The return of the Ford Ranger to North American roads has been celebrated by truck fans across the continent, and for good reason — the new baby Ford is an immensely capable, fun to-drive, useful and well-executed mid-size pickup truck. It almost won our 2019 Mid-Size Truck Challenge, only narrowly edged out by the Honda Ridgeline’s more user-friendly interior. But North America isn’t getting the most exciting off-road version of the Ranger, the Raptor. That model currently can only be found overseas. While there’s hope that a Raptor trim level will be a part of the next-generation North American Ranger lineup in a couple of years, right now our choices are from-the-factory Rangers that perform well off-road but still fall a little short of rivals like the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro or the impressive new Jeep Gladiator Mojave.
The FX4 Off-Road option package is available, and it does imbue the Ranger with some additional off-road capability and protection. You get monotube off-road shock absorbers, off-road tires, several steel underbody skid plates, some off-road-specific gauges and the slick electronic Terrain Management system with Trail Control, which is rather like off-road cruise control. That equipment puts it on par with the Colorado Z71, GMC Canyon AT4 or perhaps the Nissan Frontier Pro-4X. But what if you’re dead set on a Ranger and want more off-road capability, and maybe a little more style and oomph to go with it? Well, until the new Ranger Tremor or Ranger Raptor get here, you can turn to Ford Performance, the automaker’s parts and accessories division.
Three Levels of Performance
Ford Performance has come up with three packages that you can add to your Ranger to pump up its off-road chops — three levels of additional parts and modifications available for installation at your local Ford dealer. Level 1 ($2,495 plus installation) adds an off-road leveling kit that changes the rake of your Ranger and adds Fox 2.0 Performance Series front and rear shocks, 17-inch gray-painted wheels and some stickers. That leveling kit essentially raises the front of the truck by 2 inches, putting it on par with the already-lifted rear, allowing for a change in driving dynamics, handling characteristics and a 21% increase in approach angle and 10% improvement in breakover angle for better off-road clearance. The leveling kit can be had on its own for $1,495 plus installation, meaning that the extra grand you’re paying for the Level 1 kit is the wheel and tire package, which isn’t a bad deal.