Review: Ford Ranger Wildtrak 4x4 ute

By: Matt Wood, Photography by: Matt Wood

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Ford Ranger Wildtrak 4x4 1 Ford Ranger Wildtrak 4x4 1
Ford Ranger Wildtrak 4x4 2 Ford Ranger Wildtrak 4x4 2
Ford Ranger Wildtrak 4x4 dashboard Ford Ranger Wildtrak 4x4 dashboard
Ford Ranger Wildtrak 4x4 engine Ford Ranger Wildtrak 4x4 engine
Ford Ranger Wildtrak 4x4 payload Ford Ranger Wildtrak 4x4 payload
Ford Ranger Wildtrak 4x4 reverse camera Ford Ranger Wildtrak 4x4 reverse camera
Ford Ranger Wildtrak 4x4 screen Ford Ranger Wildtrak 4x4 screen
Ford Ranger Wildtrak 4x4 seats Ford Ranger Wildtrak 4x4 seats
Ford Ranger Wildtrak 4x4 transmission gear Ford Ranger Wildtrak 4x4 transmission gear
Ford Ranger Wildtrak 4x4 ute tub Ford Ranger Wildtrak 4x4 ute tub

The Ranger has proved a success for Ford Australia both locally and internationally. Matt Wood heads bush in the top-of-the-line Wildtrak and gets it only a little bit dirty.

Watch the video review

These days the sedan-based ute seems to have been relegated to suburban show-pony status rather than a covered-in-mud-and-glory workhorse.

A good example of the modern breed of ute is the Ford Ranger. The Australian-designed, Thailand-built Ranger has been kicking goals for the blue oval mob since its launch in 2011.

The top-of-the-tree Ranger Wildtrak 4x4 gives oomph with a touch of class and a staggering myriad extras. These include satellite navigation, electronically-controlled heated leather seats, a leather-clad steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, 18-inch alloy wheels, bluetooth connectivity, side steps, reversing camera, fog lights, body kit, privacy glass, voice activation for audio, phone and climate…The list goes on.

 

FORD RANGER WILDTRAK 4X4 ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION

Ford Ranger Wildtrak 4x 4_engine

The Duratorq engine is the powerplant of choice for the Ranger Wildtrak 4x4. This unit puts out 147kW and 470Nm of torque which puts it in second place only to Nissan’s 170kW 3-litre V6 Navara in terms of power in this class of ute.

My silver Wildtrak was a 6-speed automatic model. The Duratorq TDCi diesel is reasonably refined, low-speed chatter makes it clear that you’re indeed driving a diesel and there is some induction noise apparent but the whole thing calms down as you get some motion up.

The auto, however, does seem a reluctant participant at city speeds, given the ample amount of torque on hand from the 5 cylinder donk.

The transmission feels as if it needs a load on its back to really get it to wind through the gears decisively. A bag of cement in the back perhaps?

Once out on the open road the Wildtrak really shows its stripes. At highway cruising speeds the Ranger has surprisingly good manners and the Duratorq powerplant pushes the hefty 5.3m long, 2,200kg ute up hill and down dale with ease.

 

FORD RANGER WILDTRAK 4X4 CONTROLS

Ford Ranger Wildtrak 4x 4_dashboard

The Wildtrak has four- wheel drive on the fly which is selectable using a dial on the console: four high, four low and the diff lock are all in easy reach from the driver’s seat.

All of the modest off-road climbs I made were sure footed and easily controlled.

Ground clearance is 237mm and the side steps help keep any nasty impacts away from the sills, with Ford are claiming wade-ability of up to 800mm.

The reversing camera is handy for parking in a shopping centre car park but its bird’s eye view of the tow hitch makes hooking up a trailer solo very easy indeed.

 

FORD RANGER WILDTRAK 4X4 PERFORMANCE

Ford Ranger Wildtrak 4x 4_3

The 18-inch alloys soak up the bumps on rough bitumen without much in the way of thud and rumble transmitting through the interior or kicking back through the steering wheel.

But where I was really impressed was the way the Ranger handled on the dirt.

On unmade roads the Wildtrak floated along nicely, well planted on the road and behaved predictably on corrugated and uneven surfaces. Not only that, I could still hear the music that I was streaming from my iPod.

Just in case of the unexpected, stability control helps prevent things from getting too out of hand.

 

FORD RANGER WILDTRAK 4X4 LOADING

Ford Ranger Wildtrak 4x 4_ute Tub

The load area with its roll-away shutter cover resembles more a cavernous boot than a ute tub. But, it will take a tonne if you can squeeze it in; the Wildtrak tub also has a plastic tub liner and a handy 12-volt power outlet.

However, the high sides of the ute tub do make it a struggle to lean into the tub and grab something, especially tools. If it’s up the front of the load area chances are you’re going to have to jump up onto the tailgate and reach in.

While this may not be a deal breaker it is an annoyance. I was however, able to comfortably throw a couple of bales of hay in the back as well. In fact, using the built-in tie-down points you’d be able to stack up quite a load if you wished.

 

THE VERDICT

For work, the Wildtrak may not be the most sensible option. At nearly $60,000 plus on-road costs for the auto version, or $2,000 less for the 6-speed manual, this ute doesn’t come cheap.

But if you’re willing to forgo some of the options there’s always the XLT and even the XLS models which will go easier on the wallet.

However, as a dual-purpose vehicle the blinged-up Ranger shows that it can handle the country/city divide with ease. It’s a classy, stylish, yet practical bit of gear; sort of like Nigella Lawson in gumboots.

 

FORD RANGER WILDTRAK 4X4 HITS

  • Grunty Duratorq engine sounds like a truck, goes like the wind
  • Proabbly the best-looking pick-up on the market
  • Well-appointed, bloody luxury, rides well on bad roads

FORD RANGER WILDTRAK 4X4 MISSES

  • Auto transmission is a bit indecisive without a load on board
  • It’s big, at 5.3m long it has the turning circle of a fishing trawler
  • High-sided ute tub makes access awkward

 

FORD RANGER WILDTRAK 4X4 SPECS:

MAKE/MODEL: Ford Ranger Wildtrak

ENGINE: 3.2 litre in-line 5 cylinder turbo diesel.

POWER/TORQUE: 147kW/470Nm

TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual (6-speed automatic optional extra)

SEATING: 5 including driver

ANCAP RATING: 5 stars

TARE WEIGHT: 2,200kg

PAYLOAD: 1,000kg

TOWING CAPACITY: 3,500kg braked (for vehicles manufactured after November 2012)

FUEL EFFICIENCY: 8.6l/100km average during testing.

 

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