Don't try to adjust your screens or your monitors. What we have here is the 2019 Ford Ranger Wildtrak 4x2. If you were expecting a major redesign or a brand new face on Ford's pickup truck, sorry but it still relatively looks the same.
So what did Ford exactly do to the Ranger? They gave it more powerful engines, new and improved technologies to keep it bang up to date, as well as tweaks to the underchassis.
But do any of these actually enhance the Ranger, or will it be just more of the same? It's time to take it for a spin.
First, let's take a look what Ford change on the Ranger's exterior. It’s not exactly the most obvious of updates but trust me, there are some changes on the Ranger. There's a new front grill, a reshaped front bumper, LED daytime running lights, as well as redesigned foglight housings. Other not so obvious changes done on the 2019 Ranger are the HID headlights and LED foglights, and the new front fender badges that bear the 'Ranger' name.
Some might say Ford could have done so much more in changing up the Ranger's looks. Maybe slapping on a new set alloy wheels some cooler-looking taillights could have made the pickup standout more. Personally, I still think the Ranger looks fine as it is despite having only a nip and tuck. If it still looks good why bother changing it in the first place?
Climb aboard the 2019 Ranger and those familiar with the 2015 and onward models will feel right at home in this one. Much like the exterior, Ford went for the 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' way of thinking. From the huge SYNC 3 infotainment system and dual-zone climate control, to the thick leather steering wheel and leather-wrapped seats, the interior of the Ranger Wildtrak remains cool and brimming with tech.
Android Auto or Apple CarPlay? Check. Dual zone automatic climate control and digital instrument display? Yep. Front and rear parking sensors? Absolutely. Cruise control? Standard equipment. It even comes with satellite navigation which is pretty useful in case Waze (or your network) is not cooperating.
Perhaps the only differences present on this 2019 update are the addition of several new features. For starters, rear passengers can now charge their laptop or other mobile devices via a 230V power inverter, beside the carried-over 12V power socket, a welcome addition in the 4x2 Wildtrak. Closing the tailgate is now easier thanks to a new lift-assist system, allowing kids to close it up themselves.
As ever, space is abundant inside the Ranger with plenty of headroom, legroom, as well as elbowroom for all occupants. Since this is only the 4x2 version, it does not get the power-adjustable driver's seat. Still, at least it comes with seat height adjust which is always handy. Sadly, the steering wheel can only be adjusted for tilt, and not rake.
Under the hood is not the 2.2-liter turbo-diesel engine from before. Instead, the familiar Puma engine has been replaced by a smaller 2.0-liter inline-four dubbed ‘EcoBlue’. It’s essentially the same engine that can be found in the top-of-the-line Wildtrak, only this one is a single-turbo, not a bi-turbo.
Despite being smaller than the good ol’ Puma engine, the newer turbo-diesel musters 180 PS at 3500 rpm along with 420 Nm of torque at 1750 - 2500 rpm. This translates to 20 more horsepower as well as 35 Nm of additional torque. Also new is the automatic transmission, which comes with 10 gears.
With a push of a button, the EcoBlue turbo-diesel rumbles into life. Immediately, I noticed that the new engine is slightly quieter than the previous 2.2. Sure there is still the familiar ‘diesel clatter’ on cold starts but once it reaches working temperatures, it becomes quieter and more refined. Speaking of refined, the 2.0-liter also revs smoother and faster than the 2.2. All of these qualities translate into a better driving experience whether you’re on the highway, strolling around town, or tackling some light trails.
Put your foot to the floor, however, and the engine can go from mild to wild. It can easily outpace lighter vehicles and reach highway speeds without much trouble. There is also less turbo lag from the engine while the transmission can easily go through each gear seamlessly. It does fumble around between first and second gears but other than that, I'm mightily impressed by the new gearbox.
What I'm not so impressed about the transmission is its manual select function. Unlike the six-speed which came with a gated lever for manual gear selection, the new ten-speed makes use of a +/- button instead on the gear knob. While pushing buttons to change gears is great on video games, it does not feel as intuitive when you're driving in real life. In the end, I left the transmission in 'D' most of the time.
As for fuel economy, the new ten-speed slushbox does make for a more efficient powertrain. On the highway it was able to sip fuel at around 14.5 - 15.0 km/l. In a more metropolitan setting, expect the Ranger to have an average fuel consumption between 9.0 - 10.0 km/l.
It may be a pickup truck through and through, but I have to commend Ford for making the Ranger (somewhat) car-like to drive. Thanks to the electronic power steering assist, maneuvering the pickup truck around tight turns and narrow side streets was easy. However, I wish it delivered more steering feedback as the system felt numb most of the time.
Ford claimed that they tweaked the suspension of the Ranger in order for it to have less body roll. Naturally I just had to test it out whether Ford was telling the truth, and I'm happy to report that they have indeed made it have less roll. Just remember that it is still a tall vehicle so avoid making sharp maneuvers with the Ranger.
Pickup trucks are not known for being the softest vehicles to sit in, especially when going off the beaten path. But the Ranger is one of those trucks that are relatively pliant. It will never be as comfortable as the Nissan Navara or the Mitsubishi Strada, but the Ranger, in my opinion, is the middle-ground for those that want something for hauling and for just going around town.
And despite being only a 4x2 it was a surprise to see a rear-locking differential, which is usually reserved for 4x4 models. Not only will this come handy when you have to tackle difficult terrain, it will be quite useful when you're towing heavy loads.
So the 2019 Ranger gets a slightly updated look, a more refined cabin with plenty of technologies, a more powerful turbo-diesel under the hood, and improved ride and handling. But how much will it cost? At Php 1,455,000, the 2019 Ranger Wildtrak in 4x2 A/T trim is priced just right. Yes there are cheaper alternatives like the XLT but it does lose some key conveniences and safety features.
Instead of giving it a fresh new face, Ford instead focused on what matters more in a pickup truck; by improving what it already has and adding some extras to an already featured-packed ute. If you're in the market for a Ranger Wildtrak but don't need the heavy 4x4 system to get around, then the 4x2 version is the way to go.