Ford Everest 2019 ambiente (4wd 5 seat), Ford Everest 2019 trend (4wd 7 seat)

2019 Ford Everest: 2.0-litre v 3.2-litre comparison

Sibling rivalry: Four cylinders versus five

Engines on a whole are on a downsizing trend. What were once sixes are now fours, and fours are threes. Advanced turbocharging and injection systems mean you don’t need big capacity for big power, and you can drag out some extra efficiency at the same time.

In the case of the 2019 Ford Everest, we’ve got an instance of five cylinders turning into four, and 3.2 litres shrinking into 2.0 litres. However, both engine options are available to buyers. So, which is the best option? Older, bigger Duratorq or newer, smaller BiTurbo?

To find out, we’ve lined up one of each. One is the 3.2-litre Ambiente specification, while the other is the 2.0-litre Trend. There are specification and pricing differences here, but we’d prefer to focus on the drivelines in this story.

That being said, it’s worth noting that it’s not just a new engine that has made its way into the Everest range. Along with an updated look, there are plenty of new additions to the specs and safety of the Blue Oval 4x4 wagon.

There’s AEB on the Trend and Titanium models, as well as the SYNC3 infotainment system with smartphone mirroring and digital radio.

Suspension tuning has also been tweaked on the new model. A repackaged and stiffer swaybar set-up allows for a softer spring in the front while still controlling body roll. Otherwise, it’s all par-for-the-course stuff. Watt’s linkage rear end, coils all round and full-time 4x4 with an unlockable centre differential and 40/60 front/rear split.

In the low-spec Ambiente model, the 3.2-litre engine is your only option. Its power outputs have remained unchanged with 143kW at 3000rpm and 470Nm at 1750–2500rpm running through a six-speed automatic gearbox.

It’s the standard offering on the middle-spec Trend as well, but you can spend $1200 on the updated driveline.

Pricing has gone up across the Everest range with the 2019 facelift starting at $49,190 (up $1200) before on-road costs for the RWD Ambiente. A 4x4 driveline is a five-grand premium lobbing at $54,190.

Trend specification starts at $56,190 for a RWD 2.0-litre. Get a 4WD 3.2 for $59,990, or add the new drivetrain for $61,491. Titanium specification, which is 4WD and 2.0-litre only, is a big jump up to $73,990.

The new engine, which Ford markets as ‘Bi-Turbo’, is its latest-generation diesel donk. It’s got 2.0 litres of capacity using two (sequential) turbochargers to make 157kW at 3750rpm and 500Nm at 1750–2000rpm. It uses Ford’s new 10-speed gearbox, which was co-developed with GM.

Servicing intervals are the same for both engines: 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first. The first 75,000km or five years will cost $2360 for the BiTurbo, with each service ranging from $360 to $585.

The older 3.2-litre engine costs slightly more over the same time period: $2465. The range in this instance is $405 to $570. That’s a fairly negligible $105 difference between the two in favour of the newer, smaller engine.

Although there is a 1.2-litre discrepancy in capacity on offer, tricky and advanced turbocharging in a sequential format lets the smaller-capacity motor wring out more torque: 500Nm at the same low 1750rpm.

It’s worth noting the 3.2-litre engine has a wider peak torque range, but makes less power and torque and uses less revs. Both engines use an ‘Adblue’ urea injection into the exhaust to help it comply with emissions, something the Ranger doesn't have to worry about.

Sequential turbocharging is the preferred method these days of extracting big numbers from small diesel engines. It means the turbochargers work separately at different parts of the rev range. There's a smaller turbo that kicks in quickly, which then gets progressively bypassed as more exhaust gases flow through at higher revs.

The new engine also has some other interesting points. The crankshaft is offset 10mm to reduce frictional losses, and the turbochargers use an advanced heat-resistant superalloy called Inconel, which was used in the main engine of the Space Shuttle.

Piezoelectric injectors are able to spray less than one sugar grain's worth of fuel out of eight nozzles, which are only the width of a human hair. What's more, it'll do this up to six times each combustion cycle. So when you're at the peak power level of 3750rpm, each injector is capable of making 375 separate injections per second.

Numbers on a piece of paper are one thing, but what does the seat-of-the-pants dynamometer tell you? Taking off from idle, the bigger 3.2-litre engine feels sprightlier, briefly. You feel the torque converter quickly latching on, and you surge forward with nice purpose. Keep going, and the 2.0-litre engine soon takes over and feels superior. You’ve got more revs to wind out power with a taller redline, helped no doubt by the extra four ratios in the 10-speed gearbox.

Once you’re rolling, accessing the power is a more refined and enjoyable experience with the new engine. Whereas the 3.2-litre is all about the low and mid rev ranges off the mark, the 2.0-litre does have a more pliable nature about it right along the tachometer and up to highway speeds.

The new engine keeps kicking goals with fuel consumption, and is a much more refined unit to boot. While the Bi-Turbo does feel superior, the 3.2 is still a good powerplant for the Everest, and you could argue it has a bit more of a haughty character than the Bi-Turbo unit. And, of course, many of us will simply prefer the bigger capacity, regardless of anything.

Off-road, it’s not just about the torque and how it comes about. You could argue that gearing is more important, because this multiplies the torque getting to the wheels. As a rule of thumb, the lower the available ratios, the better. You’ve got lower speeds for crawling and more torque, which lets the engine run without strain or labouring.

There are only subtle differences between the 2.0-litre and 3.2-litre units in overall off-road performance. One of the main ones is the gearing. Both are fine units, responsive enough and smart-thinking to not really leave you in much of a lurch.

A 2.48:1 transfer case ratio is used on both models, which means crawl ratios are the same between each vehicle. The 10-speed transmission is smoother and more agile, which makes for a small benefit off-road compared to the six-speed, but they are largely the same on overall capability and ease of use.

They both have the easy-to-use and effective 'Terrain Management System' of off-road modes, which does make life a bit easier when wrangling different terrains. Low-range and a locking rear differential, which all specifications get, do make the Everest, regardless of motor, a very competent off-roader.

The centre differential is not of the locking variety, which LandCruisers, Land Rovers, and Mitsubishis have. This puts more strain and responsibility on the traction-control system, which is thankfully well tuned for off-roading. It’s not as good as a locking centre diff, and puts it behind some of the competition in terms of straight off-road traction, but is likely good enough for what folks are typically getting stuck into.

Both models of the new Everest are an improved drive on-road thanks to that retuned front end. It’s more forgiving over rough roads, while still feeling well tied down in corners. When compared to a Toyota Prado, this on-road competency is probably where the Everest shines most bright. When combined with the rear-biased full-time 4WD system, the Everest feels nicely planted on all different surfaces and bumps.

Spec sheets indicate a 2.0-litre Everest is 20kg lighter than a 3.2-litre unit. Interestingly, the Ranger only has a 15kg difference between engine options. It’s a noticeable difference on-road, especially in the way that the car handles. It might not sound like much, but it does make sense when you think about it.

The new 10R80 10-speed automatic gearbox, which is rated to 800Nm, would weigh more than the old six-speed. I tried to dig up this information, but wasn't able to. Using a little speculation, I reckon there is probably a significant difference in weight over the nose between the 2.0- and 3.2-litre models.

I’d bet my bottom dollar that Ford retuned the front suspension of the Everest to suit the new 2.0-litre engine, which has a softer spring rate and stiffer, repackaged swaybar than the previous model. With the 2.0-litre it feels really nicely dialled in. It’s a definite improvement over the outgoing model, with more suppleness without a big loss to body control.

When you add the additional weight of 1.2 litres and an extra cylinder, the springs feel a touch too soft over bumps and wallowing roads. Body roll is still handled admirably, especially since this is a big 4WD with plenty of ride height. This is probably only something noticed in direct comparison, but is worth noting nonetheless.

There’s no doubt the smaller engine has the performance edge over the older, larger unit: 143kW at 3000rpm and 470Nm at 1750–2500rpm is bested on paper by 157kW at 3750rpm and 500Nm at 1750–2000rpm. More power and torque, and more revs to draw upon, leaves the 2.0-litre engine feeling more flexible and responsive. Although there is more torque available, that rev range of peak torque is more narrow. However, the additional four ratios up your sleeve cover off this issue more than adequately.

But, what about towing? That's how you really sort the wheat from the chaff, especially in a 4WD. In a quest to get some answers, we borrowed a Jayco Silverline 24.75-3 from the fine folk at Jayco Sydney for the day, which has a towball weight of 2860kg and 212kg of towball mass.

On paper, an Everest with 2.0 litres under the bonnet has 3100kg of towing capacity. It's 100kg more than the 3.2-litre, and the Gross Combination Mass gets a corresponding bump up as well from 5800 to 5900kg.

Payload varies according to what specification you go for, but you can get up to 716kg of payload, which is a healthy amount for a seven-seater 4WD. Both options have a 300kg penalty in the GCM, which means you can't use all of your GVM and towing capacity at the same time.

Part of me thought the newer, smaller engine could fall into a hot mess when towing close to its prescribed limit, jumping between ratios and screaming its head off in protest of under-load hauling. However, it didn't happen.

My evaluation of the Bi-Turbo's relative performance towing was largely a facsimile of previously. The 3.2-litre engine is good, with a nice slab of accessible torque to allow for enough acceleration to not annoy other traffic.

The 3.2 is good, but the new engine is just a little shade better. Acceleration is noticeably more urgent anywhere above 40km/h, and the extra four ratios in the gearbox mean you're living in that peak torque range more often than not.

The jump between second and third gear is most noticeably improved, especially when hauling hard uphill.

The smaller engine keeps its more refined nature as well, along with using a little bit less fuel. Both gearboxes were happy to hold the gear as long as possible in the mid-range, only downshifting and revving hard when your pedal hits the firewall.

The only area where the 3.2-litre engine has an advantage is engine braking: second gear downhill at around 40–50km/h did require less braking input compared to the 2.0-litre unit.

While our test loops weren't the exact duplicates of each other, there was enough similarity between them to lodge some comparison of fuel usage. And the 3.2-litre engine logged 19 litres per hundred kilometres, while the 2.0-litre unit used 17 litres.

The loop included slow, winding country roads, one big steep hill climb and some stop-start traffic. So, in the real world of cruising the open road, you'll likely log much lower fuel usage.

It’s also worth pointing out the peak torque and power figures for an engine, and at what revs they arrive, only tell part of the story. If that torque falls off a cliff either side, or gradually and slowly falls away, it makes a huge difference to an engine’s drivability.

Without spending time on a dynamometer, your seat-of-pants experience should tell you how flexible and pliable an engine is.

There’s no doubt that the newer driveline is the superior option between the two. It’s more efficient, more pliable, more powerful and more refined. The 3.2 unit still puts up a good fight, and will serve those well who prefer more size under the bonnet.

Some will question the longevity of an engine that is smaller and with a higher output, which is achieved by a more stressful and complex tune. Ford has done the equivalent of 5.5 million kilometres of testing on the engine, along with over 400,000 collective kilometres in customer vehicles.

Regardless, it’s a question without any real answer, and probably won’t be answered for another decade.

If you choose either engine, you’re still covered by Ford’s pretty generous five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, so you’ll only be running the gauntlet after a half decade of motoring.

When you consider that, it’s very hard to go past recommending the additional $1200 for the smaller, better engine.

Thanks to Jayco Sydney for loaning us the very flash 21ft Silverline Caravan, which has a tow-away price of $82,715. The side pops out for lots of room inside, with a huge list of features. Check out the image gallery for more pics of the van.

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