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Ford Ranger Wildtrak V6 2023 review

 

The massively in-demand Ford Ranger Wildtrak is heavy on style, features and technology – and now it finally offers a V6. Can it justify the hype?


Good points

  • V6 brings desired displacement and torque
  • 12-inch vertical touchscreen
  • Tough, handsome styling
  • Smooth 10-speed automatic

Needs work

  • Deserves paddle shifters
  • Ride isn’t perfect
  • V6 isn’t hugely quick
  • Optioned Wildtrak a pricey proposition

Ford Ranger buyers, it’s the Wildtrak V6 you want. That’s not me telling you, that’s evidenced by your shopping habits.

Before the new generation Ranger had even hit showrooms this week, Aussies ordered 17,000 of them. Which grades? Showing the cost-of-living crisis isn’t bothering a decent chunk of the population, the two priciest models are the ones already with crippling waiting times. The mad dog $85,490 Ranger Raptor’s now out to nine months; the $70,190 Ranger Wildtrak V6 at eight months. Prices are before on-roads.

It’s quite the honour, then, to sample such an in-demand model before first customers get theirs. If we view the Raptor as a separate entity (it basically being a race truck with licence plates), the Wildtrak V6 is the tree-topper of an impressive new gen Ranger line-up.

Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2022 front 3/4 beach

And as has become the norm in our country, dropping over $70k on a ‘work’ truck barely raises an eyebrow. The Wildtrak V6 is rich in clever kit for serious off-roading and towing, while the cabin drips with tech goodies and enough luxe to thoroughly spoil you. With lengthy safety kit, reasonable rear seat comfort and ride quality that bests other 4×4 dual cab utes, it’s a pretty versatile big rig.

Rivals are many, but this being the latest pickup cab off the rank, technology and safety leave others in its wake. Regardless, you could also consider an Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain ($67,500), Mazda BT-50 Thunder ($68,290), Nissan Navara Pro-4X Warrior ($68,090) or Toyota Rugged X / Rogue ($70,750 / $70,200) – none, of course, featuring a V6.

Main rival will be its twin-under-the skin VW Amarok. Its Aventura V6 model will be a compelling alternative, but may cost closer to $80,000. If you can’t wait until it arrives next year, the current crop of V6 Amaroks TDI580s still stack up despite their age.

Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2022 rear 3/4 beach

By contrast, the new Ranger Wildtrak looks box fresh. Tough, too. Its style has been inspired by Ford’s larger F-150 truck with a more vertical front end, ‘C-clamp’ daytime running lights and a thick centre grille bar interlocking the front headlights.

At this price, Matrix LED headlights should probably have been included. Instead, they come as part of a $1500 Premium Pack, which looks fair value with full LED tail lamps, B&O audio and handy overhead auxiliary switch bank for the likes of a winch or driving lights.

Stance is impressive with the new Ranger’s 50mm wider track (and 50mm longer wheelbase), the wheel arches looking fatter than before. With boulder grey 18-inch alloys, all-terrain Goodyear Wrangler rubber, ‘RANGER’ stamped into the tailgate metal and dressed in Wildtrak-only Luxe yellow, it’s unquestionably an imposing machine. As long as you don’t park it beside a Raptor.

How does the Ranger Wildtrak drive?

Let’s start with the V6. It costs an extra $3000 to option this 3.0-litre over a Wildtrak with 2.0-litre biturbo diesel. Numbers-wise it’s 184kW/600Nm vs 154kW/500Nm and both are mated to Ford’s 10-speed auto gearbox.

There’s a nice little rumble to the V6 on start up. It feels like you have something more substantial under the bonnet – a bit more muscle – and there’s a lazy, easy feeling of power delivery. Drop a few gears using the e-Shifter’s side buttons (no steering wheel paddles, sadly), plant your foot and there’s serious torque to quickly hustle the big pickup along.

You’re not about the be blown away by performance though. If that’s your bag, you know you need a Raptor. But the V6 does offer more brawn for those who feel a four-cylinder may be under-gunned for heavy towing (3500kg maximum here) or hardcore off-roading.

Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2022 front 3/4

The bi-turbo four-cylinder is a flexible, likeable and more economical unit than the V6, and for those planning on using their Wildtrak for less hardcore duties, it’ll prove more than enough. But I get it. There’s something about a V6 badge on the side, those extra power and torque numbers and the meatier six-cylinder noise.

The 10-speed auto’s a gem. Our test included town, highway, country road and off-road routes and the gearbox proved a fuss-free companion. Urban travel at low speeds is very relaxed, the ‘box gently shuffling through the cogs with you barely noticing, keeping revs low so you just purr along.

The Ranger’s a big beast so navigating town is always testing, but the cabin’s comfy, well-insulated and with superb, high riding visibility. If you hit a large pothole, speed bump or even climb a kerb the suspension impressively mops up the hits.

Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2022 rear 3/4 offroad

By contrast, the little road imperfections are the more unpleasant for those in the cabin. These little hits are more jarring, especially with no load in the tub. It’s the same at 110km/h on the highway. Little bumps are dealt with firmly, but at least this is preferable to some leaf spring pickups’ habit of nauseatingly bouncing on such hits.

The ride and handling is otherwise superb for such a vehicle. The old Ranger was arguably already best in class in this department, and the new model hasn’t messed with the formula.

Body control is kept well in check, allowing you to take corners and roundabouts confidently, helped by reasonable steering feel and decent grip from the all-terrain tyres. Rear disc brakes – replacing the old drums – also improve stopping performance.

Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2022 V6 engine

The Wildtrak V6 gets full-time four-wheel-drive, unlike the four-cylinders. While the latter will be using two-wheel-drive in normal sealed road conditions, the V6 (when set to 4A mode on a rotary dial) continuously distributes power between front and rear axles. Ideal if you find yourself on a suddenly tightening wet corner.

As it’s an oft-used family vehicle, it feels safe, controlled and with enough traction if you don’t push things too hard.

On the unsealed stuff it feels impressively sure-footed. The new Ranger’s rear dampers have been moved outboard of the frame rails, working with the wider track to up the ride control and comfort. Fair play to Ford, at first try it appears they’ve done an excellent job.

The Wildtrak scores a full house of drive modes, previously only available on the Raptor. It’s through a simple rotary dial offering Normal, Eco, Tow/Haul, Slippery (for on-road) and Mud/Ruts and Sand for off-road. We tested the last two over some sodden trails, the car’s brain altering throttle, gears, traction control and the like to suit the low traction surfaces.

Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2022 rear 3/4 offroad 3

Moving to low range is also idiot-proof, and the Wildtrak breezed through our tests with barely a fuss.

The fact we were sat in (faux) leathery luxury with lots of digital assistance made the off-roading feel even easier than is typical. A centre console button brings up a dedicated off-road screen.

This shows a front wide-view camera complete with active guidelines, ensuring you’re not aiming at a tree stump or large rock. There’s a 360-degree camera too, to check every angle over tricky terrain – A brilliant tool for novices and experienced off-roaders alike. The rear diff-lock and hill decent control are also instantly accessed through this screen.

Drivability scorecard
Power & performance
7.5
Ride & refinement
8.0
Handling
8.5
Safety
8.5

How is the Ranger Wildtrak’s interior?

The gulf between old and new Rangers is best seen inside. It’s been comprehensively modernised with screens to the fore, and the Wildtrak gets all the fruit.

Specification is mighty. Leather accented power and heated front seats with ‘Wildtrak’ embossing, leather steering wheel and gear shifter, an 8-inch digital instrument cluster, 12-inch vertical infotainment screen, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless phone charging, embedded sat nav and voice control, dual zone climate, ambient lighting, self- parking, smart entry and start… the list goes on.

The digital dash isn’t the last word in high-tech, but it’s clear and simple to use with reasonable customisation. But the Wildtrak’s 12-inch infotainment screen really is next level.

Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2022 interior

This is a work truck remember, but this smart centre point is seriously advanced. Functionality and SYNC 4A connectivity were excellent on our test, with menus quick and easy to navigate. Wisely, Ford has retained physical buttons for climate control and volume, showing others just because you have a massive screen not everything has to go through it.

The centre console is clean with a chunky e-Shifter (accurate shifting takes some getting used to as it’s a sensitive thing), electronic handbrake and drive mode selector. There’s a couple of cup holders here, while others pop out beneath the dashboard’s air vents – ideal for quickly cooling your tongue-burning highway stop coffee.

Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2022 front seats

Door tops, inners and centre arm rest are all squidgy-soft for resting arms on, while nice touches include a trinket tray above the main glove box (for your tape measure, pens, smokes, etc.) while there’s a further pop-up box above this. Excellent storage solutions here.

There’s further storage under the rear bench seat, which pulls up easily to reveal a plastic box to store the likes of a tow bar or snatch strap. Rear seat space is as you were – a reasonably high floor and upright seats, but ample head and leg room. A big bonus, finally in a Ranger, are air vents for the back row.

Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2022 rear seats

Another overdue addition is a steering wheel that adjusts telescopically as well as for tilt. Combined with the well bolstered, multi-adjustable and very chunky seats, a good driving position is far easier to find.

The pickup tub hasn’t just been an afterthought. A box step in the bumper side allows easy access to your load, there’s aluminium tie down rails above the load box, adjustable tie down points inside, tub illumination and even pre-drilled points for fitting accessories. The tailgate has lift assist so can be done with two fingers rather than two hands, while an electric power roller shutter’s standard to hide away your contents. The Wildtrak V6, incidentally, offers a 951kg payload.

Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2022 tray

The sheer amount of inclusions help justify the Wildtrak V6’s entry fee. More notables include an integrated trailer brake controller, while the FordPass app brings remote lock and unlock, remote start and pre-heating and cooling.

We can expect a 5 star ANCAP rating too thanks to nine airbags (including one between the two front seats), traffic sign recognition, lane centering, adaptive cruise control, numerous collision mitigation goodies and cross traffic alert. The lane keep warning and assist – so often over-nannying in some pickups – was pleasingly subtle. Just a little vibration on the steering wheel if you start to stray.

Interior scorecard
Layout & materials
8.0
Cabin technology
9.0
Driver comfort
8.0
Passenger space
7.0

What are the Ranger Wildtrak’s running costs?

The 3.0-litre V6 gives a reasonable 8.4L/100km – bettering the 8.9L/100km from the old Ranger’s 3.2-litre five-cylinder. Even so, it’s a fair leap over the 7.6L/100km from a Wildtrak with 2.0-litre biturbo-diesel, a decent motor worth considering if your journeys are long and fuel bills high.

Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2022 front 3/4 driving

We spent a few hundred kilometres in the Wildtrak V6 over highway, rural and town roads, then over a decent section of serious off-road course. Our overall was 10.3L/100km (unladen), and we saw numbers dip under 8L/100km cruising on the highway.

Scheduled services are every year/15,000km. Ford says capped price services are $329 for the first four general services up to four years/60,000km. Additional items that may be required, such as brake fluid replacement and tyre rotation, aren’t included in this price.

Running costs scorecard
Consumption
Average
Servicing
Good
Warranty
Good

The final verdict

Little wonder there’s such a mighty waiting list already, the Ranger feels a class-leading pickup and in double cab 4×4 Wildtrak V6 guise it’s brimming with desirable features to go with serious on and off-road talents.

The V6 is an impressive engine but buyers shouldn’t overlook the four-cylinder biturbo – it’ll prove ample for most, is more economical and you’ll get in a Wildtrak far sooner than joining the V6’s busy queue.

Ride, handling, inclusions and the cabin’s digital overload justify the $70,000+ sticker price. There’s very much a new pickup hero in town.

Overall rating
Overall rating
8.5
Drivability
8.5
Interior
8.0
Running costs
Good
Overall rating
8.5
Drivability
8.5
Interior
8.0
Running costs
Good

Variant tested WILDTRAK 3.0 (4x4)

$70,190
Details
Approximate on‑road price Including registration and government charges
$73,844

Key specs (as tested)

Engine
Capacity
2993 cc
Cylinders
v6
Induction
Diesel Turbo
Power
184kW at 3250rpm
Torque
600Nm at 1750rpm
Power to weight ratio
78kW/tonne
Fuel
Fuel type
Diesel
Fuel capacity
0 litres
Drivetrain
Transmission
Automatic
Drivetrain
4x4
Gears
10
Dimensions
Length
0 mm
Width
0 mm
Height
0 mm
Unoccupied weight
2353 kg

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