Review: Ford Ranger FX4 Max

Published April 23, 2021, 10:45 AM

by Chris V. Van Hoven

More than a Raptor-lite

Ford knows trucks: a bold statement to make, but one that’s been backed up by an impressive line of products through decades of experience, emphasized further by Ford’s decision to focus more on their SUV and pick up offerings (with the exception of the Mustang). The recently released Ranger FX4 Max serves to bridge the gap between the Ranger Wildtrak and the halo Ranger Raptor. But more than being a lite-version of the top-of-the-line Ranger Raptor, there are certain things that the FX4 Max actually does better.

The FX4 Max certainly looks the part. Similar to the Raptor, the grille features the large “Ford” lettering, and also sports the same BFGoodrich K02 all-terrain tires, despite being slightly narrower at 265/70/R17. For reference, the Raptor’s tires come in at 285/70/R17.

What the FX4 Max has that the Raptor is missing aesthetically is a full-length tubular sports bar with a high-level lamp at the bed, and longer-than-average non-slip side steps for each door. While these side steps do a great job of making ingress and egress easier, they do have a tendency to also make it easier for your shins to graze them.

With a ground clearance of 256mm, it offers more height than the Wildtrak (232 mm), but still falls short of the Raptor (283mm). Unlike the Wildtrak, the FX4 Max uses projector headlamps and halogen foglamps over the Wildtrak’s LED configuration. Overall, however, the FX4 Max properly evokes a high-level of off-roading enthusiasm with its design, and it more than looks the part as well.

Inside, the FX4 Max shares a lot of similarities with the top-spec’d Wildtrak model, with some concessions. The 4.2-inch color screen in the instrument cluster is present. It’s a slight downgrade from the old dual screen that Ford used to utilize, but I find that the single screen actually makes it easier to digest information, and results in a cleaner look overall. The seats are leather, but are manually adjusted instead of the six-way power adjust of the Wildtrak. The FX4 Max also features the same dual-zone climate control as the Wildtrak. It also has Ford’s excellent Sync3 infotainment system connected to an eight-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple Car Play connectivity.

Unique to the FX4 Max is an auxiliary switch panel on top of the dash with its own 250-amp alternator, allowing you to control aftermarket accessories such as light bars.

Powered by Ford’s excellent 2.0-liter Bi-Turbo diesel mated to a 10-speed automatic, the FX4 Max matches the Raptor’s powertrain, producing 210 bhp and 500 Nm of torque. This is a tried-and-tested combination that has proven to be effective and efficient, making the old 3.2-liter powerplant feel outdated.

There’s a lot of power and incredible torque throughout the rev range, and both are instantly accessible whenever you need it. What sets the FX4 Max apart from the rest is its unique suspension set up. While the FX4 Max still utilizes a leaf-spring suspension set up at the rear, it also uses off-road ready two-inch monotube Fox shocks both up front and at the rear, providing a best-of-both-worlds configuration. This allows the FX4 Max to actually carry a heavier payload than the Raptor (991 kg vs the Raptor’s 768kg), and a towing capacity of 3,500 kg without sacrificing much of the riding comfort on regular roads. While the Raptor is still the more comfortable set up, the leaf sprung rear gives the FX4 Max more utility, especially if you’re not planning on doing any Baja racing any time soon.

In terms of 4×4 capabilities, the FX4 Max lacks the selectable off-roading scenarios available in the Raptor, though it does come with the ability to switch from two-wheel drive (2H), four-wheel drive high-range (4H) and four-wheel drive low-range (4L) with an electronic locking rear differential.

Safety wise, the FX4 Max is lacking most of the driver assists found in both of these models such as pre-collision assist, hill descent control, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, active park assist, and a rearview camera, but does come with the standard driver and passenger airbags, ABS, and stability control.

The Ford Ranger FX4 Max comes with an asking price of P1,698,000 (introductory) which puts it at P30,000 less than the 4×4 Wildtrak, and a significant P300,000 less than the Ranger Raptor. Bridging gaps between variants is always a good thing for manufacturers to do, and the FX4 Max will certainly appeal to customers looking for a legitimate off-roader without spending as much money as a Raptor asks for.