The Truth About Cars » Tacoma http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 29 Aug 2015 15:27:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » Tacoma http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Ford May Bring Ranger Back To US in 2018 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/ford-may-bring-ranger-back-us-2018/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/ford-may-bring-ranger-back-us-2018/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 15:00:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1152977 Ford is reportedly discussing bringing back the mid-size Ford Ranger pickup to America and Canada in its bargaining negotiations with the United Auto Workers, the Detroit News is reporting. Ford may be assembling the truck, which could be brought back as early as 2018, at its Wayne, Michigan plant. The truck would replace the outgoing C-Max and Focus […]

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Ford is reportedly discussing bringing back the mid-size Ford Ranger pickup to America and Canada in its bargaining negotiations with the United Auto Workers, the Detroit News is reporting.

Ford may be assembling the truck, which could be brought back as early as 2018, at its Wayne, Michigan plant. The truck would replace the outgoing C-Max and Focus at the plant. Ford announced production of those two products would move to Mexico in 2018.

The last U.S.-spec Ranger was most recently produced at Ford’s St. Paul, Minnesota plant, which shuttered in 2011.

According to sources, the formal decision would need to be ratified by Ford executives and the union’s board.

According to the report, Ford was enticed by the small, but growing, mid-size pickup segment. Although the segment only accounted for 227,000 sales in 2013, it is expected to grow in coming years. Toyota’s Tacoma dominates the segment, accounting for more than half of the segment’s sales, but General Motors’ Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon could slowly gain a higher market share.

Ford produces the Ranger in Thailand, South Africa and Argentina for 180 global markets including Mexico. Recently, Ford announced it would produce the Ranger in Nigeria.

It’s unlikely that Ford would would bring the global Ranger to America without significant modifications for safety and fuel economy. The Ranger’s size and classification places it firmly in the CAFE “dead zone,” which could make it difficult for Ford to find a suitable (read: efficient) powertrain.

The Ranger was last redesigned in 2011 and facelifted in 2015. A redesign for the Ranger would align with the 2018 production start date in Wayne. The C-Max and Focus are scheduled to leave that plant in 2018 as well.

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2016 Toyota Tacoma Review – Full-size Silent Assassin http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2016-toyota-tacoma-review-full-size-silent-assassin/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2016-toyota-tacoma-review-full-size-silent-assassin/#comments Mon, 17 Aug 2015 16:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1143473 2016 Toyota Tacoma 4×4 Engines 3.5-liter D4S (direct and port injection) Atkinson cycle V-6 with variable valve intake and exhaust (278 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm; 265 pounds-feet @ 4,600 rpm). 2.7-liter DOHC I-4 with variable valve intake (159 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm; 180 pounds-feet @ 3,800 rpm) Transmissions Standard 5-speed manual (2.7-liter); optional 6-speed automatic […]

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2016 Toyota Tacoma 4×4

Engines
3.5-liter D4S (direct and port injection) Atkinson cycle V-6 with variable valve intake and exhaust (278 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm; 265 pounds-feet @ 4,600 rpm).
2.7-liter DOHC I-4 with variable valve intake (159 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm; 180 pounds-feet @ 3,800 rpm)

Transmissions
Standard 5-speed manual (2.7-liter); optional 6-speed automatic with ECT (2.7-liter)
Standard 6-speed manual (3.5-liter); optional 6-speed automatic with ECT (3.5-liter)

Fuel Economy Ratings
19 mpg city/ 21 mpg highway/ 20 mpg combined (2.7-liter 5-speed manual 4×4)
19/23/21 (2.7-liter 6-speed automatic 4×2)
19/22/20 (2.7-liter 6-speed automatic 4×4)
19/24/21 (3.5-liter 6-speed automatic 4×2)
17/21/19 (3.5-liter 6-speed manual 4×4)
18/23/20 (3.5-liter 6-speed automatic 4×4)

MSRP
Prices start at $24,185 *and go up to $38,705*.
*Price includes $885 destination

Let’s get this out of the way first: there is no groan long enough or loud enough for how I feel about the 2016 Toyota Tacoma’s ballyhooed interior GoPro mount. The 30 cents of branded plastic to film your “eXtreme!” adventures feels more contrived and commercially unnecessary than a TedX talk at your nearest community college. It’s there, it’s usable and I want to talk about the tens of thousands of other parts around that windshield mount.

For the most part, the world of mid-sized pickups has stayed the same since the Clinton administration. (I mean Bill’s years for anyone reading this in 2017.)

Updated slightly in 2005, but mostly unchanged since the 1990s, the Toyota Tacoma has stayed firmly ahead of its time despite playing catch up to the full-size galoots. What I mean is, the Tacoma has a habit of selling far more at the end of its lifecycle than it does at the beginning. Go fig.

For example, take the last year for the Tacoma. Despite being a truck that hasn’t changed much for 10 years, the Tacoma managed to sell more than 17,000 trucks in July, its best sales month ever, en route to 180,000 sales this year, which would be its best sales year, ever. By volume, the Tacoma is the fifth best-selling truck in America, just behind the GMC Sierra, and well behind the three domestic full-size big boys. (The, um, new Tundra was sixth, by the way.)

Plummeting gas prices has helped moved metal, and so has cheap money, but the Tacoma is a very, very solid pickup and the growing chasm between reality and the price of a full-size truck leaves something to be desired for $25,000-$30,000 out the door.

So why fix something that isn’t broken? Toyota said it had nothing to do with Chevrolet and GMC hopping into the mid-size market with the Colorado and Canyon respectively. It doesn’t even have anything to do with the new Nissan Frontier coming to market soon too.

Nope, Toyota says it updated the Tacoma to step on the necks of the others and bring forward the Tacoma into the 21st century. This is as close as Toyota will get to going for the jugular.

2016_Toyota_Tacoma_(19_of_21)

Exterior
The Tacoma falls into the corporate lockstep by following closely the Tundra’s front-end design. Its chunkier face, with a more open trapezoidal grille, is bookended by two LED headlights with daytime running lamps and a more angular hood. The Tacoma’s lower jaw gets a little bit of an underbite this year with its black cladded front air dam, and the fog lamps are now visually connected with black plastic all the way across its front.2016_Toyota_Tacoma_(5_of_21)

From the side, the Tacoma looks virtually unchanged from last year, and the rear end would be the same story if it weren’t for the stamped tailgate with the words “TACOMA” to tell the world what you’re driving. The rear bumper is in three pieces, which is handy for something that probably will see a lot of action in its lifetime, but the front bumper is still one piece, which seemed weird.

The Tacoma’s handsome proportions stay the same. The hood looks like it takes up more than one-third of the overall 127.4-inch wheelbase (140.6 with a long bed) and the rear end takes more than a third as well. The Tacoma’s two cab configurations — Access and Double Cab — gets sandwiched in the middle, which gives the Tacoma a muscular, compact look.

According to Toyota, more than 80 percent of the Tacomas on the road will be Double Cabs, 85 percent will be V-6, and 97 percent will be with an automatic transmission. Consequently, it wears the four doors most naturally, with the shorter Access Cab models looking somewhat incomplete. All of the models we had a chance to drive were four-door, V-6, automatic and 4×4, so we can’t really report on any variation outside of that.

(P.S. Reps from Toyota said the only people who actually buy four-cylinder Tacomas are Northeasterners who are likely to be upset that the “low boy” 4×2 is gone for this generation, and that they only account for 1 out of every 10 sales.)

All of the 2016 Tacomas will be built on the same tall chassis, regardless of whether they have a transfer case. Whether by design or by accident, the deeply black wheel wells hide the Tacoma’s wheels and tires, and it was hard for us to tell the difference between the available 16-, 17- and 18-inch wheel sizes. (The latter is standard on Limited trim only.)

Toyota Tacoma Limited 34

Interior
The interior of the 2016 Tacoma received more extensive improvements than the exterior did. Inside, most Tacomas will wear either a 6.1- or 7-inch touchscreen display with Entune apps, six speakers, Bluetooth, USB connectivity, and Siri Eyes Free. For the most part, the system is easy to use and straightforward, except the integrated navigation system commits the cardinal sin of not being usable when the car is in motion. Like other writers here, I sincerely wish automakers would use the passenger-side airbag sensor to determine whether someone else were riding along and unlock commands when a passenger is present. It would be helpful to use that touchscreen sometimes.Toyota Tacoma Limited 35

A useful 4-inch multifunction display in the instrument cluster relays vital information (and looks like a Camry, by the way) including tire pressure, temps and fuel range. Thankfully, the Tacoma’s outdated tachometer and speedometer have been replaced with smaller, plainer dials that ditch the white halo and just give me the straight dope.

The interior, including door inserts, dash and seats, are a stitched together combination of medium-grade fabrics, passable vinyl and touchable, textured hard plastics. In all, I’m thankful that the Tacoma is so readily rough and tumble — especially in lower trims — but I don’t feel the same way about its touchscreen infotainment system. I’ve coated one of those things in dust before and it’s a mess to clean. It also doesn’t feel like it’d be particularly useful with gloves on.

Thankfully, every trim above the SR model (which goes SR5, TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road and Limited) gets a leather-wrapped steering wheel that’s firm and comfortable to grip, albeit with limited telescoping ability.

Last generation’s Neolithic climate control knobs have been replaced with a more modern, compact LCD system (dual-climate controls are standard in Limited, available in TRD Off Road and Sport packages) that’s easy to read and isn’t lifted from any other Toyota that I recognize. I like that.

Gated shifter? Check. Hand operated parking brake? Check. Better transmission boot around the shifter? I can’t fault any of these things.

I would, however, like for Toyota to revisit the ergonomics of its steering wheel-mounted controls. Anyone who can naturally find the volume control without looking gets a cookie. It’s impossible.

(Interior images provided by the manufacturer)

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Powertrain
The biggest news this year is the outgoing 4-liter V-6, which is giving way to a smaller, more potent 3.5-liter Atkinson cycle V-6 with direct and port injection.

And the latter mill makes the most of available technology from Toyota. The Tacoma is the first Toyota-branded vehicle to use direct and port injection (direct is used to make lower speeds more efficient, port is used at higher rpms to boost available output) and the first truck application for that system. Paired with a smaller displacement and an Atkinson cycle, the new Tacoma powertrain manages 15 percent to 20 percent better fuel economy, all while gaining 42 horsepower. The only sacrifice: the Tacoma loses its distinctive roar.

2016_Toyota_Tacoma_(8_of_21)The 4-liter’s noise is gone and has been replaced by the quiet hum of the 3.5-liter V6. Although Toyota never wants to use the word Tacoma and Camry in the same breath, their relationship is undeniable. The new Tacoma drives like a Camry, and that’s not altogether bad.

Toyota didn’t make available its I-4, nor did they want to talk about it all that much. Including that engine in the newest generation of Tacoma didn’t wholly make a lot of sense to me, and I wouldn’t be completely surprised if a version of their turbo four (beefed up for truck duty) made its way into the lineup sometime soon.

Power is handed off to the Tacoma’s 6-speed automatic (for both I-4 and V-6), 5-speed manual (I-4 only) or 6-speed manual (V-6). The smooth-shifting automatic had an easy time keeping the revs low on the street, but required more guidance off road. Without using ECT (gear holding) or engaging the Tacoma’s low-range, the truck searched for gears on dirt roads and felt a little too eager to shift up. That could be inevitable to achieve higher fuel economy ratings, but it’s noticeable.

In TRD Off Road packages the Tacoma gains a crawl control feature that famously unsticks it from sand, or traverses down a mountain. You could make a case that serious off roaders who are interested in banging their Tacomas around the mountain probably don’t need automated throttle controls or advanced hill descent features, but I don’t know many people who could manage to unbury all four wheels. Bring on the robots.

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Drive
It takes an enormous amount of confidence to update a truck that’s selling so well now, and Toyota is smarter than to stifle its own success.

In reality, Toyota didn’t do much to its Tacoma that couldn’t have been done before. A different head unit, some better interior materials and better packaging isn’t revolutionary — they’re evolutionary.

The 3.5-liter V-6 does its best to replace an engine that wasn’t great to begin with, and it’s a solid start. The Tacoma is a comfortable drive and a capable off roader.

The Tacoma doesn’t go for the throats of the other mid-size truck makers, and it certainly doesn’t exhibit any killer instinct. In reality, the Tacoma is just a killer pickup, and that’s it.

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Chart Of The Day: Toyota Tacoma U.S. Sales Growth Is A Thing To Behold http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/chart-day-toyota-tacoma-u-s-sales-growth-thing-behold/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/chart-day-toyota-tacoma-u-s-sales-growth-thing-behold/#comments Mon, 17 Aug 2015 13:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1137258 In each of the last 28 months, the Toyota Tacoma has been America’s fifth-best-selling pickup truck nameplate. One might imagine, however, that its ability to succeed in its own sub-category of small/midsize trucks would have weakened over the last ten months. With the introduction of new midsize pickup trucks from General Motors, the best-selling manufacturer […]

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TTAC COTD Tacoma since Colorado:Canyon

In each of the last 28 months, the Toyota Tacoma has been America’s fifth-best-selling pickup truck nameplate.

One might imagine, however, that its ability to succeed in its own sub-category of small/midsize trucks would have weakened over the last ten months. With the introduction of new midsize pickup trucks from General Motors, the best-selling manufacturer of pickup trucks in America, the number of Tacoma competitors increased from one, the Nissan Frontier, to three. 

Yet since the Colorado and Canyon arrived on the market, Tacoma sales have steadily increased on a year-over-year basis. Indeed, the rate of improvement has actually increased of late, as well.

Over the last three months, Tacoma sales jumped 29 percent compared with the same period one year ago. Toyota USA has twice sold more than 17,000 Tacomas in the last three months.

2016_Toyota_Tacoma_TRD_OffRoad_004

True, the overall pickup truck market is booming and Toyota is benefiting from added attention because of a refresh for the 2016 model year.

Meanwhile, Toyota may also be benefiting from increased attention in the category as a whole. The arrival of the Canyon and Colorado last autumn struck a chord with many potential truck buyers. Even as the two GM nameplates combine for approximately 9,400 U.S. sales per month, which didn’t exist for GM in the recent past, Toyota has added an additional 2,500 Tacoma sales per month through the first seven months of 2015.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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2016 Toyota Tacoma Still Has Rear Drum Brakes and Here’s Why (Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2016-toyota-tacoma-still-rear-drum-brakes-heres-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2016-toyota-tacoma-still-rear-drum-brakes-heres-video/#comments Tue, 11 Aug 2015 22:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1138770 That screeching noise you’re hearing around the 20-second mark in the video below? That’s the 2016 Toyota Tacoma’s front brakes screaming through sand as the Tacoma digs itself out of a self-inflicted pit using its clever crawl control. We asked Tacoma Chief Engineer Mike Sweers last week why the new Tacoma didn’t have discs in […]

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That screeching noise you’re hearing around the 20-second mark in the video below? That’s the 2016 Toyota Tacoma’s front brakes screaming through sand as the Tacoma digs itself out of a self-inflicted pit using its clever crawl control.

We asked Tacoma Chief Engineer Mike Sweers last week why the new Tacoma didn’t have discs in the back (unlike the new Tundra) and he pointed specifically to that piercing wail — and that most owners don’t need them anyhow.

“Towing is No. 22 on the reasons why Tacoma buyers are looking for a new truck. Discs are great when it comes to ventilating heat from heavy towing, but we’re not hearing that need from Tacoma owners,” Sweers said.

Fair enough.

Sweers pointed further to heat retention, cost and that gawd-awful sound as reasons why engineers kept the drum brakes on the rear of the Tacoma.

We’ll have a full review of the Tacoma’s stopping power — and going power — next week.

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Toyota Has Limited Tacoma for the First Time and It’s Significant http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/toyota-limited-tacoma-first-time-significant/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/toyota-limited-tacoma-first-time-significant/#comments Wed, 05 Aug 2015 19:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1133945 For the first time in the nameplate’s history, Toyota will offer a Limited version of its mid-size Tacoma — which was the fifth-best selling truck of all trucks last month — and that’s probably a big deal. The automaker outlined for us the lineup for the new Tacoma, which will hit dealers in September, and […]

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For the first time in the nameplate’s history, Toyota will offer a Limited version of its mid-size Tacoma — which was the fifth-best selling truck of all trucks last month — and that’s probably a big deal.

The automaker outlined for us the lineup for the new Tacoma, which will hit dealers in September, and the walk up to the Limited trim — which is at the top trim, for now — sounded light at the bottom and heavy at the top. We’re not allowed to discuss pricing yet, so that’ll have to wait.

However, a top-end Limited trim means that Tacoma isn’t immune to the immutable First Law of Pickup Trucks: You can charge whatever you want for these things. And product planners probably have more in store for the Tacoma.

According to Toyota spokespeople, the Limited models will only account for 8 to 10 percent of the Tacoma’s overall volume, but at that clip it’ll drive profits just fine.

Last month, Toyota sold more than 17,000 Tacomas, making it the best month for the truck ever, and the fifth best-selling truck in the United States. With roughly one out of every two Tacomas being some sort of off-road or highly equipped trim — opposed to a work truck — the Tacoma has room to grow, profit-wise.

Basically what we’re saying is that instead of a belt-buckle, country-edition full-size, Toyota should make a Green Day-inspired, daddy-punk-rock version of the Tacoma for $50,000 — because that’ll sell like crazy, apparently.

Update: According to Bill Fay, group vice president and general manager Toyota in the U.S., the Limited grade is new for the Tacoma for 2016. Limited has been offered as a package before. For 2016, Toyota is moving to a grade-based, parent-child relationship in the Tacoma.

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2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4×4 Reader Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2015-toyota-tacoma-trd-sport-4x4-reader-review/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2015-toyota-tacoma-trd-sport-4x4-reader-review/#comments Thu, 25 Jun 2015 18:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1098737 Maybe it’s the horrific condition of most New England roads. Maybe it was because we just had snowiest winter in Boston since anyone’s been counting. Or maybe, just maybe, I have finally fully succumbed to my Napoleon Complex. “The great proof of madness is the disproportion of one’s designs to one’s means.” ―Napoleon Bonaparte  What […]

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2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4x4 with Rebecca Turrell

Maybe it’s the horrific condition of most New England roads. Maybe it was because we just had snowiest winter in Boston since anyone’s been counting. Or maybe, just maybe, I have finally fully succumbed to my Napoleon Complex.

“The great proof of madness is the disproportion of one’s designs to one’s means.”
―Napoleon Bonaparte 

What started off with me buying my first liter bike has blossomed (*tear*) into the purchase of my first pickup truck: 2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4×4 double cab short bed with a…..dun dada dun….6-speed manual gear box. I know the Tacoma has remained relatively unchanged since 2004 – actually, it’s pretty much the same truck I’ve been lusting over since 2007. I know that it doesn’t have great fuel economy. I know that there are trucks with better technology in them. But hear me out!

Like every vehicle I’ve ever owned (with the exception of one moment of weakness that lasted for a month…don’t judge me), a manual transmission is a requirement. So when I started my quest for a pickup truck, the list quickly narrowed:

  • Colorado/Canyon twins manual only in RWD base models. I also can’t deal with this giant plastic lip. On what planet does that look good?
    colorado
  • Nissan Frontier: Is there an explanation needed? It’s a big plastic baby rattle
  • Anything full sized No manual option unless I’m a parts runner (which I’m not…)

Other requirements included:

  • Double cab
  • V6 or greater
  • 4×4
  • Tow Package
  • Audio controls on the steering wheel (a taller order than I had anticipated)

Anticipated uses include pulling my trailer, hauling motorcycles in the back for work and play, home improvement projects, and, God willing, some off-roading. While I’ve driven many trucks, I’ve only ever owned compact sports cars (Z4, GS-R, SI, 328i, 330ci, etc), so the joy of the driving experience is important to me.

While I ran through the options – both foreign and domestic – I kept coming back to my long time crush: Toyota Tacoma. 70 percent residual after 36 months, tons of aftermarket parts and accessories available, it checked all of my boxes, and it’s cute! (Is that a turn off? Ah well.) I had to order the truck because, as my boyfriend points out, “there are 15,000 Tacomas on the ground at dealerships and none of them are what you want!” After a couple of months, and some parts shopping, she was finally home!

2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4x4

Yes, that is the TRD exhaust and TRD Trail Team wheels in the back of the truck that I ordered before we ever even met.

40 miles and less than 24 hours later she looked like this:

2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4x4

In the 500 miles that I’ve had her, I’ve picked up sod, pulled a trailer and transported three motorcycles. The truck came with four D-rings, four cleats and a trailer hitch, making all of this a breeze.

How does she compare to other trucks? I’ve clocked a decent amount of miles on a variety of trucks (with and without trailers), which should qualify me to make these comparisons: Nissan Frontier, Dodge Ram 1500, F-150 extended cab V6 non-Ecoboost, V6 Silverado regular cab, Z71 Silverado, F-350 stake body, and that one time I was allowed to drive a manual transmission Sterling box truck.

Let’s start with the elephant in the room, the transmission. Why a manual? Maybe I’m a control freak, but I rarely drive an automatic without saying at some point “why did we shift there?” Especially in the snow, a manual gives you more control (ex: downshifting rather than braking). I also find that it keeps me more alert and, finally, it’s way more fun. Where the transmission becomes especially significant is in my experience with other V6 trucks. I’m just going to call them gear hunters, because that is all they do. Without a trailer, uphill, downhill, cruise on or off, they never seem to find the right gear. I cursed the F-150’s gear indicator for letting me know it was in fourth the majority of the time rather than sixth. It’s like the transmissions and engines are mismatched. Maybe they are. On the same stretch of highway, I was able to take the Tacoma and two bikes up and downhill for an hour in sixth gear. I was always in the power, and never once had to downshift to accelerate or maintain speed.

2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4x4 with motorcycle

The Tacoma is very smooth, especially compared to a Frontier. It handles well and is much easier to maneuver in parking lot situations than a full-sized truck. The steering wheel doesn’t require heavy inputs, but also doesn’t feel like it’s going to fly away from you. It is also fairly thick, making it quite comfortable. The 2014 F-150 drives like absolute butter, but has this annoying residual vibration every time you close the door or hit a bump. Rams tend to ride like a boat and fling me around the cabin going over bumps. The Z71 Silverado I had the pleasure of taking home a few nights this winter was a dream: tons of power, smooth, comfortable, and looked great. Biggest complaint was lack of audio controls on the steering wheel.

2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4x4 interiorI had to have a double cab for getting stuff in and out of the backseat. I hate having to open one door in order to open another. There is also plenty of storage under and behind the seats of the Tacoma. I’ve been keeping all of my towing and tie down accessories in there and out of the way. The Tacoma also came with a cargo bed power outlet, which I look forward to trying out eventually. The manual option gives you a third cup holder, which has been fairly useless so far because the throws on the shifter are sooooo long and will knock over any bottle in it. I have the Toyota short throw “quick shifter” for it and I’m hopeful it will both improve the driving experience and create enough space for that third cup holder. The e-brake is a “pull and twist” style which has grown on me and seems to be pretty secure on inclines. Fold down headrests in the back are a lifesaver for reversing since I don’t quite trust the backup camera yet.

My final note about this truck is there’s a wealth of information available, as well as aftermarket parts and accessories. You can get analysis paralysis reading through all of the modifications and upgrades. I have already emotionally spent thousands more on a lift kit, bed extender, sliders, skids, and a hidden winch mount (because everyone needs a hidden winch, right?). I already have a tailgate reinforcement on order, as well as some other motorcycle hauling accessories. 31-inch tires should have definitely come on this truck from the factory. Same with the TRD exhaust; quiet at idle, but has a clean and deep note under acceleration. Everyone keeps telling me I need the TRD supercharger (you know who you are), but I find the truck to have more than enough power for my needs.

From a girl who has only owned “sporty” cars, this is the most excited I have been about a vehicle since my BMW days.

This reader review was written by Rebecca Turrell.

2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4x4 with motorcycles 2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4x4 interior 2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4x4 with Rebecca Turrell 2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4x4 with motorcycles 2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4x4 2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4x4 with motorcycle 2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4x4

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Piston Slap: To Need a Gentrified Pickup? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/piston-slap-need-gentrified-pickup/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/piston-slap-need-gentrified-pickup/#comments Wed, 11 Mar 2015 12:10:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1017634 Zach writes: Sajeev, I would like your, and the B&Bs, opinion on my dilemma, but first a love letter of sorts… I’m a proud owner of an ugly truckling, a 1988 Toyota single cab short bed pickup in all its carburated 22R goodness. The 4spd close ratio stick makes anything above 60mph interesting, but I’ve hauled 2200 lbs of […]

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The Cure for Gentrification? (photo courtesy: OP)

Zach writes:

Sajeev,

I would like your, and the B&Bs, opinion on my dilemma, but first a love letter of sorts…

I’m a proud owner of an ugly truckling, a 1988 Toyota single cab short bed pickup in all its carburated 22R goodness. The 4spd close ratio stick makes anything above 60mph interesting, but I’ve hauled 2200 lbs of radiators in it to the scrap yard, and other than having to hit the brakes to steer, it had no problems. No AC, no power anything. For a while I had a dump bed on it, which meant that trips to transfer station attracted every hispanic and african in the vicinity. I bought it for $700 from a gentleman who commuted around DC in it since new, and whose new wife forced him to sell it. I still run into him at the local HomeyD and he always looks longingly at it.

Unfortunately since I’ve finished renovating my rowhouse, it barely gets driven and sits rotting on the street. A couple of weeks ago I had to get the emissions inspected (in DC it gets a dyno drive cycle) and a hard brake line blew in the middle of test, causing them to rerun the test. I passed (!), but the drive home took two bottles of brake fluid and judicious use of engine braking.

I guess this is the long winded way of saying this truck as been most excellent to me in all ways and I feel terrible that it’s going to simply rust away on the street. Not to mention that my neighborhood, once a nice place to live once past the multiple muggings and burglaries, is becoming douchebag central as one of the hottest areas for development in the city, and so parking three vehicles (my 240 wagon, my girlfriends 850 wagon, and my pickup) has become onerous as the out-of-city asshats have no idea how to parallel park.

I’d like to get my fleet down to 2 vehicles (hopefully selling off the POS 850), but I’m way too attached to having a pickup in the city. Its utility is far greater than any negatives I can think of, but at the same time, I want something I can take my dogs to the park in, something the gf can drive to work in a pinch as well as something safer than a tuna fish can on wheels. Fuel efficiency really doesn’t matter to me (<3,000mi/yr, I put more miles on my bicycle), but price does since the damn thing won’t move most of the time.

So the DC Metro area is littered with 11th gen F150 supercabs used as commuters and while not being particularly attracted to the truck, they’re cheap and plentiful. On the other hand, I love me some Toyota, and I’d love to get the last good looking and right-sized Taco, a 1st gen double cab, but they must have made them out of gold. For roughly 2x that of a used F150, I can get an equivalently used Taco, which completely blows my mind. I’m not looking at mint examples either, and the enormous price differential is really pushing me to honestly consider abandoning my small truck love for a full-size. I don’t want anything the F150 supercab provides other than the back seats for the dogs and the bed, but a $4-8K price differential is a very persuasive argument in its favor…

Of course, the Taco is far more nimble and about 30″ shorter than the 6.5′ bed F150, but is the size, Toyota build quality, slightly greater fuel economy worth 2x+ the price of the best selling vehicle in America?

Sajeev answers:

Oh man, that 4th Gen Toyota truck is totally sweet.  I mean dumpy and crude, but I’d rock that bad boy in a gentrified yuppie-hipsterville portion of town all day.

That said, even baseline trucks have come a long way.  Take my daily driven 2011 Ranger, compared to 1990s models that are supposedly the same, it’s obvious newer trucks are superior: better interior electronics, refined engines, improved NVH materials, bigger brakes, safety equipment (like Volvo-esque seat backs Ford ripped off), and the list goes on.

That said, the last of the “good” Tacos was a terrible value in the used market for years, even worse now that newer F-150s fall into that price range.  Not worth it: those Tacos aren’t waaaay better than a modern Duratec (DOHC) Ranger, Frontier, or a newer F-150. If the F-150 fits in your parking space(s).

If you can safely park an F-150 in your world, buy it.

If not?  Try a Nissan Frontier, Duratec Ranger (2003+?, but no crew cab) or a Chevy S-10. No matter what, you’ll get almost the same quality of vehicle for less cash than the Taco. It’s close enough.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Sweers: Diesel Power Not Coming To Toyota Tacoma http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/sweers-diesel-power-not-coming-toyota-tacoma/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/sweers-diesel-power-not-coming-toyota-tacoma/#comments Thu, 19 Feb 2015 13:00:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1004034 Hoping for diesel power in the new Toyota Tacoma? You can breathe now. According to AutoGuide, Tacoma/Tundra engineering chief Mike Sweers said that diesel power won’t be coming to the Tacoma — despite the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon receiving theirs — due to the Environmental Protection Agency’s upcoming Tier 3 regulations, set to go […]

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Hoping for diesel power in the new Toyota Tacoma? You can breathe now.

According to AutoGuide, Tacoma/Tundra engineering chief Mike Sweers said that diesel power won’t be coming to the Tacoma — despite the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon receiving theirs — due to the Environmental Protection Agency’s upcoming Tier 3 regulations, set to go into effect in 2017. The regs would greatly tighten emissions on diesel-powered light vehicles, making such vehicles more costly to build for automakers, if not consider in the first place:

Diesel, from a fuel economy standpoint, is about a 30 percent improvement right out of the box. The downside to diesel is the emissions has to be certified at the same level as a gas engine. So the way to do that is you have to put on an after-treatment system. So if we consider that cost, versus the fuel economy improvement, and the fact that diesel is $1 more per gallon more than gasoline, is there a return on the investment?

Even if the ROI from each after-treatment system installed — said to add $3,000 to the cost of a vehicle — was worth it now, Sweers warns it wouldn’t be by 2019, when even-tighter diesel-emissions regs would come into force. He says some diesels would be shelved as a result, automakers deciding those engines aren’t worth the headache.

Thus, the Tacoma will be avoiding the green pump handle, opting for either a gasoline-fueled 2.7-liter I4 or 3.5-liter V6 to provide power.

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NAIAS 2015: 2016 Toyota Tacoma Debuts http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-2016-toyota-tacoma-debuts/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-2016-toyota-tacoma-debuts/#comments Mon, 12 Jan 2015 19:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=978657 Following both Nissan and Ford, it’s now Toyota’s turn to show off its latest truck offering at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, the 2016 Tacoma [Live photos now available – CA]. Power for the redesigned pickup comes from either a 2.7-liter four-pot or a 3.5-liter Atkinson cycle V6 with the automaker’s D-4S tech, which has […]

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Following both Nissan and Ford, it’s now Toyota’s turn to show off its latest truck offering at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, the 2016 Tacoma [Live photos now available – CA].

Power for the redesigned pickup comes from either a 2.7-liter four-pot or a 3.5-liter Atkinson cycle V6 with the automaker’s D-4S tech, which has both direct and port fuel injection. Both engines come with a standard six-speed automatic, but you’ll need to go for the V6 for the optional six-speed manual.

Five trim levels are available for the Tacoma: SR, SR5, TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road and Limited. The TRD Off-Road trim, in particular, comes with an array of features, including: hill start assist; automatic limited slip and locking rear differential; clutch start cancel for manual transmissions; active traction control; and crawl control. All trims can be had in 4×2 and 4×4 configurations, and all have Toyota’s Star Safety System standard.

Other features available include a high-strength steel frame for better rigidity and strength; ultra-high strength steel body shell; power moonroof; smart key and push-button start; extensive NVH reduction; locking tailgate; standard GoPro camera mount; and wheel options ranging from 16 to 18 inches in size.

2016-Toyota-Tacoma-10 2016-Toyota-Tacoma-15 2016-Toyota-Tacoma-Interior-2 2016-Toyota-Tacoma-3 2016-Toyota-Tacoma-Back 2016_Toyota_Tacoma_Family 2016_Toyota_Tacoma_TRD_OffRoad_014 2016_Toyota_Tacoma_TRD_OffRoad_004 NAIAS_2016_Toyota_Tacoma_008 2016_Toyota_Tacoma_Limited_019 2016_Toyota_Tacoma_Limited_015 2016_Toyota_Tacoma_Limited_013 2016_Toyota_Tacoma_Limited_012 2016_Toyota_Tacoma_Limited_005 2016_Toyota_Tacoma_Limited_003 2016_Toyota_Tacoma_Limited_007 2016_Toyota_Tacoma_Limited_006 2016_Toyota_Tacoma_Limited_004 2016_Toyota_Tacoma_Limited_032 2016_Toyota_Tacoma_Limited_008

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Piston Slap: American Rust vs. Japanese Rust? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/piston-slap-american-rust-vs-japanese-rust/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/piston-slap-american-rust-vs-japanese-rust/#comments Tue, 23 Dec 2014 12:49:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=963650   Stefan writes: Sajeev, I recently had a conversation with my cousin in Wisconsin. He claimed that cars assembled in North America are more rust prone than cars assembled in Japan or other oriental countries. Apparently his observation was based on several cars in our extended family: An elderly Dodge Durango and a not-so-elderly Honda […]

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Rusty Mazda Protege5 (photo courtesy: old Piston Slap post)

Stefan writes:

Sajeev, I recently had a conversation with my cousin in Wisconsin. He claimed that cars assembled in North America are more rust prone than cars assembled in Japan or other oriental countries. Apparently his observation was based on several cars in our extended family: An elderly Dodge Durango and a not-so-elderly Honda Odyssey with the traditional clapped-out transmission.

I have never seen any statistics to support these ideas and really don’t recall reading suchlike statements in the TTAC in the past. That older American cars rust more than newer Japanese, and vice versa, seems natural and I recall seeing many old Japanese cars with severe corrosion damage, but what is the truth in this matter? Over to you and the B & B!

Stefan (’97 Fat Panther without a speck of rust)

Sajeev answers:

This is pure Internet Troll Bait, but whatever…I’ll bite.

Cars made in Japan used to be inadequate for use in the American Rust Belt, back in the 1970s.  That’s history, as Japan wised up and eventually made the vehicles that would dominate the marketplace in every American market they compete in. (well, except trucks #murica)

The only modern cars that I’ve seen (and I live in Houston) or heard to be chronically rusty are Mazdas from the last decade.  Discussed here, here and here. Oh, and the Toyota Tacoma, witnessed by the massive recall.  One person mentioned a Ford Focus, and that’s about it.

And in this most unscientific sampling, only the Mazda is not made in North America.  So your cousin is wrong.

UNDYING PANTHER LOVE (photo courtesy: syracuse.com)

Dead Wrong: USA, USA, USA!!!

Off to you, Best and Brightest.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Detroit 2015: Toyota Teases New Tacoma Again http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/detroit-2015-toyota-teases-new-tacoma/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/detroit-2015-toyota-teases-new-tacoma/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962290 You saw part of its backside. Now, behold the façade that is the 2016 Toyota Tacoma. Just like before, Toyota didn’t say anything about the third-gen pickup, other than when it would turn up at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show: January 12, 12:50 p.m. Eastern. As previously stated, the Tacoma is the king of the […]

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2015NAIAS_Toyota_Tacoma_Teaser2

You saw part of its backside. Now, behold the façade that is the 2016 Toyota Tacoma.

Just like before, Toyota didn’t say anything about the third-gen pickup, other than when it would turn up at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show: January 12, 12:50 p.m. Eastern.

As previously stated, the Tacoma is the king of the mid-size hill, but its third incarnation will be facing two new upstarts in addition to the aging Nissan Frontier: the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon.

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Detroit 2015: Toyota Debuting Next-Gen Tacoma In January http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/detroit-2015-toyota-debuting-next-gen-tacoma-january/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/detroit-2015-toyota-debuting-next-gen-tacoma-january/#comments Fri, 05 Dec 2014 11:00:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=955626 The next-generation Toyota Tacoma will roll down the ramp this January at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. Autoblog reports the announcement came from Toyota senior vice president of operations, Bob Carter, who didn’t offer much else. The new truck is expected to be a significant upgrade than the current model, last refreshed in 2012, and […]

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The next-generation Toyota Tacoma will roll down the ramp this January at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show.

Autoblog reports the announcement came from Toyota senior vice president of operations, Bob Carter, who didn’t offer much else. The new truck is expected to be a significant upgrade than the current model, last refreshed in 2012, and will be coming into a market that now includes the Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon twins, both of whom have done well for themselves since debuting in showrooms this autumn.

Carter also announced that Lexus would unveil two performance vehicles, but again, proclaimed nothing more than the promise that all in attendance would enjoy seeing them.

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Piston Slap: Liberal Bleeding, Flushing Brake Fluid http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/piston-slap-liberal-bleeding-flushing-brake-fluid/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/piston-slap-liberal-bleeding-flushing-brake-fluid/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 11:58:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=930994 Gregg writes: Sajeev, I have a 2006 Tacoma with 50K miles and anti-lock brakes. I feel it is time to change the brake fluid as a preventative maintenance measure. I have the tools and have bled numerous non-antilock brake systems and have done some research into what it would take to fully refresh the fluid. […]

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(photo courtesy: www.tacomaworld.com)

Gregg writes:

Sajeev,

I have a 2006 Tacoma with 50K miles and anti-lock brakes. I feel it is time to change the brake fluid as a preventative maintenance measure. I have the tools and have bled numerous non-antilock brake systems and have done some research into what it would take to fully refresh the fluid. Some forum people suggest the usual bleeding procedure followed by causing the antilock feature to react by stopping quickly on a dirt road or similar circumstances and then re-bleeding the system. Also mentioned is using a code reader to actuate the antilock system.

Personally I wouldn’t mind paying for a lower end code reader if I knew it would do what I needed, but I certainly am not going to spend big bucks for one. Do you or any of the readers know what will activate the anti-lock system with minimal expenditure?

I also noticed that there is a hose about 3/8 inch ID attached to the master cylinder reservoir that appears to be the return form the anti-lock system. I could easily make up a catch container to keep the return fluid from mixing with the new fluid I would put in the reservoir.

What do you think about using DOT-4 fluid?

Thanks,
Gregg

Sajeev answers:

Because modern braking systems are a far cry from the old days, this is a time when RTFM is abso-Fing-lutely mandatory for everyone’s safety.

Either buy the factory manuals, or be a forum junkie (like reading this) as they regularly cover these concerns.  The forum suggests flushing brake fluid without the tool is no biggie, but honestly, the “correct” procedure doesn’t look that hard if you buy the right tool or its cheapy laptop alternative.

This loaded task implies you’re forgiven for taking it to a shop with the proper tools, like this cool sucky brake fluid machine. Time value of money and all that.

I can’t quickly Google the factory brake fluid for your truck, but regarding DOT 4: it interchanges with DOT 3 with a higher boiling point.  But it doesn’t keep the boiling point higher for as long as you might think. That said, everything suggests DOT 3 systems can be flushed and replaced with DOT4 and it is good idea if you flush DOT 4 on a regular basis. DOT 5 is different, its silicone (not glycol) based. DOT 5.1 is glycol, but I haven’t read anything conclusive about replacing older fluid designs with it.

Whew!

Off to you Best and Brightest, especially those with more firsthand experience in various types of brake fluid.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice. 

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Toyota Recalls 690K Tacomas Over Rear Suspension Issues http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/toyota-recalls-690k-tacomas-rear-suspension-issues/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/toyota-recalls-690k-tacomas-rear-suspension-issues/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 12:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=921641 Own a 2005 through 2011 Toyota Tacoma? It may be under recall due to rear suspension issues. Toyota informed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of its plans to recall 690,000 2005-2011 Tacoma 4×4 and Pre-Runner trucks to fix the leaf springs in the rear suspension. The possibility is there for a leaf to fracture […]

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Own a 2005 through 2011 Toyota Tacoma? It may be under recall due to rear suspension issues.

Toyota informed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of its plans to recall 690,000 2005-2011 Tacoma 4×4 and Pre-Runner trucks to fix the leaf springs in the rear suspension. The possibility is there for a leaf to fracture “due to stress and corrosion,” then make contact with other components once moved out of place.

Should said component be the fuel tank, a puncture could occur, leading to fuel leaks with the potential for fire to occur if an ignition source is nearby.

Toyota will notify owners by mail, and the fix will be provided free of charge.

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Super Piston Slap: Thrifty Texans Trump Tailgate Theft? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/super-piston-slap-thrifty-texans-trump-tailgate-theft/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/super-piston-slap-thrifty-texans-trump-tailgate-theft/#comments Sat, 06 Sep 2014 12:39:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=907985   Yesterday’s post on Texas Tailgate Theft definitely struck a nerve with this Native Texan, especially the NCIB’s Quote: “Since a tailgate theft takes just seconds to accomplish, consumers might consider using an after-market security device, such as a hinge lock to thwart criminals.” Yeah, not quite… Yup, a hose clamp…well not just a hose […]

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Tailgate-theft-lock-it

(photo courtesy: hardworkingtrucks.com)

Yesterday’s post on Texas Tailgate Theft definitely struck a nerve with this Native Texan, especially the NCIB’s Quote:

“Since a tailgate theft takes just seconds to accomplish, consumers might consider using an after-market security device, such as a hinge lock to thwart criminals.”

Yeah, not quite…

photo 1

Just a little trip to my local Home Depot.

Yup, a hose clamp…well not just a hose clamp, but that’s for later.

Thanks to TTAC commentator, Editor in Chief of another blog and all around nice guy, Mr. Lyndon Johnson (yes, really) for planting this seed in my mind. He posted a photo on Facebook of a rusty hose clamp around the tailgate hinge of his Ranger. It instantly made sense: even if you don’t have a few of these rattling around, why the hell wouldn’t you spend $3 for these?

tailgate

Hose Clamp PROS: Cheap, easy to install, readily available and slows down a would-be thief to the point they’ll look for another tailgate to swipe. And its an extra measure of protection, even if you have a lock in your tailgate release handle. (As they aren’t too hard to punch out with a screwdriver, too.)

(photo courtesy: pickupspecialities.com)

Hose Clamp CONS: The expensive-ish aftermarket alternatives are more theft resistant. And the clamps are kinda ghetto-trashy ugly, if you care about those Vellum Venom type of design hang ups.

Here’s how to narrow the gap between the clamp and the lock: level the playing field with a bit of silicone adhesive.  You know, the stuff you already have in your garage.

photo 2

It’s not rocket science: coat the screw head and clamp’s threads in the stuff. It’s an extra level of complication, and as the night photo shows, a bit more complicated to comprehend. It’ll certainly drive a thief nuts trying to scrape that crap off.

Only to then need to unscrew the clamp. And finally lather-rinse-repeat on the other side. Or just leave my rig alone, find another Texan not wise to the hose clamp + silicone trick.

Now you know what I know: what say you Best and Brightest? Should all truckers spend $3-4 on this anti-theft modification?

 

 

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Chicago 2014: Toyota TRD Pro Live Shots http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/chicago-2014-toyota-trd-pro-live-shots/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/chicago-2014-toyota-trd-pro-live-shots/#comments Thu, 06 Feb 2014 21:20:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=735449 One nice thing about being the company that builds the Prius: you can get away with stuff like this. The TRD Pro trucks, discussed earlier today, ring the retro bell hard with the reintroduction of the simple “TOYOTA” script on the grilles. To a generation that remembers unkillable half-tons bouncing across the California dunes with […]

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One nice thing about being the company that builds the Prius: you can get away with stuff like this.

The TRD Pro trucks, discussed earlier today, ring the retro bell hard with the reintroduction of the simple “TOYOTA” script on the grilles. To a generation that remembers unkillable half-tons bouncing across the California dunes with half a million miles showing on the odometer, this is a welcome change.

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Vellum Venom Vignette: Less is More…Enlightening? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/vellum-venom-vignette-less-is-more-enlightening/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/vellum-venom-vignette-less-is-more-enlightening/#comments Sat, 09 Mar 2013 11:11:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=480559 Mark writes: Sajeev, We can’t let Jeep get away with what they have done to the (redesigned Jeep) Grand Cherokee’s face. This square-peg-in-a-round-hole approach just looks half-baked, lazy, and cheap. Even the choice of filler material used to fill the void is wrong in material, color and pattern. In short, Jeep’s design team needs to […]

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Mark writes:

Sajeev,

We can’t let Jeep get away with what they have done to the (redesigned Jeep) Grand Cherokee’s face. This square-peg-in-a-round-hole approach just looks half-baked, lazy, and cheap. Even the choice of filler material used to fill the void is wrong in material, color and pattern.

In short, Jeep’s design team needs to be raked across the coals for destroying what was Chrysler’s best-looking vehicle on the market, and I think you are the man to do the raking.

Sajeev answers:

I’m honored you think I’m worthy of Raking the Design Muck, especially since your concise assessment is spot on: every element presented here is a big car design FAIL.

It leaves very little for me to prove. So let’s dig deeper. Change for the sake of change to a well-received design (i.e. not the Pontiac Aztek) isn’t normally a good thing: be it as eye-gouging as the Ferrari Testarossa turning into the hideous 512M or as minor as a Headlight Fail on the redesigned Grand Cherokee, this change uses R&D money to make something different at the expense of good taste.  Which is sad.

And inexcusable…but far from uncommon.  For example, the 2013 Toyota Tacoma work truck.

Is anyone fooled into thinking those are real fog lights?  Just make a blank panel for the fleet model instead…please! The previous model was far less offensive, even the goofy grilles of the fleet-spec Ford Ranger are better. While the Ranger is an outdated design, time has been the little Ford’s friend. Remember that “change for the sake of change” thing? It leads to the conclusion.

 And now for the key takeaway:  be it in the world of Automotive Accounting, Engineering or Industrial Design, the concept of “Less is More” is true.  Don’t waste money making parts that fight with a design (Grand Cherokee) or make it look cheaper than necessary (Tacoma). So design it right from the start.  Easier said than done, as I’ve heard (horror?) stories of designers working with engineers to get the proper end result.

So do the right thing because people are watching. Off to you, Best and Brightest.

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Review: 2012 Toyota Tacoma TRD T|X Baja Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/review-2012-toyota-tacoma-trd-tx-baja-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/review-2012-toyota-tacoma-trd-tx-baja-edition/#comments Fri, 21 Sep 2012 18:17:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=460053 Toyota trucks have long been the staple of practical truck shoppers, young shoppers looking for a cooler first ride, off-roaders and just about every rebel militia. What’s a company like Toyota do to keep sales of the 8-year-old truck going? Special editions of course. Despite the higher profits, Toyota decided to skip the “freedom fighter” […]

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Toyota trucks have long been the staple of practical truck shoppers, young shoppers looking for a cooler first ride, off-roaders and just about every rebel militia. What’s a company like Toyota do to keep sales of the 8-year-old truck going? Special editions of course. Despite the higher profits, Toyota decided to skip the “freedom fighter” edition with bench seating for 8 in the bed and a .50 caliber machine gun on the roof in favor of an off-the-rack off-roader. Thus the Tacoma TRD T|X Baja Edition was born. In case you are wondering, T|X stands for Tacoma Xtreme. You know, because it is way cooler to spell extreme without an “e.”

Click here to view the embedded video.

Exterior

The Tacoma has been with us for a long time and there’s little disguising that despite the periodic face lifts. Still, in the truck world this isn’t really a problem as styles change slowly and long product cycles are the more the rule than the exception. Despite a 2009 refresh, the most common comment I received from friends during my week with the Tacoma was:  “I didn’t know you had an old truck.” Xtreme? Not so much. While Toyota still offers a regular cab Tacoma for $17,525, the Baja Edition is only offered in with a “Double Cab” or “Access Cab.” Color options are limited to black or red for 2012.

Interior

The last time we looked at the Tacoma’s cabin, a common complaint was the car-like interior. The basics of that interior are still with us, but Toyota swapped in a chunky steering wheel, shiny metal bling and rubber flooring to butch-up our Baja. Compared to the current Nissan Frontier and Chevy Colorado, the Tacoma is a more comfortable place to spend your time and the cabin looks less dated as well. Despite the car-like shapes and Toyota sedan door handles, my forum trolling indicates the interior holds up well to abuse. While the cabin is far from Xtreme, I don’t have a problem with car cabins in trucks.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Infotainment

All Tacoma models (including the base model) come standard with Toyota’s snazzy 6.1-inch “Display Audio” system. The touch-screen head unit is easy to use and allows full control of your USB/iDevice as well as Bluetooth audio streaming and Bluetooth speakerphone integration. The audio quality from the base speaker package is merely average, if you care about your tunes upgrade to the JBL system. Toyota’s Entune software is available as an option and enables smartphone integrated apps like iHeartRadio and Bing. Also available is a $1,930 package that combines Entune, the optional navigation software, JBL speakers, XM/HD radio and a subwoofer.

While systems like MyFord Touch, or even Toyota’s own higher end nav systems use Sirius or XM satellite radio to deliver data content, the Display Audio system pulls the information off the internet using your smartphone and data plan. As a result, there’s no need for an XM or Sirius subscription. The downside? You can’t access these services without a smartphone, so if you haven’t joined the 21st century and are still using a Motorola StarTac, you won’t be able OpenTable.com whileyou roll. Is a well balanced JBL system with smartphone love Xtreme? For this segment it sure is.

Drivetrain & Off-Road Enhancements

The Tacoma’s base engine is a 2.7L four-cylinder engine good for 159HPand 180lb-ft of twist. In order to get the Baja Package you have to step up to the optional 4.0L V6 which produces 236HP at 5,200RPM and 266lb-ft of at 4,000RPM. (And check that 4×4 option box as well.) While the 2.7L is still saddled with Toyota’s old four-speed auto or five-speed manual, the V6 gets a newer five-speed auto or six-speed manual. The Baja uses a traditional two-range transfer case (read: part-time 4WD) and both a “real” locking rear differential and a brake-actuated limited-slip rear differential just like the regular 4X4 Tacoma. The lack of driveline differentiation makes sense as the Baja is built on the San Antonio assembly line, then over to the Toyota Logistical Services building (on-site) where a team disassembles the Tacoma suspension and reassembles it with the Baja bits. By hand.

Compared to the Ford Raptor, Toyota’s changes to the Tacoma donor truck are less “Xtreme” with all the changes working within the stock suspension design as much as possible. For instance, despite going from 8.5 to 9.25 inches, front wheel travel is limited by the the upper A-arm design which is retained from the stock Tacoma. The enormous 60mm Bilstein shocks (originally designed for motor home use) will support more travel should a buyer decide to swap out the A-arm for an aftermarket unit. The Baja receives new springs all the way around for two-inch bump in height and rear suspension travel is increased from 8.5 to 10 inches. To help in cooling and performance, the rear shocks are upgraded to 50mm units that sport a remote reservoir.

The Baja edition also sports a TRD cat-back exhaust, some crazy side graphics and unique 16-inch wheels shod with 265-width BFGoodrich all-terrain tires. As you would expect, all the usual TRD off-road gear is included in the Baja package from skid plates up front to a 400-watt AC power inverter integrated into the truck bed.

Drive

If you’re looking for a head-to-head Baja vs Raptor comparison, you clicked on the wrong review. The Raptor is a different animal entirely and it’s just not a fair comparison to the Baja. The Ford is bigger, heavier, more powerful, faster, more expensive, and plays to a different audience.

On the road the Baja is surprisingly civilized for an off-road tuned vehicle. If you ever needed a reason to select the “factory” off-road truck instead of DIY modding, on-asphalt manners are that reason. Aside from the drone of the TRD cat-back exhaust, the Tacoma’s cabin is quiet, comfortable and a great place to be on a 5 hour road trip. However, it is out on the highway that Toyota’s V6 and 5-speed auto start to show their age. On the gently rolling hills of US-101 in California, the Baja’s lack of low end torque and tall 5th gear meant the transmission shifted frequently. The relatively low fourth gear combined with the cat-back drone spoiled an otherwise well behaved highway cruiser.

Off road, the Baja is a comfortable companion on the trail soaking up bumps without loosing composure. Like all trucks, the Baja is front heavy (56/44 % F/R) and is designed for load carrying in the bed. This combination of a light rear end and suspension designed for a load means that most trucks tend to get “squirrely” out back on washboard dirt roads at moderate speeds. The Baja on the other hand never broke a sweat thanks to the well-tuned Bilstein shocks and springs. The improved articulation of the suspension helped the Baja feel almost as sure-footed as the FJ Cruiser on the deeply rutted trails we encountered.

There are a few things that must be said. First off, pretty much nobody takes their brand-new, bone-stock anything to the off-road park and thrashes it. In our brand-new, bright-red Toyota pickup, all eyes at the SVRA were upon us as we bottomed out on a concrete pipe. They probably went home and told stories about the crazy dude in the new truck. Second, even in Baja trim the Tacoma’s approach/departure/break-over angles take a back seat to the FJ Cruiser and the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Third, Toyota does not offer a locking front differential. I didn’t think the diff deficit would be too big of an issue until we were on tight switch-back turns at Hollister Hills where the large 40-foot turning circle (44 in the long bed) meant I was off the trail more than I was on it. If the Baja had a locking or limited slip diff up front, I wouldn’t have had to constantly resort to the hundred-point-turn to navigate some of the trickier descents. Despite these shortcomings, the Baja is “light” at 4,300lbs, some 900lbs lighter than a Jeep Grand Cherokee and a whopping 1,700lbs lighter than the Ford Raptor. Depending on the type of off-roading you plan on tackling, this lighter curb weight has some serious advantages.

Pricing is where the T|X Baja Edition shines. The base Access Cab model with the 6-speed manual transmission starts at $32,990 and our fully loaded four-door model with the automatic transmission and navigation rang in at $39,150. The observant in the crowd will notice two things, the Baja package costs $4,365 more than a truck without it, but more importantly (and quite strangely) it is cheaper than the Tacoma with the less rugged TRD off-road package. Go figure. While this is much cheaper than the Raptor which ranges from $42,975 to $53,000, it is strangely more expensive than the more capable FJ Crusier which rings in at $37,400  with Toyota’s “trail-teams” off-road package. Toyota plans to make only 750 due to the production limitations in 2012 but has promised the Baja will return for the 2013 model year with some tweaked options. If you’re the kind of person that’s willing to take their new car off-road, the Baja is easily the most Xtreme capable new truck for the price. I’m just not sure I’d take my shiny new truck too far off the beaten path.

Toyota provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.4 Seconds

0-60: 7.08 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 15.5 Seconds @ 87MPH

Average Economy: 17.5MPG over 1020 Miles

 

2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Exterior, Wheels, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Exterior, side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Exterior, front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Exterior, front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Exterior, front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Exterior, front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Exterior, rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Exterior, rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Exterior, T/X badge, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Interior, gauges, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Interior, dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Interior, steering wheel, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Interior, dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Interior, dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Interior, dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Interior, rear seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. DykesTacoma Baja-016 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Interior, rear seat storage, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Interior, rear seat storage, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Engine, 4.0L V6, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Interior, Infotainment Entune, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Interior, Infotainment Entune, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Interior, Infotainment Entune, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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The Truth About Ford’s other Workhorses http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/strategy-vs-abandonment-the-truth-about-ford%e2%80%99s-other-workhorses/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/strategy-vs-abandonment-the-truth-about-ford%e2%80%99s-other-workhorses/#comments Tue, 13 Dec 2011 20:02:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=422239   Ford makes great full size trucks, but repeat after me: not everyone cares about the F-150. There’s more to being a Ford truck than what Toby Keith and Mike Rowe said. Listen up peeps: this is a story of having a growth and retention strategy for one product line, and an exit strategy for […]

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Ford makes great full size trucks, but repeat after me: not everyone cares about the F-150. There’s more to being a Ford truck than what Toby Keith and Mike Rowe said. Listen up peeps: this is a story of having a growth and retention strategy for one product line, and an exit strategy for another.

First, the Econoline: slated for replacement by the thoroughly modern Ford Transit vans, there’s good news for everyone. Well, except for every small-time rock band that would sacrifice a groupie for said Econoline with a 7.3L Powerstroke to cheaply haul their crew and a box trailer full of their shit. Full size vans need to take a page from Europe, without the nightmare diagnostic scenarios presented by the Mercedes Sprinter.  And here it is.

 

Well not exactly.  But I can’t resist posting a picture of the Transit Supervan 2, which proves that any love we feel for the Econoline is absolutely trumped by the love the world feels for the Transit.

One of my mates in the UK owns a small auto repair/MOT business, and he loathes working on the Sprinters, for all the reasons seen on a US-Sprinter forum. Ask him about the Ford Transit, ANY Transit, and his face lightens up.  The European workhorse everyone knows and loves deserves to be here, provided Ford makes all the Transit specific parts available, affordable and easy to service by anyone familiar with traditional US-spec vans. That is no small feat, but totally doable. I predict Ford will retain their title in the world of Van Awesomeness, and I look forward to meeting the replacement for TTAC’s first and only custom van review!

Then there’s the Ford Ranger debacle. People say it hasn’t changed much since the early 1990s, which is a load of bull. That said, most people don’t care about what engineers do under the sheet metal. So I get it.

The Ranger is slated for extinction next week. The truck that gave Ford the commanding presence in the compact workhorse market, the vehicle that still sells disgustingly well by anyone’s metric, is being replaced by…nothing. And unlike Panther Love, where “criminal” platform neglect (get it?) forced retail buyers into the arms of other manufacturers for the past 15-20 years, the Ranger is still good enough for a little truck.

And while my bias to the Ranger is clear, Ford’s rationale for abandoning the market is not. But let’s try anyway, shall we?

I once had a quote showing Ford’s decision to push would-be Ranger buyers into the (upcoming) Focus and Fiesta. Too bad I lost it. Luckily the B&B found it for me. And now the F-150 is thrown into the mix.  Ford thinks the base model F-150 will hoover up Ranger buyers that wouldn’t touch a Fiesta. It’s a similar rationale used when replacing the original Taurus with the Fusion and the Five Hundred. Which was a rather colossal blunder, but that’s not the point.  The Ranger isn’t the Taurus.  And to quote Erich Merkle, Ford’s U.S. sales analyst (via WardsAuto):

“Nobody has infinite resources, and we have to figure out how we can best position those resources to meet the needs of customers today and in the future. (The Ranger) has been pretty popular, but we think more of a baseline F-150 can also meet a good portion of those needs.”

And, in a fitting eulogy for the Ford Ranger, Jeremy Cato retorted, “Corporate-speak, if ever I’ve heard it.”  Read the whole article, it’s worth it.

Because he is right.  The Ranger does it all with a tiny footprint.  And while mere inches separate the Ranger from the Toyota Tacoma, the Taco feels much bigger, sucks down more gas, has poorer visibility and costs significantly more when you spec them out.  Along with freebies like fog lights, Class III receiver hitch, and four wheel disc brakes, my cheap-as-chips Ranger XLT surprised me with something else: a recent trip to San Antonio (tonneau cover equipped, A/C running, driving assertively) netted a robust 33MPG.  Try that in an F-150, or any other truck for that matter. You still think the Ranger hasn’t changed in 15 years, son?

Once more: thirty three MPG.  Tons of visibility and more chassis/suspension/powertrain refinement than you’d expect from an “unchanged since the 1990s” pickup.  But the sheet metal lied to us, and too bad what you see below wasn’t our ”forgive me” present.

 

But to be fair to Ford, I suspect importing/assembling the “other” Ranger in North America shall cost more than abandoning the people who won’t move to a Fiesta or F150. It’s always cheaper to do nothing and narrow your scope. That’s a totally fair business practice.

Profitability via Mutilation much?

So there you have it: two long standing models, two names with a famous-ish history and tens of thousands of fiercely loyal buyers…with two unique outcomes.

Oddly enough, my 33MPG trip to the Home of the Alamo is the silver lining: the nearby Toyota truck factory is standing by.  Just a guess, but expect them to ramp up Tacoma production another 50,000+ units annually to take up the slack left behind by Ford. And expect them to laugh all the way to the bank.

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New or Used: Eliminate Debt, Eliminate Subie? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/new-or-used-eliminate-debt-eliminate-subie/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/new-or-used-eliminate-debt-eliminate-subie/#comments Thu, 01 Dec 2011 16:46:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=420809   Ryan writes: Sajeev and Steve, I find myself perplexed by a vehicular conundrum. A year ago I purchased my first new car, a 2010 Subaru WRX STI SE. It is a great car. Previously I daily drove a 1997 Toyota Land Cruiser. Another great car. I drive about 20,000 miles a year, mostly on […]

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Ryan writes:

Sajeev and Steve,

I find myself perplexed by a vehicular conundrum. A year ago I purchased my first new car, a 2010 Subaru WRX STI SE. It is a great car. Previously I daily drove a 1997 Toyota Land Cruiser. Another great car. I drive about 20,000 miles a year, mostly on the highway.

My wife and I both work. We contribute heavily to our 401K’s and IRA’s. About a month after I purchased the car my wife decided to go back to school, for an MBA. No problem. She now has a year left. For the year we will be setting aside just shy of $1000 per month to pay for her schooling. This leaves us saving very little over the next year. We have emergency funds to last a few months should the need arise. I want to eliminate debt as soon as possible (currently 2 car loans and a mortgage, nothing more).

My inner cheapskate has become uncomfortable with the nearly $1100 a month operating costs of my beloved STI. My inner car guy misses the Land Cruiser terribly. I’m without a truck. Replacing the STI with another 80 series Land Cruiser or Land Rover Discovery I do not save much money because of the fuel costs.

I am contemplating selling the STI, and picking up a truck and a commuter. The commuter would need to be somewhere around $10,000 or less. Cash for one vehicle, maybe a loan for the other. The ideal commuter would be more comfortable than the STI, get around 30 MPG, have four doors and possibly be all wheel drive (for ski trips). Cadillac CTS? Lexus something? Nothing soulless, please. I can turn a wrench and can maintain both vehicles no problem.

What say you? Do I keep the STI and buy a truck when I can? Sell the STI, buy the truck and commuter? If so, what kind do you suggest?

See the attached spreadsheet. (Ryan’s Car choices)

Steve Answers:

My assumption is that you can cash out the STI. Because if you can’t there is no need to read beyond this sentence.

Well now… you apparently want a Euro car in an American market. Before we cross the bridge of dread known as ’10 year old European car’ I have to ask you three questions (cue Monty Python bridge scene).

  1. Have you ever spent more than five hours performing a major maintenance or repair… and succeeded?
  2. Are you one of those people who enjoys reading up on enthusiast forums at odd hours?
  3. When someone tells you about ‘electrical issues’ with their ride, is your first gut reaction to flee and/or throw up?

If you have the courage to brave a parts network that arguably lead to the fall of the EU, then by all means have at it. Audi sells the A3, A4 and A6. BMW has the 3-Series and 5-Series. Mercedes has… well, let’s not go there.

If saving money and having a fling is your thing, then ask Sajeev. Or get a Lexus IS300 SportCross.

Sajeev Answers:

Don’t ask me about having flings, but I am a damn good tightwad…maybe that’s the problem?

So what does the lady in your life drive?  I hope it’s a Panther, as that would make my job much easier.  But I still might give the same answer: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  Odds are your wife’s ride doesn’t suck down money like the gas/insurance/monthly payment of an STI.  Even if it isn’t a “commuter” car.

Definitely sell the STI. You like trucks, so get one. Take it from me, people are actually excited to go for a ride my stupid little 4cyl/5-spd Ford Ranger. I really don’t get it. For some reason being inside a truck with a stick shift is exciting and different to most folk. Which is a sad (but true) statement about our overweight, over-leveraged, conspicuous consumption society. You can both appreciate a cheap little truck’s charm AND enjoy it, considering your love affair with the Land Cruiser. Not to mention you need the money. So be a tightwad like me, at 33MPG highway in my case you won’t regret it. At least not initially.(cough)

You are in Tacoma land, or Ranger land**.  Neither are soulless, as my experiences have shown. Drive them both and see if the Taco is worth the price premium…buy it with cash and get one loan payment out of the way. Worry about the wife’s car later, that is a separate problem.

**If you are upside down on your loan for the STI, you might very well be in $8000 Ford Ranger territory.

Need help with a car buying conundrum? Email your particulars to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com , and let TTAC’s collective wisdom make the decision easier… or possibly much, much harder.

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Yee-Haw! Toyota Shows Truck With Texas-Sized Name At Texas State Fair http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/yee-haw-toyota-shows-truck-with-texas-sized-name-at-texas-state-fair/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/yee-haw-toyota-shows-truck-with-texas-sized-name-at-texas-state-fair/#comments Thu, 29 Sep 2011 18:44:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=412983 In case you are at the Texas State Fair in Dallas at this moment, stop staring at million dollar steers and heifers and go over to Toyota. They will show you a truck with the longest name in recorded Texas history. It’s the “pre-production Tacoma Toyota Racing Development (TRD) T|X (Tacoma Extreme) limited edition pickup […]

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In case you are at the Texas State Fair in Dallas at this moment, stop staring at million dollar steers and heifers and go over to Toyota. They will show you a truck with the longest name in recorded Texas history. It’s the “pre-production Tacoma Toyota Racing Development (TRD) T|X (Tacoma Extreme) limited edition pickup truck.”

We did not make that up, it says so right here in the press release. If “pre-production Tacoma Toyota Racing Development (TRD) T|X (Tacoma Extreme) limited edition pickup truck”  is too long, you can call it “Baja Series.”

The production version is scheduled for launch in late spring 2012. It will come with a 4.0-liter V6 engine with either six-speed manual and five-speed automatic transmissions, along with  “bead-lock style off-road wheels with an exclusive Gun-Metal Gray finish.” More data in the factory blurb.

2012_Toyota_Tacoma_Baja_016. Picture courtesy Toyota 2012_Toyota_Tacoma_Baja_008. Picture courtesy Toyota 2012_Toyota_Tacoma_Baja_020. Picture courtesy Toyota 2012_Toyota_Tacoma_Baja_018. Picture courtesy Toyota Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Piston Slap: The budget is Tight, the Ranger is Right? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/piston-slap-the-budget-is-tight-the-ranger-is-right/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/piston-slap-the-budget-is-tight-the-ranger-is-right/#comments Tue, 13 Sep 2011 08:04:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=410908   Ryan writes: I have a friend who just got her PhD and is moving to Texas for her post-doc. She has never owned a car, but now needs to get one so she can go out in the field to do research. I’ve agreed to help her find something used, probably a small manual-transmission […]

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Ryan writes:

I have a friend who just got her PhD and is moving to Texas for her post-doc. She has never owned a car, but now needs to get one so she can go out in the field to do research. I’ve agreed to help her find something used, probably a small manual-transmission pickup truck. Needless to say she’s not a car person at all, just wants something inexpensive (under 5k), that she won’t have to worry about too much. I’m recommending something after 96 or so, to get the R134A A/C and maybe a few more airbags and safety features.

I have owned a couple Nissans (Frontier and Rogue), and a Toyota Tacoma, and my brother owned a Nissan Frontier, all were mostly problem free. I also had a 91 Ford Explorer before that, which also gave me few problems up to 200k miles.

Given my experiences, I’ve been thinking Tacoma or Frontier for my friend, I think they will be more reliable at the high mileages she can afford. But looking in the local (Phoenix, AZ) Craigslist – By Owner section, I see that Tacomas are relatively more expensive, older Frontiers are cheaper but less common (many are also heavily modified), and there seem to be lots of less expensive Ford Rangers available.

Do you agree with the 96 or later idea? Or do you think something older could work? What about the Ranger’s reliability as opposed to the imports? Also, are there any other models with a proven track record she should consider? And finally, given that a 10+ year old truck with over 100k miles is going to need maintenance no matter what, what about parts availability and ease-of-maintenance between the brands?

Sajeev answers:

1996 and newer is definitely the way to go: any modern mechanic can diagnose and repair an OBD-II vehicle, and you do get the benefit of better equipment…usually.  Now there was an all-new Tacoma for 1995, and rumor has it that they received OBD-II like their 1996 brothers somewhere in the middle of the production year. From a Piston Slap standpoint, the Tacoma had the nicest motors and are generally regarded as the best in their class in design and fit and finish.  From a “New or Used” standpoint, they are ridiculously overpriced and the Ranger is good enough.

I’d recommend all three: Ranger, Tacoma and Frontier. In that order. Rangers are stupid cheap, unquestionably reliable (especially the 2.3L and 3.0L models) and there will be plenty of cheap spares for decades to come. The Tacoma is great, except for the asking price.  I never liked the Frontier as much as the other two, especially when the Ranger received all the interior and suspension upgrades from the 2nd Generation Ford Explorer.

But honestly, how far off-road will she travel?  I think the original Ford Escape or Toyota RAV4 with AWD and slightly knobby tires will be more than adequate, and might be a better all-around vehicle for her.

Then again, the original RAV4 wasn’t especially refined in my book…so maybe a truly honest pickup is right on the money. The budget is tight, so the Ranger is right.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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2012 Toyota Tacoma: It’s A Facelift (Of Course) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/2012-toyota-tacoma-its-a-facelift-of-course/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/2012-toyota-tacoma-its-a-facelift-of-course/#comments Wed, 17 Aug 2011 17:57:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=407667 A new Toyota Tacoma is scheduled for release this fall, and pickuptrucks.com reckons this is it. And because this appears to be nothing more than a relatively mild facelift, we believe it. What would have been too surprising to be true: a completely redesigned, ground-up new compact truck from any automaker in the US market. […]

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A new Toyota Tacoma is scheduled for release this fall, and pickuptrucks.com reckons this is it. And because this appears to be nothing more than a relatively mild facelift, we believe it. What would have been too surprising to be true: a completely redesigned, ground-up new compact truck from any automaker in the US market. Apparently building all-new compact pickups for the US market went out of style towards the end of the Clinton Administration… so we’ll have to make do with another facelifted 5+ year-old product. It’s OK, we’re gettig used to it. Video here

2012tacoma 2012tacoma1 Here it is... again 2012tacoma3 2012tacoma4 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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And In Other Toyota News … http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/02/and-in-other-toyota-news-%e2%80%a6/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/02/and-in-other-toyota-news-%e2%80%a6/#comments Sat, 13 Feb 2010 18:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=345257 Don’t bogart that joint: Toyota will recall about 8,000 model-year 2010 Tacoma pickup trucks in the US. Not for unintended acceleration, or brake gremlins, but for good old cracks in the joint portion of the drive shaft, says Reuters. The front drive shafts are manufactured by Dana Holding Corp, and the affected vehicles were produced […]

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Don’t bogart that joint: Toyota will recall about 8,000 model-year 2010 Tacoma pickup trucks in the US. Not for unintended acceleration, or brake gremlins, but for good old cracks in the joint portion of the drive shaft, says Reuters. The front drive shafts are manufactured by Dana Holding Corp, and the affected vehicles were produced from mid-December 2009 to early February.

Don’t ruin more jobs: Toyota has dispatched two dozen workers from plants around the U.S. to visit Capitol Hill. According to a Reuters report, the company is also using other means, such as a $5.2m lobbying budget, to remind lawmakers that Toyota employs 33,400 people. Indirect employment, including dealers, accounts for another 160,700 jobs, says Toyota.

Don’t think GM profits from Toyota’s weakness: GM’s vice chairman Bob Lutz said GM will gain market share regardless of safety problems, Reuters reports. “If the competitor’s weakness at some point results in lower sales for them and better sales for everybody else, that’s something that obviously we’ll accept,” Lutz said. “But as far as we are concerned, it is not a factor. We’re not planning on that. We were going to gain share anyway.” GM’s U.S. sales jumped 14 percent in January from a year ago and its market share rose to 21 percent, while Toyota’s sales fell 16 percent to the lowest level in more than a decade. Some industry observers are seeing weakness in February sales and blame Toyota for it.

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