My first encounter with a 4x4 was after watching a Camel Trophy Documentary when I was young and from that day onwards, I always told myself that I would one day own one. Fast forward to 2017, I sold my first car (Proton Persona – 5 years of ownership) and bought myself a Ford Ranger 2.2 XLT T6FL of around RM 108k. I initially had few options and they were Nissan X-Trail 4WD, Toyota Hilux and Nissan Navara. However the Ford Ranger was the only 4x4 that appealed to me in terms of price, design, toughness and the only range that was below 2.5L, I did opt to get the Ford Ranger 3.2 Wildtrek but because of the RM1.9k road tax; I had to turn away the idea in which I did regret later on, but I am still happy with the 2.2L as it serve my daily purpose. Once I made my booking, I immediately joined the Malaysian Ford Ranger Club on Facebook and excitedly browse through post to learn and get ideas of how my ideal 4x4 will be.
After driving for about a week, I realise after hearing majority who drive a 4x4 that it was notorious for having a very stiff and bumpy ride because of its suspension due to it being a leaf spring compare to normal cars that are on coil spring, where I decided to ask around in the club for suggestion on a good comfortable suspension setup (which I will explain later the journey of my upgrades). But the seats were surprisingly comfortable and the plus point to owning a 4x4 is its fuel economy thanks to a bigger tank (70L) and running on diesel (cheap in price and does not burn as fast as normal petrol car). I usually get around 10.5km/l for city driving and around 11.5km/l for highway driving and if I did not put the hammer down I could get a range of close to 1000km on a full tank (happened 4 times) but I normally get about 687km to 800km.
Just one month into owning my Ford Ranger, I have decided to start my upgrades starting with suspension for comfort and bullbars for safety. There were many brands to look at from local, Thailand, China and Australia and the options and designs were endless. As I was still new to the 4x4 scene, I was scared of buying the wrong items and not being functional and do not perform as what I wanted to. In time I was in luck as our club organised a gathering session where we went to a well-known and experience workshop that has all the answers to my questions. During the session, I was blessed to meet their sales manager whom was very patient with all my dumb and repetitive questions and in the end I told him I am looking for something that is functional rather than cosmetic which majority were modified for looks.
The workshop only carried premium quality products from Australia and USA and have been used around the world from overlanding to rescue expedition from normal to extreme condition and are used in our local scene (such as JPJ, PDRM, BOMBA, Military, TNB, AIS to name a few). Being a boy in a toy shop, I immediately purchase the following items: Old Man Emu Suspension, ARB Front, side and rear bumper, Come-Up winch, Safari Snorkel and CooperTires All Terrain tires, burning a hole in my bank account but it was worth every penny as it was what I was looking for in terms of its safety and design. The reason why I chose ARB from Australia compare to other brands because they are the first in the world that has a five star safety rating and air-bag compliant and these reasons convince me that where ever I am, my passengers and I are safe. The OME suspension lifted my Ford Ranger 2.5inches and with that, the ride was extremely comfortable and stable on the highway while providing safety as you are sitting relatively high and you can see cars ahead of you. But the downside to all these, is that it was adding more weight of around 150kg which made the 2.2L performance slightly sluggish and brought the fuel economy to 7.4l/km. Therefore I added the safari snorkel and a throttle controller which helped the performance. Fast forward my journey, I ended up adding quite a lot of modifications, rear canopy, dual battery system (extra 80ah battery that is installed at the rear which charges the primary car battery while driving where I am able to start the car after two weeks of it being idle), awning, cell phone booster, walkie-talkie antennae, water pump, performance brakes and extra 60ah battery to charge my phone, lights and other battery operated camping gears to take it overlanding and camping trips. I can say it is about only 70% completed but it will never be completed and perfect as there will be many upgrades and new items to add because every overlanding trip is a learning trip.
After owning the car for about 3 years, let me share with you the pros and cons of this 4x4 after the modifications and why I chose to buy this car.
- Comfortable Ride and Stable Handling at High Speed
I have driven from KL to Melacca, Singapore, Kuantan, Terengganu, Ipoh, Penang, Kedah, Alor Setar, Thailand and with the Old Man Emu Suspension setup, the ride was extremely comfortable and I can confirm with this statement because my parents in law, fiancée and godparents did not make any complaints and they slept through the journey.
- Comfortable Seats
The ergonomics of the front and rear seats makes it very suitable for long distance driving as it provides good lumbar and thigh support that does not make you sleepy when driving.
- Great Design
Not much to comment but it just looks very aggressive, best looking 4x4 in the market.
During my two year ownership, I have learned a lot from the mistakes I made and advice I heard from experienced owners that made me change my overall perception of authorised service centre. There is a lot of TLC required for this Ford Ranger as it is very sensitive and requires a lot of care to make your car more durable and long lasting. I stopped sending my Ford Ranger to the Ford Service Centre and went outside to a friend's workshop to get my Ford Ranger serviced as I felt more secure knowing my Ford Ranger will be more durable and reliable. For example: the recommended ATF oil change from Ford Service Centre is every 100,000 km, but a lot of Ford Ranger owners end up having transmission failures before the 100,000 km or transmission jerking at low speed. I was slightly lucky as I changed it at 40,000 km (with Ford Service Center) but apparently my transmission experienced a very bad jerk when it was trying to change gear. I found out that the ideal time to change the atf oil was every 20,000 km. After this incident, the next service I started going to my friend's workshop as he also owns a Ford Ranger and the oil (Penrite) he uses are designed for Ford Ranger. Therefore to maintain a Ford Ranger, the ideal parts to service are engine oil, ATF oil, transfer case, front and rear differential oil, engine filter and diesel filter as this would make the ranger perform very well. Also I recommend adding a catch tank which helps to reduce the amount of oil vapours that re-circulate into the engine intake which aids in performance and durability.
- Air Condition
The air-conditioning tends to be very cold during hot and rainy days. I know it is weird to complain a cold air-condition but I have to wear a fleece jacket when I travel long distance or when it rains and have to keep a blanket for my fiancée when she in the car. This is because for the XLT version, it does not come with a thermostat (due to a cost cutting measure) so no matter how you try to control the temperature it will be always cold, and if you try to install a thermostat, the car will start throwing lights and the car starts having problems (happened to a friend car who works at Ford). Unlike the wildtrek that comes with a thermostat, the temperature can be set, but with that it tends to spoil easily (hearing from friends).
Total Score: 4/5
Quality & Features: 3/5
Ride Comfort: 5/5
Fuel Economy: 3/5
Price & Cost: 4/5
In conclusion, given the Ford Ranger 2.2 XLT T6FL's price and spec, I do not regret buying this car. I chose this car because it does everything I need it to do. Eventually this Ford Ranger has become more for overlanding/camping and travelling long distance instead of a daily driver because of its size in town.