For the longest time, Ford and Toyota have had a bitter rivalry in the dual cab ute space, but we reckon the “blue oval” might have struck a winning blow with the 2023 Ranger Wildtrak.

With more than a few nods to the inbound F-150, the Ranger features C-shaped daytime running lights, and two tow points under the front bumper. Falling towards the middle of the range, it’s preceded by the entry level XL, XLS, XLT and Sport.

It’s followed by the off-road focused Wildtrak X, and Platinum, and the Raptor. Ford loaned us the Luxe Yellow version, a colour scheme seen in promotional videos and advertisements all over social media. It’s the best looking Wildtrak yet.

It’s long, wide and menacing in a rear-view mirror. You also sit higher up than before, giving you the odd feeling that you’ll be able to just roll over standstill traffic with ease. We don’t recommend trying that though.

The Wildtrak comes with a 2.0-litre inline 4-cylinder bi-turbo diesel outputting 154kW and 500Nm in a part-time 4WD configuration or can be optioned with a 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel engine offering 184kW and 600Nm, in a full-time 4WD setup.

It’s the latter we’re testing here, but whichever powertrain you choose, both are mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. Ford claims 8.4-litres/100km for combined fuel economy, although the best we could manage was a poorer 10.6-litres/100km.

We spent most of our time in Normal drive mode, and took in suburban roads, highway trips and 10km of dirt trails. It’s easy enough to get around in the Wildtrak once you acclimatise to its size too.

The turbo diesel V6 is pliant, smooth and responsive, and gets you off the line without much ado. Suspension when unladen is firm, but not completely unforgiving. Compared to a single cab with leaf springs, the Wildtrak is a dream over ruts and bumps.

We took ours to a private off-road trail to see how it handled dirt, mud, and some punishing tracks. Needless to say, it did a brilliant job. With 4A (auto 4WD) mode engaged, and the gearbox in manual, it made the adventure journey look easy, and comfortable.

Towing capability is rated at 3,500kg and 750kg, braked and unbraked respectively if you plan to haul too, and there’s plenty of in-car features and buttons to help make attaching, detaching and driving with a trailer much easier.

The rear tray, with its neat power sliding cover is also large enough to fit a European sized pallet. The cabin, which you can access by utilising the side-steps and A-pillar handle features dark leather and plastics, all finished with Cyber Orange stitching.

Wildtrak signature embroidery features, and both front row seats come standard with 8-way power adjustment, and heating. The most eye-catching cabin highlight though is the gigantic portrait-oriented 12-inch infotainment unit.

Thanks to its nifty design, some controls, such as air conditioning, also have physical buttons under the unit itself. This means adjustments can be made to climate control while the unit is in use for other activities, such as off-roading.

Included in-built features, such as satellite navigation and DAB+ digital radio, work well and looked quite good on the massive screen. The real victory is in the wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and how nice screen-mirroring looks in the Ranger.

Because our tester was blessed with the optional Premium Pack, we also had access to a cool auxiliary 6-switch pack above the front row. It’s perfect for those who want to add accessories in (like light bars).

It also gave us premium matrix LED headlights and taillights, and a Bang & Olufsen premium sound system. The latter is a particularly tasty piece of tech, and one that we spent almost an hour playing around with to get the sound settings perfect.

The resulting audio experience was crisp, and the bass was deep and resounding. Second row seating is sufficient for adults around the 180cm mark, with plenty of leg and headroom. Taller people in the front compromises legroom in the rear though.

Both outboard rear seats are equipped with ISOFIX points and top tethers, so we were able to put a forward facing child seat in for our small human. Be warned though, fitting a top-tether mounted seat is a bastard, and not for the faint of heart.

The Wildtrak even has safety tech that doesn’t annoy your drive. Lane keep assist can be turned off and stays that way, even after restart. Adaptive cruise control doesn’t make you feel like you’re about to charge into the car in front when they start braking either.

Aside from auto emergency braking, there’s rear cross traffic alert and reverse brake assist. The Wildtrak is equipped with a really nice 360-degree camera and external zone lighting. The latter lights up selected areas around the car, which is useful in the wilderness.

Pricing starts at $70,190 plus on-roads. Ford offers a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty, 5-years roadside assist and capped price servicing. Put simply, there’s no denying the 2023 Ford Ranger Wildtrak is a gamechanger.

If you’re looking for a dual cab ute that ticks all the boxes in terms of practicality, safety, aesthetics and driveability, it’s hard to go past. You can build your own on the Ford Australia website, and if you’re keen on one and need finance, talk to CreditOne.

Our 2023 Ford Ranger Wildtrak was supplied by Ford Australia. To find out more, contact your local Ford dealer. Pictures courtesy of J_Hui Design / Photography.


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