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Ford Ranger FX4 Off-Road and Level II - By The Years

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FX4 Quick Facts:

In 2002, there was only one level of FX4.

From 2003-2007, you had the option between a FX4 Off-Road and FX4 Level II 

In 2007, the Ford Ranger FX4 Level II had a FX4 Off-Road sticker on the bed, and a decal on the doors that said 'Level II'.

From 2008-2009, there was only a FX4 Off-Road (no Level II).

The 2002, 2008, 2009 FX4, and 2003-2007 FX4 Level II have either an all black interior, or black with either red or blue inserts. All other FX4 Off-Road models with either have the gray or tan interior.

Not all FX4's received the 31-spline 8.8-inch rear with the Torsen limited slip differential. Only the 2002 FX4, and 2003-2007 FX4 Level II's. In 2008-2009, the Torsen was optional.

Only the 2002 Ford FX4, and 2003 Ford Ranger FX4 Level II had the optional manual transfer case.

The FX4 Level II was not sold (or offered) as a flareside (stepside). Only the 2003-2004 FX4 Off-Road models had a flareside option.

2002 - The Introduction of The Ford Ranger FX4:

The Ford Ranger FX4. This was Ford's answer to the serious off-roader. Ford new that these trucks were seeing a lot of off-road use, and took in interest in how guys were modifying their trucks. Now, Ford was about to offer lift kits on their new 2002 Ford Ranger FX4, but it did come with these notable features:

  • 4.0L SOHC V6

  • Bilstein Shocks

  • Skid Plates

  • 31-spline Ford 8.8-inch rear axle

  • Torsen Limited Slip Differential

  • 4.10 Gears

  • 31x10.50x15 BF Goodrich All Terrain Tires

  • 15-inch Alcoa wheels

  • Tow hooks

  • Manual transfer case

  • Sport bucket seats

Ford was serious about this truck too. Their engineers brought the truck and went offroading with us in 2001 (before it's release) (See 'Wheeling With Ford).

This is what Fourwheeler Magazine had to say about the new FX4 Ranger:

 

 "Ford is proud to inform us that the Ranger has been the compact-truck sales leader for the past 14 years. Of course with plenty of competition in the compact-truck market, one does not stay at the top of the heap by simply putting out the same vehicle year after year. To stay on top, the Ranger has been reengineered several times since its introduction in '83, with plenty of refinements and upgrades along the way. For the '02 model year, one of these refinements is the FX4 off-road package.

You may recall that when we tested the Ranger's bigger brother, the F-150, with the FX4 package ("2002 Ford F-150 FX4," April '02), that vehicle yielded marginal results. Fortunately, the Ranger and F-150 FX4 packages are similar in name only. The Ranger's includes a more substantial list of dirt-ready equipment. When it's equipped with the FX4 package, the Ranger receives a 4.0L V-6, 4.10:1 ring-and-pinion gears with a limited-slip rear diff, Alcoa aluminum wheels, 31-inch BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO tires, Bilstein shocks, and heavy-duty springs. Also included are tow hooks, a heavier front skidplate, sport bucket seats, special rubber floor mats, and the power equipment group. We were eager to see what the Ranger, newly armed with this impressive list of equipment, was capable of.

The Ranger FX4 is powered by Ford's 4.0L V-6. It provided good acceleration when combined with the 4.10:1 ring-and-pinion gears.
Right from the start of our test, we noticed that the 4.10:1 gears, five-speed trans, and 4.0L V-6, which makes 207 hp and 238 lb-ft of torque, is a sweet combo. Coupling this power with the 4.10:1 gears meant that the Ranger gets up and goes when the accelerator pedal is stomped on. Adding to the fun is that the peak torque for the 4.0L comes in at a low 3,000 rpm. Yes, it was fun to stomp on the Ranger's go-pedal, as plenty of power is available down low in the rpm curve. Meshing nicely with the 4.0L V-6 is an electronically controlled five-speed automatic transmission that always seemed to have the appropriate gear on hand.

Another high point for the Ranger included its rack-and-pinion steering. While a bit on the heavy side in terms of effort, the rack-and-pinion setup provides quick, precise steering. The steering also gives a good road feel and that was a benefit whether guiding the Ranger through city traffic or across a twisty mountain pass.

The interior of the Ranger also earned high marks in our test. While the seats are somewhat basic, they are comfortable for a wide range of body types and do offer a good amount of adjustability. A full complement of gauges also conveys all of the necessary information to the driver. The only drawback to our Supercab Ranger was that there was not a lot of room behind the seats. However, this is common among compact pickups as there is only so much space available to work with; the Ranger was no worse than its competitors.

Articulation on the rear of the Ranger is impressive for a stock vehicle. This combined with the effective limited-slip diff in the rear axle helped the Ranger maintain traction on the trail. Our Ranger featured this interesting tonneau cover that opens from either the front or rear and features a center divider. While it was useful, it is an $895 option when combined with the bedliner. The interior of the Ranger was fairly basic as it didn't have any of the high-end luxury components such as leather, GPS navigation systems, and heated seats we often see in test vehicles. Good. We can do without all that stuff. More important to us was that it was plenty comfortable.

While the drivetrain and the interior of the Ranger received compliments, the brakes didn't draw much praise from our testers. While the brakes provide excellent pedal feel and were easy to modulate, they only provided average stopping distances at the track when going from 60 to 0 mph. Loading the Ranger up to half of its 1,333-pound payload taxed the brakes and produced longer stopping distances.

So what about the performance of the components included in the FX4 package? Pretty effective, overall. At the core of the package are its heavy-duty springs and Bilstein shocks. Spring rates are just about right for a variety of activities from cruising down the highway to bouncing along a rutted two-track. The shocks did an effective job of handling impacts of all sizes. Their effectiveness gave the Ranger a smooth ride on the highway, let it absorb slow-speed impacts when crawling around in low-range, and also allowed for spirited high-speed dirt running where bigger bumps must be absorbed. Only the lack of wheel travel inherent to the design of the Ranger's independent front suspension limited the suspension's performance; luckily, the rear of the Ranger has a good amount of articulation. A pleasant surprise was the Ranger's twisty pavement ability. Its handling was above average for a compact pickup.

A key part of the FX4 package is the 31-inch BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO tires on Alcoa aluminum wheels. This combo means that we won't have to replace the wheels and tires first thing, as the Alcoa wheels look great and the BFGs provide plenty of traction.

The 31-inch BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO tires provide excellent trail traction. Having a three-ply sidewall also meant we didn't have to worry about changing flats resulting from cut sidewalls. The only slight drawback was a minimal increase in tire noise at freeway speeds, thanks to their aggressive tread pattern; but their performance, when compared to the passenger car tires that we normally see on trucks, was well worth this small price.

Also helping to provide traction in the dirt was the Ranger's limited-slip rear differential. It was tighter than many of the other limited-slips we have tested, and transferred power quickly, helping the Ranger find traction on the loose and rocky sections of our test trails. The only major drawback of the Ranger on the trail is that its belly is somewhat low and this caused it to drag in some sections.

With our test over, we grudgingly returned the Ranger FX4 to Ford's test fleet. While we did have a few minor complaints, for the most part we were impressed by the F-150's little brother. A fun engine, nice transmission, functional interior, and great steering made the Ranger a blast to drive. Coupling those fine traits with the FX4 package make it capable on the trail making it a good choice for someone looking for a compact pickup with some trail capability straight from the factory.

Price $24,830-$27,525"

2002 Ford Ranger FX4 Photos:

Fourwheeler Magazine testing the new Ford Ranger FX4

2003 - Ford Now Offered a FX4 Off-Road, and FX4 Level II:

This is where things get confusing for people. Honestly, Ford should never have created the Level II name. It should have been the FX4, or just a 4X4 Offroad model. To this day, people still don't know the difference, and some probably don't even realize there's two levels of the FX4.

In addition to the standard features on every Ranger model, listed below are a few of the key features included on the FX4.

 

2003 Ford Ranger FX4

2003 Ford Ranger FX4 Level II

4.0L SOHC 12-valve V6 engine  4.0L SOHC 12-valve V6 engine 
Limited-slip rear axle Limited-slip rear axle – Torsen® 
Axle ratio – 4.10:1 Axle ratio – 4.10:1 
Skid plates  Skid plates 
16" 5-spoke cast aluminum wheels (4) 15" 8-hole Alcoa® forged-aluminum wheels (4)
P245/75R16 all-terrain OWL tires (4)  31"/10.5" BF Goodrich® KO all-terrain tires (4) 
Tow hooks – Front, black  Tow hooks – Front, stainless steel 
Bumpers – Chrome  Bumpers – Chrome
Grille – Painted-platinum honeycomb  Grille – Black
Side step bars  Bilstein® shock absorbers
4-door SuperCab  4-door SuperCab
Sliding rear window Sliding rear window
Power Equipment Group – Includes power windows, power door locks and remote keyless entry system  Power Equipment Group – Includes power windows, power door locks and remote keyless entry system
Tilt steering wheel with speed control  Tilt steering wheel with speed control 
Leather-wrapped steering wheel  Leather-wrapped steering wheel 
Front 60/40 cloth split-bench seat  Front cloth sport bucket seats
MACH® AM/FM stereo with MP3/CD, clock and 4 speakers   AM/FM stereo with CD/cassette dual media, clock and 4 speakers 
Floor mats – Color-keyed (front only)  Floor mats – Vinyl all-weather spill-containing 
Rear vinyl jump seats  Rear vinyl jump seats (SuperCab models only)

2003 Ford Ranger FX4 Features/Options From The Ford Sales Brochure:

See the whole 2003 Ford Ranger Sales Brochure HERE.

2003 Ford Ranger FX4 Photos:

2003 Ford Ranger FX4 Level II

Some people refer to this as "twin sticks". It's a term that's not used properly. In the off-road community, "twin sticks" refers to (2) transfer case levers

2004 Ford Ranger FX4 Off-Road and FX4 Level II

Off-Road

In addition to the standard features on every Ranger, listed below are a few key features included on the FX4 Off-Road in addition to or in place of those on the XLT.

4.0L V6 engine with 5-speed manual transmission
16” 5-spoke cast aluminum wheels
P245/75Rx16 all-terrain OWL tires
2 Steel skid plates and 2 tow hooks

Level II


In addition to the standard features on every Ranger, listed below are a few key features included on the FX4 Level II in addition to or in place of those on the FX4 Off-Road.

15” Alcoa® forged-aluminum wheels
BFG KO 31x10.5 all-terrain RWL tires
Bilstein® gas-charged shocks
Torsen® limited-slip rear axle

2004 Ford Ranger FX4 Photos:

2004 Ford Ranger FX4 Off-Road

Note the grey interior in the FX4 Off-Road (non Level II)

2004 Ford Ranger FX4 Level II shifter

We do not have the sales brochure for the 2004 Ford Ranger. We are looking for a .pdf version of it.

2005 Ford Ranger FX4 Off-Road and FX4 Level II:

 

2005 Ford Ranger FX4 Off-Road 2005 Ford Ranger FX4 Level II
4.0L SOHC V6 engine  4.0L SOHC V6 engine 
Electronic shift transfer case Electronic shift transfer case
Shocks, premium  Shocks, Bilstein® 
Limited slip axle  Limited-slip rear axle – Torsen®  (not listed in the brochure)
16" 5-spoke cast aluminum, 4  15" forged aluminum, 4 (FX4/Level II)
P255/70Rx16 all-terrain OWL, 4  31x10.5 BFGoodrich® KO, 4 (FX4/Level II only
Sliding rear window (requires Privacy Glass Sliding rear window (requires Privacy Glass
4x4 skid plates – mid and aft  4x4 skid plates – front, mid and aft 
Mud flaps – rear only on vehicles with wheellip moldings  Mud flaps – rear only on vehicles with wheellip moldings 
Black wheellip moldings  Black wheellip moldings 
Fog lamps  Fog lamps 
Step bars – black   
Tow hooks (4x4 only) – 2 black steel in front  Tow hooks (4x4) – 2 silver-tone steel in front, 1 black steel in rear 
Grille – black honeycomb-mesh insert with chrome surround Grille – black honeycomb-mesh insert with body color surround 
Chrome front and rear step bumpers  Chrome front and rear step bumpers 
Color-coordinated carpeting and carpeted front floor mats  Color-coordinated carpet, vinyl “slush" mats 
High-series door trim panels with cloth insert and map pockets  Unique high-series door trim panels with cloth inserts and map pockets 
Tachometer/gauge cluster – black-faced with matching trim rings  Tachometer/gauge cluster – black-faced with silver brushed trim rings 
AM/FM stereo/single CD player with clock (4 speakers (not listed?)
Front cloth 60/40 split bench seat with child safety seat LATCH restraint  Cloth sport bucket seats with extra-thick side bolstering, manual adjustable driver’s side lumbar support and center floor console 
Rear vinyl jump seats Rear vinyl jump seats

2005 Ford Ranger FX4 Features/Options From The Ford Sales Brochure:

See the whole 2005 Ford Ranger Sales Brochure HERE.

2005 Ford Ranger FX4 Photos:

2005 Ford Ranger FX4 Level II

2006 Ford Ranger FX4 Off-Road and FX4 Level II:

 

2006 Ford Ranger FX4 Off-Road

2006 Ford Ranger FX4 Level II

4.0L SOHC V6 engine 4.0L SOHC V6 engine
16" 5-spoke cast-aluminum wheels with Dark Shadow Grey-painted insets (4) 15" Alcoa® 8-hole forged-aluminum wheels with Dark Shadow Grey paint (4)
Limited-slip rear axle  Limited-slip rear axle – Torsen®  (not listed in the brochure)
Skid plates — Mid and aft (SuperCab 4x4 only) Skid plates — Fore, mid and aft
Front 60/40 split bench seat — Cloth  Front sport bucket seats — Cloth with center console and driver’s-side manual lumbar support 
Rear jump seats — Vinyl  Rear jump seats — Vinyl 
AM/FM stereo with single-CD player, clock and 4 speakers AM/FM stereo/cassette/single-CD player with MP3 capability, clock and 4 speakers (Dual-Media) 
Floor mats — Black vinyl, slush-type (front only)  Floor mats — Black vinyl, slush-type (front only) 
Leather-wrapped steering wheel Leather-wrapped steering wheel
Cargo box — 6'  Cargo box — 6' 
Side step bars — Black   
Sliding rear window  Sliding rear window 
Tow hooks — 2 black steel in front  Tow hooks — 2 silver-tone steel in front and 1 black steel in rear
Wheel-lip moldings — Molded-in-color Wheel-lip moldings — Molded-in-color
Power Equipment Group — Includes power windows, door locks and sideview mirrors with remote keyless-entry system  Power Equipment Group — Includes power windows, door locks and sideview mirrors with remote keyless-entry system 

2006 Ford Ranger FX4 Features/Options From The Ford Sales Brochure:

See the whole 2006 Ford Ranger Sales Brochure HERE.

2006 Ford Ranger FX4 Photos:

2006 Ford Ranger FX4 Level II

2006 Ford Ranger FX4 Off-Road

2007 Ford Ranger FX4 Off-Road and FX4 Level II:

2007 Ford Ranger FX4 Off-Road

2007 Ford Ranger FX4 Level II

4.0L SOHC V6  4.0L SOHC V6 
  Shocks, Bilstein 
Limited slip axle  Limited slip axle 
Class I trailer tow wiring harness, 4-pin  Class I trailer tow wiring harness, 4-pin 
16" Y-spoke cast aluminum wheel with silver painted insets (4)  15" Alcoa forged aluminum with dark shadow grey finish (4)
P255/70Rx16 all-terrain OWL (4) 31x10.5 BF Goodrich® KO (4)
Tire Pressure Monitoring System  Tire Pressure Monitoring System 
4x4 skid plates – mid and aft  4x4 skid plates – front, mid and aft (SuperCab only)
Dark Shadow wheellip moldings  Dark Shadow wheellip moldings 
Tow hooks (4x4 only) – 2 black steel in front  Tow hooks (4x4) – 2 silver-tone steel in front, 1 black steel in rear 
Step bars – black   
Mirrors, power  Mirrors, power 
Cargo box – Styleside 6’  Cargo box – Styleside 6’ 
Grille – body color “nostril bar” insert and surround  Grille – body color “nostril bar” insert and surround 
Dark Shadow Grey front and rear step bumpers with black lower front valance and painted face Dark Shadow Grey front and rear step bumpers with black lower front valance and painted face
Black rugged textured vinyl floor covering and front “slush" mats   
High-series door trim panels with cloth insert and map pockets (Sport with Power Equipment) Unique FX4 Level II high-series door trim panels with cloth inserts and map pockets 
Leather-wrapped steering wheel  Leather-wrapped steering wheel 
Tachometer/rally gauge cluster – black-faced with matching trim rings  Tachometer/gauge cluster – black faced with silver brushed trim rings 
AM/FM stereo CD/MP3 capability with clock (2 speakers) and audio accessory input jack   
  Rear vinyl jump seats 
Front cloth 60/40 split bench seat with child safety LATCH restraint  Two-tone cloth sport bucket seats, adjustable driver’s side lumbar support and center floor console and storage 

2007 Ford Ranger FX4 Features/Options From The Ford Sales Brochure:

See the whole 2007 Ford Ranger Sales Brochure HERE.

2007 Ford Ranger FX4 Photos:

Starting in 2007, the FX4 Level II used the FX4 Off-Road decal, and has 'Level II' on the doors

Note the 'Level II' on the door

2007 Ford Ranger FX4 Level II

2008 Ford Ranger FX4 Off-Road:

Starting in 2008, there was only one Ford Ranger FX4 option. It featured:

4.0L SOHC V6 engine  F ront sport bucket seats — Two-tone cloth with center console and driver-side manual lumbar support 
5-speed manual transmission with overdrive (late availability on FX4 OFF-ROAD)  Steering wheel — Leather-wrapped — Tilt, with cruise control 
Limited-slip rear axle (Limited-slip rear axle — TORSEN® optional) AM/FM stereo/single-CD player with MP3/SAT capability, clock, 4 speakers and audio input jack
Axle ratio — 4.10:1  Floor covering — Black rugged vinyl 
Skid plates — Fore, mid and aft  Floor mats — Black vinyl, slush-type (front only) 
Shocks — Rancho® heavy-duty  2-door SuperCab  (4-door optional)
16" Y-spoke cast-aluminum wheels with silver-painted insets — 4  Bed rail and tailgate lip protectors — 3-piece 
P255/70R16 all-terrain OWL tires — 4  Power Equipment Group — Includes power windows, door locks and sideview mirrors with remote keyless-entry system
Tow hooks - 2-black steel in front Side step bars - black
Bumpers — Accent-color with black lower valance  Trailer tow — Class III hitch receiver 
Grille — Body-color H-bar  Wheel-lip moldings — Molded-in-color 
Fog lamps   

See the whole 2008 Ford Ranger Sales Brochure HERE.

2008 Ford Ranger FX4 Photos:

2008 Ford Ranger FX4 Off-Road

2009 Ford Ranger FX4 Off-Road:

2009 was the last year for the Ford Ranger FX4. Features included:

4.0L V6 engine  SIRIUS Satellite Radio2 – Includes receiver, antenna and 6-month subscription 
4x4 drivetrain with Electronic Shift-On-the-Fly (ESOF)  Floor covering – Black rugged vinyl 
16" Y-spoke cast-aluminum wheels with silver-painted insets – 4 Floor mats – Black vinyl, slush-type (front only) 
P255/70R16 all-terrain OWL tires – 4  Steering wheel – Leather-wrapped (Tilt, with cruise control)
Axle ratio – 4.10:1  2-door SuperCab (4-door optional)
Limited-slip rear differential (Limited-slip rear differential – TORSEN® optional) Bed-rail and tailgate lip protectors – 3-piece 
Shocks – Rancho® heavy-duty gas-charged Bumpers – Accent-color with black lower valance 
Skid plates – Fore, mid and aft  Grille – Body-color H-bar 
Tow hooks – 2 black steel in front  Side step bars - black
F ront sport bucket seats – Two-tone cloth with driverside manual lumbar support and center console Trailer tow hitch receiver 
AM/FM stereo/single-CD player with MP3/SAT radio capability, clock, 4 speakers and audio input jack  Power Equipment Group – Includes power windows, door locks and sideview mirrors, and remote keyless-entry system

See the whole 2008 Ford Ranger Sales Brochure HERE.

2009 Ford Ranger FX4 Photos:

 

 

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