Mazda BT50 | Ford Ranger | Nissan Navara as tow vehicle?

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wendyswheels
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Mazda BT50 | Ford Ranger | Nissan Navara as tow vehicle?

Unread post by wendyswheels » April 8th, 2012, 1:32 pm

Hi, I'm a newbie to both 4WD and caravaning and, as you'll soon see, I'm jumping in head first!

It seems like I've spent the last 18 months researching online and visiting caravan expos and yards, and I've finally ordered my van - a Jayco 21ft model in the Sterling range...and, yes, it has everything including the kitchen sink! And it needs to as I'm intending to travel for the next few years around this gorgeous country! My travelling companions are two cats that are used to being contained (house and cat run), so for any anti-cat people out there, pls don't switch off to my request for assistance, as I'm not letting the moggies loose on the wildlife - the annex is designed to contain the cats with a separate entry to the door of the van, so no chance of escapees!

Now, the reason for mentioning the cats is that they factor into the decision for the vehicle. While I thought deciding on the van was going to be difficult, it's nothing compared to the vehicle...and this is where I really need some assistance from those in the know.

While I would have loved an SUV style vehicle, unless I go to the Landcruiser or similar size, I'm kind of stuck with the ute. As such, I have large carriers for the cats to travel in. As the vehicle will need to last me approx 10 years and accommodate all my requirements, ie. city driving/parking as well as towing and gravel roads, the Landcruiser just seems too large and costly overall.

My van, fully loaded, will weigh approx 2.8 tonne. As such, the 3 tonne towing vehicles don't leave much of a buffer, so I'm looking at the 3.35 tonne, which is the BT50 and Ford Ranger. I realise they are pretty much the same mechanically, but with different suspension and accessories, and the Ranger comes with capped pricing for servicing...but also has a higher price tag to start with (my absolute max budget for the vehicle is $60k, but would prefer not to go this high).

I have test driven the BT50 and found it was quite enjoyable, although I noticed a fair amount of bumpiness on the lower speeds...but WOW, the higher speeds were so smooth and quiet - very impressive. I've ridden in the Ranger, and found it to be pretty much the same (didn't test drive as it was only manual, and I'm looking at the auto with tiptronic manual). I have always driven manual vehicles, but think the auto will come in handy with the amount of driving I'm doing and negotiating metro traffic while towing (one less thing to worry about!).

Actually, while I think of it, the Nissan salesperson told me that I can only switch the Navara into manual once I've stopped, as it needs to go into first gear and this is how you should use the tiptronic. Whereas the Mazda and Ford salesmen advised that the BT50 and Ranger can both be thrown into manual no matter what speed you're doing and the vehicle will work out which gear is needed, and you just choose to move up or down gear from that poin. Is it possible that the tiptronic works differently on different vehicles, or was someone telling me stories? Any advice on this would be appreciated!

So back to the issue. The reason I have included the Navara is that it has been recommended to me and the salesman advised that it will well handle my van...even though it's only rated for 3 tonne and has a 2.5 litre turbo diesel engine. However, the Ford salesman advised that it definitely won't have the capacity of the Ranger and I should be concerned - sigh. When I was researching the Nissan, I was looking at a V5, and I don't know that the 2.5 litre version that I drove is the same - my head hurts trying to keep track of all the versions!

I have to say, the 2011 dual cab Navara was very easy to drive and easy for me to access the tub, whereas the Ranger/BT50 sit quite a bit higher so that I need to stand on the step to get into the vehicle or to access the tub! As such, I was leaning towards the Navara, and yes I do mean the 2011 as the back doors on the 2012 models don't open wide enough for me to get the cat carriers into the vehicle...see, the cats do impact on the decision-making process! :) Also, the Navara's back seats fold down, creating a perfectly flat surface, which is very handy for the cat carriers, and also for other stuff I may wish to move, whereas the Ranger and BT50 both have the bottom section of the seat folding upwards, which is great for tall things, but not wide things, as it reduces the space available.

Can you see my dilemma?

1. The 2011 Navara (by the way, not as smooth or quiet as Mazda at high speeds) is great for town and for versatility with the back seat arrangement, and I'm able to easily access the seating and tub without standing on the step. It has everything I need, plus a 6-yr warranty, 6-stacker CD and it's a good price, but no screen for sat nav or reversing camera.

2. The Ranger has the excellent ANCAP rating, capped price servicing, sat nav and screen for camera, and is very nicely appointed, but not a great setup for back seat versatility, single CD (I can burn them to MP3 player and use that instead), and I need to use the step to access the vehicle and tub.

3. The BT50 is the same, but with lower price tag and I don't know about the safety rating.

4. They all seemed to have the same turning circle and visibility, with good sized mirrors.

5. Nissan appears to be the only one for which there is currently a long range fuel tank available, and they all appear to come with Hayman Reece (spelling?) genuine tow bars.

6. The Ranger appears to be the only one for which the hard lid over the tub can be programmed to work with the central locking.

As for colours, I'm not concerned about options. I should mention that I have been looking at the mid-range version for each model rather than basic or top of the range. Also, they all have hill ascent/descent assist and some sort of electronic anti-sway system.

Well, that's it in a nutshell...albeit a large nutshell! I don't know much about the types of suspension and mechanical bits and pieces - the above is the outcome of my research and test drives, and I'm really unsure which way to go, so any advice or thoughts you might have would be so very much appreciated. Thanks, Wendy

Phils Lux
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Re: Mazda BT50 | Ford Ranger | Nissan Navara as tow vehicle?

Unread post by Phils Lux » April 8th, 2012, 10:27 pm

There is quite a lot to consider as to your tow vehicle, have you tried the caravan & motothome forum as well, you might get some great unbiased advice from that forum compared to the car sales people.

www.candm.com.au

trav298
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Re: Mazda BT50 | Ford Ranger | Nissan Navara as tow vehicle?

Unread post by trav298 » April 8th, 2012, 11:56 pm

Have you considered the 3.0L V6 Diesel Navara? Sounds like the Navara is ticking all the boxes other than the engine. The 3L also has a 7 speed automatic gearbox to go with it. Sounds like a good tow rig to me and has more power and torque than all the other utes on the market at the moment (including the Landcruiser ute would you believe!)

I may be bias (I drive a 2.5L Navara) but its definately worth a look.....

rolly82
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Re: Mazda BT50 | Ford Ranger | Nissan Navara as tow vehicle?

Unread post by rolly82 » April 9th, 2012, 1:07 am

Welcome to the forum Wendy.
The vehicle(s) i would choose would be the one(s) that had the higher tow capacity because it will
give you a bigger buffer when towing,that only leaves the BT50 & Ranger.
Out of the 2,i would pick the Mazda because it is cheaper then the Ford(I also think the BT50 looks better ;) )
The Mazda BT50 XTR is $50,810 & the GT is $52,710,where as the Ford ranger XLT is $55,390.
http://www.redbook.com.au/DesktopDefaul ... 9%2c623916
As for long tanks,Longranger make 132L replacement tanks to fit both the Ranger and BT50
http://thelongranger.com.au/rangerpxlon ... ltank.html

Brad,

wendyswheels
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Re: Mazda BT50 | Ford Ranger | Nissan Navara as tow vehicle?

Unread post by wendyswheels » April 11th, 2012, 8:40 am

That's excellent advice, Brad. Thank you, WW.

And Thanks Phils Lux - I will do! Cheers, WW.

wendyswheels
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Re: Mazda BT50 | Ford Ranger | Nissan Navara as tow vehicle?

Unread post by wendyswheels » April 11th, 2012, 8:43 am

Ah, trav298, someone I was talking to did mention that 6-speed is better than 5-speed, so I assume 7-speed must be better again? Thanks for your thoughts, Trav298. Will check out the 3 litre model. Cheers, W.

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Re: Mazda BT50 | Ford Ranger | Nissan Navara as tow vehicle?

Unread post by terravista4110 » April 11th, 2012, 8:55 am

Hi
I don't have any experience with your selections, but just read a comment on Exploroz about a BT50 with a rear mounted camper.
He listed a number of problems seemingly related to the weight on corrugated roads causing structural and mechanical failures in remote areas.
You may not suffer the same problems depending on what you carry or tow, but it may be worth your time reading it.
If it is legal, here is a link. If it is not legal, pretend you can't see it.

http://www.exploroz.com/Forum/Topic/947 ... x%3fpn%3d1

Cheers
Ian

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Re: Mazda BT50 | Ford Ranger | Nissan Navara as tow vehicle?

Unread post by rolly82 » April 11th, 2012, 9:09 am

Hi Ian,
That BT50 is the old model.I also believe Geoff has stretched the chassi of his ute which has been a
contributing factor with alot of his problems.
The new models,which the O.P has been looking at buying are far superior to the old models.

wendyswheels
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Re: Mazda BT50 | Ford Ranger | Nissan Navara as tow vehicle?

Unread post by wendyswheels » April 11th, 2012, 9:47 am

Thanks for that, Ian. Will definitely check it out. Appreciate your help, WW.

wendyswheels
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Re: Mazda BT50 | Ford Ranger | Nissan Navara as tow vehicle?

Unread post by wendyswheels » April 11th, 2012, 9:51 am

Phew! Thanks, Brad. I'm so grateful to you all for helping me out as it's such a big decision! Thanks guys - feel like I have a whole raft of big brothers! :)

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Re: Mazda BT50 | Ford Ranger | Nissan Navara as tow vehicle?

Unread post by 02-SR5 » April 11th, 2012, 2:23 pm

Hey Wendy,

just throwing it out there. I know you have thought about a ute. Just FYI, have a look at the new Mitsubishi Challenger.
I know it is a wagon, but it is very big wagon for its size. It has a towing capacity of 3 tonne. It too is a turbo diesel with triptronic (flappy paddles) 5 sp auto. Factory diffloc and heaps of other flash initials I dont know what they do but it is something to do with traction control.

You can get heaps of after market accessories and they have a 10 year warranty on drive train. Motor, Gearbox and axles.

Pick one up for the low 40's. Spend a couple of k on suspension and a bullbar and you are good to go.

The cats will like it as it is coil springs and the suspension is so much smother than leaf springs.

Just something to think about. I want to the Challenger from a Hilux ute and have never looked back.

Good luck with the trip,

Rob

wendyswheels
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Re: Mazda BT50 | Ford Ranger | Nissan Navara as tow vehicle?

Unread post by wendyswheels » April 11th, 2012, 2:58 pm

Hmm, a 10-yr warranty? Wonder if there are exclusions to the warranty coverage, eg. gravel roads? In any case, sounds like it's worth a look. Thanks, Rob! W.

PS. So coil springs give a smoother ride than leaf springs? Are coils more durable?

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Re: Mazda BT50 | Ford Ranger | Nissan Navara as tow vehicle?

Unread post by 02-SR5 » April 11th, 2012, 3:21 pm

Wendy,

they are if you buy the right spring and shock combination to suit the load.

One option, is to go a medium rate spring and an airbag to support the van when loaded up. When no van is attached, release the air from the airbag to give a smother ride.

After having leaf springs and torsion bars, now driving a coil spring 4wd, I will never go back to horse and buggy suspension again.

The big name 4wd suppliers provide suspension kits for the PB Challenger to suit your needs.

Good luck with the 4wd shopping.

Rob

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Re: Mazda BT50 | Ford Ranger | Nissan Navara as tow vehicle?

Unread post by 02-SR5 » April 11th, 2012, 3:22 pm

PS: Gravel roads will have no bearing your warranty.

Rob

wendyswheels
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Re: Mazda BT50 | Ford Ranger | Nissan Navara as tow vehicle?

Unread post by wendyswheels » April 11th, 2012, 5:22 pm

Thanks for both posts, Rob. Goodness, there is so much more to buying a vehicle for towing than I ever realised...I certainly wouldn't have thought about changing the setup of the suspension! I'm mostly ok with passenger vehicles, but towing and larger vehicles are completely new to me! Wish me luck... W.

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