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. 

The Level 2 kit ($4,495 plus installation), which I tested for a week, really kicks things up a notch by taking Level 1 and adding a new calibration tune for the turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine that boosts horsepower to 315 and torque to 370 pounds-feet. That’s a 16% bump for horsepower and a healthy 20% jump in torque. You also get a tire upgrade to knobbier 17-inch BFGoodrich KO2 tires, a Rigid foglight kit, blue tow hooks and a Ford Performance stainless-steel license plate frame. If you want to go all out, the Level 3 ($8,995 plus installation) takes Levels 1 and 2 and adds a Ford Performance sport exhaust system, ARB winch-ready bumper, a Rigid 40-inch LED light-bar kit, red tow hooks instead of blue ones and a chase rack in the bed. 

Big Savings, Big Fun

This is also where we’re going to call it on our build. The Level 3 package asks for a hefty $8,995 upcharge, and in addition to the Level 1 and Level 2 gear includes a bunch of nice-to-haves like a winch, a light bar, and a sport exhaust. None of that adds enough fun factor to justify the extra $6,675 it costs over the off-road Ranger we just configured.

The $4,290 Tremor package might seem more reasonable, but the devil is in the details. Tremor is roughly equivalent to the Level 2 package suspension with an extra 0.8 inches of lift, a different set of tires, and no power boost, which makes it less appealing in our eyes, despite the extra travel and flared fenders.

Dig deeper, and it becomes a non-starter from a value perspective considering you’d have to start with a $37,770 Ranger SuperCrew XLT, which makes it a whopping $7,745 more expensive than the truck we put together. That’s even more dough you could divert to your own aftermarket accessory preferences, or simply pile into your savings account to help pay for your next long-term overlanding Ranger vacation.

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Ford Performance Package 2

This is where things really start to get interesting. In addition to the bits you get with Package 1, FPP 2 adds an engine performance upgrade good for 45 horsepower and 60 pound-feet of torque, bumping the totals up to 315 hp and 370 lb-ft. That’s nothing to sneeze at. This package also includes an off-road fog light kit from Rigid, BFGoodrich KO2 tires at all four corners, some Ford-blue tow hooks and a fancy license plate frame, because why not? Level 2 will run you $4,495 before installation. 

FOX-y Boots For Less

If you want to get a little more hardcore, the $2,495 (plus installation) Ford Performance Level 1 package for the Ranger (which requires an FX4 base) delivers FOX 2.0 Performance Series shocks with internal floating pistons at all four corners. It also comes with a different set of 17-inch ‘Dyno gray’ wheels, a bunch of stickers, and a windshield banner to tell the world what’s lurking under the chassis.

Careful perusal of the Ford Performance Parts catalog, however, reveals that you can snag those same fully-warrantied shock absorbers with the same ‘leveling kit’ offered by the Level 1 package, for a mere $1,495. It seems a little wild that Ford is charging an additional $1,000 for decals and same-size wheels, but fortunately you can avoid the stickers and snag the shocks for a serious discount.

This is a no-brainer as our next upgrade, and brings the cost of our build to $33,490.

Cons

Doesn’t Sound Great

While we like the punch that comes with the Ford Performance packs, we’d pass on the PP3’s cat-back exhaust. This plumbing makes an acoustically unpleasant engine worse. There’s drone at highway speeds owing to the increased volume and a general buzziness and lack of character that’s unbecoming of a pickup under even modest acceleration.

On-Road Character Compromised

Adding big, knobby tires and tweaking the suspension for off-road performance can compromise on-road behavior. Sky blue, water wet. But while this is hardly a surprise, we’d single out that the combo of the BFG KO2 tires and an extra 60 lb-ft of torque goes a step further and makes the Ranger PP3 more difficult to drive. We spent a fair chunk of our testing driving in the cold and rain and this setup is simply less manageable in inclement conditions. Switching to four-wheel drive solved the issues for the most part, but you obviously don’t want to leave the car in 4H at all times.

There Are Better Values

As good as the Performance Pack 3 is, nothing on it feels like a must-have item. Sure, a winch-capable bumper looks cool and is good if you’re planning on fitting a winch, and the 40-inch Rigid light bar can brighten up most environments, but this combo of kit isn’t enough to overcome the $4,500 premium that the PP3 demands. The $4,495 Performance Pack 2, though, ticks every box – better tires, uprated suspension, extra power, and an exhaust that doesn’t make your ears bleed are all on hand. We wouldn’t begrudge anyone that orders the PP3, but for us, the middle child makes all the sense.

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