The Ford Ranger is the blue oval brand’s top-selling vehicle, and with good reason. Having undergone plenty of local engineering and development, it’s well suited to Australian tastes for a worksite ute. But it’s not just a hardcore dual-cab, as it’s surprisingly easy to drive around town as well as off-road – here’s our review.
What’s the price and what do you get?
In the model line-up, this is the most tricked-up Ranger before looking at the Raptor – which is amazing off-road but doesn’t have as good a tow and payload rating as the Wildtrak. The Wildtrak is a bit more work-oriented, with some ‘play’ mixed in.
Priced from $63,990 plus on-road costs, the Ranger Wildtrak is available with either a 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo-diesel or the brand-new 2.0-litre bi-turbo four-cylinder diesel engine.
For the money, you get a tweaked front bumper and grille, LED fog lamps and power-lock tailgate, 18-inch alloy wheels with 265/60R18 rubber, unique Monument Grey grille, rear bumper, mirrors and Sailplane (sports bar), HID headlights, privacy glass, sidesteps, tray lighting and roller shutter.
There’s also leather trim seats, heated front seats, 230V inverter, cooled centre console, dual-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers, and remote keyless entry and start. Also on board is Ford’s Sync3 infotainment system with an 8.0-inch colour touchscreen, sat-nav, DAB+ digital radio, voice-activated controls and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.
What’s the interior like?
The Ranger Wildtrak feels like a top-spec vehicle with its contrast stitching across the dash and embroidered leather seats. These front seats are comfortable but a little narrow and there’s powered adjustment for the driver only. There’s good storage around the cabin, and the 8.0-inch infotainment screen runs SYNC3 with native sat-nav and live traffic updates as well as Apple and Android connectivity.
The rear of the cabin is simple but good enough for touring with family or lugging work mates onto a worksite – it’s a flexible workhorse indeed.
What’s the space like?
The Ranger Wildtrak gets a standard rollaway tray cover which is great for weather sealing but can be a pain to use, stealing some storage space when opened. You don’t get a tailgate lift assist but the tailgate can be raised and lowered with just one hand, and the sports bar is for looks only. The tray, for those counting, measures 1549mm long and 1139mm between the wheel arches. The rear opening when you drop the tailgate is 1330mm, and the load height is 835mm.
Inside the cabin, things like the cooled centre console are terrific on hot days for keeping a drink and some sandwiches cold. There’s also a ton of storage options for throwing things like mobile phones, iPads, and pens and paper.
What’s under the bonnet?
The Ranger Wildtrak can be bought with the old 3.2-litre turbo diesel five-cylinder engine and the new 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel. For the $1,500 premium, we’d suggest opting for the newer engine with its slick 10-speed automatic transmission.
Despite being smaller, it’s more powerful, producing 157kW and 500Nm of torque. It’s matched to 10-speed auto, and it feels energetic and willing with a smooth acceleration up to the legal speed limit. It’s also more fuel efficient, so it’s a win-win.
What’s it like on the road?
Beyond the new engine, this updated Ranger copped some suspension tweaks and they’ve made a big difference. The Ranger now feels more comfortable and controlled through corners than ever before. But the Ranger is only 2WD on bitumen and mid-corner bumps can still see the rear skip so it won’t be as quick or comfortable as the Amarok.
The Ranger does get low-range though, and, like the Amarok, hill descent control and a rear locker. The tweaked suspension has not only improved the Ranger’s on-road comfort but also its off-road compliance but it’s still not at the same level as the Amarok which has more control when it runs out of travel and then compresses again.
The Ranger can tow up to 3,500kg but only with a genuine Ford tow pack and with a 350kg tow ball download. The vehicle’s kerb weight is 2,246kg while the GVM is 3,200kg and the GCM is 6,000kg. Say you’re towing at the maximum of 3,500kg, subtract that from the GCM and the maximum your vehicle can weigh is 2,500kg. Subtract the kerb weight of 2,246kg and you’re left with 254kg of payload and you still haven’t subtracted the 350kg tow ball download. Meaning, if you tow a trailer weighing 3,500kg, well, you can’t legally drive it.
What about safety?
The Ford Ranger has a five-star ANCAP rating. In the top-spec Wildtrak trim, the Ranger gets plenty of active safety, including AEB with pedestrian detection, traffic sign recognition, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assistance and automatic up/down high-beam. It also gets six airbags with curtain bags reaching into the backseat as well as ISOFIX mounts and more.