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Sunday, October 2, 2022

Review: 2023 Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2.0 Bi-Turbo 4x4


This next-generation Ford Ranger has big shoes to fill. It’s hard to believe, but the previous Ranger was first launched in 2012 meaning it served a whole decade in the market. Despite that, it never felt long in the tooth—a testament to its then designers and engineers who set out to do a future-proof truck that went beyond what focused groups simply wanted. Who would have thought that buyers wanted a truck that offered advanced driver aids (including the ability to park itself) or a Baja racing derivative (the Ranger Raptor)?

Fast forward to 2022, and now, Ford’s turned their approach completely on its head. Instead of being the ones to dictate where the Ranger’s going in the next few years (or even decade), they’ve gone all in on FGDs and market studies. They’re proud to say that they’ve conducted more than 5,000 interviews and made more than 1,800 pages of field notes—all for the sake of getting into the minds of their customers. The result is what you see here: a pickup truck that’s made for the here and now.



Starting with a carryover platform (yes, it still uses the Ranger T6’s basic frame), engineers lengthened the wheelbase and stretched the tracks both by 50 mm while keeping close to the outgoing model’s overall proportions. The biggest visual difference here though is how the front-end’s been lengthened, and frankly that’s the most transformative part. The longer “dash-to-axle” ratio was done to accommodate the diesel V6. Although the Philippines doesn’t get this engine, it does give designers a larger canvas to work with. The resulting design is one that properly integrates Ford’s global truck DNA down to the C-clamp headlamps and large upright grille. Even better is how they’ve been able to spruce up an often-neglected part of a pickup truck—the rear-end. The stamped lip spoiler and Ranger lettering, taillight graphics, and integrated bed step make this the most well-thought-of designed truck in the market.

Since it uses the same core ladder frame, in terms of ride and handling, the Ranger feels very familiar. Regardless, engineers did work to make it ride over corrugations with minimal fuss; it feels especially well-behaved even when going through cracked pavement. It’s also far quieter at speed despite the letter-sized side view mirrors and somewhat aggressive Goodyear tires. The electric power steering is single-finger-friendly but at least they’ve managed to dial in a bit more directness and consistency this time. This Ranger Wildtrak, like the outgoing Ranger Raptor, also benefits from rear disc brakes. Sadly, this hasn’t improved the stopping feel as it tends to feel underbraked at times.



Pop the hood, and it’s noticeable how the 2.0-liter bi-turbo 4-cylinder takes so little space in there. Pushed against the firewall (remember, it’s meant to accommodate a V6), it’s basically a carryover powertrain with some changes done to its plumbing and electricals. Outputs—210 horsepower and 500 Nm of torque—stick close to the outgoing Ranger, and by extension, so does its on-road behavior. Thanks to its small displacement and reliance on boost for grunt, it’s pretty quiet. There’s still some telltale diesel clatter close to idle, but this quickly disappears as the revs go up. Power comes in at a linear fashion too, and makes small work of its rather portly 2,341-kilogram curb weight.

For the Ranger Wildtrak 4x4, Ford is sticking to their 10-speed automatic guns. In the previous Ranger, people, myself included, felt it was great on paper, but not in reality; it had far too many gears for a stop-and-go traffic environment such as Manila. This time, they did manage to smoothen out the gearbox’s rough edges, but it still re-appears every now and then. The gearbox is more confident now during upshifts—it engages a gear and sticks to it. The confusion comes out during downshifts, where it still has a tendency to hunt for the appropriate gear. The same is true with abrupt throttle inputs; the transmission is momentarily confused as to which gear to select before delivering the power.



Fueled with Petron Turbo Diesel—Petron’s technologically advanced diesel fuel with excellent detergency that keeps the engine and fuel injectors clean for improved cold start performance, fuel economy, and performance, the Ranger Wildtrak 4x4 does 8.54 km/L—fuel economy figures which are slightly better than the outgoing model’s 7.35 km/L.

Carryover the platform and powertrain maybe, but Ford has given the Ranger a truly next-generation makeover inside. True enough, anyone who’s managed to sit in one will applaud what the carmaker’s done. The all-digital gauges and 12-inch infotainment screen will immediately catch your eye. The SYNC 4A’s learning curve is gentle, and you’ll be mastering it in no time. Having said that, while every single function is no more than two menus away, be prepared to do a lot of scrolling to get around. The gauge cluster is also underutilized with no changeable modes or displays. Plus, there’s also a bit of give-and-take here too. With the large portrait screen incorporating most of the controls, there’s not much physical buttons here to go around. What to engage Auto Hold? You’ll have to go through the Vehicle Settings menu (the Ranger icon on the upper left) to do that. Whatever happened to the truck where the controls were usable even with gloves on? Guess that’s Ford admitting, through their FGDs, that Ranger owners don’t use them much as workhorses.



On the flipside, this new lifestyle-oriented positioning for the Ranger does have other benefits. Chief among them is a cabin with much better materials than before. The upper dash, with its leather-like topper and soft-padded plastics truly make it look and feel classy. More importantly, it distracts from the plain, scratchy plastics with misaligned panels that dominate the lower half. Mind you, these are parts that people don’t regularly notice, but once you see them, it can’t be unseen.

Space-wise, the Ranger’s about the same as the outgoing model but new rear AC vents, a 12-volt socket, and USB ports make it a more hospitable place to be in. The seats fold as a single piece, but at least everyone gets their own headrests. There’s even a center arm rest too. Upfront, the large screen means far fewer cubby holes. There’s a second higher-mounted glovebox and retractable cup holders on the dash, but that’s about it. The only other usable space is now occupied by the wireless charger which is great if you’re just bringing around a phone. But because it doesn’t play well with metallic objects or credit cards, putting your wallet or house keys there is out of the question. There’s no function to even permanently turn off wireless charging.



The driving environment itself is solid with the steering wheel and seats offering ample adjustments. The latter also offers excellent support as well, and is adjustable in eight ways electronically. It’s odd though why the seat belts lost their height adjustment. Controls are better positioned now compared to the previous Ranger, except for the headlights which require a good stretch to operate. However, it can be left in a purely automatic mode for a truly set-and-forget mindset. Exterior visibility is alright in all directions save for the front three-quarters. The thick A-pillar can sometimes mask in-coming cyclists and even pedestrians. It’s great, therefore, that pre-collision braking comes standard, although it must be said that even at its lowest sensitivity, it’s pessimistic about distances. Also, parking this 5.3-meter-long truck can be challenging, especially now that they’ve axed Active Park Assist. At least, it now gains a 360-degree camera.

The previous Ranger truly pushed the envelope of what a pickup truck could be, so it’s no surprise that this new one does the same. Although it’s not as “next-generation” as Ford would like you to think, it’s impressive by any margin. Ford didn’t need to think out of the box for this one, and frankly, they didn’t need to. They just had to listen to their customers to come up with a truck that retains a degree of familiarity, particularly with its mechanicals, but add just enough sparkle and tons of tech to keep it ahead of the increasingly competitive goal post. Through careful evolution, Ford’s come up with the current class leader, and now, all eyes are on everyone else on how they’ll respond.



2023 Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2.0 4x4

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Ownership 2023 Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2.0 Bi-Turbo 4x4
Year Introduced 2022
Vehicle Classification Pick-up Truck
Warranty 5 years / 150,000 kilometers
The Basics
Body Type 5-door Pick-up Truck
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/4WD, Low, Locking, Terrain Management System
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 2.0
Aspiration Twin Turbocharged
Fuel Delivery Common Rail
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 210 @ 3,750
Nm @ rpm 500 @ 1,750-2,000
Fuel / Min. Octane Diesel
Transmission 10AT
Cruise Control Yes, Adaptive
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 8.54 km/L @ 17 km/h
(fueled with Petron Turbo Diesel)
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 5,370
Width (mm) 1,918
Height (mm) 1,884
Wheelbase (mm) 3,270
Curb Weight (kg) 2,341
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, Double Wishbone
Rear Suspension Leaf Spring
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Disc
Parking Brake Electric, w/ Auto Hold
Tires Goodyear Wrangler Territory HT 255/65 R 18 H (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 7
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes, Front & Rear
Parking Camera Yes, 360-degree
Front Seatbelts 3-pt ELR w/ pre-tensioners x 2
Rear Seatbelts 3-pt ELR x 3
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchor Yes
Other Safety Features Hill Start Assist
Hill Descent Control
Autonomous Emergency Braking
Forward Collision Warning
Lane Departure Warning
Lane Keeping System
Evasive Steer Assist
Blind Spot Indicators
Rear Cross Traffic Alert
Exterior Features
Headlights LED
Fog Lamps Yes, Front (LED)
Auto Lights Yes
Rain-sensing Wipers Yes
Tailgate Manual
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment (driver) Electric, 8-way
Seating Adjustment (front passenger) Manual, 4-way
Seating Surface Leather/Leatherette
Folding Rear Seat Yes
Sunroof No
Trip Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, w/ Fold
Rear View Mirror Auto-dimming
Proximity Key Yes
Climate Control Yes, Dual, w/ Rear Vents
Audio System Stereo
Bluetooth
USB Type A
USB Type C
Smartphone Connectivity Apple CarPlay, Wireless
Android Auto, Wireless
# of Speakers 6
Steering Controls Yes

7 comments:

  1. So that autohold function that needs to be activated through the infotainment was part of the more than 5k interviews they conducted? D'you think it gives more convenience?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As I mentioned, it doesn't. I still prefer physical buttons and controls as opposed to having a touchscreen. But then again, I may be the minority now.

      Delete
    2. same here, physical buttons are quicker to access and give character to interiors (from a generation the grew from star wars and gundams) i do love tech but not overcooked huge ass screens that are slow to operate i hope mazda continue being stubborn about that, and its a shame the incoming x1 lost its physical buttons

      Delete
    3. Same with ranger illegitimate small brother tortury touchscreen aircon adjustments

      Delete
  2. Fueled with Petron Turbo Diesel—Petron’s technologically advanced diesel fuel with excellent detergency that keeps the engine and fuel injectors clean for improved cold start performance, fuel economy, and performance, the Ranger Wildtrak 4x4 does 8.54 km/L—fuel economy figures which are slightly better than the outgoing model’s 7.35 km/L. - I like this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Better fuel efficiency? Yeah. Same average speed but seems the new Ranger does sip less fuel even if it weighs more. From my understanding, the gearing of the 10 AT has been tweaked.

      Delete
  3. Fugly front and as always Fix Or Repair Daily.

    ReplyDelete

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