Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2017 new ute review

Ford's top of the line Wildtrak has received a model year update for 2017.

Robert Barry
Robert Barry
Expert reviewer | Auto Media Group

Ford's top of the line Wildtrak has received a model year update for 2017 with the introduction of a greener Euro V version of its excellent 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbodiesel engine.

Exterior , 4 out of 5 Drive , 4.5 out of 5 Safety , 5 out of 5 Value , 3.5 out of 5

Overall score , 4.3 out of 5

The good
  • Loaded with tech and spec
  • Massive pulling power
The not-so-good
  • Fiddly sliding deck lid mechanism
  • Rear seat squabs don't flip up

It is yet another silver bullet in the Ranger's arsenal as the Ford dominates over New Zealand's former perennial favourite the Toyota Hilux. What has made the Ranger such a market favourite? It's a mixture of style, performance, comfort and amenity.

Looking at the number of Rangers on the road that wear ridiculously oversized 22-inch alloy wheels, uber fat tyres, and more chrome-plated bling than a Cadillac, one would say the Ford certainly appeals to a certain demographic.

The trapezoidal front grille and rectangular headlamps which afford the Ranger a similar on-road presence to the American F-150 pickup certainly hasn't gone unnoticed by buyers.

Unlike the US-made F-150 which offers seven trim grades from XL to Limited, and includes variants called the Raptor and King Ranch, the Thai-built Ranger offers just three, XL, XLT, and Wildtrak.

The top of the line Wildtrak in Pride Orange borders on the almost conservatively tasteful in comparison to many blinged up trucks on Kiwi Roads, given the restrained use of chrome on the roof rails and side steps.

I also liked the different contrast of the grey paint used on the front and rear bumpers on the caps of the door-mounted mirrors, door handles, and the rear sports bar and tray cover mounting across the flanks of the rear deck.

Ford have fitted both a three-pin power socket as well as a 240-volt power outlet in both the cabin and the rear tray, which is extremely useful for recharging laptops and portable electric drills and the like.

But there were two small issues with the Wildtrak from a practical perspective, one being that the rear seat back folds down, rather than the squabs flipping up which wasn't very helpful for loading large tool boxes into the back of the cabin.

The second fly in the ointment was the fiddly mechanism to release the sliding rollaway lid on top of the tray; it is hard to use and frankly needs a redesign.

Tough not rough

More and more pickups are doing double duty as the work and family vehicle, so they have to offer car-like performance and handling as well as car-like levels of luxury and functionality. The top of the line Ranger does not disappoint, and we would have to say that notwithstanding the ergo comfort front seats, it still has the upper hand on the newly revised 2017 Volkswagen Amarok.

Just like it's upmarket Ford sibling, the Mondeo Titanium, the Wildtrak features heated leather-clad seats (with striking orange cloth inserts), Sync III vehicle connectivity, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and lane keeping aid. It also provides forward alert with collision warning, front and rear park assist, reversing camera, tyre pressure monitoring system and trailer sway control.

First drive

From a performance and handling point of view, nothing has changed – it's still a powerful beast that drives well, but now offers slightly better fuel economy.

The 147kW five-pot engine still provides plenty of performance but it’s just a lot quieter, and the gear change of the six-speed automatic transmission with sports mode is significantly smoother and is better at holding the lower gears as you descend a steep incline.

Smart technology

The Euro 4 Ranger was a car-like drive, and the Euro 5 Wildtrak auto continues to be the same, albeit better, and the new Sync III makes an already user-friendly car even better. We particularly liked the new capacitive touch-screen with lovely large letters that are clearly and easily read as well as offering greater functionality as well as ease of use, through the voice activation system.

It’s a smart technology that allows you to make calls on the move, as well as give verbal directions to the navigation system and even locate the nearest café or local dairy, without taking your hands off the steering wheel.

And you don't need to use a plummy British accent as I did in the Mondeo Titanium, the Ranger's voice activation system seems to cope quite well with Kiwi accents thankfully.


The Ranger Wildtrak continues to blend all the luxury and functionality of a passenger vehicle with the workhorse attributes of a 4×4 utility which makes it an attractive vehicle to Kiwis with a work and play lifestyle.

It is this combination of factors that saw the Ranger become New Zealand’s top-selling light commercial and passenger vehicle in 2015, and so far, it's looking very likely that it will repeat the same feat this year.

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