The Top 4 2.3L Ford Ranger Performance Upgrades. A 2.3L 4-banger engine in a truck may not appear to have much power or performance. While the Ranger comes standard with 270hp and 310lb-ft of torque, the turbocharged 2.3L EcoBoost engine can be upgraded to provide significantly more power with a few simple bolt-on changes.
While most Ford Ranger performance upgrade guides concentrate on lift kits, tires, winches, and other auxiliary products, this guide concentrates on power-adding upgrades. Because the Ranger is turbocharged, making significant power gains is simple and inexpensive. The 2.3 EcoBoost engine delivers 345hp from the factory in various Ford vehicles, implying that the Ranger is just de-tuned and has a lot of power potential.
This guide will go through the top five best performance enhancements for the 2.3L Ford Ranger. We’ll concentrate on the greatest bolt-on upgrades that can push your Ranger beyond 350whp and 400lb-ft of torque.
Ford Ranger 2.3L Performance Upgrades
- Intake of chilly air
- Downpipe with a high flow rate
From the factory, the Ranger is slightly underpriced. Most standard 2.3 Rangers will produce 265-270whp and 300-310lb-ft of torque. What’s more significant is how much power the Ranger can reliably manage.
Before we offer internal modifications, the 2.3L EcoBoost can often handle 420-450wtq. The mods listed here should keep you inside these power limits securely. Having said that, more power always raises the chance of difficulties. The more secure your tune is, the better off you’ll be.
We don’t have any turbo improvements on our list because they will push the 2.3 EcoBoost beyond its power limits, necessitating more significant modifications.
1) Tuner for Ford Ranger
If you just make one modification to your Ranger, we would recommend a tune. Tunes provide the biggest bang for your budget, adding up to 50whp and 70wtq to an otherwise stock Ranger. With tuner pricing starting at $500, you can’t beat the price per horsepower you get from a tuner.
Tuners also appropriately tweak your engine to account for any other mods you may be running. As a result, they help maximize the power improvements from following mods and ensure that your engine runs effectively with mods.
Performance Advantages of the 2.3L Ranger Tuner
- Gains of up to 50whp
- Gains of up to 70wtq
- There are several pre-loaded maps for varying power levels and fuels.
- Maps that are E85 compatible
- Other mods are maximized.
Tuner Choice: Flash vs. Piggyback
There are numerous tuners available on the market. There are two kinds: flash tuners and piggyback tuners. Flash tuners alter the ECU by “re-flashing” it and altering various engine parameters. Instead of flashing the engine, piggyback tuners spoof numerous signals and data delivered to the ECU. The primary distinction is that piggyback tuners cannot be traced, whereas flash tuners can. The disadvantage is that they do not support custom tuning.
I bring up traceability since the bulk of 2.3 Rangers are still under warranty. You can remove a piggyback tuner and the dealer will have no idea. Because a flash tuner alters the ECU, the dealer can quickly identify if it has been tuned. Simply remove a piggyback tuner before visiting the dealer, and they will never know it was tuned.
Tuner Recommendation: Burger Motorsports JB4
Burger Motorsports manufactures an excellent plug-and-play piggyback tuner for the EcoBoost Ranger. On a completely stock Ranger, dyno charts indicate improvements of up to 50whp and 70wtq, which is amazing. The gadget is pre-loaded with eight maps for various power levels and fuel types, including complete E85 compatibility.
It also allows you to configure boost by gear using an app and Bluetooth connection. You may also monitor over 40 signals, including timing, AFRs, throttle position, and more. It also enables simple data logging, code reading and resetting, and other functions. Burger Motorsports is one of our favorite piggyback tuner manufacturers in general. We actually run their JB4 on several BMWs that we own.
2) Ranger Intake Upgrade
A cold air intake system is our second favorite Ford Ranger performance enhancement. Tuners primarily increase power by boosting the turbocharger’s boost level, or psi. Bringing additional air to the turbocharger is critical because it lessens the amount of work and stress placed on the turbo as it compresses air farther.
While an intake will deliver some solid power gains, it will also aid improve turbocharger efficiency, which is important for the turbo’s health and reliability. The stock turbo on the 2.3 EcoBoost is tiny, inefficient, and underpowered. So providing some more air flow is strongly advised.
There are numerous intake alternatives available on the market. Any aftermarket intake will outflow the stock intake, which is a benefit. However, certain intakes will outflow others on the market.
Intakes: Open vs. Closed
There are two types of intake systems: open and closed. The filter in an open intake is directly exposed to the engine bay. Closed intakes, on the other hand, typically conceal the filter within a box.
Because they are not confined by the enclosed box, open intakes overflow closed intakes. They do, however, pull in significantly hotter air since they are exposed to hot engine air. However, because of intercoolers, this aspect is largely meaningless. The air entering the intake is heated significantly by the turbo and then cooled by the intercooler. So the higher temperatures don’t really matter. Another element to consider is that open intakes are a little louder and produce more of a “whoosh” noise when accelerating.
We prefer open intakes because they provide more air flow. Unless you are upgrading your turbo, any aftermarket intake system will be a significant improvement over the factory one.
Advantages of Ranger EcoBoost Intake Upgrade
- Gains of 5-10whp and torque (maybe more on aggressive tune)
- Increased airflow by 30% or more over stock intake
- enhanced turbo efficiency
- improved throttle responsiveness
- Noises of cool intake “whoosh”
Best Cold Air Intakes for 2.3 Ranger
- Roush Cold Air Intake (closed system, but warranty remains)
- aFe Pro (free)
- (open) K&N
- Injen PF (available)
- Mishimoto (retired)
3) 2.3L Ranger High-Flow Downpipe
Downpipes are another popular Ranger alteration since they provide the second best power improvements after a tuner. The following are some of the advantages of improving the downpipe:
- improvements of 10-15whp and equivalent torque improvements
- quicker turbo spool
- Reduced exhaust back pressure
- A little increase in exhaust tone
The downpipe is the initial component of the exhaust system, and it connects directly to the turbocharger. It also houses the catalytic converter, making it quite restricted. Because it is so close to the turbo, it generates a lot of backpressure, which is bad for the turbo. Furthermore, once you’ve got a tune and an intake putting more air into the engine, you should boost the flow out of the engine.
The reduction in backpressure allows the turbo to run a few psi higher, resulting in increased power. The lower the pressure in the exhaust, the more readily and fast the turbo can spool, and hence the more boost it can run.
High-Flow vs. Catless Downpipes
The catalytic converter positioned inside the downpipe is the most limiting portion of it. As a result, removing the catalytic converter or going catless is the greatest approach to reduce backpressure and improve performance. The disadvantage of this procedure is that it is unlawful and will cause your Ranger to fail emissions tests.
As a result, the alternative is to install a high-flow downpipe. High-flow choices use a catalytic converter to make your car legal, but use a less restrictive cat than the OEM one.
Catless downpipes provide the optimum performance. High-flow downpipes are the most practical and easy to maintain. Unless you plan on upgrading your turbo and aiming for really enormous power figures, we recommend going with a high-flow choice.
If you want to go deeper, we offer a more in-depth Ranger Downpipe Upgrade Guide.
CVF 3′′ High-Flow Downpipe is the best Ranger downpipe.
CVF has one of the most cheap and value-for-money downpipes on the market. They used to offer a catless option as well, but owing to EPA crackdowns, only a high-flow alternative is currently available. When it comes to the combination of performance, value, and quality, this is our favorite option on the market.
The downpipe is made of 3′′ 304 stainless steel pipework and is equipped with a 400-cell catalytic converter. They also provide a lifetime warranty, which is unusual for downpipes because the cats can burn out over time.
4) FMIC (Ford Ranger Intercooler Upgrade)
The final, and possibly finest, modification on our list is an improved front mount intercooler. The factory intercooler is small and, while adequate for standard boost settings, becomes quickly overwhelmed as boost is increased. This can create heat soak, which can lead you to lose horsepower. When this occurs, the turbocharged air becomes so hot that the intercooler is unable to adequately cool the air before it enters the combustion chamber.
The remedy is to replace the intercooler with a larger one. This will result in more constant performance and increased power, while also minimizing any power loss caused by heat soak. Cooler air enters the engine through a larger intercooler, resulting in more horsepower.
- Gains of 10-20whp (when tweaked)
- improved consistency of performance
- Heat soak and power loss are reduced.
- Engine knock is less likely.
- Better timing
If you’ve ever done back-to-back pulls in your Ranger or drive aggressively, you’ve probably noticed that power drops after the first few pulls. This is due to heat soak. When the air entering the intercooler becomes too hot, the intercooler cannot efficiently cool it.
The answer is to install a larger intercooler with greater cooling capacity. The core size and surface area of the intercooler are the two parameters that influence cooling.
Intercoolers are a more expensive modification, but they are one of the most reliable upgrades for Rangers that have been improved. Cooler air means less knock, better timing, lower EGTs, and more consistent performance, all of which contribute to a healthier engine. Heat is the enemy of engines, and an intercooler is one of the most effective ways to keep engine temperatures down.
CVF Performance Intercooler is the best Ranger 2.3L intercooler upgrade.
CVF provides the best bang for the buck on the market, and their Ranger intercooler is no exception. This intercooler is a direct bolt-on replacement with a 46% bigger core size than the factory unit. High-flow end tanks are also used to improve air flow into and out of the intercooler. Furthermore, it has a larger surface area, which improves cooling efficiency and results in lower IATs.
Summary of 2.3L Ford Ranger Performance Mods
From the factory, the Ford Ranger is underpowered and undervalued. The power levels are far behind other 2.3 EcoBoost automobiles, which produce up to 345hp and 310tq. Fortunately, Ford also undervalued this engine, since it dynoes the same numbers to the wheels as it is stated for power, which is fantastic. However, there is still a lot of power potential untapped.
The 270whp and 310wtq Ford Ranger can be transformed into a 350whp and 400wtq beast with four easy bolt-on performance improvements. A tuner is our preferred mod since it provides the highest power gains while also being the least expensive in terms of price per horsepower. We always propose an updated intake in conjunction with a tune. We also recommend a high-flow downpipe with an updated intake and tune to boost turbo efficiency and reduce backpressure. Finally, one of the best performance and reliability mods for a tuned Ranger is an intercooler.
While all of these upgrades may appear to be expensive, they are all around $2,000, which is a steal for 80whp and 90wtq. With that much money in mods, you won’t see power gains anything near this from a naturally aspirated engine.