Why The $9,000 Ford Ranger Performance Level 3 Upgrade Might Actually Be Worth It

Truck YeahThe trucks are good!

You can spend more than $9,000 on off-road upgrades alone on a new Ford Ranger right now, thanks to Ford Performance’s new tiered factory accessory packages. After a long weekend wheeling a Ranger decked out with the best parts from the catalog, there may actually be some value to upgrading.

The new Ranger is one of the better mid-sized trucks you can buy new in 2020. It has a small turbo engine making healthy torque and a nice ride on its FX4-kit shocks. But that still leaves plenty of room to dial its off-road abilities up to something more exciting.

The aftermarket has some solutions of course, but if you want to upgrade your Ranger exclusively with Ford factory-endorsed parts for convenience and confidence, the Ford Performance Level 1, 2, and 3 packages have some appeal.

Why The $9,000 Ford Ranger Performance Level 3 Upgrade Might Actually Be Worth It
Photo: Andrew P Collins

Ford Ranger Level 3 Explained

A Level 3 Ford Ranger is not a high-speed Raptor substitute. Think of it like an off-road enthusiast starter pack you can order from a dealership. It pretty much bundles all the component upgrades most casual enthusiasts would do to a 4x4, and should unlock plenty of capability for pretty much anything shy of serious rock crawling.

The top Ford Performance Ranger package, Level 3, lists for $8,995 plus whatever your dealer decides to charge for installation. Ford’s people declined to put a price on that last time I asked and I’m not about to call every blue oval store, but I’m sure you’re in four-figures for labor on this whole deal. Anyway, here’s all that’s included with the Level 3 kit:

  • Fox “Tuned by Ford Performance” 2.0 Performance Series internal floating piston monotube front and rear shocks
  • Off-Road leveling kit (adjusts ride height so the truck looks flat without cargo)
  • Ford Performance 17-inch Dyno Gray wheels
  • Ford Performance engine calibration (claims to increase horsepower to 315 and torque to 370 lb-ft)
  • BFGoodrich KO2 265/70-17 tires (about 31.6 inches in diameter)
  • Rigid off-road fog light kit
  • Rigid 40-inch LED lightbar kit
  • Ford Performance by ARB winch-capable front bumper
  • Ford Performance chase rack
  • Ford Performance sport exhaust

There’s also some fun decorative junk:

  • Red tow hooks
  • Ford Performance bedside graphics, Ford Performance windshield banner
  • Ford Performance stainless steel license plate frame

Pair that with Ford’s FX4 package, which includes a rear locking differential and skid plates, and the truck’s pretty well sorted out for overland adventures.

The Level 3 kit is definitely more than just a cosmetic upgrade, and the non-Ford brands involved (BF Goodrich, Fox, Rigid, ARB) all have reputations for making high-quality hardware.

Why You’d Want This

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Photo: Andrew P Collins

If you buy a Ranger knowing you want to throw some fun off-road parts on it, the Ford Performance pack (particularly this top one) ticks all the boxes, lets you keep all your factory warranties, and minimizes downtime. Since, theoretically, your dealer should be able to bolt this stuff up before you even take delivery.

Also, these parts also shouldn’t hurt your resale, like aftermarket upgrades often do.

If you plan on keeping your truck a really long time, a fully optioned early Ford Performance Ranger will be a really cool and rare thing to have in the year 2040. I mean, if there’s still accessible gasoline or breathable air on Earth by then.

Alternatives

There are plenty of aftermarket outfits offering new Ranger parts, from simple level kits to full-on desert suspension and fat fenders to match. There’s a big range in quality, of course, and stuff is typically priced accordingly.

Or, you could just order Ford’s FX4 package which gets you skid plates, a rear locker, and decent shocks, pair that with a good set of tires, and realistically most likely be able to get to all the same places you’d go with $9,000 worth of the Ford Performance Level 3 stuff. You’ll just have to travel a little more slowly.

The standard shocks you might get on a base Ranger will still be able to take you off road, but they’ll be more optimized for carrying weight over pavement so they might ride rough over uneven terrain.

The upgraded ones that come with Ford’s FX4 package will be a little softer, and the main advantage of higher-performance off-road shocks like the Fox kit here is that they can bear repeated punishment and higher heat levels, giving you a smoother ride at higher speeds off-road for more miles.

Value For Money

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Photo: Andrew P Collins

If you’re asking “is the Ford Performance Ranger Level 3 upgrade kit a good buy,” you’re asking the wrong question, but the short answer is no. Practically speaking, you’ll be able to have more adventures spending $9,000 on gasoline, tires, and beer than you would on these shiny parts.

OK, sorry, that’s not really what you were looking for. Compared to other ways you could upgrade a truck, the list price on this kit isn’t bad. All the parts are sourced from quality providers and it’d all be expensive if you bought it piecemeal. This kit includes an ARB bumper, expect to pay about $1,500 for one by itself, and it won’t be cheap to ship if you order it online. A set of Fox shocks would run you another $1,000 at least. Say $2,000 for wheels and tires. That Rigid light bar is worth $1,500 easily. A nice exhaust could run you about $1,000, plus this kit has that chase rack, Rigid fog lights, and an engine tune...

A closer look at the value-for-money proposition here reveals what you probably guessed: You’re paying a bit of a premium for the Ford branding, but, you’ll likely get it back in residual value. Plus the fact that this kit has Ford Performance’s official endorsement means you know it’ll all work nicely together. I can confirm that for you.

I didn’t do enough hardcore wheeling with it to expose its limits, but I put a lot of miles on this Level 3 loadout and quite a few of them on dirt. I was impressed with how comfortable the ride was on and off-road. Smooth over junky dirt tracks, not too stiff or bouncy on the highway. And this tire size is excellent for balancing ground clearance with power and economy.

Verdict

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Photo: Andrew P Collins

If I were building a Ranger for casual adventures and fire road running, I’d just spec the FX4 package and take it slow. But if you can afford some of the Ford Performance upgrades for this truck and you’d like to be able to carry a little more speed through rough stuff while looking a lot cooler, it’s pretty sweet that Ford offers these kits now. Maybe you have the Raptor in the back of your mind.

The truck looks amazing in red, too. Enjoy a little photo album of what a weekend overland adventure looks like in one of these. Most of these photos were taken in the Sierras not too far from Mammoth Lakes, California.

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Photo: Andrew P Collins
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Photo: Andrew P Collins
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Photo: Andrew P Collins
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Photo: Andrew P Collins
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Photo: Andrew P Collins
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Photo: Andrew P Collins
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Photo: Andrew P Collins
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Photo: Andrew P Collins

Jalopnik Staffer from 2013 to 2020, now Editor-In-Chief at Car Bibles

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DISCUSSION

mikaelvroom
MikaelVroom

What’s the point in a dual exhaust coming off of a single turbo?

Is there a ground clearance gain over going with a single larger pipe?

I get that it looks cooler, but...like...does it do anything?