N34° 24’ 3” W117° 43’ 38”
The first time I saw the new Ford Ranger in person, I quite literally burst out in laughter from behind the wheel of my trusty Toyota truck. “That’s what they’re building to compete with the Tacoma?” was the first thought that came to me. It was awkward, with a tall and narrow aspect ratio, with goofy styling you’d expect from most late model European pickup trucks. It reminded me of an uglier Chevy Colorado, or maybe a poor imitation of one. But that was all before I knew anything about Automotive Performance Group and the ProRunner package that quite literally pushes this ugly duckling of a stock truck into a category of its own when it comes to off-road- ready midsize pickup trucks. And did I mention how cool it looked?
In July of 2020, I joined the team at APG as their Director of Marketing. My passion for off-road trucks and media put me in a unique position to help get the word out about what APG was up to and the parts they were manufacturing to improve the new Ford Ranger platform’s aesthetics and off-road performance. As an aftermarket part manufacturer, dealer, and installer, we aim to design, engineer, and install parts to address our customers’ needs. Whether that’s a truck built for camping in the woods for a few nights, blasting across the wide-open desert, or simply stealing the show at the local Cars and Coffee, we take our customer’s desires and manifest them in the form of real, purpose-built vehicles. And while we are an authorized dealer and installer for most major off-road aftermarket parts companies, our primary focus has been the U.S. Spec 2019+ Ford Ranger platform.
Our flagship product is in the form of a package called the ProRunner, which consists of a hefty list of parts, all engineered and manufactured in the U.S., installed onto a stock Ford Ranger that dramatically improves its aesthetic and performance qualities. Our goal for the ProRunner is to offer a package that gives U.S. Ford Ranger owners the styling and off-road prowess from the overseas Ranger Raptor they want, but can’t get. But merely matching the Ranger Raptor specs, which isn’t available in the U.S., was not enough for us. We felt the obligation to take it a step further and engineer a more robust, more capable truck than the Ranger Raptor, all at an attainable price point.
The ProRunner solves two crippling problems with the stock Ford Ranger; it’s ugly, and you can’t fit large tires in the fenders. The package basics include a wide-body system, long-travel suspension, and the ability to cycle a 35-inch tire under it fully. It also fixes a huge problem in the aftermarket off-road body panel industry; fiberglass parts never fit like OEM panels. We spent months developing carbon fiber body panels for the Ranger that feature a fit and finish that matches or exceeds OEM quality.
As Director of Marketing, I know the importance of practicing what you preach. To truly sell a product in this industry, you have to let your market know that this is something you believe in, something you would personally use and proudly stand behind. I decided to purchase my very own 2020 Ford Ranger 4×4 XLT in Iconic Silver, with the intention of installing our complete ProRunner package, in addition to a host of other aftermarket parts, and use the truck as my daily-driven weekend trail toy. With my Toyota undergoing a total overhaul, I needed a reliable, fun, and new truck to enjoy during my free time, and the ProRunner checked all the boxes. The build became known as “Project Quicksilver.”
The build began the same as any ProRunner conversion we’ve done – a full teardown. The front fenders, complete bed assembly, front and rear bumpers, front and rear suspension, and tailgate are removed from the truck. Next, the bedside skins are removed by drilling out the 50 or so spot welds that hold each side of the bed, leaving only the inner bed structure intact.
During this stage, the truck looks rather barren, but behind the scenes, there is a whole host of intelligent engineering to ensure our parts fit and work just as well or better than their factory counterparts.
The ProRunner suspension components consist of boxed upper and lower control arms, extended Chromoly axle shafts (if equipped with 4WD), and billet machined aluminum tie rods with FK spherical bearing rod-ends. The new control arms are 3 inches wider than stock, providing a 6-inch wider track width and retain the OEM Ford upper and lower ball joints and frame pivot bushings. Keeping some of the OEM parts was done to make them easily serviced, even by a Ford dealership, and to keep the cost of the kit down by reusing strong OEM components that provide a smooth, quiet ride on any terrain.
ProRunner customers have a choice of what shocks they’d like to run, as we designed our long-travel suspension system to accept nearly any aftermarket shock or coilover. As an avid desert traveler, I opted for a set of OEM replacement King 2.5 extended travel coilovers with remote reservoirs and compression adjusters. The rear suspension consists of OEM replacement King 2.5 shocks with remote reservoirs and compression adjusters. We modify the valving and spring rates to account for the larger tires and increased abuse in the dirt. The suspension achieves 13 inches of usable travel, while retaining full 4WD functionality, thanks to our extended Chromoly CV axle shafts, which replace the stock length CV axle shafts.
The stock rear leaf pack, which consists of a single leaf spring and overload spring, was also replaced by our progressive rate leaf spring kit developed in partnership with Deaver Spring in Santa Ana, California. The progressive leaf packs provide a much smoother rear suspension and increased payload in the bed with our optional HD leaf springs.
The 6-inch wider track width requires adequate coverage and clearance for up to 35-inch tires. Designing this feature on our body panels is where our in-house composite manufacturing team shines. We spent months designing and developing a complete set of aerospace-grade carbon fiber body panels for the ProRunner conversion, consisting of two front fenders, two bedside panels, and a fuel door. The most critical elements to our body panel manufacturing are fit and finish, and the material’s strength. Our fenders and bedsides are manufactured to the highest quality using a vacuum infusion process, allowing you to simply install them and paint to match without the weeks of bodywork needed to get most fiberglass panels to fit correctly. The front fenders are a bolt-on replacement, and the rear bedsides are installed by a panel-bolding process used by high-end collision repair shops when repairing the bed. Our in-house paint and body division did a fantastic job of paint- matching the body panels to an OEM finish.
As each carbon fiber widebody fender and bedside is 5-inches wider than stock, the ProRunner conversion package also comes with a wider, lightweight, 3/16-inch aluminum bumper capable of carrying a winch and auxiliary lights. The front bumper matches the carbon fiber panels’ width and even comes with recovery shackles installed onto the frame horns in the same manner as the OEM tow points. The bumper weighs 27 pounds, making it half as heavy as the stock front bumper, but able to carry a Warn M8000-S winch and Factor 55 Flatlink E for the occasional recovery.
As long-time off-road enthusiasts ourselves, we understood the benefit of running the largest tire you can fit on a truck while keeping the center of gravity low. That’s the core basis of why we opted for a wide-body and long-travel suspension. Being able to cycle a 35-inch tire from full droop to full bump is something that is simply not possible without these modifications. With that said, I opted for a set of 35×12.50R17 Nitto Tire Ridge Grapplers, wrapped around Fifteen52 Turbomac HD wheels in a bronze finish. I’ve been running the Ridge Grapplers for years on my other rigs and have been very happy with them. APG has had a close relationship with Fifteen52 since APG’s first ProRunner build, and I’ve always been a fan of their VW wheels from my tuner days. The Turbomac HDs in bronze set off the silver paint nicely, and the wheel design makes the tires look larger than they are.
While the ProRunner package is complete and can easily stand alone on any Ranger build as a very capable off-road vehicle, it’s best paired with aftermarket components that complement it. I installed several aftermarket parts from other amazing companies that tie the build together. I was fortunate enough to partner with Baja Designs on this build and showcase their incredibly powerful lights on my truck’s front and rear. The front bumper has two pairs of XL Pro lights in both spot and driving/combo pattern. I installed their SAE Pocket Fog Light kit with amber lenses, operated with the OEM fog light switch. I also installed their ditch light kit, which uses a set of Squadron Pro lights, complete with hood mounting brackets and a wiring harness. I installed a GJ Motorsports third brake light mount on the rear of the truck that houses three Baja Designs S2 Pro lights, two in amber and one in white. The white light acts as a cargo light for the bed and is operated in the same way as the stock cargo light, while the other two are wired to a single switch as dust lights.
Other aftermarket parts and accessories include a Switch-Pros SP-9100 accessory management system, cleverly installed using SDHQ mounts under the hood and a bracket to house the switch panel in the center console. I installed a Decked USA drawer system to properly store all my tools, recovery gear, and camping equipment in the bed. Having just a 5-foot bed makes it difficult to properly keep my stuff locked down while driving fast through the desert, and the Decked system does a great job at adding utility and security to an otherwise empty space. I opted for their cargo tie-down system to hold a full-size spare tire on top as well, in the rare event that I ever puncture a tire.
The Ford Ranger, like most new vehicles, has a horrible throttle lag from the factory. Combined with the turbocharger lag you experience with the stock 2.3-liter Ecoboost, it made for an unpleasant driving experience in the dirt. I installed a Pedal Commander to completely alleviate this issue and give me adjustability in my throttle response. Pairing this with the 0FG Exhaust Suite from AWE Tuning woke up this truck. It already has decent power, even on the stock ECU calibration. A proper tune is in the works, but for now, I’m enjoying the truck as-is until the warranty is up.
When I set out to build this truck, I wanted to combine all the amenities and creature comforts of a daily-driver with an off-road Prerunner’s capability and ruggedness. The APG ProRunner package did just that. It also completely changed my perception of how a truck can be fundamentally improved with carefully engineered and designed parts. Although people may think that what makes this truck unique is just a whole list of parts, it’s actually how they were all designed to work with each other, making it such a pleasure to drive both on and off the pavement. I’d like to say I have grand plans for making Quicksilver even bigger and better and faster, but I really don’t. For the first time in my career of owning and building off-road vehicles, I’m happy to say that this truck is perfect just the way it is. It’s unique and captures the eyes of anyone that sees it for the first time. But unlike most aesthetic show trucks, the APG ProRunner has the off-road chops to take me anywhere I want to go, with the ease and comfort of a luxury Prerunner. The only question that remains is where I’m headed next.
FORD RANGER 4X4 XLT APG PRORUNNER
- Warn M8000-S winch, Warn Epic Hawse fairlead, Factor55 Flatlink E
- Baja Designs LED Lights
- 10-speed automatic transmission, Advantek Dana 44 rear axle, Dana front IFS housing
- APG Long Travel Suspension, King Shocks 2.5 extended, travel front coilovers with compression adjusters,
King 2.5 rear shocks with compression adjusters
WHEELS & TIRES
- Fifteen52 Turbomac HD Bronze, 17×8.5, Nitto Tire Ridge Grappler 35×12.50R17
POWERTRAIN AND UNDER THE HOOD PERFORMANCE:
- 2.3L Ecoboost, AWE Tuning 0FG Exhaust Suite with Diamond Black tips, Pedal Commander
ARMOR, BUMPERS, SLIDERS:
- APG aluminum plate bumper
- APG carbon fiber wide- body system, Front fenders 5” flare, 1.5” rise, Rear bedsides 5” flare, 1.5” rise
GEAR STORAGE, ORGANIZATION:
- Bed Rack, Decked
- USA bed drawer system with cargo tie-down
ELECTRONICS AND IN-CABIN ACCESSORY MOUNT:
- Switch-Pros SP-9100, SDHQ under hood mount, SDHQ center console switch panel mount