4 x 4 Australia
FROM THE TOP
OUR series of drives on the launch started at the top of the range with the Wildtrak, which is powered exclusively by the 3.0-litre diesel V6 engine. The ‘Lion’ V6 engine is new to the Ranger brand and puts out 184kw of power at 3250rpm and 600Nm of torque, giving the Ford Ranger the most grunt in the 4WD ute class.
As in the past, the Wildtrak is more than just a dress-up pack, and stepping in to the interior of the new model you are greeted with newly designed and shaped powered leather seats and a 12-inch portrait layout infotainment screen. Lower models get a still-sufficient 10-inch version of this screen.
Even though Ford has fitted these big new screens to the Ranger, the designers haven’t forgotten about functionality and have gifted us with individual dials for HVAC temperature adjustment and audio volume controls – thank you, Ford!
Another welcome addition is that the steering column on all variants is now adjustable for both height and reach, allowing drivers of all sizes to get the best driving position. The ignition start/stop button is rightfully placed on the right-hand side of the steering columns where an ignition key would normally go, making it easy to find for drivers who might use more than just the one same model of car.
Press that start button and the V6 diesel fires to life with a low, smooth rumble. The V6 engine is backed by an updated version of the 10-speed automatic transmission seen in the previous generation of Ranger. It gets a new short-throw electronic gear shifter that is placed in the centre console. Buttons for manual gear selections once in are on the right-hand side of the shifter, where the driver’s thumb finds them.
Selecting Drive and heading through the suburbs, my first feeling was of how far the front corners of the car seem to be. The P703’s 50mm of extra wheelbase all sits between the driver and the front axle and the bonnet is bigger and longer. Thankfully, the front end of the Ranger is quite blunt, so those somewhat distant front corners are visible where you need to see them.
On these low-speed suburban streets, the refinement of the V6 engine over anything an in-line four-cylinder engine could ever deliver, becomes evident. It continues as we merge on to the highway and are greeted with seamless mid-range torque as the Wildtrak accelerates up to speed.
The V6 diesel doesn’t make the Ranger a rocketship by any means, but the smooth, refined way it delivers its improved performance makes the drive experience far better than that of the bi-turbo four-cylinder. The V6 should also trump the I4 when it comes to hauling a load, be it in the tray or on a trailer.
The Ranger Wildtrak is also available with the bi-turbo I4 diesel engine, as are the Sport and XLT 4x4 models. In all of them, it is $3000 less than the same car with the diesel V6.