Review: Ford Ranger Wildtrak

There's a road across the boggy area from Prosperous to Johnstownbridge in Co Kildare and it is as bad a one as I've driven in any part of the world, including in the high Andes, writes Brian Byrne. So I was very glad last week that I had a Ford Ranger under me as I travelled it. It wasn't by any means a comfortable drive, but at least I had the sense that the car would survive the trip without damage.

It's the latest generation of the Ranger, and the vehicle I was driving was the Wildtrak top of the range. Apart from a number of cosmetic additions, including a cowl behind the back window and a roller-top cover for the bed, it came with the bigger engine than the standard 2.2 diesel, a 3.2 with some amazing luggability.

I've been driving quite a few pickups recently, and enjoying them. The Ranger Wildtrak certainly looks the business, and has the underpinnings to bring its owner to territory which is neither easy nor nice.

There's a thing about 4x4 pickups. You drive them relatively slowly in poor conditions and they will take you wherever you want to go even in difficult places, and back again. It's a different kind of driving.

I suppose you could say the current Ranger is very American looking, and that's fair enough because it's an important vehicle for Ford in that vast land. Certainly, you won't miss one coming towards you.

From inside, there's a really high view, and other traffic is an almost distant concern. Visibility all around is good.

The review car was the double cab version, the one most sold here. It's roomy both front and back, and the only thing you have to get used to is common to pickups, that the internal floor height is high compared to the seat.

Lighting up the 3.2 diesel gave us a quite refined engine noise, given the power of the 200hp unit — you can have the Wildtrak with the 2.2 Durotorq as well, which only mildly limits towing and rugged terrain ability.

The transmission in the review vehicle was the 6-speed manual option, but there is an automatic available. For me, the manual was fine, and I'd expect it to be more useful in difficult conditions. The modes are 2WD, 4WD and low-range 4WD, so there are very few places where it wouldn't be possible to drive this one.

It's a Ford, and there's a lot of technology both for safety and capability, as well as the brand's SYNC connectivity system. The review car also had sat-nav, which worked well, though I was disappointed in the detail when just using the map feature.

(That Johnstownbridge road wasn't showing, though it did when I set a destination to home along it.)

Among the safety gizmos available is the Forward Alert, which can alert you if it senses a potential collision with the car in front and may help avoid an accident. In the event of a too fast approach to the car in front, new Ranger will pre-charge and increase brake assist sensitivity, so even if the brakes are pressed lightly, they’ll automatically apply a harder force to stop you quickly.

The 3.2L TDCi Duratorq offers 470Nm of torque, would probably pull down a small tree.

Depending on the version, Ranger can carry up to 1,403kg and tow up to 3,500kg. Wading depth is 800mm.

The latest Ranger's engines are more efficient than before, thanks to Auto Stop Start and new final drive ratios, plus a new Electric Power Assisted Steering system. Fuel economy and CO2 emissions from 6.5L/100km (43.5mpg) and 171g/km.

Ranger prices start at €29,150 for the base single cab. The review car came in from €45,125.

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