Ford Ranger Wildtrak Review
Pickup trucks are an interesting part of the car world, needing to bridge the gap between rugged commercial vehicles and weekend playthings. They need to work as well in Swindon as they do in the Serengeti, which is a tough ask.
Ford solves this problem by making a Ranger for every possible need, but it’s this Wildtrak model that balances the demands best. Tough and rugged, it’ll get you, some passengers, a heavy load and a trailer across the toughest of terrain, but the stylish design touches, comfortable cabin and high levels of equipment make for a luxurious family car.
Select's rating score* - 4 / 5
At a Glance
It’s been around since 2011, so we should all be pretty familiar with the Ford Range by now. Happily, Ford has kept it bang up to date, with facelifts, tweaks and adjustments, so it still looks fresh and modern. Granted, it’s no Tesla Cybertruck, but you’d never think this thing is 10 years old.
It’s a big beast, too. The longest pickup on the market in fact, apart from the long-wheelbase version of the SsangYong Musso. That translates into a long load bed at the back, which boosts its practicality. Despite its length, it’s not quite as wide as you might expect, so fits through narrow country lanes and farm gates. You’ll still struggle to fit it in your garage, but it’s not so unwieldy as to be difficult to use in the UK.
And it’s got a range of engines that suit UK demands well. They’re all 2.0-litre diesel units, producing between 130 and 213hp, and anything from 340 to 500Nm of torque, which is enough for all but the entry-level model to provide a towing capacity of up to 3.5 tonnes.
The lifestyle-friendly Wildtrak model we have here combines all of that with luxury touches, such as a high tech infotainment system, leather upholstery and stylish 18-inch alloy wheels. It’s a consummate all-rounder.
Ford has to balance the demands of the working truck with the soft edges of everyday life but has kitted out the Ranger with enough strength and tech to keep most people happy.
Lease a Ford Ranger Wildtrak and you’ll get a tough truck that can carry heavy loads across country, thanks to rugged body-on-frame construction, standard four-wheel drive, heavy-duty leaf spring rear suspension and an engine that delivers seemingly endless torque.
The rear half of the chassis rails are flat, allowing for an extraordinary range of conversions, from rescue vehicles to cranes, although that’s probably not what the average Wildtrak user will be using them for.
Partial leather trim, an impressive ‘Sync 3’ digital infotainment system, and luxury touches throughout the cabin make it a welcoming place for families.
Performance & Drive
Pickups have never been known to be particularly refined but, after years of tweaks and improvements, the Ford Ranger is rather impressive. The 2.0-litre engine is almost inaudible at motorway speeds (honestly!) and only becomes vocal when under power for quick acceleration.
Yes, crawling over rocks at walking pace and wading through deep water lets the traditional diesel rattle filter through but, for the most part, it’s as good as anything else on the road.
It’ll keep up with most of what’s out there, too. There’s 213hp available from the 2.0-litre diesel engine, so it’ll hit 62mph from a standstill in nine seconds dead. It feels every bit as rapid as that too, although the light back end means it’s always keen to spin up the rear wheels - the truck defaults to rear-wheel drive, but can be switched at any point to drive all four wheels.
Handling is less impressive, but then this is a 2+ tonne pickup truck. Tall, squishy tyres leave the front end feeling a little vague, while the back end of the pickup can bounce and jitter around a little. Slow down just a little and it inspires more confidence, but those moving from an SUV will need to get used to a smaller dynamic range.
Those tall tyres and long suspension does mean that the Ford Ranger pickup is rather more refined than you might expect. There’s always a little movement from the load bed unless you’ve got a couple of hundred kilos of cargo in there, but it’s otherwise comfortable, smooth and pleasingly quiet.
A car weighing in at more than two tonnes is never going to be light on fuel, but the Ranger Wildtrak performed reasonably well during our time with it. Over a thousand miles or so, split over fast motorway journeys and traversing tricky Welsh mountains, the Wildtrak returned a little over 34mpg.
However, a colleague in a model with a manual gearbox saw the onboard computer suggesting more than 40mpg was possible. Whether that difference is down to the gearbox or driving style is open to debate!
Maintenance is required every 18,000 miles or 24 months, meaning you might only need to get your Ranger serviced once during an average lease agreement. Should anything go awry, your first year is covered by a Europe-wide breakdown policy, with the pickup backed by a three-year warranty that’s limited to 60,000 miles - that should be enough for all but those opting for a four-year lease package.
Interior and Technology
Ford has gone to town on the Ranger Wildtrak, squeezing in luxury items you would expect to find in a premium SUV rather than leaving it as a workhorse for the building site or farm.
That means you’ll find swish leather upholstery - embellished with Wildtrak stitching, of course - and a surfeit of technology to keep you connected.
Chief amongst those is Sync 3 with FordPass; The 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard controls most functions, which includes the regular suspects like a DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity and, on this model, satellite navigation.
An on-board modem ensures that the nav system is fed with live traffic updates and local hazard information, which is always handy. On-board wi-fi allows for up to 10 devices to connect to 4G via the pickups aerials, although there are only two USB sockets available to keep them charged and they’re both in the front.
Using a linked smartphone app, you can also access the Ranger remotely. A quick vehicle health check, location check, and remote unlocking are available. You can even start the vehicle remotely, activating the heated steering wheel and seats before you leave the house on a cold morning.
Beware, though; all of these features are free, but some are on short trials, some on longer subscriptions that require a fee after a year, and some are guaranteed for 10 years. There’s no rhyme or reason as to which feature lasts for how long.
There’s loads of space to enjoy all of that tech, with big comfortable seats in the front and a more solid but still accommodating bench seat in the rear. A huge centre cubby will swallow an awful lot of family detritus, while there’s an area ahead of the gear lever that's suitably sized for a smartphone - and it’s near those USB sockets.
It’s all wrapped up in a cabin that’s littered with glossy panels, contrast stitching and multiple contrasting and complementary materials. It’s as swish as we’ve seen a pickup.
Payload and Practicality
As the Ford Ranger is such a long truck, it’s no surprise that the load bay is the longest in the sector. At 1,613mm, the regular Ranger’s load box is a tiny bit longer than the back of a SsangYong Musso and around 9cm longer than the load box on a Toyota Hilux. However, the Wildtrak version loses a little thanks to the sport bar and tray liner. Still, at 1,575mm, it remains pretty sizable.
The payload capacity runs perilously close to the one-tonne limit you’ll need to be able to reclaim the VAT, assuming this would be a business lease. At 1,024kg, it doesn’t give you much leeway and fitting something as innocuous as a towbar might drop you below the limit. The reason is the presence of that dramatic sport bar behind the cab; it’s not light and eats into the payload available.
Of course, lifestyle buyers won’t mind, and if you don’t add any accessories then business users will be happy too.
It’s been ten years since Euro NCAP ran the Ford Ranger through its comprehensive safety testing. It scored the full five-star rating then, but technology and testing have moved on, so those ratings are no longer considered valid.
However, the Ranger Wildtrak comes with an impressive suite of technology to keep you safe on the road, including cruise control, intelligent speed assist, traffic sign recognition and lane-keeping assist and departure warning. There’s also automatic emergency braking, with pedestrian detection, which works to prevent or mitigate an impending collision.
For low-speed risks, you’ll find parking sensors at the front and rear of the truck, as well as a reversing camera.
It’s possible to upgrade the safety systems a little, adding adaptive cruise control, self-parking abilities and automatic high beam assist. But that’s about it, as the Wildtrak model is equipped with a vast array of equipment as standard.
Of course, there are lots of options available at the back of the vehicle, with the load box able to be specified with an electric roll top tonneau cover, a load bed divider system, tie-down hooks, or any number of other helpful modifications or accessories.
The pickup market has temporarily declined, so there aren’t too many rivals to pick from right now.
Toyota’s Hilux is the most obvious option, with its Invincible X model offering as much equipment and on-road presence. It’s not quite so comfortable, but Toyota’s legendary reliability might sway your decision if you venture off the beaten track with regularity, as could its impressive warranty cover.
The Isuzu D-Max makes for a more compelling work truck, but it’s not as comfortable as the Ranger and lacks the perception of premium quality that the Wildtrak’s interior creates.
The SsangYong Musso is the only pickup truck that can tow 3.5-tonnes while carrying a one-tonne payload but, despite that, it’s got a far more car-like vibe about it than the other vehicles. That does mean it’s more compromised off-road, especially when facing water that’s more than ankle-deep.
Verdict & Next Steps
The Ford Ranger remains the best selling pickup in the UK despite being on sale for 10 years, and it’s obvious to see why.
Despite its age, it’s still the most comfortable, just about the most capable, and the most comprehensively equipped pickup on sale.
The Wildtrak takes all of its impressive off-road and rugged capabilities and balances that with comfort and equipment that you would expect from the finest of SUVs. For many, that will make it the perfect all-rounder, able to venture onto the remotest of working sites during the week while taking the kids to the beach at the weekend.
Where to next?
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*Score based on Select’s unique meta score analysis, taking into account the UK’s top five leading independent car website reviews of the Ford Ranger Wildtrak
**Correct as of 19/01/2022. Based on 9 months initial payment, 5,000 miles over a 48 month lease. Initial payment equivalent to 9 monthly payments or £3,181.59 Ts and Cs apply. Credit is subject to status.