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Test Drive: Ford Ranger Wildtrak — Mighty muddy power Ranger

POSTED BY Vishal Bhaskaran ON 03 November 2015

The Ranger’s biggest rival is its predecessor, does it make the cut?

Ford Ranger Wildtrak-14

Wildtrak, I am your father.

This is it: the long-awaited update to the venerable Ford Ranger previewed in Bangkok earlier this year, and we got ourselves the keys to the chief of the stable, the all-singing, all-dancing 3.2-litre Wildtrak packing almost all of Ford’s bells and whistles.

The Wildtrak has garnered its own cult following, being referred to without the Ranger name almost as if it was a model in itself. Everything is Wildtrak something: Wildtrak Orange for the unique colour — its actually called Pride Orange but no one ever calls it that, Wildtrak fabric seats with leather inserts, Wildtrak sports bar, and so on.

Ford Ranger Wildtrak-04

Don’t let that front end deceive you, this isn’t an all new model, rather an extensive update. Such is the extent of the updates though that on more than one occasion we found ourselves hanging on to the door handle waiting for the Wildtrak to automatically unlock, and finding slight disappointment that there was no start button to be found. No matter, these aren’t dealbreakers; on with the ride.

Exterior and Interior

One office scuffle, sorry civil discussion among adults, later, and this writer found himself with the keys to this monstrous white behemoth for the weekend. There are already two pre-facelift Rangers in the Cars, Bikes & Trucks garage, one 2.2-litre XLT and a rarer 2.2-litre Wildtrak. Both writers are now nursing slight depression, comforting themselves only by the subjective but fairly widespread opinion that the truck this Wildtrak replaces is actually the better looking of the two.

Ford Ranger Wildtrak Adam-04

We’re not saying the commanding hexagonal grille feeding into the edges of the smaller headlights with Ranger lettering across the top and a single bar on which sits the Blue Oval below are not good looking, the pre-facelift model just had a more cohesive and less fussy look about it.

Ford Ranger Wildtrak Adam-03

Most trucks claim to be perfect for an active, outdoor lifestyle but the Ranger puts its money where its intake is, sporting a 12V socket and a cargo light for the bed. Its little things like this which make a car more than the sum of its parts, an attention to detail that shows a manufacturer will provide everything a customer wants and then some. The cargo beds short one one thing however, the bed liner doesn’t extend all the way to the edge of the tailgate, leaving an owner exposed to possible scratching or denting the bodywork when loading or unloading cargo.

Ford’s SYNC infotainment systems are among the best in the market, and the SYNC 2 found in the Ranger extends the usual plethora of features to include reading aloud of text messages. Our only issue with the 8-inch touchscreen is the pressure required for it to respond and how easily it collects fingerprints, looking like a crime scene by the end of each day.

Ford Ranger Wildtrak (KKB)-01

The dashboard as a whole looks like it has no business being in a pickup truck, plasticky though it may be the silver-coloured door handles and air-con vent surrounds add a touch of class while Wildtrak orange double stitching on the dash, gear lever boot, and seats make for a commendably premium feel.

Overall cabin experience is good too, spacious and far above the standard level of comfort found in this type of workhorse.

Performance

While the 2.2-litre Ranger has seen a power and efficiency bump, the horses and torque of the 3.2-litre remains unchanged at 197hp and 470Nm, however the exhaust gas recirculation in the latter has been improved for a slight reduction in fuel consumption.

Ford Ranger Wildtrak-09

No one buys a 3.2-litre Ranger to be efficient anyway, the feeling point here is that you can put your foot down anywhere in the rev range and get knocked back in your seat and with six gears in the auto ‘box, the Ranger benignly shifts through without any dragging; in fact with gentle driving there was barely any revving above 2,000rpm.

An impromptu drive up Kuala Kubu Baru allowed the Ranger an opportunity to show off its long-distance class, and unlike the instability and lack of body control that usually plagues pickup trucks; at high speeds the Ranger was planted and stable. Up in the mountains we even used it as a camera crew support vehicle, further demonstrating its versatility.

Ford Ranger Wildtrak Adam-00

Piloting the Ranger lends a sense of indomitable fearlessness bar one situation in this writer’s time with it: parking it in the Bangsar Village II basement. Despite having to squeeze from time to time in spaces that seem determined to leave it with scrapes on the sides and on the roof, Ford’s electric power steering lightens up the wheel considerably for ease of movement.

The Ranger is big, pushing the limits on length and width and by our extensive research, the second longest, second widest and second tallest pickup truck in Malaysia, pipped to first in all three by different trucks. Size of course is not the be all and end all in this segment; the biggest is not necessarily the best.

Its when we get to safety that the Wildtrak really leaves the competition in the dust, no other pickup truck available in Malaysia — or any other car at this price point for that matter — comes with such luxuries as lane departure warning and assist, forward collision warning, distance indication with alerts, and adaptive cruise control.

Ford Ranger Wildtrak-08

Verdict

Ford has outdone itself yet again, the Wildtrak leaving us with a strong, unexplainable feeling that every household should have a pickup truck, especially one as refined and well-mannered as this. This is a car disguised as a pickup truck, and by no means is that an erosion of the purpose of the Ranger. For work and play, the Ranger just delivers what is being asked of it.

Ford Ranger Wildtrak Adam-08

In totality, everything we like about the Wildtrak makes it more appealing to the city-dweller but no less capable for the rough stuff, and consider this: everything you see here can be yours for circa-RM135,000 or about the price of a well-equipped C-segment sedan. If you were on the fence before about whether to go for a conventional passenger car or this, go for a drive in it.

To sum up our incredibly positive experience with it, we leave you with this: the pre-facelift Ranger was good, but this one is great. Go go power Ranger.

Ford Ranger Wildtrak Adam-02

Specifications of the Ford Ranger Wildtrak:

Engine: 3.2-litre TDCI in-line five

Transmission: Six-speed auto with electronic-shift-on-the-fly

Max Power: 197hp at 3,000rpm

Max Torque: 470Nm from 1,750rpm – 2,500rpm

Safety features: ABS with EBD, ESC, emergency brake assist, hill descent control, hill launch assist, rollover mitigation, trailer sway assist, lane departure warning and assist, forward alert and collision mitigation by brakes, distance indication and alert, ISOFIX child restraint mounts, MyKey, six airbags.

Price: RM136,154.24 OTR with insurance, five-year/200,000km manufacturers+extended warranty whichever comes first.