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Call of the Wild

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It’s next to impossible to get the feel of a wild, off-roading experience driving around the WTC and CCP complex in Manila. But we definitely got a hint of it.

Too impatient to wait for an honest to goodness, weeklong test drive, we braved the heat at the last Manila International Auto Show (MIAS) and drove both A/T and M/T models of the 2013 Ford Ranger Wildtrak. I mean, it was kind of hard to resist the Ranger with it sitting atop a hill of dirt in front of the WTC.

Wildly Comfortable
As always, Ford delivers the most comfortable car seats known to man, sans bells and whistles. More La-Z-Boy than ute seat, the Wildtrak’s ergonomics will instantly make you forget you’re in the driver’s seat of a huge pickup.

Ford has found the magic formula for top quality seat comfort, whether you’ve parked your keister in a Fiesta or a Ranger. They begin with real leather upholstery (albeit partial). Then they go on to use what feels like expensive cushions with just the right give. Then they finish it off with a bucket design that mysteriously fits all sizes and heft of driver. And they’ve been doing it for years.

What’s even more fascinating is that Ford’s seats are classic and straightforward—no moving, electronic gizmos to poke, knead, heat, cool, lather, spin, or blow dry your back.

Wildly Gorgeous
Months after MIAS, I’m still having hallucinations about a handsome orange truck. Some people (mostly men) may find the orange color curious, but none of the sarcasm will be directed at the buck and beautiful design.

Even if the makers have, perplexingly, christened the color “Chili Orange.” (Makes me feel like ordering barbecued ribs with chili-orange glaze.)

The new Wildtrak is, perhaps, the best-looking car I’ve seen...this year... from the outside.

Yes, even compared to its counterparts in makes that cost three times more. The raised ride on high- profile, 18-inch alloys will make you look studly even if you’re a nerd. It will also keep you dry during monsoon season, safe from gravelly scrapes during election season, and high off the dug-up cement when school starts. (All those dug up streets during both! Why, Zod? Why?)

The hefty curves end on a hunky note with a three-bar chrome grille topped off by black-tipped roof rails.

My only complaint is the less than posh look and feel of the cabin interiors. It feels and smells too plasticky for a Ford. (Hurray though for the dual climate and Bluetooth voice controls.) I scratched my legs and mint-new Mary Janes on a few surfaces, and the edge of the dashboard above the pedals hooked my toes a few times.

Of course, some things probably had to be sacrificed to bring this solid orange monster down to the 1.5-mil range.

One thing is good though. You will definitely feel like you’re driving a durable machine. And, knowing Ford, you will be.

Wildly Solid
As you ride high in comfort, oblivious to Manila’s bumps and lumps, pretending you’re off-roading in northern Cebu, you can play with the switchable 4x4—until your fuel consumption rankles and you switch down to 2x2, never to touch the knob again. Just kidding.

Whether in cruise control or 4x4 while flying over humps, vibrations were minimal.

This is one quiet ride, and both A/T and M/T models shift through all six gears so smoothly, you won’t feel like you’re driving a pickup.

Oh, there’s something I forgot to mention. If you’re a packrat, you’re probably already a Ford fan.

Guess what? The Wildtrak offers 20 storage spaces. And I ran out of time to find ’em all.

Print ed: 07/13

 

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