Ford is offering a deal that lets you join the off-road crowd without committing to a full 4x4 lifestyle. After all, there’s no reason those who don’t need a 4WD version of the Ford Ranger should have to get so much less in style and functionality. Ford will allow buyers of 2WD Rangers to specify the FX2 package, similar to the FX4 for four-wheel-drive models. They'll get more of what they want and less of what they don’t like fuel costs and drivetrain expense. What’s not to like? Unless you’re just dedicated to the simple, unadorned life...
What's the FX2 package, and why would Ford Ranger buyers be interested?
In most parts of the U.S., truck buyers rarely have use for full 4WD capabilities on their vehicles. Backing off to the 2WD Ford Ranger, though, meant dropping all of the off-road features available in the FX4 package -- essentially, committing to an around-town and highway lifestyle with their Rangers. If the road to their 3-season cabin in the mountains isn't paved, that might be a problem. The FX2 package gives a regular rear-wheel-drive Ranger, already top-rated for its ride and hauling abilities, a few protections, and traction aids to make it more versatile. It also adds a bit more styling and some in-cab information displays. It's been done by other manufacturers. Customers do seem to like having the 2WD off-road option.
What's included in the Ford Ranger FX2 package?
Adding the FX2 package to a two-wheel-drive Ranger provides most of the FX4 features, including raised ground clearance, off-road suspension upgrades, and either 17-inch off-road tires or optional 18-inch ones. The front bumper gets cleaned up for off-road, and there's a skid plate added underneath to protect the undercarriage. In the driver's instrument cluster, there are added indicators to track pitch, roll, and yaw -- in other words, the motion which the driver might experience when driving off-pavement. These features won't make it into a mountain goat without the drive to all four wheels, but it will make it a lot more comfortable on trails, beach roads, and the like. Oh, and there's also an electric locking differential for more sure-footed mudding. With included gear for trailering and tougher body cladding for off-road survival, it's a nice setup.
What's the cost? How is it ordered?
The quoted price is about $600 as an optional package on a new 2WD Ranger. Order as soon as you like, delivery starts in late 2019, according to Ford. If you were budgeting for a nice cover or other aftermarket equipment like lights and trailering gear on your new truck, you might want to start with this nicely-priced upgrade instead.
Is it more for looks, or functionality?
It's not just all decals and mudflaps, not that there's anything wrong with them. There's no doubt that your Ranger will look more upscale with the FX2 package, but the majority of the features added are practical ways to enhance its off-road performance. Still, adding ride height and off-road tires will make it more of a capital-T Truck, right? And that off-road instrumentation is cool, too.
How does it compare to aftermarket offerings?
A roomy credit card, plenty of time for website shopping and ordering, and lots of visits from the various delivery services make the aftermarket experience somewhat overwhelming. Then there's the garage full of packages, the time spent figuring them out and installing them, and... well, for about six hundred bucks, you can get your new truck delivered with a lot of the stuff you'd otherwise spend many weekends on. Plus, it's part of the truck from the start, so there's the warranty, dealer service, and other conveniences.
What are the key off-road components? Are they enough to hit the trail?
It depends on the trail. Steep climbs and descents and trails where you're likely to get yourself in a tight spot aren't really what this package is meant for. You won't have the four-wheel power to deal with trouble. You'll have the clearance, undercarriage protection, suspension and locking differential to make country roads and trails with a few ruts and rocks much easier to handle, though. You'll also have tires which dig in and hold the road in a wider variety of conditions. You'll feel more confident in your truck. Plus, if you're trailering, it could come in handy when you're pulling your boat up a dirt ramp at a remote lake.
Is this an all-or-nothing proposition or does it combine individual options?
To get the exceptional pricing of this package, you've got to order it as a whole. There may be individual upgrades available, but really, who wants the suspension without the tires, undercarriage protection without making sure you're riding as high as you can be, and a locking differential on a run-of-the-mill around-town pickup? It all goes together logically.
What do competitors like Nissan and Toyota offer that's comparable?
The Toyota Tacoma PreRunner, which they've offered for a couple of decades and the Nissan Frontier Desert Runner, provide 2WD upgrades and 4WD style, which have sold well. The PreRunner, in particular, is wider, taller, has a bit more clearance, and a few hundred pounds more capacity than the standard 2WD Tacoma plus skid plates, tighter steering, and a few other tweaks. In other words, Ranger's FX2 package is pretty similar to what competitors offer.
How does it compare with the FX4 package?
For starters, it's less than half the FX4 price, which is around $1300. That's on top of at least $4000 for 4WD, of course. FX2 includes the majority of FX4's features, as we've listed. It does lack a few 4WD management features like Trail Control and the Terrain Management System.
Why is Ford offering this? Why now, after so many years of Ranger production?
Ford says they're giving the people what they want, logically. Sales results and customer requests have led them to -- a bit behind competitors -- grow the options on the well-received Ranger even further, adding both capabilities and appearance gear. Basically, it seems, they noticed that customers were buying aftermarket gear and customizing their Rangers enough that Ford wants to step in and get involved. Marketing folks, listen to your drivers!