Here at Autoindustriya, we're rather fond of the Ford Ranger. It doesn't matter what variant it is, be it the XLT or the Raptor, the Ranger, as a whole, is a competent truck. Sure, it's not perfect, but we see no major cons when we take one out for a spin.
So when Ford introduced a new engine to the Ranger Wildtrak, we were taken by surprise. That's because it has the exact same engine seen in the top-dog Raptor. It was an engine we were expecting to be kept exclusive to the rally truck for the road, but it's a nice addition nonetheless. It does beg the question, did the Ranger need any updating at all?
But before we answer that question, let's have a look around this year's model. Spotting a 2019 Ranger from a 2018 model isn't that difficult. The dark gray trimmings at the front have been dialed down a bit, and the foglights are small than before. Also, the grill is new for 2019, sporting a two-bar grill instead of the single-bar look of last year's model. As for the rear, there are slightly different graphics in the tail lights. The rest of the body carries over unchanged, and so too are the wheels.
Personally though, I prefer the look of the pre-facelift model. For me at least, those gray trimmings and the larger foglights made it look more aggressive and purposeful. The new 'cleaner' design made it appear a bit more dainty, but that's not to say the 2019 Ranger is a bad-looking truck.
Inside, it's the most challenging game of spot the difference. In my eyes at least, I didn't see any dramatic changes that pop out immediately. There are new seats, which are now trimmed in leather for the most part. Also, the word Wildtrak is spelled out on the passenger side dashboard fascia. Other than that, it's largely the same Ranger from all the way back in 2015. Ford's approach to the 2019 interior is essentially, “if it ain't broke, don't fix it”. Space, as always, is good, and there are loads of cubby holes to plop in your loose items. I particularly like the under seat storage bins at the back, which hides small valuables out of prying eyes.
Of course, it wouldn't be a pickup review if we didn't mention anything about the bed. It remains to be one of the largest trays in its class in terms of volume. The Ranger has the tallest and widest in its segment (check out our pickup spec checks from years ago), and the second-longest, pipped only by the Toyota Hilux by a near negligible 5 mm. Payload is claimed to be close to 1,300 kilograms, which is about as much as an entire Corolla Altis...and then some. That's serious carrying capacity.
Now, for the biggest change in the Ranger: the engine. Gone is the 3.2-liter, five-cylinder mill and in goes a 2.0-liter BiTurbo diesel engine. It's also got one less cylinder than last year, but it does gain in power. It gets a 13 PS boost over the 3.2-liter and power hikes up to 213 PS. It's then paired to a 10-speed automatic transmission, a class first.
So you're now probably wondering what Raptor power feels like in the Wildtrak. In a nutshell: It's a fabulous engine. Torque comes on strong from the start, and it just keeps on going until it shifts up. So if you want a truck with a lot of pull, the Wildtrak will easily win you over. On a slippery road, you'll have to have a little more caution because you can easily light up those rear wheels. Thankfully, there's traction and stability control to keep things in check.
Passing and overtaking? No problem. You don't even have to pin the pedal to the floor to get the job done. It's great on the highway, and it's fantastic one provincial roads. There's never a moment that you think you won't make, provided there's a reasonable gap, that is. It's no Mustang, but when it comes to pickups, the Ranger is quite the hauler. In a closed environment, you can have a lot of fun with it as 500 Nm of torque goes through the rear wheels. The Ranger is actually fun going sideways.
While we're on the subject on handling, the Ranger is as surefooted as it was when we first tested it all those years ago. Sure, we sent it sideways, but it never felt like it was going to tip over or be sloppy around the bends. The Ranger is no hot hatch, but it's a truck you can work with and play with if you want some thrills in your hauler.
However, I will admit that I miss the distinct five-cylinder sound, but I welcome the quieter operation of the new four-cylinder twin-turbo. That said, there's still a bit of noise seeping into the cabin, but it's much improved. Other bits of the Ranger we like? There's the ride, which isn't bad for a load lugger, and the light steering which makes maneuvering this over five meter long vehicle easy.
But while we're thrilled about the new engine of the Ranger Wildtrak 4x4, it's a bit of a downer when it comes to fuel consumption. With a smaller engine, I was expecting better economy, but that wasn't the case here. For comparison basis, the 3.2-liter Wildtrak we tested back in 2017 managed 8.7 kilometers per liter at 16 km/h.
The two-liter twin-turbo on the other hand only did 7.7 kilometers per liter at 16 km/h. Perhaps it's the low miles of the vehicle that blunted its economy, but that's what was displayed on the vehicle's information display. We were expecting about 9 kilometers per liter at the very least given that it has a 10-speed automatic. At least it's improved on the highway, showing 15.2 kilometers per liter at an average of 92 km/h, up by 1.2 kilometers per liter from last year's model.
Now, to answer the question raised at the start: Did the Ranger need any updating at all?
Honestly, I'd say no. The old 3.2-liter equipped model was already impressive to begin with, and I felt that it didn't need any significant updates. However, this new 2.0-liter twin-turbo is the change I didn't know the Ranger needed. It's slightly quieter and more refined, plus, more power is always welcome. While we wish it had better city fuel economy, at least it made up for it on the open road.
At Php 1,695,000, the 2019 Ranger Wildtrak is actually more affordable than its 2017 sticker price, thanks in part to the new excise tax laws. It even undercuts some of its rivals which actually have less tech and smaller spec-sheet numbers. Here, you get a powerful engine, loads of active and passive safety kit (lane keeping assist, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control), good handling, heaps of payload, and the biggest bed in its class.
To cut the long story short: We always liked the Ford Ranger, and with its new twin-turbocharged heart, we'll keep on liking it.