The Malaysian pick-up truck segment enjoys a cult-like following with fiercely loyal fans who will not accept any discussion about any other truck being better than theirs.
Fans of the Hilux will swear that the Toyota is God’s gift to mankind while the fans of the D-Max, Navara and Triton are probably ready to bear arms to defend their choice.
But in the midst of it all, the Ford Ranger Wildtrak is the silent King. Elegant, poised and well equipped for just about anything the world has to throw at it, the Ranger Wildtrak is perhaps the one truck that could comfortably hold a wheel to any other brand because it has about all of the features that one could ever need.
What’s new with the latest Ranger Wildtrak?
Besides the overall design that is clearly more rugged than before, the new Wildtrak has quite a lot of features designed for everyday comfort and utility. There’s so much that is new that it is impossible to list them all out without coming across as a brochure, so here are the essentials:
The interior for one carries on the high-quality theme which we first saw in the previous generation model. The premium double stitching that is evident across the dash and door panels make a reappearance and there’s nothing that feels like it will break after a few years of usage. We also love the double stacked glove compartment that provides more storage options. But on the topic of quality, the positioning of the door latch can only be described as spot on and fits nicely in your hands, but it does feel a little fragile.
The Wildtrak also comes with new 360-degree cameras that work in conjunction with the eight front and rear proximity sensors. It is undeniable that the Ranger Wildtrak is a big, imposing car, but the new cameras and the sensors make it a lot more manageable around the city; especially in tight parking lots which are especially common around the many shopping malls of Malaysia.
Besides that, there’s also a new side-step integrated into the rear body panel. Called the Rear Box Step, this makes it easier to climb into the rear bed. Previously, you had to step on the tyre or the rear bumper to get inside, which could be slippery if it was wet or covered in mud.
Speaking of the rear bed, it too has been updated and is now wider than before. Ford says that the rear bed is wider now to accommodate European sized pallets. The bed also features a new 230V 150W three-pin power socket which was previously only available in the passenger cabin. Now though, it is available both in the cabin and in the bed.
The bed also has six mounting hooks now instead of the four hooks in the previous model.
The Matrix LED Headlamps are also a much welcomed addition and are only available in the Wildtrak and Raptor models. These headlights turn according to the direction of steering wheel and also light up and dim automatically according to traffic conditions.
Inside, the driver and passenger enjoy a huge 12-inch portrait style touch screen infotainment system that offers wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto which provides seamless connectivity to your favourite music and even Google Maps or Waze.
Besides the digital infotainment system, the driver also enjoys an eight-inch digital instrument cluster that provides all the essential information.
There is also a wireless charge pad if you don’t like cables cluttering around the centre console, but if you don’t mind that then there two USB ports up front and even a Type C port at the back, right next to the rear air-conditioning vents which are also a new addition.
Because the Wildtrak is now wider, there is now more shoulder space as well. The front seats have also been redesigned and the driver seat is electronically adjustable. However, thigh support has now been omitted.
You also get a drive mode selector which basically adjusts power delivery between the rear wheels or all-four wheels according to the mode selected. You get six different driving modes with each adjusting the gearshifts, traction control and power distribution to give you the most economical or the most powerful drive. The modes are:
What about the powertrain?
The 2.0-litre, twin-turbo, four-cylinder engine was first introduced in the previous generation model that made its Malaysian debut in 2018. It replaced the old 3.2-litre engine and six-speed gearbox. The engine together with the 10-speed gearbox were considered to be revolutionary. So rather than investing funds into producing a new powerplant, Ford chose to invest in refining and developing the tried and tested powertrain.
So, the new Ranger Wildtrak is still powered by the same engine as before, and it produces the same 210PS and 500Nm of torque as before.
But Ford says the gearbox has been enhanced, lightened and strengthened. That is already a monumental task by itself, falling short of developing an all-new gearbox of course.
So how the Wildtrak drive?
The Ranger Wildtrak has always been the most refined pick up truck in the market. It is the most carlike in nature and the most comfortable. The new model does not disappoint but takes it all a notch further, further elevating the Ranger’s reputation as the King of pick-up trucks.
Despite not having the Active Noise Cancellation feature which made the interior of the previous model feel like that of a European luxury car, the insulation of the new Wildtrak is also quite impressive. It is a couple of decibels louder than before as we found out during a test, but it is still quitter than many of its competitors.
One of the most irritating things about driving a pick-up truck is the diesel clatter that is quite audible from the cabin. That noise makes any pick-up truck feel like a commercial vehicle. But not in the Wildtrak. There’s just a minimal amount of that annoying clatter intruding into the cabin, and it is barely audible at higher speeds.
The gearshifts though are more refined than before, testament to the improvement work Ford has carried out on the gearbox. There’s minimal lag during downshifts when you flex your right foot, and the upshifts are seamless.
At RM168,888, the new Ford Ranger Wildtrak is far from cheap. But cars and pick-up trucks have generally become more expensive across the industry due to the post pandemic cost of goods.
But it is a truck that needs to be driven to be appreciated. But before you do that, be sure to connect your phone to the wireless infotainment system then take time to appreciate the Ford Sync 4 voice command system that is now more advanced and more accurate than before.
Sinply said, it is currently the best pick-up truck that money can buy, a deal made sweeter by the fact that the Ranger Wildtrak is now available with a five-year or 160,000km manufacturer’s warranty.
Engine: 2.0-litre diesel, 4-cylinder, twin-turbo
Gearbox: 10-speed automatic with Select Shift
Suspension: Double wishbone with coil at the front
Leaf spring at the rear
Brakes: Ventilated discs front & back
We like: Premium feel, superb infotaiment system
We don’t like: Having to wait too long for pick-up trucks that we like