2023 Ford Ranger Wildtrak (car review)

For as long as we can remember, Ford and Toyota have been engaged in a war of attrition to be the number one dual cab ute in the country. We reckon “blue oval” might have struck a winning blow with the 2023 Ranger Wildtrak.

With more than a few nods to the inbound F-150, the Ranger features its bigger brother’s C-shaped daytime running lights, designed to highlight the edges of the front facade, as well as two tow points under the front bumper.

The Wildtrak, which was created with a focus on the urban side of utility, falls towards the middle of the Ranger line-up, preceded by the entry level XL, XLS, XLT and Sport. It’s followed by the off-road focused Wildtrak X, and Platinum, and the Raptor.

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Ford loaned us the Luxe Yellow version, a colour scheme seen in promotional videos and advertisements all over social media. Our minds were already blown by how cool it looks, and in the flesh, that’s happened all over again.

It’s the best looking Wildtrak yet. It’s long, wide and menacing in a rear view mirror. You also sit higher up than before, giving you the odd feeling that you’ll be able to just roll over standstill traffic with ease. We don’t recommend trying that though.

dash
Inside the 2023 Ford Ranger Wildtrak

The Wildtrak comes with a 2.0-litre inline 4-cylinder bi-turbo diesel outputting 154kW and 500Nm in a part-time 4WD configuration, or can be optioned with a 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel engine offering 184kW and 600Nm, in a full-time 4WD setup.

It’s the latter we’re testing here, but whichever powertrain you choose, both are mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. Ford claims 8.4-litres/100km in terms of combined fuel economy, although the best we could manage was a poorer 10.6-litres/100km.

We spent most of our time in Normal drive mode, and took in suburban roads, highway trips and 10km of dirt trails. It’s easy enough to get around in the Wildtrak once you acclimatise to its size too.

The turbo diesel V6 is pliant, smooth and responsive, and gets you off the line without much ado. Suspension when unladen is firm, but not completely unforgiving. Compared to a single cab with leaf springs, the Wildtrak is a dream over ruts and bumps.

We took ours to a private off-road trail to see how it handled dirt, mud, and some punishing tracks. Needless to say, it did a brilliant job. With 4A (auto 4WD) mode engaged, and the gearbox in manual, it made the adventure journey look easy, and comfortable.

infotainment
Inside the 2023 Ford Ranger Wildtrak

Towing capability is rated at 3,500kg and 750kg, braked and unbraked respectively if you plan to haul too, and there’s plenty of in-car features and buttons to help make attaching, detaching and driving with a trailer much easier.

The rear tray, with its neat power sliding cover is also large enough to fit a European sized pallet. The cabin, which you can access by utilising the side-steps and A-pillar handle features dark leather and plastics, all finished with Cyber Orange stitching.

Wildtrak signature embroidery features, and both front row seats come standard with 8-way power adjustment, and heating. The most eye-catching cabin highlight though is the gigantic portrait-oriented 12-inch infotainment unit.

Thanks to its nifty design, some controls, such as air conditioning, also have physical buttons under the unit itself. This means adjustments can be made to climate control while the unit is in use for other activities, such as off-roading.

Included in-built features, such as satellite navigation and DAB+ digital radio, work well and looked quite good on the massive screen. The real victory is in the wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and how nice screen-mirroring looks in the Ranger.

rear seats
Inside the 2023 Ford Ranger Wildtrak

Because our tester was blessed with the optional Premium Pack, we also had access to a cool auxiliary 6-switch pack above the front row. It’s perfect for those who want to add accessories in (like light bars).

It also gave us premium matrix LED headlights and taillights, and a Bang & Olufsen premium sound system. The latter is a particularly tasty piece of tech, and one that we spent almost an hour playing around with to get the sound settings perfect.

The resulting audio experience was crisp, and the bass was deep and resounding. Second row seating is sufficient for adults around the 180cm mark, with plenty of leg and headroom. Taller people in the front compromises legroom in the rear though.

Both outboard rear seats are equipped with ISOFIX points and top tethers, so we were able to put a forward facing child seat in for our small human. Be warned though, fitting a top-tether mounted seat is a bastard, and not for the faint of heart.

The Wildtrak even has safety tech that doesn’t annoy your drive. Lane keep assist can be turned off and stays that way, even after restart. Adaptive cruise control doesn’t make you feel like you’re about to charge into the car in front when they start braking either.

Aside from auto emergency braking, there’s rear cross traffic alert and reverse brake assist. The Wildtrak is equipped with a really nice 360-degree camera and external zone lighting. The latter lights up selected areas around the car, which is useful in the wilderness.

Pricing starts at $70,190 plus on-roads. Ford offers a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty, 5-years roadside assist and capped price servicing. Put simply, there’s no denying the 2023 Ford Ranger Wildtrak is a gamechanger.

If you’re looking for a dual cab ute that ticks all the boxes in terms of practicality, safety, aesthetics and driveability, it’s hard to go past. You can build your own on the Ford Australia website, and if you’re keen on one and need finance, talk to CreditOne.

Our 2023 Ford Ranger Wildtrak was supplied by Ford Australia. To find out more, contact your local Ford dealer. Pictures courtesy of J_Hui Design / Photography.

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Driving experience
9
Exterior styling
8.5
Interior look and feel
8.5
Technology and connectivity
9
Family friendliness
8
Value for money
8.5

SUMMARY

Pros - refined powertrain; excellent tech; off-road comfort; plenty of neat features.
Cons - poor fuel economy; angle of infotainment screen; manual gear selector; not super family friendly.
Paul Pascual
Paul Pascual
Paul Pascual is an avid enthusiast of all things JDM, from the legendary powerhouses to the old school kei cars. He has a passion for modification and making his cars look like they belong on the track. But they never actually make it there.

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<strong>Pros -</strong> refined powertrain; excellent tech; off-road comfort; plenty of neat features.<br> <strong>Cons -</strong> poor fuel economy; angle of infotainment screen; manual gear selector; not super family friendly.2023 Ford Ranger Wildtrak (car review)