This FX4 is my third Ranger, and my favorite. My '86 and '93 were good 2WD trucks, but nothing special. This fully equipped off-road version is well thought out and a pleasure to drive!
The biggest improvement to comfort is the lumbar adjust bucket seats. The Bilsteins make the ride very smooth on and off-road. The 4.0 winds up to 5600 rpm and sounds sweet, passing power is good.
I chose four wheel drive because I tow a 20ft. sailboat around the state of Florida and some boat ramps are difficult to pull up. Limited slip rear would have been enough, but 4WD seemed like it would be fun and came with better seats which are nice for long road trips. Towing is no problem at all with this truck! And four wheel drive lets me use any ramp I find even if it is covered in sand.
As for off-road equipment, it is hard to beat this package from any manufacturer. 31x10.5x15's on forged alum wheels are stock. Great articulation helps climb hills and ruts with no problem, but a noisy mud tire would help instead of all terrains BFG's (factory) which are surprisingly quiet. Three skid plates and a torque sensing limited slip are great factory equipment.
Of course a little more power would be nice, but there's no need to back down from full size pickups at a traffic light. Five speed auto and 4.10 gears do the trick! The auto is really smooth and works well with the higher revving SOHC engine. Tires will spin if you stomp it, lots of fun!
Folding back seats are small, but all that rides there are guitars and amp. Interior is plain, but so what? The view is great out in the woods. Sound system is clean and fairly loud.
My previous two Rangers had the five speed manual tranny, I will not buy one of those again for towing (slave cylinders failed). Four wheel drive hurts mileage, I can get 17.5 around town unless I go off-roading on the way home from work (I have a hard time behaving like an adult in this truck).
It has 30k miles now, and do not plan to buy the extended warranty. It is as reliable as my others. I'll just buy the service manuals, I plan to keep this one after it is paid off.
I rated it an 8 for performance not because it runs a fast quarter mile, but because it does everything else so well. Driving the interstate or in deep thick sand, I just point it and go. I did get it stuck once in a steep mud hole soon after I got it, so until I change tires I'll just avoid that particular hole! Practice and experience has prevented a repeat, plus I bought a portable air pump so I can air down before I get stuck.
Running costs are not as cheap with 4WD, but my mileage is better than most any other I talked to. Tires and regular maintenance of the extra differential and transfer case will add up, but it was at least $8000 cheaper than a comparable F-150 and I got zero percent financing.