Ford Ranger VS Renault Kangoo
- Great steering
- Nice cabin
- Limited availability
- Soft suspension a bit bouncy with weight
- A bit of turbo lag
- Purchase price
- Zippy performance
- Load-carrying ability
- Premium fuel only
- Big LHS blind-spot
- No AEB
The Ford Ranger Wildtrak has been a runaway success for the brand. Plenty of people have bought them, modified them, taken them off-road and put them to task in the PX generation of Ranger.
Now, to see out the 2019 model range, Ford has added a new version above the standard Wildtrak. It’s the Ford Ranger Wildtrak X, and the ‘X’ stands for ‘extra’, because you get a bit more gear for a touch more money.
We’ll get to all the detail soon, and for this test we didn’t head off the beaten track - our aim here was to see how the Wildtrak X copes in daily driving, as well as how it handles hard work.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
The Renault Kangoo is the closest competitor to Volkswagen’s top-selling Caddy in Australia’s small van segment (under-2.5 tonne GVM). In 2020 the enduringly popular German light commercial holds a commanding 72 per cent share of this market, compared to the Kangoo’s 21 per cent.
However, such a big imbalance in sales doesn't always reflect a similar disparity in vehicle design and performance. Fact is, after spending a working week in the Kangoo, the gap between VW’s runaway sales leader and its closest competitor is not as large as those sales figures might suggest.
|Engine Type||1.2L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
The Ford Ranger Wildtrak X is up to the task when it comes to hard work, but it’s more comfortable showing off at the worksite than actually getting the job done. We all know someone like that.
And that’s no bad thing - if you’re after a competent and impressively specified (if a little expensive) dual-cab ute, you could do a lot worse than the Wildtrak X.
Thanks again to our mates at Crown Forklifts in Sydney for helping out with this load test.
It’s an honest and willing little worker and, given the much lower purchase price compared to its VW Caddy Van equivalent, is worthy of consideration if you’re in the market for a small van. Just don’t expect premium safety at this end of the market. And Renault should show more confidence in Kangoo by backing it with a longer warranty than three years.
You might be considering the Wildtrak X purely on aesthetic appeal - and that’s understanding. It has a few new design highlights compared with the non-X model, and most of them add function as well.
It scores an array of blacked out components, such as new 18-inch wheels (still wrapped in the same Bridgestone Dueler H/T rubber), wheel-arch flares (allowing for a more aggressive wheel/tyre setup), plus there’s a black nudge bar with LED light bar, and there’s a genuine Ford snorkel, too.
Combined, it makes the Wildtrak X look like a lot of those non-X models you’ve seen, where owners have spent thousands on extras. The rest of the destine is unchanged for the 19.75 model year variant we had, but there are subtle updates coming for the 2020 model range.
This is a tried and tested formula that has earned the little French workhorse a loyal following, particularly in Europe. Its front wheel-drive chassis has a 2697mm wheelbase and 10.7-metre turning circle, with simple but robust MacPherson strut front suspension, rack and pinion steering, four-wheel disc brakes and a well-designed beam rear axle. This uses torsion bar primary springing supplemented by a pair of secondary coil springs for competent carrying of heavy loads.
The Compact lives up to its name with its 4213mm overall length and 1829mm width but the cabin is reminiscent of Doctor Who’s Tardis. The low seating height relative to the Kangoo’s 1815mm height, combined with its large glass areas, create a spacious and airy cabin environment with vast headroom you would not expect to find in such a small vehicle.
Like every dual-cab Ranger, the Wildtrak X is a good size inside. There’s enough space to fit three adults across the back and therefore five adults in the cabin. No rear air vents, though, which can result in a stuffy back seat on hot days.
You get cup holders up front and in the rear, and bottle holders in all four doors. You can raise the seat base for extra storage space, if there’s not enough room in the tub.
Up front there’s a good amount of space and storage, and the media system is simple to use. And while we haven’t raised this in the past, the number of warning gongs and danger dings might annoy you. Like, I know the door is open, I just opened it. Sheesh!
Now, the tub.
It’s 1549mm long, 1560mm wide and 1139mm between the wheel-arches, which means it’s too narrow for an Aussie pallet to fit (1165mm minimum). The depth of the tub is 511mm, but not in the the Wildtrak models, because the roller cover housing at the far end of the tub just about halves that, eating into usable space.
It’s great that you get the hard top roller cover, and that there’s a tub liner, too: however, the four tie-down hooks in the corners of the tub makes it difficult to strap down a load.
The Kangoo’s 1270kg tare weight and 1810kg GVM results in a 540kg payload rating. However, we always quote kerb weights (with full fuel tank) rather than tare weights (with only 10 litres of fuel) in our reviews to keep things consistent. So if you add the missing 46 litres of petrol (or about 36kg) to the published tare weight, that drops the payload to just over 500kg which is still a very useful half a tonne.
The EDC-equipped Kangoo also has no tow rating, so if you need that capability you’ll have to opt for the six-speed manual version which is rated to tow up to 1050kg of braked trailer.
The cargo bay in our test vehicle is accessed through non-glazed sliding doors on each side (with 635mm max opening) and the optional twin barn-doors at the rear. These feature 180-degree opening to assist forklift access, asymmetric design (to minimise visual obstructions in the rear-view mirror) and a demister/wiper/washer on the left-hand door.
The cargo bay’s 1476mm internal length, with 1218mm between the rear wheel housings, means it can take either an 1165mm-square Aussie pallet or 1200 x 800mm Euro pallet. There’s also 3.0 cubic metres of total load volume available.
The load floor has a protective mat and three cargo-securing points each side plus two more at mid-height. The doors and lower internal panels are lined and there’s neat plastic mouldings over the wheel housings. However, there’s no cargo protection behind the passenger seat and only two tubular steel protective bars behind the driver’s, so if you’re moving lots of heavy stuff we’d recommend either the optional steel bulkhead or an aftermarket steel mesh-type cargo barrier.
Standard cabin storage options include a bottle holder and storage bin in each door, a cave-like storage cubby in the centre dash-pad and a smaller one above the glovebox. The centre console has two cup holders and a lidded storage box that doubles as an armrest. The optional overhead cabin storage shelf fitted to our test vehicle is well designed and can hold heaps of stuff.
Price and features
The Ford Ranger Wildtrak X starts at $65,290 plus on-road costs for the 3.2-litre turbo-diesel five-cylinder model we drove, while the more powerful and more refined 2.0-litre Bi-turbo four-cylinder engine is $1500 more ($66,790).
That makes it a $2000 jump over the standard Wildtrak, but according to Ford, you’re getting $6000 worth of extra value.
The Wildtrak X’s additional styling gear builds upon the already impressive list of included equipment on the regular Wildtrak.
Included on this grade are 18-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, HID headlights, an LED light bar as well as all the Wildtrak X body additions (see the Design section for more detail), an integrated tow bar and wiring harness, a tub liner, 12-volt outlet in the tub, roller hard top and the model-specific interior with part-leather trim and a dark headlining.
There’s also an 8.0-inch touchscreen media system with sat nav, DAB digital radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player. There are two USB ports, a 12-volt charger in the back seat and a 230-volt powerpoint, too.
The front seats are heated and the driver’s seat has electric adjustment, there are digital displays in front of the driver showing navigation and driving data (including a digital speedometer, which many utes still miss out on).
Our test vehicle is the L1 SWB (short wheelbase) Compact Van with 1.2 litre turbocharged petrol engine and six-speed EDC (Efficient Dual Clutch) automatic transmission for a list price of $26,990. Although that’s $2500 more than the six-speed manual version, it still undercuts its Caddy equivalent (TSI 220 SWB with 7-speed DSG) by $4300, which represents a substantial 14 per cent saving on purchase price alone.
The Compact is a no-frills work-focused van, as evidenced by its 15-inch steel wheels and 195/65R15 Michelin tyres (who'd have guessed) with full-size spare, hard-wearing black plastic front/rear bumpers and side body mouldings, rubberised cargo floor mat and twin-tubular steel cargo protection bars behind the driver’s seat.
There’s minimal standard equipment as you’d expect in such a workhorse, but it does include useful on-the-job features like rear parking sensors, height-adjustable steering column, non-radar cruise control and speed limiter, rear window demister/wiper, manual height-adjustable headlights (handy when load carrying), USB, 3.5mm auxiliary jack and 12-volt accessory plugs along with a basic multimedia system including AM/FM radio, CD player (remember those?) and Bluetooth with steering column controls.
Our test vehicle was fitted with Renault’s optional overhead cabin storage shelf and twin rear barn-doors. There are numerous other factory options like sat nav, cabin bulkhead, reversing camera etc along with Business Plus Pack and Trade Pack special option packages.
Engine & trans
Under the bonnet of the Wildtrak X we drove is a 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo-diesel engine producing 147kW of power (at 3000rpm) and 470Nm of torque (from 1750-2000rpm). It has a six-speed automatic transmission in this spec, and there is no manual option for the Wildtrak X. It has selectable four-wheel drive with a low-range transfer case (2H, 4H and 4L gearing), and an electronic locking rear diff.
The other engine option for the Wildtrak X is the 2.0-litre Bi-turbo four-cylinder engine producing 157kW of power (at 3750rpm) and 500Nm of torque (1750-2000rpm). That’s class-leading levels of grunt from a four-cylinder engine. It runs a 10-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel drive.
The Ranger Wildtrak X has a towing capacity of 750kg for an un-braked trailer, and 3500kg for a braked trailer.
The kerb weight of the Ranger Wildtrak X 3.2L is 2287kg. It has a gross vehicle mass (GVM) of 3200kg, and a gross combination mass (GCM) of 6000kg.
This Euro 6-compliant 1.2-litre petrol engine is a variant of that shared by numerous Renault passenger cars, but with more power and torque tapped at lower rpm that’s better suited to this load-carrying workhorse role. In other words, it’s not peaky and has good flexibility, but does require 95-98 RON premium petrol.
The direct-injection turbocharged four-cylinder produces 84kW at 4500rpm. Its 190Nm of torque peaks at 2000rpm yet remains close to full strength all the way to 4000rpm, which is admirable for such a small engine and highlights the benefits of modern variable vane turbocharger technology.
It also offers a manually-switched ECO economy mode and Renault’s ESM (Energy Smart Management), which allows kinetic energy produced under deceleration/braking to be recovered by the engine’s alternator and stored in the battery. Given the amount of stops and starts in a typical working van’s life, Renault claims most of this recovered energy assists in engine starting.
The six-speed EDC dual-clutch automatic transmission provides brisk acceleration from standing starts and snappy near-seamless shifting, in either auto mode or when using the sequential manual shift function.
Fuel consumption for the Ranger Wildtrak X 3.2L model is claimed at 8.9 litres per 100 kilometres, and it has an 80-litre fuel tank capacity. There is no long range fuel tank.
Our test drive saw a real-world return of 11.1L/100km across a mix of driving including urban, highway and back-road, as well as laden and unladen.
Renault’s official combined figure of 6.5L/100km looked optimistic given the dash readout was showing a 9.7 average at the end of our test, which covered just under 300km without the use of ECO mode and with more than a third of that distance under maximum GVM loading.
Our own figure, calculated from actual tripmeter and fuel bowser readings, worked out at 8.8L/100km. Therefore, based on our figures, you could expect a ‘real world’ driving range of around 630km from its 56-litre tank.
We like the Ford Ranger as a daily driver. It’s easy to see why so many people buy Ford Ranger dual-cab four-wheel drives, even if they don’t need the payload, or the towing capacity. It’s the utility that appeals with this utility.
Without weight in the back it rides smoothly enough, and around town you won’t complain about back pain or sore kidneys when you crunch over speed humps. It’s composed and refined, so much so that it’s a better ute to drive without a load than with weight in the back, and there aren’t many that can claim that accolade.
The steering makes it easy to park, and it’s nice to steer in all sorts of situations. If you happen to be on the tools all day, you’ll be happy not to have to wrestle the wheel on your way home.
Acceleration is good, if not blindingly quite, and the transmission does what it should.
The engine’s zippy performance combined with the Kangoo’s agility, particularly in city delivery work, makes it an energetic daily driver. There’s a decent-sized left footrest and enough adjustment in the seat and steering column for drivers of most sizes to find a comfortable position, even though the base cushions are a tad short to provide adequate upper-thigh support over longer distances.
The ride quality when empty or lightly loaded is surprisingly supple for such a small vehicle that can carry half a tonne. Steering feel and braking response are good and there’s excellent vision through the large windscreen and front door windows, which provide clear eyelines to the door mirrors.
However, the offset join in the rear barn-doors still blocks a fair slice of the rear-view mirror’s vision and the unglazed left-side sliding door creates a big blind-spot, which can be hazardous when changing lanes and unnerving when reversing, particularly onto a busy road. The door mirrors could do with a size increase, or at least a wider-angle lens on the passenger side to assist in this area.
The gear ratios and shift protocols are well suited to the engine’s characteristics in city and suburban driving, keeping it mostly within its optimum 2000-4500rpm range where maximum torque and power seamlessly intersect.
Gearing is also tailored for economical highway travel. At 100km/h it’s bang-on maximum torque at 2000rpm which rises to 2250rpm at 110km/h. The cruise control holds its pre-set speed with discipline, although the system’s on-off switch is located low on the right-hand side of the dash where you can’t see it while driving and have to find by finger search.
Noise in the cargo bay (emanating largely from the wheel housings) at these higher speeds is around 90 on our dB meter, which can become quite enervating the longer you spend behind the wheel. So if doing lots of highway driving, we’d recommend fitting the optional steel bulkhead which is not only an effective cargo barrier but also greatly reduces cabin noise levels.
The Ford Ranger Wildtrak - as with the rest of the Ranger line-up - is in the mix for the best in the business for ute safety specs.
Standard gear on all Ranger models is auto emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection as well as lane keeping assist, driver attention alert, traffic sign recognition and automated high-beam lights. The AEB system works at city and highway speeds, and adaptive cruise control is included, too. There is no blind-spot monitoring or rear cross-traffic alert, however.
The Ranger retains its five-star ANCAP crash test rating from 2015, when the standards were considerably more lax. It does, however, have six airbags (dual front, front side and full-length curtain), a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors and a semi-autonomous parking system.
It comes with dual ISOFIX child seat anchor points and two top-tether restraints for baby seats.
Its four-star ANCAP rating was achieved a decade ago (2011) and is overdue for an upgrade. There’s no AEB and a reversing camera is optional, but you can only get that with the optional rear barn-doors and R-Link sat-nav multimedia system.
At the very least, the option of glazed cargo bay side doors should be available. Even so, there’s driver and passenger front and side airbags, rear parking sensors and an active safety menu including hill-start assist, Grip Xtend (intelligent traction control) and more.
Ford backs all of its models with a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty plan, which is on par with the rest of the mainstream ute market but behind the likes of the Triton (promotional seven-year warranty), SsangYong Musso (permanent seven-year/unlimited kilometre warranty), and Isuzu D-Max (six-year/150,000km).
Capped price servicing intervals are set every 12 months/15,000km. The duration of the service plan is for the life of the vehicle, too, which is good for peace of mind if you plan to hang on to your car for a long time.
Ford is currently running a promotion whereby the first four years/60,000km of maintenance is capped at $299 per visit. That’s competitive, but costs rise as you get beyond the promo period.
Concerned about Ford Ranger problems? Check out our Ford Ranger problems page for issues, complaints, recalls or anything else regarding reliability. We had an issue of our own, with the car convinced it was towing a trailer the whole time we had it, which disabled the self-parking system and the rear parking sensors, too.