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Review: Ford Ranger Wildtrak - Bigger and better but it comes at a price... literally

Dinesh · Apr 16, 2023 07:19 AM

Review: Ford Ranger Wildtrak - Bigger and better but it comes at a price... literally 01

Someone, somewhere, once said, “Getting to the top is easy, staying there is the difficult part.” Ford nailed the first part with the Ranger T6 back in 2012. Sure, it didn’t break sales records here but it did mark a paradigm shift in the agricultural image of a pick-up truck.

They weren’t just appliances or workhorses for traders, contractors and the like anymore. No, they were suddenly cool and projected an active lifestyle. Ignore the fact that you never actually did any off-roading or used the cargo bed. In fact, people imagined you starring in Point Break.

And you can’t put a price on that.

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Review: Ford Ranger Wildtrak - Bigger and better but it comes at a price... literally 01

It did all that whilst still being a capable utilitarian truck. It might not have been the toughest as you’ll likely never see one running the Borneo Safari but it presented a just balance between work and play.

The Ranger could be taken down to a building site during the week or an off-road trail and it wouldn’t complain but it also looked like it belonged among the valeted cars at a hotel in the city centre with its chiselled yet polished lines. That was its true selling point.

Review: Ford Ranger Wildtrak - Bigger and better but it comes at a price... literally 02

But as the quote prophesised, that’s the easy part. Now came the difficult bit, staying at the top of the lifestyle pick-up segment.

Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2.0 Bi-Turbo 4x4 specs:

  • Price: from RM 168,888
  • Engine: Panther 2.0-litre 16-valve DOHC Commonrail Direct Injection diesel Bi-Turbo
  • Transmission: 10-speed automatic
  • Power: 207 PS and 500 Nm of torque
  • Origin: CBU Thailand
  • Warranty: 5 years / 160,000 km

Review: Ford Ranger Wildtrak - Bigger and better but it comes at a price... literally 03

Exterior

Prior to Ford injecting some serious steroids into the Ranger to birth the Raptor, the Wildtrak trim represented the flagship of the Ranger range and it always looked the part.

From that striking signature shade of tangerine to the unique body trim, the latest Wildtrak continues to stand apart from the rest. After all, for a shade under RM 170k, it better not look like the generic Rangers.

Review: Ford Ranger Wildtrak - Bigger and better but it comes at a price... literally 04

The latest Wildtrak gets plenty of distinct body trims such as a more pronounced front bumper sporting a slight ‘X’ motif on the lower bar, specific grille design, roof rails, side-view mirrors with puddle lamps and 18-inch wheels.

That angular and boxy front end is adopted from its larger American siblings such as the F-150 and represents a radical departure from the previous Rangers that carried curvier front facades. Nonetheless, the boxy lines and that C-clamp DRLs make for an imposing view.

Review: Ford Ranger Wildtrak - Bigger and better but it comes at a price... literally 05

At the rear, there’s not much acreage to play with for pick-ups, leaving most of them looking alike at the derriere. Nonetheless, the Ranger does its best to not be a doppelganger for other trucks.

The Wildtrak emblems should do the trick, failing which, the Ranger wording embossed on the lower tailgate will do it or the Wildtrak-specific rollbar.

Review: Ford Ranger Wildtrak - Bigger and better but it comes at a price... literally 06

Ford incorporated plenty of clever features into the exterior that make it an excellent work truck. The box step built into there rear bumper right behind the wheels make it easy to climb into the bed while the easy-lift tailgate incorporates a neat little spring-loaded hole that functions as a C-clamp mount. This was designed in following observations that customers did use the tailgate as a workbench, so Ford’s designers made it a proper one.

Review: Ford Ranger Wildtrak - Bigger and better but it comes at a price... literally 07

Furthermore, the width of the tailgate was ensured to accept a full-sized Euro pallet as well as standard sheets of plywood. Speaking of the bed, you’ll find two power outlets in there. One being the usual cigarette lighter 12V socket with a max of 180W while the other is a 3-pin socket (home appliance) that delivers 230V and 400W for running power tools or the like.

Review: Ford Ranger Wildtrak - Bigger and better but it comes at a price... literally 08

Interior

If you think the current Rangers look the business on the outside, wait till you step into the cabin.

Taking one out of the Tesla playbook, the massive 12.0-inch infotainment touchscreen is the headlining act in what is a technological Tomorrowland. Almost all the functions and controls are headquartered in it although designers could’ve angled it a little toward the driver.

Review: Ford Ranger Wildtrak - Bigger and better but it comes at a price... literally 09

In fact, the screen is so massive that it permanently carries digital air-conditioning controls at the bottom even though physical controls are present right below it. Almost seems like Ford just wanted a huge screen but weren’t quite sure what to do with it.

Review: Ford Ranger Wildtrak - Bigger and better but it comes at a price... literally 10

SYNC 4A governs the system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connections, voice assistant, an off-road screen and controls for the six-speaker audio. An embedded modem enables communication with the FordPass app.

Review: Ford Ranger Wildtrak - Bigger and better but it comes at a price... literally 11

Said air-conditioning is a dual-zone setup with rear vents. Other bells and whistles include a smart key, push-button start, electronic parking brake ambient lighting and pull-out cup holders. Rear occupants will appreciate the legroom and comfy seats as well as the multitude of charging slots ranging from a regular USB to USB Type-C and the traditional 3-pin socket.

Review: Ford Ranger Wildtrak - Bigger and better but it comes at a price... literally 12

Below the air-conditioning vents, you’ll find the wireless phone charging slot and more USB slots.

Review: Ford Ranger Wildtrak - Bigger and better but it comes at a price... literally 13

The hidden door handles on the inside are cool, if not a fun way to watch passengers panic a little trying to exit.

Review: Ford Ranger Wildtrak - Bigger and better but it comes at a price... literally 14

For the driver, there’s reach- and rake-adjustable steering but no paddle shifters; not that you’ll need them as we explain later. The driver’s seat is 8-way power-adjustable with Wildtrak wording embossed on the front pieces.

Review: Ford Ranger Wildtrak - Bigger and better but it comes at a price... literally 15

Driving information is relayed via the 8.0-inch digital instrument cluster that sees the tacho shimmied into the corner in a bar layout that’s not very intuitive.

Review: Ford Ranger Wildtrak - Bigger and better but it comes at a price... literally 16

Storage is generous with big door bins, a huge centre console box, dual gloveboxes and dual underfloor storage beneath the rear bench. Speaking of which, the rear seat backrest folds down and the base flips up as well. Most pick-ups only do either one.

Review: Ford Ranger Wildtrak - Bigger and better but it comes at a price... literally 17

Completing the cabin is the signature orange trim stitching unique to the Wildtrak and combined, everything makes for the best cabin in a pick-up sold here… bar the Ranger Raptor.

Review: Ford Ranger Wildtrak - Bigger and better but it comes at a price... literally 18

Safety

The Ranger pioneered advanced safety in a pick-up, further improving its appeal to mainstream users.

Here, the trend continues with and extensive package of advanced driver assistance systems:

  • autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with cyclist detection
  • adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go
  • rear cross traffic alert with rear brake assist
  • lane departure warning and centring
  • basic steering assist
  • 360-degree camera
  • blind spot detection

Passive safety comprises 7 airbags. All this adds up to a 5-star ANCAP rating

Review: Ford Ranger Wildtrak - Bigger and better but it comes at a price... literally 19

Powertrain

It’s not an all-new engine as most of us know the ‘Panther’ 2.0-litre DOHC 16V inline-four twin-turbocharged diesel engine from previous Ranger variants. It makes 207 PS and 500 Nm of torque here.

All that power is channelled via Ford’s updated 10R80 10-speed automatic transmission with closer gear ratios to the familiar part-time 4x4 system supplemented by low range, a locking rear diff and hill descent control.

Review: Ford Ranger Wildtrak - Bigger and better but it comes at a price... literally 20

There’s also a first for the trim, a Terrain Management System with Eco, Normal, Tow/Haul, Slippery and Mud / Ruts modes.

Review: Ford Ranger Wildtrak - Bigger and better but it comes at a price... literally 21

Fuel consumption

Ford claims the Ranger Wildtrak will do 7.6L/100km on average. Limited by a mid-week slot that didn’t allow for more driving, we averaged 10.2L/100km over an equal split of highway and town driving.

Review: Ford Ranger Wildtrak - Bigger and better but it comes at a price... literally 22

Those numbers are also close to figures obtained by other international media with the Ranger Wildtrak, so you can expect similar numbers with yours.

Review: Ford Ranger Wildtrak - Bigger and better but it comes at a price... literally 23

Competitors

So, who will have their crosshairs on the Ranger Wildtrak? Fortunately for our favourite tangerine truck, not much.

The flagships of other pick-ups here such as the Toyota Hilux Rogue / Hilux GR Sport, Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain and Nissan Navara Pro-4X are more comparable to the regular Ranger 2.0 XLT Plus on paper with the pricing further reinforcing that fact.

Hence, the Ranger Wildtrak technically doesn’t have any competition in the Malaysian pick-up segment.

Review: Ford Ranger Wildtrak - Bigger and better but it comes at a price... literally 24

Driving

Having first blurred the line between a pick-up and SUV, the current Ranger; even in regular trim, continues to bridge the gap. What more in Wildtrak trim.

Call it bold but the Ranger Wildtrak is the quietest, most comfortable and purposeful pick-up yet.

Review: Ford Ranger Wildtrak - Bigger and better but it comes at a price... literally 25

Ford’s been slowly refining the tuning of its electric-assist steering and it translates into a truck that belies its humongous dimensions. The light steering makes maneuvering the Ranger Wildtrak a cinch in tight spots and city roads. You’ll hardly feel its true footprint, which is the largest by all measurements against the competition. On the highway, it’s equally at home.

If you’re after a pick-up that drives like an SUV, this is it.

Review: Ford Ranger Wildtrak - Bigger and better but it comes at a price... literally 26

No paddle shifters though means you’ll have to fiddle with that infuriating toggle switch on the gear lever to row through your own gears. But with the 10 cogs delivering an almost seamless powerband, you’ll hardly notice them switching up or down with an engine that’s just as eager to make haste.

How much haste you might be wondering? Try a century sprint of 10.14-seconds.

Review: Ford Ranger Wildtrak - Bigger and better but it comes at a price... literally 27

After some time behind the wheel, some initial lag is noticeable from a standstill but the lower gears quickly rifling through their sequence means it’s gone in the blink of an eye.

Ride is once again a segment leader on asphalt. Even with the rear still on leaf springs, it’s plaint and keeps those chiropractor visits at bay. Only on rough surfaces at low speeds and completely unloaded (no passengers or cargo in the bed) can the rear get a pinch jittery.

Review: Ford Ranger Wildtrak - Bigger and better but it comes at a price... literally 28

Conclusion

There’s no denying the Ranger Wildtrak’s breadth of capabilities. It’s one serious work truck that’s as close to any family SUV in terms of driving and ride.

Should you get one? Well, if money’s not an issue… absolutely. Nonetheless, this current Ranger Wildtrak isn’t too far off the previous Ranger Raptor’s asking price and that’s some serious money for a pick-up.

Review: Ford Ranger Wildtrak - Bigger and better but it comes at a price... literally 29

But spend some time in the cabin taking it around and you’ll know that all the money went into making it the best work pick-up here.

We’re a little cautious on the off-roading part as we didn’t get the opportunity to wheel it around in some mud or trails but rest assured, it’ll take on most of them without fuss. Bear in mind though that if you’re looking for something that’ll take an absolute beating on hardcore trails, maybe something without as many electronics is a better option.

Dinesh

Writer

“Better late than never.” Some despise it, others begrudgingly agree with it but he swears by it… much to the chagrin of everyone around him. That unfortunately stems from all of his project cars not running most of the time, which in turn is testament to his questionable decision-making skills in life. A culmination of many wrongs fortunately making a right; much like his project cars on the rare occasions they run, he’s still trying to figure out if another project car is the way to go.

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