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Road tests

New Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2023 review

Ford's high-spec pick-up truck carries on where its predecessor left off

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.5 out of 5

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Verdict

A reshuffle of the line-up means that the Ranger Wildtrak is now a mid-spec model, but there's nothing middling about this latest truck's spec or quality. As before, it's a generously equipped pick-up that will appeal to company users who can take advantage of its tax benefits while also enjoying its creature comforts. It's still no SUV in terms of comfort, but it's closer than ever.

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There's no arguing with the Ford Ranger's sales success. It's consistently been Europe's best-selling pick-up truck in recent years, so the arrival of an all-new model is an important moment for the firm. We've already tried the all-new Ranger in high-performance Raptor guise, but now we've sampled what's likely to be one of the most popular versions of the newcomer, the Ranger Wildtrak.

The new Ranger is longer and wider than its predecessor, while its new bodywork gives it a boxier look than before that emulates models in Ford's US pick-up truck line-up. While the Ranger is the biggest passenger-carrying model the company sells in the UK, it's actually the small pick-up in the States, sitting beneath the Maverick and F-150.

C-shaped daytime running lights are the Ranger's new signature to its bluff front end, while traditional wheelarch cladding and Wildtrak graphics return. At the rear, Ford has boosted the truck's versatility by adding a step to the bodywork behind the rear wheel - customer feedback showed that some owners were using the rear tyre as a step up to access the cargo area, so Ford has added a proper one this time around. 

At the rear, the drop-down tailgate features measurements along the leading edge and holes for clamps so that it can be used as a work bench. That cargo area has slightly larger dimensions than before, as well as satisfying the one-tonne payload requirement that's needed for a pick-up to qualify as a commercial vehicle.

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Inside, the cab is dominated by a 12-inch portrait touchscreen display, similar to that found in the Mustang Mach-E, and it runs Ford's latest SYNC 4 connected infotainment. There's plenty of kit on board, too, with leather upholstery, heated front seats and steering wheel, electrically adjustable driver's seat, dual-zone climate control, privacy glass, LED lights and keyless entry and starting. However, while the Wildtrak is well equipped, it's no longer the top-spec model in the range - the loss of Limited trim and the arrival of the Platinum model have repositioned Wildtrak as the mid point in the range.

There's nothing mid-range about the powertrains on offer, though. As before, Wildtrak models are auto-only, but in addition to the 202bhp 2.0-litre twin-turbodiesel driven here, Ford is also offering a 237bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel. Both come with Ford's 10-speed auto and they feature a four-wheel drive transmission, too. This can automatically shift from 2WD to 4WD when needed, or there's a rotary controller on the centre console that allows you to select 4WD and low-range gears. 

As in past models, the Ranger's high-set driving position means it offers a commanding view that's far better than in any SUV. However, the new squared-off front end means there's a lot of bonnet in front of you that can obscure what's immediately ahead. Thankfully the Wildtrak comes with front parking sensors and a 360-degree camera system that displays views on the high-resolution touchscreen.

The 2.0-litre diesel isn't the most refined unit, while the 10-speed auto's tendency to hold on to gears means the revs rise significantly when accelerating, making the diesel quite audible in the cabin, and there's plenty of vibration coming up through the floor and pedals. However, the transmission changes between ratios smoothly, and when you're up to speed, the motor dies down considerably. Road noise is kept in check, while wind noise is barely noticeable at higher speeds.

Pick-up trucks by their nature have a compromised ride - a balance is needed between comfort and coping with a one-tonne payload - but the Ranger manages to deliver a good mix of ability. When unladen, only the biggest bumps tend to be felt, and they come through with a thump. The steering is light, so it's easy enough to manoeuvre this massive machine at lower speeds, but there's not much feedback to be felt through the leather rim.

The redesigned cab of the Ranger has boosted space inside. Adding an electric parking brake makes more space on the centre console, while the rear seats have been reprofiled to be more comfortable for passengers. And if you want to use that vast load bed as a boot, Ford offers a range of accessories to create secure storage, including a power-opening roll top cover.

Model:Ford Ranger 2.0 EcoBoost Wildtrak
Price:£39,350 (ex. VAT)
Engine:2.0-litre 4cyl twin-turbo diesel
Power/torque:202bhp/500Nm
Transmission:10-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
Payload:1,041kg
Economy:32.1mpg
CO2:230g/km
On sale:Now

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Senior test editor

Dean has been part of the Auto Express team for more than 20 years, and has worked across nearly all departments, starting on magazine production, then moving to road tests and reviews. He's our resident van expert, but covers everything from scooters and motorbikes to supercars and consumer products.

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