One of the most anticipated new vehicle launches of 2022 was by far the Next-Gen Ford Ranger. The second most popular ute in Australia has its headlights firmly set on the top spot and I for one couldn’t wait to experience the next-gen Ford Ranger.
I spent a week with the Ranger Wildtrak powered by the optional 3.0 litre V6 Turbo Diesel engine paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission and a permanent 4WD system and took our family on a surprise weekend away to the snow to test out the road trip capabilities of the next-gen Ranger.
The 3.0-Litre V6 Turbo Diesel has 184kW of power and 600Nm of torque and comes with Normal, Eco, Tow/Haul (auto only), Slippery for on-road, and Mud/Ruts and Sand off-road drive modes. These modes adjust everything from the gearshift to throttle response, traction and stability controls, ABS and more. The official combined fuel use for the V6 diesel Wildtrak is 8.4L/100km and for my week I used 8.6L/100km.
The Wildtrak can be switched between 2H, 4H, 4L and 4A and if you press a button on the centre console you can display the front camera and diff settings when you are off-roading. Thankfully the roads up to Perisher were clear of snow, so we just kept the Wildtrak in the default drive mode. The ride in the Next-Gen Ranger is not like other utes I have driven; it is much more comfortable even though it still has leaf-spring rear suspension and surprisingly there is little road noise from the chunky tyres.
The Tow/Haul mode is brand-new and designed for those towing or carrying a heavy load in their Ranger. Selecting Tow/Haul mode optimises the gear shift timing to maintain power when you’re climbing up a hill or deliver the right amount of engine braking when you’re travelling down a hill. The next-gen Ranger has a maximum braked towing capacity of 3,500 kg with a 350 kg tow ball download limit. The Towing pack comes standard on the Wildtrak and with this you can adjust the trailer braking from the cabin as well. I did not tow anything on my trip, but a friend has just upgraded their old Ranger to a next-gen Ranger with the V6 diesel engine and their comment to me was it felt like they weren’t even towing their caravan as it felt that effortless for new Ranger.
Of course, the Wildtrak has keyless entry and keyless start and I liked the cool start up animation on the 8-inch colour, configurable, digital instrument cluster. One of the first things that took a bit of getting used to though was the door handle is located in the door pull, so you may find yourself accidently opening the door if you are not careful.
The large-format, 12-inch infotainment screen, featuring Ford’s SYNC 4A communication and entertainment system, has modernised the Ranger cabin. But the first time I tried to connect my phone to the infotainment via Bluetooth the system was a bit ‘wobbly’ to use and took a couple of attempts to connect. Also while we were on our road trip the sat nav and GPS had the yips and neither the in-car system or Waze knew where we were (see above photo). Eventually righted itself after we stopped for a short while in Jindabyne.
Voice control can be used to operate some features of the infotainment system and is activated by pressing the button on the steering wheel with the androgynous looking silhouette on it. The voice control worked well for me for making phone calls and changing the radio station, but not for setting a destination on the sat nav.
This system offers wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity with a connected built-in navigation supplies real-time information like fuel pricing, traffic alerts and more. Another issue we discovered was the intelligent adaptive cruise control would randomly jump to 100km/h and we eventually surmised that the map system installed must have been using old speed limit data pre-programmed into the sat nav that may have caused this to occur?
My Wildtrak was fitted with the optional Premium Pack ($1,850) that includes matrix headlights, the 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio, and an auxiliary switch bank making it easier to install accessories like driving lights, a winch and more. But to cater for more drivers using dash cams, the Next-Gen Ranger offers a high-mounted USB outlet alongside the rear-view mirror as standard.
Ford Australia put the B&O sound system through a rigorous static and dynamic acoustic testing with the size and placement of the 10-speakers powered by a 660-watt amplifier to maintain both power and clarity. Media sources include an AM/FM radio and I like that this is separate from the DAB because once you leave the city limits DAB coverage is virtually non-existent, you also have Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto for when even the radio is out of range.
The Wildtrak comes with unique leather accented seats and both front seats are heated and have 8-way power adjustment including recline, forward/back, single seat height and 2-way lumbar adjustment and no memory positions. After about two hours driving both my husband and I felt our bottoms were becoming numb so it was time for a quick stretch of the legs.
There is so much storage on offer in the Ranger cabin to carry all those bibs and bobs that you may need at hand. Including an upper and lower glove box, room in the front door cubbies for two drink bottles, wireless key charging under the arm rest along with a 12V outlet, wireless charging and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto on the ledge at the front of the centre console with one USB-A and USB-C ports and in front of the cup holders in the centre console is a chip holder for your fries. Finally, there are an additional two fold out cup holders on driver’s and passenger’s side of the dash.
The rear seats have ample head and leg room for two adults to comfortable fit and I LOVE that the Ranger has two proper rear tether child seat restraint points that are clearly labelled to avoid confusion and two ISOFIX points. The centre seat can be folded down as an arm rest with two rigid cup holders in it and the rear door cubbies can also fit two drink bottles and there is storage under the rear seat.
The two central rear air vents have individual manual on/off and direction controls and below these there is one USB-A port and one USB-C port. To keep smart phones off the floor when not in use there are three pockets sown into the front of the centre rear seat, but on the downside there were no rear floor mats.
Our Wildtrak tub was fully lockable and remained dry in the rain thanks to the optional electric Roller Shutter Tonneau Cover that can be opened from button in the cabin or using the button in the tub on the left-hand side adjacent to the 12V outlet. There are four substantial tie down points with a tub weight capacity of 997kg and the only downside of the roller shutter is you lose some ‘head room’ at the front of the tub. Even so you are still be able to fit a Euro pallet 1,200mm x 800mm in as there is enough room between the wheel arches and the overall tub depth is 1,400mm. But possibly the best feature of the tub is the step behind the wheel to help to get into or reach items in the tub, I do not understand why every modern ute does not have this feature, just brilliant!
All models in the Next-Gen Ranger line-up (excluding the Raptor) have a 5-star ANCAP (2022) safety rating with an Adult Occupant Protection score of 84% (32.24 out of 38) and a Child Occupant Protection score of 93% (46.00 out of 49). In a first for Ranger, there are now nine airbags standard including dual frontal, side chest-protecting and side head-protecting (curtain) airbags, and driver and passenger knee airbags. A centre airbag which provides added protection to front seat occupants in side impact crashes is also standard.
Active safety features on the Wildtrak include Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keeping System with Road Edge Detection and Driver Alert System, Pre-Collision Assist with Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), Evasive Steer Assist, Reverse Brake Assist and Blind Spot Monitoring with Cross Traffic Alert and Trailer Coverage. ANCAP tests of the AEB (Car-to-Car) system showed a mix of ADEQUATE and GOOD performance with collisions avoided or mitigated in most test scenarios, including AEB Junction Assist where the test vehicle can autonomously brake to avoid crashes when turning across the path of an oncoming vehicle. ANCAP tests of Lane Support System functionality showed GOOD performance, including in the more critical emergency lane keeping test scenarios. Overall, the ANCAP Safety Assist score for the Next-Gen Ranger is 83%.
Plus, the Wildtrak has auto lights, auto wipers and a 360-Degree Camera that allows you to use the large centre display to choose from multiple camera views- with front and rear sensors. This includes a bird’s-eye top-down view, 180-degree front and rear split view and rear trailer hitch view for easier and safer parking and manoeuvring.
All new Ford vehicles come with a five Years/Unlimited kilometres warranty and Ford National Roadside Assistance & Auto Club Lifestyle Membership for up to seven years if an eligible General Service is undertaken at a participating Ford Dealer. The service interval for the Next-Gen Ranger is one year or 15,000kms, whichever occurs first, and the most an eligible customer will pay is $329 for the first four general services for up to 4 years or 60,000kms.
Ford Australia have announced that the Ranger Platinum will join the model line-up in 2023, combining the capability and versatility of Ranger with unique styling and premium features. Powered exclusively by Ford’s 3.0L V6 Turbo Diesel, with premium exterior touches, like 20-inch alloys, Matrix LEDs, bespoke grille, and unique-in-market Flexible Rack System and interior adds including quilted leather accented trim, heated and ventilated front seats, 12.4-inch instrument cluster and a heated steering wheel. The Ranger Platinum is expected to arrive from mid-2023 and will start at $76,990 excluding on-road costs.
The Next-Gen Ranger was definitely worth the wait and Australian new car purchasers agree so Ford Australia are currently experiencing extended wait times for models like the Ranger Wildtrak V6. Your preferred Ford Dealer will be best placed to share the latest on current availability or you can build and price your new Wildtrak Ranger on-line. Prices for the 2023.50MY Ranger Wildtrak V6 Diesel start at $71,190 excluding on-road cost and these will commence production in March 2023.
|The many safety features included||Infotainment system had some glitches|
|Proper rear tether points||The intelligent adaptive cruise control glitched also|
|The side step to access the tub||Front seats were not comfortable enough for a long drive|
Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.