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May 30, 2021

Review: 2021 Ford Ranger FX4 MAX

Fans are empowered nowadays. In the age of social media, they’re your buyer, your FGD, and your most vocal critic all rolled into one. It’s made things like the Synder Cut, and in the case of Ford, the 2021 Ranger FX4 MAX possible. Truth be told, there’s no definitive reason why Warner Brothers would need a four-hour cut of an already mediocre superhero movie, or for Ford to add a fourteenth variant to their already crammed Ranger line-up. Maybe except, and to bring up an anime term, to serve as “fanservice.”

Before the FX4 MAX came to the market, the Ranger line-up was pretty clear cut, segmented by the work-to-play ratio that each variant represented—70/30 work-to-play, XLS; 60/40, XLT; 40/60, FX4; 30/70, Wildtrak; 90/10, Raptor. There’s no confusion here since the design, powertrain, and even convenience features have all been tweaked to suit the intended customer. Then, here comes the FX4 MAX, and things get muddled a bit. Ford reckons there’s enough white space to slot this between the Wildtrak and Raptor. Did they get it right? The truth is in the pudding.

People dub it, “Raptor lite,” and that’s not far from the truth. Sitting a notch below the Raptor in pricing (without the discount) it gets a lot of the top-dog Ranger’s bits. Everything starts with the design, of course. The FX4 MAX gets a grille that spells F-O-R-D, a full-length tubular sports bar, body-mounted metal side steps, and subtle fender flares that are needed to fit the thick BF Goodrich 265/70R17 all-terrain tires. It gives off an effect that’s both menacing and sporty; a testament that Ford knows best when it comes to pickup truck design.

More than the aesthetics, the most important bit on the FX4 MAX is the addition of one of the Raptor’s key features: Fox shock absorbers. They’re smaller in diameter—2 versus 2.5-inches—but they too are designed with improved off-road chops in mind. However, bear in mind that the ride doesn’t match or even come close to that of the Raptor. In fact, keeping the tires at the prescribed 41 PSI of pressure results in a stiff-jointed ride in the city (more so than the Wildtrak). Pick up the pace and/or drive it straight through rutted roads though, and it feels right at home. Potholes, large or small, simply vanish under its thick tires.

Speaking about those chunky-tread tires, they sound like a recipe for highway noise, but at speed, they’re actually pretty calm. Perfect too because the electric power steering is precise and well-weighted. Through corners, the FX4 MAX’s added ride height results in noticeable lean, but nothing that can be described as dangerous or unpredictable.

Because it rides taller than the Wildtrak, there’s a more commanding view of traffic. Combined that with the large side mirrors and narrower width compared to the Raptor, and the FX4 MAX is much easier to live with in the city. Parking or navigating tight spaces isn’t as problematic.

Sharing the Wildtrak and Raptor’s 2.0-liter engine, there’s nothing to fault with this bi-turbo unit. It may be down on capacity compared to other pickup trucks, but it gives up nothing in terms of output.

Not so lovely is the 10-speed automatic. In slow speed traffic, it gives off an unpolished feel with all the repeated up and down shifts. More than once, the FX4 MAX will slur itself as it struggles to find the appropriate ratio. Engaging the S or Sport mode makes things better, but not by much. The open-road it does better, keeping the revs as low as possible (at 80 km/h, it’s barely above idle). Disappointingly, despite being designed to improve fuel efficiency, it isn’t a diesel miser with an 8.4 km/L average fuel consumption.

Apart from the “FX4 MAX” embroidered on its leather/suede combination seats and all-weather floor mats, there’s little to differentiate this version of the Ranger apart from the rest of the family. Regardless, kudos to Ford for bringing to life a truly timeless interior. Fit and finish aren’t class-leading anymore (it feels plasticky), but ergonomics is still a strong point.

The FX4 MAX has some of the usual amenities found in contemporary pickup trucks such as touchscreen infotainment system (still the best in the business), dual-zone climate control, and even automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, and auto-dimming rear view mirrors. Unique to this one though is an auxiliary switch pack located atop the dash. Together with its heavy-duty alternator, it makes attaching aftermarket gear such as auxiliary lights or winches easier.

But in a tit-for-tat move, it loses a ton of features too. Priced just P 50,000 more than the tech-laden Wildtrak (without discounts), this Ranger loses the LED headlights, LED front fog lights, tailgate assist, and the power driver’s seat. Crucially, it takes a step back when it comes to safety, losing 4 airbags as well as its lane keeping, autonomous emergency braking, and even active park assist. It even loses its front parking sensors (despite the bumpers having the cutouts), and rear parking camera.

Ford says they’re looking at hardcore off-roaders who want a formidable truck straight out of the showroom to fill up the order books. At the rate it’s going, Ford seems to be targeting a niche within a niche within a niche. The FX4 MAX sure packs the right ingredients, but the resulting broth isn’t as tasty anymore. Just as Zack Synder’s Justice League didn’t push the cinematic envelope four years after the theatrical version’s release, the Ford Ranger FX4 MAX doesn’t push the pickup truck envelope the same way as the Wildtrak or the Raptor do. Instead, this serves more as the Ranger’s “Greatest Hits.” It’s not going to win any Academy Awards, but it serves as an ode to its woke fans.

2021 Ford Ranger FX4 MAX

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Ownership 2021 Ford Ranger FX4 MAX
Year Introduced 2012 (Refreshed: 2016, 2018, 2020)
Vehicle Classification Pick-up Truck
Warranty 3 years / 100,000 kilometers
The Basics
Body Type Pick-up Truck
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/4WD, Part-Time, Low, Locking with LSD
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 2.0
Aspiration Twin Turbo
Fuel Delivery Common Rail
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 213 @ 3,750
Nm @ rpm 500 @ 1,750-2,000
Fuel / Min. Octane Diesel
Transmission 10 AT
Cruise Control Yes
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 8.40 @ 22 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 5,354
Width (mm) 1,860
Height (mm) 1,852
Wheelbase (mm) 3,220
Curb Weight (kg) 2,219
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, Double Wishbone, Fox Shocks
Rear Suspension Leaf Spring, Fox Shocks
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Drum
Parking Brake Manual
Tires BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/A K02 LT 265/70 R 17 S (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 2
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes, Rear
Parking Camera None
Front Seatbelts 3-pt ELR with pre-tensioner x 2
Rear Seatbelts 3-pt ELR x 3
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchor Yes
Other Safety Features Hill Start Assist
Hill Descent Control
Exterior Features
Headlights Halogen
Fog Lamps Yes, Front
Auto Lights Yes
Rain-sensing Wipers Yes
Tailgate Manual
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment (driver) Manual
Seating Adjustment (front passenger) Manual
Seating Surface Leather/Suede
Folding Rear Seat Yes
Sunroof No
Trip Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, w/ Fold
Rear View Mirror Auto-dimming
Proximity Key Yes
Climate Control Auto, Dual Zone
Audio System Stereo
Smartphone Connectivity Apple CarPlay
Android Auto
# of Speakers 6
Steering Controls Yes

1 comment:

  1. Ugh. The woke snowflakes just keep.
    ruining everything! Right after the Tiktok twerkers ruined the 2000s classic summer anthem "Ever After", now they are trying to muddle the Ranger lineup, FFS. Those US-made BF Goodrich KO2 tires on this FX4 Max should be viewed as a big middle finger at existing Raptor owners.


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