Pickups have picked up (hah) steam as of late, and the buzz has been largely centered around one model: the Ford Ranger Raptor. Ever since Ford Philippines announced that it would be bringing in the bi-turbo pickup last year, the hype surrounding the segment swirled in a way that was reminiscent of the pickup wars in 2015.
But for those who aren’t willing to part with P1,898,000 for the Raptor look and Fox Racing suspension, Ford has another ace up its sleeve: the new Wildtrak, which now comes equipped with the same 2.0-liter bi-turbo engine as the Ranger Raptor.
Aesthetically, not a whole lot has changed from the old Ranger. Here, you get a revised front fascia, with a more drawn-in black grille and blacked-out foglight housings. The Wildtrak variants get new HID headlamps with LED daytime running lights. You won’t mistake this new one for any other model, that’s for sure.
Ford says the interior has been redesigned, but to be honest, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference. You could argue that compared with the cabins of newer models, this one’s starting to look a bit dated. For one, those big, blocky buttons under the touchscreen aren’t exactly modern. Then again, interior aesthetics shouldn’t worry you too much if you’re after a rough and rugged pickup. Surprisingly, though, the Wildtrak gets more tech than the Raptor. Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keeping Aid, Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning, and Active Park Assist are all standard on this variant.
As mentioned, the new Wildtrak is powered by a 2.0-liter bi-turbo diesel engine that puts out 210hp and 500Nm. Its behavior is exactly as you’d expect: Power delivery starts off slow before the turbo dials in at the middle part of the rev range. Fuel economy in city driving hovers around 6-7km/L.
The one gripe I have about the engine is that there’s a noticeable lag before the boost really kicks in. This is fine when you’re just driving in the city or trying to keep the revs low on the highway, but I can’t help wondering how that affects the Wildtrak’s off-road performance, considering the need for low-end power on rough terrain. We weren’t able to take the truck off the beaten path this time, so we’ll have to wait for another chance to find out.
Ride and handling
Let’s make one thing clear: The Wildtrak is not the Ranger Raptor, and that fact becomes evident once you drive it over harsh bumps. Whereas the Raptor’s Fox suspension makes you forget you’re in a pickup and dares you to use the word ‘plush’ when describing its ride, the new Wildtrak makes you acutely aware of large cracks and potholes, especially when the bed is empty. That said, discounting the Raptor, the regular Ranger continues to offer arguably the best ride in the pickup segment. The ride is mostly comfy on flat surfaces and over minor road imperfections.
Steering feel is light as ever, courtesy of the electric power-steering system, but unfortunately, the tiller doesn’t get telescopic adjustment. And while the 10-speed transmission is smooth, it’s hampered by the lack of paddle shifters. Instead, you’re forced to toggle gears via a cumbersome switch on the side of the gearstick.
The new 4x4 Wildtrak offers tech like the afforementioned Active Park Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control, plus SYNC 3 for your infotainment needs. It also has a nifty feature that unlocks the car once you hold the driver-side door handle and it senses the key is nearby. The tailgate, meanwhile, gets a torsion bar that makes opening and closing it easier. There are sensors galore, too, which can be triggered by something as innocuous as a bush. For off-roaders, the pickup now allows you to shift between the different 4x4 modes on the fly.
The Ford Ranger has set itself apart as one of the leaders in its segment, in spite of the carmaker’s less-than-ideal after-sales reputation in the Philippines. While some aspects of the new Wildtrak, like its design, are starting to show signs of age, the new engine shows that there’s still a lot of life left in this generation. And with the Raptor sitting as the brand’s current magnum opus, other carmakers with pickup offerings will no doubt be scrambling to keep up. Let the post-TRAIN pickup wars begin.
SPECS: Ford Ranger Bi-Turbo Wildtrak 4x4 AT
Engine: 2.0-liter twin-turbodiesel I4
Power: 210hp @ 3,750rpm
Torque: 500Nm @ 1,750-2,00rpm
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Drive layout: 4x4