Ford Ranger FX4 vs. Hummer H3 vs. Toyota FJ Cruiser - Ranger-Forums - The Ultimate Ford Ranger Resource


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Old 03-16-2010
RangerMarsh's Avatar
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Icon10 Ford Ranger FX4 vs. Hummer H3 vs. Toyota FJ Cruiser

Tonight me and a couple buddies decided to go out for some late night wheeling up in the hillsides near Colorado Springs. It was my first time testing out the capabilities of my new-to-me 02 FX4. Sorry I have no pics, I don't have a camera besides my phone and it was way too dark to get anything worth looking at anyways.

My FX4 doesn't have much in terms of performance or wheelin' upgrades (yet). Just the basics that come along with the FX4 package. Sean's H3 isn't an Alpha, but is more than capable for most trails nearby my school. His 4Low and traction control is impressive, though. Lastly, Jim's FJ is (unfortunately) the most built of the 3 vehicles. It's all blacked out, 3 inch lift, wheel spacers, oversized tires, rear lockers, etc etc. F*cking Junk right! Lol.

Sean led, because he was most familiar with these trails, followed by Jim in the FJ, followed by me! We started off with some easy warmup stuff. We then got into some areas where deep mud had dried over, leaving deep wheel tracks in the dirt. The H3 and FJ cleared it, and I was a little worried at first, but should have known better. After all I drive a Ford. Cleared it fine. We got into some really steep, nasty areas. I need a new battery, and almost killed it a time or two. Luckily, switching to 4L on my truck is like when Chuck Norris switches to 'kill mode.' I was very impressed with the power and over all capabilities of my truck.

Unfortunately, I was low on gas, so I had to park it and ride along with Sean for the remainder of the trip. As he and Jim have a pretty hilarious rivalry going on between their H3 and FJ, they pushed each other into attempting some pretty ridonkulous trails. I am curious as to whether or not I would have been able to make it up them - but, seeing as how I had kept up fine so far, I like to think that I could.

In the end, no trails ended up going unbeaten. Here is my far from expert opinion on the result in terms of the three vehicles involved.

My FX4 did surprisingly well for not being lifted and needing rear tires badly. The 4Low kicks a$$, and I was impressed with my ground clearance. A lit frame squeaking, etc, but overall, I am happy with what I've gotten myself into.

The Hummer H3 rides significantly better than my FX4. (It's a luxury SUV, blah blah blah). It's traction control is also a really nice feature that helps a lot, especially when traversing down steep hills. Visibility in these things is definitely a downside though. It's tough to see what is over the hill as you begin to come to the top or begin going down. We almost rolled off a hill once because we couldn't see the direction of the trail as we came to the peak! Also, I strongly prefer my dual sticks on the floor shifting system to the the H3's electronic 4wd shifters.

Lastly, the FJ Cruiser. Jim's Cruiser, as much as I hate to say it, is pretty built, and very capable. Even though it has a fat a** and has trouble fitting in some spots, its rear lockers, new tires, and lift make all the difference. It outperformed us on nearly every trail. NEARLY! Not every one. :) But hey, imagine how much more capable my Ranger or Sean's H3 would be with an extra 3'' of lift, rear lockers, and new tires. THAT'S what the real difference was.

Verdict: I still drive a Ford, which means I win.
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Old 03-16-2010
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The ranger is a very capable vehicle stock. Alot has to do with tires. But for the most part comparing vehicles is a moot point unless they are all int eh same price range. Which the ranger is not witht he FJ and H3 especially if they have mods.
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Old 03-16-2010
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Doesn't mean I don't enjoy seeing how my Ranger matches up against vehicles that are 2 or 3x its price. :D
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Old 03-16-2010
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Now, if you put enough money into the Ranger to make it equal the worth value of those other two fancy rigs - you would be riding a beast to conquer any of them trails! :-D
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Old 03-16-2010
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That's exactly what I was thinking! A $30,000 FJ Cruiser vs. a $10,000 FX4 with $20K invested, now that would be something to see. (Not because it would be any kind of competition or anything)
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Old 03-16-2010
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I gave the others brief consideration.......

We went to Bass Pro after church one Sunday and the local Toyota store had an FJ Cruiser and some other junk in front of the place. My wife took a liking to the FJ immediately.

Lawd, those things are HUGE... I sat in it and hated it. Too dang wide. Too dang tall (the one were were in had some kind of Pro Comp lift dealer installed) and too dang difficult to see out of. It might be the cat's meow on the trail -though I've got my doubts because of the overall porkiness of the thing- but I wouldn't want to drive one off-pavement.

The Chevy store across the street from the Ford place where I bought my Ranger had a Hummer H3 and it seemed a little more right, size-wise, than the rotund feeling FJ. It was still darn difficult to see out of. And essentially, it is pretty much a Colorado that you can squeeze big rubber on. It was also nearly three times the price that I paid for my Ranger which had lower miles on the clock and proof that sheduled maintainence had been done on time.

I've been on trails where the porky FJ would be a damned tight fit and plenty of others where its girth limits you to one line over a challange on the trail, where you might have more than one with a trimmer vehicle. Personally, I'd rather have the Hummer H-3.

Actually, I'd rather have the Ranger that I bought. While its dirt cheap price was attractive, I could afford the FJ or the H-3 if I wanted one bad enough. Once I found my Ranger, I found I wasn't interested in those other rigs.

Yeah, I might not want to go over the Rubicon in my Ranger, but I expect it'll set its tires on some of it, eventually. Even if it doesn't, with the money that I saved by going Ranger instead of opting for one those other rigs, I've got enough left to splurge for a Rhino, Prowler, or some other UTV, or maybe a nice quad ATV for the "hardcore" stuff.

-JP
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Old 03-16-2010
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I agree Jerrold. The FJ is like a weird round monster. Granted, we were on some good wide-open trails, which allowed it to excel. However, it's obvious that in any kind of tighter situation it is definitely not the vehicle to have. The H3 is definitely 'cool', but visibility is so awful. IMO the Ranger is clearly the better investment, at least for somebody in my circumstances and using it for what I do, etc.
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Old 03-16-2010
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You wouldnt have to invest 20k to make your truck better.
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Old 03-16-2010
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Those FJs are beast, my cousin has one of the Trail Teams edition ones, super nice. You can pretty easily build a Ranger up. Older TTB model, 5 grand and the know how can have a very capable trail rig.
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Old 03-16-2010
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5 grand is on the pricey nice side too. You could SFA your ranger and get wheels and tires for under 5 if you watch for deals
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Old 03-16-2010
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Yep, you sure could if you get the right deals. You could also spend much more than that too lol. Depends how far you want to go with it.
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Old 03-16-2010
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Lol yeah by no means would I ever consider dropping 20K into my Ranger (even if I could)
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Old 03-19-2010
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I don't need no stinkin' mods.... Or do I?

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Originally Posted by RangerMarsh View Post
Lol yeah by no means would I ever consider dropping 20K into my Ranger (even if I could)
I can't see dropping 20 K into my Ranger, either. The H-3 I was considering at the local Chevy store was 33K. I got my Ranger at the local Ford store for 13.5K. So, I reckon if I were inclined to invest an additional 20K in my huntin' and fishin' rig, I'd have simply walked away from the Ranger, walked across the street, and dropped a bigger check down for the H-3.

I guess I'm old school, but I've never been seriously in to the "mod thing." I am probably a victim of my upbringing on that score. The first time I ever saw the Rubicon was from the passenger seat of an Uncle's old Ford MB Flatfender. It had a roll cage, white spoke wheels shod with 10-15 Gates Commando tires, and recovery hooks on the front frame horns. Otherwise, it was military issue. No big lift. No lockers. No huge tires. And the lack of these things didn't keep my Uncle from getting us across the trail without drama and without breaking anything. My dad bought a 73 Bronco new, took it to either Duffy's in Gardena, CA, or Dick Cepek's in South Gate, had them cut the rear fenders and mount white spoke wheels with 10-15 Gates Commando tires on it, and we went everywhere in that thing -includin a couple of trips across the Rubicon and other tougher Sierra trials -in an essentially bone stock Bronco with front and rear Trac-Lock, 3.55 r&ps in the pumpkins,10-15 LT tires, cut and flared fenders, and a roll bar. No lift. No monster rubber. No lockers. No problem.

Looking at my Ranger, it seems to have plenty of ground clearance to go through some pretty pants-wetting trail challenges. I can't see any need to lift it. Torsion bar IFS might not articulate like a coil sprung SFA set up, but old-school MB's, CJ's, FJ-40's, and so on didn't really have gobs of articulation in stock form, either. In the old days, we cut metal to fit 10-15's, slapped 'em on, maybe put on some HD shocks, put a roll bar in the cab, then when we got close to the dirt, we locked the hubs, and when we got to the dirt, we dropped the T-case into four low and went where we wanted to go. We didn't worry about big lifts, lockers, huge axle articulation, and big rubber that we didn't have.

But for us, off-roading was a necessary means to an end and not the end in and of itself. A whole different mindset -one in which lines are chosen based on the path of least resistance, and not to test the ultimate capability of man and machine.


I went with the Ranger precisely because it looked liked it was up to the task of getting me where I want to go WITHOUT a ****load of modification to make it up to the task.

I think it'll do just fine with little more into it than more aggressive and slightly larger tires on the stock wheels, maybe some Bilstiens when these factory shocks give up the ghost, and I wouldn't mind having a winch and in-cab roll cage made for it. That all might add up closer to 2K than 20K and while it might not impress the gearheads among us, there is no doubt in mind that it'll take me where I want to go without much fuss or bother, if driven with a modicum of care.

JP
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