TELL ME ABOUT THIS CAR
Australia’s love affair with the ute has changed. Where we once turned to two-door versions of the Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore, today’s ute of choice is the dual-cab pickup. Demand for these more versatile utes is booming, and not just for tradies – a stronger focus on comfort, luxury and safety has seen pickups morph from rough-and-tumble workhorses into the primary family car for many Aussie families. Case in point is the Ford Ranger Wildtrak tested here, which sits at the top of Ford’s ute range thanks to unique styling upgrades, boosted equipment levels and a circa-$60K price tag.
- Unique styling. Wildtrak versions of the Ranger score different bumpers for a more muscular appearance, plus 18-inch alloy wheels, sidesteps and Wildtrak badging. Inside the cabin feels more passenger car than stripped back work ute thanks to comfortable (and heated!) cloth seats that score lashings of leather, a larger 8.0-inch central touch screen and a new instrument cluster with customisable screens either side of the speedometer.
- There’s plenty of equipment too. Ranger was one of the first utes in its class to offer advanced safety systems like adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and a lane departure warning system as part of an optional tech pack. A reversing camera is also standard, as are parking sensors front and rear, plus a lockable hard cover for the tray and multiple USB and 12-Volt ports.
- It’s decently refined. Ford has added more sound insulation to the Wildtrak and worked hard to ensure it feels just as comfortable on suburban streets as it does on the worksite. And while it can sound gruff and utilitarian at low speed, the Wildtrak is impressively quiet on the freeway.
- The handling is impressive too. The Ranger’s smooth electric steering, which is light while parking but firms up at speed, is one of the best in its class. And the 3.2-litre five-cylinder diesel engine is strong and powerful enough for easy overtakes. Sure, it’s no sportscar but the Ranger’s handling is predictable and the suspension does a decent job of soaking up bumps.
- It’s capable off-road thanks to standard low-range gearing, a lockable rear-differential, hill-descent control and an 800mm wading depth, which is one of the best in this class.
- Cost. At $60,090 for six-speed automatic version, the Ford Ranger Wildtrak is one of Australia’s most expensive utes. We’d strongly recommend considering the Ranger XLT, which scores most of the Wildtrak’s equipment upgrades and 3.2-litre diesel for a lower sticker price.
- While the refinement is good for this class, the Ranger isn’t as polished as a conventional SUV or station wagon, especially in city traffic where the diesel engine is noisy. The ride can also be fidgety and unsettled without a load in the back.
- Size. In the city there’s no escaping that the Wildtrak is a big and heavy car, which can make parking tricky.
ANY RIVALS I SHOULD CONSIDER?
In terms of styling upgrades, only the Holden Colorado Z71 matches the Wildtrak for visual bling. Other utes to consider are the Toyota Hilux SR5, which while not a direct competitor in terms of spec, is one of the best-selling nameplates in this class. The Volkswagen Amarok Ultimate is also a worthy rival, and trumps the Wildtrak for interior polish, handling and overall refinement.
Click here to read the full review on the Ford Ranger range.