review: 2023 ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 4x4

This next-generation Ford Ranger has big shoes to fill. It’s hard to believe, but the previous Ranger was first launched in 2012 meaning it served a whole decade in the market. Despite that, it never felt long in the tooth—a testament to its then designers and engineers who set out a future-proof truck that went beyond what focused groups simply wanted. Who would have thought that buyers wanted a truck that offered advanced driver aids (including the ability to park itself) or a Baja racing derivative (the Ranger Raptor)?

Fast forward to 2022, and now, Ford’s turned their approach completely on its head. Instead of being the ones to dictate where the Ranger’s going in the next few years (or even decade), they’ve gone all in on FGDs and market studies. They’re proud to say that they’ve conducted more than 5,000 interviews and made more than 1,800 pages of field notes—all for the sake of getting into the minds of their customers. The result is what you see here: a pickup truck that’s made for the here and now.

review: 2023 ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 4x4
review: 2023 ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 4x4
review: 2023 ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 4x4
review: 2023 ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 4x4

Starting with a carryover platform (yes, it still uses the Ranger T6’s basic frame), engineers lengthened the wheelbase and stretched the tracks both by 50 mm while keeping close to the outgoing model’s overall proportions. The biggest visual difference here though is how the front-end’s been lengthened, and frankly that’s the most transformative part. The longer “dash-to-axle” ratio was done to accommodate the diesel V6. Although the Philippines doesn’t get this engine, it does give designers a larger canvas to work with. The resulting design is one that properly integrates Ford’s global truck DNA down to the C-clamp headlamps and large upright grille. Even better is how they’ve been able to spruce up an often-neglected part of a pickup truck—the rear-end. The stamped lip spoiler and Ranger lettering, taillight graphics, and integrated bed step make this the most well-thought-of designed truck in the market.

Since it uses the same core ladder frame, in terms of ride and handling, the Ranger feels very familiar. Regardless, engineers did work to make it ride over corrugations with minimal fuss; it feels especially well-behaved even when going through cracked pavement. It’s also far quieter despite the letter-sized side view mirrors and somewhat aggressive Goodyear tires. The electric power steering is single-finger-friendly but at least they’ve managed to dial in a bit more directness and consistency this time. This Ranger Wildtrak, like the outgoing Ranger Raptor, also benefits from rear disc brakes. Sadly, this hasn’t improved the stopping feel as it tends to feel underbraked at times.

review: 2023 ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 4x4
review: 2023 ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 4x4
review: 2023 ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 4x4
review: 2023 ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 4x4

Pop the hood, and it’s noticeable how the 2.0-liter bi-turbo 4-cylinder takes so little space in there. Pushed against the firewall (remember, it’s meant to accommodate a V6), it’s basically a carryover powertrain with some changes done to its plumbing and electricals. Outputs—210 horsepower and 500 Nm of torque—stick close to the outgoing Ranger, and by extension, so does its on-road behavior. Thanks to its small displacement and reliance on boost for grunt, it’s pretty quiet. There’s still some telltale diesel clatter close to idle, but this quickly disappears as the revs go up. Power comes in at a linear fashion too, and makes small work of its rather portly 2,341-kilogram curb weight.

For the Ranger Wildtrak 4×4, Ford is sticking to their 10-speed automatic guns. In the previous Ranger, people, myself included, felt it was great on paper, but not in reality; it had far too many gears for a stop-and-go traffic environment such as Manila. This time, they did manage to smoothen out the gearbox’s rough edges, but it still re-appears every now and then. The gearbox is more confident now during upshifts—it engages a gear and sticks to it. The confusion comes out during downshifts, where it still has a tendency to hunt for the appropriate gear. The same is true with abrupt throttle inputs; the transmission is momentarily confused as to which gear to select before delivering the power.

review: 2023 ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 4x4
review: 2023 ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 4x4
review: 2023 ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 4x4
review: 2023 ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 4x4

Fueled with Petron Turbo Diesel—Petron’s technologically advanced diesel fuel with excellent detergency that keeps the engine and fuel injectors clean for improved cold start performance, fuel economy, and performance, the Ranger Wildtrak 4×4 does 8.54 km/L—fuel economy figures which are slightly better than the outgoing model’s 7.35 km/L.

Carryover the platform and powertrain maybe, but Ford has given the Ranger a truly next-generation makeover inside. True enough, anyone who’s managed to sit in one will applaud what the carmaker’s done. The all-digital gauges and 12-inch infotainment screen will immediately catch your eye. The SYNC 4A’s learning curve is gentle, and you’ll be mastering it in no time. Having said that, while every single function is no more than two menus away, be prepared to do a lot of scrolling to get around. The gauge cluster is also underutilized with no changeable modes or displays. Plus, there’s also a bit of give-and-take here too. With the large portrait screen incorporating most of the controls, there’s not much physical buttons here to go around. What to engage Auto Hold? You’ll have to go through the Vehicle Settings menu (the Ranger icon on the upper left) to do that. Whatever happened to the truck where the controls were usable even with gloves on? Guess that’s Ford admitting through their FGDs that Ranger owners don’t use them much as workhorses.

review: 2023 ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 4x4
review: 2023 ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 4x4
review: 2023 ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 4x4
review: 2023 ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 4x4

On the flipside, this new lifestyle-oriented positioning for the Ranger does have other benefits. Chief among them is a cabin with much better materials than before. The upper dash, with its leather-like topper and soft-padded plastics truly make it look and feel classy. More importantly, it distracts from the plain, scratchy plastics with misaligned panels that dominate the lower half. Mind you, these are parts that people don’t regularly notice, but once you see them, it can’t be unseen.

Space-wise, the Ranger’s about the same as the outgoing model but new rear AC vents, a 12-volt socket, and USB ports make it a more hospitable place to be in. The seats fold as a single piece, but at least everyone gets their own headrests. There’s even a center arm rest too. Upfront, the large screen means far fewer cubby holes. There’s a second higher-mounted glovebox and retractable cup holders on the dash, but that’s about it. The only other usable space is now occupied by the wireless charger which is great if you’re just bringing around a phone. But because it doesn’t play well with metallic objects or credit cards, putting your wallet or house keys there is out of the question. There’s no function to even permanently turn the wireless charging off.

review: 2023 ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 4x4
review: 2023 ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 4x4
review: 2023 ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 4x4
review: 2023 ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 4x4

The driving environment itself is solid with the steering wheel and seats offering ample adjustments. The latter also offers excellent support as well, and is adjustable in eight ways electronically. It’s odd though why the seat belts lost their height adjustment. Controls are better positioned now compared to the previous Ranger, except for the headlights which require a good stretch to operate. However, it can be left in a purely automatic mode for a truly set-and-forget mindset. Exterior visibility is alright in all directions save for the front three-quarters. The thick A-pillar can sometimes mask in-coming cyclists and even pedestrians. It’s great, therefore, that pre-collision braking comes standard, although it must be said that even at its lowest sensitivity, it’s pessimistic about distances. Also, parking this 5.3-meter-long truck can be challenging, especially now that they’ve axed Active Park Assist. At least, it now gains a 360-degree camera.

The previous Ranger truly pushed the envelope of what a pickup truck could be, so it’s no surprise that this new one does the same. Although it’s not as “next-generation” as Ford would like you to think, it’s impressive by any margin. Ford didn’t need to think out of the box for this one, and frankly, they didn’t need to. They just had to listen to their customers to come up with a truck that retains a degree of familiarity, particularly with its mechanicals, but adds just enough sparkle and tons of tech to keep it ahead of the increasingly competitive goal post. Through careful evolution, Ford’s come up with the current class leader, and now, all eyes are on everyone else on how they’ll respond.

review: 2023 ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 4x4
review: 2023 ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 4x4
review: 2023 ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 4x4
review: 2023 ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 4x4

Ownership

2023 Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2.0 Bi-Turbo 4×4

Year Introduced

2022

Vehicle Classification

Pick-up Truck

Warranty

5 years / 150,000 kilometers

The Basics

Body Type

5-door Pick-up Truck

Seating

5

Engine / Drive

F/4WD, Low, Locking, Terrain Management System

Under the Hood

Displacement (liters)

2.0

Aspiration

Twin Turbocharged

Fuel Delivery

Common Rail

Layout / # of Cylinders

I4

BHP @ rpm

210 @ 3,750

Nm @ rpm

500 @ 1,750-2,000

Fuel / Min. Octane

Diesel

Transmission

10AT

Cruise Control

Yes, Adaptive

Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed

Dimensions and Weights

Length (mm)

5,370

Width (mm)

1,918

Height (mm)

1,884

Wheelbase (mm)

3,270

Curb Weight (kg)

2,341

Suspension and Tires

Front Suspension

Independent, Double Wishbone

Rear Suspension

Leaf Spring

Front Brakes

Vented Disc

Rear Brakes

Disc

Parking Brake

Electric, w/ Auto Hold

Tires

Goodyear Wrangler Territory HT 255/65 R 18 H (f & r)

Wheels

Alloy

Safety Features

Airbags

7

Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)

Yes, with EBD

Traction / Stability Control

Yes

Parking Sensors

Yes, Front & Rear

Parking Camera

Yes, 360-degree

Front Seatbelts

3-pt ELR w/ pre-tensioners x 2

Rear Seatbelts

3-pt ELR x 3

ISOFIX Child Seat Anchor

Yes

Other Safety Features

Exterior Features

Headlights

LED

Fog Lamps

Yes, Front (LED)

Auto Lights

Yes

Rain-sensing Wipers

Yes

Tailgate

Manual

Interior Features

Steering Wheel Adjust

Tilt/Telescopic

Steering Wheel Material

Leather

Seating Adjustment (driver)

Electric, 8-way

Seating Adjustment (front passenger)

Manual, 4-way

Seating Surface

Leather/Leatherette

Folding Rear Seat

Yes

Sunroof

No

Trip Computer

Yes

Convenience Features

Power Steering

Yes

Power Door Locks

Yes

Power Windows

Yes

Power Mirrors

Yes, w/ Fold

Rear View Mirror

Auto-dimming

Proximity Key

Yes

Climate Control

Yes, Dual, w/ Rear Vents

Audio System

Smartphone Connectivity

# of Speakers

6

Steering Controls

Yes

2023 Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2.0 4×4

8.54 km/L @ 17 km/h

(fueled with Petron Turbo Diesel)

Hill Start Assist

Hill Descent Control

Autonomous Emergency Braking

Forward Collision Warning

Lane Departure Warning

Lane Keeping System

Evasive Steer Assist

Blind Spot Indicators

Rear Cross Traffic Alert

Stereo

Bluetooth

USB Type A

USB Type C

Apple CarPlay

Android Auto

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