We’ve driven the 2023 Ford Ranger Wildtrak fairly recently from a local media drive, taking this vehicle through various terrain including off-road. Now though, we’ve finally gotten our hands on one for a much longer term, driving and taking it through our daily lives. Its SUV sibling, the equally-new Ford Everest, is setting the benchmark in its segment, but how about the Ranger outside a manufacturer’s controlled environment?
From a design perspective, the 2023 Ford Ranger Wildtrak is definitely a looker. Unsurprisingly, the Ranger has a few design cues from the Everest, but that’s not exactly a bad thing. The Ranger still manages to have its own identity. The Everest’s design brief is about having an elegant yet rugged stance, but the Ranger builds upon its adventurous demeanor.
This Wildtrak model’s Luxe Yellow hero color looks stunning in person, and it blends well with the various gray elements surrounding the vehicle and the 18-inch wheels. As with the Everest, the Ranger comes with C-shaped LED headlights, but since this is the 4×2 version, it doesn’t get the fancy adaptive matrix LED lights of the 4×4 model. Still, the overall look of the Ranger is one that’s youthful and well-proportioned–especially due to its long hood that makes the 2.0-liter diesel engine seem tiny. More on that later.
Likewise, the interior of the new Ranger is both superbly modern and very premium–best in class even. Part of the reason why I’ve never really been a fan of pickups is because of their utilitarian interior, but his new Ranger takes things up a notch by dressing up the cabin in a generous amount of soft-touch materials and yellow stitching details. Functionality is also impressive thanks to the generous storage areas and cupholders. Oh, and Ford even decided it’s a good idea to create a fries holder behind the gear lever.
Features and Infotainment
An 8-inch digital gauge cluster is standard on all variants, but the Wildtrak models get a larger 12-inch SYNC4 infotainment system. You might think it’s tech for tech’s sake, but actually, for the most part, it isn’t. The user interface is very easy to use and well laid out, though the animations from the interface introduce unnecessary lag. In addition, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are offered along with wireless charging–which enables a truly cable-free experience.
It’s also a huge plus that Ford did not eliminate the physical buttons for the climate controls despite fitting a larger screen. Now, the reason I said that it’s not just tech for tech’s sake “for the most part” is because of a tiny flaw–and that’s migrating the buttons for Auto Hold, Hill Descent Control, and Locking Differential (if you get the 4×4) into the infotainment. It’s simply two steps too much to simply turn off a feature, and it introduces. a problem of what if the infotainment lags, how will you deactivate these features?
Space and Practicality
Features aside, finding your ideal driving position in the 2023 Ford Ranger Wildtrak is very impressive. For the first time, tilt and telescoping adjustment has finally been added for the steering, while this Wildtrak version comes with a power-adjustable driver’s seat.
Those seated at the back will also love the slightly wider rear seats, though the seat backs are a bit too vertical for some of my friends who sat back there. Legroom is also okay, but not the best in class. On the upside, the Ranger Wildtrak comes with two USB ports (one of which is a USB-C) and a very useful 230-volt AC outlet.
Of course, a pickup’s main duty is to haul cargo, and the Ranger does not disappoint. The bed can haul up to 1.1 tonnes, depending on the variant. What’s amazing is the fact that Ford built upon the lifestyle pickup aspect of the Ranger to give it best-in-class versatility and functionality. This begins with the bed-mounted clamp provisions, which are useful if you do woodwork. Do you need a power supply for your drill, or perhaps for your cooking station? The high-voltage AC outlet at the bed is there to help. And lastly, while this is a minor thing, the side-mounted steps of the bed are also worth noting. It might be a trivial feature, but once you’ve gotten used to it, you’ll start to look for it in other pickups, too.
Fitted under the hood of this 2023 Ford Ranger Wildtrak 4×2 is not a 210-hp, 2.0-liter twin-turbo diesel engine. Instead, it only has a single turbo, which means it produces 168 hp and 405 Nm of torque. This drives the rear wheels via a 6-speed automatic. The engine looks tiny relative to the lengthened engine bay, as the lengthened and widened platform was designed to accommodate a V6 engine or in the future–varying degrees of electrification.
Nevertheless, out on the open road, the single-turbo engine doesn’t disappoint. In most cases, the power deficit from the twin-turbo version isn’t felt in probably 90 percent of your driving. Unlike before, the engine now has a more linear power delivery, with stronger torque in the mid-RPM ranges as opposed to concentrating it at the lower RPMs. It’s only at higher speeds that the deficit in power is felt–such as when overtaking on provincial roads or accelerating to triple-digit speeds.
While I mentioned in my Everest Titanium 4×4 review that the 10-speed automatic is better than before, I’d argue that the 6-speed automatic is actually the best transmission for both the Ranger and Everest. That’s because the shifts are quick, decisive, and silky smooth–best-in-class as a matter of fact. Having fewer gears also meant that it doesn’t have any form of gear hunting during abrupt changes from braking to accelerating and vice versa–something you’d probably experience if you drive regularly in the city.
It’s also more fuel efficient than the twin-turbo engine. Under the same circumstances of almost no traffic and mostly provincial drives, the Ranger Wildtrak 4×2 managed to do 11.7 km/l, making it one of the most efficient pickups I’ve ever driven–nearly on the same level as the Isuzu D-Max with a 3.0-liter diesel engine.
As for the rest of the driving experience, the new Ranger offers best-in-class driving dynamics in other aspects. The electric power steering now has a richer feel and more precision, which meant there’s more confidence now in hustling this truck through corners. Like the Everest, the new Ranger exhibits best-in-class refinement with minimal road and wind noise and top-notch high-speed stability. The ride is also its best trait despite having leaf spring rear suspension–it’s nearly on par with the Navara’s coil springs. Lastly, the all-disc brakes of the Wildtrak models also feel reassuring when going through back-to-back corners.
I’ve always mentioned in prior reviews that I wasn’t a fan of pickups. It wasn’t until the previous generation Ford Ranger that made me appreciate the segment. Fast forward to 2023, and the Ranger continues to be my favorite pickup. Its car-like driving experience and interior, whilst combining the utility and flexibility that you expect in a heavy-duty pickup, is practically unmatched by any of its competitors. As a matter of fact, it’s pretty much best-in-class in every aspect right now, you’d be a fool not to even give this pickup a consideration.
Pricing and Rating
Exterior Design: ★★★★★
Interior Design: ★★★★★
Space and Practicality: ★★★★☆
Safety and Driver Assistance: ★★★★☆
Fuel Efficiency: ★★★★★
Value For Money: ★★★★★
Overall: 4.6 out of 5
*Pricing is correct and accurate as of this article’s time of writing.