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First Drive: New Ford Ranger XLT and Wildtrak

Utility with SUV-like comfort

Ntsako Mthethwa
December 15, 2022
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First Drive: New Ford Ranger XLT and Wildtrak 

Like the SUV segment in SA, the local double-cab bakkie fold has seen massive growth over the years, and every month, Toyota, Isuzu, Ford, Mazda, GWM, VW and Nissan are leaving it all on the battleground for sales charts supremacy. 

While that remains an exciting fight to see, a new generation Ford Ranger seeks to raise the temperature in the already hot segment. It lives a double life as an Amarok following the joint venture between Ford and Volkswagen to build both cars on the revised T6 platform dubbed T6.2. 

Built at Ford's Plant in Silverton, the new Ranger is available in SA, for now, in Base, XL, XLT and range-topping Wildtrak variants before the off-road-focused Raptor joins the fray in 2023. Also, the Ranger is only available as a double-cab, and according to Ford, the single-cab models are earmarked to only enter the range early next year. 

We jetted to Cape Town to get to grips with the XLT and Wildtrak variants. Take my word for it; pictures don't do any justice here… it's attractive, thanks to Leigh Consetino, the man responsible for the exterior design of the new Ranger, who was present at the launch.

Robust, rugged and ready

It retains its robust, rugged stance, and it does so with increased proportions, thanks to the tracks and wheelbase that have been stretched by 50 mm. It may not seem like much on paper, but it pays dividends as far as the approach angle is concerned off the beaten track. 

Ford has done remarkably well in amplifying the new Ranger's robustness with the squared-off front fascia, defined fenders, and stylish LED lights that make it look more muscular than its forebear. 

Regarding the XLT, it comes with a host of standard features and here we're talking about C-clamp LED headlights with LED daytime running lights, halogen fog lamps, chrome grille bars, 16" alloys, body-shaded bumpers, mirrors, and door handles. It further adds side steps, a tow bar, a spray-in bed liner with a 12-Volt power socket and power-adjustable mirrors with heated and auto-folding on locking. 

Upgraded function

Inside, it comes standard with premium cloth seat upholstery, an 8" digital instrument cluster, a 10.1" portrait infotainment system powered by the brand's latest SYNC4 system, single-zone manual climate control, a 6-speaker audio system, USB ports for the front and rear passengers, a 6-way driver and passenger seat adjustment, keyless entry, electric windows, rear-view camera and rain-sensing wipers. 


Like its predecessor, the Wildtrak adds a few notable design upgrades over the XLT. Yet, you still get the same side steps but in a bright hue, an integrated side-step behind the rear tyres for easy access to the load bin, a new plastic-moulded bedliner and extra cargo tie-down points. 

However, it upgrades its front fascia to the Wildtrak-specific grille with a boulder grey accent, 18" alloy wheels, a 240-Volt/400 W power outlet, sports hoop with aluminium load box tie-down rails, bright roof rails and privacy glass.

The interior is completely transformed, thanks to an SYNC4 infotainment system with a larger 12" touchscreen, a 10.1" digital instrument cluster, a wireless charging pad, B&O audio system, an e-shifter, ambient lighting, bespoke leather trim, an electronic parking brake, dual-zone automatic climate control with rear vents, 8-way power adjustment for the front seats and USB ports for the front and rear passengers. 

The overall build quality of the XLT and Wildtrak is on point and difficult to fault. Everything is where it is supposed to be, and thankfully, Ford has retained physical buttons and knobs for volume and HVAC controls, further complemented by several storage pockets. Another feature many customers will love is the six overhead up fitter switches pre-installed to connect accessories such as lights, winches and radios. 

Regarding functionality, the load bin also acts as a workstation courtesy of slots for C-clamps, power outlets and a built-in ruler with 10 mm increments for convenient measuring. 

Driving the new Ranger

At the launch, we got behind the wheel of the range-topping models in the XLT and Wildtrak lineups. Speaking of the former, it is powered by a 2.0-litre Bi-turbodiesel engine that produces 154 kW and 500 Nm of torque; this unit has been inherited from the outgoing Raptor and it puts down power to the tarmac via a remapped 10-speed automatic transmission. The Wildtrak, on the other hand, features a bigger 3.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine that churns out 184 kW and 600 Nm. It uses the same 10-speed automatic gearbox.

Almost everything about the new Ranger has been done right. The Ford folks did a great job balancing off-road capability with ample on-road comfort. The off-road course we tackled at the launch was a mixture of rough and rocky terrain. A special note goes to its ability to easily cope with intense terrain hassle-free, thanks to the electronic shift-on-the-fly 4WD system, significant departure and approach angles and selectable drive modes. 

On the open road, it was a surprise to note that a car with so much rugged versatility can drive more like a traditional SUV. It cruises nicely with so much aplomb, yet there is just a tiny amount of wind noise due to the massive side mirrors but not too much to warrant a complaint, if we're honest. 

Ford has done remarkably well by remapping the 10-speed transmission in its 2.0-litre Bi-turbodiesel, which, under intent acceleration in the outgoing model, would go gear hunting and take its time to build up momentum. Kudos to Chief Program Engineer John Willems; all the irks are gone as the transmission shuffles through all 10 gears smoothly while the box correctly selects desired gears. 

The Wildtrak tackles the beaten track packing more power, an advanced 4x4 system and additional modes such as Normal, Eco, Tow, Slippery, Mud and Sand. Paired with the same 10-speed automatic transmission, the new V6 engine feels extremely strong from behind the wheel; its take-off is strong and offers enough punch through the middle of the rev range, making it a welcomed addition to the Ranger range. 

When it comes to towing, Ford claims the Wildtrak can tow up to 3,500 kg of braked trailers and a payload of 944 kg. By comparison, the Hilux, Amarok and Isuzu offer the same towing capacity yet slightly bigger loads rated at 970 kg. The Amarok offers a whopping 1,200 kilograms of payload. The XLT 4x4 gets a payload of 946 kg and the same 3,500 kilograms.

The extended Ranger family

Not a fan of the duo we sampled at launch? The new Ranger lineup also consists of the base model in 4x2 and 4x4 guises. This features a 2.0-litre single-turbodiesel engine and a 6-speed manual transmission. 

The XL range in 4x2 and 4x4 setups is powered by the same unit but also gains a 6-speed automatic transmission. The XLT can also be had with the aforementioned single turbo and Bi-Turbo units either as a 4x4 or 4x2. Instead of the V6, the Wildtrak is also available with a Bi-turbodiesel engine.

For those seeking to customise the new Ranger, Ford offers a wide range of optional accessories such as a power roller shutter, spare wheel lock and 20" alloy wheels, to name a few. There's a comprehensive list of safety features, including front and rear parking sensors, cruise control with speed limiter, 360-degree camera off-road SYNC screen, active park assist, front and rear disc brakes and a range of driver assistance features. 

The new Ranger promises to become a hit on our bakkie-crazy shores, where buyers want more than just a work truck. After extensive testing of the XLT and Wildtrak models at launch, they showcased themselves as competent off-roaders and bakkies suitable for daily driving and a big step up from the outgoing Ranger. 



  • 2.0L SiT Double Cab 4×2 6MT R486,000
  • 2.0L SiT Double Cab 4×4 6MT R528,600


  • 2.0L SiT Double Cab XL 4×2 6MT R529,900
  • 2.0L SiT Double Cab XL 4×2 6AT R544,400
  • 2.0L SiT Double Cab XL 4×4 6MT R607,300
  • 2.0L SiT Double Cab XL 4×4 6AT R621,900


  • 2.0L SiT Double Cab XLT 4×2 6AT R592,700
  • 2.0L SiT Double Cab XLT 4×4 6AT R669,800
  • 2.0L BiT Double Cab XLT 4×2 10AT R702,300
  • 2.0L BiT Double Cab XLT 4×4 10AT R782,100


  • 2.0L BiT Double Cab Wildtrak 4×2 10AT R778,300
  • 2.0L BiT Double Cab Wildtrak 4×4 10AT R867,700
  • 3.0L V6 Double Cab Wildtrak 4WD 10AT R953,500

The pricing includes a standard 4-year/120,000 km warranty, 4-year/unlimited distance Roadside Assistance and a 5-year/unlimited distance corrosion warranty. Buyers have the option to buy service or maintenance plans for up to eight years or 165,000 km.


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