Restarting a love for trucks
The world is opening up and we are gradually getting our usual routines again. Domestic and international travel is fully underway and the thirst for adventure is now slowly being quenched. In the recent Autoindustriya.com Editors’ Pick awards, we unanimously voted the 2023 Ford Ranger Wildtrak as the Adventure Vehicle of the year.
Yes, we mean both 4x4 and 4x2. Many will wonder why we included the rear-wheel drive mode and not kept it exclusively 4X4, while also keeping the Everest out. Maybe with some more time behind the wheel, we can explain why.
As soon as the unit was delivered to me, I got so giddy. I've become very biased with the color black when it comes to my rides; like getting a fresh pair of kicks that are so rare and getting to rock them straight out of the box.
Growing up in the province, pickup trucks are not new to me, although, in the past years, I have owned several SUVs due to the nature of my work as a professional photographer. The fascination with the great outdoors and off-roading has always been in me and if I did not need the space for my gear and the usual relatives who would come to visit here in Manila, I would still have opted to get a pickup truck.
It’s been more than a decade since its last iteration and indeed, the Ford Ranger went through many improvements. At first glance, I was a bit intimidated by its size. I was used to earlier models that were not as wide and as long as the current generation. Even the other brands I drove in my hometown before were dwarfed by this new model. Ford basically took the old model extended it a bit, cut a few curves, and made this new one more modern and "futureproof".
The new front grille with its tough-look mesh combined with the new matrix LED C-clamp headlights is a very welcome improvement from the previous generation. The 18” rims also have an upgraded design that just screams "take me off-roading" but at the same time "clean me up and you can take me to a gala."
The bed is one of the things I love about this truck. It has a tailgate that has helper springs and provisions for clamps if you want to do woodwork and the size is measured for a Euro pallet around 1200x800mm. It is also equipped with a couple of sockets to plug in power tools or even an induction cooker if you are in glamping mode. I personally used it to plug my laptop and charged a couple of batteries for my camera when we were shooting. You can also see a couple of side-mounted steps just aft of the rear wheels, one on each side for easier access to the bed.
Moving on to the cabin, Ford continues with the very well-thought-of and upgraded design. Greeting you is a massive 12-inch touchscreen panel that serves as the control for pretty much everything from your radio to your air-conditioning. However, the Ranger still has physical dials for an easier transition if you still need to get used to finding everything on the tablet-like display. The cameras on this variant are also very good quality and a good feature, especially for a truck this size.
Attention to detail is obvious with the yellow stitching and accents on the dashboard, seats, and side panels. The front seats are also very comfortable with electronic adjustments for the driver's side. The steering wheel is also soft to the touch and continues with the yellow stitching accents with conveniently placed controls for your phone, media, and ADAS systems. The 8-inch digital cluster comes in standard with all variants though. The rear seats are also improved and leg room added, although the backrest was a bit uncomfortable. The addition of a USB socket and 230V power outlet though was a nice touch in that area.
Under the hood, we see that there seems to be a lot of room compared to the previous generation. Again, this is part of futureproofing that Ford did, to make room for maybe a V6, electrification, or even (crossing fingers) a hybrid version for this edition. Being a 4x2, we find the 2.0L single turbo engine mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission churning out 170PS and 405nM of torque. If you don’t need the Bi-Turbo engine with a 10-speed automatic transmission and 4WD capability then this Wildtrak 4x2 is more than enough for your daily commute and the glamping on the weekend.
Driving it around, the size was not a problem as it was easy to maneuver due to the improved electric steering functions. Aside from the usual ADAS and safety features, it’s good to know also that this variant is equipped with rear disc brakes. The leaf springs in the back are very comparable to other trucks with coil springs when it comes to ride comfort. I personally still prefer leaf springs for pickup trucks since these are meant for hauling. The engine also did not disappoint since I was able to do close to 12km/L in the city and around 17km/L with the usual cruise control on long stretches.
Now you know why we at Autoindustriya voted this as the best Adventure Vehicle of the year, whether it may be in the city or on a weekend getaway, this pickup truck’s versatility and technological upgrades combined with futureproofing are just a step ahead in its class. Overall, the experience with this next-generation Ford Ranger Wildtrak 4X2 was a very pleasant one and it did make me want a pickup again.
And yes, it will be black.