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    Ford Ranger 2021 review: Wildtrak X off-road test

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    The Ford Ranger has consistently kept the bar pretty high for utes in terms of all-round drivability, functionality and comfort.

    However, it does feel a tad old, especially when compared to newer, fresher and more tech- and value-packed offerings, such as the Isuzu D-Max.

    But Ford’s top-tier Ranger variant, the Wildtrak, has been intended as a more premium version of the brand’s ute line-up and it has proven very popular as such.

    Now, with kitted-out and fitted-out versions of utes all the rage, Ford is hoping its Wildtrak X will further cement that vehicle’s place as a go-to factory-modified ute in this competitive slice of the ute market.

    So, is the Wildtrak X worth shelling out more cash than you would for a standard Wildtrak? Read on.

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    Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

    There are two engines available in Ford Ranger Wildtrak X spec: the 3.2-litre matched to a six-speed automatic, and the 2.0-litre bi-turbo that’s paired with a 10-speed auto. 

    Our test vehicle, a 2020.75 model year variant, was an 2.0-litre four-cylinder bi-turbo Wildtrak X 4x4, with a manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) of $70,490, but ours had the $650 paint (aluminium silver) option. 

    The Wildtrak X is only available as a dual-cab ute.

    As standard, a Wildtrak has a premium leather-accented interior, with contrast-stitched seat trim, accent colours, and illuminated scuff plates, as well as an 8.0-inch touchscreen Sync3 multimedia unit with Apple CarPlay and Android AutoSafety gear includes autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, reversing camera, parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, hill-descent control, hill-start assist, tyre pressure monitoring and more.

    The Wildtrak has a premium leather-accented interior, with contrast-stitched seat trim. The Wildtrak has a premium leather-accented interior, with contrast-stitched seat trim.

    The ‘X’ designation adds bi-LED headlights, a snorkel, nudge bar, nudge-bar-mounted LED light bar, Ebony Black wheel arch flares, 18-inch alloy wheels, and an Ebony Black rear sail plane.

    The Wildtrak X also has FordPass Connect which means you’re able to start and stop the vehicle via your smartphone, as well as lock or unlock it via that same device.

    • The ‘X’ designation adds a snorkel, nudge-bar-mounted LED light bar, and 18-inch alloy wheels. The ‘X’ designation adds a snorkel, nudge-bar-mounted LED light bar, and 18-inch alloy wheels.
    • The ‘X’ designation adds a snorkel, nudge-bar-mounted LED light bar, and 18-inch alloy wheels. The ‘X’ designation adds a snorkel, nudge-bar-mounted LED light bar, and 18-inch alloy wheels.
    • The ‘X’ designation adds a snorkel, nudge-bar-mounted LED light bar, and 18-inch alloy wheels. The ‘X’ designation adds a snorkel, nudge-bar-mounted LED light bar, and 18-inch alloy wheels.

    Ford reckons the accessories are worth $6000.

    The X also has a mountain top roll cover, which standard Wildtraks get, but this is powered in the ‘X’, and can be operated via an in-cabin switch or a button in the tray.

    Note: our test vehicle was a MY2020.75 variant, as mentioned, not a MY2021 version, which is due to arrive here in February 2021 – those new Wildtrak Xs will have a new Ebony Black front grille with Saber accent ‘nostrils’.

    As I’ve mentioned previously when writing about vehicles of this type (i.e. 4WDs that are sold from the showroom already loaded with gear that might otherwise be sourced through Australia’s great aftermarket industry), having all that gear onboard at purchase time will be the convenience boost that many people will savour, but others will prefer to do their own research and source their own aftermarket gear. 

     

    Is there anything interesting about its design?

    A Ranger looks good in standard form, as does the Wildtrak, and the X is essentially a geared-up Wildtrak so the assumption is that it will look good – and it does. 

    • The X retains the Wildtrak’s big-ute presence. The X retains the Wildtrak’s big-ute presence.
    • The X retains the Wildtrak’s big-ute presence. The X retains the Wildtrak’s big-ute presence.
    • The X retains the Wildtrak’s big-ute presence. The X retains the Wildtrak’s big-ute presence.
    • The X retains the Wildtrak’s big-ute presence. The X retains the Wildtrak’s big-ute presence.

    It retains the Wildtrak’s big-ute presence, successfully balancing cool charm with more than a fair share of premium feel about it, without ever straying into the territory of the posh and the out of touch.

    And the bonus is that, rather than being mere style changes, the X’s add-ons are real-world functional, and include the nudge bar, nudge-bar-mounted LED lights, and a snorkel.

    What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

    Our test vehicle had a 2.0-litre four-cylinder bi-turbo diesel engine – producing 157kW at 3750rpm and 500Nm at 1750-2000rpm – and a 10-speed automatic transmission.

    Our test vehicle had a 2.0-litre four-cylinder bi-turbo diesel engine. Our test vehicle had a 2.0-litre four-cylinder bi-turbo diesel engine.

    It has a selectable four-wheel drive system and an electronic locking rear differential.

     

    How practical is the space inside?

    The interior of the Wildtrak X is a roomy, functional space and it has a real touch of class as well with soft-touch leather-accented surfaces, orange-stitching, and ‘Wildtrak’ branding scattered about the cabin, including on the dash, seats and floormats.

    There are cup holders up front, and in a fold-down arm-rest in the back seat. There are bottle holders in every door.

    The interior of the Wildtrak X is a roomy, functional space and it has a real touch of class. The interior of the Wildtrak X is a roomy, functional space and it has a real touch of class.

    Other storage spaces include a glovebox, a small receptacle for everyday-carry stuff in front of the shifter, and a deep centre console. And there’s always the shallow space afforded if you have no rear-seat passengers and stow those seats away.

    In terms of charging points, there are two USB ports and a 12V socket up front.

    The X’s myriad controls, either dash- or steering-wheel-mounted are easy to locate and operate. 

    The multimedia system is bolstered by volume and tuning knobs. The multimedia system is bolstered by volume and tuning knobs.

    The multimedia system, with its 8.0-inch touchscreen bolstered by volume and tuning knobs, is easy to use and, as mentioned earlier, it has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (USB-connect) functionality.

    The rear seat can legally accommodate two baby seats, as it has an ISOFIX anchor on each outer seat and top-tether attachment loops that attach to a top anchor in the middle.

    The rear seat can legally accommodate two baby seats. The rear seat can legally accommodate two baby seats.

    The front seats are supportive and comfortable, and the rear seats aren’t too far behind, in terms of comfort levels, either.

     

     

    What's it like as a daily driver?

    The Wildtrak X is one of the biggest mainstream utes on offer in Australia at 5446mm long (with a 3220mm-long wheelbase), 1848mm high and 1848mm wide.

    The Wildtrak X is one of the biggest mainstream utes on offer in Australia. The Wildtrak X is one of the biggest mainstream utes on offer in Australia.

    So, yep, it’s not an insubstantial vehicle to steer around, but the funny thing is, it never really feels like it is – even with a 12.7m turning circle. This Ford’s electric power steering is consistently well-weighted and offers a precision that, until the Ranger was launched, was rare in a large ute.

    The engine-and-auto combination is smooth, with an even-handed delivery of power and torque, and by now any lingering doubts over the smaller capacity engine should have been well and truly done away with. There is some lag from a standing start under a heavy right boot, but otherwise the Wildtrak X is a very nice fuss-free ute to drive.

    Ride and handling are very impressive and on-road manners are assured and reliably sensible, even when it’s unladen. 

    The suspension – coils at the front and leaf springs at the rear – yields a comfort and control that’s been missing in most, if not all, utes until Ford’s contemporary Ranger line-up.

    What's it like for touring?

    The Wildtrak X was composed over corrugated dirt tracks, even through the potholed sections, and proved its mettle once again during low-speed, low-range 4WDing.

    With low-range 4WD engaged and rear diff locked, the Wildtrak X was able to conquer most natural challenges I could point it at, including a steep slippery hill, scarred by deep wheel ruts and cross-track wash-outs and peppered with exposed tree roots and rocks; some decent stretches of soft coastal sand; and a few minor water crossings (none that tested this ute’s wading depth (listed as 800mm).

    Sound low-range gearing, a reliably effective traction control system and electric power steering make this top-tier Ranger a real pleasure to take off-road.

    The electric power steering makes this top-tier Ranger a real pleasure to take off-road. The electric power steering makes this top-tier Ranger a real pleasure to take off-road.

    In terms of cold-hard off-road measures, ground clearance is listed as 237mm and off-road angles for approach, departure and ramp-over are claimed as 29 degrees, 21 degrees, and 25 degrees. We did belly-scrape a couple of times but only through very tricky and severely washed-out sections, the side steps do risk being scuffed – or worse – on tough terrain, and traction was only ever compromised because of the tyres, not the Wildtrak’s traction control system.

    With considered driving, judicious use of its ample low-down torque, and steady, controlled momentum, the Wildtrak X can be steered up, down and through pretty much anything. Although its lengthy wheelbase and road tyres are limiting factors at times.

    As is often the case on a new vehicle, the Wildtrak X was let down by its standard tyres, in this case, a shiny new set of Bridgestone Dueler H/T 684II (265/60R18 110T), which are much better suited to the blacktop than the bush. But a decent set of all-terrains are an easy fix there.

    The Wildtrak X’s engine braking is impressive, but its quietly effective hill descent control is even better at keeping the big ute to a steady controlled pace on downhill runs.

    For those of you thinking about using the Wildtrak X as an off-road tourer, you’ll want to know the tub dimensions for when you’re going to pack it with gear: the tub is 1549mm long at floor height; it is 1560mm wide and 1139mm wide between the wheel arches; and it is 511mm deep, but the Mountain Top roller cover and its storage drum (at the cabin end of the tub) erode that official measure.

    The tub is 1549mm long at floor height; it is 1560mm wide and 1139mm wide between the wheel arches; and it is 511mm deep. The tub is 1549mm long at floor height; it is 1560mm wide and 1139mm wide between the wheel arches; and it is 511mm deep.

    Speaking of the electric roller cover: it’s easy to use – we worked it via the key fob – and mostly a smooth operator, but it does feel like operating it is the height of laziness, and every now and again the cover itself would baulk at rolling closed at the slightest provocation (say, a tiny leaf on the cover rails). Annoying. Also, as mentioned above, the roller-cover's drum – into which the roller cover rolls – impacts your tray storage space; admittedly not as much as it used to but, still, it’s worth noting.

    Elsewhere, the Wildtrak X tub has a durable-looking tub liner with a built-in 12V outlet, as well as four tie-down points.

    This Ranger variant has a maximum towing capacity of 3500kg (braked) and 750kg unbraked. It has a listed payload of 954kg, a GVM (gross vehicle mass) of 3200kg and a GCM (gross combined mass) of 6000kg.

     

    How much fuel does it consume?

    The Wildtrak has a claimed fuel consumption of 7.4km/h (combined). On test, we recorded an actual fuel consumption of 10.8km/h, but driving included a few hours of low-range 4WDing.

    It has an 80-litre fuel tank.

     

    What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

    The Ranger has the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating, from testing in 2015.

    Safety gear includes a reversing camera. Safety gear includes a reversing camera.

    Safety gear includes six airbags (dual front, front side, full-length curtain), reversing camera, park assist sensors, auto emergency braking (AEB, operational at speeds above 3km/h) with pedestrian detection (at speeds of 3km/h-80km/h) and cyclist detection (at speeds of 3km/h-80km/h), adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, active lane keep assist (at speeds above 64km/h), speed sign recognition, and more.

     

    What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

    The Ranger line-up has a five-year/unlimited km warranty, a lifetime capped price servicing plan and seven years roadside assist

    The Ranger line-up has a five-year/unlimited km warranty. The Ranger line-up has a five-year/unlimited km warranty.

    Servicing is recommended at 12 month/15,000km intervals and the annual service cost averages out over seven years to $406.

    Pricing & SpecsInsurance Quote

    The Wildtrak X has a lot of good going for it and it is an all-round package: it’s great to drive, refined and very comfortable and capable, and it comes out of the showroom with real touring-friendly gear on it. 

    But it also has a price-tag to match.

    You have to give Ford credit for not skimping on this top-shelf Ranger though, because it’s aftermarket-style equipment whose equivalent would otherwise have to be sourced on the actual aftermarket. Though this ready-made approach no doubt holds a lot of appeal to many, it will also deter those who like the top-spec Ranger, but who’d prefer to research and source their very own selection of aftermarket gear.

    However, there’s no denying the very impressive Wildtrak X remains in the upper ranks, if not at the top, of the ute market.

    $65,790

    Based on new car retail price

    VIEW PRICING & SPECS

    Daily driver score

    4.1/5

    Adventure score

    4.1/5

    adventureguide rank

    • Light

      Dry weather gravel roads and formed trails with no obstacles, very shallow water crossings.

    • Medium

      Hard-packed sand, slight to medium hills with minor obstacles in all weather.

    • Heavy

      Larger obstacles, steeper climbs and deeper water crossings; plus tracks marked as '4WD only'

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    Price Guide

    $65,790

    Based on new car retail price

    Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.