Let's get this straight: the last generation Ford Ranger wasn't what we considered to be a front runner in the pick-up segment.
The Ranger had a few things going for it such as its toughness, its size and a pair of powerful Duratorq TDCI engines. They even came out with a Wildtrak version in 2009 that looked better with a few cosmetic improvements, but overall, the Ford Ranger seemed content to just be an also-ran rather than a prime mover of the pick-up truck segment.
Now it's 2013 and my, my... how things have changed.
We already drove the “regular” Ranger 4x2 and needless to say, we thought it was out to achieve more than what any pick-up before it could: to open the segment to new customers, especially those who are used to the size of SUVs and those more used to comfortable sedans. We also tried out the new Ranger Wildtrak off road, but that's really more of an experience of taking the truck to the limits of its capabilities. This time it's about driving it everyday; on city streets, on the highway, to the mall, home and everything in between.
For starters, I have yet to meet someone who honestly believes the Ranger doesn't look good. That goes double for the Wildtrak, especially with a revised front end with a more aggressive bumper, a rollbar on the bed (albeit purely cosmetic), roof rails, stepboards and different rims. Personally, I wouldn't opt for a black Wildtrak, as the added design details in standard dark gray won't contrast with the body color, as opposed to the white and orange Wildtraks.
The previous Ranger Wildtrak we drove had all of its design improvements on the outside, without saving any for the inside. Not so on this one. The Wildtrak now occupies the top spot on the Ranger tiers, and comes with interior touches that have “Wildtrak” emblazoned on them including the gauge cluster. Leather is standard, along with the great Bluetooth-capable and voice-actuated audio system. The Wildtrak is also the only Ranger variant with climate control as standard, and also gets a reverse camera that makes parking the 5.3 meter-long (not to mention 2.2 meters wide) truck that much easier to park even with a fully laden cargo bed.
Over the standard Ranger, the Wildtrak has the option of either coming fitted with the 2.2L TDCI Duratorq engine or, in this case, the more powerful 3.2L TDCI Duratorq motor. As it stands, the Wildtrak's engine makes 200 horsepower at 3000 rpm and a whopping 470 Newton meters of torque, a perfect match for the 6-speed automatic and a superb 4x4 drivetrain.
We know that the Wildtrak can deliver on the trails and on the highway, but in town, it's surprisingly good. The heavier Wildtrak on the same suspension makes for a nicer ride than the lighter 4x2 Ranger. The power of the 3.2L engine definitely helps, and contrary to popular belief, delivers efficiency that's just as good as or even better than the 2.2 liter 4x2 Ranger. In town, the Wildtrak's efficiency was at the 9.1 km/l mark (the 4x2 2.2L Ranger: 8.9 km/l) under similar conditions, while on the highway it did 13.9 kilometers for every liter.
On mountain roads, the Ranger Wildtrak behaves and handles somewhere in between a car-based crossover and a full-size SUV. Body control is good given its size and is predictable to drive vigorously.
Overall, the new Wildtrak is a real achiever on nearly all fronts. Great design, great performance, high levels of fuel efficiency and features, and at PhP 1,549,000 for this top spec Ford Ranger Wildtrak 3.2L 4x4, it's no surprise that the lines are long to get this truck that's just raring to be all it can be.