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Ford Ranger Wildtrak bi-turbo Vs Volkswagen Amarok V6 580 comparison review

The Ford Ranger Wildtrak takes on the big-power Volkswagen Amarok V6 580 on- and off-road to determine whether value or power wins.

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

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Volkswagen Amarok Ultimate 580 Review Specifications

Price $71,990+ORC Warranty 5 years, unlimited kilometres Service Intervals 12 months, 15,000km Safety 5-star ANCAP rating Engine 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel Power 190kW at 3250-4500rpm Torque 580Nm at 1400-3000rpm Transmission 8-speed auto Drive Four-wheel drive Dimensions 5254mm (L), 1954mm (W), 1834mm (H), 3095mm (WB) Ground Clearance 192mm (claimed) Kerb Weight 2244kg Angles 28.0 degrees (approach), 23.6 degrees (departure), 23.0 degrees (rampover) Towing 3500kg Towball Download 300kg GVM 3080kg GCM 6000kg Spare Full-sized Fuel Tank 80L Thirst 8.9L/100km

All the action used to be around V8 passenger cars but the market has moved on and now it’s things like these two that have turned car buyer’s heads. On my left is Australia’s most powerful production dual cab, the Amarok Ultimate 580 and on my right, is the Ford Ranger Wildtrak, and it gets the engine from the nutcase Ranger Raptor. So, which one should you buy?

WHAT DO THEY COST AND WHAT DO YOU GET? For those wanting a V6 engine and permanent all-wheel drive it’s the Amarok V6 Core that you need to buy and it lists from $51,990+ORC. As the entry V6 model it’s not overly well equipped. Moving up to the Ultimate 580 which we’re testing, and gets the more-power V6 engine, you’re looking at $71,990+ORC but you do get more gear. For instance, standard are 20-inch alloys, metal pedals, leather, sat-nav, front and rear parking sensors and dual-zone climate control. There are other niceties, like side steps that incorporate LED lights to illuminate the ground when you’re approaching the car at night.

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

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.

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.

WHAT’S UNDER THE BONNETS? The Amarok Ultimate 580 is the headline grabber here with its 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel making 190kW and 580Nm of torque. The Ranger Wildtrak, on the other hand, get a 2.0-litre bi-turbo diesel making 157kW and 500Nm of torque. It’s matched to 10-speed automatic while the Amarok runs an eight-speed automatic. The Ford gets its power to the ground via a part-time 4WD system while the Amarok has permanent all-wheel drive.

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

WHAT’S THE FRONT OF THE CAR LIKE? The Ranger Wildtrak feels like a top-spec vehicle with its contrast stitching across the dash and embroidered leather seats. These front seats are comfortable but a little narrow and there’s powered adjustment for the driver only. There’s good storage around the cabin and the 8.0-inch infotainment screen runs SYNC3 with native sat-nav and live traffic updates as well as Apple and Android connectivity…

2019 Ford Ranger Wildtrak Review

2019 Ford Ranger Wildtrak Review

Climb into the Amarok and its greater width is apparent feeling much more spacious than the Ranger. The seats are more supportive and comfortable too and you can extend the seat base and both front seats get powered adjustment. There isn’t much soft touch stuff in here but the quality of the plastics used is very high and the fit and finish edges the Ranger, and there’s plenty of storage too. The 7.0-inch infotainment screen is smaller, but it’s got capacitive touch which means the menu appears as your finger approaches and that’s pretty cool; there’s native sat-nav and Apple and Android connectivity.

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

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

WHAT’S THE BACK OF THE CAR LIKE? In the back of the Amarok and, like the front, it feels very spacious. The seats are comfortable and there’s good head and elbowroom although legroom is tight and falls short of the Ranger (because of its longer wheelbase). There are no rear air vents but the big windows make the back feel light and comfortable…

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

The Ranger feels narrow after the Amarok but the seats are just as comfortable and there’s better support and more legroom thanks to the Ranger’s longer wheelbase (3095mm Vs 3220mm). Like the Amarok there are no rear air vents and the kick on the rear windows make it feel darker in the back than the VW. That said, if you’re using this as a family runabout it’s worth noting this thing has curtain airbags where the Amarok does not.

2019 Ford Ranger Wildtrak Review

WHAT’S THE TRAY 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 don’t get a tailgate left assist but the tailgate can be raised and lowered with just one hand, 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 tray is massive on the Amarok and the Ultimate gets a sprayed-on tub liner with sturdy tie-down points on the floor which is exactly where they should be – too many makers fit them onto the sides of the tray. The sports bar can also be used as a tie down point but and, like the Ranger, the tailgate can be raised and lowered with one hand.

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

The tailgate will hold 200kg and from ground to tray it’s 708mm. The tailgate opening measures 1364mm, there’s 1222mm between the wheel arches and 1620mm to the rear of the tray, the length is 1555mm.

WHAT ARE THEY LIKE TO DRIVE? The Amarok’s V6 is amazing. There’s literally power for days whenever you need it and the eight-speed automatic is slicker than the 10-speed unit in the Ranger. With permanent all-wheel drive and a ride and handling set-up that continues to set the benchmark in the segment, the Amarok is both safe, easy and fun to drive. The 20-inch alloys don’t upset the ride at all and the way this thing deals with sharp-edged hits is unbelievable…

Ford Ranger Wildtrack Vs Volkswagen Amarok V6

The Ranger’s 2.0L bi-turbo is more suited to this thing than it is the Raptor. It feels energetic and willing but it’s definitely playing second fiddle to the Amarok. The 10-speed automatic is good and while it’s smooth in general driving, at lower speeds it can be a little slurry.

Beyond the new engine, this updated Range copped some suspension tweaks 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…so it won’t ultimately be as quick or comfortable as the Amarok.

Ford Ranger Wildtrack Vs Volkswagen Amarok V6

WHAT ARE THEY LIKE OFF THE ROAD? We didn’t go too far off-road with this test and that’s largely because the buyers of these top-spec utes tend not to go far from the bitumen. And, with the Amarok on 20-inch alloys it’s handicapped against the Ranger on 18s. Both are on road-oriented rubber.

We expected the Amarok to be handicapped by its bigger, road-oriented wheels. It wasn’t, although for rough stuff or if you’re planning regular trips into the bush then you’ll want the 18s that VW tell us will fit onto this Amarok.

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

The Amarok doesn’t have low-range but an off-road mode which activates a low-speed first gear and that, coupled with an excellent traction control system help it get up, over and down, the sort of terrain that would stop plenty of low-range equipped utes. But is it better than the Ranger?

The Ranger does get low-range and like the Amarok hill descent control and a rear locker. The tweaked suspension has improved not only the Ranger’s on-road comfort but also its off-road compliance but it’s still not at the same level as the Amarok which has more control when it runs out of travel and then compresses again.

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

While the Ranger is good in the rough and there’s no doubt it’s standard 18-inch alloys are more practical, it’s throttle lacks the progression or precision of the Amarok which literally allows you to inch forward across the ground. But the Ranger’s rear end has a little more travel than the Amarok not that you notice the missing centimetres of flex as only running out of clearance will stop the Amarok.

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

For me, I prefer the way the Amarok drives off-road…it feels easier and more comfortable, and much more controlled thanks to its throttle progression, excellent traction control tune, and suspension that better handles compressions. And on a set of cost-optional 18-inch alloys with grippy all-terrain rubber this thing would be a weapon on fast dirt roads and slow tracks alike.

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

DO THEY HAVE SPARE WHEELS? Both vehicles have full-size spare wheels underslung at the back.

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.

A 2018 update re-rated the VW Amarok for 3500kg with a towball download of 300kg.  This is not the usual 10% so, realistically, you’re better off looking at trailers up to the 3000kg mark rather than beyond.

But, just how much you can tow comes down to a variety of factors. For instance, Volkswagen quotes a GCM, or gross combination mass (the weight of the car, everything in it and the trailer) of 6000kg. The Ultimate 580 weighs 2244kg, so by the time you’ve hooked up 3500kg there’s a combined mass of 5744kg. That only leaves 256kg for people and luggage. And, if you’ve added a bulbar, or roof tray, etc then all of that has to be taken into account too. Once you’ve subtracted the towball mass from the payload then you find you can’t legally get inside your vehicle and drive it. And when determining payload in general with the Amarok it’s worth noting that kerb weight is determined with only 10L of fuel in the thing.

The Ranger can also tow up to 3500kg but only with a genuine Ford towpack and with a 350kg towball download (more than the Amarok). 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.

So, neither the Amarok or Ranger can tow at their maximum braked capacities.

WHAT ABOUT OWNERSHIP? 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.

Since late 2018 the Amarok has offered a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty. Servicing for an Amarok V6 occurs every 12 months or 15,000km. For the first five years or 75,000km services range in price between $515 and $878.

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

WHAT ABOUT SAFETY? This is where the argument against the Amarok starts to be built. See, while it maintains a five-star ANCAP rating it wouldn’t achieve that if it were tested today under the new, stricter criteria which requires active safety features like autonomous emergency braking to be eligible for a five-star rating.

And then there’s the lack curtain airbags to protect those in the back seat. But it’s not all bad news, because the Amarok still gets permanent all-wheel drive, disc brakes front and rear where most competitors only get drum brakes at the rear. It also gets trailer sway control, traction and stability controls, and multi-collision braking which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a collision to prevent you from being pin-balled into another vehicle. It also has tyre pressure monitors.

In top-spec Wildtrak trim, the Ranger gets plenty of active safety, including 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.

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

SO WHICH ONE WINS AND WHY? Choosing a winner here is likely to open a can of worms… If you want performance then the Amarok is the winner and no doubt about it, it’s got more grunt and it’s better to drive. But the Ranger is cheaper, better equipped and gets active safety the Amarok doesn’t. So, if it’s value you’re after then the Ranger wins.

Both are good off-road, but the Amarok’s permanent all-wheel drive, better controlled suspension and throttle progression edges it for me… you know what, let’s do this a little differently, I’ve pointed out the pros and cons of each car… so, rather than me tell you which one’s the best, I’ll leave it for you to decide which one’s right for you because at the end of the day I’m here to help you decide, not choose for you. And I’d love to hear what you think, so, leave a comment.


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Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober was born in the shadow of Mount Panorama in Bathurst and, so, it was inevitable he’d fall into work as a motoring writer. He began his motoring career in 2000 reviewing commercial vehicles, before becoming editor of Caravan & Motorhome magazine. He then moved to MOTOR Magazine before going freelance and contributing to Overlander 4WD, 4×4 Australia, TopGear Australia, Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, The Australian, CARSguide, and many more.