Ford may have introduced another R1-million bakkie to the market, but the 2023 Ranger Wildtrak X is a unique bakkie that justifies its price with its ample offroad capabilities and standard features.
The Wildtrak X is the latest member of the Ranger family, positioned as more of an off-road-oriented version of the original Ranger Wildtrak. Like Doreen Mashinini, General Manager for Marketing at Ford South Africa, said, "If you love extreme adventures and you love exploring off-road, you’re going to love the new Ranger Wildtrak."
More about the Wildtrak X
Visually, there are a couple of notable differences between the standard and X derivatives. The Wildtrak X comes standard with black ‘Wildtrak’ lettering across the bonnet, new-design 17-inch alloy wheels, steel bash plate, black painted grille surround, fender vents, mirror caps, door handles and rear bumper and, of course, Wildtrak X badging. Customers can pair that with a range of body colours like Agate Black, Cyber Orange, Moondust Silver, Carbonized Grey and Frozen White.
Ford didn’t mess around much on the inside, merely making enhancements to various sections. There are leather seats with suede trim and Wildtrak X embroidered into the seat backs, upper glovebox and floormats, complete with Cyber Orange contrast stitching on the seats, steering wheel, gear shifter, doors and upper glovebox.
Peek under the hood, and the X is powered by a bi-turbo 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that makes 154kW of power and 500Nm of torque, matched to a 10-speed automatic transmission. To enhance the off-road experience, Ford added Bilstein dampers and a brand-new Trail Turn Assist feature that reduces the turning circle by as much as 25% when used in 4x4 mode.
We tested the feature on the gravel and sandy roads near the Orange River just outside of Upington, and not only is it easy to activate from the infotainment screen, but it really works.
Ford didn’t hold back on the standard convenience and safety features because there are plenty. You get seven airbags, lane keep assist, wireless charging, adaptive cruise control, pre-collision assist, a 360-degree camera, matrix LED headlights, tyre pressure monitor, autonomous emergency braking and blind spot monitoring.
The 12-inch infotainment screen still does the business as the hub for connectivity. It’s also very easy to link up your phone with or without a USB cable to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. There are also six pre-wired uplifter switches on the overhead console for people who want to operate electrical accessories from inside the cabin.
But wait, there’s more.
Also included, but as part of the extras list, is the segment-first Flexible Rack System consists of a sliding load rack that can be locked into five positions along the length of the load bed, and folding roof racks that store inside the roof rails when not in use.
As was demonstrated when loading inflatable boats, the system can be operated by one person and doesn’t require any tools to set up or stow.
How does it drive?
Basically, the only thing we could find issue with on the bakkie was the stiffer ride due to the Bilstein dampers. You can feel it on public roads, but then chuck it on gravel, and it’s like the stiffness comes into its own. The 2.0-litre engine has more than sufficient grunt on and off-road, both of which were duly tested over the two days. Interestingly, the Wildtrak X is the first 2.0-litre Ranger that comes equipped with permanent AWD and rear diff lock as standard.
Another thing we quite liked was the ease with which the various driving modes could be engaged, at the touch of a button, without having to stop the vehicle or reduce speed to do so. It soaks up the bumps, inclines and undulations with ease as a bakkie that costs slightly more than a million rand should. Though you can’t tell just by looking at it, Ford increased the ground clearance slightly by 24mm, and the Wildtrak X also has a wider 30mm track compared to the standard Ranger.
When it comes to fuel efficiency, a figure in the 10-litre per 100km mark can be expected in everyday driving situations. The bakkie feels agile in the hands on the tar road and particularly grippy thanks to the all-terrain tyres that form part of the standard package.
Is it worth buying?
There will be inevitable questions regarding paying R1 million for a bakkie, but the Wildtrak X is full value for it. With the Ranger Wildtrak X, Ford have delivered a unique vehicle with uncompromised offroading ability. From the build quality to the improved tech and overall 4x4 capability, there’s a reason the Ranger won the 2023 South African Car of the Year award.
Pricing and aftersales
Ranger Wildtrak X 2.0-litre 4x4 - R1 013 000
Included as standard is a four-year/120 000km warranty, four-year/unlimited distance roadside assistance and five-year/unlimited distance corrosion warranty. The recommended service interval is 15 000km or annually, whichever occurs first.
Customers also have the option of purchasing service or maintenance plans for up to eight years or 135 000km. The warranty can be extended for up to seven years or 200 000km, while roadside assistance can be extended for an additional one or two years.
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