Raptor Ranger Killer? APG ProRunner Takes to the Desert
No doubt, the 2019 Ford Ranger is a venerable contender in the mid-size pickup market. With several cab and bed options, a powerful, yet economical 2.3L Ecoboost engine, and years of success on the international stage, bringing the new Ranger to the US market was a no-brainer for Ford. Yet, as the demand for off-road capable vehicles from the showroom floor increases, Ford seems to be focusing their off-road efforts on the widely successful F-150 Raptor and yet-to-be-revealed new Bronco. But where does that leave the mid-size truck consumer who wants to take his new Ranger to the next level of off-road performance?
While many long-established off-road aftermarket companies are pumping out chassis-specific parts for the new Ranger, nobody is offering a complete package to get the most off-road performance from your 2019+ Ford Ranger, until now. Enter APG (Automotive Performance Group). This shop, located in Garden Grove, California, has dissected the new Ranger down to its bare bones, noting its strengths, its weaknesses, and exploiting all opportunities to make a monster out of this mid-size truck. After months of research and development, and rigorous testing, the final product has arrived. Meet the all-new APG ProRunner.
We know what you’re thinking…this looks a lot like the Ranger Raptor that’s available in Australia and other overseas markets. And you’d only be half-right. While the ProRunner from APG does bear resemblance to the factory Ford optioned Ranger Raptor, the only aspect they share is their likeness. Underneath, the ProRunner is modified with 100% US-made components, including suspension, body panels, bumpers, and axles, all designed and manufactured right here at APG. The complete package takes a stock Ranger to a level of off-road performance that nearly matches that of the much larger F-150 Raptor, with OEM quality fit and finish. And it all comes as a kit that you can actually buy here in the US, unlike the OEM Ranger Raptor.
Beginning with the underbody, the ProRunner Series 1 boasts a one-off long travel suspension system, capable of 12.5 inches of suspension travel, utilizing any number of aftermarket shocks you prefer. The kit was designed so that even the factory Ranger coil and shock could be reused if the truck is not destined for dirt (but where’s the fun in that?). This suspension system developed by APG includes extended length upper and lower control arms, extended tie rods, and extended axle shafts (if equipped with 4WD). The rear suspension system currently consists of an aftermarket shock of your choosing, with a proprietary progressive leaf pack in the works.
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges ahead of APG was fitting a larger tire under the new Ranger. Known for having the highest offset OEM wheels in its class, the Ranger’s stock suspension and frame doesn’t allow for a tire larger than OEM size to fit in the full range of steering and suspension travel. APG took the proven approach of installing larger tires on a low center of gravity truck by engineering a full set of wide-body fenders and bedsides for the all new ProRunner. But unlike most companies, they didn’t bother with fiberglass. The ProRunner package comes standard with a set of aircraft-grade carbon fiber fenders and bedsides, engineered in-house for a perfect OEM fit and finish.
We’re talking no weird body line gaps, no flex due to temperature changes, no cracks from rocks and debris kicking up like you’d get from fiberglass. These fenders are the cornerstone of APG’s manufacturing prowess, built from raw materials to a finalized product, painted with OEM PPG paint top match the truck’s color. Customers can choose if they want any of the slick-looking Carbon Fiber exposed, or simply paint it completely.
With the wide-body panels installed, APG is able to use a 35-inch tire to get maximum traction while staying low to the ground for added stability and safety during off-road driving. While it’s ultimately up to the customer on which wheels and tires they will install, these Nitto Ridge Grapplers were chosen to match the trucks performance both on the road, and in the dirt. Just as the ProRunner itself, the Ridge Grappler is a hybrid-terrain tire, engineered for work and play. Wheel choice is, again, up to the customer, but the particular truck we shot was on a set of 17-inch Fifteen52 wheels with a matte black finish.
But wide-body fenders and a 10-inch increase in overall track width comes with other necessities. Simply leaving the factory front bumper with the APG carbon fiber front fenders does not work, so rather than adapting their fenders to fit the stock bumper, APG designed their own off-road front plate bumper to fit the wider body and track width. This aluminum bumper actually weighs less than the factory bumper, yet provides more protection and modularity for aftermarket accessories such as a winch, recovery shackles, and LED lighting. The bumper is shipped with removable fill plates that can be easily punched out when installing your winch or lights—another very cool aspect of the Series 1 ProRunner.
While the transformation of a stock Ranger to the APG ProRunner undoubtedly provides a huge performance boost in the dirt, it’s important to realize that the ProRunner package was designed to feel just like an OEM Ranger on the street. After test driving one on the highway to and from the desert, we can say with confidence that it retains the same, smooth ride that you get from the Ford showroom floor.
So now you know what the ProRunner package consists of, and why these parts were chosen. But what does this comprehensive kit cost? For just $15,950, you can have the Series 1 ProRunner package installed on your 2019+ Ford Ranger. That means you can have a desert-ready truck for about the price of a bone stock TRD Pro Tacoma. But APG didn’t stop there. They’re also currently in the midst of working with Ford dealers and other off-road dealers across the nation, from the West Coast to Pennsylvania, to offer this package as a dealer add-on item, meaning you can have the ProRunner straight from the showroom. While currently, APG is the only authorized seller and installer of the ProRunner package, soon you’ll be able to find a dealer near you who can install the conversion on your truck.
As time goes on, more options and even better performance will become available as APG develops new products for this base package. But after driving one across Johnson Valley for a full day of testing, we were on board with what APG has done to this truck. In the dirt, it’s more responsive, more comfortable and acts as a springboard for an otherwise dull truck toward a fully built off-road or overland rig. We’re excited to see new developments from APG on the ProRunner, as well as a few other vehicle platforms they are currently working to offer upgrade packages for. To learn more about the ProRunner, visit their website or simply stop by their facility in Garden Grove, California.