We’ve talked before about how much I enjoy big American cars, they’re one of my guilty pleasures, and the Ford Ranger Wildtrak is certainly in that category. But, if we strip away my shiny metal-tinted glasses, is it really good?
The Ford Ranger had been an American staple for a long time throughout the 80’s through early 2000s. It was discontinued in the US & Canada in 2011 but relaunched globally (with the exception of US & Canada) in the same year. In 2018, the huge success of the mid-size Ford Ranger globally led to a revival of production in the US.
The key question here is, do trucks work outside the United States? Well, facts are facts and since 2011, the Ranger has vastly increased its presence on the European market, making it the best-selling pickup truck in the UK with almost a third of all pick-up sales.
In the past, you only bought a pick up if you were a tradesman or farmer. They were functional machines that were used to haul heavy things. But now they’re a comfortable alternative to a van that, thanks to favourable tax rates, are heavily in demand as lifestyle vehicles. Heck, even Mercedes are making a pick-up truck!
The first impression of the Ford Ranger Wildtrak is it’s big… by UK standards, and on UK roads, it’s very big! The Wildtrak version is a double cab, so it has a full five seats and four doors plus a sizeable load bay. Great for towing around your friends, your family and half of their house. But, if you’re going to the shops, unless you have a trunk fitted on the load bay to hold smaller items, they’re going to be rattling around that load bay, so the eggs you just bought will be very scrambled by the time you get home! The Wildtrak edition comes with a 18-inch alloy wheels, black grille and exterior trim and other punked-up body kit additions. I won’t lie, I think it looks awesome!
The bonus of the size, and height, of the Ford Ranger is the driving position. The word “commanding” was invented for this position. The sense of total control you have when driving the Ford Ranger is great. People just see you coming and get out your way. I was driving down a road and a small compact car coming in the other direction saw me coming and nearly drove into the bushes to try and get out of my way.
Don’t think either that it’s so big as to be unwieldy to drive. Yes, it’s true, the UK has a lot more corners and winding roads than our American cousins’ penchant for straight lines, but with a reversing camera and front & rear sensors, manoeuvring the Ford Ranger is easy! Of course, even though it is easy to manoeuvre, you’re never truly parked as either the front or the rear of the truck will be hanging out of any UK parking bay!
The Ford Ranger Wildtrak comes with a 3.2 litre turbo engine that is fun and very torquey. It can achieve 0-60 in 10.6 seconds, a top speed of 109mph, can carry 1081kg in the back and can tow 3500kg! On top of those impressive figures, it averages 32mpg but can be set to 2WD only using a manual switch to improve your fuel consumption. Also, there are low range gears, assorted diff locks and hill descent control to help with any off-roading. However, when you’re not carrying any loads in the back, the driving experience can be very bouncy when you go over any ruts or uneven surfaces. But for sheer driving power and grunt, it’s a lot of fun!
The Ford Ranger Wildtrak version comes with a good range of technologies including traffic sign recognition, adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation system and lane assist. The on-board entertainment system also gets an upgrade to the Ford Sync 2 infotainment system, which isn’t my favourite of modern infotainment systems but there are far worse you can get and while being a little slow and plain to look at, it’s easy to use and is laid out in a user-friendly manner.
The interior has comfy leather seats that are electrically adjustable and heated. The dash is well laid out and is simple to use, I especially like that at night you’re bathed in a cool blue glow from the subtle LEDs. However, you’re quickly reminded that you are in a truck pretending to be smart as you do not have to go very far at all before you find some “scratchy moments” from the basic plastics that are used on this rugged dash. The rear seats are comfy too with good legroom.
The rear passengers benefit not only from a 12v socket, but also a proper mains-style socket too, great for real world applications and I don’t know why more car markers put these in their cars, far more practical than a 12v socket. But the one thing that I always struggle with on such high cars is that you literally have to climb up into the car. Fine for the able-bodied, younger people, but if you’re picking up elderly relatives, it’s going to require some ungainly shoving to get them on board!
Did I enjoy driving it? YES, absolutely, how could you not?! It’s so much fun and the position of power you feel when you’re up high is awesome.
Would I buy one? NO, I really wouldn’t buy one. I just don’t understand where it fits in to my life. If I wanted to carry everyday people and things, I’d buy an SUV or an estate car. If I were an off-roader, I’d buy a proper 4×4. If I was looking for a fun, fast drive, I would get a hot hatch. If I were a tradesman, I could buy a Ford Ranger, but I wouldn’t pay £40,000 for the Wildtrak when I can pick up more workman-like entry level model from just £19,000, or I could buy a van!
This I think is the issue, the £40,000 price tag. Like Ford’s other American-import, the Ford Edge, which I reviewed previously, the price point puts it in competition with a higher class of European competitor. And, I hate to say this, but European’s do class and finish a lot better than Americans do. For the same money, you’re talking Volvo XC60, BMW X3 or a Range Rover Evoque!
That being said, what do I know?! It seems I’m in the minority as the ‘lifestyle pickup’ is on the rise as alongside the manufacturers to date, Renault, Hyundai and Peugeot/Citreon are readying their pick-ups for market too!