The Ford Ranger has always been one of Go Flat Out PH’s most favorite pickups. It’s also hard to believe that this current T6 generation is nearly a decade old at this point. However, thanks to constant updates to its design, powertrain, and technology, this pickup has remained competitive throughout its lifetime–better even than a number of far newer competition. This is the 2021 Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2.0 4×2, and it serves as a perfect explanation of how this pickup managed to make the most out of the blue oval brand’s T6 platform.
From the outside, you’d be hard-pressed to know that this pickup first came out in 2012. Ford has done a good job in keeping the Ranger looking fresh throughout these years, and this 2021 Ford Ranger Wildtrak is solid proof of this. In my opinion, this pickup is still one of the most handsome and modern in its segment, and the new mesh grille and gloss black design touches make it look sporty without being over the top. If there’s one thing I wish Ford upgraded, it would be the taillights. The incandescent bulbs of the rear light clusters look outdated next to the LED lighting up front.
That same constant improvement throughout its nearly ten-year lifespan also carries through the interior. Since its first major facelift in 2015, the interior updates have become incremental, but it’s still enough to make it feel modern. The most premium pickup in the segment in my opinion is currently the all-new D-Max, but in terms of the build quality, the Ford feels better built. For instance, the panels are much more solidly screwed together and the doors emit a German car-like solid-sounding thud that you find in other pickups. The upper dash of this Wildtrak variant is finished in leatherette, while various points of the interior feature orange trims and stitching. Lastly, the configurable ambient LED lights give the interior even more personality.
One thing that the 2021 Ford Ranger Wildtrak is still the benchmark at is its electronics architecture. The 8-inch infotainment system runs a revised version of Ford’s SYNC3, which works in conjunction with the pickup’s digital gauges. SYNC3 is far better than the aftermarket-looking infotainment systems of most of its competitors. The Navara’s Nissan Connect infotainment comes close, but the Ranger’s SYNC3 offers a broader range of functionality. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come as standard, though it’s also interesting to note the presence of FordPass Connect in the interface. Is this a hint that Ford will offer their telematics system in the near future? We certainly hope so.
As for practicality, the Ford Ranger offers plenty of flexibility. Rear seat space is good for a pickup, and there’s also a flexible under-seat storage to keep stuff out of prying eyes. The Ranger is also one of the only few pickups in the market to have a household socket, which can charge a laptop or even power a blender.
Of course, the main reason why you’re probably interested in a pickup is because of its cargo-carrying capability. Its bed size is on par with the competition, while its payload capacity can be as low as 766 kg for the Ranger Raptor, or as much as almost 1.3 tons in the case of the XLS and XLT. For this Wildtrak 4×2 though, it can carry around 1.1 tons of payload. Oh, did I mention that Wildtrak variants and above have a tailgate lift assist? This makes the tailgate light enough to be closed with just one finger.
This being the 4×2 version of the Ranger Wildtrak, this pickup is powered by a 2.0-liter inline-4 turbo diesel engine that produces 180 hp at 3,500 rpm and 420 Nm of torque from 1,750 to 2,500 rpm. This is then mated to a 10-speed automatic driving the rear wheels. While it’s not the twin-turbo motor found in the 4×4 version, this engine is pretty adequate for most pickup buyers.
As with most Ford diesel engines, most of the torque is delivered in the lower rev range. This makes the Ranger feel punchy and fast in most driving scenarios, especially in the city. However, once the engine is at the higher rev range, around 3,000 rpm and above, the 2.0-liter engine doesn’t feel as punchy anymore. Not that it feels sluggish, mind you. It’s more of the fact that the torque curve tapers down sharply at higher revs compared to the more linear diesel engines of its rivals.
The accompanying 10-speed automatic was initially one of my grips back in 2019, but over the years, it seems Ford has calibrated the transmission. The gear hunting and jerkiness I felt in the prior years with this transmission have been minimized if not completely disappeared. And with 10 gears to play with, the transmission is able to keep the engine in its torque curve during overtakes.
As for its ride and refinement, while the all-new 2021 Isuzu D-Max is arguably one of the more refined pickups out there, this has always been the case with the Ranger since its first major facelift in 2015. I’m surprised it took Isuzu an entire generation to finally be on par with the Ranger in terms of ride and refinement. Road and wind noise is kept to a minimum, one of the quietest even in the segment. Its ride is also one of the best among pickups with a leaf spring rear suspension, better even than the all-new D-Max. The only other pickup that I could think that rides better than the Ranger is the Nissan Navara with its coil-spring rear suspension.
In 2015, the Ranger switched to an electric power steering, and it’s the first pickup to do so. Back then, I found it to be disconcertingly light and number. Ford, however, seems to have also calibrated it over the years to make the steering feel more natural. It still doesn’t have as much feel as its rivals with hydraulic steering, but at least it’s light especially for city use.
Don’t expect sporty handling though. This is still a pickup, and body roll is pretty much present. At least it doesn’t dive or squat as badly as many people might expect in a pickup. Speaking of which, the Ranger has rear drums and discs upfront. I also used to think that the brakes are on the spongy side, but now the brakes feel reassuringly firm and easy to modulate.
It’s also worth mentioning that while this doesn’t have a 4WD system, this Wildtrak 4×2 variant still has a rear locking differential. As a reminder, having a rear differential lock evenly distributes power to the rear wheels instead of having an open differential that sends power to which wheel has the least resistance. This makes the Ranger one of the most capable pickups when going off-road.
Lastly, as for fuel economy, I was able to achieve 12.0 km/l, which makes it one of the more fuel-efficient pickups out there. Do note, however, the I live in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, where traffic is almost nonexistent.
Almost 10 years since its first release and the 2021 Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2.0 4×2 is still one of my favorite pickups out there. It’s impressive how the blue oval brand has managed to keep its best-selling model in the Philippines competitive throughout its lifetime. Despite newer competition, the nearly 10-year-old Ford Ranger still manages to keep up or even exceed the competition in certain aspects, making it a pickup that’s still easy to recommend to anyone. And with a total of 13 variants to choose from, there’s definitely a Ranger to suit any kind of lifestyle.
Pricing and Rating
Pricing and Rating
Exterior Design: ★★★★★
Interior Design: ★★★★☆
Space and Practicality: ★★★★☆
Fuel Efficiency: ★★★★★
Value For Money: ★★★★☆
Overall: 4.6 out of 5
*Pricing is correct and accurate as of this article’s time of writing.
*Pricing still considers the DTI safeguard bond, which is currently being suspended.