Review: Ford Ranger WildTrak, when adventure meets concrete jungle

(Model | Gallery)

  • The thinking man’s Ford Ranger Raptor
  • Same powertrain as the Ranger Raptor, 213 PS and 500 Nm
  • With more features but RM 55k cheaper

The pick-up segment might be defined by the Toyota Hilux but when it comes to leisure lifestyle trucks, it is the Ford Ranger that is the yardstick.

While the range-topping Ranger Raptor is getting all the likes, we think what you should buy is this Ranger WildTrak, simply because it just makes so much more sense.

Yes the WildTrak lacks the Raptor’s rally-bred styling and suspension (which is a bit overkill for a urban lifestyle truck anyway), but the WildTrak comes with a full suite of advanced driving aids (ADAS), which you will use every day.

You still get the same 213 PS engine and 10-speed transmission as the Raptor, but it’s RM 55k cheaper.

Exterior

If this is a beauty contest, the Ranger wins hands down. It’s also noticeably bigger than its rivals

Other notable features include a 12V/20A power socket in the cargo deck and an Easy Lift Tailgate that makes closing the heavy tailgate as easy as a two-finger operation. The latter was first pioneered by Ford. 

Built quality is spot on. Panel gaps around the car deviated by no more than 0.5 mm, on average. Paint thickness ranges from high-80s micrometers to mid-90s, and remember that this is a well-used demo unit. 

Interior

Just like its exterior, the Ranger WildTrak’s interior sets the standard for pick-up trucks. Never mind lifestyle trucks, the WildTrak’s interior is better than many sedans and SUVs.

Ford has done a better job than even the Mercedes-Benz X-Class, which from our experience in Germany, was so disappointing that we are glad that Mercedes-Benz Malaysia didn't bother with it.

Cabin mood in the Ranger WildTrak is further heightened by the glossy WildTrak-themed plastic trims, contrast colour stitching on the leather seats and leather-wrapped dashboard.

The instrument panel’s analogue speedometer is flanked by a pair of colour LCD multi-information displays, giving it a somewhat Casio G-Shock type of feel.

Purists may not like the lack of tachometer but the display mode has an option to show a simulated analogue tachometer, albeit a small one.

The best part about the Ranger WildTrak's cabin is its sound system, which is better than many sedans and SUVs, never mind pick-up trucks. It's the truck your clubbing mates want to be in. Sound reproduction is clear and powerful, and it supports both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

The seats are firm and supportive but we still prefer the Mitsubishi Triton Adventure X’s, whose front seats have specially designed ‘spinal columns’ to ventilate sweaty backs, and are just as supportive.

Driving performance and handling

With 213 PS, there was never any doubt about its straight line performance. Combine this with its very quiet cabin and near step-less 10-speed torque converter automatic transmission, drivers will have to keep an eye on the speedometer because it builds up speed imperceptibly quick.

Our own tests show a 0-100 km/h time of 9.8 seconds. The more important 0-100-0 km/h is done in 14.4s.

The above was done using the manufacturer’s recommended 210 kPa tyre pressure. Ford also has a recommended 'eco' pressure of 260 kPa, which we reckon could have easily shave between half and three quarters of second off the century sprint’s time, at the expense of lateral grip. 

As a pick-up truck, off-road performance is a given and given its lifestyle truck positioning, we have no interest in scratching the Saber orange paint with dirt.

For most buyers, the only time 4H will be engaged is when driving over a slippery patch of wet grass. Those keen on off-roading are better served by the more utilitarian Ranger XLT.

It might have 213 PS but remember that this is still a pick-up truck and the laws of physics don’t favour trucks.

The steering rack is nicely weighted but with an off-road-biased 3 turns lock-to-lock high ratio gearing, you don’t want to chase Golf GTIs on twisty roads with this. It's perfect for rally cross terrains though, despite the urban lifestyle appeal, thus staying true to its Ford truck DNA.

Given that it’s larger than any of its peers, having a 360-degree parking camera would have been helpful. The turning circle is tight and parallel parkings are not as difficult you might think. If you trust the computer enough, there's also a semi-automatic parallel parking feature, and the Ranger is the first and only truck to have such a feature. The computer does the steering work, you just control the acceleration, braking, and gear selection.

However, negotiating spiral ramps up multi-storey car parks requires a lot of precision from the driver.

Ride comfort

On highways, the Ranger WildTrak is more comfortable than all of its peers except the Mitsubishi Triton Adventure X, which still rides slightly better.

At 110 km/h, we measured the cabin noise level to be at just 63 dB. That’s quieter than many C-segment cars. Thanks to generous use of noise insulation materials (ample rubber seals are found between the front fenders and around the door frames), diesel engine clatter is barely audible inside the cabin. At idle, the cabin registers just 43 dB even with the air-conditioning switched on.

The rear seats are also comfortable enough, with a nice 12-degree incline, which is more generous than many trucks but still slightly poorer than the Mitsubishi Triton’s.

But of course, this is still a ladder-frame chassis vehicle so you will feel the body juddering as you drive over potholes. The upside is that you don’t need to bother about avoiding any potholes.

Otherwise, the suspension is well damped for urban use. This is something that you can comfortably drive from KL to Penang in.

Where it stands tall above the competition is safety. With autonomous emergency braking, lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control, the Ranger WildTrak is better equipped than many other SUVs and sedans, better than even the more expensive Ranger Raptor.

Fuel economy

After driving close to 200 km with a mix of urban and highway driving, the Ranger WildTrak averaged around 9.4-litre/100 km, which is remarkably fuel efficient, dipping to 8-litre-plus/100 km on highways and climbing to slightly below 10-litre/100 km in the city. 

Remember that this engine makes 213 PS and 500 Nm.

Conclusion

With such high levels of features and comfort, there’s no doubt that it’s the best lifestyle truck, if you can deal with its size.

Is the Ford Ranger WildTrak for you? Put it this way, someone who drives a Ranger WildTrak is likely to be having more fun in his/her life, and is seen as the cooler person in the neighbourhood, cooler than someone who owns a Porsche 911.

The person with the Ranger WildTrak is the person that everyone in the office wants to hang out with - the person you want to make weekend plans with. 'Sportscartogether' works too, but it's not quite the same. 

With such good looks, you don’t want to scratch the Ranger’s Saber orange paint by entering the Borneo Safari in this but it’s nice knowing that you can. Afterall, nobody buys a Rolex Submariner to go diving with it.

It’s same with the Ford Ranger WildTrak. It’s a premium lifestyle truck for the cool guy in the office.