There have been limited editions of the Ranger over the years, but for the latest generation it seems like Ford is finding niches and making models to fill them as part of its regular line-up. 

When the Wildtrak X was released in 2018 it was a top of the range Ranger with a very nice and unique blue paint job from the RS colour palette. Limited to just 1,000 units, it felt like a slightly special version of the 3.2-litre Wildtraks that were selling like hotcakes at the time. Now though, as the number of Ranger models increases, the Wildtrak X returns, not as a special edition but as a sort of more rugged posh pick-up that’s not quite a Raptor.  

Based on the standard Wildtrak but using the entry-level twin-turbo 2.0-litre engine with 10-speed auto gearbox, the X stands out due to its upgraded Bilstein dampers that give it more off-road potential than the standard setup. It’s mirrored in the range by the Tremor, which gets the same suspension, but is based on the XLT model in the range. As a Wildtrak, the X gets a higher level of trim with 12in infotainment screen, leather steering wheel, part-leather heated seats, LED headlights and 17in alloys. 

The Wildtrak X is also the first vehicle in the range to get access to Ford’s new party piece large item carrying solution. The sports roll hoop at the rear of the cabin on the loadbed is moveable and can be slid along the full length of the body, while the roof rail bars fold out horizontally to create a roof rack. That means that long items like ladders, or surfboards can be strapped to the hoop and roof rack, dramatically increasing the versatility of the pick-up. It’s an ingenious concept and a massive positive for the Ranger compared to its competitors.  

The other changes for the Wildtrak X, however, are less noticeable. While the Bilstein dampers promise a higher level of off-roading, it’s a small percentage gain over what is already a brilliantly accomplished truck. Where the Raptor suspension is brilliantly tuned in all circumstances, coping with extreme off-roading or mundane highway driving – transforming the ride quality at both ends of the spectrum to levels unseen in the pick-up segement – the Wildtrak X doesn’t quite hit the same high notes.  

The Bilstein dampers are immensely capable under extreme loads, but the gains aren’t as noticeable as in the Raptor. During some very exuberant off-roading, on a pitted and rock-strewn surface where the suspension was travelling to its extremes, there was a noticeable improvement over the standard suspension. But dial the enthusiasm levels back a notch and both the standard and Bilstein setup appear equally matched. On the road, however, that’s not the same story. The standard Wildtrak has a calm and composed ride which is further improved by the addition of some weight. By contrast, the Bilstein dampers don’t improve the ride quality and may make it a little worse. The front becomes a bit bouncier and a payload in the rear doesn’t settle things as much as you would expect either. It’s certainly not worse, but if, like the majority of pick-up truck owners, you plan to use the X largely on the road then there’s an argument in favour of sticking with the standard offering. Although the same could be said about the Raptor, there’s enough going on with the rest of that package to justify the price and performance, but for the Wildtrak X which costs an additional £2,000 over the standard Wildtrak it’s possibly more than you’ll need. That said, if you are a wilderness adventurer, but can’t justify the outlay of a Raptor and are in the position to reclaim the VAT then the X does make some sense. It’s capable of carrying a 1,035kg payload and has the more economical engine option.  

Money aside, the question is will you need the additional abilities of the Wildtrak X? The standard Ford Ranger is so capable that it’s unlikely, but for that extra bit of performance perhaps it’s worth it. Cycling supremo Dave Brailsford used the term ‘marginal gains’ to describe how the British cycling team were developed for greatness. The Wildtrak X could be an example of Ford doing the same. If you need that extra fraction, the suspension delivers it. For everyone else, it’s a compromise on a more pleasant lifestyle truck.

Whether it’s marginal gains or just fine lines, the Ranger line-up is undeniably improved by the Wildtrak X but most people will be do just fine with a standard Ford Ranger. 

Ford Ranger Wildtrak X 2.0-litre EcoBlue 10-Speed

Price (ex VAT) £41,350  

Price range (ex VAT) £29,216–£46,841 

Insurance group tba 

Warranty 3yrs/60,000mls? 

Service intervals 2yrs/12,500mls? 

Load length 1,564mm  

Load width (min/max) 1,224/1,560mm

Load bay height 511mm 

Gross payload 1,035kg 

Load volume n/a 

Engine size/power 1,998cxc/203hp 

Combined fuel economy 27.2mpg 

CO2 273g/km