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Old 06-22-2011, 01:28 PM   #1
bostonsr OP
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Tacoma vs. Frontier...or Ranger?

Hey guys, i'm finally in the market for a small pickup.

I'm looking to buy CPO. Priced $18K max, ideally want to be under $15K all in.

This will be a daily driver, in CT...commuting to work, rarely hauling/towing heavy stuff, occasional moto hauling but really just a commuter car.

MUST HAVE: Manual transmission, extra-cab or crew cab (4dr). Longest bed available.

PREFER: 4cyl engines, but realize they may not be available in some applications. Any guidance on 4 vs. 6 would be appreciated.

1. Need guidance on 4wd vs. 2wd models (maintenance issues, costs, fuel economy, etc) I can go either way on this but prefer the lower loading height of 2wd but will probably end up using 4wd more due to snowy winters.

2. Any of these models have any major issues to look out for? dealbreakers? recalls?

3. Personal experiences, first-hand or otherwise, are welcome. I'd like to know what the ownership experience will be like.

4. Routine maintenance costs, oil changes, brakes, clutches, shocks, etc...what to expect?

5. Horror stories?

Any referrals to particularly good dealers can be PM'd to me.

abe
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Old 06-22-2011, 02:22 PM   #2
Grreatdog
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When I needed a new compact pickup I had pretty much the same pricing and specs in mind that you listed. Except I knew I didn't want another four cylinder. The three four cylinder pickups I have had all got right at 20 mpg. Two were 2x4 and one was the 22RE 4x4 Toyota. I just can't see driving another gutless truck for one or two mpg difference.

I ended up a with a V6 4x4 5 speed Ranger extended cab. With the Ranger a four cylinder is not an option with four wheel drive anyway so i didn't have to sweat that. The reason I went Ford is that I got an immaculate 35k mile truck for about the same thing people around here wanted for 200k mile thrashed Toyotas.

I had a Toyota 4x4 four cylinder pickup and know they are an excellent truck. Mine went 350k miles on the original everything except disk pads. But they aren't that much better to justify a nearly 100% premium over a similar Ranger. I don't know how used Tacomas are priced up your way, but here people think they are made of gold.

As for maintenance, I haven't seen much difference in any of our trucks. At work our Titan 4x4 is the worst for reliability, the Fords and Toyotas are all stone ax reliable and my Ranger has been trouble free for the 40k miles I put on it in 18 months. Which is why price vs. low mileage is what finally swayed me over to the Ranger.

That said, the down side to my Ranger is the clutch took a lot of getting used to, it definitely shifts like a truck and it has the turning radius of a locomotive. So you have to drive it like a full size truck. It wants to be shifted that way and it wants to be backed into parking spaces just like grown up trucks. Otherwise there isn't much difference between it and my old Toyota.

BTW, have you ever driven a 2wd compact pickup in the snow? My LC4 with greased knobs would probably do better. They really suck in snow even after you shovel your driveway into the bed. Sand bags will be your friend for the weight and to shovel the sand under your back tire.

As for dealers, I bought our last two 4Runners and my Ranger from Carmax. I know i pay a little premium. But they just make it so damned easy.
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Old 06-22-2011, 02:26 PM   #3
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The truck Grreatdog bought, that's what I'd buy over all others.
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Old 06-22-2011, 02:50 PM   #4
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The Taco is a fun to drive truck, try it on for size though as its built for short guys - especially the older ones. I haven't had one for years, but my last one was fairly painful to drive due to the very short seat and lack of leg room.

I'd go with 4x4, there's so little weight on these things that if there's even a little snow they don't go very well in 2wd. My wife's 2k lbs '93 civic goes in snow much better than my 'yota did in 2wd. The 4wd doesn't add any appreciable maintenance cost and the reduction in mpg, all else equal, is almost nill (only thing hurting mpg is the extra couple of hundred lbs of weight as the hubs disconnect when in 2wd, so no extra drivetrain drag). It is hard to get a short, small tire 4x4 though and those things can make a difference in mpg.

'yota's electric rear locker is sweet, if you get a 'yota make sure its so equipped.

The current four cyl makes as much power and more tq than the old v6 and the old v6 suited me fine for most purposes - it was a bit slow towing and going up steep hills with a couple of bikes in the bed and a bunch of gear.

A GDI v6 F150 will probably get the same mpg (better actually), make more power and have more space than the current compact trucks - the mfg's have really dropped the ball with the compacts and they are running on 10+ yr old tech. No stick though which sucks and they probably aren't in your price range yet.

You can get the Frontier in Suzuki guise and it looks pretty darn snazzy, but I think Nisan doesn't do the big engine and 4x4 with the manual mixer which sucks.

If it comes in a manual the little GM truck might be worth a look. That inline 5 and 6 cyl engine is a nice runner.
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Old 06-22-2011, 03:50 PM   #5
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I went with the 4.0l V6 manual 4x4 Frontier King Cab.

Great Truck so far. No problems, nothing.

Very powerful engine - compared to the others. The VQ Nissan Engines are well known for their reliability.

I still think, Nissan delivers the best Package for a mid size pickup right now.
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Old 06-22-2011, 04:08 PM   #6
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Owned a '99 Tacoma, 2.7 4cyl and 5 speed, definately not a rocket off the line, but reliable as hell. First gear was tough to get when the tranny was cold, swapping in Redline MT90 made a big difference. As said, not built for big guys, am guessing the newer generation models might have more room.
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Old 06-22-2011, 04:15 PM   #7
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Tacoma; I put 200k on one and it is still running, sold it to a budding who gave it to his teenage son.
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Old 06-22-2011, 04:53 PM   #8
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Had great experience with an '01 Tacoma. Thing was bulletproof. I took really good care of it, but it was also used quite hard.

Work has a bunch of Rangers, and they've all pieces of shit. They aren't really used for "work" but to lug around bosses that don't need tools or hauling capacity. They ARE taken care of really well. 1 out of 4 has NOT gone through an engine and/or transmission. I'll stress that this experience with these 4 Rangers is my only experience with Rangers. With that said, when I need another small truck, it'll be a Tacoma and I'll pray that it's just like the one I used to own.
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Old 06-22-2011, 04:59 PM   #9
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Issues with tacomas for your criteria

-
you're probably going to have a tough time finding a tacoma with 4wd and extended/crew cab in good enough condition to be CPO through Toyota at that price point. It can be done but is not easy and might equate to a lot of searching. Resale on them is ridiculous and even more so now that used car prices are at an almost historical high. What you described in a tacoma is 19-23k here assuming 45-60k miles

-the 2wd ones will likely be prerunners which gets you the 4wd height without the benefits of it. The low height 2wd extended cabs are rare

-very few 4cyl out there and I don't even think they were available in the crew cabs. The difference is 1mpg between 4cyl/5speed and v6/auto. The v6 6 speed gets the worse mpg by far. I wasn't a fan of the 4 cyl in the tacoma either and have been glad I got the v6 for marginally worse mileage....it's a heavy truck like all the mid size trucks.

-I do not like the 6 speed manual in the tacoma and returns the worse mpg than the automatic. I will say that the automatic in the tacoma is probably one of the best I've ever driven.

-it's a big truck.....you might be want to expand your search to the tundra as well

I'm at 82k miles with my 2006 tacoma crew cab off road with almost every option. The temp sensor needed a solder and it's a known issue. Takes 15 minutes. Change my oil and fluids.....rotate my tires....a set of brake pads...a few headlights....a set of tires...thats it. It's towed through passes with decent size loads, been offroaded a little, lots of easy trails, snow/ice covered logging roads to go snowshoeing, maybe 3k of those miles in the snow/ice, high speed trips from san diego to vegas in 100 degree temps up grades, and it has never given me a problem. It still feels tight/new without any squeaks or issues. I'm keeping the truck as long as possible....best vehicle I have an probably will own. Does everything well.

performance wise the frontier and tacoma were right up there with the edge to the frontier. Interior (materials and the seat fit) it was the tacoma by a little. The ranger was an also ran and didn't rate a second look. They felt the same as in 1998 when I was working at a ford dealership.

Would I buy a tacoma used.......nope When I was looking I could get an older model tacoma that was 3-4 years old with 40k miles for $3-4k less than a new one. They are a great value new but so overpriced used. I can't bring myself to pay $20k for something thats not fully loaded with the options I want and has close to 100k miles.
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Old 06-22-2011, 05:19 PM   #10
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Never have to put weight in the back of the truck for winter driving on my Tacoma. My Ranger was all over the road (both had winter tires).

I love my Tacoma. But 5% of the time the bed is too small (haul firewood out of the bush and it takes more trips). The suspension went on the rear but it was covered under warranty and they even upgraded me to TRD suspension.

I would buy another in a second but my truck only has 125k. Highway mileage is good, city not so much but I have the six.

Needs a new set of summer tires. The stock ones suck in the gravel.

4x4 with winter tires and it will go anywhere.

edit my Tacoma is an 06
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Old 06-22-2011, 05:25 PM   #11
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I am a claims adjuster handling extended warranty claims (typically those claims that are outside the manufacturer's warranty period). I'd buy the Ranger, a 3.0L, 4x4 if I could find one with the options I wanted.
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Old 06-22-2011, 05:34 PM   #12
RichBeBe
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bostonsr View Post
Hey guys, i'm finally in the market for a small pickup.

I'm looking to buy CPO. Priced $18K max, ideally want to be under $15K all in.

This will be a daily driver, in CT...commuting to work, rarely hauling/towing heavy stuff, occasional moto hauling but really just a commuter car.

MUST HAVE: Manual transmission, extra-cab or crew cab (4dr). Longest bed available.

PREFER: 4cyl engines, but realize they may not be available in some applications. Any guidance on 4 vs. 6 would be appreciated.

1. Need guidance on 4wd vs. 2wd models (maintenance issues, costs, fuel economy, etc) I can go either way on this but prefer the lower loading height of 2wd but will probably end up using 4wd more due to snowy winters.

2. Any of these models have any major issues to look out for? dealbreakers? recalls?

3. Personal experiences, first-hand or otherwise, are welcome. I'd like to know what the ownership experience will be like.

4. Routine maintenance costs, oil changes, brakes, clutches, shocks, etc...what to expect?

5. Horror stories?

Any referrals to particularly good dealers can be PM'd to me.

abe
Abe,
I had a 6-cyl 2wd Mazda (Ranger) with a 5-speed and got about 23 on the hwy, but only 15 max around town. Not sure where in CT you are going to but if there is any city driving involved get the 4-cylinder. My 2wd was crappy in the snow but I didn't worry about it, since we do not get a lot of snow. Though depending on where in CT that might change.
~Rich

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Old 06-22-2011, 05:39 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by BikePilot View Post
A GDI v6 F150 will probably get the same mpg (better actually), make more power and have more space than the current compact trucks - the mfg's have really dropped the ball with the compacts and they are running on 10+ yr old tech.
My Taco 03 Taco is fine, but it's no MPG champ by far. I'm hoping my year turns around and the new F150 ecoboost isn't a flash in the pan. There just doesn't seem to be many advantages to a compact pick-up anymore.
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Old 06-22-2011, 06:12 PM   #14
Doc.Snyder
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The Tacos are way too overhyped, imho
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Old 06-22-2011, 08:19 PM   #15
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I have a Frontier - been great. Taken lots of abuse, lots, and still going strong, no issues at 50k. At Edmunds, you'll find Tacoma and Frontier rate similarly according to them, and owner inputs. Frontier has fully boxed frame, disks front and rear, and some other bonuses over Tacoma (read on edmunds). Did look at Tacos, and when previously buying a SUV too, but the dealers and private sellers did seem to think they were made out of gold. The dealers were garbage, did well with Nissan dealers who would actually deal. Having used Rangers for work, would not consider one. Look it up at Edmunds too.
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