Competing in the newly resurrected midsize pickup market requires trucks that appeal to the sense of adventure. Ford reaches out to weekend warriors with the rugged FX4 Off-Road version of its new-for-2019 Ranger, available with accessories that enhance active lifestyles.
"We make it for enjoying adventures, says Mike Levine, Ford North America product communications manager. "If you want to go skiing, if you want to go camping, if you want to go mountain biking, Ranger is the truck that will help you to go out and experience adventure. It's adventure-ready right from the dealer."
The FX4 Off-Road Package adds $1,295 to the price of 4x4 XL, XLT, and Lariat models, base priced with the package at $32,980, $34,330, and $38,600, respectively. The option is available with SuperCab (6-foot box) and SuperCrew (5-foot box) configurations.
Off-road upgrades add to the truck's capability on rugged trails and enhance its appearance. The pickups ride on 17- or 18-inch six-spoke aluminum wheels with OWL all-terrain tires. A silver-colored steel bash plate with tow hooks peeking through its slots is fitted on the lower front end, and "FX4 OFF ROAD" decals adorn the bed sides.
Further boosting the FX4 Off-Road's ability to venture onto rough terrain is an off-road-tuned suspension; electronic-locking rear differential; skid plates shielding the front differential, transfer case, and fuel tank; Trail Management System; and Trail Control.
Borrowing from F-150 Raptor off-road technology, Ranger's Trail Management System allows the driver to tailor the truck's performance dynamics to fit specific driving conditions. Four modes can be selected: Normal; Grass, Gravel, and Snow; Mud and Ruts; and Sand. The system addresses the terrain types by adjusting traction and stability control, throttle response, and transmission shifts to optimize performance.
Levine likens Trail Control to "cruise control for off-road." Ranger's speed can be set for 1 to 20 miles per hour and the truck will run through the paces -- uphill, downhill, over boulders, and through deep mud and sand -- with the driver responsible for steering while the pickup handles the other acceleration and braking duties. Tapping the brakes lowers the speed without disengaging the system. Inside the cab, a cluster screen provides information on pitch, roll, and steering angle.
The Ranger's short 126.8-inch wheelbase gives it a slight off-road breakover advantage against its F-150 SuperCrew shortbox sibling's 145 inches. (The breakover is the truck's maximum angle without its lowest point impacting the ground.) The Ranger 4x4 with an 8.9-inch ground clearance has a 21.5-degree breakover angle compared to 21 degrees for an F-150 4x4 with a 9.4-inch ground clearance. The key point for most consumers, explains Levine, is "you should be easily able to park this in your garage." Ranger's length is 210.8 inches versus F-150's 231.9 inches.
Producing 310 lb.-ft. of torque that contributes to low-end grunt for off-roading efficiency is Ranger's standard 2.3-liter EcoBoost inline four-cylinder engine. "Our four-cylinder standard engine makes more torque than all of our competitors' V-6 gas engines," says Joe Hinrichs, Ford Motor Co. president of Global Operations.
Mated with a smooth-shifting 10-speed automatic transmission, the 2.3-liter delivers 270 horsepower. Its healthy torque contributes to a class-leading 7,500 pounds (with available tow package) gas-towing max and 1,860-pound payload capacity. Estimated fuel economy is 20 miles per gallon city and 24 mpg highway for 4x4s, and 21 mpg city/26 mpg highway for 4x2s.
Complementing the Ranger FX4's capability when detouring off pavement are accessories fitting outdoor lifestyles. "Working with our dealers, if you want to personalize it from the showroom floor you can even add things like a tent," says Levine. "We work with Yakima accessories to provide all types of different add-ons, so it's tailored to the way that you like to go out and experience the outdoors."
Popular Yakima accessories, which can be added to the cost of vehicle financing, include a SkyRise nylon truck-bed tent with mattress and ladder (locks to roof rack); a BedRock heavy-duty truck-bed rack that elevates bikes, kayaks, skis, and boxes above the bed; a GateKeeper Tailgate Pad to protect attached bikes from the truck's tailgate; an adjustable LongArm truck-bed extender that extends the bed up to 4 feet; and other bed-storage solutions. Additional products will be added to Ranger's accessories list over time.
Accessory availability for adventure seekers teams with great design and engineering to create "enthusiasm for the Ford Ranger that's off the charts," says Hinrichs. "The Ford Ranger shares in the 'Built Ford Tough' legacy. It delivers Ford Truck's fundamental capability and quality." Pitted against Toyota and General Motors competitors with strong off-road credentials, Hinrichs says Ranger 4x4s, led by the FX4 Off-Road, have "best-in-class off-road capabilities."