Quick Drive: 2015 PX series Ford Ranger Wildtrak

Quick Drive: 2015 PX series Ford Ranger Wildtrak

The leadership at the top of the pick-up market between Ford and Toyota has heated up again with the launch of the PX series Ranger Ute which boasts numerous cosmetic and engineering refinements.

The top-of-the-line Wildtrak model has also gained more specification to make it even more inviting to buyers who might have considered a large sedan or SUV.

Ford New Zealand reckons the PX series Ranger will maintain market leadership over the Toyota Hilux.

2015 PX Ranger Wildtrak bronzeWe drove the vehicle briefly at the recent media launch day held at the new Boom Rock off-road facility near Clevedon, Auckland, and we were impressed with the vehicles new found refinement, both inside and outside of the cabin.

The Blue Oval brand saw more than 738 Rangers sold locally in August, a new record for the company, and it knows that an all-new four-cylinder turbodiesel 2.8-litre Toyota Hilux will launch at the end of November 2015.

2015 PX Ford Ranger full line upPrices start at $38,040 for the 3.2-litre XL 4×2 single cab well side manual model to $69,640 for the 3.2-litre Wildtrak Double Cab 4×4 automatic.

The top-of-the-line Ranger Wildtrak mirrors the Ford Mondeo Titanium by offering features such as heated leather-clad seats, Sync2 vehicle connectivity, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping alert, and land keeping aid

2015 PX Ford Ranger Wildtrak rear tubIt also offers forward alert with collision mitigation, front and rear park assist, tyre pressure monitoring system, Trailer sway control, and a rear-view camera.

Self-parallel and perpendicular parking isn’t available yet on the Ranger Wildtrak but given that it is filtering through the Ford passenger car range, Car and SUV believes that technology could become available soon.

Unlike the soon to be released Everest SUV, which shares a similar engine, when the Ranger has to move to Euro V emissions next November, it will not be equipped with an AdBlue system.

Ford product development engineer Ian Cole confirmed to Car and SUV that the Euro V Ranger will arrive with an additional diesel particulate filter, and not a urea-based SCR system.

Cole says current European-specification Rangers utilise an additional DPF to meet Euro V requirements.

Key cosmetic changes to the Ranger are the new front grille with a trapezoidal design, reminiscent of the U.S built Ford F-150 truck, which is wholly intentional says Ford New Zealand.

In addition, the Ranger sports new headlamps, new recessed driving lamps, new wheel designs and a cargo light on pick up models.

Lower rolling resistance tyres, coupled with redesigned engine and transmission mounts and a completely redesigned cable-gearshift mechanism all make a huge difference to the on-road feel of the PX Ranger.

It’s far quieter on a road than the outgoing model, particularly the Wildtrak, and it is by far a more refined proposition all around.

All 4×2 models receive an electrically locking diff to assist with traction in off-road conditions. A battery management system is fitted so that portable electric devices plugged into the USB or 240V power socket won’t drain the battery entirely, and will leave enough charge to crank the engine over.

Thanks to the new electrically assisted power steering, not only are greater efficiencies created by losing the hydraulic pump, but the system can also damp out vibration through the steering wheel from corrugated roads.

UK-based diesel specialists Ricardo Engineering did a complete remap of the Puma five-cylinder diesel unit’s engine control software to improve efficiency and performance.

Sadly, the five-pot engine is no longer as raucous as it used to be, but the performance is still there, it’s just a lot quieter, and the gear change is significantly smoother.

The old Ranger was a car-like drive, and the new Wildtrak auto continues to be the same with a car-like interior to match.

We particularly liked the new touch-screen that offers greater functionality as well as ease of use.

The new Hilux is going to have a battle on its hands to tempt people away from this much-improved Ford.

Words and pictures: Robert Barry


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