Smart features include starting the bakkie from your mobile app to warm up the cabin on chilly winter mornings.
Remember those ads where the boy bragged that that dad’s Toyota Hilux was “tougherer”? Well now it’s a case of the Ford Ranger being cleverer.
It’s month three with our long-term Ford Ranger FX4 and we get to brag how much smarter our bakkie is than a Hilux, Volkswagen Amarok, Isuzu D-Max or any other bakkie you might own for that matter.
You see, the FX4 features something called FordPass Connect and it’s not just on our Ranger, all new XL, XLS, XLT, Wildtrak and Ranger Raptor models now come this clever little app. Let me tell you more…
One appy bakkie
In a nutshell the hardware works as follows. All new Rangers equipped with FordPass Connect are fitted with an embedded modem at no additional to the owner and this modem pairs with the FordPass smartphone app that you download free of charge. This in turn unlocks a range of new connected services.
I am going to briefly touch on what can be done via the FordPass app, and then I am going to tell you what you shouldn’t do with the app. You can see the information such as your Ranger’s fuel level and oil status, tyre pressures (where the tyre pressure monitoring system is fitted) and mileage at a glance.
You can remotely lock and unlock your doors from the convenience of your couch. Courtesy of a map and location tracker you can see exactly where your Ranger is. Or even find your closest Ford dealer, fuel stations, available parking, entertainment, coffee shops and travel destinations such as hotels and lodges.
Should you get stuck, you also have instant access to call Ford’s 24-hour emergency roadside assistance, which is valid for a period of three years and unlimited distance. But this shouldn’t happen as the app can send vehicle health alerts to your smartphone thus warning you of possible issues before they become a problem.
At your service
You can also check your upcoming service intervals and schedule a service at your preferred dealer with the app linking to the myfordjourney.co.za website to facilitate this process. I have touched on only a few of the features of the app, but the one that really got tongues wagging and me into a world of trouble is the ability to remotely start and stop (automatic models only) your Ford Ranger.
Basically, from inside your house or office, you can start or switch off your Ranger by pushing a button on the app. At first you might think this merely a gimmick, but I have used it every morning for the school run because you can preheat the cabin to the last used temperature (and cool it the same way in summer) before you even open the door. So, when your bakkie can do that, then it will be as smart as a Ranger.
What wasn’t smart, was that my sweet innocent wife walked out into the parking lot one night and I decided to switch our Ranger on via the app. She got to the bakkie, and saw it was running and stood there patiently waiting for the driver to move out the parking bay before carrying on past. Needless to say, after a while she figured out that our bakkie was going nowhere.
She went and checked, saw no driver, and came bolting back inside to tell us that we had left the Ranger running in the parking lot. We told her she was going mad, she insisted that we come outside and see for ourselves. I switched it off via the app and told her that maybe she must go double check that she is actually looking at our FX4 and not our neighbours.
Out she went, came charging back more confused than ever. It was our bakkie, and it was switched off and parked safely where it had been the whole night. We teased her and said she must be imagining things. Now getting a bit agitated with us, she insisted that we come look with her. We got there, and the FX4 was sound asleep, and a little neighbourhood crowd had formed based on the up and down commotion.
Seeing is believing
She stood there a little embarrassed staring at the bakkie in disbelief. She refused to believe she had not witnessed this Ranger running on its own. We left her there with some parting words that had to do with her being old and crazy. But as we did so, I started the Ford Ranger again, and it came to life in the dark while she was standing right next to it.
When she had recovered from the fright and we had picked ourselves up off the floor with laughter, it was time for me to run, and run extremely fast to avoid a somewhat painful and very public death. I thought it was funny, my wife not so much.
No hidden costs
On a less deadly note, other than the usage of mobile data when you physically use the app, there are no additional costs, other than losing your life, associated with the FordPass Connect modem, which connects to the cloud via the 4G mobile network.
The modem can be deactivated via the infotainment system should you wish to turn off all data transmission, in which case none of the FordPass and Connected features will be functional, and you might live to see another day.
Customers can access additional information on FordPass Connect at ford.co.za/fordpass or by downloading the FordPass app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
By Mark Jones