Some big news that has off-road enthusiasts excited about the 2023 Ford F-150 is an all-new package to join the 2023 model year line-up: the Rattler. This is the latest entry in the ever-expanding universe of F-Series full-size pickup trucks. But what is the Rattler, and should you be excited about it?
The Rattler package is positioned as an entry-level off-road pickup. Here at CarLifeNation, we’ve already made a detailed breakdown of how the Rattler compares to the F-150 Tremor and F-150 Raptor and where it slots between Ford’s other off-road models. But today, we’re discussing whether or not you should be excited about it and if it’s something you might actually want to own.
It’s certainly an exciting time to be a truck fan because of all the great options out there. When it comes to off-road trucking, there are now more trims and packages available from more brands than ever before. But does it mean that every option is worth your attention? Well, let’s go over a few reasons why you might want to keep the 2023 F-150 Rattler on your radar.
A Low-Price Off-Road Option
Pricing-wise, the 2023 Ford F-150 Rattler is one of the more affordable off-road options available for the Blue Oval’s full-size pickup. Since it’s built on the base XL trim, it substantially undercuts options like that Tremor, let alone the Raptor. That’s a really big deal because pickup prices just keep climbing higher and higher these days. However, that doesn’t mean the Rattler is a bare-bones truck with no amenities. The 2023 F-150 XL is already filled with great features, from an eight-inch infotainment screen to the Ford Co-Pilot360 2.0 suite, and the Rattler adds even more for you to enjoy.
In the case of the F-150 Rattler, it positions itself as the economic off-road option within the F-150 line-up. This is important because when you look at the competition, almost all the other notable off-road trims are at the upper end of the pricing bracket. The Ram TRX and the Silverado ZR2 are perfect examples of that––being the more expensive options for both those trucks when it comes to off-roading. You can get the slightly more affordable Ram Rebel and the Silverado Trail Boss, but both are still more expensive than the F-150 Rattler, which is big news.
This positions the F-150 Rattler as the most affordable off-road option among the big three automakers. In terms of price, should you be excited? Absolutely. This is great news for anyone who has been looking to get a brand new off-road, full-size pickup but has been scared away by the high price tags on the Tremor, Rebel, or Trail Boss models. Of course, you will still have to consider features and what appeals to you across the various off-road truck brands, but there’s no denying that the affordability of the F-150 Rattler is an important factor in raising excitement.
Capable Without Being Intimidating
Is there such a thing as an off-road truck being too intimidating? I’m sure everyone will glance around the room and nervously answer, “no.” But let’s be real, the TRX is not a baby’s-first-truck, and the same should be said for the likes of the Raptor R or the ZR2 Bison. We would definitely consider those to be the enthusiast off-road models for the full-size truck brands. Hitting 130 mph on a highway with spool-valve dampers, 33-inch M/T tires, and more than 10 inches of ground clearance isn’t for everyone. That’s why it’s important to dip your toe in the mud before going all-in on mudding.
The 2023 Ford F-150 Rattler is that toe-dipping experience. As some of you may know, Ford doesn’t restrict the F-150’s best engines to the top trims. That means you can even equip the XL trim with the 5.0L V8 or the 3.5L PowerBoost hybrid. If you don’t need that much power, the Rattler comes standard with the 2.7L EcoBoost V6, producing 325 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque. A significant step up from the 3.3-liter V6 that comes with the unmodified XL trim. This means you still get plenty of performance off the line and a lot of torque to boot from the four-wheel drive setup. But it’s manageable power, giving you responsive acceleration without consistently putting you over the speed limit and landing you in hot water with the local police.
The power is also matched with an assortment of the necessary equipment to handle light rock crawling, dirt trails, or a bit of shallow fording. The 18-inch wheels are paired with all-terrain tires, off-road-tuned shocks, skid plates, and a locking rear differential. It’s all the basics you need to do your off-roading without feeling like the truck is overwhelming. The Rattler is not a mammoth pickup with a supercharged V8 that guzzles fuel, nor does it come packed with a lot of complex suspension components for high-end off-road articulation––and that require high-end maintenance. The term “soft-roading” has been tossed around a bit when describing the F-150 Rattler, and it’s a term that fits perfectly. You can still go off-road, but it’s affordable and not something designed to get away from you or require the kind of maintenance that some other dedicated off-road vehicles need.
Entry-Level Off-Roading for Wider Market Appeal
We’ve seen a lot of approaches to appeal to the off-road market from major automakers. All sorts of unique off-road vehicles have filtered into the marketplace in recent years, most of which have been aimed at the higher-end off-road enthusiast. But the approach taken with the 2023 Ford F-150 Rattler shows that Ford isn’t just thinking about the high-end off-roader but the entry-level off-roader, too.
Usually, off-road trims are designed for drivers willing to spend tons of money who are looking for all sorts of specialized buffs and alterations to the vehicle to handle a lot of treacherous terrain and unforgiving pathways. But the step from a work truck or luxury pickup to a full-on off-road warrior is typically a big one. The level of separation from casual trucker to off-road enthusiast is quite evident when looking at competitors like the Ram Rebel and Silverado Custom Trail Boss, which cost $15,000 to $20,000 more than their respective base models.
Ford is obviously looking at those who want to get into off-roading but who don’t want to feel intimidated by the requirements of entry. Maybe you want to hit up a dirt trail, but you’re not ready for rock crawling? Well, the Rattler fits the bill. Maybe you want to take your truck off the beaten path for an occasional camping trip or two every once in a while? Well, the Rattler will get you there and back in one piece with ease. It doesn’t have to be a winner on the drag strip, leap off sand dunes, or tackle Baja runs. There is a good number of drivers looking for a solid 2023 Ford F-150 that can handle some modest off-roading without being a wallet-killer or a gas-guzzler, and Ford seems to be tapping into that audience big time with the 2023 F-150 Rattler.
The Next Big Seller?
Should you be excited about the 2023 Ford F-150 Rattler? Yes, of course. If you enjoy the F-150 but have been on the sidelines when it comes to any kind of off-roading, the Rattler is the perfect entry point for the amateur adventurer. Even if you’re a veteran off-roading enthusiast but now spend more time on the job site than the trail, the Rattler makes for a good daily driver that can also double down as an off-road truck. It fits so many different segments and does so at a great price point. If Ford plays its cards right with the marketing, the F-150 Rattler could end up being a big seller for the brand.