Regardless of the rolling lockdown restrictions that pose ongoing challenges, such as delaying opportunities to embark on a series of on and off-road test drives, the Ford Ranger Thunder rolls with the thunder. Special edition pick-up trucks demand attention and Ford has not been shy with it’s latest Ranger Thunder. Go big or go home as they say and this Ranger is going big and promises to leave you thunderstruck.
Housing the most powerful engine available in the Ranger series and boasting cosmetic upgrades, the Thunder is a force to be reckoned with. Based on the popular Wildtrak specification , this beast is a striking limited-edition double-cab version of the model that won the 2020 and 2021 Parkers Pickup of the Year Award in the UK.
Sporting a complete exterior chrome deletion, a bold new ebony black finished mesh grille with red ‘nostril’ inserts, 18-inch black alloy wheels, running boards, a sports roll bar with red accents and a light for the load area, fog light surrounds, matte black rear Ranger graphic and distinct red 3D Thunder badges applied to the Ranger’s flanks and tailgate. Standard features include LED headlights with darkened bezels and darkened rear lights
The interior of the Thunder is reminiscent of the Wildtrak, evident in the trim and features. The seats are wrapped in ebony black part-leather embossed with red contrast stitching synchronised with the contrast stitching echoed on the multifunctional steering wheel and on the gear shifter, and dressed with the Thunder logo embossed on the seat backs. Black floor mats and red illuminated door sills add to the sophisticated interior impressions. The 8-inch Sync 3 infotainment system takes a stately display on the dash, replete with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a must-have for the ‘always connected’ driver and passengers. Unfortunately, the Thunder is not equipped with Ford’s latest FordPass Connect tech.
Cabin space is ample, seating 5 adults comfortably and allows for sufficient head and leg room. The load bay in the rear, which comes standard with a black lockable Mountain Top powder-coated roller shutter, as well as a cargo area management system with a bed divider, adds to its practicality.
Whether on highways or byways, the lack of road and engine noise actively cancelled by the intelligent digital system ensures that the Thunder remains unflustered by any road or tarmac obstacles, making this a pickup that is undeniably suitable for everyday use. Additionally, compared to all the pickups currently on the market, the Thunder comes closest to feeling like a regular car. Given how tough and capable the entire package is, considering the 3,500kg towing capacity and 1,024kg payload capability on the Thunder, this is another triumph for Ford.
Powering the Thunder, the 2-0-litre EcoBlue bi-turbo diesel engine delivers 157 kW of power and 500 Nm of torque, including a capable four-wheel drive system. The two turbos work sequentially, maximising torque and power output that are managed with 10-speed automatic transmission as standard. With the last three gears acting as overdrive gears, the Thunder returns commendable economy, capable of approximately 8.5 l/100km on a daily commute. There are no paddle shifters on the steering, which is insignificant given that the gearbox does a good job all by itself, ensuring effortless and smooth gear shifting. Worthy of mention, the Sport mode offers a well-engineered package, holding onto gears longer and downshifting earlier. The Thunder is eager to deliver for those wanting a sportier drive.
Mounted on a ladder frame chassis, the suspension is softly sprung and tackles road imperfections with gentlemanly composure. Given the elevated driving position, the Thunder makes its presence known in tight parking spaces. Equipped with Ford’s innovative Semi-Automatic Parallel Park Assist (SAPPA), front and rear PDC (Park Distance Control) and a rear view camera, parking this beast is a pleasure.
Impressive safety features come standard on the Thunder. Equipped with 7 airbags, Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Forward Collision Alert, Traction and Stability Control, Hill-start and Hill Descent control, and Lane Departure Warning. There are also Isofix harness points in the rear to secure infant car seats.
Boasting all the combined features required to make over-taking, daily commuting and long distance driving pleasurable, the Ford Thunder is an impressive driving experience. Coupled with extreme comfort and luxurious cabin features, the Thunder handles like a luxury sedan with all the benefits of a rugged pick-up. With its bespoke styling, the Thunder is sure to leave on-lookers thunderstruck. Stay tuned for the off road review.
Report & images by BRYAN KAYAVHU