Most of the time whenever this writer chances upon the American vehicle brand Ford, only one word comes first to his mind: Pickups. Not hatchbacks, sedans nor crossovers (with the exception of the Territory in the current local scene, of course). Well, not even full-sized sport utility vehicles.
For me, when it comes to this auto giant — basically — it’s all about the pickup game. In fact, its F-series trucks are the bestselling vehicles (note: Vehicles — not just pickups) in North America for more than 40 years already. In 2017 alone, it has proven that it is the most sold pickup truck on earth with its one million sales milestone, with the US and Canada representing 98 percent of its total sales. This year, it already registered roughly 320,000 units by April (14-percent market share), trumping the Ram (225,619 units) and the Chevrolet Silverado (190,729 units).
“They are like the Swiss army knife of the auto world,” popular American car website Motorbiscuit.com staff team head, Jordan Almond says.
“Want luxury and modern tech? Check. Are you after off-roading capability? Handled. Is the versatility of massive cargo something you need? The pickup truck has it covered,” she even adds.
Here in our own turf, Ford Philippines is doing its best to live up to its reputation of being the “world’s king of pickup trucks”. Fortunately, its Ranger was able to make it last year by being the bestselling 4×4 pickup truck with 5,093 units sold. It also kept the ball rolling with a strong first half performance this year. Its hard work finally paid off as it has been ramping up its pickup pack for the past several years already.
As a matter of fact, to further flex its hold in the local market, it again added another formidable workhorse with its new Ford Ranger FX4 Max 4×4 model — its 14th Ranger variant in its stable.
Luckily, I recently had the chance to test drive this vehicle and take it for spin in the tight confines of this quarantined metro.
Compared to the rest of the ordinary FX4 models in the stable, this version is more spruced up — an FX4 model in steroids, in short. At the onset, it’s like the baby brother of the Ford Ranger Raptor as it likewise oozes with machismo, dashing down the road with its bold and bulky profile. Its grille design — for example — is even reminiscent of the Raptor. This is paired with projector headlamps and halogen front fog lamps. Along with its anti-skid side step, matte-black tubular sports bar and “FX4 Max” decals — not to mention 17-inch alloys wrapped in all-terrain BFGoodrich tires — it commands the road in all its rough glory.
What’s even good with this FX4 Max as I tried to detour to higher grounds and do my best to avoid flooded streets are its two-inch Monotube Fox shock absorbers on both front and rear suspensions, with coil springs on the front and modified leaf springs on its opposite end. It was really a big help. It made tackling submerged traffic islands, road curb and gutters such a cinch. At the back of my mind I was thinking, this workhorse was born to do this. It was just like second nature to it. It was meant to be out there in the typhoon-stricken jungles of the metro, traversing the wild and somehow the extraordinary.
Inside — however — this pickup dons a dull grayish motif. But good thing, its leather seats with FX4 Max accents and leather-wrapped steering wheel with fine stitching make it look premium. Tech-wise, its eight-inch colored touch screen features Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Bluetooth with phone and audio streaming. Not to mention its six nifty speakers.
For convenience, beside its automatic shifting gear is a small knob that easily controls its off-road capability from 4×2 high and 4×4 high to 4×4 low.
Powering this brute is a 2.0-liter bi-turbo diesel engine, mated to a 10-speed automatic tranny that churns out 210hp and 500N-m of torque. Yes, it can be considered as the strongest pickup in its class in the local market today. But compared to others, this Ranger is more on the rough side, meaning noise, vibration and harshness levels are not one of its assets. To cut the story short, it is a pure a pickup — tough, solid but unrefined.
Overall, this Ranger FX4 Max may just be a beefier version (with far better suspension) of its standard model in the carmaker’s already stacked pickup lineup (again, to reiterate, 14 Ranger models now, to be exact). Just imagine septuplets (seven babies being born at the same time) and even multiply them by two — each of them with various personalities, behaviors, donning various sets of clothing.
Despite this — still — a pickup is a pickup. It may just be the company’s strategy in this automotive realm. Who knows? In the end, bottom line here is: There’s a reason why Ford’s lineup of pickup trucks has dominated the world market for decades now. So, why fix it if it ain’t even broke?