2016 Ford Ranger Wildtrak review
Isaac Bober’s 2016 Ford Ranger Wildtrak review with pricing, specifications, ride and handling, safety, verdict, rating and video.
2016 Ford Ranger Wildtrak
Pricing $60,090 (+ORC) Warranty three years, 100,000km Safety five-star ANCAP Engine 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo-diesel Power/Torque 147kW/470Nm Transmission six-speed manual (standard); six-speed automatic (as tested) Body 5351mm long; 1850mm wide; 1848mm high Angles 29-degrees approach; 25-degrees breaker; 20-degrees departure (towbar) Weight 2200kg Fuel Tank 80 litres Thirst 9.6L/100km
For full specifications and features see Car Showroom
In a nutshell The refreshed Ford Ranger Wildtrak gets some much needed tweaks to the steering and traction control systems to keep it at the head of the pack.
What is it?
When the all-new Ford Ranger arrived in Australia in October 2011 it was a total transformation of one of Ford’s most popular marques, a model that had a 20-year history (although here it was known as the Courier and, in a role reversal was actually based on the Mazda B-Series). For the first time in that vehicle’s history, buyers in Australia would be getting the same vehicle as buyers in the UK, Europe, Africa, Asia and South America… it was, and still is, the only Ford pick-up to be built under the brand’s One Ford strategy. Indeed, it was the first time the Ranger/Courier would be a Ford product and not based off a Mazda vehicle; instead, Mazda based its BT-50 off the Ranger.
Luckily for Australian buyers, though, the development and engineering of the Ranger was headquartered here in Australia. And everything was new: engines, gearboxes, frame, suspension, steering system, brakes, chassis, exterior sheet metal, and vehicle interior. It was an instant sales success, stealing sales from Toyota HiLux and Nissan Navara; the two dominant players in the segment at that time.
Fast forward to now and the Ford Ranger, which was refreshed late last year, is still proving to be a sales success and the best performing Ford in the market. The PXII Ranger arrived with the intention of leaving alone the things that worked and just making slight improvements across the board.
That means, the refreshed Ranger runs a new grille and headlights and the front quarter panels are different, and there’s a new side vent (which is just a blank) but the rest of the sheet metal is the same. On the inside it’s a different story, with the Ranger getting a more car-like interior which includes a new dashboard, soft-touch materials, increased insulation, as well as Ford’s SYNC 2 in-car infotainment and communication system.
New features on refreshed Ford Ranger PXII:
- SYNC2 with a high-resolution 8-inch touchscreen (XLT and Wildtrak)
- Navigation with Traffic Management Channel (XLT and Wildtrak)
- Electric Power Assisted Steering (EPAS)
- Adjustable Speed Limiter
- Cable shift manual transmission
- Auto Stop/Start on manual transmission (4×2 Hi-Rider and 4×4 models)
- 230V Inverter (Double and Super Cab models)
- Tyre Pressure Monitoring System
- Projector headlamps (XLT and Wildtrak)
- Rear box illumination (when Sports Bar equipped)
- Dual colour 4.2-inch instrumentation screens (XLT and Wildtrak)
Tech Pack Option on XLT and Wildtrak:
- Adaptive Cruise Control with Forward Collision Alert
- Lane Departure Warning
- Lane Keep Assist
- Driver Impairment Monitor
- Reverse camera (standard on Wildtrak)
When the Ranger arrived on the market back in 2011 it instantly leapt to the head of the segment as far as its looks were concerned, winning fans across the country – Australian designers took the lead on both the exterior and interior of the new Ranger as well as this refreshed model. There were hints of Ford’s larger utes in the front-end of the Ranger, which stood head and shoulders above its virtual twin under the skin, the Mazda BT-50 with its rounded Mazda-car styling. And indeed it still does, with Mazda’s recent refreshing of the BT-50 struggling to give it the truck-like looks it needs in this segment.
The refreshed Ranger continues to lead the segment on styling, with the front-end copping some revisions late last year. These included a new trapozoidal grille, new front quarter panels, wheel designs, and headlights that were pushed up higher in the grille. Slightly.
The result is a vehicle, especially in Wildtrak guise, which we’re testing, which turns heads everywhere it goes. Indeed, in our week with the Ranger Wildtrak we were also testing a Toyota HiLux (and we’ve got a comparison test coming soon) and that vehicle was virtually invisible next to the Ranger. But, then, our test car was painted in eye-burning orange with all sorts of contrasting cosmetic fripperies.
So, despite getting a new snout, it’s a case of steady as she goes on the outside with Ford doing just enough to keep the Ranger looking its best. This means, that things like ground clearance, approach and departure angles and tray size remain the same as they were.
On the inside
While it’s the snout that many people will notice first about the refreshed Ranger, it’s the inside that’s copped the most significant changes with an all-new dashboard. And, to be honest, you could be forgiven for thinking you were sitting in a Ford car, and not a dual-cab ute, especially so in the Ranger Wildtrak.
The refreshed Ranger gets, what Ford calls, a beam style dashboard but I’m not actually sure what that really means, but I imagine it has something to do with the dashboard creating a horizontal line from one side of the car to the other. Indeed, this does two things in the Ranger and that is give the interior, especially in the front a real sense of space, it also gives Ford, in the Wildtrak, the opportunity to use more orange…
Unlike other Ranger models which get a conventional display ahead of the driver, Wildtrak (and XLT) get an analogue speedo in the centre and a digital display on either side, which can show everything from navigation and audio on one side to the tachometer, fuel consumption, temperature, and off-road settings and angles on the other side (although not all at once).
The centre of the dashboard is dominated by an eight-inch touchscreen which access Ford’s SYNC 2 infotainment and communications system, and this is a first for Ranger. The system is easy to use and responds well to ‘spoken’ English when on the move; there’s also a raft of buttons on the steering wheel for accessing the system’s various functions, which means no more looking away from the road for extended periods of time to change music tracks. Syncing your phone is a cinch and the sat-nav is one of the best systems on the market with the voice prompts arriving early and, try as we might, we couldn’t trip it up in the city (Sydney) with map adjustments happening seamlessly.
The plastics used on the inside of the Ranger Wildtrak wouldn’t look out of place inside a Falcon or Mondeo, although the design of the interior and fit and finish quality is more Falcon than Mondeo, if you know what I mean. Don’t misread me, this is a very well designed interior with solid chunky switchgear and controls that are easy to use on the fly and should stand up to years of abuse. For instance, our test car had 16,000km on the clock when we picked it up, and that’s a lot for a press vehicle… the only visible points of concern was the carpet near the sill which was looking a little frayed and the interior light in the headlining which appeared to be sagging.
There are plenty of hidey holes for storing bottles, takeaway coffee cups and your phone. The glovebox is split with a little compartment to hold the owner’s manual, while the centre console is split with a small tray at the top for storing your phone or coins, while the bottom compartment offers a cooling function to keep drinks cool, and it’ll easily hold two 600ml water bottles.
Room and Practicality
The front seats are broad but offer enough support to keep you from rocking about too much when driving off-road, although the side bolstering on the seat base mean you’ve got to lift yourself up and swing over when climbing in or out. The eight-way adjustable ‘power’ driver’s seat goes some way towards making up for the lack of reach adjustment on the steering wheel (there’s only tilt adjustment for up and down). The design of the leather and material seats might date quickly but they do a good job of keeping you from sliding around.
In addition to leather, the Wildtrak offers heated front seats which I still don’t really understand the point of but asking that question recently-isn on our Facebook page saw me well and truly in the minority. There’s good vision all around the vehicle and the big wing mirrors give a good view down the side too. The reversing camera offers a nice clean picture and thanks to being angled down to take in the tow bar means that hitching up to a trailer when you’re on your own is pretty easy.
The back seats are nice and comfortable too and without the bolstering on the seat edges, are easy to climb in and out of. The large side step certainly makes climbing in and out easier but it does get in the way when you’re off-road, and I’d suggest removing it and replacing it with something aftermarket. The back seats can be folded down giving you a flat base to load gear onto, and the base of the seat also folds up revealing a storage tub for things you want to keep hidden from prying eyes.
The back seat will hold three adults in comfort, and thanks to the slight angle on the seat back will hold a booster seat or harness-style child restraint neatly. When I set up the front seat to suit my driving position I had 74cm of legroom, and there’s 95cm of headroom.
Over in the tray and on Wildtrak the plastic clad steel bar has a light in it now which can be switched on from the cabin (the switch is next to the headlight control dial); it’s more for low-light illumination than helping you find stuff in total darkness. And most buyers planning to head bush with the thing will likely replace it with an aftermarket LED light bar. It also gets a 12V socket on the passenger side at the back of the wheel arch, which is something some competitors don’t offer.
The tray itself has a tub liner and a Mountain Top roller-style aluminium tonneau cover which can be key locked. The tray measures 1549mm long (at the floor) and 1485mm (at the top of the box), 1560mm wide and 1139mm between the wheel arches, although we measures 1120mm between the wheel arches and we measured that against the floor, the floor height to the ground is 840mm. And the tray sides measure 511mm high.
The factory fitted towbar eats into the departure angle and it and the large side steps did get caught up (they measure 31.5cm from the ground) either climbing out of hollows (towbar) or crawling over rocks (side steps), whereas the HiLux SR5 we were testing at the same time had no such problems when driven across the same terrain and on the same lines as the Ranger.
The refreshed Ranger Wildtrak runs an improved version of 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo-diesel as its predecessor and that means 147kW at 3000rpm and 470Nm of torque from a low 1500-2750rpm – same numbers, but better torque curve and more fuel efficient. This is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission that runs the following ratios: 1st: 4.171; 2nd 2.342; 3rd: 1.521; 4th: 1.443; 5th: 0.867; 6th: 0.691; and Reverse: 3.400. The transfer case ratios are high-range 4×4: 1.000:1 and low-range 4×4: 2.717:1.
Fuel consumption is a claimed combined 9.6L/100km and in our week of testing which took in some highway work, city work and also some country town driving as well as more than 100km of off-roading returned 10.1L/100km which is pretty good indeed. But that was achieved with, for the most part. only a driver and no load in the tray.
Ford makes a very big deal of the Ranger’s 3500kg towing capacity, but as we’ve explored in the past this number shouldn’t be taken too seriously.
Ride and Handling
The engine is as strong as its numbers suggest and the six-speed automatic is as slick as you could hope for, offering smooth shifts up and down the ‘box as needed. And you can’t catch it out either, not even if you brake hard and then stop on the throttle, or if you’re travelling on a constant throttle at, say, highway speed and then need it to accelerate for overtaking; it’s default setting is to run to a high gear quickly for fuel consumption savings.
Ford says it has tweaked the suspension slightly across the refreshed range but my memory can’t extend back to what the PX felt like to say whether the changes are huge or not; I’ll leave that comment to our Robert Pepper as he owns a PX and attended the launch of the PXII.
All that aside, the refreshed Ranger Wildtrak is a supremely competent vehicle, and it was easily as comfortable at speed on a winding stretch of road as the Everest Titanium I’d run across that same road earlier in the week. Indeed, of all the top-spec dual-cab 4×4 utes I’ve driven over the last six months, the Ranger Wildtrak is easily the best on-road, feeling more like a well-sorted wagon than a ute.
The steering is a new electric power-assist system which is speed responsive, meaning as the speed builds so to does the weight in the wheel. At around town speeds it’s nice and light with a consistent action, and then as you start to build speed the steering sharpens up. It’s one of the better electric power assist steering systems on the market. Binning the power steering pump has resulted in a 3% saving in fuel use compared with the old model.
The Ranger Wildtrak remains a competent and sure-footed vehicle when the bitumen gives way to dirt and both the traction and stability control systems (which aren’t the same) do a very good job of keeping the thing nice and straight on loose surfaces. Indeed, so subtle is the intervention that many people will barely notice the input, and that’s as it should be.
As the surface becomes rougher and the speed slows down, the Wildtrak becomes a little more dramatic spinning a wheel here and there (but that could be down to the road-oriented rubber it runs) and clunking into holes, although there’s very little shudder through the body, which is good. I’m kicking myself that I didn’t check the wheel articulation with a tape measure (sorry all, rookie error), because the Ranger Wildtrak certainly doesn’t seem to have the same flex as the new HiLux which was able to keep its wheels on the ground in places the Ranger picked them up slightly.
Watch the video below to see how the Ranger clambered up and then down one of our test hills. Our coming comparison test will blend the two videos so you can watch how each car performed not the same hill.
If you search forums about Ford Ranger, one of the things that crops up is its traction control when off-road, and questions around it. Well, Ford has done some fiddling with it and it’s now very good indeed. Switching from 2H to 4H and then 4L is as simple as turning a dial, and there are push buttons just ahead of the that dial to activate the locking rear differential and the hill descent control. Read more on our full technical explanation of the Ford Ranger PX 2.
Like the new HiLux, the Ranger has two almost identical traction control systems and they help this thing to clamber up, over and down the sorts of rutted tracks I fell over trying to walk on… It has a Brake Traction Control System which works by, funnily enough, applying the brakes when it detects one or another wheel is spinning sending torque to the other wheel, it also has Engine Traction Control and this works by cutting power when it detects a certain level of wheel spin.
Select 4H and the ESC system will be slightly detuned, but not fully off. Then in 4L engine traction control and stability control are switched off and B-TCS is able to work on its own. And the B-TCS is excellent able to maintain forward momentum even when driving over deep ruts and rocks, but I’m not so sure the system is as finely tuned as it could be, and you can tell that from the video above where you can see the vehicle struggling for momentum on the initial ascent before B-TCS eventually intervenes, and then again part of the way up the hill; the system in the HiLux we tested is more subtle and quicker to react.
Indeed, there was one point in one of our hill climbs where B-TCS wasn’t enough to maintain forward momentum and the vehicle was ‘essentially’ stranded (yes, I could have reversed back down, but you know what I mean…). Luckily the Ranger Wildtrak has a locking rear differential which, after we reversed a few feet down the hill and then had another go, was able to keep the Ranger driving up the hill – in this instance.
One of the tweaks you’ll never even realise the Ranger has is a small bit of software in the throttle mapping that softens the throttle pedal when you select 4×4 Low. It means you won’t upset the throttle when crawling over bumpy ground, and we did do a lot of crawling over bumpy ground.
Downhill the Ranger’s Hill Descent Control is excellent, absolutely excellent and you can see that in the video above, so there’s really not much more I need to write. It works at speeds below 40km/h and right down to 2km/h and is adjusted using the cruise control stalk.
As Robert reported from the local launch of the Ranger, the rear locker disengages can remain on with descent control active which, as he says, is a good thing.
The refreshed Ford Ranger gets a five-star ANCAP crash safety rating realising an impressive 36.72 out of 37 when it was tested in September 2015. other safety features include remote keyless entry, although it’s a key start, rear parking sensors and reversing camera, alarm, six airbags and seatbelt reminder for the driver and front passenger. It also features dynamic stability control, hill launch assist, trailer sway control, load adaptive control, roll over mitigation and emergency brake light.
There’s also the cost-optional Tech Pack on both Ranger XLT ($1100) and Wildtrak ($600) which adds adaptive cruise control with forward collision alert, lane departure warning (which I’d advise you either turn off or turn down as it in addition to warning you about your ‘lane departure’ it also tugs at the steering wheel and it’s too easily tricked by non lane markings, like skid marks), and driver impairment monitor, which reminds you to stop, revive and survive on longer journeys. The price difference between the two models is because the XLT Tech Pack adds a reversing camera, whereas it’s already fitted to the Wildtrak.
Key Features across Ranger line-up:
- 2.2-litre turbo diesel engine delivering:
- Power: 118 kW @ 3,200 rpm
- Torque: 385 Nm @ 1,600-2,500 rpm
- 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission with sports shift mode standard
- 3.2-litre turbo diesel engine delivering:
- Power: 147 kW @ 3,000 rpm
- Torque: 470 Nm @ 1,750-2,500 rpm
- 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission with sports shift mode standard
- 16-inch steel wheels
- Bucket seats
- 4-way manual driver’s seat adjustment with lumbar support
- Auto headlamps
- Air conditioning – manual single zone
- Floor coverings – vinyl
- Power windows
- Day/night inside rear view mirror
- 230 V inverter (Double and Super Cab)
- Bluetooth with voice control
- AM/FM stereo radio
- Single MP3 compatible CD player
- AUX/USB/iPod integration
- 4.2” colour multi-function display
- SYNC 1
- Locking rear differential (4×2 Hi-Rider and 4×4 models)
- Alarm with perimeter, interior motion and vehicle movement sensors
- Cruise control with steering wheel mounted buttons
- Adjustable Speed Limiter
- Inner and outer tie downs (Pick-up)
- Load rest (Pick-up)
Ranger XL Plus – XL features plus:
- 17-inch steel wheels with all-terrain tyres
- Daytime running lamps
- Plastic side steps
- Expanded wiring harness with 4-switch auxiliary bezel
- Second battery
- 3.5” ice blue multi-function display
Ranger XLS – XL features plus:
- 16-inch alloy wheels
- Front fog lamps
- Floor coverings – carpet
- Front floor mats
Ranger XLT – XLS features plus:
- 17-inch alloy wheels
- Chrome exterior trim
- Plastic side steps with bright inserts
- Sports bar with load box illumination
- Privacy glass
- Rear step bumper – accent steel
- Power fold mirrors
- Projector headlamps
- Rain sensing windscreen wipers
- Dual colour 4.2” cluster screens
- Dual-zone climate control
- Cooled console
- Leather wrapped steering wheel & gear knob
- Electrochromatic rear view mirror
- SD Card Slot
- 8″ Colour touch screen
- Satellite navigation with Traffic Management Channel
- SYNC 2
- DAB Radio
- Mobile WiFi Hotspot
- Tyre pressure monitoring system
- Rear park assist
- Bedliner with 12V socket
Ranger Wildtrak – XLT features plus:
- 18-inch alloy wheels
- Plastic side steps with brushed inserts
- Wildtrak sports bar
- Rear step bumper – chrome
- Puddle lamps
- 8-way power driver’s seat adjustment with lumbar support
- Leather heated front seats
- Front and rear floor mates – Wildtrak
- Ambient Lighting
- Front Park Assist
- Reverse Camera
- Roller shutter