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4x4 of the Year- Day 3

Posted in Vehicle Reviews on December 18, 2015
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Photographers: 4 Wheel & Off-Road Staff

"Gas or Diesel?"

At this year’s Petersen’s 4-Wheel & Off-Road 4x4 of the Year test we have everything from four-cylinder gas engines to V8 diesels. There is even a twin turbo gas engine in the field. And half of the vehicles are diesel powered this year. So how do they match up? Some have wowed us, and others left us scratching our heads about the rated power.

Duramax and Cummins are two of the biggest names in diesel engines. And now they both are available outside of the traditional 3/4- and 1-ton truck market. Both Cummins and General Motors are hoping that their name recognition can help sell trucks.

The 2.8L four-cylinder Duramax diesel in the Chevrolet Colorado is rated at 181 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. We have found the engine to be relatively quiet, particularly when you are inside the vehicle. The turbo lag is noticeable but not unbearable, and the fuel economy has been very good.

The transversely mounted 2.4L MultiAir engine in the Jeep Renegade is rated at 180 hp at 6,400 rpm and 175 lb-ft at 3,900 rpm. Our favorite thing about the drivetrain though is the nine-speed automatic transmission that keeps the little engine in its powerband.

The most powerful vehicle in the test is the Mercedes-Benz G550, but it has proven to be the thirstiest at the pump as well. The twin turbo V8 makes 416 hp at 5,250 rpm and 450 lb-ft of torque from 2,250 all the way up to 4,750 rpm. The turbo lag is significant, but once they spool up the G550 pushes you back in your seat.

The new 3.5L V6 in the Tacoma uses D4-S technology, with both direction injection and traditional port fuel injection that vary depending on the situation. The powerband is noticeably higher than the outgoing 4.0L engine, with the 3.5L producing 278 hp at 6,000 rpm and 265 lb-ft at 4,600 rpm, 600 rpm higher than the previous V6.

Nissan is getting a lot of attention by using a Cummins engine in the Titan XD, but if you expect this truck to pull like a Ram with a 6BT you will be disappointed. The Titan makes 310 hp at 3,200 rpm and 555 lb-ft at 1,600 rpm. We find the power to be adequate in the relatively heavy Titan XD, but fuel economy has been on par with the Hemi-powered Ram Rebel.

The venerable Hemi engine powers the Ram Rebel. This configuration displaces 5.7L and is rated at 395 hp at 5,600 rpm and 410 lb-ft at 3,950 rpm. While down on torque to the Titan XD, the power-to-weight ratios are very comparable between the two.

Perhaps the most impressive engine in the test is the 3.0L turbodiesel in the Range Rover Sport. This engine is whisper quiet, has zero turbo lag, and has returned the best fuel economy in the test. The Rover V6 diesel is rated at 254 hp at 4,000 rpm and 440 lb-ft at 1,750 rpm.

The 3.0L turbodiesel is a good match for the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. It is relatively quiet, exhibits little turbo lag, and is powerful enough to move the van around and still get reasonable mileage. This is the same engine used in the Ram 1500 Ecodiesel and Jeep Grand Cherokee. It is rated at 188 hp at 3,800 rpm and 325 lb-ft all the way from 1,400 to 2,400 rpm.

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