PRETORIA - The light truck segment - commonly known as bakkie to South Africans - has become one of the most congested and competitive in the motor industry.
New products and revamped models are flooding the market each month within this segment, with manufacturers vying for the attention of the consumer.
It therefore takes a special “animal” to capture the attention of the market - and one such animal is the new Ford Ranger FX4.
Produced in Pretoria, it carries the badge that was first introduced on Ranger in South Africa in 2017 as a limited series.
The FX4 ticks several motoring boxes, chief among these being that it is by far the most “majestic beast” in the parking lot, with its combination of distinctive style and innovative connected technology.
For the duration of the test, the Ford Ranger FX4 proved to be equally capable of handling inner city driving, including Pretoria CBD with its congested roads, as well as the longer city to city routes.
It also managed the off-road driving and snaking the rural streets of Limpopo with ease, and with reasonable fuel consumption. Simply put, the Ranger FX4 can hold its own, in terms of looks and performance, against any rival.
Throughout the test period, car enthusiasts and fellow motorists would stop by and ask to have a closer view of the Ranger FX4, an additional feather in the cap of this proudly South African product whose popularity extends beyond the SA borders to more than 100 markets.
The FX4 offers exceptional capability, unrivalled fuel economy and a superb range of design and functional features.
It comes with the FordPass Connect, which makes its debut on the FX4, and is now standard fitment on all new models.
FordPass Connect allows customers to access and control a number of vehicle features remotely via the app on their smartphone.
The FX4 offers bespoke styling cues that set it apart from the rest of the Ranger line-up, and adds significant appeal compared to its competitors.
The muscular styling of the Ranger double cab benefits from a black mesh grille derived from the Ranger Thunder, which gives it an even more assertive appearance.
This is complemented by the distinctive sweep of the integrated daytime running lights, along with the headlamps that are standard on all models.
Black mirrors and door handles add to the upmarket image, which is further reinforced by the eye-catching 18-inch multi-spoke black alloy wheels that replace the 17-inch versions fitted on the XLT.
Bold red ‘FX4’ decals located at the base of the front doors, along with a 3D ‘FX4’ badge on the tailgate, reinforce this model’s special status in the Ranger portfolio.
The rear load compartment boasts several FX4-specific enhancements too, most notably the tubular sports bar with extended legs that gives this Ranger an even sportier demeanour, while adding further practicality to the load box – particularly for carrying bicycles, canoes or other gear for sporting or working applications.
A drop-in bedliner protects the bin from damage during everyday use, with six cargo tie-down points provided for securely fastening loads being hauled.
A practical 12-volt power socket is provided in the bedliner, which is ideal for powering a portable fridge or other accessories.
Two further 12-volt sockets are located in the front of the cabin and an additional socket is provided for rear-seat occupants.
The Ranger’s innovative Easy Lift tailgate remains one of the vehicle’s most useful features, allowing the tailgate to be easily lowered or raised with minimal effort.
In keeping with the Ranger FX4’s dynamic styling, it is available in five distinctive colour choices: Sea Grey, Frozen White, Race Red, Agate Black and Moondust Silver.
The upmarket cabin incorporates a soft-touch leather-trimmed dashboard with red stitching.
And the favourite remains the keyless operation which ensures passive entry and start.
The rear-view parking camera, and front and rear sensors help with manoeuvrability in tight parking spaces.
The FX4 also comes with voice activation, an eight-inch touch-screen colour display, two USB ports and Bluetooth.
The system facilitates access to numerous smartphone functions along with popular navigation apps such as Google Maps and Waze.
All in all, for those on the market for a stylish, spacious muscular light truck suitable for both long and short distance travelling as well as off-roading, not many products will offer the same comforts and peace of mind as the Ranger FX4 does.
Kennedy Mudzuli is the Assistant Editor of the Pretoria News.