4cyl vs 6cyl for towing

BWick

New member
I'm looking to buy a 144 Sprinter and plan to tow a 19-foot bay boat from time to time. Does anyone have much experience on how the 4 cyl twin turbo performs? I test drove one yesterday and it seemed to have plenty of pep, but I wasn't towing anything. The dealer didn't have a 6 cyl diesel to test drive. The dealer said that the two engines got similar fuel economy numbers, but I expect the smaller gas engine would come way down in fuel economy when pulling a boat. Anyone towing a boat with a 4 cyl gas Sprinter, if so, are you happy with the performance?
 

Kajtek1

2015 long/tall limo RV 2.1l
I tow 20' patio boat for 1400 miles with 4 cylinder in long and tall van.
Big part of the trip was on 5th gear (of 7G) so engine work hard, but made it.
Than I bought bigger boat and V6 Sprinter.
I did not drive V6 Sprinter much to compare, but had both engines in sedans and my fuelly records show 26.7 v/s 36 mpg.

20200725_144137.jpg
 

BWick

New member
Thanks for the reply, your boat looks pretty comparable in weight. Overall, towing aside, is the 4cyl regarded as less desirable?
 

elemental

Wherever you go, there you are.
I'm looking to buy a 144 Sprinter and plan to tow a 19-foot bay boat from time to time. Does anyone have much experience on how the 4 cyl twin turbo performs? I test drove one yesterday and it seemed to have plenty of pep, but I wasn't towing anything. The dealer didn't have a 6 cyl diesel to test drive. The dealer said that the two engines got similar fuel economy numbers, but I expect the smaller gas engine would come way down in fuel economy when pulling a boat. Anyone towing a boat with a 4 cyl gas Sprinter, if so, are you happy with the performance?
I would double check the fuel consumption comparison. I have a 2017 V6 2500, and I get from 18 to 20 MPG. The lower around town, the higher on longer highway trips. I can't touch the numbers I've seen people post on here for the 4 cylinder diesel.
 

Bawareca

Member
The OP is talking about 4 cyl gas engine, which in my opinion will have worst fuel mileage than the V6 diesel when towing.
I get around 15-17 Mpg in my 2012 Navion, and it goes down 1-2 miles per gallon when I tow a small car or ~4500lbs car on a trailer.
 

mean_in_green

>2,000,000m in MB vans
For perpetual towing of heavy stuff around max train weight the V6 might be thought nice, although the four banger will be absolutely fine (and will do it full time if needed).

The American obsession for big motors is amusing: pretty much the rest of the world somehow manages fine with the four pot.
 
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Kajtek1

2015 long/tall limo RV 2.1l
Overall, towing aside, is the 4cyl regarded as less desirable?
I love I4 engine for great mpg and bought the van with V6 basically because it had front swing door and I could not find 1 like that with I4 engine.
V6 has noticeable better torque at low rpm, what will help me on boat ramps.
But doing the street test with I4 on 11% grade, moving the boat, I had feeling that it has lot of torque to spare.
So if you don't plan on heavy towing, I4 is really nicer engine to own.
Not only mpg, but access to everything is way, way easier.
 

Kajtek1

2015 long/tall limo RV 2.1l
Well.. after 2 + decades of diesel only, it will take some time to aknowledge gas engine in Sprinters.
Famous "Oil change 3000" took like 40 years before owners realized it is wrong.
Still technically talking, gas I4 has more HP, when diesel I4 has more torque.
Should be pretty comparable, although requiring different driving style.
 

Kajtek1

2015 long/tall limo RV 2.1l
I own diesels.
Gas engines belong in lawnmowers and pressure washers.
The only exception I made is 1922 Ford Model T as it was never manufactured with diesel.
 

4wheeldog

2018 144" Tall Revel
I own diesels.
Gas engines belong in lawnmowers and pressure washers.
The only exception I made is 1922 Ford Model T as it was never manufactured with diesel.
Bet that T would likely run on diesel, if you could get it to fire up.
 
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blutow

Active member
Still technically talking, gas I4 has more HP, when diesel I4 has more torque.
Should be pretty comparable, although requiring different driving style.
Gas has 22 more HP and diesel has 8 lbs more torque. I guess you can call it close enough, but probably give the edge to the gas motor for towing at highway speeds/passing and extended grades where HP matters, especially given the tighter ratios on the 9 speed transmission with the gas motor. Either of them have plenty of torque to get a trailer going.

From my perspective, the tradeoff is mostly about the crappy fuel economy on the gas motor vs. the hassle and complexity/reliability of diesel. I went with the gas motor, even though I really like diesel motors and have had them in the past. I'm just not a fan of what they are doing with the emissions systems to make these diesels clean. I understand why they are doing it, but I think their days are numbered. That's not to say these direct injected gas motors are simple either, lots to go wrong with them as well and some have had issues. We'll see.

If I had gone diesel, it would have been the 6. I'll take the extra torque over fuel economy. If you could put an gas ecoboost v6 in the sprinter (or comparable turbo v6), that would be my real choice. These direct injected turbo gas motors behave a lot like diesels with the low end torque they produce, they just don't do it nearly as efficiently as as diesel.
 

Kajtek1

2015 long/tall limo RV 2.1l
Direct injection on gas engines has the similar baby teeth what Bluetec had.
I don't mind the hassle of collecting $3600 checks on Bluetec settlement thought.
 

blutow

Active member
Direct injection on gas engines has the similar baby teeth what Bluetec had.
I don't mind the hassle of collecting $3600 checks on Bluetec settlement thought.
Yep, direct injection gas has had growing pains for sure, but there is a way, way more investment and much larger production numbers there right now vs. light duty diesels which are being phased out around the world. Diesels have a target on their back with all the big regulatory agencies and environmental groups. I wish diesel had a future in light duty applications, but the writing is on the wall and car manufacturers have largely given up on diesel and R&D $'s have pretty much gone away, especially after the VW fiasco that snowballed into other manufacturers. In reality, the writing is on the wall for all internal combustion in light vehicles, but gas will be around for the foreseeable future. At some point, it's going to be a big premium to get an internal combustion engine rather than electric, the government will make sure of that. I think we have ~15 yrs before that happens, but it's coming (Unless you live in CA, then it's already happening).

Some of the new direct inject gas motors are pretty impressive. The direct inject turbo I4 gas motor has become the ubiquitous choice for many manufacturers and there is significant $ being spent to keep moving them forward. They really do have a diesel feel with low end torque, but you also have the higher RPM HP. They run great, they just burn a lot of fuel. How about offering the 2.0 from MB AMG cars in a sprinter? I believe it makes over 400hp and close to 400 ft/lbs of torque. Not exactly suited/tuned for light truck use, but it would interesting until it blew up. It's really amazing what they are doing with these engines.
 
On Metris forums positive comments 4cyl gas handles towing but fuel mileage drops fast. The couple of times I test drove gas sprinters they shift a lot and the rpms jump often-fast. My Metris ownership experience great motor but every down shift gas mileage drops into my V8 F150 range... After much debate back and forth and numerous test drives, went with 6cyl diesel. Love it, great power with new trans, smooth, great mileage avg 21mpg.
 

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