Home Driven Reviews Off-roading with the Ford Ranger Thunder 4×4 (2021)

Off-roading with the Ford Ranger Thunder 4×4 (2021)

by Yan Musikingala

What better way to test a 4×4 vehicle than taking off-road on a 4×4 trail?

I recently took the new limited-edition Ford ranger thunder at the Welgelegen 4×4 Farm trail outside Cape Town to see if it could really bring the Thunder, and here is what I thought about it…

Originating from the existing Ranger Wildtrak model, the Ranger Thunder features quite a number of aesthetic upgrades both on the exterior and interior to give the ranger quite a unique personality.

Exterior & Style

You will definitely not miss it in public, standing out from the other Rangers, on the outside the Ranger Thunder features a new three-dimensional front grille with vibrant racing red intakes trims insert on the side. Thunder badging along the side and back as well as a red decal wrapped on the side of the sports bar which overall gives the Thunder a bit of a sporty look.

Clearing the ground by 230mm with 800mm of wading depth capability. the Ranger Thunder rides on classy gloss black 18-inch double spoke alloy wheels, replacing the standard silver alloy wheels that comes fitted on the Ranger Wildtrak.

The Ranger Thunder is available in the following colours Frozen White, Absolute Black, Sea Grey, and Moondust Silver.

Interior

Jumping inside, upgrades have been made to match up with the Thunder theme, new front leather seats with electric adjustable driver seat. featuring contrasting Red stitching and  “Thunder” decals embroidered.

The Race Red stitching also goes through the dashboard, steering wheel, gear lever, and door trim inserts. You will also find back floor mats and red “Thunder” illuminated door sills.

The leather seats are really comfortable even while off-roading, my passengers at the back had no complaints when it came to space or legroom. The heated function on the front seats turned out to not be the fastest to warm up on cold days.

Tech and Safety

The Ranger Thunder is very well equipped, boasting a full-colour 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system SYNC 3 with integrated navigation, reverse camera, and voice recognition. compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. I found the built-in navigation system to not be the most accurate and user-friendly to use on the go.

Being a workhorse and mostly used as a mobile office, the Thunder boasts several power outlets, including a 2x USB port with a 2x 12V power outlet at the front and an AC converter 230V / 150 W power socket at the back with an additional 12V outlet.

The Thunder Also features autonomous emergency braking, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control with forward-collision alert, and a pretty useful semi-automatic parallel park assist which comes in handy when it comes to parking a 5.4m long vehicle like the Thunder. Other passive safety features include 7-airbags, ABS, EBD, and ESP. 

Practicality

Several storage bins and cup holders are found inside the cabin, the Thunder also comes fitted with a waterproof load bay cover and an adjustable load bay divider which comes in handy for load storage and helps prevent luggage from sliding while driving around.

Here comes the fun Part!

The drive and Performance

The new Ranger Thunder is powered by the same powertrain found in the Ranger Wildtrak which is known to be the best in its class. The 2.0-litre 4-cylinder Bi-Turbo diesel engine develops 157kW and 500Nm torque, paired to a 10-speed automatic transmission. 

The 10-speed automatic transmission works smoothly and effortlessly with 3 driving modes 2H, 4H, and 4L. in town or on paved roads, you’ll mostly find yourself driving in 2H (rear-wheel drive) which can be easily switched to 4L (four-wheel-drive low range) when it’s time for some serious 4×4 driving. The off-roading capability of the Thunder is unmatched, although you may find yourself stuck in a muddy terrain if not fitted with the right tyres.

Ford claims fuel consumption of 7.8 litres /100km, but I managed an average of 10.9L on open highway roads, and a slight increase to 11.4L was noticed after pushing the Thunder on the 4×4 off-road trail.

Pricing and After sales

The new limited edition Ford Ranger Thunder is priced as follows

  • RANGER 3.2 TDCI DOUBLE CAB 3.2 THUNDER 6AT 4X2 R711 600
  • RANGER 2.0L BiT DOUBLE CAB THUNDER 10AT 4X2 R736 000
  • RANGER 2.0L BiT DOUBLE CAB THUNDER 10AT 4X4 R787 000

All prices Include a 4-year/120 000km warranty, a 6-year/90,000km service plan is included, and a 15,000 km service intervals.

Verdict

The Ranger Thunder proved to be a very capable vehicle for both on-road and off-road use retaining the Ford Ranger DNA. I think it offers fantastic value for money with all the extras fitted as standard. If someone is looking for a 4×4 vehicle with a little more style, personality and practicality they should consider adding the Ranger Thunder high up on their list.

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