Brawny & brainy

In Photo: The bolder Ranger Wildtrak soaring high at one of the highest points in Eastland Antipolo.

Story & photos by Randy S. Peregrino

GONE are the days when you see pickup trucks as boring vehicles only suitable in work sites or just about anywhere solely for hauling.  The segment evolved tremendously that even choice of variants has expanded to target specific needs.  Now you see more of these vehicles utilized in recreational activities and even as daily drivers, and one of these best-selling utility vehicles today is Ford’s very own midsize pickup—the Ranger.

When Ford introduced the current generation (also known as the T6 platform), the fresh frame design and dimension finally instated the Ranger as one of the top choices for pickups. It captured many enthusiasts and even those who were looking to get out from that passenger-car syndrome.  It has become so popular that you’ll see more of these Rangers in various trims on the road today.  Among the available variants of the premium Wildtrak edition, we tested the top-of-the-line 3.2L 4×4 AT model in robust Aluminum Metallic shade.

Every pickup’s frontend is where the main exterior design charisma is coming from.  So the recent makeover provided a major transformation, particularly on its character—tougher and meaner than it ever was.  With the new fascia design, it now shares that Ford’s signature imposing look present among its bigger utility vehicles. Those Wildtrak accent trims further highlighted the pronounced grille, bumper and projector-type headlamps along with the metallic chin underneath.  Moreover, the unique-looking hoop sports bar provided that needed inflection at the rear.  With combined frame contours and wheel arches along with big 18-inch rims wrapped in 265/60 series tires, the overall exterior package denotes an absolute defiance from being a minimalist.

The cabin layout will definitely not confuse you with inappropriate sophistications.  It has that dark, streamlined and athletic treatment to match the brawny exterior.  What’s even more engaging are the Wildtrak accents, such as orange stitches on the dashboard, helm, and distinctive fabric patterns on the seats with combined leather materials.  There are also dark metal finishes installed on the right places.  At the center panel is the eight-inch TFT touchscreen infotainment with SYNC technology to connect your smart phones (via Bluetooth) and perform all the telephony functions, including audio files.

Interior with dark, streamlined and athletic treatment to match the robust exterior.

More so, there’s a dual-cluster 4.2-inch information screen in the instrument panel, which you can customize from the embedded controls on the helm.  Aside from the abundant drink holders, you have more power supply at your own disposal from two 12-volt sockets and USB terminals. With the electronic multiadjustment for the driver seat and tilting wheel, you’ll have no trouble finding that perfect driving position. Not to mention the undeniably cold air-con, thanks to the dual-zone with automatic climate control.

Ford’s 3.2-liter Duratorq turbodiesel motor differs in a lot of sense.  Let alone its five-cylinder displacement is already not the segment’s norm. But its performance and characteristics suggest that having an extra cylinder has its substantial benefits. For one, engine grunts are clearly smoother, muffled with less reverberations inside the cabin.  Delivery-wise, all you ever need is to keep the revs down low.  Match that with the smooth gear shifting from the coupled six-speed automatic transmission and you’ll be amazed that you’re already at cruising speed ahead of other vehicles around you.  Unlike some four-banger turbodiesels, it doesn’t throw around its massive torque but instead more of even and linear on subsequent rpm increments.

Road manners are equally astounding as you’ll find the handling similar to that of an SUV—in fact better than some. For a pickup with that much ground clearance, the Ranger tackles tight bends with less nose dives. The electrical power-assisted steering actively adjusts its level of weight, making it more precise with good feedbacks.  As for the ride, you’ll find it remarkably relaxed contrary to what the platform usually conveys. Seemed like Ford tuned the rear damping system to work well with the rear leaf spring’s firmness.  Efforts to subdue the rebounds were evident on uneven roads—making freeway runs rather blissful and stress-free. During heavy rains, the Ranger didn’t pose any vulnerability while on 4H setting with additional wheel traction and control.  Slicing through puddles appeared as seamless as driving on dry roads.

The list of available safety and convenience features is what makes this top-spec Ranger Wiltrak ahead of the competition, because there are notable standard functions that are not available from the others.  Like the adaptive cruise control with forward alert and collision mitigation by brakes, distance indication and alert.

There’s also the lane-departure warning and lane-keeping aid functions, which help to raise your level of alertness. The electronic stability program (ESP) is integrated with hill-start assist, hill-descent and trailer-sway controls.  That’s apart from the 230-volt inverter terminal and another 12-volt socket on the bed liner.  Last, parking has always been a challenge for vehicles this enormous, and sometimes not even your expertise is enough. Not with this truck, since it’s equipped with combined front/rear park assist, rearview camera with moving guidelines, plus that finger-light steering wheel during standstill.

The top-spec Ranger Wildtrak’s off-roading supremacy, along with its unparalleled on-road driving dynamics, convenience and reliability, puts it beyond versatility.  It’s your kind of vehicle ready with a roll-up-your-sleeves attitude as needed, while it still can be your good companion for a lazy Sunday afternoon drive.

 

Thumbs up

  • Exterior trims
  • Powerful turbodiesel engine
  • On- and off-road performance
  • Security and driver-assist features

 

Thumbs Down

  • Halogen daylight running lights Specifications
  • Vehicle Ford Ranger Wildtrak 3.2L 4×4 AT
  • Type Pickup Truck
  • Engine Duratorq 3.2 liter, five-cylinder, Turbocharged Direct Commonrail Injection (TDCI), Diesel-fed
  • Maximum power 197 hp at 3,000 rpm
  • Maximum torque 470 N-m at 1,750-2,500 rpm
  • Transmission Six-speed automatic with manual mode

 

Dimensions

  • Overall length 5,354 mm
  • Overall width 2,163 mm
  • Overall height 1,848 mm
  • Wheelbase 3,220 mm
  • Front and rear track 1560 mm
  • Ground clearance 237 mm

 

Price as tested P1.739 million

Image Credits: Randy S. Peregrino

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Randy is our contributing writer for motoring and journey sections. If he is not doing test drives for monthly feature stories, he finds delight in covering travel events once in a while. His passion for cars goes beyond appreciation and knowledge as he takes pleasure in fixing stuff all by himself - as long as he have the right tools. Previously, he led teams of associates in the BPO industry from several offshore companies for almost a decade. He is a proud Thomasian.