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Ford Ranger Wildtrak: Taking a drive on the wild side

By Ghaith Madadha - Jun 13,2016 - Last updated at Jun 13,2016

Photo courtesy of Ford

The range-topping version of Ford’s compact Ranger pick-up model line, the Wildtrak is a thoroughly capable hauler and off-roader with robust performance and high levels of refinement for its segment. An upscale private use lifestyle truck incarnation of a model line and segment rooted in rugged work truck utilitarianism, the Wildtrak adds extensive equipment, convenience and comfort levels.

Hardly the first mixed work and play compact truck, the South African-built Ranger Wildtrak is, however, exceptional in how it combines a rugged sense of charisma, design and desirability with genuine tough workhorse capability. Moreover, the Wilktrak brings to the table a modern driver assistance safety systems, clever convenience and packaging, spacious ergonomics and plenty of mod con features.

 

Distinctive and desirable

 

Driven extensively on two occasions in Dubai and in Jordan through the Dead Sea, Wadi Rum, Petra and Aqaba, the Ranger Wildtrack proved to be the standout star during a recent and rigorous event showcasing Ford’s truck and SUV range. Timed to coincide with Jordan’s Independence Day and 100th anniversary of the Great Arab Revolt, the Wildtrak proved an ideal companion through such varied terrain and conditions.

A much improved and handsome truck when first launched in 2011 and Europe’s bestseller in its segment, the Ranger “T6” generation’s gained a more rugged and assertive aesthetic disposition. Revised since last year, the Ranger’s better integrated bumper, moody heavily browed and slimmer headlights and broad and tall new familial hexagonal grille make it particularly distinguished and charismatic among compact pickups.

In top adventure-wagon Wildtrak spec, the Ranger features a body coloured bumper with matt black inserts, grille and rear bumper, power-folding “titanium-effect” mirrors, aluminium roof rails and integrated aerodynamic cargo bay sports bar. Fitted with standard 265/60R18 footwear and only available with spacious four-door double cab body style, the Wildtrak optionally features an integrated lockable rollback cargo cover for improved convenience, security, refinement and aerodynamics.

 

Torque and traction

 

Lighter and more compact yet more powerful than most competitors’ V6 engines, the Ranger Wildtrak’s sole and range-topping 3.2-litre common-rail injection turbo-diesel 5-cylinder engine delivers 197BHP at 3000rpm and an avalanche of 347lb/ft torque throughout 1500-2750rpm. Driven through a slick optional 6-speed automatic gearbox with electronically controlled manual shifts, the Wildtrak is quick for a 2193kg truck, crossing the 0-100km/h benchmark in 10.6 seconds.

With quick spooling turbos and little detectable low-end lag, the Wildtrak is muscular off-the-line and with a tsunami of torque proved indefatigable and rapid plowing up through sand dunes in Wadi Rum, making effortlessly confident progress in third and fourth gear. Meanwhile on road, the Wildtrak’s engine is eager for a low-revving turbo-diesel, with reassuring mid-range highway flexibility and with a 175km/h top speed, it easily powers through air resistance to higher speeds than less powerful turbo-diesel trucks.

Driven through its rear wheels in normal on-road conditions, the Wildtrak’s four-wheel drive system can be activated on the move at up to 120km/h. With four-wheel drive engaged, the Wildtrak easily coped with rugged and demanding low traction desert conditions during test drive. However a 2.48:1 low gear reduction ratio and optional locking rear differential allow for more extreme, low-traction, incline, crawling and towing capabilities.

 

Refined and rugged

 

Effortless off-road, composed and comfortable on highway, agile through switchbacks and most fuel efficient during the event, the Wildtrak’s high rigidity was demonstrable on quick dirt road, desert and heavily rutted highways. Without any perceptible hint of flex or squeaks, the Wildtrak’s rigid body pays dividends in terms of safety and ride and handling qualities, allowing its sophisticated front and rugged rear suspension to operate with precision.

Refined and settled given its live axle and leaf spring rear suspension, the Wildtrak’s electric steering may not be sportily swift in ratio, but feels precise through narrow winding hill climbs. And combined with relatively compact dimensions and good cabin visibility, it is manoeuvrable in town and easy to place on road. Meanwhile, favourable weight distribution and double wishbone front suspension allow for tidy turn-in.

Well controlled through corners with much less body roll than expected, the Ranger Wildtrack suspension settings seem well-judged for on-road refinement and off-road ability in terms of articulation. Narrow and compact with short front overhang and high 230mm ground clearance, the Wildtrak’s extensive off-road abilities include generous 800mm water fording depth and 28° approach and departure, 25° ramp and 35° tilt angles.

 

Spacious and sophisticated

 

Easily accessible and spacious in all directions inside, the Ranger Wildtrak’s cabin is particularly well refined from harshness and vibrations, and with decent insulation from diesel clatter. Ergonomic inside, the Wildtrack’s rugged two-tone cloth upholstered 8-way electric adjustable seats particularly standout for their supportive yet comfortable contours, padding and bolstering, keeping one comfortable for hours on end. Driving position is alert and upright, with steering rake — but no reach — adjustability. 

A thoroughly capable workhorse, the Ranger Wildtrak can accommodate 1180 litres within its cargo bay, 1007kg payload, tow up to 3500kg and features electronic hill descent control. The Wildtrak also features numerous mod cons including TFT instrument cluster, rear parking camera and front sensors, 240v power socket, A/C and Sync 2 infotainment system with 8-inch touchscreen, mobile phone connectivity, CD, USB socket and voice command functions.

 

Europe’s best selling pickup truck and the only one in its segment to achieve a full five-star Euro NCAP rating as of 2015, the Ranger features standard seven airbags, load adaptive control, emergency brake assistance, electronic stability control with rollover mitigation and side impact door beams. Advanced for its segment, the Euro spec Wildtrak even features optional adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assistance, trailer sway control, traffic sign recognition and forward collision alert and mitigation.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

 

Engine: 3.2-litre, in-line, common-rail turbo-diesel, 5 cylinders

Bore x stroke: 89.9 x 100.8mm

Compression ratio: 15.7:1

Valve-train: 20-valve, DOHC

Gearbox: 6-speed automatic

Driveline: Four-wheel drive, low gear transfer case, locking rear differential

Gear ratios: 1st 4.171:1; 2nd 2.342:1; 3rd 1.521:1; 4th 1.143:1; 5th 0.867:1; 6th 0.691:1

Reverse/final drive: 3.4:1/3.73:1

High/low range: 1:1/2.48:1

Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 197 (200) [147] @3000rpm

Specific power: 61.6BHP/litre

Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 347 (470) @1500-2750rpm

Specific torque: 147Nm/litre

0-100km/h: approximately 10.6 seconds

Top speed: 175kmh

Fuel consumption, urban/extra-urban/combined; 11.4-/7.4-/8.9 litres/100km

CO2 emissions, combined: 234g/km

Fuel capacity: 80 litres

Length: 5,362mm

Width: 1,860mm

Height: 1,848mm

Wheelbase: 3,220mm

Headroom, F/R: 1,022/975mm

Legroom, F/R: 1,058/902mm

Ground clearance: 230mm

Cargo volume: 1,180 litres

Approach angle: 28°

Break-over angle: 25°

Departure angle: 28°

Tilt angle: 35°

Kerb weight: 2,193kg

Payload. Net/gross: 932/1,007kg

Towing capacity, braked/un-braked: 3,500/750kg

Gross vehicle mass: 3,200kg

Gross train mass: 6,000kg

Suspension, F/R: Double wishbones, coilovers/leaf springs, live axle

Steering: Electric-assisted rack & pinion

Lock-to-lock: 3.5 turns

Turning circle: 12.4 metres

Brakes, F/R: Ventilated discs 302x32mm/drums, 295x55mm

 

Tyres: 265/60R18

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