Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Northeastern BC
Assuming your purpose is for off-road use, the only reason to do a lift is to fit larger wheels for more ground clearance.
I've given this a lot of thought since I bought my truck and done some reading. Here's what I've concluded.
The stock 4wd Ranger is pretty capable off-road as is. IMO it's probably at least as good as a long wheelbase Jeep. You can comfortably fit good 31" off-road tires without any modification (maybe jacking up the torsion bars a bit).
Suspension lifts have a few drawbacks. If you're like me and your truck is a daily driver, it's not going to be off-road 97% of the time. Suspension lifts raise the centre of gravity and have a negative effect on handling. I think it will possibly wear out driveline components and ball joints, etc. faster, too. Larger wheels mean you'll lose some torque, too.
One major problem is that Rangers no longer have a solid front axle, so whatever you do, you're still limited in how much travel you can get out of the front wheels unless you do some major surgery and do a front axle swap.
From my own off-road experience, I'd say in order of preference it's best to spend the money as follows.
1. Good off-road tires (slight torsion bar lift, if needed)
2. Fabricate a decent skid plate to protect the front radiator/AC cooler area better
(2b. Rock sliders)
4. Locking rear differential (although the Torsen LSD that came with mine is pretty good)
5. Shackle lift for rear suspension
6. Body lift, if you decide you need bigger tires
7. Leave the Ranger as-is for daily driving and buy a used short wheelbase Jeep or Suzuki Samurai and turn it into a crazy off-road buggy, since it's easier to get aftermarket parts and you don't have to worry as much about breaking it.
8. Suspension lift and front solid axle swap with coilovers if you need even bigger tires, and want to turn your truck into a rock crawler. Chop off chassis and box behind the rear axle to reduce overhang. Wish your truck was a regular cab after you get high-centred anyway.
I should note my off-road "technique" is more geared toward going around obstacles, rather than over them, and not wrecking my truck. So far, so good. That's not everybody's cup of tea, though.
If you want to lift just for looks, though, a body lift is the best bang for your buck and will cause the fewest problems ... I think.
If Princess Auto were a real girl, I'd ask her to marry me.