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Driven: Ford Ranger 3.0 V6 EcoBlue. Image by Ford/Matt Robinson.

Driven: Ford Ranger 3.0 V6 EcoBlue
Does fitting an even bigger turbodiesel engine, replete with six cylinders, under the bonnet of the Ford Ranger Wildtrak improve one of our favourite trucks?

   



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Ford Ranger 3.0 V6 EcoBlue Wildtrak

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Having already tried the impressive new Ford Ranger one-tonne pick-up truck in both headline-grabbing Raptor and also far more sensible 2.0-litre biturbo Wildtrak specifications, now we're aiming to see if this big utility machine is actually at its best with a creamy V6 turbodiesel installed in the front of it.

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2024 Ford Ranger 3.0 V6 EcoBlue Wildtrak Double Cab
Price: Ranger Double Cab from 29,800 (exc. VAT, 35,760 inc. VAT), 3.0 V6 EcoBlue Wildtrak from 54,200 (inc. VAT), pick-up as tested 59,095 (inc. VAT)
Engine: 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel
Transmission: ten-speed automatic, eAWD all-wheel drive with electronically controlled torque-on-demand transfer case
Power: 240hp at 3,250rpm
Torque: 600Nm at 1,750-2,250rpm
Emissions: 264/km
Economy: 28mpg
0-62mph: 8.7 seconds
Top speed: 112mph
Max payload/towing: 1,067kg/3,500kg braked trailer

Styling

We've already talked about the styling of what is, in worldwide terms, the fourth-generation Ranger in our other reviews, so click on the links above for a full breakdown of our thoughts on the aesthetics. Suffice it to say, in Cyber Orange and Wildtrak guise, the Ford pick-up has a fantastic, chunky appearance that also screams 'lifestyle' far more than it does 'building site fodder'. So when it comes to this V6 model, all you're looking for is that black piece of plastic side trim, just behind and above the front wheels, and ahead of the front doors. If the Ranger concerned reads 'Biturbo' here, it's the 2.0-litre variant; but if you see a little 'V6' legend, then you know it's fitted with this 3.0-litre turbodiesel bad boy of a powerplant. Other than that, you'd need the owner to pop the bonnet of the truck and then do a physical cylinder count to tell the difference between these Rangers.

Interior

Again, for full thoughts on the interior, check out our other reviews - because we have nothing significant to add here, as the cabin of the V6 EcoBlue Ranger Wildtrak is identical to the one found in the 2.0-litre Biturbo EcoBlue Ranger TDCi Wildtrak. Not even the digitally rendered rev counter is altered. This is no bad thing, of course, as the current-gen Ranger has undeniably the best passenger compartment of any truck we've yet seen in this part of the world, save for one or two minor, niggling quality issues. Overall, with its large portrait touchscreen infotainment, advanced instrument cluster, and generally excellent level of fit and finish, the Ford's cabin is a great place to have to spend some time.

Practicality

Again... yes, you guessed it. Like every other Ranger save for the Raptor, which is a breed unto and of itself, everything the 3.0-litre EcoBlue can do, so can the rest of the range. Obviously, with its added muscle under the bonnet, it can carry a slightly larger payload than the Biturbo (although not as much as the basic 170hp Ranger, oddly) but as all of them will lug more than a tonne back there, then they're all privy to the same tax breaks. Both of the more powerful EcoBlue models will also haul a 3.5-tonne braked trailer, too, while their loadbeds (with a liner equipped) measure the same 1,544mm long, 1,584mm wide and 529mm deep.

Performance

Right, you'll be pleased to hear that this is where we can start talking about the differences most comprehensively. Choosing this V6 diesel not only adds two more cylinders to the Ranger's mix, but also an extra litre of swept capacity. Accordingly, power rises from 205- to 240hp, which is handy, yet it's the mammoth 100Nm of additional torque - for a 600Nm peak - which makes the 3.0-litre considerably more muscular.

There's naturally a penalty to pay in terms of eco-performance, as the 2.0-litre Ranger is quoted as achieving 32.1mpg with CO2 emissions of 230g/km, whereas the V6 alters those stats to 28mpg and 264g/km. However, it also hacks fully 1.8 seconds off the 0-62mph time of the truck, running the benchmark sprint in 8.7 seconds instead of 10.5 - only the 292hp Raptor V6 petrol is quicker than the 3.0 V6 EcoBlue, but not by much: it claims 7.9 seconds.

That torque figure of this big-capacity turbodiesel is also a match for the Raptor's figure, so on the move the V6 Ranger feels every bit as urgent and responsive as the wide-arched range-topper. There's just something incredibly satisfying about a strong and silky-smooth diesel engine like this, that also helps to make sense of the Ford truck's blatant tilt towards private buyers. While you can register a Wildtrak as a commercial vehicle if you want, excluding it from VAT requirements, it's hard to imagine anyone but road-based customers purchasing a pick-up as thoroughly civilised and visually appealing as this.

There's simply no doubt that, as good as the 2.0-litre biturbo engine is, this V6 is the weapon of choice for the new Ranger. The rich, barrel-chested burr it emits as it goes about its business instils confidence in the Ford's strength and abilities, while it even sounds something approaching sporty if you rev it right out. Also, the pace advantages the 240hp unit brings to the party are not in doubt - this thing is properly quick for both step-off and roll-on acceleration. Even if we still (and we've said this about a billion times, now) think the automatic gearbox, which admittedly shifts in a near-imperceptible fashion, in no way needs ten ratios; you could arguably get away with six when paired to this engine, given the right spacing and a long, overdrive top cog.

But we digress. And, returning to the good news, don't even worry about economy. On a 160-mile motorway run down south, on the congested M1 and M25, the EcoBlue 3.0-litre turned in a highly respectable 31mpg across the journey. Proving it was no fluke, it did exactly the same consumption figures on the way back during a slightly more torturous and traffic-clogged 170-mile journey. So in reality, it seems just as frugal to run as the 2.0-litre model.

Ride & Handling

There's no clear deficit to report here, either. It's tempting to think that with a larger, heavier turbodiesel (c.50kg on top of the 2.0-litre) under the bonnet, the Ranger Wildtrak will feel more nose-led and imprecise. Yet Ford's chassis engineers seemed to have imbued this truck with a real sense of poise and fluidity, something that's completely at odds with its hulking great 5.4-metre-long, 2,486kg mass.

OK, like many trucks, the Ranger has necessarily slow steering, but it's not imprecise and there's even traces of feel evident through the rim of the wheel. Movements of the body are not completely eradicated, so you sense pitch and dive during hard acceleration and braking (even with the truck unladen), while there's a bit of roll to work around in corners, but in essence the Ford is far more composed and capable in the corners than you'd expect of something with its roots firmly planted in the commercial industry.

Even the ride is good, with excellent rolling refinement dolloped on top. Due to the way pick-ups are built and what they need to do, there's never quite the same level of comfort from the damping that you'd get with the most accomplished SUVs, but that odd patter and shimmy you used to get - if the loadbed was empty - from these one-tonners only five or six years back is noticeable only by its almost complete absence in the Ranger. Both wind roar and tyre chatter are kept to minimal levels at speed, an impressive feat given the glaring lack of concessions the Ranger's hench bodywork gives to aerodynamics, and the net result is that for lengthy motorway runs (say, more than 300 miles in a day), you really won't ever find yourself wishing you were driving something else other than the Ford. In fact, you'll positively revel in the way the Ranger can soak up and then isolate you from the worst inadequacies of the UK's road surfaces.

Value

Perhaps the one area where the 3.0-litre is less easy to justify over the 2.0-litre is with regards its price. It's a good 5,000 more than the Biturbo EcoBlue without VAT, which rises to a 6,000 gap once your 20 per cent is chucked on top. That means the V6 Ranger is comfortably the wrong side of 50,000 for private customers, which places it alarmingly close to the full-bore Raptor V6 petrol in terms of basic cost.

And if you get busy with the options, as on our test Ranger, then the price soon matches the 292hp Raptor. For example, Cyber Orange paint (500), the ICE Feature Pack (450, comprising the 12-inch multifunction display with SYNC IV and satnav, as well as a B&O eight-speaker sound system and a DAB antenna), a power roller-shutter for the loadbed (including a loadbox liner, for 1,800 all in), one-touch rear windows (50; seriously, Ford? Seriously?!), the Technology Package (a whole host of driver assist features for a sizeable 1,100, but usefully among the kit added are radar cruise control and a 360-degree camera system), and the Power Pack (180, made up of a power inverter, wireless phone charger and also spare accessory switches) all bring the ex-VAT total of the Ranger V6 to 49,245.83. Which is 59,095 including the necessary tax. Yikes!

Verdict

Hefty cost with (or without) options aside, the 3.0-litre V6 EcoBlue turbodiesel feels like the engine this generation of Ford Ranger was born to have. It's such a good match for the overall capabilities and feel of this vehicle, and with big-hearted derv-burners like this scheduled for extinction through the advent of plug-in hybrids and electrics, then if you're in the market for a pick-up truck, treat yourself and order your Ranger with this V6 motor. You'll be utterly delighted with the resulting machine if you do.



Matt Robinson - 24 Jan 2024



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2024 Ford Ranger 3.0 V6 EcoBlue Wildtrak. Image by Ford/Matt Robinson.2024 Ford Ranger 3.0 V6 EcoBlue Wildtrak. Image by Ford/Matt Robinson.2024 Ford Ranger 3.0 V6 EcoBlue Wildtrak. Image by Ford/Matt Robinson.2024 Ford Ranger 3.0 V6 EcoBlue Wildtrak. Image by Ford/Matt Robinson.2024 Ford Ranger 3.0 V6 EcoBlue Wildtrak. Image by Ford/Matt Robinson.

2024 Ford Ranger 3.0 V6 EcoBlue Wildtrak. Image by Ford/Matt Robinson.2024 Ford Ranger 3.0 V6 EcoBlue Wildtrak. Image by Ford/Matt Robinson.2024 Ford Ranger 3.0 V6 EcoBlue Wildtrak. Image by Ford/Matt Robinson.2024 Ford Ranger 3.0 V6 EcoBlue Wildtrak. Image by Ford/Matt Robinson.2024 Ford Ranger 3.0 V6 EcoBlue Wildtrak. Image by Ford/Matt Robinson.








 

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