Ford Ranger FX4 review: The smartest bakkie around

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Following the media launch event of Ford’s latest Ranger in the Eastern Cape, Stuff thought that another trip through pothole-central is in order. You know, to really put this utility vehicle through its paces and confirmed its comfort levels during longer journeys. Equipped with a cooler box, a fishing rod and the Ford companion app, we launched from our home base in Johannesburg to a destination somewhere along the South African coast.

Hi St(Ranger)

The entire Ford Ranger series is manufactured in South Africa and exported across the globe. And it’s easy to see why.

South Africans are far more sensitive to the need for vehicles that can withstand rough terrain. Even in cities, and especially when you leave them. The Ford Ranger FX4 is built to traverse whatever pothole you can throw in front of it, regardless of size. It comes in either 4×4 or 4×2, and we tested the former in a place with the best potholes: the Eastern Cape.

But before we get to that, it’s important to note that the old adage is, indeed, true: Half the fun is getting there. It’s become clear that the FX4 isn’t just built to cruise through obstacles, it’s a machine built to get you wherever you’re going in complete comfort. Every interior detail, from the infotainment display complete with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay to the leather-clad dash and seats, are detailed to keep you comfy.

It’s important to note that the comfort points don’t end there — the FX4 features enough power to keep you going while holding off on consuming too much liquid gold.

Specced out

The 2.0-litre engine you find in both variations is a beastly four-cylinder turbodiesel that puts out 132kW and 420N.m. It’s only available in automatic transmission — which provides a great help in almost any offroad-scenario however. We managed to climb untouched-by-human-hills in the Eastern Cape without much 4×4 training. And that’s saying something.

Expect higher-end trimmings from its larger siblings on the FX4. Like the sleek black mesh grille that you also find on the Thunder, as well as black side-mirror caps, black door handles, black 18in multi-spoke alloy wheels and red “FX4” decals. It’s an absolute beauty, for something this beefy at least.

The FordPass Connect app allows you to connect to your car, lock and unlock it remotely and even start it directly from your phone (more on that later). Considering mobile signal in SA isn’t great at the best of times, we found this functionality to be decent across the board. Of course, Ford ups the techy specs here with a 12V power socket to charge your… mini-fridge?

FordPass saves the day

But the Connect app is really where the interesting functionality lies. Thanks to an eSIM that’s built right into the vehicle’s motherboard (this can’t be retrofitted, by the way), your phone can talk directly with the bakkie. This allows interesting functionality like remotely controlling the vehicle, setting scheduled starts and even locking and unlocking it remotely.

We found some time to test the functionality, and just realised spotty network will delay the process. Pressing start in the app will, in turn, prompt the bakkie to start in about a minute on our Rain connection in the Eastern Cape. It is nice to have the scheduled start option, though. Especially if you want to climb straight into a pre-cooled cabin.

The app offers some useful information too, like oil status, fuel level, vehicle location and odometer reading directly in the FordPass Connect app. This is particularly useful for the lazy-at-heart — and helps when you’re sitting at Wimpy for a quick stop and want to check if the current diesel level will get you to the next town.

Ranger FX4 Verdict

Historically considered to be a workhorse, especially in South Africa, the Ranger series has managed to elevate itself with the FX4. It’s not just made for stomping through potholes and crashing through riverbeds — this Ranger will become part of you through the FordPass Connect app.

You know what? We’ve always considered cars tools, but now it feels like an inanimate pet of sorts. And we can control it from afar, and that’s a cool thing to show your friends.

The Ford Ranger FX4 retails for R618,900 (4×2) and R687,900 (4×4).

9.3 Built for SA

Historically considered to be a workhorse, especially in South Africa, the Ranger series has managed to elevate itself with the FX4. It’s not just made for stomping through potholes and crashing through riverbeds -- this Ranger will become part of you through the FordPass Connect app.

  • tech 9
  • Power 9
  • Utitlity 10
  • App functionality 8
  • Interior 10
  • User Ratings (0 Votes) 0
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Digital Editor at Stuff. Nevermind the fancy title, I like writing about things that are cool. Like games, gadgets and sometimes even software. Depending on how cool it is.

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