Everyone was excited about the Ford Ranger returning to the US market for 2019, but the first high-performance Raptor variant didn’t make it here. The next Ford Ranger Raptor is on sale soon, but what if it’s too rich for your blood or you just don’t want to wait? Given the aftermarket backing for this handsome, sleeping blue oval beast, it’s actually not that hard to make your own.
It takes some work with the base 2.3-liter Ranger EcoBoost to match the Raptor’s true 392 horsepower from the twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6. And there’s some wild black magic going on in anti-lag and Steel mode. But still, one can get very close to their performance level, especially if they start at ground level (lift kits are sort of meant) with barely defined instances. A real formula already exists from Ford too: the Ranger Tremor, which shows how far only a few off-road-ready tweaks can go.
With that in mind, there are two main categories to look out for: Off-Road Prowess and Power. Both have hordes of American and international small businesses ready to take your money in exchange for some really cool stuff.
It is a mixture of several components: Suspension, wheels and tires, and guard. When it comes to aftermarket suspension options for the ’19-’22 Ranger, the list seems endless. Well-known brands such as Fox, SVC, Eibach, and Ford themselves offer a complete selection of parts, from simple lift kits to complex receipt coilovers. The latter is short for “reservoir,” or coilovers that have a remote reservoir to increase oil capacity and help keep the internal shock temperature low to maintain effectiveness.
German suspension company H&R is doing it too, plus consumers can pick up some neat parts direct from Ford Racing to install at their local Ford dealership. Aftermarket wheel options are plentiful, as are the larger all-terrain tires.
The reasons for upgrading the Ford Ranger suspension are rooted in improved ride and control, increased comfort, as well as increased truck clearance, approach, breakover, and departure angles. Suspension travel allows the vehicle to maintain a better patch of contact, and transfer weight, across the terrain on which it is traveling (or racing). As far as increasing comfort goes, this is when the vehicle is loaded with gear: camping gear, recovery gear, or even the added weight of armor. Having a solid suspension meant to accompany the added weight means better overall control in all driving scenarios.
Clearance, approach, breakover and angle of departure are very important in off-roading, and it seems generally accepted practice that the higher the number, the better. Increased clearance is achieved through aftermarket suspension, while the Ranger’s rear straight axle can increase clearance by installing larger tires. The aftermarket suspension also improves approach and departure angles by raising the front and rear bumpers, as well as increasing the distance between the truck as a whole, particularly the center, undercarriage and ground.
Nonetheless, it’s still a good idea to coat the underbody to protect against rocks and other jagged trail features. ARB, Ford itself, and the Off Road Alliance and made various panels mounted to the factory site and protecting critical equipment such as the oil reservoir, various drivetrain components in the center of the chassis, and more. The rock slider is key to protecting the frame and underbody from scratches during technical trail crawling as well.
The Ranger comes from the factory with 270 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque, which can reach the rear wheels exclusively or via a four-wheel drive system with high and low gear sets. That’s a far cry from the 392 horsepower ’23 Ranger Raptor, but not bad as a blank canvas for performance potential. Especially considering the gains these four scrappy turbocharged pots can bring.
First and foremost, Ford offers factory-backed and 50-state options for tuning the ECU and adding more power from the ambitious little 2.3. 45 wheel-horsepower (WHP) and 60 pound-feet wheel-torque (WTQ) aren’t bad at all from tone alone and from the automaker. Mountune offers a convenient setup kit that is also legal in all 50 states. However, it looks like the popular tuning package is offered by Burger Tuning, which adds as much as 50 WHP and 75 WTQ. It’s a piggyback song too, which comes under the hood and doesn’t rewrite factory coding in any way, making it easy to uninstall in the future.
Cool air is also important to increase energy. The colder the air, the denser it is, allowing the engine to produce power more efficiently. Typical gains are seen by increasing the cold air intake range from 5-9 WHP, plus some added benefits such as better throttle response and fuel economy. There are good options out there by Roush, aFe Power, and Mishimoto, the latter of which has a snorkel for added off-road, drift-crossing capabilities.
Compounding the benefits of cooler air are aftermarket intercoolers. This cools the payload downstream from the turbo before it enters the intake manifold, so it’s a fairly important component for increasing horsepower. As seems to be a universal truth among most factory turbocharged cars, OEM units just don’t cut it when more power is desired. Mishimoto, Mountune, and CVF sell options that ensure the coolest payload goes into the EcoBoost combustion chamber. It also keeps the temperature under the hood cooler in general, which is always a benefit.
Lastly, we can’t forget the old look of the performance modification: the aftermarket exhaust system. There are a wide variety of brands out there that bundle these together, but a solid handful of choices are Borla, Magnaflow, Ford Performance, and Stage 3 Motorsports, and the advantages range from
What Can All of This Make?
Add it all up – the tune, intake, intercooler, and exhaust systems – and you’ve potentially got an 80-horsepower boost, for a total of 350 horsepower. That’s… slightly lower than the upcoming Raptor’s 392. It also assumes that the truck is healthy and makes 270 to begin with.
But what I found in my research, it looks like the Ranger’s actual horsepower figures aren’t much lower than what Ford reports, and all the mods I’ve listed are also marketed on horsepower. So, it’ll be interesting to see what the Raptor’s horsepower figure looks like, and whether it’s reachable through the aftermarket with the low-key 2.3-liter EcoBoost.
Aftermarket will definitely be developing parts for the Ranger Raptor as well, but it’s still pretty cool that one could approach factory territory for potentially a lot less money. Plus, let’s not forget the plethora of off-road capabilities that enhance the parts I discussed as well. A solid example of aftermarket tuning that creates a really cool and capable package is what Hennessey has developed with its internal parts. 0-60 mph in under five seconds isn’t bad at all.