The Affordable Off-Road Full-Size Truck


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

Built on the F-150’s entry-level XL trim, which technically starts just shy of $30,000 for model year 2022, the Rattler is a new off-road-oriented package for Ford’s venerable full-size truck. We’re not sure if Ford will market the Rattler treatment as an XL-level-only option package or as a wholly separate trim like the Tremor and F-150 Raptor.

The Rattler distinguishes itself stylistically through F-150 Rattler fender vent badging and rattlesnake-inspired Rattler bedside graphics. It’s available in a robust palette of exterior colors: Oxford White, Avalanche, Iconic Silver, Carbonized Gray, Antimatter Blue, Stone Gray, Agate Black, and Rapid Red TriCoat. We’re curious what color constitutes Avalanche, although it’s presumably somewhere between white and silver. Let’s hope there’s no hint of yellow.

More than just a sticker package, the Rattler is nonetheless a far cry from the Tremor or Raptor. At its core, it’s replete with features from the F-series’ widely available FX4 Off-Road Package, including skid plates, an electronic rear-locking differential, hill descent control, specially tuned off-road shocks, and all-terrain tires wrapped around painted 18-inch aluminum wheels. Four-wheel-drive is standard on the Rattler.

There’s no mention as to the powerplant motivating the Rattler, but considering the 2022 F-150 XL optioned with the FX4 package requires the 2.7-liter V-6 EcoBoost engine, it’s likely the same for the Rattler. The F-150 Rattler has a dual exhaust system that adds to its sportiness.

The inside of the Rattler has unique accents that help it stand out, with onyx seats featuring burnished bronze accents and stitching that match the instrument panel trim, creating a subtly desert-y theme.

The Rattler, which uncoils into dealerships this fall, should pack a bite for value—though pricing is yet to be revealed, the FX4 package adds $1,005 to a 2022 F-150 XL’s price, not including the up-charges for four-wheel drive or the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6, and we doubt Ford will charge much more than that for the Rattler treatment. Translation? The Rattler will be cheap, meaning if you’re looking for an FX4-equipped XL truck with a fun name and some unique style and want to pay bottom dollar for it, this is your Ford-branded truck.

It’s a novel idea, giving a base-level truck something special and off-road-themed. Competitors’ closest offerings are straightforward, run-of-the-mill option packages that match the FX4 setup, including Ram (with the base 1500 pickup’s Tradesman equipped with the Off-Road Group) and Chevy (with the 1500 WT with the Off-Road Suspension package). Will those truck brands be rattled into injecting some zest into their cheaper full-size pickups? We’re all for great deals, so let’s hope so.

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