Ford is on ‘trak’ with the latest incarnation of its popular pick up
The Ford Transit Custom already enjoys quite remarkable levels of market dominance in its class and with the Ranger Wildtrak the manufacturer is looking to repeat the trick. Indeed, as Europe’s favourite, the vehicle is already ahead of the rest of the pick-up pack and, when you get behind the wheel, it’s easy to see why. The level of interior refinement, performance and off-road prowess betrays a brand that’s at the top of its game, and one that’s increasingly blurring the boundaries between SUV and commercial vehicle.
We were given the opportunity to drive a selection from the range at a Ford event at the Belfry Golf Resort, as well as at an off road track at the impressive Avalanche Adventure centre in Leicestershire, where there was no chance of the vehicle getting stuck in the rough.
Spoilt for choice
Even before you get behind the wheel, however, first impressions are of a truck that stands as proud as a prize fighter, with a prominent new grille and headlight design, complemented by sleek lines flowing through the bodywork – all stood on a choice of alloy wheels up to 20in. With the option of a 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel engine – delivering 600Nm of torque and 240PS of power – it will equally pack a punch.
That powertrain develops a theme that is evident wherever you look in the Wildtrack range – and that’s choice. The Ranger is available with Single-Turbo and Bi-Turbo 2.0-litre Ford EcoBlue diesel in-line, four-cylinder engines, for example, whilst the 170PS Single-Turbo option features either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission.
Whilst you’re not likely to be in the market for a pick up in order to make huge fuel efficiency gains, the latter is a model that balances the power, torque and fuel economy requirements of small business owners. Similarly, the 205PS Bi-Turbo engine is a higher performance variant for drivers who want more power but need to maintain fuel economy and is available with a ten-speed automatic transmission. The gear change on the auto shifts smoothly enough and the high driving position is welcome.
Towing capacity is a very builder friendly 3,500kg whilst a hydroformed front-end structure creates more space in the engine bay for the new V6 engine. This opens up the front to allow more airflow to the radiator keeping running temperatures low when towing or carrying heavy loads.
A 1,000kg payload and double-cab configuration will satisfy VAT requirements, but the accommodations for the trades don’t stop there. A tougher, plastic-moulded bedliner in the slightly larger cargo area includes extra tie-down points. A nice touch for tradespeople is a tailgate that can be utilized as a mobile work bench, with an integrated ruler and clamp pockets to measure, grip and cut building materials.
Added to that is a new cargo management system featuring dividers to hold various sized items – from timber to toolboxes. Owners also can create smaller compartments to store objects that would otherwise have to go in the cab, using a system of spring-loaded cleats that clip into rails bolted to each side of the cargo bed.
Zone Lighting – controlled via the in-cabin SYNC 4A screen or through the FordPass app – provides 360degree lighting, helping with visibility around the vehicle. Load box lighting is provided under the left- and right-hand rails and provides plenty of light for finishing up jobs in low light or finding items in the cargo box at night.
The interior of the high series variants is dominated by a 12in. touchscreen infotainment console. Thanks to Ford’s latest SYNC 4A system, navigation, communication, and entertainment is voice activated, which means you can be shifting your leather-wrapped gear stick, steering a heated sports-style wheel, whilst sitting in a heated front seat in comfort and safety – as well as enjoying the electronic dual-zone climate control and ambient lighting into the bargain.
As we discovered at the aforementioned Avalance Adventure off-road course, the big screen really comes into its own in easily accessing many of the controls – such as off-road and drive modes – that were previously on the dash. At the same time, when off-road you can keep track of the vehicle’s status at all times, and monitor the driveline, steering angle, vehicle pitch and roll angles. When on firmer ground the 360-degree camera is also a handy parking tool. With a bonnet that sits upright in front of you, front assistance is nearly as welcome as the rear.
The Ford Ranger Wildtrak is also now equipped with a full-time e-4WD system and upgraded chassis and suspension. The e-4WD system features an electronically controlled torque on-demand transfer case. In four-wheel drive auto mode, the system continuously monitors and varies torque between the axles for optimum performance in all conditions. Engineers further improved the Ranger’s off-road performance by moving the front wheels forward 50mm and increasing the track for a better approach angle and off-road articulation. They also shifted the rear suspension dampers outboard of the frame for a better ride both on- and offroad.
Additionally, a FordPass Connect modem enables enhanced connectivity via the FordPass smartphone app to control features such as Remote Start, remote lock and unlock functions, and to view Vehicle Status.
The pick-up supports drivers with a suite of available technologies including first-in-segment Blind Spot Information System with Cross-Traffic Alert and Trailer Coverage. Customers also benefit from advanced driver assistance systems as standard, including Pre-Collision Assist, Lane-Keeping System, and Reverse Brake Assist. All that has afforded the Ranger the award of a 5-star rating by independent vehicle safety authority Euro NCAP.
For further information on the Ford Ranger Wildtrak visit All New Ford Ranger – Robust Pick-Up Truck | Ford UK.