Review: Behind the Wheel of Ford’s Limited-Edition Ranger Thunder

Ford Ranger Thunder

The Ford Ranger is already one of the top-selling vehicles in the country. But, not one to rest on their laurels, Ford South Africa announced a new derivative into the Ranger line-up with the aim of offering customers an even wider range of features and options. South Africans were introduced to the exclusive limited-edition Ford Ranger Thunder in August 2020 and the exciting new addition came with a raft of unique design and functional enhancements to the much-loved Ford Ranger base model.

The exciting new limited-edition Ranger Thunder adds a sportier and even more exclusive dimension to what is already one of the pickup segment’s front-runners in South Africa. This new model sits perfectly between the Ford Ranger Wildtrak and the Ford Ranger Raptor and is the ideal fit for that buyer who wants a bakkie with a sportier feel but without losing the luxury car feeling that the Wildtrak provides. But what is it like on the road? Let’s get behind the wheel of Ford’s new Ranger Thunder:

Ford Ranger Thunder

Bring the thunder

Derived from the highly successful Ford Ranger Wildtrak, the addition of the exclusive Ranger Thunder brings even greater style, luxury, capability and practicality to the range. Numerous distinctive design features are unique to the Ranger Thunder, starting with a revised honeycomb-style front grille incorporating red accents for the side “nostrils”, which gives this new derivative a distinctly performance-oriented demeanour inspired by Ford’s sportiest models.

This is complemented by black detailing for the side mirror housings, and bold three-dimensional “Thunder” nomenclature at the base of the front doors and on the rear tailgate. The new 18-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels are finished in black which adds to the Ranger Thunder’s assertive and sporty character. Additionally, the integrated sports hoop fitted as standard on Wildtrak models now gains a striking red insert that adds further stylistic flair.

Ford Ranger Thunder

Other notable features of this sporty bakkie include LED headlamps with LED daytime running lights and front fog lamps as standard inclusions. Ford’s Connected Touch Radio (CTR), with an eight-inch touchscreen, replaces the smaller four-inch display and entry-level SYNC 1 system fitted to previous Ranger models.

Luxury, inside & out

The Ranger Wildtrak is already renowned for the luxurious feel of the interior cabin, but the Thunder raises the bar even further. The extensive swathes of black leather that adorn the seats, dashboard, steering wheel, gear lever, and handbrake now feature striking red contrast stitching in place of the orange used on the Wildtrak. New front leather seats have been fitted, featuring bold “Thunder” decals embroidered in red.

Aside from the visual enhancements, the Ranger Thunder benefits from numerous practical additions in the load compartment too, including a lockable “Mountain Top” black roller shutter to safely secure goods being carried. There’s also a cargo area management system with a bed divider that allows the owner to easily compartmentalise the available space for securely holding different-sized items. The roller shutter and bed divider make daily practical tasks an absolute pleasure.

Ford Ranger Thunder

Whether it’s keeping your groceries securely stored so they don’t roll all over the bed or safely storing luggage for a road trip, the Thunder’s bed can be enjoyed as an easy-to-use ‘boot’ for small daily tasks and travel or as a practical traditional bakkie bed for rugged tasks like carting furniture, equipment, or materials.

Ranger Thunder models are exclusively available in Sea Grey, Frozen White, Absolute Black and Moondust Silver. The Thunder looks fierce and what’s under the hood follows through to give you an exciting driving experience. As with the Wildtrak and Ranger Raptor, the Thunder is powered by the 2.0-litre Bi-Turbo engine which produces 157kW and 500Nm, and is mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission.

Ford Ranger Thunder

This combination, which benefits from the transmission’s Progressive Range Select (PRS) function (giving the driver the ability to lock out gears from the automatic shifting range), makes the Ranger Thunder ideal for towing or when driving in slippery conditions or climbing steep gradients. Like its Ranger counterparts, the Thunder also boasts an 800mm water wading depth and 230mm ground clearance, which allows the vehicle to make mincemeat of whatever challenge is thrown its way when you’re exploring off-the-beaten-track.

Behind the wheel

In addition to bold design and a smooth drive, the Ranger Thunder also offers some exciting features. The vehicle offers many of the same technologies that debuted in the current generation Wildtrak, including Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB). Additional features available standard on the Ranger Thunder include Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Forward Collision Alert, Lane Keeping Alert, Lane Keeping Aid, and a Driver Alert System.

All these features combined make over-taking, daily commuting and as well as driving long distances in this bakkie an absolute joy. It’s an extremely comfortable bakkie to drive and handles like a luxury sedan (on steroids), giving you the pleasure of driving a luxury vehicle with all the benefits of a rugged pick-up.

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Ford Ranger Thunder

The Ranger Thunder also benefits from Ford’s innovative Semi-Automatic Parallel Park Assist (SAPPA), which takes the hassle out of parallel parking manoeuvres by using ultrasonic sensors on the front and rear bumpers. These help search for parking spaces that are big enough to park the vehicle, and alerts the driver when a suitable spot is found. This bakkie is a beast, so you’d assume parking it can be a nightmare, especially in tight urban spaces, but the parking assist coupled with a rear-view reverse camera made getting it in and out of tight spaces at the mall beyond easy.


All Ford Ranger models come standard with Ford Protect, comprising a four-year/120,000km comprehensive warranty, three-year/unlimited distance roadside assistance and five-year/unlimited km corrosion warranty. A six-year/90,000km service plan is included, with 15,000 km service intervals.

Ford Ranger Thunder

The pricing for the Ranger Thunder is as follows (all pricing includes VAT):

Ranger 3.2 TDCI Double-Cab Thunder 6AT 4X2 – R711,600
Ranger 2.0L BiT Double-Cab Thunder 10AT 4X2 – R736,000
Ranger 2.0L BiT Double-Cab Thunder 10AT 4X4 – R787,000

While the Ford Ranger Thunder comes in more expensive than the popular Wildtrak, it does offer additional features that make the extra investment worth it. Regardless of which Ranger variant you choose, the Ranger line-up is no doubt one of the top choices for anyone shopping for a lifestyle and family bakkie in South Africa.

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