Text and photos by Dino Ray V. Directo III
With sales of the Ford Ranger truck literally hitting the roof, Ford Group PH organized a ride and drive event late this week to highlight the features of their best seller and for the media to get a hands on feel on what the fuzz is all about. How come its competitors, the Toyota Hi-Lux, Isuzu D-Max, Nissan Navara and Mitsubishi Strada are having a hard time dislodging this Detroit muscle off its high horse?
With that in mind, select members of the motoring media who were brave enough to face the elements of nature and the limits of physical endurance drove for 12 hours up the tip of the country in Tugegarao. Our intrepid team of explorers drove off to a three-day adventure starting from its dealership in Balintawak, Quezon City. Our first stop of the itenirary was in Jaen, Nueva Ecija, were Ford donated bags of cement to a Gawad Kalinga community. To test its payload capacity, each of the two Ford Ranger FX4’s and a Wildtrak variant hauled a ton of cement bags at the bed of the truck. What impressed this writer about the FX4 was despite of the heavy load we were carrying at the back, the Ranger pick-up truck behaved as if we were hauling bags of cotton. Upon our arrival at Caen, members of the Gawad Kalinga warmly welcomed our convoy of three Rangers, two Everest units, and an Explorer SUV which had Ford Ph officials Ej Francisco and Kat Lanot as its precious cargo.
After a sumptous “boodle fight” style lunch of Filipino dishes, we were off to Santiago, Isabela. Our convoy snaked their way through the main artery of the scenic North, as the rural feel of the countryside was a welcome sight for urban bred mediamen. We were a sight to behold, as our convoy of hulking trucks and SUV’s were guided through safely by our lead Ranger truck with Chris Tan of Brand on Demand radioed when to pass and when to decelerate.
The second day of our Northern adventure took us to the river rapids of Tabuk, Kalinga Apayao, where the participants tried out White Water Rafting. Being a veteran of three river rapids tour, I declined to join and opted to drive off road at the end point of the White Water Rafting tour. Driving the FX4 on the sand dunes is where you will appreciate the suspension and the 237mm ride height of this variant.
The FX4 is an XLT dual cab version of the Ranger with special trims of matte black color at the hood and rear bed of the truck. First applied to Ford’s best selling F-150 as a special options package, the FX4 is equipped with a heavy duty suspension system, underbody protection and unique body accents. Its got a sturdy ladder-frame chassis that rides high on a long 3220mm wheelbase, and has an overall length of 5426mm and is 1860mm wide.
Aside from the Jet Black with Matte Black accents on its exteriors, what I appreciated most about the FX4 is that it can put a camel to shame when it comes to sipping diesel fuel. Our convoy was fast and we were pushing the 160 bhp, 2.2 liter Duratorque turbo-diesel to its mechanical tolerences. The six-speed automatic was smooth and power delivery down the wheels were excellent. We were able to go around for three days from Balintawak, Nueva Ecija, Isabela and Kalinga Apayao on a full tank of diesel fuel! The only downside I see is that it is only available in 4x2 trim in the local market.
Driving the FX4 was a great way for us to experience the beauty of the North. The only sad note to this event was the flight cancellation of our Cebu Pacific flight back to Manila. In a way, it proved to be a blessing in disguise because it meant more drive time for us with the Ranger FX4.
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