Tested: Ford’s new Ranger ute
The Ford Ranger has been the second best selling vehicle in the country for the past few years, and the special edition FX4 was so popular they had to add it to the line-up full time. Here is everything you need to know about the Ford Ranger FX4.
THE CHANGES ARE COSMETIC
The FX4 used to be a special edition but it was so popular Ford added it as a semi-permanent model in the Ranger line-up. Under the skin it's mechanically identical to the XLT dual-cab 4WD model but it picks up a bunch of cosmetic changes to make it look tougher. There is a black finish mesh grille, the surrounds of the LEDs have been darkened, new black 18-inch wheels are fitted and there is a bigger sportsbar in - you guessed it - black. The black treatment also extends to the side mirrors, door and tailgate handles and bumpers. And as special edition lovers don't buy them for their subtlety, there are big FX4 decals on the front door and tailgate. You can choose five colours for the FX4 - black, white, red and two shades of grey. Ours looked suitably menacing painted black.
THE COCKPIT GETS A SPRUCE UP
Labouring the point somewhat, there are red FX4 logos embossed on the leather-accented front bucket seats and the floor mats. They match up with red stitching on all five seats, the steering wheel, handbrake and door trims. Over the instrument panel, there is a soft-feel guard that looks like leather, while a splash of imitation graphite on the doors and dash completes the treatment. The front seats are comfortable and offer decent side support but the back pews are a little upright and firm. Leg and head room are generous for a crew cab ute.
YOU PAY TO STAND OUT
The FX4 is $57,990 with the older five-cylinder 3.2-litre diesel engine. That's a $3000 premium over the XLT - a reasonable ask for the bigger wheels, sports seats, special paint job and the decals. If you want to upgrade to the newer bi-turbo 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with 10-speed auto it will cost another $1500. It seems incongruous to pay more for a smaller engine, but the newer unit is quieter and more relaxed on the open road, as well as more efficient (6.7L/100km v 8.9L/100km) and slightly more powerful (157kW/500Nm v 147kW/470Nm). There's not much wrong with the five-cylinder, although it is noisier around town and when overtaking on the freeway. When you're cruising the cabin is impressively quiet for a ute.
RANGER REMAINS THE BENCHMARK
There are cheaper utes that will do essentially the same job as the Ranger, but none of them is as well sorted when it comes to soaking up bumps and taking corners. Even without a load on board the Ranger feels comfortable and composed on most surfaces, including dirt. The steering is precise and well-weighted for a work vehicle and the suspension keeps the back from skipping about too much on corrugated corners.
IT'S STILL A UTE, THOUGH
As refined and composed as it feels the Ranger will still bite you if you're silly, especially in the wet. Be too enthusiastic with the throttle out of a corner and things will get untidy, while bigger bumps can still jolt it sideways. Unlike a lot of rivals, though, the Ford has plenty of driver aids to keep you on the black stuff, including auto emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane keeping assistance, auto highbeam and traffic sign recognition. Pay extra and you get adaptive cruise control and semi-automatic parallel parking.
Originally published as Tested: Ford's new Ranger ute