My Ass’s Review of Cars: Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier, Chevy Colorado, Ford Ranger

My mother and I looked at trucks on Saturday (the 23rd). What happened was a sort of deal whereby I got to look at pickups, and my mother got to eat at Bennigan’s, and so we’d both be happy in the end. Which is true: We were certainly both happy at the end, and I was satisfied, kind of.

My requirements were simple: I wanted to see if I could find a pickup truck with EPA 21 MPG overall fuel economy, a usable backseat, a reasonable size, and an automatic transmission. I didn’t give a rat’s ass about power, steering, or anything like that. I wanted to see a truck that could do work efficiently and easily. But, of course, I didn’t drive them, so I thought it wrong to just post on the Internet all willy-nilly about what I saw via sitting in a motor vehicle which was designed to be used for something other than sitting. However, my ass wanted to, because it had a lot to say about interior accommodations. On the side, I’ll chime in about random specs for no apparent reason.

Chevy Colorado–The Latest Crap From Chevy.

Truck Towing Something

Yeah, like you’d really want to haul something like that with this truck.

 

My Ass’s Take: This is ass, and trust me, I know ass. Just sitting in this thing was awful. Now, of course, Justin’s mom loved it, but that’s just because it had four seats. Everything about it sucked, from the way it looked to the way I felt when I sat in it.

My Take: This is ass. For a truck with poor specs like the Chevy’s (4000 lb. towing, $22,000 sticker price, cardboard interior) I expected decent fuel economy. I was wrong. Every truck in Chevy’s lineup essentially gets 18 mpg, which sounds OK, but isn’t. For the crew cab, maybe. But get this: A 4-cyl Chevy Colorado extended or regular cab gets the exact same fuel economy with automatic as it’s five-cylinder cousin, despite being fifty horses shorter on power. Horrible. And the interior isn’t even any good–I’d have to say the Ford Ranger has it beat, and that’s saying something considering they haven’t changed the damned thing in over six years.\

Nissan Frontier

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My Ass’s Take: I liked this truck a lot. Its seats are very comfortable, except the back ones. Well, for me both seats were OK, but my owner’s legs couldn’t fit very well, and his back was straight up and down in the back.

My Take: I was most disappointed with the Nissan. If you don’t know, let me explain: The Nissan is based off of a full-size truck, in this case the Titan. That means it has full-size weight, and it feels wonderfully solid. It wasn’t as roomy as the Toyota I saw, but its rear seats were more comfortable and its seating position was good. In other words, the chassis, interior, styling, room, build quality, and size are all good for a truck. Which is of course why they chose to put a carlike base engine, the weak-ass QR25, in the front. This engine struggles out 21 mpg with a manual, and 19 with an automatic, 2 mpg less than with a Ford or Toyota model. It barely hauls 994 lbs, hundreds behind any other truck in its class, which would be understandable if it were fuel-efficient. With the gutless QR25 (the only way to go to get more than a paltry 17 mpg), this truck is just weak in the front end. Which is a shame, because it’s awesome. The solution (Nissan, I hope you’re listening): Add maybe twenty horses and twenty pound-feet of torque. That would help fuel-economy and performance (fuel-economy, because its 19 mpg total comes from struggling under so much weight).

Ford Ranger

2007fordranger20095725-e.jpg

It may be this color on the Internet, but in real life, you’re going to get white.

My Ass’s Take: This seemed pretty solid as a base truck. No back seats, but the front ones weren’t too bad, with more room than needed. It was tiny, and seemed familiar…

My Take: I checked out a basic Ranger regular cab 4-cyl automatic, and it seemed like good overall size-to-usability ratio was to be had here. To be fair, the Ranger is essentially twenty-four years old, which is bad. It got decent reviews till 2004, when the new models from other manufacturers came in; because they were bigger, Ford ate their dust.

As a four cylinder economy model, the Ranger still makes sense, because it has decent fuel-efficiency and small size going for it. With six cylinders, a Nissan or Toyota is better (I’d go with Nissan, since its V-6 don’t need no stinkin’ premium fuel). Though I liked the Nissan the best, the Ford has clean looks, fuel-economy on par with the other fuel-sipper, the Toyota, and small size. When I actually drive one, though, its age will seem more apparent. And before you say its 143-horses can’t cut it, just remember that it has less poundage to carry than the others.

Toyota Tacoma

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Yes, this is seriously what the Tacoma looks like if you don’t go PreRunner.

My Ass’s Take: I don’t see what all the fuss is about with this piece of ass. Its backseat is unusable, the front seat isn’t as comfortable as many others, and it’s ugly, in front and back.

My Take: This was something of a disappointment, because it had the best extended-cab backseat space (around 28 inches) but didn’t use it well. Comparing it to the Nissan was difficult, as the only thing it has going for it, from what I saw in four-cylinder form, is a lighter weight and a bigger engine. Sure it’s bigger all around, but its hauling and towing aren’t much better than most others, and its backseat is just plain bad. I know many of you are thinking Ford Ranger here, but the Toyota was something different. I sat back there, with the front seat angled comfortably, and I had plenty of room, with my knees just barely touching the front seat. Unfortunately, there aren’t any headrests on the backseat, and the backrest itself was basically plastic. It’s a crying shame, too, because otherwise it could have been a much better value.

For a four-cylinder model, I’d have to give it to the Ford. I know that many of those who will come here believe that the Ford is worthless, but I didn’t have much to choose from looking for a stripper model. I jettisoned the backseat requirements, and even the no-Japanese rule enforced in my family, and still couldn’t find a definite winner. Here’s my take:

  • The Chevy is worthless crap. If you’re going to buy one, go for the five-cyl, because that four-cylinder unit isn’t going to save any gas (well, at least according to the EPA).
  • The Nissan is a wonderful truck, but it’s four-cylinder engine isn’t powerful enough to be a good engine for the extra weight (I’d go so far as to say Nissan’s putting it into a vehicle of this weight constitutes engine abuse), and sacrifices lots of fuel economy with an automatic.
  • The Toyota is too expensive, too ugly in base form (even worse than it looks in full off-road regalia), and too uncomfortable in front and back.

The Ford, while being a generally old design, does what it needs to do: It’s fuel-efficient, boring, and small, but in a refined, user-friendly way from what I saw. It’s definitely not as good as the Nissan, but it’s also definitely better on the inside (in my opinion) than the Chevy, with a roomier feel to the cabin and a brighter appearance (if you’re not bothered by the fact that it’s interior looks 1995-ish). Its engine, on paper at least, looks appropriate for a truck of its weight, and I think it uses its small size better than the Tacoma uses its extra-large dimensions, at least if you’re not one of the legions of this nation’s morbidly obese. If I go with the Ford, I’ll definitely get a camper shell to reduce hot sunlight coming in from the rear. Bottom line: If you’re looking for a fuel-efficient truck, try the Ford (4 cyl/any transmission), Nissan (4 cyl/manual) and Toyota (4cyl/any transmission). I didn’t like the Chevy, but one with a manual and four-cylinder can get 20 mpg and best-in-class power, so that’s all right too. Be careful, though: Drive them, because I think that the Ranger might suck on the road. You never know with Fords.

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