Pick-up trucks are some of the coolest vehicles out on the road today.
From humble workhorse beginnings, today's breed of double cab pick-up truck offers looks, practicality, and plenty of standard features comparable to SUVs and passenger cars without losing its utilitarian roots. Moreover, the modern pick-up can now be more commonly seen out on the metropolis, instead of being out in the woods.
Seeing that the market is still crazy for pick-up trucks, Ford Philippines decided to introduce a refreshed version of the FX4 for 2020. Will it be able to surpass the previous FX4's already good looks? Does it have upgrades beyond those seen at the exterior? And does it now come with 4WD?
First thing's first, that dashing exterior. When Ford first released it back in 2017, it looked suave thanks to its abundance of blacked-out accents. For 2020, the Blue Oval kept the theme but leveled it up a bit.
The FX4 gets a new black front grill that appears to be reminiscent of the US-spec Ranger's design. Meanwhile, the front and rear bumpers are similar to that of the XLT model. It's worth noting, though, that the lower apron of the front bumper has been painted black to match with the exterior's dark aesthetics. Other standard extras fitted on the 2020 Ranger FX4 are the 18-inch gloss black alloy wheels, the new sports bar at the back, and the distinct FX4 badging and decals throughout the pick-up truck.
With the True Red paint finish on the exterior, I have to say that the blacked-out accents on the 2020 FX4 do make for a menacing yet cool appearance for the Ford Ranger. Props to the designers that thought of making the FX4 look sportier than ever.
Inside, this particular Ranger gets a dose of sporty upgrades. It gets FX4-embossed leather seats, bespoke FX4 carpets with red piping, red contrast stitching on the leather steering wheel, seats, and door cards, and the faux carbon-fiber trim. Sure, some might say Ford could have done more as the touches are subtle to say the least, but they do spice up the interior nonetheless. Perhaps my most favorite addition is the branded floor mats since they look like something you might see on a cool sports car, not on a pick-up truck.
If there's something that I really liked on the FX4, it has to be the upgraded infotainment system. Also available on the upgraded XLS and XLT variants introduced for the 2020 model year, the system does away with the "archaic" SYNC 1 system. Gone are the multitude of buttons on the center dash as it has been replaced with a touchscreen. This meant features such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now available across the range (aside from the Wildtrak and Raptor). Other features like Bluetooth, USB, voice control, and even Aux are also standard on the FX4.
Sitting at the back, there is generous legroom, headroom, and elbowroom. Should there be only two of you seated at the back, there's a folding center armrest complete with integrated cupholders for more comfortable riding experience. The backrests, however, are quite upright although that is to be expected on a pick-up truck.
Like the Ranger FX4 from before, this one is powered by the familiar 2.2-liter Duratorq turbo-diesel engine. It still produces 160 PS at 3200 rpm along with 385 Nm of torque at 1600 – 2500 rpm. Power is then transferred to a six-speed automatic transmission that drives the rear wheels. Sorry 4WD fans, the FX4 is still a "faux by four".
So how does it drive? Well, to be honest, the 2020 mode still feels exactly like the FX4 I got to drive some three years ago. Don't take that the wrong way as I actually like the performance of the powertrain despite its age. Power from the 2.2-liter turbo-diesel engine is good and there is substantial pulling power at low to mid revs. Overtaking slower cars on the highway is easy and you can even set the transmission to Sport mode for a more spirited driving experience.
The powertrain is also smooth thanks to the tried-and-tested six-speed automatic transmission which comes with manual select should you prefer to shift gears yourself. As much as the newer ten-speed auto is (slightly) more efficient on the Wildtrak model, I'd still much prefer the six-speed as it provides smoother downshifts compared to the former. As for fuel economy, the Ranger is as efficient as ever. It can easily sip diesel at around 14.0 – 14.5 km/l on the highway, and about 9.0 km/l in normal city driving conditions.
Ride quality, on the other hand, is decent. It's nowhere near an SUV's level of comfort, but at least it's not as bouncy as the Hilux. As far as handling is concerned, the Ranger FX4 handled well for a high-riding ute. With electronic power steering (EPS), the Ranger is easy to drive around city streets and narrow side streets. And since it's adaptive, the steering stiffens up when you're driving at highway speeds. However, I do wish Ford makes its EPS systems deliver more road feedback as they tend to have no road feel whatsoever.
At PhP 1,316,000, the FX4 is actually a nicely packaged pick-up truck that gets a nice aesthetic upgrade. It's a bit more expensive than the XLT (from which it is essentially based off), but if you prefer your Ranger with a bit more style but cannot afford the Wildtrak, the FX4 is the way to go. It also comes with plenty of safety features like anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution, brake assist, dual front airbags, rear parking sensors, cruise control, traction control, stability control, and hill-start assist.
But for a pick-up truck that carries the FX4 badge, I'm still disappointed that it's not available with 4WD. That's because Ford Philippines decided to designate the FX4 merely as an appearance pack, not as a special 4x4 version as seen on US-spec pick-up trucks. Sure, it has lots of nifty upgrades here and there, but using the FX4 name without it actually having 4WD upgrades is a bit of a downer.
Regardless, if you can look past the Ranger FX4's lack of 4WD and look at it for what it has to offer, it is a cool-looking pick-up truck. Fingers crossed Ford actually makes a 'proper' 4x4 version of the Ranger FX4 soon.