Ford updated the Ranger FX4 to a fully connected vehicle. This makes a tech person like me really happy, and as someone who has driven a lot of Ranger variants over the years.

The launch of the 2021 Ford Ranger FX4 also brings FordPass Connect and the FordPass app to South Africa for the first time. It will also be fitted as standard on all Ranger XL, XLS, XLT, Wildtrak, and Ranger Raptor models.

This post will focus solely on the FordPass app, as I will be driving the FX4 again later this month and will share more about it then.

The two technologies pair together to offer a connected car experience, with features like Remote Lock/Unlock, Remote Start (automatic vehicles only), Vehicle Status and Remote Vehicle Monitoring, Vehicle Locator and Vehicle Health Alerts.

At the FX4 launch last week in Port St John’s in the Eastern Cape, we got to test the FordPass app first hand, having downloaded it ahead of getting to the event. Once we got there, the process was simplified for us at launch, which required a quick scanning of QR code in order to pair the vehicle with our phones.

FordPass app works together with FordPass Connect on the FX4

I tested it on an iPhone, and my driving partner Marcé Bester of Stuff Magazine used an Android device. She registered as the master driver, and I was the secondary, which required her approval to add me on. FordPass works on Android 7 upwards and iOS 13 upwards.

Once we were connected, things were simple and smooth sailing, which to me is surprising as you’d expect new tech like this to not work on the first try.

I very excitedly turned on the vehicle from the app, and we locked and unlocked, and set remote starts etc as we progressed during our two-day trip. I was on Vodacom and she was on MTN so at times I had connectivity and she didn’t, and vice versa. So our testing largely depended on this; driving in the middle of nowhere with spotty signal.

Bokkie the Bakkie – our chosen name for the Ranger FX4 on FordPass

At a quick glance on the Vehicle tab, the app will show you your fuel levels, odometer reading, vehicle location (if enabled), oil status by percentage, and if you have any scheduled starts. These cannot be done in less than a 10 minute gap.

The FordPass app also lets you access the manual, view service history, book a service, search for dealers, parking or fuel stations, access to guides, roadside assistance.

FordPass Connect vehicles have an embedded eSIM modem that connects to a 4G mobile network and is of no cost to the customer, i.e. no additional data costs associated with it. This allows you to then, as mentioned earlier, control the car.

Me driving to the lookout point. Credit: Colin Mileman

It is important to note that older models cannot be retrofitted with this technology, they come out straight off the assembly line in Silverton, Pretoria with the tech built into it.

I am listing the official features according to Ford:

  • Vehicle Status and Remote Vehicle Monitoring: Through the FordPass app’s Vehicle Status feature, owners can check their vehicle’s key variables including fuel level and oil status, tyre pressures (where the Tyre Pressure Monitoring System is fitted on the Wildtrak) and mileage through the convenience of their smartphone.
  • Remote Start and Stop (automatic models only): Using the FordPass app, drivers can start their vehicle’s engine from home, the office or elsewhere via smartphone, enabling the vehicle’s cabin to commence heating or cooling to the last used setting. This helps ensure a cool, comfortable interior on a hot summer day, or a de-iced, warmed and inviting vehicle in winter. The vehicle is automatically locked when remote starting. It can only be driven once the driver inserts the ignition key, or presses the ‘Start’ button with the proximity key in the vehicle. A scheduled start can also be programmed for a predetermined time via the FordPass app, and can be configured to repeat on selected days throughout the week.

    Unlock, Start and Lock buttons
  • Remote Lock and Unlock: Drivers can lock and unlock their Ford remotely, meaning they don’t have to rush back to their cars to check if they have remembered to lock their doors. This also allows drivers to let passengers into their vehicle regardless of whether they are there or not.
  • Vehicle Locator: Courtesy of a map and location tracker in the FordPass app, drivers can find their way back to their vehicle in a busy parking area without the need to remember exactly where they parked it. This is even more convenient where you share your vehicle with one or more members of your household.
  • Vehicle Health Alerts: The FordPass app capability extends to Vehicle Health Alerts, which can be sent directly to a smart device pre-empting service needs, general maintenance such as a low washer fluid alert, and more. The alert is designed to identify specific issues and even recommend a course of action.
  • Map and Search: Through the FordPass app, customers have access to an extensive range of search options, including Ford dealers, fuel stations, available parking, entertainment, coffee shops and travel destinations such as hotels and lodges.
  • Maintenance Schedule: All key vehicle information is available in the FordPass app, including the vehicle identification number (VIN), new vehicle warranty (including start date for the four-year/120 000km comprehensive warranty), Ford Protect Plan (with expiry date and end distance for the six-year/90 000km service plan). The owner can also check the upcoming service intervals, and schedule a service at their preferred dealer with the app linking to the website the facilitate this process.
  • Roadside Assistance: Throughout the FordPass app, customers have instant access to call Ford’s 24-hour emergency Roadside Assistance, which is valid for a period of three years/unlimited distance, and is provided by the Automobile Association (AA).
  • Vehicle Support: The app provides extensive additional resources for customers, including how-to videos explaining features and technologies in the Ranger, digital Owner’s Manual, and an Alerts Guide addressing a number of issues such as water in fuel, Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) warning, and numerous other warning messages.
  • FordPass Guide: When you need help, a friendly FordPass Guide is there to offer one-on-one assistance via phone or e-mail, directly from the app.
  • Over-the-air updates: FordPass Connect enables over-the-air (OTA) modem software updates seamlessly via the embedded modem to keep the vehicle current with new technology, performance and safety by wirelessly delivering new features and quality enhancements – without requiring a visit to a dealer or service centre.

I found the app pairing process simple, even if simplified but scanning a QR code should be the norm. Just having a connected vehicle at your fingertips making a world of a difference. It’s something I love about cars today, controlling certain things via an app.

Me going through water, with cows on the beach. Credit: Colin Mileman

Think about the various situations you could find yourself in. If you cannot remember locking the vehicle, you could check the status from wherever you are. You could also technically leave your vehicle with its keys inside and sit in another province an unlock the vehicle if you are lending it to someone, or in the case with media where Ford remotely unlocks it for us on a roadtrip from the airport.

I also like the timed start. You could be leaving home in 10 mins and set it so that the vehicle is starts by the time you’re ready to leave with the temperature set to your liking, whatever the season. I mean, Joburg basically gets too hot or too cold so this FX4 is perfect for that.

At the lookout point. Credit: Colin Mileman

I love that Ford brought this feature out on its flagship Ranger first, built in South Africa. I think it’s exciting to see where the technology will be going in years to come but now, it is a great start. But I just want to state again, worked brilliantly for the first time testing it out.

Quick specs for the Ranger FX4:
– 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 (Android Auto/CarPlay)
– Front and rear parking sensors
– FordPass Connect with 4G embedded eSIM
– 4 year/120 000km warranty
– 6 services at 15 000km intervals

4×2 = R618 900
4×4 = R687 900

FordPass Connect will be available on the 2021 Ranger FX4 and all February 2021 production models on the Ranger XL, XLS, XLT, Wildtrak, and Ranger Raptor, built in SA.

I will have a separate blog post on Ranger FX4 later this month. Stay tuned.