By Otsile Kadiege
Ford’s Ranger is now in its sixth generation and for 2019, the popular locally built bakkie has received a few tweaks to its exterior, interior and has seen the introduction of powerful yet fuel-efficient engines.
Updates to the exterior are more visible at the front-end. The Ranger Wildtrak has a redesigned front-bumper which comes fitted with LED fog lamps. The new HID (High Intensity Discharge) headlights feature L-shaped LED daytime running lights which surround the newly designed grille that is finished in a dark grey coat. Also new to the revised Ranger Wildtrak is the bonnet which gives the Ranger Wildtrak a more aggressive stance.
The side profile remains unchanged though and to help differentiate the Wildtrak from other models, ‘Wildtrak’ graphics have been placed on the driver and passenger doors and the boot lid. Other differentiating features are the dual-tone Y-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels, a grey coated arch behind the rear window and grey coated power folding mirrors which are fitted with puddle lamps. The rear is dominated by large ‘Ranger’ lettering and a Ford logo which houses the reverse camera. Our test Ford Ranger was painted in the eye-catching Saber metallic paint (R1,220) which is exclusive to the Wildtrak and also helps set the range topping Wildtrak apart from the rest of the range.
The Wildtrak is fitted with side steps and smart keyless entry which makes entering and locking the car much easier. Inside you are greeted by a posh interior though the built quality of the door panels does not live up to the fine quality of the rest of the interior. The Wildtrak makes up for the latter with its comfortable partial leather seats with Saber orange contrasting stitching and front seats which are embossed with ‘Wildtrak’ lettering.
The Ranger Wildtrak uses an 8-inch touchscreen with an intuitive Sync 3 infotainment system which comes standard with Android Auto and Apple Car Play. 6 powerful speakers will ensure occupants enjoy listening to their favourite songs which can also be played via Bluetooth, USB or even CD. The centre console features a new gear shifter which has been designed specifically for the new 10-speed automatic transmission (more on that later), two cup holders and a large storage compartment under the armrest.
Rear seating is comfortable though I would have appreciated reclining seats (Ed – wait, are we still talking about a bakkie here?). On the practicality front, the Ranger Wildtrak has a payload capacity of 860 kg and a tow capacity of 3,500 kg.
New to the Wildtrak is a frugal 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel Bi-Turbo engine (which is not a replacement of the old 3.2-litre TDCI as the stalwart 3.2-litre mill continues alongside it). The 2.0-litre produces 157 kW of power and 500 Nm of torque mated to a new 10-speed automatic transmission.
The Wildtrak’s intimidating stance gave me the impression that it is one heavy bakkie, but surprisingly Ford has been able to mask its weight as the bakkie feels light which makes manoeuvring around town and tight parking spaces very easy. The new 10-speed automatic transmission and ACC (Adaptive Cruise Control) shines on the open road making driving long-distance more enjoyable. The former never misses a bit by making changes accurately whereas the latter removes the hustle of reducing and increasing speed like traditional cruise control functions). The cabin cuts out much of the diesel clutter and wind noise whilst the huge 18-inch wheels soaks up road imperfections well.
Travelling on gravel, the Ranger Wildtrak remains composed and feels surprisingly comfortable considering the terrain we traversed. Rocky and steep inclines off-road are simple to negotiate thanks to its Hill Launch Assist and Hill Descent Control takes care of tricky descents as the vehicle is able to take care of this.
Ford claims a fuel consumption of 7.8L/100km, but we managed a decent 9.6L/100km which may be attributable to some spirited driving due to the test period.
The bakkie segment in South Africa is very competitive with Toyota currently leading the sales chart with its Hilux. Ford’s Ranger is in the second spot and it is not difficult to see why this bakkie is also raking in the sales. It looks good, full of standard features and has solid and frugal engines. Take 2.0 Bi-Turbo Wildtrak 10AT 4×4 HR which is priced from R706,800. The pricing may seem steep but keep in mind that this range topping Ford Ranger comes with all the bells and whistles, and a powerful yet frugal diesel engine.
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