I’ve driven the Ford Ranger FX4 twice in less than a month but had to hold back since the launch event because I received it again for the long weekend away in March. I visited the Kruger National Park and took the FX4 along with three friends for a girls getaway.
As mentioned on my post about the FordPass app, the FX4 is the first Ranger that is a fully connected car. It has a built-in eSIM and once paired with an app on your smartphone, you can control the vehicle remotely, like remote start, lock/unlock, vehicle status/monitoring, locator and health alerts.
It may be Ford’s first connected car, but for years they’ve been leading with updated infotainment systems that were one of the first to support Android Auto and CarPlay locally. I was following it closely back in the day and it was great to see it being embraced so early.
Here’s a quick look at the Ranger 2.0 FX4 4×4 (diesel):
– 10 speed automatic transmission
– 132kW and 420Nm of torque
– RWD and selectable 4×4
– LED daytime running lights
– 18″ alloy wheels
– Leather trim
– Dual electronic climate control
– Sync 3 with 8″ touchscreen and 2x USB ports + Android Auto/CarPlay
– Front and rear parking sensors
– FordPass Connect with 4G embedded eSIM
For the launch event I drove a silver FX4 but I was sent the black one for my Kruger trip and can I just say how much I love and prefer this colour? Its presence makes it a mean machine on the roads. It has black mesh grille seen on the Thunder, giving it a bold, ‘muscular’ look, and paired withe LED daytime running lights and LED headlamps, it stand outs. It has black mirrors and door handles, along with 18″ black alloy wheels.
It has the FX4 decals on the base of the front doors, and on the tailgate. It is equipped to carry bicycles, canoes or any other sporting gear. It also has a 12V power socket on the bed-liner to power things like a portable fridge, coffee machine and other accessories. These sockets are also inside in the front and passenger cabins. The Ranger’s Easy Life tailgate lets it easily be lowered or raised without much effort.
The bakkie was an open one, but we loaded our weekend away bags in the back. We experienced a minor bit of rain thankfully. While driving or if we stopped at traffic lights, the vehicle was fairly high so nobody could reach to grab any of our bags, never mind the weight. My personal luggage is a hard shell so when it rain, I wasn’t too bothered.
The insides have leather trims with red stitching; love this combo and its carried over on the steering wheel, gear lever and seats, with embossed FX4 logos on the seats. This is certainly a step-up from the other standard Rangers I’ve driven.
As mentioned above, but just want to point out these are standard specs: dual-zone climate control; keyless entry; a rear-view parking camera; and sensors in the front and back to help with parking in tight spaces.
I found the front roomy and comfortable with enough slots to put phones, masks, bags, water bottles etc, required for a road trip. There’s also a deeper storage compartment in the centre, which was useful for a pack of masks, sanitiser, etc and all the bits and bobs needed to hit the road during lockdown.
My friends who sat in the back for quite some time during a game drive and route back to Joburg said it was comfortable. This with all our extra “stuff” we packed; we’re talking four women with lotsa baggage just for a getaway. One friend in particular who frequents the Kruger often is convince she needs a Ranger in her life now.
I have a post on using the new connected feature on the FX4, you can read it here:
The FX4 having Sync3 as standard is one of my favourite things about this vehicle. It’s the most natural thing to pair or connect your smartphone via cable to get Google Maps. This to me is the most important thing when hitting the roads, especially for as long as we did. The drive to Kruger was over five hours so we had to get comfortable pretty early on.
Linking my iPhone 12 Pro to the vehicle allowed us to listen to Spotify playlists while having Google Maps navigate us with accuracy using real-time traffic. An underrated feature imo. Though the roads from the park is not exactly accurate on Google Maps but for the most part it helped us.
We had enough ports for us all, including plugging an inverter into one of the 12V sockets to get a 3-pin plug to use for charging camera batteries. I brought the inverter along (gifted to us at the FX4 launch event in Feb) just to test it out. We could have brought a hair dryer or coffee machine along, just saying.
The FX4 is powered by a 2L turbocharged diesel engine with a 10-speed auto transmission. It’s a comfortable drive, you don’t feel any uneven roads. At the launch event we tested its technical capabilities and different driving modes over rocks, mud, water, dirt roads, you name it. It was in the Eastern Cape and that should tell you what type of conditions the roads are in.
Back here in Gauteng and Mpumalanga, it had sufficient power when I needed to overtake but there were times I wished it a tad more but this is because of how I drive as an individual. I also got us to the KNP in good time, just saying. For this kind of trip, I think the diesel worked out more efficiently.
More so than ride quality, I felt safe in this vehicle at all times. We were just four women in the car for most of the trip, and didn’t feel uncomfortable on the roads because of the “presence” the Ranger has, if that makes sense. There was an added bit of security for me.
We also went on a 5 hour+ game drive in the Kruger National Park on our way out and it was so epic. There was nothing about the trip where I had to figure out if we’d ‘make it’. No flat tyres and yet we drove on some terrible roads. The Ranger is capable.
We stayed at Kruger Shalati – the train on the bridge. A new hotel that opened in December 2020 but it’s unique because it’s a stationary train that has been converted into a hotel. Thank you Ford for making it possible for us to go here.
Visited Kruger Shalati, the train on a bridge that’s now a hotel @SANParksKNP. The pool hangs over the Sabie River with the Big Five roaming below. Plus finally saw a leopard 🐆 on a game drive!
— Nafisa Akabor (@nafisa1) March 25, 2021
The Ranger certainly brings out the adventure in you. This is the type of vehicle that would make you go out and hit the roads to find unbeaten paths and create new memories. My time with it over the years has always been unique, where I was forced to get out my comfort zone (I don’t say this in a negative way).
Ford somehow makes sure we do something special with the Ranger and that’s because it’s a special vehicle, built right here in Pretoria and exported to over 100 markets globally. It’s found on the list of most sold vehicles in SA brand new or on the second hand market.
The Ranger FX4 is the most tech advanced Ranger I’ve driven; it was comfortable, spacious and kept us safe. This doesn’t seem like the typical description of a bakkie in South Africa but it has evolved to offer this.
I’m not here to tell you to go out and buy a Ranger (you won’t be disappointed if you do) but I will tell you that you will have the best adventures in it. I wouldn’t hesitate to take it on a road-trip again, going somewhere I’ve never been.
Thanks for the memories, Ford!
Recharged is an independent site that focuses on technology, electric vehicles, and the digital life by Nafisa Akabor. Drawing from her 16-year tech journalism career, expect news, reviews, how-tos, comparisons, and practical uses of tech that are easy to digest. firstname.lastname@example.org