Max truck, max value

Published July 1, 2021, 12:58 PM

by Eric R. Tipan

Ford Ranger 2.0L Bi-Turbo FX4 MAX 4×4 AT

Some lady drove up next to me in a parking lot and asked from a distance which dealer I got ‘my’ Ranger FX4 Max from. Apparently, it’s out of stock. From her tone and expression, she seemed excited (like I might actually be able to help her get one) and yet quite surprised to see this model on the road. I politely told her this was a review unit and as she walked away, still staring at it like it was a unicorn.

Launched early in 2021, the FX4 Max is basically a souped-up Ranger that’s just a few nuts and bolts short of the Raptor.

Its body doesn’t have the muscled fenders and panels, nor the matte accent front bumper, but it does have a glossy black version of the ‘FORD’ grille and a full-length sports bar over the bed, which isn’t on the Raptor. It also has 17-inch alloy wheels with all-terrain tires, rain-sensing wipers, prominent side steps, but no roof rails.

The Meteor Grey hue isn’t exactly eye-catching but the entire exterior package is pretty good that it has the ladies, my wife included, nodding in approval.

What immediately stands out inside are the leather seats with carbon-suede inserts and the FX4 Max embroidery. They’re bolstered very well and the backrests are taller, which is good, because smaller is more common locally and that’s not too comfortable, especially during long drives. I also like how, despite being just manually adjustable, they snap at exactly the right spots to provide the right driving position.

The steering wheel is leather-wrapped and, as with every Ford, is peppered with buttons: cruise control, multi-information display on the left and telephony, audio controls on the right.

It has a colorful instrument panel, an eight-inch touchscreen, two USB ports in front, dual-zone automatic climate control, plus a 12-volt outlet, but what’s new is a six-port auxiliary switch pack on top of the dashboard that will allow owners to hook up accessories like light bars, winches and even air compressors and control them right from the driver’s seat.

Cabin space is average and what you’d expect from a Ranger. Ceiling is high and there’s enough width for a loose fit of five adults.

Engine and transmission are the same as the Raptor (and the Wildtrak 4×4), a 2.0L Bi-Turbo diesel engine with 213 PS and 500 Nm of torque mated to a 10-speed automatic.

It doesn’t take much prodding to get this truck going. I was only using maybe half of all that output and it already felt very lively and responsive for a massive 2.2-ton truck. Even on the highway, its demeanor is quite relaxed. All that power lets it accelerate confidently without the agitated lurch one gets with the high torque engines.

Handling is light, maybe too light for its size, and that’s because of the electric power assisted steering. Feedback is very minimal but the upside is better fuel economy. Consumption in mixed driving is a very good 9.4 km/l.

What’s truly surprising about the drive is the comfort. Sure, there’s some stiffness even when slightly loaded (in the cabin and bed) but it’s not as pronounced and it handles corners a lot better than other trucks. Credit that to another feature that’s similar to the Raptor, its Fox shock absorbers on all four corners. These, along with an acoustic windshield and great NVH (noise, vibration, and harshness) make the ride supple and silent enough to feel more SUV-like.

Sure, it may not have a few desirable features but it comes with all the necessities of a rugged truck and allows you to get a Raptor-like experience without paying two million. It retails for P1.758 million but Ford PH still has it at an introductory price of P1.698 until further notice. And yes, the price includes the safeguard duty already.