Is the four-cylinder Ford Ranger Wildtrak a worthy substitute for the V6? Let’s go for a long drive and find out…

ford, ranger, car reviews, dual cab, 4x4 offroad cars, tradie cars, ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 2023 review
ford, ranger, car reviews, dual cab, 4x4 offroad cars, tradie cars, ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 2023 review
ford, ranger, car reviews, dual cab, 4x4 offroad cars, tradie cars, ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 2023 review
ford, ranger, car reviews, dual cab, 4x4 offroad cars, tradie cars, ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 2023 review
ford, ranger, car reviews, dual cab, 4x4 offroad cars, tradie cars, ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 2023 review
ford, ranger, car reviews, dual cab, 4x4 offroad cars, tradie cars, ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 2023 review
ford, ranger, car reviews, dual cab, 4x4 offroad cars, tradie cars, ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 2023 review
ford, ranger, car reviews, dual cab, 4x4 offroad cars, tradie cars, ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 2023 review
ford, ranger, car reviews, dual cab, 4x4 offroad cars, tradie cars, ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 2023 review
ford, ranger, car reviews, dual cab, 4x4 offroad cars, tradie cars, ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 2023 review
ford, ranger, car reviews, dual cab, 4x4 offroad cars, tradie cars, ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 2023 review
ford, ranger, car reviews, dual cab, 4x4 offroad cars, tradie cars, ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 2023 review
ford, ranger, car reviews, dual cab, 4x4 offroad cars, tradie cars, ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 2023 review
ford, ranger, car reviews, dual cab, 4x4 offroad cars, tradie cars, ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 2023 review
ford, ranger, car reviews, dual cab, 4x4 offroad cars, tradie cars, ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 2023 review
ford, ranger, car reviews, dual cab, 4x4 offroad cars, tradie cars, ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 2023 review
ford, ranger, car reviews, dual cab, 4x4 offroad cars, tradie cars, ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 2023 review
ford, ranger, car reviews, dual cab, 4x4 offroad cars, tradie cars, ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 2023 review
ford, ranger, car reviews, dual cab, 4x4 offroad cars, tradie cars, ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 2023 review
ford, ranger, car reviews, dual cab, 4x4 offroad cars, tradie cars, ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 2023 review
ford, ranger, car reviews, dual cab, 4x4 offroad cars, tradie cars, ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 2023 review
ford, ranger, car reviews, dual cab, 4x4 offroad cars, tradie cars, ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 2023 review
ford, ranger, car reviews, dual cab, 4x4 offroad cars, tradie cars, ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 2023 review
ford, ranger, car reviews, dual cab, 4x4 offroad cars, tradie cars, ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 2023 review
ford, ranger, car reviews, dual cab, 4x4 offroad cars, tradie cars, ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 2023 review
ford, ranger, car reviews, dual cab, 4x4 offroad cars, tradie cars, ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 2023 review
ford, ranger, car reviews, dual cab, 4x4 offroad cars, tradie cars, ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 2023 review
ford, ranger, car reviews, dual cab, 4x4 offroad cars, tradie cars, ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 2023 review

You would have to be living under a rock not to know the new-generation Ford Ranger ute launched in 2022. And you’d have obviously made yourself very comfy at aforesaid location if you did not know waiting times for the new V6 turbo-diesel engine in top-spec Ford Ranger models, including the Wildtrak, is up to 12 months. So why not opt for the 2.0-litre Bi-Turbo? It’s not the headline story and not as powerful but it’s not as expensive and the wait time is not as long. To find the answer to that question we’ve spent an extended amount of time in a Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2.0 Bi-Turbo, covering thousands of kays in the process. Think of it as more of a road trip than just a road test.

How much does the Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2.0 Bi-Turbo cost?

The 2023 Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2.0 Bi-Turbo will set you back $67,990 plus on-road costs. It is the most expensive Ranger model without a V6 engine.

Available only as a dual-cab, it comes with the familiar 154kW/500Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder twin-turbo diesel engine, a 10-speed automatic transmission and part-time 4×4 system.

It’s designed to be a refined yet capable 4×4 ute that can fit in downtown on a Saturday night, a bush trail on Sunday, a building site midweek, or trekking the east coast for a few weeks as we’ve done with this review.

The Ranger Wildtrak’s primary competition includes the Isuzu D-MAX X-Terrain, the Mazda BT-50 Thunder and the Toyota HiLux Rogue.

A Wildtrak V6 – if you can get one – costs an extra $3200 compared to the Bi-Turbo.

ford, ranger, car reviews, dual cab, 4x4 offroad cars, tradie cars, ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 2023 review

What equipment comes with the Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2.0 Bi-Turbo?

On the outside, the 2023 Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2.0 Bi-Turbo is distinguished (along with the V6 version) by a specific grille design, roof rails, sports bar with integrated tie-down rails, 18-inch alloy wheels mated with Goodyear Wrangler all-terrain rubber, a powered roller shutter for the load box and exterior mirrors with puddle lamps and zone lighting.

There’s also LED headlights and increasingly familiar – as more new Rangers are sold – C-clamp driving lights, a drop-in bedliner, rear box illumination, side steps and an embedded modem that enables the FordPass smartphone app.

Inside, the Wildtrak Bi-Turbo includes dual-zone climate control with rear vents, a smart key and push-button start, a new e-shifter design for the gear-change and an electronic parking brake.

Ambient lighting, pull-out cup holders and eight-way power-adjust and heated driver and front passenger seats that are a new design, leather-accented and embossed with the Wildtrak name are also part of the package.

The Ranger line-up now gets reach- as well as rake-adjustable steering to go with a new steering wheel.

Orange trim stitching for the mostly dark cabin is unique to the Wildtrak.

The Ranger comes protected by Ford’s five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty. It has 12 months/15,000km service intervals, with the cost of each of the first four scheduled visits capped at $329. It goes up from there, spiking over $700 twice.

How safe is the Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2.0 Bi-Turbo?

An extensive package of new driver assist systems places the 2023 Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2.0 Bi-Turbo right at the top of the list when it comes to high-end safety gear.

The autonomous emergency braking (AEB) system now includes cyclist detection and intersection assist. The adaptive cruise control adds stop-and-go and an intelligent function paired with traffic sign recognition that can automatically adjust your speed to the legal limit.

Other new features include blind spot detection that takes your trailer into account if you are towing. There is also rear cross traffic alert with reverse brake assist, lane departure warning and centring, a basic steer assist, road edge detection, post-impact braking and a split-screen 360-degree camera.

Active parking assist is now feet- as well as hands-off and the Wildtrak continues to have front and rear parking sensors.

ford, ranger, car reviews, dual cab, 4x4 offroad cars, tradie cars, ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 2023 review

The Wildtrak is fitted with an integrated trailer brake controller in the dashboard for towing. It links into an enhanced trailer sway control system that reacts automatically when appropriate.

The new Ranger has recently been confirmed with a five-star ANCAP rating, achieving high scores in some of the adult and child occupant impact protection tests. However, it didn’t do so well in the compatibility test; the safety assessors say there’s a threat to occupants of oncoming vehicles involved in a crash with the Ranger.

ANCAP also points out the Ranger dual-cab is only fitted with child seat top tethers in the outboard rear seats, so child seats cannot be fitted legally in the middle pew of the bench seat.

The Ranger now comes equipped with dual front, side chest-protecting and side head-protecting curtain airbags, as well as driver and passenger knee airbags.

There’s also a new centre airbag which provides added protection for front seat occupants in side-impact crashes.

ford, ranger, car reviews, dual cab, 4x4 offroad cars, tradie cars, ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 2023 review

What technology does the Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2.0 Bi-Turbo feature?

The 2023 Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2.0 Bi-Turbo’s 12.0-inch infotainment touch-screen is the headline act in a vast technology upgrade.

It is the talking point of the Ranger anytime someone has a look inside the cabin for the first time. It acts as a striking promotion for the car as well as headquartering a bunch of high-tech features.

They include the SYNC 4A infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connection, embedded sat-nav and voice assistant, an off-road screen and controls for the six-speaker audio (as well as the climate control).

The Wildtrak also comes with wireless phone charging and USB-A and USB-C points front and rear.

Sadly, the Wildtrak doesn’t pick up the widescreen 12.4-inch digital instrument panel that’s reserved for the Ford Ranger Raptor and the new V6-only Platinum. It makes do with the smaller 8.0-inch panel that means the tacho still gets scrunched up in the corner.

To be honest, the bigger screen doesn’t present that much better. The digital IP in the Ranger’s close relation, the new Volkswagen Amarok, is a better design.

ford, ranger, car reviews, dual cab, 4x4 offroad cars, tradie cars, ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 2023 review

What powers the Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2.0 Bi-Turbo?

The ‘Panther’ 2.0-litre twin-turbocharged diesel engine in the 2023 Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2.0 Bi-Turbo is a familiar evolution of the DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder introduced to the previous-generation pick-up back in 2018.

Claimed power output actually drops by 3kW compared to the old model to 154kW (at 3750rpm), but the 500Nm torque rating (at 1750-2000rpm) remains the same.

Bolted to the back of the Panther is an updated version of Ford’s 10R80 10-speed automatic transmission with closer gear ratios.

Capping it off is the familiar part-time 4×4 system supplemented by low range, a locking rear diff and hill descent control.

For the first time, Ranger Wildtrak comes with a Terrain Management System that includes Eco, Normal, Tow/Haul, Slippery and Mud and Ruts modes.

How fuel efficient is the Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2.0 Bi-Turbo?

The 2023 Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2.0 Bi-Turbo claims a 7.6L/100km average fuel consumption on the ADR combined cycle.

Over the five weeks and 8000-odd kilometres we drove the Ranger, the fuel consumption came out at 9.4L/100km – and it tallied with the trip computer so you can have faith in what the Ford software is telling you.

What is the Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2.0 Bi-Turbo like to drive?

The 2023 Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2.0 Bi-Turbo is the most capable, quiet and comfortable dual-cab ute I’ve had the pleasure to spend an extended amount of time riding in and driving.

It goes closer to bridging the gap between ute and SUV than any load-lugger before it. In fact, it shames some current rivals such is its superiority.

It’s a big wrap, but driving from Melbourne to Far North Queensland and back helps solidify opinions.

The drivetrain is eminently familiar yet also that bit smoother and more responsive than before, mostly because the 10-speed is now better sorted.

Yep, you can still sense it jumping about in the low gears but less so. Once up and running it’s darn good, combining with a willing engine to deliver solid performance.

ford, ranger, car reviews, dual cab, 4x4 offroad cars, tradie cars, ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 2023 review

At tip-in throttle there is the occasional touch of lag as engine and transmission try to get rolling. Very occasionally, the gear-change clunked home uncouthly as well.

We weren’t heavily loaded – two adults, two dogs and about 80-100kg of gear at most – so how the Panther responds with a full payload or a caravan behind we couldn’t assess. But see our recent tow test for more on that stuff.

The new chassis with its wider tracks, longer wheelbase and outboard rear shocks delivers a more stable and comfortable driving and riding experience than before. Its old-school 4×4 system means 4×2 running on tar, but for the most part it retains its poise.

Well-tuned classic Ford-light electric-assist steering makes the Wildtrak easy to wield in tight confines for such a big vehicle. Get onto winding highways and it changes direction accurately and well. Hey, it’s still a ute, but it’s a keen one.

The ride is exceptional for a load-hauler, only really becoming intrusive on rugged roads with no load onboard. Then it dances and jiggles a bit, but not really badly. A less aggressive H/T tyre might also sooth this aspect of its behaviour if you are not that interested in off-roading.

ford, ranger, car reviews, dual cab, 4x4 offroad cars, tradie cars, ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 2023 review

The Ranger’s driver assistants add up to a very effective autonomous driving system. The Wildtrak stays centred in its lane on freeways and highways and the adaptive cruise’s ability to adjust its speed by reading speed signs is mostly effective.

Mostly. One evening as dusk turned to darkness on the Bruce Highway in Queensland it did insist on reading off-ramp limits and slowing down to 80km/h rather than the digital signs on gantries on the freeway that advised it was full steam ahead at 110km/h.

The Wildtrak also has a habit of warning the driver to put hands back on the steering wheel when they already are there. Apparently, there’s a software fix Ford’s already instituted for this.

The only real question after all these kays is whether the V6 Ranger would have done the trip with even more poise. It says a lot about the Ranger that I’d happily do the trip again to find out.

ford, ranger, car reviews, dual cab, 4x4 offroad cars, tradie cars, ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 2023 review

How good is the Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2.0 Bi-Turbo off-road?

The 2023 Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2.0 Bi-Turbo is very capable off-road. That’s known from previous experiences rather than from this trip.

We grappled with some gravel roads, a bit of sand and some very low-key water crossings, but nothing that challenged the Ranger’s capabilities in any way.

But pondering this question does remind us the V6 Ranger gets the more sophisticated set-and-forget 4×4 system that can run in all-wheel drive on the highway.

Considering it’s already fitted to Bi-Turbo 4×4 versions of the closely related Ford Everest SUV, it’s a surprise it’s not in the Wildtrak four-cylinder as well. It’s a logical upgrade.

For more on all that off-road stuff, see our Best Dual-Cab 4×4 Ute 2022 mega-test.

ford, ranger, car reviews, dual cab, 4x4 offroad cars, tradie cars, ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 2023 review

What is the Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2.0 Bi-Turbo like inside?

The 2023 Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2.0 Bi-Turbo’s capability as a long-distance tourer isn’t only due to its refined driving behaviour. A top-notch cabin helps as well.

The front seats are excellent and the ability for the driver to get comfortable is aided by the improved steering column adjustment and sizeable pedal box with left foot rest.

Storage in the cabin is pretty generous, reflecting Ranger’s fundamental tradie brief. There are big door bins in the front and back, dual glove boxes, a sizable centre lidded bin and some other storage holes tucked away.

In the back there are dual seatback pockets and a fold-down centre arm rest with a double cup holder.

ford, ranger, car reviews, dual cab, 4x4 offroad cars, tradie cars, ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 2023 review
Hidden storage in the Ranger

As per the previous generation, the rear seat backrest folds down and the base flips up to aid versatility. Most utes only do one or the other.

The huge touch-screen sits a bit low for my taste. I’d also prefer it to be slightly angled toward the driver.

It’s commendable Ford has retained hard buttons for temperature and volume but being at the bottom of the screen they are too far away. Some of the identifiers on buttons and controls on the dash and steering wheel are also a bit small to decipher with ageing eyes.

The embedded sat-nav map isn’t as distinct as the ones on offer through CarPlay either.

Trying to navigate around the cluster and the touch-screen menus and sub-menus also takes some learning as well. The back button gets a hefty workout! As we’ve already said, the digital instrument cluster is underwhelming.

ford, ranger, car reviews, dual cab, 4x4 offroad cars, tradie cars, ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 2023 review

And then there’s the squat e-shifter. It just doesn’t work as comfortably and easily as it should. It requires a fully stretched hand to clasp it, press the detente and move through the gears.

The resistance of the shift is not pronounced enough. Overshooting when shifting from drive into reverse and ending up in park happens too often.

There’s no manual shifting by the lever or by flappy paddles either. The only way to manipulate the gearing is via push buttons on the side of the e-shifter. It’s clumsy and awkward.

A sport mode would sharpen up the transmission and make manual changes less needed. But that is only offered with Raptor for some reason.

The load box of the Ranger is a thumbs up. The hard cover provides excellent security and it meant we didn’t have to unpack at overnight stops. Swim gear and beach chairs stayed onboard the whole five weeks.

It would be great if Ford added better overhead lighting to the load box, perhaps in the sports bar. There is lighting inside but it’s low down and can get covered over easily.

If you don’t have a torch, searching around in there at night can be a clumsy affair.

ford, ranger, car reviews, dual cab, 4x4 offroad cars, tradie cars, ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 2023 review

Should I buy a Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2.0 Bi-Turbo?

Yep, absolutely. If you want a top-spec Ranger and can live without the V6 then the 2023 Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2.0 Bi-Turbo is a heartily recommended buy.

Sure, the smaller engine isn’t as convincing as the V6, but it’s only marginally inferior and by no means a dud.

It’s also competitive against any other four-cylinder dual-cab ute engine out there, as already proven in our Best Dual-Cab 4×4 Ute comparison test.

And the rest of the package trumps any other dual-cab.

It’s one of the more expensive examples of the breed, but driving it, sitting in it and appreciating the high-tech equipment list you can see where the money was spent.

It all adds up to a great vehicle for a trip to FNQ or down to the shops.

ford, ranger, car reviews, dual cab, 4x4 offroad cars, tradie cars, ford ranger wildtrak 2.0 bi-turbo 2023 review

2023 Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2.0 Bi-Turbo at a glance:

Price: $67,990 (plus on-road costs)

Available: Now

Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder twin-turbo diesel

Output: 154kW/500Nm

Transmission: 10-speed automatic

Fuel: 7.6L/100km (ADR Combined)

CO2: 201g/km (ADR Combined)

Safety rating: Five-star (ANCAP 2022)

Keyword: Ford Ranger Wildtrak 2.0 Bi-Turbo 2023 Review

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