Electric cars

The affordable full-size off-road truck

The affordable full-size off-road truck

As Ford CEO Jim Farley hinted in a tweet yesterday, the desert will soon see a new Rattler. Rather than slithering back and forth, waggling its tail when agitated, and slapping its prey with poisonous venom – you know, like a snake – this desert-inspired Rattler spins all four tires, heaves heaps of dirt and provides adventurous truckers with a little extra fun at an affordable price. Let’s just hope the 2023 Ford F-150 Rattler arrives without any literal rattles – hey, we review cars for a living, so we had to say that.

Built on the entry-level XL version of the F-150, which technically starts at just under $30,000 for the 2022 model year, the Rattler is a new off-road-oriented package for the venerable full-size truck from Ford. We don’t know if Ford will market the Rattler treatment as an XL-only option package or as an entirely separate trim like the tremor and F-150 Raptor.

The Rattler is stylistically distinguished by the F-150 Rattler fender vent badge and rattlesnake-inspired Rattler bedside graphics. It is available in a robust palette of exterior colours: Oxford White, Avalanche, Iconic Silver, Carbonized Grey, Antimatter Blue, Stone Grey, Agate Black and Rapid Red TriCoat. We’re curious what color makes up Avalanche, though it’s presumably somewhere between white and silver. Hopefully there is no trace of yellow.

More than just a packet of stickers, the Rattler is nevertheless far from being the tremor Where Raptor. At its core, it’s packed with features from the widely available F-Series FX4 off-road package, including skid plates, electronic rear locking differential, hill descent control, specially designed off-road shocks tuned and off-road tires wrapped around painted 18-inch aluminum wheels. Four-wheel drive is standard on the Rattler.

There’s no mention of the powertrain motivating the Rattler, but given that the optional 2022 F-150 XL with the FX4 package requires the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine, the same is likely true for the Rattler. The F-150 Rattler features a dual exhaust system which adds to its sportiness.

The Rattler’s interior has unique accents that help it stand out, with onyx seats with burnished bronze accents and matching stitching on the dashboard trim, creating a subtly desert theme.

The Rattler, which will roll out to dealerships this fall, should be good value – although pricing has yet to be revealed, the FX4 package adds $1,005 to the price of a 2022 F-150 XL , not to mention the extra charge for four-wheel drive or the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6, and we doubt Ford will charge much more than that for the Rattler treatment. Translation? The Rattler will be cheap, which means if you’re looking for an FX4-equipped XL truck with a fun name and unique styling and want to pay the lowest price, this is your Ford brand truck.

It’s a fresh idea, giving a base truck something special and off-road themed. The closest offerings to competitors are simple, ordinary option packages that match the FX4 configuration, including Ram (with the base 1500 pickup Tradesman equipped with the Off-Road Package) and Chevy (with the 1500 WT with Off-Pack road suspension). Will these truck brands be incentivized to inject some pizzazz into their less expensive full-size pickups? We’re all for bargains, so hopefully.