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Exclusive: Ford ‘FX4 Max’ patent signals extreme Ranger
‘Baby Raptor’ Ranger ute in frame as Ford lodges patent for FX4 Max in Australia
29 Jan 2020
A MORE hardcore version of Ford’s popular Ranger ute that takes the FX4 special edition to new heights could be in the works as the Blue Oval brand has filed a patent application for ‘FX4 Max’ with IP Australia.
Suggesting a ‘baby Raptor’ is under development with a variety of modifications for more extreme off-roading added to the cosmetic enhancements wrought on the FX4 edition, the Australian FX4 Max looks set to follow in the footsteps of similar treatments applied by Ford in the United States.
Whereas ‘FX4’ is basically a trim package here, in the US the moniker denotes an off-road pack available on the Australian-developed Ranger, the top-selling F-150 pick-up and the Expedition SUV, adding heavier-duty shock absorbers, all-terrain tyres, skid plates, a terrain management system and electronic locking differential.
It stands to reason that ‘FX4 Max’ for Australia will bring similar off-road-oriented features, potentially pushing the current XLT-based FX4 above the higher-spec Wildtrak to sit beneath the flagship Raptor.
In North America, the Ranger FX4 pack is a $US1295 ($A1913) option available on all three trim levels (XL, XLT and Lariat), while the FX4 Max nameplate – which was patented in the US in 2018 – appears to have evolved into the Tremor pack by the time it reached production.
Tremor is a heavy-duty off-road pack for Ford’s Super Duty trucks.
Ford Australia product communications manager Damion Smy reiterated to GoAuto this week that the Aussie FX4 pack is unrelated to the American one, but would not be drawn on whether a more extreme ‘FX4 Max’ was in the works at the Blue Oval brand’s Asia-Pacific product development centre in Melbourne.
“The response to Ranger FX4 has been hugely positive, as it builds on the popular Ranger XLT 4x4’s capabilities to add distinctive features for a genuine, unique identity both in and out,” he said.
“In 2019, we worked extremely hard with customers to bring a number of special packs and options for their Rangers. This saw the Heavy Duty Suspension option on the hard-working Ranger 4x2, which makes driving with a loaded tray easier, while at the other end of the line-up, the Ranger Wildtrak X was offered with equipment such as a snorkel, LED light bar and weekend off-road-ready gear that reflects the adventure and lifestyle Ranger owners are looking for.
“We won’t stop working with Australians on what works best, with Ranger the best-selling 4x4 in Australia in 2019, something that we have to thank our customers for as they help us shape the line-up.”
Arriving in local showrooms last month priced from $59,140 plus on-road costs, the latest Ranger FX4 edition is limited to 1000 units and carries an evocative black front mesh grille, darkened LED headlights, 18-inch black-painted alloy wheels, black sports bar and other dark applications applied to the doorhandles, window surrounds and front guard fenders.
Contrasting FX4 decals are found on the lower front door and tailgate, while the theme is carried over to the interior where dark leather-accented front bucket seats with red stitching are found.
Standard equipment on the local FX4 is the same as its XLT donor vehicle, which includes an 8.0-inch Sync3 infotainment system with smartphone mirroring, reversing camera, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian protection, lane-keep assist with lane-departure warning, traffic-sign recognition and high-beam assist.
Both of Ranger’s now-familiar diesel engines are available in the FX4, namely the 157kW/500Nm 2.0-litre twin-turbo four-cylinder paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission (priced at $62,840 plus on-roads) and the 147kW/470Nm 3.2-litre single-turbo five-cylinder, available with the choice of either a six-speed manual (from $59,140) or six-speed automatic ($61,340).
Ford shifted 37,004 Ranger 4x4s in 2019, enough for it to claim top sales honours in the 4x4 pick-up/cab-chassis segment ahead of its biggest rival, the Toyota HiLux, on 36,325 units.
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