The ‘Loan Ranger’ – 2019 Ford Ranger FX4

(Looks like a backdrop, but this photo was really taken in Colorado!)

In March 2019, Ford loaned me a 2019 Ford Ranger FX4 to use for 6-months to celebrate 20-years of Ford allowed me to modify the truck as long as I didn’t drill any holes in it, or permanently mount anything to it.

Here’s the Ranger on the day it showed up.

Yakima Skyrise Tent:

I asked Ford to install the Yakima rack and Skyrise tent (offered through your local Ford dealer), so I could try out the optional tent from Ford, instead of my own tent.

The tent can be used with or without the rainfly.

The Tires:

I also contacted Hancook to see if I could get a set of Dynapro Mud Terrains, because I knew the factory all-terrains were not going to be the proper tire for the conditions I planned to subject the Ranger to. I wanted to give the Hancook’s a chance since that was the brand that Ford chose. When Hancook failed to return my messages, I decided to get the tires I really wanted, and contacted Cooper. I’ve used the Cooper Discoverer STT Pro’s on another truck, and knew they would meet my requirements.

So here’s the thing about tires…

Proper tires is like proper footwear. If you’re going hiking or mountain climbing, you wear the proper boots to protect your feet and ankles, and help you get a good footing so you don’t fall on your butt. We could make this comparison to many other things like playing football, soccer, etc.. Yes, you might get away with doing it one time with regular tennis shoes, but anyone with experience knows you need the proper footwear.

The same thing goes with tires. I knew I would be driving in mud, heavy wet snow, sand, rocks, dirt, grass, and a variety of harsh conditions. Experience taught me that I needed a tire capable of tackling those elements. Yes, the Dynapro might be listed as an ‘all-terrain’, but look at it, and look at the Cooper’s. If you knew you would have to drive in all of those conditions, which tire would YOU want?

Here’s one more thing I need to point out about the tires…

Manufacturers have to worry about things like a quiet ride, and gas mileage. The more aggressive the tread is, the more rolling resistance it will have, which will reduce the trucks Miles Per Gallon rating. The aggressive tread will also increase how much noise the tire makes going down the road.

When I chose the Discoverer STT PRO’s, I went with a 265/70/17. These tires are 1.53 inches taller than stock, and will fit without a lift.

  • Stock: 265/65/17 (30.40×10.40×17)
  • Coopers: 265/70/17 (31.93×10.70×17)

Suspension Modifications:

I initially planned to put a Rough Country leveling kit on the truck, but I decided to leave the truck stock, so I could really see what a stock 2019 Ford Ranger was capable of.

Exterior Lighting:

I added a set of Nilight 4-Inch 60-Watt LED Lights mounted in a set of their Universal Hood Clamp Mounts, and wired up with a harness that included a remote control. The remote has a feature that will make the lights flash in a S-O-S pattern in case you’re ever stranded somewhere at night.

I also installed a Nilight 20-inch 288-watt LED lightbar over the front bumper, and wired it up with a LED wiring harness with a remote control. Just like the other harness I used, the remote has a feature that will make the lightbar flash in a S-O-S pattern.

I chose to mount the light above the bumper and not in the bumper opening to make sure I wasn’t blocking any of the air going to the radiator, transmission cooler, or the turbo’s intercooler.

I wanted some work lights at the rear of the truck, so I added a pair of Nilight 27-watt 4×5 inch LED lights.

The lights were installed with a harness that uses a remote control. This kept me from having to run a switch up to the cab. It came with a surface mounted switch with an adhesive back. I hid the switch on the bottom of the tailgate. Now I can turn the lights on from the cab with a remote, or by the switch under the tailgate.

A Bed Full of Gear:

I purchased a 48-inch Hi-Lift jack and a JackMate to go with it. At the time, nobody made a winch bumper for the 2019 Ford Ranger, but I know that the combination of the Hi-Lift jack and JackMate should be able to get the Ranger unstuck from about any situation. You can only winch a truck a few feet at a time with a Hi-Lift, but it’s better than being stuck.

Since I can’t drill any holes in the bed, I took a sheet of 7/16″ plywood and cut it to fit the bed, and then doubled up a section where the Hi-Lift would go. I used (2) 1/2″ carriage bolts stuck through the bottom of the plywood and secured it with a washer, lock washer, and nut. Then I added two nuts with a lock washer between them to serve as a spacer. The foot of the jack rests on the plywood. The rest of the jack sits on the 1/2″ bolts. It’s held down with a washer, a rubber washer, and a wing nut. The rubber washer keeps the wing nut from coming loose.

I have a Contico storage box held down to the plywood with (4) carriage bolts.

I purchased a set of X-Bull Recovery Tracks to use before resorting to winching with the Hi-Lift. I bolted them to the front of the Contico box, and used the washer, rubber washer, and wing nut setup to secure it. I’ve used that setup before, and know that it works.

I added a Scepter water can, and Scepter gas can to make sure I had spare fuel and water. They’re held in place with a ratchet strap using the factory tie-down points.

I used some foam pipe insulation and zip ties on the clamps for the bed rack, so the Scepter cans don’t rub against them. I also used the foam on the ratchets to keep them from damaging the cans. I cut off the excess straps, but left enough to wrap around the ratchet to hold the foam in place.

I bought a Lifetime 55-quart cooler, and it’s held down with a ratchet strap. I actually found this one at Walmart for under $100. It’s rated to hold ice for 7-days, and is Grizzly Bear rated.

I purchased a shovel from Home Depot, and mounted it to the Yakima bed rack mount with Quick Fist clamps. I actually secured the Quick Fists to the rack with large zip-ties. Not the way I would like to do it, but it serves the purpose.

Even though the Contico box is bolted to the plywood, I added an eye bolt to each side, and ran a ratchet strap to the tie downs at the front of the bed. This helps hold the plywood down. The other end of the plywood is held down by the ratchet straps holding down the cooler.

I have an additional 6-gallon Igloo water cooler that’s held in place on the right side of the Contico box by the ratchet strap on that side of the box.

Since the Ranger doesn’t come with rear tow hooks, I added a receiver shackle.

For more photos of this setup, click HERE, or on the photo above.

Interior Stuff:

In the inside I added an Arkon adjustable tablet mount that clamps on to the console, and holds my Samsung 10-inch tablet. The tablet is crucial because I use it with the Gaia GPS app to navigate the Trans America Trail.

You’ll also notice an in-cab camera and a cell phone windshield mount. I use the cellphone mount so I can use my cellphone to record videos of my adventures. The in-cab camera constantly runs, and is more for capturing the unexpected.

I also use a GoPro suction mount for my action camera on the windshield, but it’s not shown in the photo.

The Ranger comes with (2) USB ports in the console, (2) on the back of the console, as well as a 110-volt outlet for me to plug in my phone, tablet, laptop, and any other electronic devices that I need to charge.

My Thoughts About The Truck:

Overall, I absolutely love this truck. I’m really going to hate to give it back at the end of September. It’s a great 4×4 truck, with nice styling and a comfortable ride. It has come a long way from the last Ranger built in 2011. I think the average consumer will love the style, performance, and durability of this truck.

The Trans America Trail:

In 2019, I traversed the entire Trans America Trail in this 2019 Ford Ranger. See the story HERE.

How Has It Performed:

I’ve subjected this Ranger to an off-road park, sand dunes in New Mexico, and the Trans America Trail.

In fact, I drove the Ranger 1,861 miles off pavement on the Trans America Trail, and subjected the truck to a variety of rough terrain. I found myself driving on dirt, rocks, over rocky ledges, through sand, mud and heavy wet snow, as well as through and over brush and downed trees. I’m not aware of anyone that has ever completed the Trans America Trail in any Ford Ranger, and I’m definitely the first to do it in the all-new Ranger. I doubt that there’s any 2019 Ford Ranger out there right now that has been subjected to what this Ranger has been subjected to.

Not only did the Ranger perform great, but it did so comfortably. I wish I still had this Ranger when I tackle the Continental Divide from Mexico to Canada in 2021.

I’m not the average consumer. I’m an off-road enthusiast that likes to travel to remote areas, and drive on roads that can barely be classified as a road. I don’t have any complaints about the truck, but I was disappointed that the FX4 has an open front differential, and not a limited-slip. This caused me a little difficulty in some heavy wet snow on the Trans America Trail, but I was able to overcome it.

While this truck is satisfactory as a 4×4 truck, I feel that Ford needs to offer an off-road package that competes with the other mid-size trucks on the market. And if Ford thinks the FX4 is sufficient, they should ask themselves why other manufacturers are offering more.

The Numbers:

Ford loaned me the 2019 Ranger from March 2019 until September 2019. During that time I put 26,000 miles on the truck. Most of those miles were on the Cooper Discoverer STT PRO tires provided by Cooper Tire. I traveled 5,397 miles crossing the Trans America Trail, and spent 2,341 of those miles off pavement. I also put some time and miles on the Ranger at an off-road park in Texas, Ohio, sand dunes in New Mexico, and National Forest lands in Arizona.

Photos / Videos / Adventures:

Want to see more details, photos and videos about the adventures this Ranger has been on? If so check out:

The ‘Loan Ranger’, and 2019 Ranger Adventure

The Loan Ranger On The Trans America Trail


Want to see more photos of the  Ranger and its adventures? Check out:

More photos:

Want to see more photos of the  Ranger and its adventures? Check out:

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Follow Jim Oaks:

As a Ford Ranger enthusiast who enjoys modifying my Ford Rangers for off-road use, I quickly discovered that there wasn’t any websites dedicated to the subject. So in 1999, I created What started as my own personal desire to help other Ford Ranger owners, has grown into a wealth of online information from numerous contributors. 20-years later, my commitment to the Ford Ranger, and the Ford Ranger community, is as strong as ever.

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