+1 on 4WD is an asset even if you rarely need it.
It's like this, as long as you have it and don't need it, it seems like wasted money. But at those times when you do need it, it is the only thing that will do.
Without a load in the bed any Ranger can feel "light in the ****," especially on wet pavement or a wet, grassy hill.
But with even a modest amount of stuff in the bed (dogs, tools, beach stuff, cooler of drinks ... you get the picture) the 2WD takes on a whole new personality. And with a couple of hundred pounds of stuff in the bed, it will pull a surprisingly big load on a trailer.
Regarding fuel economy, consider the following:
At a fill up, the difference between 17 mpg with a 4.0L engine and 19 mpg with a 3.0L engine will be just at 1.25 gallons of fuel based on 190 miles (my average weekly commute).
That extra fuel at today's price where I live will cost me + or - $4.05 per week. Across a year that comes to a little over $200.
But I live a day at at time and fill up a week at a time, so if I give up a Big Mac and go for the $1 chicken sandwich at the McDoggies drive through, I've justified the bigger engine and taken a load off my feet... Just saying.
Another angle on the discussion is at the point of wearing out a 3.0L at points where the 4.0L would give just enough margin that the wear and tear becomes a non-issue.
At this moment there is very clean 2000 model XLT 4X4 at a local dealership, but it has a 3.0L engine and I can tell from looking at the bumper that it was used to pull a trailer. It has 105,000 miles on it.
So, is it cosmetically clean but otherwise worn out? That answer will be something the next owner gambles on with a view to his or her towing needs.