How to Make A Raptor-Style Ford Ranger With Aftermarket Parts
The Ranger’s specs might seem modest, but it’s packed with performance potential.
Everybody was excited about the Ford Ranger returning to the U.S. market for 2019, but the first high-performance Raptor variant didn’t make it here. The next Ford Ranger Raptor will be for sale soon, but what if it's too rich for your blood or you just don’t want to wait? Given the aftermarket support for this handsome, bedded blue oval beast, it actually wouldn’t be hard to basically make your own.
It'd take some work with the Ranger's base 2.3-liter EcoBoost to match the actual Raptor's 392 horsepower from its twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6. And there's some wild black magic happening in the form of anti-lag and Baja mode. But still, one can get pretty darn close to its level of performance, especially if they start out on the ground level (lift kit pun kind of intended) with a barely appointed example. A formula actually already exists from Ford, too: the Ranger Tremor, which shows how far just a couple of off-road ready tweaks can go.
With that in mind, there are two main categories to dive into: Off-Road Prowess and Power. Both of which have hordes of American and international small businesses ready to take your money in exchange for some really cool stuff.
This is a mish-mash of several components: Suspension, wheels and tires, and armor. When it comes to aftermarket suspension options for the '19-'22 Ranger the list seems endless. Well-known brands like Fox, SVC, Eibach, and Ford itself offer comprehensive selections of parts, from modest lift kits to complex resi coilovers. The latter is short for "reservoir," or coilovers that have a remote reservoir to increase oil capacity and aids keeping internal shock temperatures down to maintain effectiveness.
German suspension company H&R does as well, plus consumers can pick up some neat parts direct from Ford Racing to have installed at their local Ford dealer. Aftermarket wheel options are plentiful, as are bigger all-terrain tires.
The reason for improving the Ford Ranger's suspension is rooted in improving travel and control, boosting comfort, as well as increasing the truck's clearance, approach, breakover, and departure angles. Suspension travel allows the vehicle to maintain a better contact patch, and weight transfer, across the terrain it's crawling (or racing) over. As far as improving comfort goes, this is when the vehicle is laden with gear: camping equipment, recovery gear, or even added weight from armor. Having toughened suspension meant to accompany added weight means better overall control in all driving scenarios.
Clearance, approach, breakover, and departure angles are crucial in off-roading, and it seems like the common, accepted practice is the higher the number, the better. Increased clearance is achieved through aftermarket suspension, whereas the Ranger's rear straight axle can increase clearance by mounting up larger tires. Aftermarket suspension also boosts approach and departure angles by raising the front and rear bumpers, as well as increasing the distance between the truck's overall, but especially the middle, undercarriage and the ground.
Though, despite this, it's still a good idea to armor up the underbody to protect against rocks and other jagged trail features. ARB, Ford itself, and Off Road Alliance and makes various panels bolt up to factory locations and protect crucial equipment like the oil pan, various drivetrain components in the middle of the chassis, and more. Rock sliders are key for protecting the frame and lower sides of the body from scraping during technical trail crawling, too.
The Ranger comes from the factory sporting 270 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque, which can reach the rear wheels exclusively or via a four-wheel drive system with both a high and low gear set. That's a ways off from the '23 Ranger Raptor's 392 horsepower, but not bad as a blank canvas of performance potential. Especially considering the gains that these scrappy turbocharged four-pots can achieve.
First and foremost, Ford offers a factory-backed and 50-state-legal option for tuning the ECU and eking more power out of the ambitious little 2.3. 45 wheel-horsepower (WHP) and 60 pound-feet of wheel-torque (WTQ) ain't bad at all from a tune alone and from an automaker. Mountune offers a convenient tuning kit that's 50-state-legal as well. However, it seems like a popular tuning package is one offered by Burger Tuning, which adds as much as 50 WHP and 75 WTQ. This is a piggyback tune, too, which plugs in under the hood and doesn't rewrite the factory coding in any way, making it easy to uninstall in the future.
Cool air is crucial to boosting power as well. The colder the air, the denser it is, thus allowing the engine to produce power more efficiently. Typical gains seen by bolting up a cold air intake range from 5-9 WHP, plus some added benefits like better throttle response and fuel economy. There are great options out there by Roush, aFe Power, and Mishimoto, the latter has a snorkel for added off-road, stream-crossing capability.
Compounding the benefits of cooler air is an aftermarket intercooler. This cools the intake charge downstream from the turbo before it enters the intake manifold, so it's a pretty crucial component to bumping horsepower. As what seems to be a universal truth amongst most factory turbocharged cars, the OEM unit just doesn't cut it when more power is desired. Mishimoto, Mountune, and CVF sell options that ensure the coolest charge is getting forced into the EcoBoost's combustion chambers. These also keep under-hood temperatures cooler in general, too, which is always a benefit.
Finally, we can't forget the ol' standby of performance modifications: aftermarket exhaust systems. There's a large variety of brands out there who weld these together, but a solid smattering of options are Borla, Magnaflow, Ford Performance, and Stage 3 Motorsports, and gains range from
What Could All of This Yield?
Add everything up -a tune, intake, intercooler, and exhaust system- and you could potentially yield an 80-horsepower gain, totaling 350 horsepower. That's… well a bit lower than the actual upcoming Raptor's 392. This is also assuming that the truck is healthy and making 270 to start with.
But what I found in my research, is that it seems like the Ranger's actual wheel-horsepower figure isn't much lower than what Ford reports, and all of the mods I listed were marketed in wheel-horsepower, too. So, it'll be interesting to see what the Raptor's wheel-horsepower figure will be, and if it's within reach via the aftermarket with the lowly 2.3-liter EcoBoost.
The aftermarket will definitely develop parts for the Ranger Raptor, too, but it's still pretty cool that one could come close to factory territory for potentially far, far less money. Plus, lest we forget the immense amount of off-road capability boosting parts I discussed as well. A solid example of aftermarket tuning creating a really cool and capable package is what Hennessey's developed with its in-house parts. 0-60 mph in less than five seconds ain't bad at all.