Pretoria – South Africans love their bakkies and when it comes as a “special edition”, even more so. Which is what our red Ford Ranger FX4, which we had in our long-term garage for six months, essentially is. It covered large parts of the country without a hitch and colleagues who drove it could not speak more highly of it.
Based on the XLT model and powered by Ford’s single turbo 2.0-litre engine that provides 132kW and 420Nm, I reckon this engine is the sweet spot in their range, especially for the FX4’s power to weight ratio. Not once did I feel power was inadequate, even when on one occasion it was heavily loaded with building sand for a driveway project.
Which is why double cabs, in my opinion, are the ideal vehicles, especially in South Africa with our lifestyle and eagerness for (not always successful) DIY projects and gardening.
It will gladly carry sand and bags of cement for a Saturday project, take your garden refuse to the tip site and in the evening cart you in comfort to a black-tie event. Well, not in the time we had it because of restrictions on gatherings, but you know what I mean.
Our production editor took it to the Pilanesberg with her daughter and having only ever driven small cars, she was initially intimidated by its size, even asking me to take it out of the basement parking onto the driveway. When she arrived at Pilanesberg I received a message that she was loving it, especially with its height in the game reserve and what does it cost, because she was hooked.
The interior with its leather and “FX4” embroidered on the front seats as well as red stitching on the soft touch surfaces like the dashboard impressed her too.
It was the same with the night news editor of the Pretoria News who drove it for 10 days while his car was in for repairs. During that time he managed to take it to Limpopo, and he commented on how well it handled the dirt tracks as well as the potholed roads, because you know, Limpopo. He’s now also looking around to see whether his budget allows a Ranger double cab.
Towing a trailer was a cinch during a fishing weekend for one of our sales managers who had the FX4 in his sights before his trip, and wanted one to replace his ageing Japanese SUV.
So it seems once you’ve driven it, you want it.
As part of a Ford exercise, the Ranger FX4 meandered from the Ford Struandale engine plant in Gqeberha, up the south western border of Lesotho, through the Drakensberg and ended at the plant in Silverton, where the Rangers are made for locals and export.
On the back of it an engine was strapped to be delivered to a tertiary institution after driving in winter through rain, snow and muddy passes, without any issues.
I travelled many kilometres between school and home and my son couldn’t always understand why I would choose the “Kalahari Ferrari” over a perfectly good alternative test car.
The “Kalahari Ferrari” came from the name given to it by the FordPass Connect app, when it asked what you want the car to be called. The app allows owners to start remotely so that the correct interior temperature can be reached before you get in, schedule a service, find it if you can’t remember where you parked in a big mall or check your fuel consumption, as well as a host of other nifty features.
With an easy-to-use Sync3 system that’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible, music, Waze and Google Maps was always on hand, and despite it being a bit long in the tooth now, I find it still one of the most logical systems to operate.
It’s not too shabby off-road either, which we discovered on a trail while facing some serious obstacles. It’s easy to switch between the 4WD settings with a dial on the centre console and a rear difflock, hard to reach places are easy to get to.
My partner drove much of the obstacle course as a rookie and after two or three obstacles found herself growing in confidence, even if inside it felt like it was going to topple over. But as they say, your butt cheeks will warn you long before it really gets dangerous.
I would suggest you buy it with the optional tonneau cover because if you’re going away as a family with luggage, it will provide peace of mind and keep it away from prying eyes and the occasional cloud burst.
We covered 12 806km during the time we had it and averaged 9.3km/100l, which for a double cab is extremely good.
The Ford Ranger FX4 provides an economical and good balance between everyday driving, a hard-working bakkie, leisure vehicle and occasional trail rider, and if it was me in the market it would certainly be on top of my list of options.
Ford Ranger 2.0 SiT FX4 4x4 Double Cab
Engine: 2.0-litre, 4-cyl, turbodiesel
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Drive: four-wheel drive
Power: 132kW @ 3500rpm
Torque: 420Nm @ 1750rpm
Fuel use: 7.5 l/100km (claimed)
Fuel use: 9.3 l/100km (tested)
Towing capacity: 3500kg (braked)
Ground clearance: 237mm
Warranty: 4-year/120 000km
Service plan: 6-year/90 000km
Price: R697 200