Should I buy: Ford Ranger 2.0 twin-turbo Vs 3.2 five-cylinder?

 

The 2.0 twin turbo diesel Ford Ranger promises more performance - but is it really worth the extra cash, and what (if any) downsides are there?

 
 
 
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QUESTION

“I have an ABN. I’m looking at buying either a 2019 3.2-litre diesel Ford Ranger XLT Double Cab OR the 2019 2.0-litre diesel biturbo XLT Double Cab. Both will have the tech packs available to assist with safety etc.

“I will be towing a 2700kg van (fully loaded) with a 200kg ball weight. I mainly just drive and sometimes tow like most people I guess. I will need a hard cover or canopy and steel bullbar to suit the car.

“Which car would you suggest and why? What price should I pay? Can you assist with this purchase?” - Gary C.


ANSWER

Part of this question is a bit ‘Blondes or brunettes?’ because they’re both going to do the job. Personal preference is a huge factor in buying a new vehicle.

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The 2.0 biturbo engine has to work a lot harder per unit capacity, and when you look at its power delivery, it’s fair to say that it’s delivering only slightly more power than the 3.2 up to 3000rpm (where the 3.2 peaks, at 147kW). The 2.0 revs 25 per cent higher and delivers another 10kW (157kW at 3750rpm), which is a significant increase, but not earth-shattering. It’s seven per cent more power.

So, when the 3.2 is making its peak power, it’s delivering about 45.9 kilowatts per litre. At full noise the 2.0 is delivering 78.5 kilowatts per litre. So, per litre, the little engine is working 70 per cent harder. They’re revving it higher and pumping more air in as well. There’s no evidence that that’s going to lead to premature wear - because you can hedge against that in R&D. But it’s working hard, and if you go that way, keep the services up to it - and maybe change the oil more frequently than you need to if you drive it in harsh conditions - because turbos are hard on oil.

And don’t shut the damn engine down immediately after hauling a heavy boat out of a river valley at 80 kays an hour - you know, climbing a couple of hundred metres vertically with nearly three tonnes hanging out the back. Let the engine idle for a couple of minutes to dissipate effectively the heat in the turbo. (That’s good advice for all turbo engines.)

Also, the 10-speed auto is likely to make for smoother delivery of tractive effort in most conditions. In a sense it’ll amplify the additional torque at the crank in the 2.0 at just about all road speeds. Certainly at all the common driving speeds. The extra ratios really just allow the engine to be at the ‘Goldilocks’ revs for each permutation of load, demand and road speed. When I say ‘load’ I mean ‘driving uphill’ or overtaking against inertial resistance, and when I say ‘demand’ I really just mean how hard you’re pressing on the accelerator.

This greater availability of ratios will also be better for fuel economy when you’re not racing. So there’s that. That’s evident in the official fuel tests, which involve laboratory simulated very conservative driving: 7.4 for the 2.0 and 8.9 for the 3.2. Drive them like you stole them, or sling something really heavy behind, and expect them to be a lot higher, and pretty similar on fuel.

The 2.0 is slightly lighter overall, too - about 33 kilos. Not enough to make a real difference, but a bit less over the front axle.

The engines themselves are pretty closely matched up to about 3000rpm - but the 2.0TT does have a slight edge. We can tell that just by looking at the peak torque figures for each engine.

On the downside the 2.0-litre, 10-speed powertrain is unproven because it has not been deployed in market long enough to draw long-term reliability conclusions. The 2.0 was released in July 2018. So at this point - 15 months in, on the 2.0 biturbo experiment - we don’t really have any data about the long-term viability of that powertrain. It hasn’t been a disaster yet, however.

The 3.2 five-cylinder is, on the other hand, a low-stressed engine and it’s been a fairly problem-free package.

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To me the choice is like: Do you really need the 128Gb iPhone 11 Pro, if all you do is text and call and take holiday snaps? Is it nice to have? Sure. But hardly anyone queueing up for the new iPhone actually needs one.

If it were my cash, I’d but the 3.2 right now - and the difference in price would go a long way to funding the hard cover and bullbar. But you should take them both for a drive and see if you think the 2.0TT is significantly better.

If you’re a ‘go with the flow’ kind of driver, the 2.0 is probably going to be overkill - in the sense that you won’t be exploiting the engine’s maximum performance very often, if at all. Certainly your towing assignment is reasonably conservative in the context of the vehicle’s maximum tow capacity (but 2.7 tonnes is still a bloody heavy thing…).

Towing

Towing analysis: GCM of 6000kg - 2700kg trailer = 3300kg for the ute. 3300 - 2230 (kerb wt) = 1070kg so you’re fine from a GCM viewpoint at 2700kg (Ranger’s max payload = 970kg for XLT 3.2 double cab auto).

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Looking at the payload capacity:

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When towing: 970 payload - 200 ball weight = 770 payload in the vehicle - 30kg (towbar, estimate) - 30kg (hard cover, estimate) - 80kg (bullbar, estimate) = 630kg for people and gear in the back. That’s manageable, but 4 people x 80kg = 320kg, leaving you 310kg (max.) for stuff in the back - so, moderate loads in the tray only when towing.

Price

On price: carmakers are doing it tough on sales currently, so I’d be negotiating heavily for a discount of 10% or more. That’s generally do-able, but frankly it depends on supply, demand and dealer desperation in the moment. We can help you with a discount here, and since you have an ABN (if you are registered for GST) you might think about financing this with a Chattel Mortgage, which will allow you to claim the GST in the first BAS after purchase. We can help you set that up, too, but definitely talk to your accountant first, as I am not a financial advisor and cannot comment on whether this is suitable specifically for you.

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