Who says a hardcore pick-up truck can’t double as a comfortable family car? During my time with the new Ford PX Ranger Wildtrak I often returned to the vehicle to catch couples (and kids) going over it with much interest.
Most were impressed with its bold exterior looks and the quality and quantity of features inside the passenger cabin. One dad said he was considering downsizing from his Ford F150 and the new Ranger hot-shot looked the goods. This seems to back up the decision by Ford Australia to take up the sporty compact pick-up truck, bringing to 21 the number of models available in the all-new Ranger line-up.
From $57,390, the price tag is hefty. However, this will get you the new the latest in smart technology such as Bluetooth audio streaming, USB and iPod integration. Voice control enables occupants to operate the radio, CD, iPod, USB, air-conditioning and phone. It also offers a five-inch colour screen with satellite navigation.
As with all Ford vehicles, capped price servicing is offered on Wildtrak. For example, the maximum a customer who owns a PX Ranger Wildtrak 4x4 3.2-litre diesel would pay at a participating authorised Ford dealer for the first 15,000 km service is $385, which includes 12 months myFord Standard Roadside Assistance ($90).
Powering the Wildrak is a 3.2-litre TDCi Duratorq turbo-diesel engine, delivering 147 kW of power at 3000 rpm and 470 Nm of torque peaking from 1500 rpm to 2750 rpm. The variable geometry turbocharger enables low-end torque to improve launch and driveability and to come up with a fuel economy figure, for the manual, as low as 9.4 litres per 100km on the combined urban / highway cycle, with carbon dioxide emissions of 248g per kilometre.
At close to five and a half metres long and nearly two metres wide and high the Wildtrak has a prepossessing presence, even when standing still. But get those 18-inch wheels rolling and the truck takes on the roll of a class-leading juggernaut. Standard roof rack and aerodynamic sports bar emphasise the robust character, while unique badging and graphics make the ultimate statement of its ‘Wildtrakness’.
The test vehicle was fitted with a retractable tray cover that acts like a roll-top writing desk, disappearing into a compartment behind the cabin when not in use. A warning! Read the instructions on how to operate it. I didn’t and paid a frustrating price until it was explained, then it all came together easily. The sporty exterior is continued into the double cab with seating for five on leather and cloth trimmed seats inspired by sportswear, featuring contrasting stitching, plus two strips in distinctive Wildtrak Orange.
Particular attention has been paid to spaciousness and comfort, making sure three rear passengers are provided with ample knee room and foot clearance.
The pick-up’s bulky frame needs some attention when parking, so a reversing camera with guidelines is projected clearly onto a section of the rear-view mirror above the windscreen. A neat addition is the presence of a dotted line down the centre of the image which acts as a guide to the tow ball to help when lining up to hook up to a trailer, caravan, boat or horse float.
Unlike some systems in rival vehicles the camera, with the aid of high-intensity reversing lamps, works well in low-light conditions and is backed up by rear parking sensors in the back bumper.
Tested to operate at 400 metres below and 4500 metres above sea-level, the motor is designed to operate efficiently under conditions found almost anywhere in Australia. Indeed, primarily developed in Australia, the Ranger was designed for town work, with the ability to head to the Outback for pleasure purposes. Extensive gravel-road testing and extended trips through demanding conditions helped to fine tune suspension settings, tyre performance, and steering feel and response.
Without going too far off-road, the test Wildtrak lived up to the hype, being perfectly at home in stop/start town traffic while giving the driver confidence to approach going off the bitumen without sacrificing city-style comfort and safety.
Ford Ranger Wildtrak
Price: from $57,390
Warrenty: Three years/100,000km
Engine: 3.2-litre five-cyl, 147kW/470Nm
Transmission: Six-speed manual, six-speed auto; 4WD
Body: 5.35m (L), 1.85m (W), 1.85m (H)
Weight: 2200 kg
Thirst: 9.6L/100km diesel, 256g/km CO2
Nissan Navara ST-X
Price: from $56,990
Enigine: 3.0-litre turbodiesel V6 170kW/550Nm
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic, AWD
Thirst: 9.5l litres/100km (claimed)
Volkswagen Amarok Ultimate
Price: from $58,490
Engine: 2.0-litre diesel 120kW/400Nm
Transmission: six-speed manual, AWD
Thirst: 7.9 litres/100km