Ford Ranger FX4: travelling wild on the Wild Coast

The current Ranger is now well-established and so the mid-life variations are starting to roll out. Not long ago, we sampled the Ranger Thunder and XL Sport. Now it was time for the new FX4.

The FX4 is a limited run of Ranger bakkies – that slots in just below the Wildtrak in terms of equipment and price – but has some other bits that set it apart. Most obvious are the distinctive styling cues, such as the black mesh grille, bespoke 18-inch wheels and tubular sport bars around the load bin. Bold FX4 badging is dotted around the bodywork, too. 

Inside, you’ll find a soft-touch leather-trimmed dashboard with red stitching, which is also carried over to the leather-trimmed steering wheel, gear lever and seats. Even the seats have embossed FX4 logos.

Ford Ranger FX4
The Ranger is exceptionally capable when the tarmac ends, says Miles Downard.

The FX4 has a decent level of standard equipment, including dual-zone climate control, keyless passive entry and passive start, a rear-view parking camera as well as front and rear sensors to aid manoeuvrability in tight parking spaces. An 8″ touch screen display takes care of entertainment and is Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatible. The lined load bin has a 12V outlet which is rather handy if something in the back needs power.

All the gadgets and nice leather trim make the FX4 a decent place to spend time – good for the morning traffic or a long distance haul for a family holiday.

Powering the FX4 is Ford’s 2.0-litre turbodiesel motor, mated to a 10-speed automatic gearbox. With 132 kW and 420 Nm it’s not going to win any drag races but will certainly do just fine in everyday life, including those times when you need to tow a boat, caravan or trailer. It’s a refined and fairly efficient motor, having done especially well in the recent Wesbank Fuel Economy Tour. In normal use, it will likely yield around 9.5 L/100km. 

Bespoke 18-inch wheels and bold badging differentiates the FX4 from other models.

The FX4 can be had in 4×2 – or as we experienced on a trip through the Wild Coast – 4×4 guise. It’s exceptionally capable when the tarmac ends, boasting low range, hill decent control and a locking rear differential. There’s very little that’s insurmountable to a Ranger, be it navigating rocky passes or traversing sandy rivers.

We tackled all manner of terrain on the journey from Port St John’s little airstrip on top of the hill, down the coast to the not-so-secret “secret camping grounds” near Mpande, back up to a hidden gem known as “the Kraal” for some braai’d oysters before an overnight stay on the banks of the Mngazi river. It’s an absolutely magical part of South Africa, largely untouched by modern civilisation and I’d implore all South Africans to take the road less travelled to visit the area.

Something else we were able to experience on the launch was the introduction of Ford Pass. It’s an app that connects to your vehicle, allowing you to remotely start the engine (for climate control to kick in before your departure), lock and unlock the car, view various bits of information like fuel level, service history etc. You can even make a service booking via the app. 

Ford Ranger FX4
The 4×2 retails for R618,900. The 4×4 derivative is slightly more, at R687,900.

While it might sound gimmicky, Ford tells us this is merely the beginning of the connected journey. More features will roll out over the coming months that will continue to enhance the experience. 

At a smidge under R620,000 and R690,000 for the 4×2 and 4×4 respectively, the FX4 offers a competitive package for those that want to stand out a little, but maintain all the practicality of owning a double cab. 

I’m always left amazed by how far bakkies have come. This FX4 looks the part, can rough it with the best of them and can double as a work vehicle during the week, all while offering premium levels equipment and comfort to the occupants. And the Ranger does it all better than most.

Fast Facts:

Ford Ranger 2.0 SiT 4×4 XLT FX4

Price: R687,900
Power: 132 kW/420 Nm
Fuel consumption: 7.5 litres/ 100 km (claimed)
Top speed: n/a
Rivals: Toyota Hilux 2.4 GD-6 4×4 Raider Auto, Isuzu D-Max 3.0 TD LX Auto

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