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Ford Ranger Wildtrak Vs Mercedes-Benz X350d comparison review

The Ranger Wildtrak has already faced up to the Amarok Ultimate 580 and now it goes head-to-head with the newest horsepower hero in the dual-cab segment, the Mercedes-Benz X350d Power.

2019 Ford Ranger Wildtrak Specifications

Price $63,990+ORC Warranty five-years, unlimited km Safety 5 stars Engine 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel four-cylinder Power 157kW at 3750rpm Torque 500Nm at 1750-2000rpm Transmission 10-speed automatic Drive part-time 4×4 Dimensions 5426mm long, 1860mm wide 1848mm high, 3220mm wheelbase Ground Clearance 225mm confirmed Angles 29-degrees approach, 25-degrees departure, 21-degrees rampover Wading 800mm Weight 2246kg GVM 2900kg GCM 6000kg Towing 3500kg (braked) Fuel Tank 80 litres Thirst 7.4L/100km combined-cycle claimed

2019 Mercedes-Benz X350d Specifications

Price $79,415+ORC Warranty 3 years, 200,000km Service Intervals 12 months, 20,000km Safety 5-star ANCAP Engine 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel Power 190kW at 3400rpm Torque 550Nm at 1400-3200rpm Transmission 7-speed auto Drive Four-wheel drive Dimensions 5340mm (L), 1920mm (W), 1839mm (H), 3150mm (WB) Ground Clearance 220mm confirmed Kerb Weight 2190kg Angles 30 degrees (approach), 25 degrees (departure), 22 degrees (rampover) Towing 3500kg Towball Download 350kg GVM 3250kg GCM 6180kg Spare Full-size Fuel Tank 80L Thirst 8.8L/100km claimed combined

The Ford Ranger is currently the second-best selling dual-cab ute in the country and towards the end of last year it was refreshed with some very minor styling tweaks and some more significant suspension updates. But the major change was the addition of the 2.0-litref our-cylinder bi-turbo engine that’s shared with both the Ranger Raptor and the Ford Everest.

And then there’s the Mercedes-Benz X-Class X350d Power. Arriving earlier this year it was expected to be the most-powerful dual-cab in the country. Until, that is, VW stole its thunder by tweaking the V6 in the Amarok and offering up the same peak power 190kW but out-grunting it with 580Nm of torque (against 550Nm). The other problem the X350d has, depending on how you look at these things, is that it’s based on a Nissan Navara. Although, Merc says this X350d Power is more Merc than Nissan. Tip: it’s not really.

WHAT’S THE PRICE AND WHAT DO YOU GET? The Ranger Wildtrak is available with both the 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo-diesel and the brand-new 2.0-litre bi-turbo four-cylinder diesel engine and that’s the one we’ve tested here. The Ranger Wildtrak lists from $63,9990+ORC.

2019 Ford Ranger Wildtrak bi-turbo review

For the money, you get a tweaked front bumper and grille, LED fog lamps and power-lock tailgate, you get 18-inch alloy wheels with 265/60R18 rubber; Monument Grey grille, rear bumper, mirrors and Sailplane (sports bar); HID headlights; privacy glass; sidesteps; tray lighting; roller shutter; leather trim; heated front seats; 230V inverter; cooled centre console; dual-zone climate control; rain-sensing wipers; 4.2-inch colour TFT display, 8.0-inch colour touchscreen, sat-nav, DAB+ digital radio, Sync 3 with voice activated controls and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto; and remote keyless entry and start.

2019 Mercedes-Benz X350d Review

There are three variants in the X-Class line-up: Pure, Progressive and Power, but the X350d variant is only available in the Progressive and Power. The flagship Power costs $79,415+ORC and adds lots of chrome to the exterior, 19-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry and push-button start, fake leather seats (as standard), eight-way electric adjustability to the front seats, mirrors that fold automatically when parked and a 360-degree reversing camera. It gets an infotainment system with native sat-nav but no Apple or Android connectivity, and not a whole lot more. Despite costing nearly $80k you still have to pay extra for the leather seats our test car was fitted with and front seat heaters, $1750 and $590, respectively. There are several complete cost option packs for the X350d.

Where features and value for money are concerned, the Ford Ranger Wildtrak hits the X350d Power for six.

WHAT’S UNDER THE BONNETS? The Mercedes-Benz X350d Power is the more powerful of the two with its 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel making 190kW and 550Nm of torque. The Ranger Wildtrak, on the other hand, gets a 2.0-litre bi-turbo diesel making 157kW and 500Nm of torque. It’s matched to 10-speed automatic while the X-Class runs a seven-speed automatic. The Ford gets its power to the ground via a part-time 4WD system while the X350d has permanent all-wheel drive with low-range. As you’d imagine, the smaller capacity Ranger beats the X350d for fuel consumption with a claimed combined 7.4LL/100km while the X350d returns 8.8L/100km claimed combined.

2019 Mercedes-Benz X350d Review

WHAT ARE THE CABINS LIKE? The X350d looks quite special with its contrasting brush metal trim panel on the dashboard and X-shaped air vents. But, look closer and the interior isn’t overly practical with its stark lack of storage and hard plastics. Then there’s the controller for the infotainment unit which looks tacked on and is incredibly confusing to use. The infotainment screen juts out from the dashboard and offers plenty of features including native sat-nav but there’s no Apple or Android connectivity, and it lacks the usability of the Ranger’s SYNC3 set-up…

2019 Mercedes-Benz X350d Review

The Ranger Wildtrak feels like a top-spec vehicle with its contrast stitching across the dash and embroidered leather seats as standard. There’s good storage around the cabin and the 8.0-inch infotainment screen with SYNC3 offers native sat-nav and live traffic updates as well as Apple and Android connectivity. It’s a much simpler system, although it’s not as graphically nice to look at as the Merc’s system, it’s the better of the two infotainment units.

2019 Ford Ranger Wildtrak Review

WHAT ARE THE FRONT SEATS LIKE? The front seats of the Ranger are narrow but comfortable and they lack length in the seat base which those with longer legs might find annoying on longer drives. But there’s good adjustment on them although only the driver’s seat has powered adjustment.

2019 Ford Ranger Wildtrak Review

The Merc’s optional leather seats are comfortable but flat in the base, although the seat base length is better if you’ve got long legs, and there’s eight-way adjustment for both front seats.

2019 Mercedes-Benz X350d Review

WHAT ARE THE BACK SEATS LIKE? The Ranger steals a lot of ground over the X-Class here. The rear door openings are bigger making it easier to climb in and out of the back. Thanks to the long wheelbase there’s excellent rear seat legroom; better than the X-Class and there’s good headroom too.

2019 Ford Ranger Wildtrak Review

The seat back is reclined on a decent angle to make the back seat in the Ranger one of the more comfortable in the segment. You miss out on rear air vents which the X-Class provides, but in every other way the X-Class’ rear seats feel cramped.

2019 Mercedes-Benz X350d Review

The door opening is small, as I’ve already mentioned, and this means when you’re climbing in you’ve got to duck your head to avoid hitting it. Then, the stadium-style seating means that you’re pushed right up towards the roof, indeed, me, at six-foot was grazing the roof. The seat back is very upright, although legroom is okay but not as good as the Ranger.

WHAT ARE THE TRAYS LIKE? The Ranger Wildtrak gets a standard rollaway tray cover which is great for weather sealing but can be a pain to use and it robs some storage space when opened. You get an assister spring to make raising and lowering the Ranger’s tailgate a one-hand affair, the sports bar is for looks only. The tray, for those counting, measures 1549mm long and 1139mm between the wheel arches. The rear opening when you drop the tailgate is 1330mm, and the load height is 835mm.

2019 Ford Ranger Wildtrak Review

The X-Class gets no such cover but does get a sports bar and sturdy tub liner with power outlet. The tailgate misses out on assistance which means you’ve got to use two hands when opening and closing it. It measures longer and wider than the Ranger’s tray at 1581mm long, 1560mm wide and 1215mm wide between the wheel arches. The sides of the tub are 475mm high.

2019 Mercedes-Benz X350d Review

WHAT ARE THEY LIKE ON THE ROAD? Let’s start with the X350d Power. There’s plenty of power and torque available but accessing it isn’t as easy or comfortable as you might imagine. See, the throttle lacks progression or feeling and there’s an incredible amount of turbo lag (time waiting while the turbo spools up) that can be measured in seconds; you press the accelerator pedal and then wait.

Obviously, this is an issue only really when you’re in stop-start traffic or moving away from a standing start but it’s annoying and means you can end up looking a loon as the X350d lurches away from the lights after you’ve lent on the throttle a little too heavily.

Mercedes-Benz X350d Review

The seven-speed automatic transmission is okay once you’re up and moving but it isn’t as smooth as the 10-speed unit in the Ranger although it’s better at lower speeds than the Ford’s transmission. But then the throttle response and turbo lag knobble any advantage.

The steering too lacks any weight, feel or speed and it takes a long while to work out how much is enough lock. It’s incredibly vague. But the X350d Power steals back some ground on the Ranger with its permanent all-wheel drive which means grip is never an issue and allows you to move from bitumen to dirt with confidence.

The ride is okay with the damper tune one of the best in the segment, meaning the X350d’s composure across roughish terrain is good although the general ride is quite soft. Only your ear will be tricked into thinking it isn’t and that’s because the body and tray squeak and rattle across every bump in the road even if your backside doesn’t feel a thing.

The Ranger’s 2.0L bi-turbo is obviously under-gunned compared with the X350d but it doesn’t feel weedy and with 157kW and 500Nm of torque you wouldn’t call it underpowered. It feels energetic and willing and while it’s down on power and torque it feels more refined and quieter than the X350d’s engine. The 10-speed automatic is good and while it’s smooth in general driving, at lower speeds it can be a little slurry.

Ford Ranger Wildtrack Vs Volkswagen Amarok V6

Beyond the new engine, this updated Range copped some suspension tweaks for improved ride comfort and body control through corners and they’ve made a big difference. The Ranger now feels more comfortable and controlled through corners than ever before.

But, the Ranger is only 2WD on bitumen and mid-corner bumps can still see the rear skip, and where the X350d doesn’t have to pause from bitumen the dirt, you’ll need to shift the Ranger into 4WD High Range to maintain grip. That said, in general driving and we had a week of rain and sunshine with the Ranger, we didn’t have any issues with grip in 2WD, so…

The steering and pedal controls are better weighted, more progressive and feelsome in the Ranger than they are the X350d. And all of this makes the Ranger a more comfortable vehicle to drive for both driver and passengers.

WHAT ARE THEY LIKE OFF-ROAD? Much has been made of the fact the X-Class is built in the same factory as the Navara and which it shares so much. But the four-wheel drive system for the X350d is all Mercedes-Benz. This thing is permanent all-wheel drive, as we’ve mentioned, with a 40:60 drive split when in 4MAT which is intended mainly for bitumen and well-graded dirt roads. The aim is you shift to 4H once onto dirt. Selecting low range locks the drive into 50:50. And there’s a rear diff lock and hill descent control, just like the Ranger.

Unlike the Ranger, the X350d adds some driving modes which tweak the throttle and transmission, there’s an off-road setting which further dulls the throttle and holds onto gears for longer and only activates when you’re in 4H or 4L. In my week with the X350d I never once found a track where I needed to use this driving mode.

As we’ve mentioned, the X350d’s controls feel slow and disconnected and the soft ride means you’ve got to go everywhere slower than you would in the Ranger. And balancing the thing off-road can be a pain as it moves from nothing to lurching forward when you’re trying to inch over an obstacle.

2019 Mercedes-Benz X350d Review

There’s less ground clearance than the Ranger, it’s 220mm vs 225mm but the angles are the similar with the X350d boasting 30-degree approach angle (29-degrees for the Ranger) and a 25-degree departure angle. Despite this, the X350d never felt as comfortable off-road as the Ranger across the same tracks.

The X350d is standard on 19-inch wheels but our car had been fitted with 18-inch alloys which is sensible but the tyre package is most definitely an on-road set-up and the tread quickly filled with fine sand meaning it slipped more than the Ranger when driven over obstacles at a snail’s pace.

2019 Mercedes-Benz X350d Review

The Ranger has always been right near the top of the pack when it comes to going off-road and the recent changes to the suspension have not only improved its on-road ride and handling but also its off-road comfort. And with a tweaked traction control system it easily bettered the X350d on the tracks we drove.

2019 Ford Ranger Wildtrak bi-turbo vs Volkswagen Amarok V6 580

And with controls that are better weighted and more progressive it was easier to inch the thing over obstacles where the X350d was lurching and rolling backwards. The standard fit 18-inch alloys are wrapped in road rubber but the Ranger’s tyres felt grippier across the same terrain as the Merc. And while I didn’t measure it, the Ranger’s back end seems to have slightly better wheel travel than the Merc, keeping its wheels in contact with the ground, even just slightly, where the Merc would lift. And, ultimately, with a little more ground clearance, the Ranger will get over humps where the Merc will rub.

The X350d isn’t bad off-road but you’ve got to drive it slower than the Ranger and the lack of throttle control makes it feel a little gangly in slow terrain.

CAN YOU TOW WITH THEM? Yes, but there are caveats. For this exercise we’ve used the maximum braked towing capacity and the maximum towball download as our reference points. Of course, in the real world these two weights never usually neatly match up, but we feel this is a good starting point for those considering these two vehicles for towing duties.

Like X350d which we’ll come to shortly, the Ranger can also tow up to 3500kg but only with a genuine Ford towpack and with a 350kg towball download. The vehicle’s kerb weight is 2246kg while the GVM is 3200kg and the GCM is 6000kg. Say you’re towing at the maximum of 3500kg, subtract that from the GCM and the maximum your vehicle can weigh is 2500kg. Subtract the kerb weight of 2246kg and you’re left with 254kg of payload and you still haven’t subtracted the 350kg towball download. Meaning, if you tow a trailer weighing 3500kg, well, you can’t legally drive it.

The heaviest the X-Class can weigh is 3250kg (GVM) – the X220d is limited to 3200kg, the kerb weight for the X350d is 2190kg which leaves 1060kg payload. But, if you’re towing at the maximum 3500kg then to remain within the 6180kg GCM you’re left with 2680kg (the heaviest the vehicle can weigh). Subtract the kerb weight from this and you get just 490kg to play with. Subtract the 350kg towball mass from that payload and you’re left with just 140kg for passengers, luggage and fuel. So, unlike the Ranger you can, theoretically, tow with the X350d at its maximum.

WHAT ABOUT OWNERSHIP? The X-Class only gets a three-year, 200,000km warranty. Servicing must be performed every 12 months or 20,000km, which is identical to the four-cylinder. However, service costs for the V6 are slightly higher than the four-cylinder, totalling $2555 over the first three years or 60,000km. Mercedes-Benz offers a pay-up-front option which reduces the cost of those first three services to $1950.

The Ford Ranger offers a five-year warranty but there’s no limit on mileage. Cost of ownership is also covered by Ford’s Service Price Promise, a free loan car arrangement and even a Low Price Tyre guarantee. Servicing is every 12 months or 15,000km with service prices capped, starting from $360 for the first service.

WHAT SAFETY FEATURES DO THEY GET? Where only the top-spec Wildtrak got active safety as standard, while others accessed it via a pack, the entire Ford Ranger line-up now gets active safety as standard. This includes AEB with pedestrian detection, traffic sign recognition, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assistance and automatic up/down high-beam. It also gets six airbags with curtain bags reaching into the backseat as well as ISOFIX mounts and more. It carries on with its five-star ANCAP rating.

Mercedes-Benz was the first to offer auto emergency braking (AEB) on a ute and while it’s uncommon, both Ford (across its entire line-up) and Mitsubishi have added it. There are seven airbags, disc brakes front and rear (Ranger offers drum brakes on the rear). There’s also Active Lane Keeping Assist, which will nudge the driver via the steering wheel to get back into their lane and even brake one side of the vehicle to steer the X350d back into its lane. This is in addition to Active Brake Assist, trailer stabilisation, a tyre pressure monitoring system, cruise control, and a reversing camera (360-degree camera on top-spec X350d Power).

SO WHICH ONE WINS AND WHY? Like we did with our recent Amarok and Ranger comparison test, there’s really no point in ‘me’ telling you which one wins because of you and your circumstances the other car may be the one you just want. But, based on our testing, the Ranger can keep up with the X350d on the bitumen and is more refined to drive, matches it for active safety, has a more practical cabin and a bigger back seat. It’s easier to drive off-road and it’s cheaper. So, read between the lines. I’m telling you the winner without saying it.

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Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober