First drive: 2016 Ford Ranger WildTrak in the UAE
The Ford Ranger WildTrak has been around for a while, although it has gone under the radar largely due to the fact that it only came with a diesel engine. Despite the visual modifications, its strong resemblance to the commercial variant never helped either. Just as diesel prices dropped significantly, Ford decided to update the Ranger WildTrak for 2016, trying to make it more appealing to people who desire a pickup truck that is too big to fit in the average parking space.
External changes to the 2016 Ranger WildTrak comprise of a heavily revised front end that is far more aggressive and eye-pleasing than its commercial cousin, and closely resembles that of the latest Ford Edge. The side and rear profiles remain largely the same as the previous model.
The new Ranger WildTrak’s interior gets stitched leatherette on the dash-top and door inserts, although a lot of hard plastics remain elsewhere. The center-console houses a 6.2-inch touchscreen displaying the familiar SYNC 2.0 user interface, and also features a new layout for the controls. The gauge cluster comprises of two colour LCDs on either side of the speedometer, like many other Fords. The dual-tone orange and black cloth seats with leatherette inserts are moderately bolstered, ventilated, and sport “WildTrak” branding. The Ranger WildTrak also comes with an array of tech and features, some of which include blind-spot monitoring, auto a/c with dual-zone climate control, auto headlamps and wipers, auto dimming mirror, six airbags, and so on.
The powertrain setup remains the same as before, comprising of a robust 5-cylinder 3.2-litre turbodiesel engine mated to a smooth-shifting 6-speed tiptronic transmission, and cranking out 197 hp and a massive 470 Nm of torque. Combined with an electronic shift-on-the-fly part-time four-wheel-drive system, the Ranger WildTrak can go places where several poseur SUVs do not dare to roam. We never performed any acceleration tests, but found the engine response to be quite strong, with a decent chunk of torque available right from the lowest revs and no noticeable turbo lag, although overall it’s not a particularly quick car.
The Ranger WildTrak, which comes with heavy-duty leaf-sprung live-axle suspension under that covered bed, rides with an obvious harshness, although it could’ve been over-inflated offroad tyres. On the positive side, the body roll is surprisingly limited for a pickup, and with the light electric power steering, the Ranger WildTrak drives very much like a sedan and is easily maneuverable around the city. Any potential road and wind noise are drowned out by the engine which is always mildly audible, with a coarse growl under hard throttle.
The Ranger WildTrak and other similar upmarket pickups are a thing in Far-East Asia, and it remains to be seen how they do here. Ford deserves an applause for at least offering it here, and with a better product than what certain other brands have peddled. It may not be the most refined vehicle out there, but the 2016 Ford Ranger WildTrak combines looks, power, off-road ability, tech features and cargo capacity into one package, which alone makes it an enticing choice for adventurous consumers who do not mind being seen in a pickup.
Photos by Mashfique Hussain Chowdhury.