sound system by Nang & Olufsen, and leather-trimmed seats.

The Ford F-150 Raptor

While the Tremor is a fantastic off-road truck, with serious bragging rights going to the legendary F-150 Raptor and its huge list of trail-ready features. This is the truck you want if you’re looking to hit up some seriously demanding trails and need a full-size pickup that can handle obstacles and difficulties that few other trucks can even imagine. For starters, the Raptor has a 3.5L High-Output V6 engine that delivers 450 hp and a massive 510 lb-ft of torque, with high-power fans to help ensure it remains cool no matter how intense the trail gets.

The F-150 Raptor is supported by FOX Racing Shox sport-tuned shock absorbers with Live Valve technology, along with a long-travel suspension featuring unique front upper and lower control arms and unique tie rods. Plus, its five-link rear suspension features 24-inch coil springs designed to provide you with responsive throttle and a comfortable, stable ride no matter what kind of obstacles you’re tackling. Advanced off-road features like trail control (essentially cruise control for going off-road) and trail one-pedal drive are included with the Raptor.

This glorious monster of a truck features front tow hooks, cast aluminum running boards, LED lighting, and LED mirror-mounted spotlights in case your day on the trail runs long. It’s got 17-inch wheels wrapped in BFGoodrich all-terrain tires, with beadlock-capable wheels available, plus heavy-duty skid plates for the front and engine. Inside, you’ll find a unique leather-wrapped steering wheel with thumb pads, leather-trimmed seating, and 12-inch screens for both the infotainment system and digital productivity display. A stunning 18-speaker B&O Unleashed sound system is standard, along with advanced safety features that are perfect for the trail and for the road when you’re on your way to or from your latest adventure.

A black 2023 Ford F-150 is shown from the side parked at sunset.

The Ford F-150 Raptor R

Just in case the incredible F-150 Raptor wasn’t enough of an off-road truck for you, Ford has outdone itself with a new Raptor R model for 2023 that delivers unbelievable power and off-road potential. At the heart of this monster is a 5.2L Supercharged V8 engine that delivers 700 hp and 640 lb-ft of torque; yes, you read those numbers right. This is the most powerful high-performance F-150 Raptor ever made, and there’s no other Ford truck quite like it out there.

In addition to this incredible engine, the Raptor R features 37-inch all-terrain tires with remarkable tread depth and design ready to grab onto anything in your path. For many people, this kind of power and these tires will be overkill, but if you want to be ready for the most demanding trails imaginable with a truck that can tackle absolutely anything, then this is a combination you shouldn’t overlook. The Raptor R also features a long-travel suspension with FOX Live Valve shocks that are specially tuned to work in concert with the engine packed into this behemoth, giving you class-best ground clearance.

Pick a Truck and Hit the Trail

Quite a selection of options, am I right? Keep in mind that we only looked at the off-road capabilities of the F-150; if you prefer a midsize model, then you might consider the great trail-ready features and options available for the Ford Ranger, like the Tremor Off-Road package and all-new Ranger Raptor coming this year. That’s not even mentioning the upcoming Ford Maverick Tremor, which is designed to give you impressive off-road performance packed into a compact pickup. It’s clear that Ford has heard the call for more off-road options, and they’re ready to meet this demand with a huge selection of vehicles that will take you anywhere you want to go. All you have to do now is decide on which one best meets your needs and start planning your next great adventure.