Without the Ford Ranger, the truck world was a sore sight these past several years. But Ford finally got back in the game in 2018 with the third-generation Ranger, and so far, it’s been warmly received in the truck community.
However, with the only engine option being the 2.3-liter EcoBoost, Ford limits what people can choose to suit their needs, unlike other OEMs. After our review of the truck in 2019, we saw potential in that turbo inline-four, but just how much was a question for another time.
Fortunately, that time is now. The tuning experts at Livernois Motorsports have been supporting EcoBoost engines since their launch back in 2010, and are taking care of this new Ranger thanks to the MyCalibrator Touch. This device offers an array of controls and tools for Ranger owners, not to mention tuning.
We recently had a MyCalibrator Touch (PN LPP631157) shipped in, perfect for letting us see firsthand the device’s abilities. Partnering with our friend Rory Connell and his 2019 Ranger, we took the opportunity to test out the MyCalibrator Touch, see what it made on the dyno, and check out how it did with improving towing ability before and after. Our test would involve comparing the stock tune on 87 octane to the Livernois performance tune on 93 octane.
The MyCalibrator Touch debuted back in late 2018, and has since evolved to cover Ford, Lincoln, Jeep, Ram, and various other makes. It improves over the previous MyCalibrator in several ways, most clearly with it being touchscreen and using a full-color display. But there’s more than meets the eye with this device.
“The MyCalibrator Touch is a complete redesign from its predecessor,” explained Livernois’ Dan Millen. “With a simple plug into the OBD-II port, we give the customer the ability to read and clear diagnostic codes, change tire size and gear ratio, tune the engine, and more, all with an easy-to-use touchscreen interface.”
We were excited about all of these functions coming together in one device, but the main appeal was tuning. We wanted to see what was truly locked away inside that EcoBoost motor, and what potential could be brought to bear for towing.
Millen commented on this, saying, “Our tune is optimized. We make sure the transmission shifts properly while you’re out there hauling. It corrects a big issue found from the factory, where it will sometimes skip from First to Third or Third to Fifth gear. We fixed that in the tune.”
While Livernois does offer tuning for 87-89 octane fuel, we elected to go for max performance, which required a higher grade octane gasoline, since that was how we would see the most improvement. For our purposes, Livernois developed a tune that would work on 91-93 octane gas.
The Ranger we sourced belonged to Rory Connell and serves as a company truck for Advanced Accessory Concepts (AAC). Connell has been a good friend of ours and wanted to help us out on this project. Naturally, getting some more power out of the EcoBoost would be a win for him as well!
In talking with Connell, he shared his thoughts on the Ranger. “On the whole, the Ranger has more comfort and power than any other midsize truck on the market,” he said. “It’s powerful and controllable, and the acceleration is great. It has slight turbo lag, but once that gets going, you can feel it for sure.”
However, he noted that its towing capability left something to be desired. “I notice the trailer when accelerating from a stop,” he said. “I also feel the engine struggling on long grades, like on the Tejon Pass on the way to Las Vegas. The truck just starts running out of juice. So, I’m excited to see what this tuner does for our towing capability.”
We took the truck out on the highway for a brief test drive to get a sense of the truck’s acceleration while hauling a trailer. The trailer was an XVenture XV-2, matched to the Ranger’s own customized appearance. Though it could be loaded down to weigh as much as 3,500 pounds, it had since been stripped down and weighed around 1,500 pounds. The Ranger itself sported an aftermarket cargo box on the rear, which put the truck’s total weight around 4,000 pounds (6,500 pounds including the trailer).
The truck rolled into our shop with a quarter-tank of gasoline. Connell confirmed it was 87 octane, which is what most people typically use here in California. Our shop technician, Scott Nogrady, took care of strapping it down to the dyno and testing its performance.
With the factory tune and on 87 octane, the truck performed better than our expectations. Connell predicted 190 horsepower, while others said 210 or 200 horsepower. In truth, it made an honest 237.2 horsepower and 264.7 pound-feet of torque on our Dynojet, which was surprising.
Now that we knew our baseline, it was up to Livernois’ tuning (and some higher-grade octane gasoline) to see if the MyCalibrator Touch was up to the task. We hooked up the tuner to a laptop and waited a few moments for the performance tune to download. This new performance tune was made specifically for this truck, and was based off of a stock reading that we sent to Livernois a few days prior. The download took only a few moments, so we were in, out, and ready to proceed.
With that done, we headed back to the truck and plugged it in via the OBD-II port. After a few minutes, the new tune was installed and we were ready to test.
We went ahead and got the Ranger prepped for the final dyno test. This involved mixing in higher-octane gasoline with the small amount of 87 octane still in the tank. Because 93 octane gasoline is difficult to find here in California, this process let us whip up a mix that was equal to or slightly higher than 93 octane; perfect for the new tune.
With the right mixture achieved, we started up the Ranger and performed some more pulls. Eventually, we got what appeared to be the best run of the day – 267.1 horsepower and 347.4 pound-feet of torque. This was a remarkable improvement over the stock run we had earlier – 237.2 horsepower and 264.7 pound-feet of torque. All told, this little Ranger pumped out another 30 horsepower and 83 pound-feet of torque.
Diving into the graph some more, we noticed that the Livernois tune had a slight leg up on the stock tune starting off. But the gulf clearly widened once the RPM hit about 2,800, and saw massive gains all through the power band. Most notably, 3,500 RPM showed gains of about 60 horsepower and 90 pound-feet of torque. “That is great to see, because that is where you’re going to feel those gains while driving,” commented Millen. “Those improvements will give better acceleration while towing, and you’re going to enjoy the smoother shifting as well.”
A Ranger, Rejuvenated
The Ranger was ready to rock. Now that we had hard data showing the truck’s improvements on the dyno, we hitched up the trailer once more and headed out for another test drive.
On surface streets, we could already tell a difference. We noticed the truck accelerated much better. From a dead stop to a decent clip, the truck felt like it had more power and better, more optimized shifting.
But the biggest change came from the freeway. Pulling onto an on-ramp and hitting 60 miles an hour or so, the trailer didn’t seem to make as much of an impact on the Ranger’s acceleration. The shifting was more responsive and noticeably smoother to boot. Making passes to get around traffic was less of a hassle, which is always a good thing.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect, as I’ve rarely used tuners before, but Livernois did an amazing job on the tune,” said Connell. “I’m highly impressed with the results. It’s now got tons of mid-range power to help with towing. Or just having a blast out in the dirt!”
If you’re interested in getting more power and torque out of your EcoBoost, or want to see the other applications available for the MyCalibrator Touch, be sure to visit Livernois’ website. And go check out its Facebook page for updates, videos, and more.