The Ford Ranger Thunder is not a new model and has been on the streets for almost a year now. The internet already has hundreds of detailed reviews and information about the Ford Ranger Thunder with industry jargons, specs, and numbers. However, if you are looking for genuine feedback from a consumer’s perspective, then you are at the right place – so, fill your glass or cup with your favourite beverage, relax and continue reading.
Ever since I saw amazing pictures of the locally produced Ford Ranger Thunder – Yes, The Thunder is a #ProudlySA product! I thought it looked tough but cool and fresh. My curiosity about the Thunder grew when it stopped next to me at the traffic lights one day. When the green lights turned on, this beast left me wondering how it would feel driving it around the Karoo or on a long distance road trip to some of my favourite Western Cape’s small secluded villages and towns.
Imagine my excitement when Ford South Africa gave me the opportunity not only to test drive the Thunder but to use it for my upcoming winter road trips. It was also my chance to find out why everyone who has test-driven the Thunder would not stop raving about it.
I made sure that my first trip is a 360-degree road trip from Cape Town to the popular Garden Route through the Klein Karoo. I knew this journey would put the Thunder to the real test because the route would be long and would include mountain passes, hills, tarred, gravel, sandy, and wet roads (because winter is our rainy season here in the Western Cape). I covered 1540 kilometres on this trip with the Thunder.
Thank goodness for the Thunder’s infotainment (full-colour 8-inch touchscreen radio with an integrated navigation system and voice recognition) that kept me entertained on the road and the deep centre compartment between the two front seats kept my water and energy drinks cold whenever I turned on the aircon. Ford South Africa claims fuel consumption is 7.8 litres per 100km, and I managed to average 8.4 litres per 100km with an average speed of 120km/h on open roads and with active adaptive-cruise control when there were many trucks and slow moving vehicles on the road. The adaptive-cruise control means the Thunder safely slowed itself down when there was another vehicle in front of it and accelerated itself when the road cleared and was safe to do so. This became very handy on this long journey.
Other standard features include Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), lane keep assist, and semi-automatic parallel park assist. In case you don’t know what Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) is – AEB is an active safety system that activates a vehicle’s brakes when a potential collision is detected. It works automatically without you actually stepping on the brake pedal.
Even though I drove on some mountain passes, gravel, sandy, and wet roads, I didn’t have to engage the Thunder into 4H. The 2H was still capable and was a breeze driving through the rocky roads too.
THE THUNDER – A CONVERSATION STARTER
Besides the confidence you will feel when driving or parking the Thunder, expect to receive a lot of compliments and sometimes finding strangers standing next to your Thunder – don’t worry! Most of the time they just want to have a closer look at your beast. Thunder’s stylish, rugged looks, and bold features made sure I get plenty of compliments every time I pulled in or out of the parking bay.
The black moulded side steps make the Thunder look aggressive but they are functional too, especially when you enter or get out of the vehicle due to its high ground clearance (230mm).
The Thunder comes standard with a lockable roller shutter for the loading bay to keep your luggage or equipment safe and away from the prying eyes. The standard adjustable luggage divider in the loading bay allows you to comfortably load your bags and/or travelling equipment in the back and secure the partition in the right position by a quick turn on either side. This will ensure that you won’t have any loose items moving around in the back while driving. You see – the Thunder is not just a capable workhorse, but a comfortable bakkie for a family too. Click here to see how the lockable roller shutter works.
The Thunder is easily distinguishable by the black mesh front grille incorporating red accents (“nostrils”) for the side air intakes giving it a more aggressive and sporty look.
The distinctive Race Red 3D Thunder badging at the base of the front doors and on the rear tailgate, power-coded black roof rails, black 18-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels, and black detailing for the side mirror housings help make the Thunder look aggressive and give it a sporty character.
The integrated sports bar features a Race Red detail that adds further stylistic flair. LED headlamps with LED daytime running lights and front fog lamps are standard on the new Ranger Thunder.
The Thunder screams quality, luxury, practicality, and comfort with its black leather seats and dashboard with red stitching and the words “THUNDER” embroidered on the seats, multi-functional power steering wheel, enough storage space, plenty of charging points – 2 x USB ports with 2 x 12V power outlet in the front and an AC converter 230V/150W power socket it the back, infotainment (full-colour 8-inch touchscreen radio with an integrated navigation system, reverse camera, and voice recognition), and one of my favourite features, a cooling compartment between the two front seats that keeps your beverages cool.
THE FORD RANGER THUNDER IS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE IN FOUR COLOURS
Frozen White (Featured Thunder)
The Thunder is powered by the 2.0-litre Bi-Turbo diesel engine which produces 157kW and 500Nm torque paired to a 10-speed automatic transmission. The 10-speed automatic transmission worked smoothly and effortlessly with 2H mode.
If you are not used to driving bigger vehicles, the Thunder is going to intimidate you at first but you will immediately feel at ease when you sit on the driver’s seat and realise that it comes standard with Semi-Automatic Parallel Park Assist (SAPPA), which automatically steers the vehicle into a bay with you only operating the throttle and brake. The Thunder also comes with front and back parking sensors, a rear-view camera, Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Forward Collision Alert fitted with emergency braking, and lane keeping Alert and assistance which vibrates the steering wheel when you drift out of the lane.
Other exciting and safety features I like about the Thunder are the smart keyless entry and lock, and push-button start technology. The Thunder is also fitted with seven airbags, roll-over mitigation, and trailer sway control for your safety.
The navigation system is not user-friendly and sometimes can be very unreliable and that made me use the GPS on my cellphone most of the time. Even though the 10-speed automatic transmission worked smoothly and effortlessly with 2H mode, sometimes it felt like it was taking too long to change gears especially when I wanted to overtake, but it moved like a hot knife through butter as soon as the proper gears were engaged.
The Ford Ranger Thunder proved to be everything I expected and more. This is definitely value for money considering all the extras fitted as standard. If you are in the market for a practical 4×4 workhorse with style and personality, I would suggest adding the Thunder to your window shopping list and booking a test drive.