Leisure double cab bakkies don’t get much better than the Ford Ranger Wildtrak and we spent a month with it to uncover what it’s like to live with every day.
Ford Ranger 3.2 4x4 Wildtrak Auto – Quick Specs
Price: R604 900
Engine: 3.2-litre turbodiesel
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Power: 147 kW
Torque: 470 Nm
Fuel Consumption: 9.0 L/100 km
Load Bay Capacity: 938 L
Towing Capacity: 3 500 kg
Since the arrival of the facelifted Ford Ranger in South Africa almost a year ago, we pitted it against its rivals in just about every conceivable way. We have done extensive comparative tests, bakkie drag races, ride quality tests and reviews of the Ranger (visit our YouTube channel to watch all the videos), but the flagship Wildtrak derivative somehow eluded us...
Thankfully, that’s no longer the case and we recently spent a whole month with the Wildtrak to test what it is like to live with and to learn more about the idiosyncrasies of what many people regard the best leisure double-cab bakkie on offer in South Africa. This is what we discovered…
What do we like about the Ford Ranger Wildtrak?
The Wildtrak is not only a capable 4x4, it's rather attractive too.
We think the Ranger Wildtrak tops the styling stakes with its imposing presence and bold face. Not even the new Toyota Hilux can match the machismo of the Wildtrak. There are, however, a number of attractive leisure bakkies that could outshine the Wildtrak when or if they arrive in South Africa, the Mercedes-Benz GLT and Renault Alaskan being the most promising. For now though, the Wildtrak dominates in the looks department.
If looks matter to you, then you can’t go wrong with the Wildtrak!
Also see: Six New Double Cabs to Look Out For
On-road comfort was one of the highlights on a long-distance surf trip in the Ford Ranger Wildtrak.
We took the Wildtrak on a long distance surfing trip from Cape Town to the renowned surfing town of Jeffreys Bay in the Eastern Cape. Our experience highlighted the fact that the Wildtrak is as capable on tar as it is in the dirt and that says much for the Wildtrak. It rides like a passenger car and its suspension provides sufficient cushioning over ragged tar to deliver a smooth and composed drive. There’s no bouncing around in the Wildtrak and during our journey, rear passengers actually commended the Wildtrak for its smooth ride quality, something that’s not usually associated with a double-cab bakkie.
Should you be confronted with a poorly maintained dirt road, or even the worst road you can imagine, you can be confident in the Wildtrak’s abilities. Its ground clearance of 230 mm allows the Wildtrak to tackle terrain where few cars can venture. Coupled with an electronic transfer case and rear differential lock, the Wildtrak’s capabilities are only limited by the driver's judgement and common sense. If you had to choose a 4x4 vehicle to conquer the unknown, the Wildtrak would be a good bet for sure.
We found the partial cloth/leather-trimmed seats to be particularly inviting on our journey up the coast as they provided sufficient comfort and support. The driver’s seat is electronically adjustable with lumbar adjustment and along with the rake- and reach-adjustable steering column, finding the perfect driving position behind the wheel takes little effort. Thanks to the raised height of the Wildtrak, the driver also has a commanding view of the road.
The Ford Ranger Wildtrak proved to be capable surf companion with lots of carrying space in the load bay.
Passengers enjoyed using Ford’s SYNC2 infotainment system with its 8-inch touchscreen. Phones are easily connected via Bluetooth and the driver is able to view infotainment and vehicle information directly in the instrument cluster, using the mounted steering wheel controls to alternate between menus.
By far our favourite feature on the Wildtrak was the adaptive cruise control, which quickly demonstrated its worth on route to Jeffreys Bay. With cruise control engaged, the driver can literally control the speed of the Wildtrak at the touch of a button and it will brake and accelerate back to up speed automatically based on the driving situation. The distance between the vehicle ahead is also easily adjustable using the steering wheel controls. We covered hundreds of kilometres, mostly using this feature and it was simply wonderful.
The Wildtrak's interior is stylish, comfortable and well equipped with features.
The Wildtrak is typically used as a family leisure vehicle and its array of safety features is, therefore, important. Our Wildtrak test unit was fitted with features such as lane keeping aid and blind spot monitoring. A loud beeping noise and flashing red light in the windscreen appears if sensors detect that a front-end collision is about to take place. It’s an intrusive feature, but rather safe than sorry, as they say.
Parking the large Wildtrak was made easier thanks to front and rear park distance control as well as a reverse camera.
It’s also nice to know that the Wildtrak has no less than 7 airbags fitted and features such as ABS with EBD, traction control, stability control, hill descent control and a tyre pressure monitoring system all give the driver added peace of mind.
What don’t we like about the Ford Ranger Wildtrak?
Sluggish engine/transmission combination
We found the Wildtrak to be a bit sluggish at pullaway with an average response low down in the rev range. The engine seems to labour under hard acceleration, but, as the Wildtrak gathers momentum, matters improve somewhat and the engine settles into a more refined thrum.
As you can expect, the Wildtrak 3.2-litre automatic isn’t the most frugal either and we managed to achieve no better than 11.0 L/100km during our test.
Unprotected load bay
An aftermarket tonneau cover or lockable load cover is recommended to keep valuables safe.
With four passengers in the Wildtrak on our journey up the coast, all our luggage, including bags and surfboards had to be packed into the large load bay (938 L). Although there was enough space, our luggage was at the mercy of the weather and rainy weather was threatening to soak everything to the bone. We solved the issue by wrapping our valuables in water-resistant tent covers that seemed to keep everything dry. The potential for opportunistic criminals to swipe goods from the load bay was also a concern.
The Wildtrak isn’t sold with a tonneau cover or lockable load cover and if buyers want to protect their luggage, then an aftermarket solution must be purchased at an additional cost, which is highly recommended.
We enjoyed our time with the Ford Ranger Wildtrak. Even though it was cumbersome to drive in the city, it proved to be comfortable and capable on longer journeys. The capability of the Wildtrak gives the driver lots of confidence on the road and in the dirt. Coupled with its high levels of comfort, the Wildtrak package is an attractive option in the leisure double cab segment.
Buyers who are willing to forego the 3.2-litre engine and unique styling of the Wildtrak may want to consider the recently introduced Ranger 2.2-litre TDCi automatic double cabs. They offer a better balance between performance and economy and we found the 4x4 XLS derivative to be very capable offroad. However, if only the best will do, then the Wildtrak is right up there.
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