Ford Ranger FX4

Second time around…

About a year ago, when the Western Cape was still cold and had relative water sources left, we took the Ranger FX4 3.2 Automatic on a camping excursion in the freezing Cederberg mountains. Proving an excellent mixture between a bakkie (workhorse) and a luxurious SUV, the FX4 took us through some of the toughest terrains.

This time around, we could get the chance to test the on-road capabilities of the FX4. Similar to SUV’s the bakkie trend also expanded within the city region. It is then seldom that the bakkie would be used for any hard-working activities, except if you live in an agricultural or rural area. Except for the odd couch or fridge being moved around for your neighbour, the new trend is to use these bakkies for the weekend off-road excursion, similar to what we did in the Cederberg.

In the CBD

Travelling 100km to work and back, the FX4 took me on my normal daily commute, driving in bumper-to-bumper and open traffic on the national highway. However, we also experienced some of the challenging conditions, typical to any CBD area in Bellville.

The week before, I drove a similarly sized SUV on the same terrain and in the exact same circumstances, however, the FX4 proved much easier to drive. Yes, at R608,900, the FX4 was about R100 000 more expensive, but much more practical. Manoeuvring in tight spaces and car parks seemed to not be a problem with all the safety driver aids like vehicle alert, collision warning and the onboard reverse camera.

Unfortunately, it has to be said that Ford forgot about the “Blind spot monitoring” as is seen in the equally priced, Everest. Similarly, front park sensors are also not fitted to this model.

With its special edition black coating, the FX4 also looked fierce, keeping the usually ignorant drivers and jay-walkers on their toes. This would be no vehicle to mess with. (I really wished I remembered my Batman onzie).

Similar to our off-road excursion, the FX4, which is built on the Ranger XLT design, proved easy to handle and soft on the road. Yes, the rear suspension was still stiff, but much more pleasant than most of the competitors and certainly some SUV’s. On the highway, wind and road noise seemed minimal.

Its 6-gear automatic gearbox ran quietly and without effort, with minimal effort needed to overtake any traffic in the 3.2-litre bakkie. Producing 147kW and 470Nm, this FX4 is not far off from similar, sportier bakkies on the market. It also sits very close to the brand new Ford Ranger Raptor, which will be the top-spec Ranger model with 157kW and 500 Nm (however, from a smaller 2.0 litre, biTurbo engine).

Similar to our previous test, we also achieved a fuel economy of 9.6 litres / 100km which is relatively good, considering that most mid- and large sized SUV’s struggle to reach this mark.

Would I want to own this “dark knight”?

Most certainly. Even if you are not a “bakkie” person, the Ranger proves to adapt very well to urban- and rural lifestyles.

As mentioned in our previous articles, the Ford Ranger FX4 and XLT is one of the few bakkies on the current market to fit the modernistic SUV-like bill. It is more sophisticated, comfortable, practical and fuel efficient than many other SUV’s. This at a fraction of the price of some of the other “bakkies” and sometimes more safety features.

Similar to the newest Kuga, Ford has made a remarkable step towards road safety and driver aids. The same is seen in the FX4 with it using no less than 7 airbags.

The FX4 joins the market as a relatively cost-effective, yet very modernistic and city-friendly bakkie/ute.

*The FX4 is sold at a very competitive R608 900, with a four-year / 120 000km warranty.

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