2021 Ford Ranger FX4 MAX review

The Ford Ranger Raptor may be considered as the best pickup truck in the Thai market, but it comes with a high price.

And even if you can afford its hefty price tag, getting spouse approval may not be easy. Imagine telling your wife you’re going to buy a pickup that costs Bt1.7 million – in some cases the Raptor could eventually turn into a “divorce” truck.

So Ford has come up with a solution that gives you a much better chance with the wife – the Ranger FX4 MAX.

Positioned above the XLT and Wild Trak versions, this is another beefed-up version of the ever-popular Ranger, coming with many off-road goodies, although not as extreme as the Raptor’s. Priced at just Bt1.189 million, which is more than Bt500,000 cheaper than the Raptor, the FX4 MAX would be a proposal that would definitely keep your marriage in tact.

The FX4 MAX concept, introduced in Thailand for the first time in March this year, was developed by Ford Australia’s engineering and design center, and would appeal to Ford customers who usually customize their trucks after purchase. In many cases, the customisations aren’t up to standard and many could lead to loss of warranty. Problem is solved with the FX4 MAX, which comes with upgrades from the factory all of which are covered by warranty.

In terms of exterior design, the front end is highlighted by a dark grey front grille with “F.O.R.D.” lettering in the center – the grey trim is continued throughout the exterior and interior of the truck. There are new LED headlights, which comes courtesy of the latest Ranger facelift, as well as foglamps.

The side profile maintains the dark grey accents (wheel lip moldings, Bi-Turbo badge, mirrors caps, door handles and wheels). The 17-inch alloy wheels come with BF Goodrich K02 all-terrain tires that offer superior offroading performance compared to regular pickup tires.

The wheels have a 42mm offset, resulting in a 26mm increase in track width. And in case you blow up a tire in the jungle, the spare wheel and tire has not been downgraded – you still get the the identical alloy wheel with all-terrain tires.

There’s also a black sport bar with third brake light that looks pretty macho and allows you to mount various equipment such as spot lights.

While the side step of the Raptor extends from the front to rear wheels, the FX4 MAX comes with four individual metal steps which are grippy and make entry and exit easier (the suspension height has been raised by 20mm).

The rear end also gets dark grey bumper trim and black pickup bedliner with 12-volt outlet and cupholders. There are four anchor points at each corner of the pickup bed allowing you to mount stuff, although I felt the rear tailgate is still heavy. You’d have pretty large biceps if you had to open and close it many times a day.

The interior is pretty basic, taking on a black theme with dark grey trim similar to the exterior. The seats, with black suede and carbon kevlar-design fabric plus FX4 MAX logo, looks sporty and is nice to touch, although there is no power adjustment.

The main highlight in the cabin is the six upfitter auxiliary switches on the console. It allows you to install various electrical equipment in the FX4 MAX, such as winches, spotlights and light bars, without having to go through the wiring hassle if you had to do them aftermarket.

There’s a leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel with separate controls for the left and right 4.2-inch color information displays flanking the speedometer, and an 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in addition to various other features. Unfortunately there’s no rearview camera – you get a simple graphic and audio warnings when shifting into reverse.

The Ranger is getting older now, and something that reminds us is the CD player in the FX4 MAX (which is a good thing for oldies like me). There are 2 USB ports and a 12-volt outlet beneath the audio system, followed by ESP, diff-lock and hill descent control button cluster, and 2H/4H/4L transfer case knob near the gearshift lever (with upshift/downshift buttons on the knob but no shift paddles like the Raptor).

There are two cupholders between the front seats plus a pretty large double storage box/armrest (the glovebox compartment on the passenger side is also pretty large).

At the rear, the seats felt comfortable with decent legroom and plenty of headroom, even for a 6-footer like me. There is an center armrest with two more cupholders, but there are no air-con vents for the rear passengers nor USB ports (there’s only a 12-volt outlet).

The good thing is that the FX4 MAX gets the same engine as the Raptor, a 2.0-liter bi-turbo diesel capable of pumping out a class-leading 213 horsepower at 3,750rpm and 500Nm of torque from 1,750-2000rpm, mated to a 10-speed automatic.

There’s plenty of power and torque to get this truck moving quickly, and the engine note is real sporty, making you forget that this is a diesel. Meanwhile, the smooth-shifting 10-speed auto helps select the right gear depending on the driving situation, and in general helps minimize fuel consumption, claimed at an average 12.8km/liter.

What everyone will love about the FX4 MAX is the upgraded suspension comprising of FOX 2.0-inch monotube racing shocks all-round (with sub tank at the rear for extended off-road use) as well as re-calibrated coil springs up front and leaf springs at the rear.

According to Thai excise tax regulations, pickup trucks must come with a rear leaf spring setup, or else it would be bound to higher rates, such as in the case of the Raptor, which comes with a multi-link rear suspension.

The leaf spring also ensures higher weight loads (981kgs) and if that’s not enough the 2.0-liter powerplant has a towing capability of 3,500kgs thanks to its large torque output.

Along with the 20mm raised suspension (256mm ground clearance) comes increased approach and departure angles that make offroading easier. A bash plate helps protect the underside of the truck against rocks and other stuff on the track.

While the suspension of the Raptor provided great ride comfort, the FX4 MAX continues the tradition, with the revised suspension soaking up road vibrations and shock effectively.

The steering feel and precision contributes to the positive driving experience as well, making the FX4 MAX a truck you can drive daily with much ease. However, the 12.7-meter turning circle reflects the downside of 4×4 pickup trucks in general. Making a u-turn on a 4-lane street can be challenging.

The braking system is a step down from the Raptor’s 4-wheel-discs, coming with just discs up front and drums at the rear. But don’t worry, they are among the best in the market still, offering good pedal feel and stopping distance.

In conclusion I’d say that after spending almost a week with the Ranger FX4 MAX, I liked it very much. Although it isn’t complete, missing some features offered by others, it does come with highly interesting and unique upgrades that gives it the attractiveness.

So if you’re crazy about the Raptor but can’t afford it (or get wife approval), come to the FX4 MAX, which could turn out to become a “Baby Raptor” that’s much more affordable.

Verified by ExactMetrics