Dare I say it… X marks the spot. Well at least our new long-term Ranger Wildtrak X does.
The Wildtrak X fills a niche between the Ranger Wildtrak and the Raptor providing a proper off-road experience with upgraded suspension, all-terrain tyres and a host of goodies designed to take the road less travelled.
It’s not quite as radical as the Raptor that has a completely different design in mind, but it’s more than enough for the tough stuff.
In addition you don’t have to fill the rather thirsty 3.0-litre twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 petrol engine but rather stop at the diesel pump to provide Ford’s popular 2.0-litre Bi-Turbo engine with juice.
That engine produces 154kW and 500Nm of torque and is paired to Ford’s 10-speed automatic transmission.
It’s the first Bi-Turbo model available with the company’s on-demand four-wheel drive system that offers 4A (automatic) that distributes power between the front and rear axles as needed, 2H, 4H and 4L.
In addition you can choose between Normal, Eco, Tow/Haul, Slippery, Mud/Ruts, Sand and Rock Crawl Modes.
It stands 30mm wider and has a 26mm increased ground clearance thanks to 17-inch alloys fitted with 265/70 R17 General Grabber AT3 rubber.
The standard Wildtrak suspension has been replaced with specially tuned Bilstein Position-Sensitive Dampers.
That’s in addition to numerous interior and exterior styling enhancements, which you can read about in more detail here.
If you’re familiar with the new Ranger, the Wildtrak X comes with the eight-inch digital instrument cluster and 12-inch touchscreen that controls the SYNC 4A infotainment system that also houses some of the off-road options.
My sister was visiting from England for a family event so we decided to take a couple of days and as a family head towards the bush to a lodge outside Bella Bella, something she doesn’t often get to experience on the island she lives.
It was literally 40-years ago that the three siblings and our parents were together in the same car.
That was a Peugeot 404 station wagon with vinyl seats, no air conditioning, a four-speed column shift and at best very basic safety features, which mind you, we all survived. That was an even further cry than the Triumph motorcycles and 1954 Peugeot my father owned and drove.
The load bin was packed with luggage, two large cooler boxes, wood and charcoal and even a coffee machine.
Fully loaded the Wildtrak X handled the pot-holed roads off the highway with ease and acceleration to pass slower traffic was brisk and easily done.
There was enough space for three adults and the rear air vents kept them cool on a sweltering day, the only complaint being that the middle seat was a bit hard after an hour or two.
I had the bakkie in 4A which apparently slightly increases fuel consumption but I’d rather let the electronics do its thing when things go awry considering the state of some of the cars on our roads not to mention the diabolical road manners of fellow road users. When we returned, consumption stood at 10.3l/100km which isn’t bad at all.
We’ll have a better idea when my partner and I return from a long road trip in January that will include Kimberley, Sutherland, Tankwa Karoo, Cederberg, Swartberg Pass and Die Hel in GamkasKloof.
Much of the road will be gravel with a couple of serious dirt mountain passes thrown in because what’s the use of having all the 4x4 tricks and sticking to the tar?
Those tricks include Trail Turn Assist that helps to negotiate tight bends by applying the brake on the inside rear wheel that reduces the turning radius by up to 25 percent. It’s designed to be used on loose surfaces at speeds under 19km/h, and can be activated when the vehicle is engaged in either 4H or 4L and the rear differential is unlocked.
It’s also fitted with Trail Control that helps you maintain constant low speed while driving by selecting a set speed below 32km/h with the vehicle managing its acceleration and braking.
An addition I’ll definitely be using to tie down my sand tracks is the Flexible Rack System that slides along the length of the load bay and can be locked into five positions as well as the 400W/240V inverter at the rear of the centre console or in the load bay to power the camp fridge and freezer.
The entire trip was designed around the Wildtrak X that sells for R1,013,000 and comes with a four-year/120 000km warranty, four-year/unlimited distance Roadside Assistance and five-year/unlimited distance corrosion warranty.
Customers have the option of purchasing service or maintenance plans up to eight years or 135 000km.