Aside from having a great screenplay and talented actors, in many Hollywood blockbusters the difference between a good and a great movie all comes down to its special effects. But it’s also a fine line. Overuse them and the audience is lost due to disbelief, credibility or visual garishness, underuse and again the audience is lost but this time down to sheer boredom. Getting the ‘FX’ balance right is paramount to success and it’s something Ford New Zealand has achieved with the return of Ranger FX4.
Here in NZ, the Ranger itself lead’s the way in vehicle sales. Its practicality and yet ease of use has meant that its appeal reaches way beyond the standard Ute/truck buying public and therefore seen parked on driveways across all types of NZ suburbs. The introduction of the first FX4 added some exclusivity to the popular range while the launch of Ranger Raptor gave the ‘workhorse’ nameplate a major spring in its step, bringing a new level of performance to both on and off road users. Anyway, now the FX4 is back and with it comes a plethora of toys and a whole heap of Ranger learnings.
First and foremost the powertrain. Taken from the aforementioned Raptor Performance Ranger, the FX4 has a 2.0 litre Bi-Turbo, 10-speed powertrain as standard on either the 4WD or 2WD (my review model was the 2WD). With 157kW/500Nm on offer, the FX4 feels grunty while it sips diesel at a rate of 6.7 litres/100km (7.4 litres/100km 4WD), plus having 10 gears to delve in to means that the truck always seems to be pulling.
On the subject of pulling, the FX4’s 10-speed automatic includes a lock-out feature to hold specific gears when towing, so it boasts a towing capacity of 3500Kg braked, which should be enough for that boat, jetski, racecar or whatever else you care to drag behind you.
Still on the ‘pulling’ theme is its good looks. Much has been done to the FX4 in terms of black treatment in order to make it stand out and have the owner feel extra special. There are several colour options, Shadow Black, Arctic White, True Red, and Aluminium Metallic, however, my model came in Meteor Grey. Upfront, it had a unique ebony-black finish mesh grille with FX4 logo and darkened Bi-LED High-Performance headlights.
It has exclusive 18-inch mesh alloy wheels, an FX4-specific extended sports bar and FX4 graphics for greater visual presence. The truck’s tray also hosts a protective bed liner (which I can attest is fully waterproof) and the tailgate has FX4 badging in red.
The interior showcases FX4 leather-accented bucket seats with ‘race red’ stitching that’s also used on the FX4’s steering wheel, gear selector and on the padded, premium soft-touch instrument panel. SYNC 3 handles infotainment with voice-activated sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone compatibility, plus there’s a full-colour reversing camera to help with parking this 5m long truck.
The list of 5 ANCAP Star Safety & DAT (Driver Assist Technologies) it comes with is impressive, Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Keeping Aid (LKA) with Lane Departure Warning and Driver Alert, Traffic Sign Recognition and Automatic High-beam headlights to name but a few.
The Ranger FX4 Bi-Turbo sits between the popular Ranger XLT and highly equipped Ranger Wildtrak models, but with the new (Raptor) powertrain and accessories it feels a whole heap different from the rest. Admittedly, with Auckland’s level 3 lockdown in effect, my dreams of long, open-space journey’s were curtailed (replaced with trips to the supermarket) but I got the feeling it is a substantial addition to the Ranger range.
On the motorway the engine continues to give, it’s smooth and powerful and 100km/h sits low in the revs. Kickdown offers plenty of guts to overtake or climb hills but it’s also quick to get back up to its fuel-efficient top gears (unless you drive it in Sport – as if I would). Ride height and manoeuvrability is very Ranger, so great and the suspension allows for a comfortable drive regardless of the terrain below – I did manage to find some unsealed tarmac.
Sales alone in New Zealand should dictate that the Ford Ranger has a proven solid ‘script’ and the range of ‘talented cast’ offered by the nameplate has ensured its popularity suits a variety of needs and desires. But by adding this special ‘FX’ model Ford New Zealand seems to be ensuring the Ranger continues to be a blockbuster. For more information (and deals) contact your local Ford New Zealand dealer.