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Car reviews - Ford - Ranger - Wildtrak X


We like
Improved off-road focus, capable and efficient driveline, sweet steering and road-holding abilities, quiet and comfortable cabin, overall appearance and features list
Room for improvement
Ride may be a little firm for some, roller cover won’t suit all buyers, some infotainment functions difficult to use on-the-go, too-light gear shift action, driver attention quibbles

Pricier ‘X’ variant fills the gap between Wildtrak and Raptor with an edgy off-road focus

14 Sep 2023



FORD announced details of its special edition Wildtrak X earlier this year – but it has taken until now for the Australian motoring media to get behind the wheel of this off-road focused competitor to the likes of the Toyota HiLux Rogue (from $70,200 +ORCs) and Nissan Navara Warrior Pro4-X (from $67,515 +ORCs).


Bridging the gap between the Wildtrak and Raptor within the Ranger line-up, the Wildtrak X (from $75,990 plus on-road costs) boasts uprated Bilstein Position-Sensitive dampers, a wider wheel track front and rear (+30mm), and improved ground clearance (+26mm) – as well as Ford’s off-road focused Trail Control and Trail Turn Assist technology – to give buyers even more go-anywhere capability.


The Ford Ranger Wildtrak X is further available with Ford’s Flexible Rack cargo system, making it easier to carry loads of different shapes and sizes, grade-specific 17-inch alloys with 265/70 profile General Grabber AT3 tyres, a new off-road grille, Matrix LED headlights with auxiliary LEDs, a 12.4-inch digital instrument panel and premium Bang & Olufsen audio package.


The Wildtrak X is offered in a Cyber Orange paint finish with contrast accent strips and features a steel bash plate, cast aluminium side steps, blackened Ford badging, variant-specific badging and W-I-L-D-T-R-A-K letting across the bonnet.


The grille surround, bumper H-bar, wheel lip mouldings, fender vents, mirror caps, door handles and rear bumper are all finished in asphalt black.


Inside, the Wildtrak X features leather-accented seats with Miko suede and Wildtrak X embroidered into the seat backs, upper glovebox and all-weather front and rear floor mats.


Terra suede wraps the glovebox, instrument cluster hood, door trim and centre console rails while Cyber Orange contrast stitching is used on the seats, steering wheel, gear shifter, doors and the upper glovebox. The Wildtrak X is also fitted with an overhead auxiliary switch bank for aftermarket accessories.


Power comes from a 150kW/500Nm 2.0-litre bi-turbo four-cylinder diesel engine which gains Ford’s more advanced full-time four-wheel drive system and 10-speed automatic transmission as standard. The 3500kg braked towing rating offered elsewhere in the range is retained.


Driving Impressions


Anyone familiar with the Ranger line-up will be accustomed to the lengthy feature list, strong safety suite, generous payload and towing capacity, and all-round capability of this popular dual-cab ute.


Sales figures alone suggest just about anyone who ventures outdoors will have seen a Ranger on the road at some point in time, the scaled-down F-150 frontal treatment giving the model a presence that is hard to ignore.


And while the Wildtrak X may not appear a great deal different at a glance – or indeed from a showroom test drive – it’s the suspension and off-road abilities of the bi-turbo diesel powered special edition that make it pretty special.


As we noted during our launch drive of the new-generation Ranger, the 2.0-litre oiler is a true highlight of the package with smooth power delivery, accessible torque, outstanding fuel consumption and a level of refinement simply not found in any of the rivals (and I say that as a HiLux owner).


The 10-speed automatic transmission, despite its past issues, feels seamlessly calibrated to the driveline and provides effortless utilisation of the 150kW/500Nm on offer.


Even off-road the unit remains composed, diligently selecting and holding gears to suit the terrain, road speed and throttle input. Match it up to the Wildtrak X’s nifty Trail Control modes and it’s arguably the perfect package.


OK, those hauling big loads or large trailers may prefer the gutsy V6. But don’t discount the ‘four’. In the Wildtrak X it’s a charming and capable unit that doesn’t hurt the hip pocket – on test we managed to stay well under the 8.0 litre per 100km mark, even after excursions off-road.


Despite the fitment of more aggressive A/T tyres, we still found the Wildtrak X to be a quiet highway cruiser, but one that now offers far better ability to grip through the sandy tracks and deep puddles we encountered on our drive.


With the tyres aired down and the Trail Control set, the Wildtrak X breezed through and over obstacles without losing traction, the added ground clearance helping a smidge in navigating higher crests.


Ford’s inclusion of Bilstein Position-Sensitive dampers has tamed the rear-end’s willingness to skip over sharper bumps, while also giving the Wildtrak X a level of confidence on-road that is just as good as the remainder of the line-up.


We say that with some surprise knowing how compromised A/T tyres can sometimes (read: most of the time) be and would be keen to run the ‘X’ back-to-back with its Wildtrak sibling to see how close the difference is. For a lesser-known brand of rubber we also found the overall performance offered to be most impressive.


To be totally fair, the suspension set-up is a little firmer than we think is ideal for a vehicle with a clear off-road focus, but the trade-off in handling on-road is one we’re prepared to live with.


The electrically assisted steering of the Ranger remains a highlight being both communicative enough on and off road while also light enough to make parking a straightforward task. Yes, the Ranger is a large vehicle, but not a beast to park. Use your mirrors and the oh-so-handy camera system and manoeuvring is an absolute walk in the park.


It also continues to surprise us as to just how good Ranger’s driver assistance technologies are on the open road. Even with the vehicle caked in mud after an afternoon in the scrub the system worked flawlessly in maintaining lane position, distance from the car ahead and warning of vehicle tucked in our blind spot.


This becomes even more impressive when you factor in near-torrential rain, poorly marked roads and a bloody dark night.


And speaking of, the Raptor-spec Matrix LED headlights are an outright highlight of the Wildtrak X. They offer incredible reach and a broad spread and are impressively intelligent in dipping for other vehicles both approaching and travelling the same direction.


If you’re not a fan of driving lights and light bars, this is a terrific option, and one we found incredibly useful in dodging wallabies, ‘roos and Sambar deer.


The Bang & Olufsen audio system is an interesting one… it’s quite clear and offers a rich, warm tone at medium to higher volumes, though we wouldn’t say its leaps and bounds ahead of the standard Ford stereo.


Again, we’d need to try the two back-to-back to be sure, but our recollection of the factory unit is one that left a very favourable impression – were we paying for the B&O unit as an option, we may not be as positive.


If there is anything else we don’t like about the Ranger, it is perhaps the somewhat fiddly menu system of the infotainment unit and the fact some functions are locked-out when you’re on the move.


We also found the gearshift way to light in operation, occasionally shooting past Reverse and into Park – ouch!


The roller cover for the tray is also one of those things you’ll love or hate. Yes, it is convenient, more secure and keeps the dust and water out. But it also means a little loss of space up the cabin end of the tray, which can prove frustrating when carrying larger loads.


Our only other quibble with the Ranger Wildtrak X is that it occasionally asked us to put our hands back on the steering wheel when they were already there. This seems to happen only when traveling straight ahead for an extended period when no driver input is required. It’s a niggle, for sure. But a curious one all the same.


If you’re in the market for a dual-cab that has all the trimmings, but that won’t break the bank, the Ranger Wildtrak X is a sensible option. It’s a capable performer with enough off-road cred to make the weekends interesting, while still being quiet and comfortable enough to live with every day.


Sure, at $76K plus ORC it’s a bit on the pricey side, but when viewed against its nearest rivals we reckon it’s a pretty good deal – and a deal that’s pretty good looking, too.

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