Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Not many truck choices anymore

My Ranger has about had it. Sure we've only had it for 5 years but it was 5 years old when we got it and on its 10th anniversary its got rust catching hold. At last count there were 5 holes in the bed, the rocker panel under the passenger's door was perforated like a book of stamps until I covered it with fiberglass and one of the gas tank straps is head together with wire. Its got just under 100,000 miles and runs like a champ but the body is just falling away to nothing. I'll keep it together one more year but the end is clearly approaching. In 2003 my folks bought a pair of 2004 Jeep Liberties owing to a drunk driver smashing both of their vehicles in their driveway. Both their vehicles are coming due for replacement and so I've been thinking a lot about new vehicles.

If you take your vehicle offroad on any kind of regular basis you are clearly in the minority and the car makers have basically written you off. For 2014 Jeep has reintroduced the Cherokee but its based on the Dodge Dart chassis and while it has loads of technology and has been lauded as a good offroader the air dams down low tell the whole story.
My Ranger has lived a tough life, its hauled wood, snowmobiles, cars and junk. Its gone to the dump into the city and into the woods. The limited slip differential has made it much more capable than I ever expected and I'm pleased with that. Its rough riding on the highway but its backwoods prowess more than makes up for its lack of onroad manners. Fuel economy is terrible, its almost exactly the same as the V8 Dakota it replaced which is crazy considering its V6 engine is a whole liter smaller in displacement, its shorter, narrower and lighter...

So anyway what are our choices? Well the Ranger is no more, Dakota is no more, Liberty is no more so we can't go back to where we came from. The Colorado was a leading choice in the last round but its no more leaving the big 3 with zero choices in a mid-size or smaller truck. Same goes for SUV, the Durango is a car, Escape and Explorer are cars, Chevy's midsize appears to be the Equinox which is a car. The Wrangler is the last real SUV standing from Chrysler corp.
From the east the only players left are the Nissan Xterra and Toyota's FJ Cruiser. Both are available with offroad specific models but you're going to pay for it. I'm always amazed by the people who pay $30,000 and then take the truck into the woods.

On the pickup front we're looking at either a Toyota Tacoma or Nissan Frontier. This is driven by the fact that there just aren't ANY midsize pickups other than those 2. I don't particularly want a full size truck, especially not an extended cab, they're so big and hard to park. Interestingly the full size Chevy and Ford with a v6 don't really get any worse gas mileage. I'm thinking we might be able to get away with a single cab pickup if we got a cap on it. Traditionally we use the pickup to go to camp and carrying our luggage and the dog has been a big problem. Realistically we could get away with an SUV and be better off but as I wrote above there really aren't a lot of choices and strangely the Xterra gets slightly WORSE mileage than the Frontier...

In the end it'll be what we can find. As I've said before I really don't want to drop $30,000 on a truck that gets worked, I'd rather find another $10,000 (what I paid for the Ranger) truck and run it for 5 more years. We've had to put some money into the Ranger but not a terrific amount, certainly not $20,000. Angie says we should buy something brand new but I think she doesn't realize that we'll be buying a new truck every 5-10 years for the rest of our lives and that the amount per year is probably more important than anything else. At 5 years the Ranger has cost (based only on purchase price) $2,000/yr. The Dakota cost me $16,000 but was only 3 years old. We ran that for 9 years so I got that for $1,700/yr. If we pay $30,000 for a truck we'd have to run it for almost 18 years to get the same kind of numbers and the issue here is of course that it'll rust out before we get anywhere near that...

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