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Cars > Driven

Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2.2L 4x2 AT: One tough workhorse

How to test a pickup truck? Make it carry a ton of cargo

One of the benefits of driving a pickup truck is having no boundaries. Like that corny marketing campaign says. PHOTO BY FRANK SCHUENGEL

When Ford Philippines recently invited the local media for a test drive of the new Ranger pickup truck, the company sure didn’t do things by half. There was no quick lap around the dealership or short crawl across next door’s condo construction site to demonstrate the capabilities of this workhorse with family-car aspirations. Instead, the American brand invited select members of the press on a lengthy road trip to experience if the Ranger could really live up to all the fancy marketing terms used to describe it.

And you can pose a truck in ways only a poseur will bother to execute. PHOTO BY FRANK SCHUENGEL

Dubbed the “Ford Northern Adventure,” this test drive of German-level thoroughness saw a convoy of Rangers make its way from Metro Manila to Tuguegarao City in Cagayan, a 500km journey that included hauling a ton of cargo for part of the trip and taking the cars onto rough terrain on the way to a white-water rafting activity in Tabuk, Kalinga. When we say we hauled a ton of cargo, that’s literally what it was: Ford has been supporting a Gawad Kalinga community in Nueva Ecija as part of its drive to create a better world for some time now, and the media cars were each loaded up with one ton of cement destined for building works at the village. When we were handed the keys at Ford Balintawak in the morning, we were eager to see if the 4×2 Rangers, with their 2.2-liter TDCi diesel engines (158hp and 385Nm), could make light work of the task.

Probably no city-dwelling Ranger owners will use their pickup this way, but it's nice to know they can if they choose to. PHOTOS BY FRANK SCHUENGEL

Actually, a more powerful 3.2-liter TDCi block with 197hp and 470Nm is also available, and all models can either be ordered as 4×2 or 4×4, with either manual or automatic transmission. If you need more power than that, then we recommend waiting until next year, when Ford brings in the Ranger Raptor to the Philippines.

Our test cars all had the six-speed automatic gearbox fitted, which did a decent job of keeping things smooth on and off the road. The Ranger looks big but feels smaller than its 5.2m-long and 2.1m-wide frame from behind the wheel, a feat that makes it easy to drive and helps to keep it shiny when things get tight in traffic.

The 2.2-liter CRDI turbo diesel engine should be more than adequate for the mall-hopping you intend to do with it. PHOTOS BY FRANK SCHUENGEL

On the inside, the cabin is spacious enough to make a 185cm, 100kg man—that would be me—feel comfortable in the front or at the back, while decent materials and good build quality will give any Ranger buyer a feeling of having received value for money. Even on the tough roads toward Tuguegarao, the cabin remained a quiet and comfortable place to be in, giving us the impression of driving an SUV rather than a pickup truck.

The orangey interior perfectly complements the exterior paint job. Because girls dig color-coordinated dudes. PHOTOS BY FRANK SCHUENGEL

One of the most impressive feats the car managed on our road trip was the fuel consumption—or the lack thereof. All the Rangers in our convoy reached their destination on one tank of fuel, with our car still showing over 70km of range left when we parked it. Considering we had been hauling heavy cargo for part of the trip, and had not only been driving up mountain roads but also partially off the beaten track (and all the while carrying three healthy adults and their luggage), the frugality of the 2.2-liter diesel engine is on a level that would make any Scotsman blush. For a 3,200kg vehicle with the aerodynamic profile of a walk-in closet to manage below 10L per 100km during heavy driving is something your fuel station will hate you for, and that’s a good thing.

We were just messing with the captions. These are not merely pretentious poses. The Ranger did drive through a rugged route. PHOTOS BY FRANK SCHUENGEL

We drove both the FX4 2.2L 4×2 (P1,359,000) and the Wildtrak 2.2L 4×2 (P1,489,000) extensively during the trip, and would definitely recommend spending the little extra money to get the Wildtrak if presented with a choice between the two. Not only does it come with a host of extra goodies as standard—such as dual-zone air-conditioning with automatic temperature control, an eight-inch TFT touchscreen multifunction display that wirelessly supports Android and Apple devices through Ford’s SYNC3 feature, and a digital dash consisting of two 4.2-inch LCD screens on your instrument panel—but it also feels a little more refined to drive.

Who says you need four-wheel drive to go off-road? PHOTOS BY FRANK SCHUENGEL

If this was due to the additional driving gizmos doing their job (the Wildtrak does come with electronic stability program, hill-start assist and trailer-sway control as standard), or if Ford has really given this version a slightly softer ride to keep people steady while they enjoy all the additional features in the cabin, we’re not sure. But along the twisty and bumpy roads leading to Tuguegarao City, it seemed more settled and more family-car-like than the FX4. Nevertheless, both models were a pleasure to drive, and you could do a lot worse than getting this tough truck with a soft center as your daily workhorse.

FORD RANGER WILDTRAK 2.2L 4X2 AT

Engine2.2-liter in-line-4 common-rail direct-injection turbo diesel
Transmission6-speed automatic
Power158hp @ 3,200rpm
Torque385Nm @ 1,600rpm to 2,500rpm
Dimensions5,354mm x 2,163mm x 1,821mm
Drive layoutRWD
Seating5
PriceP1,489,000
UpsideCapable, versatile, decently appointed.
DownsideThe Ranger Raptor is coming in 2018.


Frank Schuengel

Frank is a German e-commerce executive who loves his wife, a Filipina, so much he decided to base himself in Manila. He has interesting thoughts on Philippine motoring.



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