The Closest Thing to a Ranger Raptor in 2020
2020 Ford Ranger outfitted with the Ford Performance Level 3 package.
It pains us to even make the comparison. But really, the new accessory packages for the 2019 and 2020 Ford Ranger from Ford Performance bring the little truck as close to its big brother as possible today. Going all-in on the accessory packages adds Fox IFP coilovers to the front and 2.0-inch Fox monotube dampers to the rear. It also adds unique gray wheels with BFGoodrich KO2 all-terrain tires. Engine power is upped with the use of a programmer, and a new exhaust system gives a sound that closely resembles that of the F-150 Raptor. While there's still a long way to go before matching the Raptor's, or Ranger Raptor's, off-road prowess, equipping a Ranger with the Ford Performance Level 3 accessory package is the closest one can come with a truck that can be driven off the dealer lot.
Before we get into how our week with a Level 3-equipped Ranger went, let's review what's included with the three performance packs from Ford Performance. Opting for the Level 1 package brings the Fox shocks, which includes a leveling kit for the front of the Ranger, 17-inch Dyno Gray wheels, and Ford Performance decals for the bedside and windshield. Jumping up to the Level 2 package adds a Ford Performance engine calibration, which bumps power from 270 to 315 hp and torque from 310 to 370 lb-ft. Also, in the Level 2 package are 265/70R17 BFGoodrich KO2 tires, LED foglights from Rigid Industries, blue tow hooks, and a stainless steel Ford Performance license plate frame. Level 3 rounds out the offerings by adding a Ford Performance chase rack with a 40-inch Rigid LED lightbar, a Ford Performance winch-capable front bumper by ARB, and Ford Performance sport exhaust. The tow hooks also change from blue to red.
The Level 1 package carries a cost of $2,495, while the Level 2 package costs $4,495, and Level 3 tops out at $8,995. One can walk onto a Ford lot and order the Level 1 or Level 2 packages starting in August of 2020. The Level 3 package, however, won't be available for purchase until summer of 2021. And those MSRP prices are before tax and installation. Still, we're pretty certain a shrewd negotiator can score a pretty good deal when ordering a new Ranger and a Ford Performance package.
Back to the truck at hand, when Ford called up and asked if we'd be interested in driving a Level 3-equipped 2020 Ranger for a week, we very quickly said an enthusiastic yes. Afterall, off-roading is what we love, and Ranger definitely has a soft spot in our hearts. Before the tire slime the delivery company added could even dry, we were off in search of dirt. Thankfully we've got some pretty decent trails pretty close to our backyard, and we were kicking up dust in no time. The first thing we noticed was just how well tuned the Fox shocks were. When compared to a standard Ranger, or even one equipped with aftermarket dampers, this truck was light-years ahead in damping. Leaving the tires at full street pressure, the Fox shocks sucked up every bump, dip, and undulation the trail could throw at them. We never experienced a hard bottoming- or topping-out event, and we couldn't get them to show any signs of fading. They really were that good.
We've been big fans of BFGoodrich KO2 all-terrain tires since their introduction and were quite happy to see them added to the Level 2 package. These tires grip really well in most all conditions and are quite hardy. They also have excellent on-road manners. We also love the look of the custom Dyno Gray wheels that are added as part of the Level 1 package.
The 2019 Ranger launched with much fanfare over the 2.3L EcoBoost I-4 engine, which in stock trim produces 270 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. The Ford Performance engine calibration, which can also be bought separate from these packages, bumps power up to 315 hp and torque to 370 lb-ft. These are real increases that can be felt in the seat of the pants. This is the performance level that these trucks should have been offered with all along. The truck zips quickly from stoplight to stoplight, and merging is never an issue. This modest bump in power makes a world of difference.
We found ourselves largely indifferent to the Ford Performance exhaust, as the note produced by the turbo four-cylinder wasn't exactly the sweet V-8 tone that gets us excited. Nonetheless, we did notice that it made the Ranger sound almost exactly like a 2020 F-150 Raptor. So that's a bonus, if you're into that sort of thing.
The winch-capable front bumper, bed-mounted chase rack, and Rigid Industries lightbar look great and got many compliments. However, if there were any parts we'd forgo, it would be these. Aside from not being available for another year, they don't add much functionality and cost the most. On the plus side, there was not one indication of a whistle from the LED lightbar, which they are notorious for.
The 2020 Ford Ranger is already a pretty formidable off-roader when equipped with the FX4 package. Our tester, a Lariat trim with the FX4 package, was loaded with all of the goodies, including Trail Control, Ford's terrain management system, and an electronic locking rear differential. In stock trim, or when outfitted with a Ford Performance package, the Ranger is quite the capable off-roader.
In the end, our week with the 2020 Ford Performance Level 3 Ranger was far too short. We had a ton of fun off-road, loved blasting around city streets, and we're comfortable on long highway slogs. The Level 3 package from Ford Performance brought a lot of value for not a ton of money, and the Ranger itself is still among our favorite midsize trucks. While not quite the Ranger Raptor we've all been waiting for, this setup might be the perfect stopgap while we wait and wait and wait.
2020 Ford Performance Level 3 Ranger
Base price: $38,675
Price as tested: $46,910 ($55,905 w/Level 3 package)
Engine: 2.3L EcoBoost I-4
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Horsepower: 315 @ 4,500 rpm
Torque: 370 lb-ft @ 2,500 rpm
Towing capacity: 7,500 pounds
EPA fuel economy rating: 20 city, 24 highway, 22 combined
Actual calculated economy, 397.1-mile trip: 13.26 mpg (205 miles, off-roading and city) 15.09 mpg (192.1 miles, city/hwy)