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[Behind the Wheel] Ford Ranger Raptor, Wildtrak can stand on some of toughest terrains

Ford brings in powerful off-road challengers, aims to gain foothold in the growing pickup truck market

Ford Ranger Raptor (Ford Sales and Service Korea)
Ford Ranger Raptor (Ford Sales and Service Korea)

In South Korea, where a great portion of the population is concentrated in urban areas, pickup trucks are not the most popular vehicle types.

But with the rising trend of outdoor activities, and as more adventure enthusiasts find fun in driving through the mountainous terrains of the country, interest in pickup trucks is increasing.

According to the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association, the pickup truck market had hovered around 20,000 units in annual sales, but that number has grown, to about 43,000 units in 2020.

Observing the rising trend, Ford Korea, the American automaker is introducing two of its pickup trucks, Ranger Raptor and Ranger Wildtrak for the first time in Korea.

Boasting strong off-road capabilities, the two variants of the Ford Ranger come to challenge the few pickup truck makers in Korea: market leader Ssangyong Motor, which as long dominated the segment, and Chevrolet and Jeep, which have recently entered in the competition.

The Korea Herald had the opportunity to test drive Ford Ranger Wildtrak and Ranger Raptor, and test their capabilities on an off-road challenge course created by the automaker near Incheon International Airport.

Ford Ranger Wildtrak (Jo He-rim/The Korea Herald)
Ford Ranger Wildtrak (Jo He-rim/The Korea Herald)

From the first glance, the two models’ branding shows their slightly different identities. Ranger Raptor, called the “off-road warrior,” has a signature block-letter grille in the front. Ranger Wildtrak, designed to be more fit for loading items, has “Ranger” printed in block letters on the rear.

The two four-wheel drive models are both equipped with a 2.0 liter bi-turbo diesel engine and a 10-speed transmission. With the powertrain, the vehicles exert up to 213 horsepower and a maximum torque of 51 kilogram-meters.

Determined to show the strong performance of its pickup trucks, Ford Korea prepared two different off-road courses consisting of rocky roads, deep puddles, sand, and steep hills that ordinary cars would find it hard to climb.

The vehicles showed their strengths in the tough roads. They slid through slippery sand without losing track, and on the bumpy terrain covered with rubble, the trucks were stable, even when one or two wheels were off the ground.

The Ranger models have been equipped with a terrain management system, offering six pre-set driving modes for different terrain conditions, such as mud and rock. The system also includes a Baja mode for off-road racing, inspired from the Baja California Desert.

Ranger Raptor comes with an upgraded suspension to absorb the shock from the ground.

Going down a steep hill with rocky obstacles, the Hill Descent Control, equipped in both models of the Ranger, came as useful. Pressing on the button, the car rolled down the hill activating the brakes on its own, so the driver only had to step on the accelerator for a little push. 

Ford Ranger Raptor (Ford Sales and Service Korea)
Ford Ranger Raptor (Ford Sales and Service Korea)

The pickup trucks also proved to be strong in water hazards.

Passing through a ditch filled with water with 85 centimeters deep -- just centimeters below the car windows -- the Ranger Raptor passed slowly and safely, without turning off, or letting water inside the car.

Ranger Wildtrak also showed capable of crossing shallow rivers, as it safely waded through a similar ditch filled with 65 centimeters of water.

While the environment most drivers would be driving with the Ranger here would not be as harsh as these courses, the Ranger variants held tightly to the ground to offer “stable” driving experience.

The sports seats installed in the Ranger Raptor also helped those inside the car stay comfortably in position on the off-road course.

A heads up for caravan owners, thanks to the difference in their intended purposes -- with the Raptor focused on off-road driving and Wildtrak more on daily performance -- they have a difference in towing capacity. The Ranger Raptor can tow up to 2,500 kilograms, while Ranger Wildtrak’s maximum towing capacity is 3,500 kg.

The two pickup trucks are slated for their official launch here in April. Prices for the Ranger Wildtrak start from 49.9 million ($44,000) won, and 63.9 million won for the Ranger Raptor.


By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com)
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