Anton Andres / Anton Andres | April 09, 2018 10:03
Still a solid, capable pickup truck
Yes, we know, a facelifted Ford Ranger may come soon, maybe sooner than we think. Still, it's worth testing out the Ranger even in its advancing years and, so far, it's the 2.2-liter diesel powered ones that have been flying off dealership lots. It's odd then that we haven't tested the 2.2 Wildtrak variant but we're here to rectify that.
While this era of Ranger is in its twilight years, perhaps its time to revisit why the Ranger has been a popular choice for pickup buyers nationwide. It's time to get reacquainted with Ford's best-seller.
From the looks if it, there virtually nothing differentiating the four-cylinder Ranger Wildtrak from its bigger-engined variant. In fact, it even has the same wheels, color combination and graphics as the 3.2-liter Wildtrak. The only differences are the 2.2 TDCi badge on the fenders and the lack of a 4x4 decal on the bed. Still, there's nothing wrong with that. As a whole, the Ranger is one of the more handsome looking pickups in its class, showing off the Ford pickup heritage look with its bold front fascia.
Finished in its signature Pride Orange color, the Ranger is still a good looking truck even if it's been three years since the first facelift. The design has aged fairly well and the dark gray highlights bode well with the butch fascia. Plus, that cargo bed is still one of the biggest in its class when it comes to width and height, allowing you to haul more stuff in the commodious tray. Do note that, with the 2.2-liter diesel, it won't have the same payload capacity as the 3.2-liter, but it can still carry a little over one ton.
It's a big truck and it feels that way inside. Cabin space has never really been an issue in the Ranger with loads of leg, knee, head and shoulder room inside. It has the same seats and theme as the higher-powered version, right down to the orange and black seats and Wildtrak kickplates. However, you do lose the power seats for the driver and reaching down for the adjusters are a bit of a chore if you're not tall. Yes, there's a lot of hard plastic in there but it's still a workhorse and, in general, if feels well screwed together and will last a long time. Perhaps the updated model will see more soft touch materials inside.
Unfortunately, the 3.2 Wildtrak's neat 230v inverter isn't available in the 2.2 TDCI model. Hopefully, the facelifted Ranger will get it standard across the majority of the range. Ergonomics are different from its Japanese competitors so some adjustments have to be made but it's an easy to understand dashboard layout. And then, there's the SYNC 3 system which is leaps and bounds ahead of SYNC 2 with clearer menus and logical arrangements. The only minor nitpick with the cabin is the air-conditioning controls which are set a little too low for some.
The 2.2-liter received an updated about three years ago and saw a healthy power boost. Power is rated at 160 PS with torque at 385 Nm, good numbers coming from a small displacement. It then shifts via a six-speed automatic transmission. Granted, Isuzu pulls out similar figures from an even smaller 1.9-liter. It's amazing just how quick automotive technologies advance in just a few years. Still, it doesn't discredit the Ranger for being one of the more powerful options in the class back then and these figures are still good today.
Having driven the 3.2-liter TDCI, the 2.2-liter engine does have more noticeable lag. If you decide to step a little deeper on the throttle, it takes a while to react as the turbo slowly spools to life. It's not slow by any means, but you do notice it. Interestingly, it still surges forward even with minimal boost and when it does kick in, it goes well for a two-ton object. If it does downshift at the right time, overtaking is relatively effortless too. For best results, put it into sport mode for more eager downshifts.
What was impressive with the 2.2-liter is it's refinement. Back-to-back against a 3.2-liter Ranger, the smaller engine is quieter, more refined and had less vibrations. Normally, one would associate smoothness with a larger engine but it seems that Ford switched that around. With its smaller size, it pays off at the pumps too. Light traffic (22 km/h average) saw the on-board computer display 11.1 kilometers per liter while consumption in extreme congestion (13 km/h) yielded 8.0 kilometers per liter.
To drive, the Ranger is surprisingly easy to wield around thanks to electronic power steering. However, it feels a touch overboosted and too light for my personal preferences. The 3.2 Wildtrak offered a little more feel and, thus, more feedback. Still, it's improved over the first facelifted models from 2015 which saw fingertip light steering which was devoid of feel. Hopefully, the updated model coming soon will be able to offer more feedback behind the wheel.
As for ride, it's not so bad given the fact that it's a hauler. It's relatively soft in the front and, typical for a pickup, firm at the back. That said, it won't leave you with a sore back on, or off, the road. While it may not have four wheel drive, the high ground clearance and the traction control system allows for light trailing. Plus, the suspension articulation is good when climbing over obstacles.
Thanks to the excise tax, Ranger prices have been slashed quite significantly and this 2.2 Wildtrak is no exception. At Php 1,388,000, it's Php 101,000 less than last year, which is not bad at all for a decently-equipped pickup. You get the neat SYNC 3 system, traction control, stability control, a host of airbags, front and rear parking sensors, a reverse camera and a (mostly) digital dashboard. On top of that, you get a large cargo bed and a punchy 2.2-liter diesel.
So while it may be getting yet another refresh this year, the Ford Ranger Wildtrak is still a truck to consider. It's difficult to point out any major flaws in the pickup, and it still holds true even after three years.