The Blue Oval’s latest Ranger dual-cab ute has the best parts of its super popular Raptor version, but at a much lower price.
The Ford Ranger has been the second most popular vehicle in the country for the best part of the past decade, but a new one is one the way so Ford has launched a range of special editions.
We test out the new FX4 to find out why this dual-cab ute is a favourite of Aussie tradies and families.
The Ford Ranger is due for imminent replacement, so Ford has cranked out special editions to help shift the last of the outgoing model.
We’ve seen a stack of models spanning from the trade-ready XL Heavy Duty Special Edition to the top-end Raptor X, each with a few tweaks to maximise appeal. We tested the mid-level Ranger FX4 Max, a model that combines a relatively basic cabin with rugged upgrades that lend improved off-road ability as well as extra ground clearance and tougher looks.
Priced from $65,940 plus on-road costs (about $74,000 drive-away), the FX4 Max has beefed-up suspension, new wheels with bigger tyres, a sports bar in the tray and chunky side steps. You also get a raptor-style grille, upgraded seats and clever auxiliary switches on the dashboard, making it easier to fit accessories to the car.
The FX4 Max treatment includes partial leather seats that look OK, but aren’t the most supportive chairs on the road. Comfort is improved by premium shock absorbers from off-road specialists Fox, improving the Ranger’s composure on tarmac and beyond.
Chunky tyres bowl up more road noise than regular rubber – a compromise many pick-up owners are willing to make, judging by the sheer numbers of tough-looking utes and four-wheel-drives on the road.
The Ranger has a decent array of safety gear including six airbags, auto emergency braking and active cruise control. More modern alternatives such as the Isuzu D-Max bring more tech, such as centre airbags between the front seats.
Expect the new Ranger to match the best in class later this year.
The Ranger has been one of the best-driving utes in its class for the best part of a decade. Running changes to the Ranger’s suspension help keep it on top.
Tweaks to the front suspension, coupled with the Fox shocks, improve steering precision and ride comfort.
Ford’s 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel engine delivers decent punch and refinement, though we’re less sure about a 10-speed automatic transmission that occasionally struggles to choose the right gear, and delivers the odd jerky shift.
We like that it offers a taste of the Ranger Raptor’s superior off-road ability without compromising its payload or towing capacity – the latter is a full tonne more than Ford’s flagship ute.
Ford did a great job maintaining the outgoing Ranger’s appeal throughout its life cycle. The FX4 Max is one of its best efforts – though we’re inclined to wait a few months for the new model.
New Ford Ranger Wildtrak, TBC (est. $75,000 drive-away)
Set to arrive mid-year, the new Ranger brings new toys including a powerful V6 and 12-inch touchscreen.
Toyota HiLux Rugged X, about $76,000 drive-away
Genuine accessories increase the appeal of Australia’s favourite car.
Nissan Navara Warrior, about $78,000 drive-away
Like the FX4 Max, the Navara Warrior looks tough and has real off-road ability.
FORD RANGER FX4 MAX VITALS
Price: About $74,000 drive-away
Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo diesel, 157kW and 500Nm
Warranty/servicing: 5-year, u’ltd km/$2490 for 5 years
Safety: 6 airbags, auto emergency braking, active cruise control, traffic-sign recognition, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keep assist
Cargo: 981kg payload, 3500kg towing