2019 Ford Ranger Wildtrack Road Test, Review

Passenger cars are feeling less love than a PM’s election promise.

It had been many moons since last I drove a Ranger, so I was looking forward seeing what Ford has managed to shoehorn into an old favourite.

LCVs like Ranger, Colorado, and Triton, now account for a substantial number of Australian vehicle sales.

Unsurprisingly then, Ranger is Ford’s best seller. The company sold 69,081 cars last year of which 42,144 were Rangers. 5,261 were rear wheel drive, with the remainder being full-blooded 4WD models, just as it should be.

Ford shed 11.6% of its sales as a result of much-loved local models being axed. Ranger then becomes their most important product.

There are a plethora of tasty updates including infotainment, engine, transmission and onboard technology.

See our other LCV reviews HERE, HERE and HERE.

See AnyAuto reviews HERE and HERE

Exterior

Wildtrack was previously top of the Ranger tree. The website now shows just 3 models: XLT, Wildtrack, and a rather mean-looking Raptor.

The 2 latter models eschew the solely utilitarian function of the lowly pov-model.

Posh trims are aimed at the man who fancies something other than those dull and uninspiring school-run SUVs, but needs a ute tray. He wants something to pull jet ski or trailer.

Retirees aplenty can be seen trundling down the road at a mere canter, with their holiday home hitched to the back. It is the curse of holiday travel.

Therefore, Ranger has become much more than the sum of its parts. It is sexy and desirable, and very flexible.

It sits high off the ground with 232mm of ground clearance. It is 2163mm wide, 5355mm long, and 1848mm high. Wheelbase is a useful 3220mm, and the ute tray is 1549mm long at floor level.

The tray is covered by a nifty roller-door-like cover. It locks to keeps things nice and safe back there. There is a strap to grab it by when it is fully open. It tends to get caught in everything you store under it but the inconvenience is offset by the fact that you just have to leave it fully open for tall loads. Had covers hinge, and must be removed, usually requiring a good mate to help.

The cosy 4-door cabin is topped by smart set of roof rails. A sports bar unique to Wildtrack sits on top of the tray behind the cabin. It visually finishes off the exterior, and gives the cabin a touch of class.

The look is finished off with a smart set of black 18”wheels with P265/60 R18 tyres. Hallelujah, there is a proper full-size alloy spare wheel within easy reach.

Projector head lights, and LED running lights sit either side of the multi-level grille.

The doors are deeply sculptured with a smart vent detail in ahead of the front doors. Just in case you need them, there are discrete side steps to help vertically-challenged drivers.

There is a choice of 5 colours, with $650 premium for all colours other than Arctic attraction of Frozen White.

Interior

The cabin is access via Smart-Entry keyless push-buttons on the door handles. There is also push-button start, so the key can remain in your pocket.

There is no hiding the tradie roots of Ranger. Surfaces are a mix of soft and hard plastic. Soft, material on the upper dash has a neat stitch detail which does a decent job of imitating leather. The leather covered steering wheel is festooned with controls for active cruise, audio, and menu selection.

There driver instruments include a dual multi-function LCD system.

In fact, much of the technology from Ford’s passenger cars is now included in the LCV range.

The centre stack is topped by a SYNC 3 8” touch screen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. Controls below are zoned in to audio, and climate. These physical controls are repeated within the SYNC 3 menus including climate controls.

The cooled centre console bin is big enough for your water, soft drink cans, or some cut sandwiches.

Seating is leather “accented”, heated, and for the driver, powered as well. There is lumbar support too. With everything adjusted just so, they are incredibly comfortable. Even after a few minutes in the saddle, you get a sense that you want to start the engine, and drive, and then drive some more, and keep going. More about that later.

Rear leg room is not what you might expect.

Most LCVs have the same issue. Remember, Ranger is a work ute, albeit a posh one. The back seats are meant to convey a couple of sweaty apprentices and their tools to a work site. The fact that these utes have morphed in to something more is a testament to changing tastes, and the ability of these vehicles to change with them.

There are storage bins all over the cabin, some of which are not obvious. Handy cup holders and bottle holders are within hand reach.

Ambient lighting sets a mood, and has 7 colours to choose from.

Features

You can tow a combined 6,000kg of which 3,500 can hang off that standard towball. None of the function of the base models has been lost, but the departure angle is 21° because with the towbar in place.

  • SYNC3
  • Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
  • Cooled console bin
  • Powered driver’s seat
  • Dual 4.2” multi function screens8” TFT infotainment screen
  • USB
  • CD player
  • 6 speakers
  • DAB radio
  • 2 x child seat anchor points
  • 2 x front 12v power outlets
  • 230v in rear console
  • Auto lights and wipers
  • Reversing camera
  • Front/rear parking sensors
  • Navigation
  • Auto lights with auto high beam
  • Semi-automated parking
  • eLock read diff
  • 4×4 switching on the fly

 

Drive and Engine

The range has 3 engines, 3 transmissions, and 2 drivetrains.

  • Engine: 2.0L bi-turbo diesel
  • Power: 157kw/500Nm
  • Trans: 10 speed automatic

Our Wildtrack had the shiny new 2.0L bi-turbo diesel.

It is the most powerful engine in the range, and has 10kw more power than the 3.2L 6 cylinder, and 30Nm more torque. 157kw/500Nm is put through to 2 or 4 wheels at the driver’s choice via a new 10 speed automatic.

The new engine is also the most economical, using a mere 6.7L/100k while emitting 177g/km of CO2. With an 80L fuel tank across the range, you might expect over 1,100 from a tank on combined figures. Imagine how far you’d get on the open road.

Around town, Wildtrack was smooth with just a hint of turbo lag. The 10-speed auto is a revelation. Changes are seamless, as we saw in the Mustang a few weeks ago. Under normal loads, it shifts up so that at 60 or 70kph, the engine is idling along, sipping less juice than a Methodist choir. You could easily find yourself in 9th gear at 60.

The slightest pressure on your espadrille give that clever automatic the cue to drop a cog or 5. It could be in 9th one second, and 3rd the next. The driver will feel a slight, but discrete surge in his nether regions.

Then, there is the way it feels on the road. A lot of you are wary of mounting such a formable steed, but fear not. Driving a Ranger is not much more challenging than grabbing granny’s humble hatch for the afternoon.

There is no hiding her portly 2099kg posterior. Despite the heft, and her considerable 12.7m turning circle, it si easy to park. If you’re feeling lazy, Wildtrack will park for you. Watching something the size of a small block of flats park itself is a thing to behold.

If you want to do for yourself, the reversing camera and all-round parking sensors, allow the you to put Ranger into a spot with surgical precision.

Even the local mall is a doddle. The roof-mounted radio aerial lets you know if you’re cutting things a touch too fine. It avoids those less desirable code-brown moments.

Open roads are an absolute delight.

Wildtrack’s superb 10-speed is in top gear much of the time. When it is, the engine is doing a little over 1500rpm. The cabin is spookily quiet, but it is the ride that really surprises.

As good as it is good around town, highway travel is positively luxurious. You have to keep reminding yourself you’re driving something once only found covered in schmutz on building sites.

You waft along in blissful ambivalence, oblivious to the nuisances of the goat tracks masquerading as national roads. You could easily leap the continent in a single bound.

Should you lose you mind and decide a caravanning holiday is just the ticket, sway control will keep embarrassment to a minimum. You’ll still need a modicum of talent once it comes to setting up your trusty camper.

Safety

  • Reverse camera,
  • Parking sensors
  • Active cruise control
  • Active lane controls
  • Speed sign recognition
  • AEB with pedestrian detection
  • Driver impairment monitor
  • Roll-over mitigation
  • Hill descent control
  • Hill launch assist
  • DSC
  • 3 point lap/sash seat belts all positions
  • Belt minder all position
  • Emergency assistance
  • Emergency brake assist
  • Emergency brake light
  • 6 airbags

 

Good Bits

  • Comfortable drive
  • Quiet cabin
  • Loaded with technology

Not So Good Bits

  • Roller cover on tray hard to use
  • Turning circle
  • Some plastics feel slightly cheap

Summary

Ranger is Ford’s favourite fare for a reason.

It looks like it can go anywhere, and it can. It is sexy. It is the strapping young lad of the auto world.

The 4×4 is easy to use, with clever electronics to help the hapless out of horrendous situations.

There is plenty of room inside. Rear passengers might need to be close friends, but every adversity is also an opportunity. Who knows where that short trip will lead?

Steering and ride are gear more to comfort, and that is OK by me.

Sure, chequer-shirted navvies will still buy Ranger. There will always be a market for blokes who want to bang things in to other things for a living. But if you’re not the kind of chap who likes his pipe exposed up on the back for all to see, leave your tools at home and drive Wildtrack for pleasure instead.

If utes sweep you into a sweat of patriotic fervour, you’ll feel right at home.

Facts and Figures: 2019 Ford Ranger Wildtrack

  • Engine: 2.0L four-cylinder bi-turbo diesel producing 157kW/500Nm
  • Transmission: Ten-speed automatic
  • Warranty: 5yr/ unlimited km
  • Safety: Five stars – tested 2015
  • Origin: Thailand
  • Price: from $63,990 plus on-roads

Author: Alan Zurvas

Rating: 7.5/10