Last post on May 31, 2005 at 8:13 AM
You are in the Pickups - Archived Discussions
What is this discussion about?
Chevrolet Colorado, Dodge Dakota, Ford Ranger, Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier, Exterior, Engine, Interior, Transmission, Truck
#2 of 76 Testing the big 5
Mar 15, 2005 (5:41 pm)
I recently read a post here about drive testing 5 similar trucks, and decided to do my own tests due to the fact that test drives I performed last year netter much different results. Here were my findings, test driving all 2005 models, same list as above (also drove Mazda, but since it is roughly same as Ford leaving it out).
All models tested were V6, 2-WD(city driver), 4-door (double cabs in my terminology), except for the Ranger. The ranger was 4 door, but not what I would consider a double cab, more like an extended cab with easy access doors.
I will go alphabetically:
Chevy Colorado -
Huge dissapointment. Edmunds says it has a lack of low end torque and they are not kidding. It certainly made enough noise to think you were assaulting the sound barrier, but I looked at the speedometer and the needle seemed to take forever to get from 0-45 even at full throttle. Quite a shame. I cannot imagine anyone sitting in the backseats for more than a short trip as they site straight upright and are very uncomfortable. Overall parts quality looked about as cheap as you can get. Seams didn't even line up inside.
Summary - Based on noise, engine, build quality and backseat alone this vehicle was the absolute worst of the five. I had hoped for better given it was just introduced a year ago. Price was middle of the road, though I will say after visiting the Toyota dealership I was quite happy to see the Chevy was priced about as it should have been. No base model prices to tease a buyer with a nice price and then find out you have to add $8-$10 K in options to make it comparable. Toyota is horrible for doing that.
So-So. It can be said this is the steady and stable truck in the list. Does nothing great, but does shine in the fact nothing really disappointed. A little better pickup that last years model from my recollection. Decent styling. VERY QUIET overall. Braking was a bit weak. Internal components looked better quality than the Chevy and the build quality seemed better (air bag seam was perfectly fitted with dash, not like the Chevy were I checked 4-5 different models and the airbag covers looked like a kid had put them in place they were so uneven).
Summary - Nice ride. Nice cost. Decent acceleration. Geared better for city riding than the Chevy as there is much more torque low end. Build quality better as well. Still, probably only #3 overall.
Nickname, the Shocker. I was totally caught off guard by this truck. First off, let me warn you I was unable to drive the 4.0L V6 207 hp engine. I had to settle for the 3/0L V6 148 hp engine. It didn't matter. Easily the best acceleration to 50 mph (might have been best to 60, but was testing on side roads and didn't push things). It also was the second most quiet behind the Dodge, though the Toyota was right there as well. This truck has very good noise dampening. I still cannot believe this truck out-performed the big 200+ hp models of the other manufacturers. Obviously, the smaller engine does not provide as much towing capacity, but if that 4.0L has similar acceleration with the extra towing, it would be very nice.
Inside looked like it was designed for the solo driver (which suited me fine, as I have a car for family trips). There are NO back seats to speak of. The extended cab is really just extra space. The floor area looks like it was designed for someone with work in mind, instead of a yuppie wanting to look more manly in a truck. It had the best factory radio, but this was the Edge model, so I expected it to. Ford really does put together some nice packages on their trucks.
Summary - I am not a Ford man. I was really looking to go Chevy or Dodge. I currently have a Nissan, but do not want to support the French any longer (Fiat=Nissan, for those not in the know). Despite my normal dislike for Ford, this was by far and away the #1 truck in my ratings.
Do I care that it hasn't been changed in 5 years? NO. Jeep Cherokee's used to be a great selling vehicle for a reason, it was manly, and it didn't change. Car Mag know-it-alls griped about how it never changed, so Jeep took it away and gave us the highly San Francisotized Liberty. It is about the worst decision I have ever seen made, and Ford would be silly to 'Europeanize' this truck. The Edge model looks classy and stands very tall for a compact truck, which I like.
The sound system was the best, the build quality and materials looked better than anyone save Toyota. The acceleration was by far the best at speeds up to 50. The cost was unreal. I could have walked off the lot with one I really enjoyed for under $17,500. Now, if I go to the 200hp version it jumps to up around $20k, but I am not even sure I would need to for what I am buying it for (light hauling and city driving).
What can I say, I owned an older Nissan (2006). It is a very reliable truck. I have had no major problems with it, but I sold it to my father. I currently drive a Nissan for my every day driving, and I swear by their engines giving you the most bang for the buck in cars.
However, when it comes to trucks, the Frontier is more look than anything else. It looks like an off-road monster, but the reality tells me it is probably no better than the off-road packages of the other trucks. The acceleration was not as good as I had hoped, and the truck was the second most noisy one of the group (not good). Build quality and part quality were very suspect. Cheap plastic all over the place. Audio was decent, and back seats were better than the Chevy and Dodge.
Summary - So so. If it looks good to you, it's probably worth the buy. Nissan engines are very reliable, and I am guessing this truck would last you a long time. That being said, it really stands right in the middle of the pack for everything. I would put this at #4 overall.
Wow. I am not a big Toyota fan. I have always disliked their pricing trickery and deception.
That being said, this truck was solid. Look good, almost looked like the Edge model Ranger in it's tall stance. Second best acceleration. Decent, but not awe inspiring audio. It was the third most quiet truck in acceleration, but at speed I would say only the Dodge had less road noise. Build quality was VERY good. Parts were as good as any. Very spacious back seat arrangement, and not all that uncomfortable.
Toyotas sell well for a reason. They make solid vehicles. This one has no major knocks, except .. drumroll .. the pricing. All the other vehicles were around $20k as I drove them (except the aforementioned Ford which had a smaller engine). When I got to the lot I saw one or two Tacomas right off the bat. Walked up .. blamo
#3 of 76 Re: Testing the big 5 [smayne]
Mar 16, 2005 (12:22 pm)
I conducted pretty much the same comparison test drive but came to very different conclusions about the Toyota and the Colorado. If you look at both trucks side by side, you will see they are very similiar, probably cousins. They share many drive train and suspension parts. Ride wise, there is not a dimes worth of difference. Both are inexpensive, but decent quality trucks. The Chevy has a better standard seating option in the LS level, and the 5cyl/5spd combination is way better. Everyone gripes about Chevy's plain Jane inside, but who cares about that? You won't be able to see the dash or floor, for all the mud in my truck 3 months from now. As others have noted, you have to drive the Z85 like a sports car. That is; keep the revs up. This demands a serious change in driving habits. Most PU drivers are used to bogging around in 4th gear at 1800 RPM. The Chevy 5 cyl is a honker at 4000 RPM. It responds well if you give it the juice and keep the tach numbers high.
In future years, I predict the Chevy and Toyota reliability numbers are the same in Consummers Reports, because both trucks are probably made in the same place, or at least to similiar design specs. Of course, we will probably see differing numbers because Chevy owners are different culturally from Toyota owners. You know, deer hunting vs. golf, etc.
Mar 16, 2005 (12:27 pm)
"Toyota and the Colorado. If you look at both trucks side by side, you will see they are very similiar, almost cousins. They share many drive train and suspension parts"
I'm not quite sure I get that statement. Especially the "share many drive train and suspension parts" bit.
Are you sure you didn't mean "GMC and Chevy" rather than "Toyota and Chevy" or maybe were thinking about the Toyota Matrix and Pontiac Vibe?
#5 of 76 Re: Testing the big 5 [flatpicker]
Mar 16, 2005 (2:10 pm)
Um, 5 cyl/ 5 spd combo? Not offered on the Chevy. If you want the 5 cyl, you're stuck with the auto on ALL trim levels. And that anemic 5 cyl pales heavily in comparison to the 6 cyl in both the Toy or Frontier.
The Taco inexpensive? When comparing apples to apples (CC, 4x4, simple option package) the Taco is way expensive. I didn't look at the Dodges, but the Taco's had the highest cost of any of the others. Frontier was under $26K, Chevy under $27k, and the Taco was pushing $29k, and that was the least expensive it can be had for.
Just my observations....
#6 of 76 3 compare
Mar 16, 2005 (10:01 pm)
I bought my Canyon in Feb 04 after comparing with the previous generation Dakota and Tacoma. The Dakota was on par with the Canyon performance wise, but the fit & finish was not as good and it already had some buzzing & rattle. The Tacoma was best in fit & finish, but seemed smaller on the inside and was spendy. Over $32k with less options and few discounts. The Tacoma drove okay but not special.
When all was said and done the Canyon (got it for a bit over invoice, plus a rebate.) was the best value. So far its been very reliable. (almost 16k miles)
I read the new Dakota & Tacoma are both better than previous generations, but I got my Canyon (4WD crew cab SLE) and am very happy with it.
#7 of 76 Total Cost of Ownership
Mar 16, 2005 (11:32 pm)
It is interesting how much people focus on "first cost" of a vehicle - look at the comments about how much more "expensive" a Tacoma is compared to the Chevy, for example. However, if you take into account the total cost of ownership over several years, you will often find that the Toyotas are actually considerably cheaper.
The single biggest cost of a new car is the depreciation hit you take the day you drive it off. Let's look at some projected residual values after 5 years for 2004 models from the Automotive Lease Guide:
Tacoma - 44%
Dodge Dakota - 37%
Chevy Colorado - 35%
GMC Canyon - 32%
Ford Ranger - 31%
Now, add some numbers. Lets say that the Tacoma is "over $32k" (let's call it $32,000 even) and the Canyon is $27,500 (I'm guessing here). Not taking anything else into account, the residual value of the toyota would be $14,080 whereas the residual value of the Canyon would be $8,800. Subtract the original price from the residual value and you have the depreciation cost for those five years (which captures the original purchase price, plus the loss of value over time):
Now which car is "over-priced"? Using these hypothetical numbers, the Canyon actually costs more than the Tacoma!
Also, factor in repair costs and general fit and finish, reliability, etc. and the picture becomes a lot more complicated than the simplistic "first cost" that we tend to fixate on.
By the way, I should mention that I have never owned a Toyota truck (or any Japanese car for that matter) in over 30 years of owning cars... I'm just an economics geek thinking about buying a truck.
#8 of 76 Ford Ranger XLT ...
Mar 17, 2005 (2:21 am)
I cannot add too much as I have never driven any of the other newer small trucks besides the Ford I currently own. I used to own a 2000 Chevrolet S-10 Ext. Cab (POS) and a 94 Nissan 2X4 (poor build and it isn’t really a truck imho). Before this was the much larger trucks … The 03 Ranger XLT 2.3 L w/ a 5-speed is by far the nicer of the 3 and I picked it up brand new for just $9,692. Besides having one tough as nails bed and frame (it is my summer landscape truck), I have received 36.8 mpg from it throughout the Chicago winter while commuting. Nothing that Toyota, Nissan, Chevrolet, or DCC offers could even come close to the price, utility, std. amenities for this price, and FE that I have received. This (the Ranger XLT) is by far the best small truck I have owned in 13 years of truck ownership to date …
When considering TCO, when you pay just $9,692 for a brand new Ranger XLT, you will not get hit nearly as bad as you will with a more feature rich Ford or other (Toyota, Nissan, Chevrolet, DCC) given the very small initial cost.
Winter FE can be seen at the following:
Whether you can find this kind of deal in the future or not is anyone’s guess but I believe you could have come within $1,000 of this price at the end of last year on the 04 Ranger XLT’s similarly equipped. Hopefully some will find an 05 for a similar price in another 6 months or so?
On the other hand, would you consider such a basic work truck vs. the much more loaded up small P/U’s being discussed in this thread … I could not in any way shape or form pick up a 3.0 or 4.0 L w/ Auto and a Power package for this kind of price as everyone surely knows … I am however pleased as a pig in the mud trough at the FE I have been receiving from it. Simply amazing given what gasoline costs today.
Wayne R. Gerdes
#9 of 76 Re: Testing the big 5 [smayne]
Mar 17, 2005 (8:20 pm)
You say you don't like the Nissan because of its French connection, but you give the Ranger a #1 even though it has a transmission made in France. ???! Then you say you sold your 2006 Nissan to your father. ???!
#10 of 76 Re: Total Cost of Ownership [sbsyncro]
Mar 17, 2005 (9:27 pm)
The "true cost" depends heavily on if you trade the vehicle off in a few years. If you hang on to them for say 10 years its a different picture. I've owned Toyota, Subaru and Volvo. Everyone of them was more $$$ for parts and maintenance than any of the domestics we've owned. And if you have to finance, the front end price is important also. If you pay $4k-$5k more for the Tacoma and then pay interest on that difference over several years, the cost of ownership on the Tacoma is higher.
#11 of 76 Re: Total Cost of Ownership [ocmike3]
Mar 17, 2005 (10:30 pm)
All good reasons why cars in general are such a darned waste of money! But they sure are fun to talk about!
Seriously, tho - you raise some good points. There are a lot of variables, which just reinforces my point - you have to take the whole picture into account, not just the first cost.
One of my cars is a '89 VW Vanagon Syncro Camper with 250,000 miles on it. In 1989 it was the most expensive car VW produced (equivalent to today's v10 Tuareg, I suppose). Furthermore, Vanagons (and Syncros in particular) are notoriously expensive to maintain. Yet after 10 years, en engine replacement, and a transmission replacement the cost-per-mile is lower than any other car I have ever kept detailed records for. A big part of this is because I have kept it so long (to your point) and because it is still worth almost what it sold for in 1989!