Off road

2023 Ford Ranger Wildtrak Review

“Finally” is what we quietly muttered to ourselves after taking a seat inside the cabin of the 2023 Ford Ranger at its Australian launch. This is the most anticipated vehicle to hit Australia this year, and with a fresh design incorporating a swanky new interior and a V6 Turbo diesel powerplant orphaned (and improved) from its full-size F-150 cousin it’s easy to see why.

The new Ford Ranger has improvements up and down the model lineup that do more than cement it as the best pickup truck to buy in Australia, but also challenges for the “one car fits all” crown that SUVs have owned for years. The top-of-the-line Wildtrak model is laden with creature comforts designed for everyday use, and we’ve put it to the test on-road and off-road in our review below.

Related: How Ford Ranger Proves Benefit in Listening to Customers.

2022 ford ranger wildtrak launch front end

Image: Ford Australia

What Powers the 2023 Ford Ranger Wildtrak?

There are two engine options available for the 2022 Ford Ranger Wildtrak and we’ve outlined both options below.

Ford Ranger Wildtrak Bi-Turbo Ford Ranger Wildtrak V6
Engine 2.0-litre bi-turbo-diesel 4-cylinder 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6
Maximum Power 154kW @ 3750 rpm 184kW @ 3,250 rpm
Maximum Torque 500Nm @ 1750 rpm 600Nm @ 1,750 rpm
Kerb Weight 2295kg 2353kg
Payload 985kg 997kg
Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) 3280kg 3350kg
Gross Combined Mass (GCM) 6350kg 6400kg

How’s the Fuel Economy?

On paper, Ford claims the Ranger Wildtrak 2.0 (4×4) uses 7.6L/100km of Diesel under combined city and highway driving cycles while putting out 195g of CO2. In our testing, we managed to linger around that mark, but stay tuned for our full economy test where we put the car through a full 80L tank of fuel to see if we can reach the 1081km max range figure.

In terms of the V6, Ford claims the Ranger Wildtrak 3.0 V6 (4×4) uses 8.4L/100km combined. In our testing, we found this harder to achieve as putting your foot down under any typical driving conditions will really start chewing through fuel. One of the cars on the trip actually managed to get down to a quarter of a tank of fuel by lunchtime, so keep your eye out for our full tank range test shortly for accurate results.

Related: 2022 Ford Ranger Unveiled: 10 Things to Know

2023 ford ranger wildtrak on road

Image: Ford Australia

How Does the 2023 Ford Ranger Wildtrak Drive?

The first drive on our test launch was a 200km trip from Melbourne Airport to the Australia Automotive Research Centre (AARC). Here we jumped between the majority of vehicles in the lineup, including Wildtraks in both Bi-Turbo and V6 configurations. This gave us a great opportunity to test the difference between the Ford Ranger with both engine configurations on twisty roads, highways, and country B-roads littered with potholes thanks to recent weather.

What’s it Like On-Road?

We spent the first leg of our journey driving the V6 Turbo diesel and were grinning ear-to-ear as soon as we entered the freeway on-ramp. It’s not every day you jump in a V6 Turbo diesel vehicle (there are very few on the market), but we were quickly reminded of our time spent in the Toyota Landcruiser 300 Series Sahara ZX late last year. The power delivery is smooth, the engine never feels like it’s pulling more weight than it’s happy with, and the transmission has been tuned to find a balance between peak torque (that comes nice low down) and fuel economy (although we’d argue it’s better suited to the Bi-Turbo). Put your foot down, kick down two gears, and you’ll have no trouble overtaking slower cars on country B-roads from 80 km/h and up.

The second leg of the on-road drive was spent behind the wheel of the Wildtrak Bi-Turbo (2.0-litre 4-cylinder) and being an engine we’ve driven in the past, we expected the power difference. In many ways, the 10-speed gearbox is better suited to this engine with its respectable torque number of 500Nm peaking at 1750rpm, but even more so the power output that tapers off in the higher RPMs under load. It rows through the first 3 gears quickly on its way to 80km/h and redlining every gear you’ll see 40km/h in first, 60km/h in second, and 80km/h in third. It’s a truck.

The ride comfort itself is still no particular match for the best SUVs on the market due to the leaf spring rear end that’s been set up to tow 3.5-tonne, but by optioning the V6 Turbo Diesel engine you’ll have similar power delivery and smoothness found in most family SUVs.

Outside of the power, there’s a nuanced difference between the steering feel and feedback. Both are equipped with electric racks, but the weight through the wheel (and some of the feedback) turns from a tightly connected experience in the V6 to something that feels like it’s trying to figure out why it’s lost 58kg of weight over the front axle. It took a second for us to figure it out as well, thinking “they’re the same model, same tires, same suspension, same setup, same wheel, same pretty much everything, except there’s a smaller donk.

Related: Dual-Cab Ute Power Comparison: How Does the V6 Ranger Stack Up?

2022 ford ranger wildtrak flexing offroad

Image: Ford Australia

What’s it Like Off-Road?

After a spot of on-road driving in the morning, we headed into the proving grounds at the AARC to put the new Ford Ranger through its paces offroad. Experienced offroaders would turn their nose to most of these obstacles – to be fair we could’ve driven through some of them in 2WD – but the Wildtrak performed about as well as you could hope for across basic obstacles such as water-crossings, mud, erosion mounds, and rocks.

In terms of driver aids, the Sport and Wildtrak benefit from offroad specific drive modes (Mud/Ruts and Sand) over the XLT’s Normal, Eco, Slippery and Tow/Haul. In our testing, we never found the limits of any modes, however, we were pleased to see a rear diff lock as standard.

We’ll also give full marks to Ford Australia for offering a set of All Terrain tires out of the box. The Goodyear Wranglers are a good tire for 90% of customers and they handled the mud, water crossing, and rocky trails with no issues at all. In short, it’s ready to go out of the box.

We found the front camera system to be one of our favourite features off-road. As soon as you flick the ute into Mud/ Ruts mode the camera turns on and helps you point the front wheels in the right direction – it’s something we absolutely loved in the new Land Rover Defender – and really helps you see what’s in front when looking at the sky on extreme upward angles. We also love having the gauges displayed on the driver’s display in front of you rather than on the tablet infotainment screen, and they include;

  • Driveline and electronic diff lock indication
  • Steering angle
  • Vehicle pitch and roll angles
  • Off-road features buttons

Hill Descent Control is also managed through the cruise control button on the wheel and can be sped up or down depending on the incline you’re driving. We were encouraged to keep it on at all times, however, considering the low first gear and the fact the hills weren’t much steeper than your average driveway, we’d save it for tougher tracks.

Related: 2022 Ford Ranger Raptor Revealed as 400HP ‘Pre-Runner’ for All Terrains.

New ford ranger wildtrak rear end in mud

Image: Ford Australia

Is the New (Old) Engine Reliable?

We were just as surprised as you might be to see the 2.0-litre Bi-Turbo engine return to the model lineup in the higher spec ‘Wildtrak’ variant. The Indian-manufactured version of this engine was plagued by fuel injector issues that Ford has assured us they’ve fixed.

In a media briefing earlier this year, Pritika Maharaj, the global program manager for the new Ranger, said:

“The injectors (in the twin-turbo 2.0-litre diesel) have changed. We had an issue, way back, with the supplier and then there’s also been upgraded to the injector in parallel. We are very confident (about the reliability of the new injectors)… We simulate extreme customer usage by running these engines for more than 700 continuous hours at full throttle.”

Changes have also been made to the transplanted V6 engine from the F-150, with improved turbo-lubrication redesigned for extreme angles off-road.

What About the Gearbox?

Both models of the 2022 Ford Ranger Wildtrak receive the same 10R80 10-speed automatic transmission. While it’s often been outshined by the ZF 8HP 8-speed units found in the VW Amarok, we found the revised shift points improved the city driving experience while adding a touch of overall refinement in the gearbox when down-shifting for highway overtakes.

How Does it Tow?

The true test for the V6 Ford Ranger will come when we stick 3-tonnes of caravan behind it, and you can expect a full feature article on that later this year. We weren’t able to test the towing capability of the new Ranger on this trip, however, the features are endless with 10 set towing profiles that can be customised based on the dimension and weight of your load, light checking routine (no more yelling out the window), and brake controller with variable gain control. On paper, it looks like the 2022 Ford Ranger will be the best dual-cab ute for towing.

Related: Ford F-150 Confirmed for Australia: Here’s Everything You Need to Know.

New ford ranger interior

Image: Ford

What’s the Interior Like on the 2023 Ford Ranger Wildtrak?

How Does the New Infotainment System Work?

The 2022 Ford Ranger Wildtrak comes as standard with the larger 12-inch Sync 4 infotainment system. This has already proven a favourite in overseas models such as the Ford Mustang Mach-E, Ford F-150 Lightning, and 2022 Ford Expedition so we were excited to test it for the first time in Australia.

It’s a gorgeous unit overall and the display is very bright, very sharp, very quick, and makes other vehicles in this class look like farm trucks. Carplay and Android Auto integration are both half and/or three-quarters displayed above the lower quarter panel of the screen and can be shrunk or expanded based on preference. Once again, one of the best systems fitted to any vehicle on the road today, let alone a ute.

Many of the Ranger’s physical controls have been replaced with on-screen sliders, however, the brand understands that customers prefer physical controls for heating and cooling, transmission settings, and drive mode selection that remains on the centre console as a dial and button unit. In practice, we found the balance to be just about right for on-screen vs. physical buttons, although, the off-road modes like Downhill Assist and setting the diff lock can be a little hard to hit with your finger offroad. Selecting to bring up the front camera can also be a little challenging.

Turning to the physical drive mode unit, we found there’s a considerable lag between turning the physical dial and the driver’s display pop-up that it’s equally as frustrating to use. Why there isn’t a little LED indicator on the physical unit for drive modes is beyond us as the two really don’t talk to each other well.

Other features we loved include the voice recognition, wireless Sync AppLink via the Ford App to control exterior zone lighting (perfect for setting up camp), and the customisable touchscreen options.

Related: 2022 Ford Everest is a ‘Do Everything’ Family Tourer.

Next gen ford ranger screen

Image: Ford

Is it a Comfortable Place to Sit for a Roadtip?

Comparing Wildtrak to the rest of the model lineup and it’s obvious where the money has been spent with a focus on interior luxury. It’s our pick of the bunch for the grey nomads looking to tour the country, and highlights that make long-haul journeys that much nicer include colour-matched stitching, extra storage (including a little mini glove box on the dash for the passenger), pop-up cupholders, and leather-trimmed dashboard. On lower trimmed models, most of these features are simply covered by plastic panels – not so great.

There’s a row of auxiliary switches factory mounted on the overhead console for spotlights and other accessories, as well as comfortable eight-way electrically adjustable heated front seats that are supremely comfortable and supportive through corners and over the rough stuff. Is it a comfortable place to sit for long road trips? Absolutely, the cockpit is our favourite of any dual-cab ute we’ve tested.

Related: New E-Transit Kickstarts Ford Australia’s Path to Electrification.

2022 ford ranger tray storage

Image: Ford

Should You Buy the 2023 Ford Ranger Wildtrak?

How Much Does the Ford Ranger Wildtrak Cost?

Pricing for the top-of-the-range Ford Ranger Wildtrak starts at $67,190 AUD before on-road costs for the 2.0-litre Bi-Turbo engine (up $1100). The V6 Ford Ranger range is priced at an extra $3000 AUD across the lineup and is a no-brainer to us, especially for those looking to tow. Pricing for the Ford Ranger Wildtrak V6 starts at $70,190 AUD before on-road costs.

If you’re looking to jump behind the wheel of a V6 Ford Ranger, this is our pick of the bunch. The ‘cheapest’ way to get behind a V6 Dual-Cab Pickup is the Sport model which starts at $64,190 AUD before on-road costs and spending the extra $6000 AUD gets you a far nicer interior that looks and feels as premium as the price tag suggests. It compares favourably to its competitors as well, with the Toyota Hilux Rogue and Rugged X both starting above $70,000 AUD and sporting a cabin that is about half as nice.

Warranty and Servicing

Ford Australia offers a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.

Service intervals are every 15,000km or annually, whichever comes first, and the first four visits are capped at $329 apiece. In our personal experience, those who are towing often should consult directly with the dealer for recommended service intervals.

Safety

The 2022 Ford Ranger receives the following standard safety equipment:

  • Nine airbags
  • Autonomous emergency braking
  • Lane-keep assist
  • Lane-departure warning
  • Road edge detection
  • Blind-spot assist
  • Rear cross-traffic alert (pickup only)
  • Trailer Coverage (when factory Tow Pack is fitted)
  • Reverse camera (pickup only)
  • Rear parking sensors (pickup only)

Other safety equipment such as front parking sensors, adaptive cruise control with stop/go, surround-view camera, and fully-autonomous parking assist are available on the Ford Ranger Wildtrak as it’s the highest trim level, but don’t expect to see them on the lower models. It’s worth mentioning that 9 airbags are standard across the entire new Ford Ranger lineup.

Related: Celebrities are Going Nuts for this Upgraded Ford F-100.

New ford ranger wildtrak front end

Image: Ford Australia

Our Verdict on the 2023 Ford Ranger Wildtrak

Ford has successfully laid down the gauntlet for the Dual-Cab ute market in Australia. Considering the Ranger was one of the best and highest selling marks in the category, adding all-new tech to the cabin and engine bay in the form of Sync 4 and the potent new V6 Turbo diesel means the Ranger is as close to an SUV as we have experienced in the dual-cab ute market. Looking at the Wildtrak and we’d stretch the budget $6000 AUD over the Sport for the extra luxury if any amount of touring is on the cards.

If we had to point the finger at anything, it’s the waitlist. However, looking across the fence at the competition and you start to think the long wait for the Ford Ranger is indeed worth every second. The catchphrase for the Ford Ranger should really read “The All New Ford Ranger, it’s worth the wait.”

Check it out

2022 ford ranger wood mounts

Image: Ford

2023 Ford Ranger Wildtrak Standard Specification in Australia

This is what your base Ford Ranger Wildtrak gets in Australia.

Exterior Standard Specifications

  • 18-inch Boulder Grey alloy wheels
  • 18-inch Boulder Grey alloy spare wheel
  • Goodyear Wrangler all-terrain tyres
  • Unique Wildtrak sports bar
  • Power tub roller shutter
  • Cargo management system
  • Unique Wildtrak front grille with mesh pattern and Boulder Grey accents
  • Exterior side mirrors with puddle lamps and zone lighting
  • Roof rails
  • Aluminium load box tie down rails

Interior Standard Specifications

  • The 12-inch touchscreen infotainment system
  • Interior ambient lighting
  • Pull-out dash-mounted cupholders
  • Unique Wildtrak leather accented upholstery
  • Heated front seats
  • Eight-way electrically adjustable front seats
  • Surround-view camera
  • Automated parking assist
  • Integrated trailer brake controller
Next gen ford ranger mode selection

Image: Ford

2022 ford ranger rear step

Image: Ford

Ford ranger e shift

Image: Ford

Nextgenranger wildtrak zone lighting

Image: Ford

Nextgenranger sport newcluster

Image: Ford

2023 ford ranger wildtrak launch

Image: Ford Australia

2023 ford ranger wildtrak launch 2

Image: Ford Australia

2023 ford ranger wildtrak water crossing

Image: Ford Australia

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JOURNALIST

Ben McKimm

Ben lives in Sydney, Australia. He has a Bachelor's Degree (Media, Technology and the Law) from Macquarie University (2020). Outside of his studies, he has spent the last decade heavily involved in the automotive, technology and fashion world. Turning his passion and expertise into a Journalist position at Man of Many where he continues to write about everything that interests the modern man. Conducting car reviews on both the road and track, hands-on reviews of cutting-edge technology and employing a vast knowledge in the space of fashion and sneakers to his work. One day he hopes to own his own brand.