Text: Vince Pornelos / Photos: Vince Pornelos | posted October 02, 2009 00:00
The wild boy
Like the Ranger Trekker 4x2, the Wildtrak measures 5173mm long, 1789mm wide and 1762mm tall, but Ford adds plenty of exclusive exterior features to truly take the Ranger to the next level.
Up front, the Wildtrak's face offers the same tough style of the original, featuring the 2009 redesign with new wraparound lights, a proud three-bar grille and a prominent front bumper. The entire front is finished off by a powerdome hood to protect the powerful TDCI engine underneath.
Towards the side, the Wildtrak begins to take shape, starting new set of rugged 16" wheels. A pair of large step boards make entry easier with the Wildtrak, while just above are new body cladding pieces that match the new lines. On top of the double cab body are a pair of railings for a roof rack, while towards the rear the truck bed receives a new sports bar, an exclusive bedliner and box rails. Completing the Wildtrak is a new cladding piece on the tailgate, along with new WILDTRAK decals.
Inside, the theme remains the same with the classic four spoke steering wheel and the same robust dashboard. The seats still hug the body firmly, and the controls are pretty straightforward. Ford adds a new set of illuminated scuff plates on the door frame.
At the center of the dashboard is a AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo with 4 speakers and features an auxiliary input port for your iPod. There are plenty of comfort features around like a powerful knob-type airconditioning system and a complete set power amenities that include steering, windows, central locking and power side view mirrors. The umbrella type handbrake saves space in the center console, making room for an easy to use floor mounted shifter bar. There's plenty of storage space inside ranging from well placed cupholders and bottle holders, a two-tier center console box, a large glove compartment and a map tray that slides out from the dashboard.
Pushing the Wildtrak to the limit is easy. Under the bonnet is a powerful, 2.5-liter DuraTORQ TDCI engine with 143 PS of power and an earth-moving 330 newton-meters of torque available. Being a common rail motor featuring a variable geometry turbocharger and drive-by-wire, the response of the engine is certainly quick. And when mated to the 5-speed manual (also available with a 5-speed automatic) with a limited slip differential, the Ranger Wildtrak is well capable of quick acceleration, easy overtaking and tops out at the 170 km/h mark.
Beneath the body lies a tough frame chassis that drives the rear wheels. A front double wishbone suspension set up and a rear rigid axle system riding on leaf springs keep the Wildtrak 207 millimeters above the ground, while the spring rates are set for improved handling, though compromises comfort. The brakes, even with drums in the rear, are quite powerful and easily locks the wheels at moderate speeds. Thankfully, there's a rather active ABS system to keep things in check and controlled.
There are some peculiarities though, especially since the Wildtrak is branded as an urban lifestyle truck, just like the Mitsubishi Strada. For one, it still doesn't have features like an automatic climate control system, a more thorough multi-info display, the handsome wheels from the new Everest or even just a leather wrapped steering wheel. When driven around, as expected the Wildtrak is quite a head turner for passersby outside, though with the stiff torsion bar/leaf spring suspension combo, it's quite a head rattler for passengers inside.
Ride notwithstanding, the Ranger was already a great truck to drive and practical to use (thanks to one of the largest beds in the class). With the new machismo from the Wildtrak aesthetics, its an even stronger package.
Now if only the horn was a little more macho.