"Truck" Comparison

The unlikely shootout to determine which "Truck" is really a truck

Published in the June 2008 Issue June 2008 Feature, PowerStroke

Mini trucks are the stunted-growth step-sisters of the full-size pickups most of us drive. Like mopeds, they're kind of fun to drive so long as nobody sees you in one. They serve their purpose to society (the same way a small garden spade does) and we have no problem with them really. Until one of their stunted-growth drivers start lipping off about how his (or her) Rangers can run any job your new Powerstroke can. Then the laughing spikes before slowly coming to a halt.

It's on, mini-man.

Our shootout consists of two "trucks,"_ though one uses the term loosely. A Super Duty with the Powerstroke 6.4L turbo diesel and the Ranger with the twin-spool gerbil wheel. We matched them up in several categories to see which truck trucked and which truck sucked.

Powerplants

The Truck: Ford's new 6.4-liter V8 twin-turbo diesel is capable of producing 350 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque. Popular among horse stable owners, construction workers and landscape company foremen, the Powerstroke-equipped Super Duty can pull the asphalt out from under a lot of parked cars.

The "truck"_: Known to some as the king of moving small items of furniture and bicycles, the Ranger's largest engine-the 4.0-liter V6-is capable of producing 207 horsepower and 238 lb-ft of torque. Bagged grass clippings beware.

Acceleration

When the 6.4 Powerstroke's accelerator pedal is mashed against the floormat, it has a tendency to mash the passengers against the seatbacks. The engine pulls hard and is deceivingly smooth, thanks to sequential turbos. The turbo diesel powered the heavy truck to the end of the strip in short time.

Our test driver pulled the Ranger to the line and again smashed the pedal to the floor. Moments later, the mini-truck lunged forward, covering the first 100 feet of the track in apparently about the same time it takes the Powerstroke to return from the other end of the quarter-mile track. We gathered around the buffet table as the Ranger covered the second hundred feet or so. The caterers had set out these neat little deli trays and rolls where you could build your own mini sandwich out of dinner rolls, crackers, cheese, turkey, Doritos and mayonnaise. Most of us were constructing our second helping as the Ranger crossed the line at the quarter mile. Unfortunately, no one noticed the truck's time due to a dispute over the last slice of pepper jack cheese.

Hauling

Trucks are trucks because they have beds. Beds are there to carry stuff in and we're not talking strollers. We set 5,000 lbs. of concrete sacks stacked on pallets in the back of the Super Duty. It settled the leaf springs pretty good, but the truck supported it and the engine moved it. This truck could easily transport loads to jobsites seven days a week year-round.

The Ranger didn't quite respond to the first pallet of concrete sacks the way the Super Duty did. Yes, the leaf springs settled pretty well, but they never came back up. But, hey, the bump stops that touch the axle work. We couldn't fit the second pallet of concrete sacks in because the Ranger's bed is roughly the size of a wheelbarrow. But the Ranger did get a break when the weight of the load decreased slightly when the tailgate fell off.

Towing

The next stage of our shootout would push the limits of each truck's towing and trailer tongue weight capacities; well, one truck's limits at least. We loaded a 14,000-pound front-end loader on a 2,000-pound flatbed trailer and hooked the setup to the receiver on the Powerstroke. The truck towed the load through the course with only the slightest hint of strain. The twin-turbo V8 diesel built torque at low rpm and made short work of the inclines, while the built-in brake controller held things back on downhills.

Things were going strange from the beginning when it came time to hook a load to the Ranger's hitch. First, we couldn't figure out why we couldn't get the jack on the trailer's tongue to leave the ground no matter how far we lowered it. Turns out the Ranger's front tires were kind of floating in the air under the weight of the 16,000-pound load. No worries, we just needed a taller hitch. The Ranger's best-in-class V6 seemed to struggle to get things going. It took a slight downhill slope and about three minutes to get the tires on the trailer to start rolling. Once in motion, the Ranger was able to keep the trailer going (you know, that whole Newton thing). Gravity played a big role, too, garnering more credit than the V6. At the bottom of the slope, the test course took a turn to the left. The Ranger didn't and that concluded not only our towing portion of the testing, but the whole shootout altogether.

Victor by forfeit: Powerstroke.

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