Double cab bakkies hold an obvious appeal for many farmers: they are large and tough enough to be an asset on the farm, and sufficiently comfortable and spacious to load up the family and go on holiday.
And in both cases, you can be sure of getting to your destination, as these vehicles are equally at home on the tar and off.
I recently had the opportunity to drive the Ford Ranger 3.2TDCi 4×4 Wildtrak, and came away understanding why the Ranger is amongst the top sellers in the double cab category.
First launched in South Africa in October 2015, the bakkie is assembled locally in the Ford factory in Silverton, Pretoria.
Engine and performance
The Ranger Wildtrak bakkie is powered by a 3.2TDCi five-cylinder diesel turbocharged engine and has a six-speed automatic transmission. It produces a beefy 147kW at a torque of 470Nm, enough to enable it to tow a maximum load of 3,2t.
The 4×4 control is electronic shift-on-the-fly.
According to the manufacturer, fuel consumption is just 8,9ℓ/100km. However, during my seven-day test drive, it exceeded this by 1ℓ/100km, using fuel at a rate of about 10ℓ/100km.
But given the size and power of this engine, this consumption is perhaps not unreasonable.
Practicality all the way
The Wildtrak’s assertive and handsome styling has won it numerous fans, yet form never dominates over function. The exterior mirrors are heated and electrically foldable. Daytime running lights are standard, as are sensors that automatically switch the headlights on at dusk.
Ground clearance is a generous 237mm, enabling the roughest roads to be tackled with confidence. The approach and departure angles are 25,5° and 21,8° respectively. And the loading bin is a practical 1 549mm x 1 560mm, is lockable, has a light, and is fitted with a 230V power outlet to charge equipment in the bin.
The interior of the Wildtrak is spacious and stylish, and all the controls are easy to reach and placed intuitively.
And there are plenty of them. Just some of the creature comforts include leather trim, an electrically adjustable driver’s seat, climate control air conditioning with individual controls for driver and front passenger, a multifunction, height-adjustable steering wheel, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, and rain-sensing wipers.
Perhaps the most impressive technology on offer is the adaptive cruise control. This is a great convenience and an exceptional safety feature: it senses vehicles ahead and adjusts speed accordingly to prevent a potential collision.
The onboard computer features a standard Ford infotainment system with an eight-inch colour touch screen.
It has six speakers, a CD player, auxiliary port, MP3, USB and SD card ports, and Bluetooth with a voice command system that does away with the need to remove one’s hands from the steering wheel. A satellite navigation system is included.
The noise and vibration traditionally associated with diesel-powered vehicles has faded as manufacturers have added one refinement after another. But even compared with its competitors, the Wildtrak offers a noticeably quiet, smooth and comfortable ride.
With the Wildtrak, Ford has certainly not compromised on driver or passenger protection. Included are the full gamut of modern active safety features: ABS braking with electronic brakeforce distribution; electronic stability programme (ESP), which detects incipient skidding and prevents it with selective braking; adaptive load control, which adjusts ESP according to the weight of the load carried; and trailer sway control technology.
Also included are a lane departure warning system, which alerts the driver when the vehicle leaves the lane without indicating; driver impairment monitoring, which warns when any sudden, exaggerated correction is made to keep the vehicle on course; and forward collision alert, which detects and warns of an imminent crash.
The Wildtrak also features hill start assist and descent assist, both of which help to ensure peace of mind on rough, hilly terrain.
The vehicle’s parking distance sensors and a rear view parking camera are useful in many situations, particularly in the city, when parking in a constricted space is often a problem.
Passive safety features in the Wildtrak include six airbags, seat belt pre-tensioners, and pedestrian protection foam bumpers.
With this comprehensive list of convenience and safety features in the Wildtrak, it’s surprising that Ford did not include a keyless entry system. This is fast becoming a common feature on upmarket vehicles.
Warranty and service
The Wildtrak comes with a four-year/120 000km comprehensive warranty, a six-year/90 000km service plan with a 15 000km service interval, three-year/unlimited kilometres roadside assistance, and a five-year/unlimited kilometres anti-corrosion warranty.
All Ford 4×4 vehicles are sold with a free 4×4 training course.
The Ford Ranger 3.2TDCi 4×4 Wildtrak costs R655 900, including VAT.