By on July 20, 2012

Scott Nearing was not trying to become a pioneer.

Back when the auto industry represented the equivalent of today’s dot-com companies, Dr. Nearing was a highly successful economics professor at a program that would later be known as the Wharton School of Business.

He wrote about a wide variety of economic issues that were vigorously debated at a time when differing opinions were not often tolerated in the world of academic discourse. Benefactors, like today’s corporate sponsors and tomorrow’s Ceasers, expected their due (ck) in exchange for funding and ‘exclusives’.

Anti-war. Anti-child labor. Anti-trust and ‘anti’ everything political in the end, Dr. Nearing soon found that his sole victory in court would only yield a blacklist from academia that would last for decades.

So he bought himself some land, a pickup truck, and moved to the Green Mountains of northern Vermont.

Scott and his wife Helen (ck) would build their own version of ‘The Good Life’. They built several houses, cottages and sheds out of stone using the Flagg method (ck). To accomplish this, they owned a long series of pickup trucks and kept them to the point where rust and age made them unserviceable.

After several years of getting acquainted with their new life, they began collecting maple syrup (ck) at a time when modern agriculture still allowed a family farm to prosper. The two of them wrote books and self-published. Performed classical music thanks to Helen’s training. They gardened, cooked, canned, sewed, built, tilled and adopted to a life that became ever the same, and ever different.

It was an idyllic world. Often romanticized and never perfected to the point where others could easily emulate it.

In time, they even adopted many of the conveniences and pleasures of their past and loosened up on a few of the old disciplined habits. However one thing that never changed was their use of pickup trucks. It gave them the means to move mountains of stone, and the freedom to visit family and friends… but it was a tool. Nothing more.

The pickup truck best served and symbolized Scott and Helen’s version of the good life. I would say that my little 2001 Honda Insight serves mine at the moment.

What vehicle best represents the good life for you?

Note: If you see (ck) on this write-up, it means you can safely click on the link next to it and learn a bit more about the subject I just mentioned. Consider it a low-tech wink that will help you get more out of these articles. All the best!

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92 Comments on “Question Of The Day: What Vehicle Best Represents…The Good Life?...”

  • avatar

    My “worthiest” vehicle: any bio-diesel Benz with a roof rack & trailer hitch.

    Enough torque to get the job done.

    Bio-diesel (preferably recycled from waste) = Dr Nearing would approve whole-heartedly.

    • 0 avatar

      If he approved of vehicles at all, that would be it. Or he’d own something practical and get on with life.

      My dad attempted to follow in Dr. Nearing’s footsteps. The guy was a complicated character who was simultaneously unwilling to compromise (started over when they could see ski slopes from their house), and quite compromised (ran his homestead with volunteer labor, spent a lot of time on the road promoting books rather than living the way he advocated). That’s pretty typical for an ideological leader in a world that doesn’t care about people’s ideology.

      Still, my dad has grown some great food and done some cool things in his attempts to follow the Nearings. He oscillated between stints in the computer industry and being a back-to-the-lander life in the Nearings’ image. His flawed attempts to live like the Nearings (which peaked when I was a toddler, and then peaked again after her retired) did provide me with an unusual perspective on what does and doesn’t matter in life. When you look around you as a kid, and see that everyone is having an easier time than you are, just because “normal people” (an epithet) don’t know what’s good for them, it makes you think for yourself. Thinking for myself has served me well.

      But, yeah, if he were still alive, Scott Nearing would probably own a biodiesel pickup truck (or Mercedes 300D) and use it. And he would also vehemently lament the construction of the roads and the infrastructure required to use it. That’s a hard row to hoe (gardening pun intended) when you’re pushing an ideology.

      As for my idea of a vehicle for the good life? High-tech, practical, cheap, good for hauling kids and cargo. A 3rd generation Voltec minivan with a trailer hitch, perhaps. And I favor the construction and repair of the roads, the bridges, and the communication networks on which we and our commerce travel. But, then again, I’m happy to live in a small Midwestern city that blends the best of the urban and rural life; the Nearings would never have approved of such a “compromise” but I find that it is the good life for me.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Steven, I think the responses will be split between: I live a good life and my vehicle is involved with the people, places and things in it and the I drive a model s or brand t, u know I live a good life by what I drive folks. I could be wrong.

  • avatar

    Here in southern California, my 1994 Miata. Laguna Blue, R-package, optional factory hardtop. Simple, fun, rock-solid dependable. Just getting in and out of it keeps my back strong and a smile on my face.

  • avatar

    Paid off.

  • avatar

    An e38 BMW 750iL. If I ever own one, it means I have enough time to road-trip around the country, and enough money to do it in one of the best (yet also most ridiculous) long-distance cruisers ever made.

    • 0 avatar

      Mine would also be a car for an extended road trip, which I keep saying I’ll do whenever (lack of) work permits.

      Different car, though. It’d have to be just large enough to hold my stuff, but small enough to be fun. Aside from the fuel economy, an RX-8 makes for a surprisingly good “blue highways” touring car. Something like an MS3 or the upcoming Focus ST might also serve well.

  • avatar
    Spanish Inquisition

    A 335d wagon with whatever sport package they get, and in manual.

    Enough speed to out drag everything short of an M3, enough handling to lose that Mustang in the twisties (maybe), enough space to haul your dogs, and enough torque to haul your horses. Probably. I wouldn’t know.

    • 0 avatar

      Unfortunately, BMW doesn’t ship any vehicle with the 3L turbo diesel engine and a manual. Also, I’m not sure why such a vehicle would out-drag the 3L gasoline turbo; that certainly isn’t the case with the automatic transmission setups. If you’re talking about some sort of high-torque contest, then you probably wouldn’t want to challenge a Mustang with the 5L.

    • 0 avatar

      …enough handling to lose that Mustang in the twisties (maybe)…”

      v8–you’re dreaming unless the road resembles a lunar crater.

    • 0 avatar

      Torque is only a part of the “fast” equation. Diesels severely lack on the RPM portion of the equation.

      • 0 avatar

        As a former TDI owner, I can assure you that it only matters on the drag strip. My TDI wasn’t going to win any drag races, but it was the best of the tortoise and the hare rolled in to one — fast and steady. It was perfect for a 6-hour highway trip Appalachians.

        When it ran, anyway; it was a Volkswagen.

        Anyway, you’re spot on about the theory, and Power = RPM * Torque. And that’s how you win races. But the experience of driving a diesel car on the highway at high speeds for hours on end with hybrid-like efficiency and V6-like torque (and less power than any other car I’ve owned) showed me what matters in real world driving.

        The only problem with the BMW wagon is the badge on the hood. It generally means that the driver of the vehicle will act like my safety does not matter within a few moments of me spotting the car — and I don’t want people to think that about me, so I won’t buy a BMW or a Mercedes.

  • avatar

    The good life to me would mean working outdoors, playing outdoors, finding some cool stuff during adventures, and the sound of a V8.

    Just wrapped up a week of field work in Montana with a new F150 5.0 4×4 Supercab. Both place and vehicle represent the good life to me.

    • 0 avatar

      Where I live (farming country in southwestern Ontario), the pickup I think is seen as the same sort of thing. Every boy (aside from the ones that are offspring of hippies who have left the city and now live on a hobby farm) idealizes the truck, and usually the sign of having become a man of the area is a purchase of your own truck. If you’re a bit of an idiot, you put things like whips and big tires on. If you aren’t, you just buy a good truck to drive around, even if you don’t necessarily need all of its abilities.

      I can’t say whether the rural farming lifestyle is the good life, but it can be a good life, and that’s why I’d agree with your outlook, even if I myself never intend to buy one or be a farmer.

  • avatar

    A “best” vehicle?

    A vehicle that meets your needs, are comfortable with, starts and runs and is paid for.

    Vehicles that described me best through the decades are: 1964 Chevy Impala SS convertible, 1972 Chevy Nova, 1976 AMC Gremlin, 1981 Plymouth Reliant, 1990 Plymouth Acclaim, 1992 Chrysler LeBaron convertible and 2004 Impala so far.

    • 0 avatar

      @Zackman: I think you’re right. Nothing crazy, just whatever runs well and tickles your fancy along the way. I’ve had several, and that is the good life, to me. That, and a good meal, with good company, is what a man needs to be happy. Everything else is just details…

  • avatar

    Some sort of Raptorized Panther convertible with a front bench.

    • 0 avatar

      A ’69 Chrysler 300 convertible with white vinyl interior (my dad’s hardtop seats were black and they burned!), bucket seats and all the toys of the day. Good luck: Chrysler only built 1,900 that year, most had the split bench, or buckets with the column shift – ugh! Gotta have a/c,even in a convertible, and with the width of those barges power windows are a must or you’ll spend the afternoon hitch hiking to each window to roll them up or down.
      All other vehicles are mere transportation, Okay, maybe I’d take a ’68 if forced….

  • avatar

    A brand new vehicle at the beginning of every model year, represents….. the good life, for me.

    Haven’t quite got there yet. Best I can do is a brand new vehicle every 4-5 years. My most current purchases were: a 2012 CUV Mommobile to take the place of the 2008 CUV Mommobile, and a 2011 truck to take the place of the 2006 truck.

    We’ll drop back and punt when the warranty on each expires in three years.

    • 0 avatar

      As anti-consumerist as I would want to be, I also wish I could get a new car more often, although I think the two year schedule is good. Get a lease, learn it in the first 6 months, enjoy it for the next 12, then prepare to give it up whilst ogling all of the other options in the remaining 6. I find that personally one year isn’t enough for me with a car, but past the two year mark I start to get a little tired of it.

      • 0 avatar

        I do purchase several new cars per year. How do I do it? Base model Toyota or Honda. Keep it perfect. Get the right color. Trade it in … it is cheaper than you think. Costs about $3000 if you trade them in at the 20K mark.

      • 0 avatar

        EChid, people who do not need a retained value from their vehicles are beginning to see the merits of leasing, especially among the older ones, like me. It’s like renting, except for a longer term.

        I have considered leasing but I am still motivated (or is that driven) to BUY rather than lease.

        It all goes back to way back when, when I was a young airman and poor and had very little money, and could only afford to buy used.

        My experiences with used were that I was buying other people’s problems. And I got a lot of practice repairing those used vehicles to keep them running.

        I’m too old now to wrench and tool on my vehicles and I would like to enjoy them to the max. Maybe I’ll get to the point where I can buy a new car every year.

        Right now I still have grand kids to put through college and help buy new cars for them when they graduate from High School so they can embark on their lives without debt.

        jimmyy, a lot of people are doing just that. I haven’t quite gotten there yet. I hope to get there before my health gives out and I crap out at the game of life. Once snake-eyes come up, you’re dead!

      • 0 avatar

        Jimmyy must really like the free coffee in Toyota and Honda waiting rooms as your waiting for the recall work to be done.

      • 0 avatar

        @jimmyy: Well, I’ve been following the same pattern, in a sense. Except at a lower budget, usually the $10k range. If I went newer I’d probably have fewer repairs to calculate into that cost.

        @highdesertcat: Interestingly, the young/cash-strapped stage is the stage I’m at right now. 23, University student (although we the benefit of co-op)…so cheap, reasonable transportation that does as much as I need for as little as possible is the name of the game, with some room left for interest. I decided on a high-mileage (non 4cylinder, before you point out the risk of head gaskets) Subaru for that basic purpose. It drinks a bit more fuel, but repairs have been reasonable, its extremely good at moving all of my stuff every 4 months, it deals with our often unpleasant winters, and its a good cruiser. My family has always purchased, and always purchased used (except once, which we regretted), so beyond my position in life it is sort of ingrained I think. Still, the idea of leasing a brand new vehicle with no concerns about repairs, therefore meaning that you can lease any brand instead of just the reliable ones, is appealing.

      • 0 avatar

        “I do purchase several new cars per year. How do I do it? Base model Toyota or Honda.”

        I’m glad it works for you. Problem for me is there’s only one car I’d be remotely interested in from both those manufacturers and yes that is the FR-S.

  • avatar

    New Porsche 911
    New Corvette
    60s Ferrari 250 or 275
    05ish Ford GT
    New Nissan GTR

  • avatar

    I think a 69 Chevelle convertible and a 1969 Camaro would do it…

  • avatar

    WRONG! The best vehicle is the one that crushes your enemies, sees them driven before you while letting you hear the lamentations of their women. That is what is good in life.

  • avatar

    Of all the cars I’ve ever had, I believe I was at my absolute happiest with my 95′ Volvo 850. But of the cars I own right now my 98 Subaru Legacy GT is all of the good life I’ll ever need. I can drive to obscure spots, I can enjoy back roads at good speed, and no matter what it possesses this smiling-donkey brand of happiness I haven’t found anywhere else.

  • avatar

    Many in their 20s do not think a car shows the world you made it. This concept seems to be dying fast, with people in their 30s the last generation that thinks the vehicle portrays something.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m proud to say I am one of the few 20 somethings that a car shows that you made it. However my car would be a 1988 Pontiac Fiero for the Sunday Drives and for the workweek a SRT Charger if they ever get around to offering a manual…if not then perhaps an Audi S4 painted yellow ;-)

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        A car doesn’t show you made it. A car shows you make payments. Whether you are on an impressive career track and can afford them is not so easily discernible.

      • 0 avatar

        “A car shows you make payments.”

        Not necessarily.

        I wish that there were stats available to the general public that outlined on a national scale how many of the new cars purchased were financed (factory, bank/Credit union, 3rd party with lien holder), how many were leased, and how many were bought outright.

        My guess is that we would all be surprised, especially when we find out the elderly, for example, find it prohibitively costly to finance because of all the demands placed on them to ensure that the lender does not take a loss in case of their premature demise. Premature in relation to paying off the loan, that is.

        Ditto with the young people, just getting started in life and career.

        Yeah, I know, there is not suppose to be any of this prejudicial or predatory lending, but we all damn well know that it happens, especially if you’re in the business trying to find financing for a potential buyer, and can’t get them qualified. It happens!

        Anyone over age 55, caveat emptor when it comes to financing. You’d be better off paying cash if you have the money in savings, and repaying yourself out of your income.

        But if you don’t have the money, you’re toast, and at the mercy of whatever APR the lending institutions want to charge you, and force you to take out decreasing-value term life insurance to cover their losses in case you die.

        In cases I am aware of, the lender wanted 25% down in order to finance an older buyer or a younger buyer, as if they were both highrisk borrowers.

        Maybe individuals who have fallen prey to this financing phenomenon could enlighten the rest of us. I bet some have explicit stories to tell.

      • 0 avatar


        I know first hand the scum of dealers. At 18 my ex crashed my car I had a 30 min commute from work and school with very little public transport coverage. Being a person who often times does not like to settle I was not about to walk away with a toyota/honda appliance. Walking into a dealer who shall remain un-named I was continually harassed and any negotiating was reduced to well you’re 18 we tell you what is going to happen. After several trips to other dealer and getting the same response I had to suck it up and get whatever they would finance which at the time was a Tiburon w/50,000 miles for a loan of 5 years at a ridiculous 10% financing after accounting all the hidden fees placed into the finance contract even after a down payment of $2,000 my payments were 360 a month with insurance well into the 400.00s Rhode Island gouges insurance for males until your 25 compared to surrounding states but thats another story … lesson learned

      • 0 avatar

        kjb911, I know what you mean. From personal experience when I was young and poor, I had real trouble in finding financing for anything. Back then it was lay-a-ways or paying cash for something we needed.

        Until I became a Staff Sergeant in the Air Force and had re-enlisted for my second hitch, I was always treated like a second-class citizen, one not worthy of the trust of the lenders.

        So I was surprised that things had not changed when my grandson applied for a loan on a new Jeep Wrangler, even though he was an E-3 in the Marine Corps on active duty. They said he didn’t make enough money for a $26K loan for the duration of his enlistment.

        I ended up buying him a 2012 Wrangler. He’s promised to pay me back with an allotment, but I don’t care if he does or not.

        And I have heard stories of people MY AGE (66) who applied for a new car loan (< $40K) and were told to put down at least 25% of the final deal AND take out decreasing-value term life insurance.

        This is perfectly legal and an accepted practice in many states of this union, as a condition for lending money on depreciating assets like cars.

        The finance/risk managers at my brothers' dealerships have told me (over the years) that this is one way to minimize the risk of defaults on new car loans.

        Another way is to tell a borrower that they cannot qualify for the best rate (for whatever trumped-up reason) in order to get a faster, higher interest return from the borrower for the lender.

        For instance, a $40K loan @ 6% APR gives a higher interest payment quicker to the lender under the rule of 78. The same $40K loan @ 2.75% assumes a greater loss if the borrower kicks off early in the game, hence the requirement for term life insurance to protect the lender's risk.

        And, of course the insurance game is a game all its own, with its own rules, with the deck stacked against buyers/owners.

        For old people, if you want to get a discount, you must complete a traffic safety course accredited by the state where you are licensed, even if you haven't had a loss during your entire life.

        The bottom line? We put up or shut up. We either play the game or we don't. When it comes to buying and insuring cars, the deck is stacked against most of us.

        Maybe some of the young people know something we don't. Maybe they see through all this and do not attach significance to buying or owning a new car because they choose not to play.

      • 0 avatar

        Highdesertcat. Yes my grandfather has gone through the same thing on the other side of the spectrum he is 80 and was thrown into the same ordeal. With my recent purchase of a focus I didn’t get entirley screwed. My jeep had just blown the transmission and transfer case and after numerous dealers I ended up at Flood Ford of East Greenwhich who treated me with extreme respect gave me 3500 for the jeep and managed to get a fully loaded se hatch with sport package and manual for 18500 (working for fedex gives you a discount on the x-plan plus they weren’t able to move a manual so it had sat their for a while and negotiations to take it off their hands went my way) zero down (way too much money was resourced into the jeep) and a rate of 4.2 for 60 months which for a 21 year old is not, bad I think. I plan to run this car into the ground before even thinking of trading it in. It puts a smile on my face everytime….maybe I already have the car that says I made it…a car that I have no regrets of buying and continue to enjoy every day even if, it is “wrong wheel drive”

      • 0 avatar

        kjb911, more people should have such a positive experience.

        And, as an aside, I bet the dealer that took your Jeep in trade sold it for a handsome profit after fixing whatever it needed. All Jeeps are very easy to fix, except the WK 1 and 2 series. Those are engineering marvels with a ton of electronics. Not for the faint of heart to tackle.

        I owned several used Jeeps over the decades, from Wranglers to Grand Wagoneers. They needed a lot of TLC and parts replacement, but they were easy to work on, even the hubs, and parts were plentiful at junk yards and enthusiast clubs.

        Your new Focus should last you a long time, if you take care of it. One young girl I know owns one and she drives hers to college once in awhile, unless she is riding with my grand daughter to college.

        Here’s to hoping you have a great ownership experience.

  • avatar

    With 300 lbs of ecu tuned torque at the tip of my toe the decade old Saab 9-5 still delights. Especially in the era of 39+ mpg econo-boxes no sacrifices are made with mid-40’s for fuel economy. If that is not enough when pickups are towing similar 4,000+ lbs and seeing 10 mpg, the trusty old Saab is seeing an eye popping 23.5 mpg towing another car at highway cruise. All the while the Harman-Kardon is titillating my ears.

  • avatar
    slow kills

    You asked which vehicle so the real answer is a motorcycle.
    The more standard and unassuming the better.

  • avatar

    My Kia Sportage – see photo. I saw a Honda Insight today and like it

  • avatar

    My pristine, lifted 2006 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited represents the best in life to me. This is a vehicle that can take me on practically any adventure I care to embark on. It’s modern in the good ways (fuel injection, strong HVAC system) but vintage in the way it has soul and personality. It’s like a faithful old dog that is always eager to go…even if the destination is nothing special. Since it’s not my daily driver, I plan on keeping it for the rest of my life.

  • avatar
    Ron B.

    Every Life is Good Life, it simply depends on how you use the little time on earth you have been given.

    Now if I were in the good doctors place I wouldn’t waste money on a pickup. It would be a W460 300GD Gelandewagen Mercedes with STT turbo conversion or the USA only OM6179XX turbo … and if I were to win the lotto,it would be the latest proffesional version not the pussy AMG500 or other softened toy car version.
    You could make your own vege fuel but to my mind,unless you are driving 300 miles per day or even that much per week,the hassle of mixing methanol and cuastic soda then settling used cooking oil is wasted time compared with simply pulling up to the pump. And if you are driving hundreds of Miles per week,you aint living the good life.

  • avatar

    Actually, the “Good Life” vehicle for me has been a function of the plateaus of my life:

    1) College: ANY old beater that I didn’t have to mess with: Old Chevy; Old Rambler.
    2) Military/Germany: Brand new VW Bug, since it ran flawlessly, was fun, and meant I could live off base!
    3) My ’30’s: PIck-up Truck with camper, needed for starting a family, construction, and projects.
    4) Middle Age: A new bigger PIck-up Truck, loaded, gorgeous – – before the gas crisis.
    5) Old Age: a fire-black McLaren MP4-12C, black interior and wheels. No I don’t actually have it!

    What’s wrong with this scenario? Wouldn’t it be nice if it were inverted?


  • avatar

    I’m going to say Chevrolet Suburban. I was in highschool/college during the fat Clinton years. By the time I could afford an indulgent car, indulgence was no longer in style.

    To me, the good life is reclaiming the late 90s and there’s no better way to do that than owning a Suburban.

    • 0 avatar

      The Suburban was neither very good or very popular as a personal vehicle prior to the GMT800 redesign for 2000.

      The carefree late 90s were the Explorer, the Grand Cherokee, the melted off F150.

      • 0 avatar

        I said I missed the indulgence of the era, not the most popular cars of the era.

        An SUV based on a half ton truck platform embodies that indulgence for me. A GMT800 or GMT900 may be better execution of the idea, but they all take me back.

        A few weeks ago, I drove 350 miles to visit family. I loaded up a decent sized propane grill, two bikes, a ladder, three large bags of tools, two long bows and a few arrows and a cooler. En route, I got a request to bring a sheet of plywood too.

        I was able to grill, ride, shoot, repair a deck, trim a tree and clean a roof. The trip cost a little over $150 in fuel. I could easily have gotten by with less or taken the same load in something else, but to me, the Suburban represents the good life.

  • avatar

    The good life is the ability to have whatever fleet you want in the garage you darned well please, and a garage big enough to hold them all.

    So for me, that is an ’11 BMW 328! Wagon for everyday use, an ’02 Jeep Grand Cherokee for Lowes runs, winter, and towing, an ’86 Alfa Romeo Spider for long-distance top-down touring, and a ’74 Triumph Spitfire for buzzing around town with the top down. A car for every purpose – no one car can do it all.

    The BMW isn’t technically paid for, but that is because BMW was giving money away.

  • avatar

    1966 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham. I’m not sure there has even been a better Cadillac. I know there has not been a more elegant one.

  • avatar

    2004 Sienna Minivan – the thinking man’s domestic conveyance

    Takes the kids, friends and cousins in one car.

    Dont have to think about what you are packing or practice tetris to get it all in. The well behind the 3rd row swallows a ton of gear.

    Head, hip and shoulder room are copious. I am 6’4″ 230. When my wife drives, I sit in the second row, slide the seat back and have room to cross my legs and stretch.

    The passenger seat folds flat and has a plastic table built into the seatback to hold snacks or whatever.

    The low floor lets my 3 yr old daughter take care of her potty business in her port-a-potty, which conveniently stows under the flip down table between the front seats.

    Now that my kids are bickering a lot, we stash one in the second row and one in the 3rd.

    Its comfort makes trips much more pleasant, and the sliding, powered doors help out with the many stops.

    I got all this for 26K

  • avatar

    Well, since I do not “believe” and therefore the here and for as long as possible is MOST important….it is not the hearse!
    No, I guess THE best has to be:
    1)Fast. But not fast enough so as I will not enjoy with my lack of skill, or be able to drive from red light to red light without hurting anybody or disturbing their TV viewing.
    2)Have a back seat that is able to hold a few friends.
    3)Affordable…never above 40K.
    A set of brakes should not cost more than 4 of any other car.
    4)Reliable…NO run flat tires that will leave me out cold in nice areas of the country stuck in a hotel hoping for a delivery, or broke.
    5)Sensible…the ability to carry lots of my stuff when my wife tells me to leave.
    6)Fun. I wanna feel like going out for another loaf of bread…just cause.

    I guess a hot hatch!!!!!
    Here is hoping the next gen Mazda3S gets some the hot racing diesel from Mazda.

  • avatar

    Can someone recommend a blog that reviews pick up trucks like TTAC reviews cars?

    • 0 avatar

      TomHend, that’s kind of a loaded question because not every site will appeal to everyone.

      And not every site is objective. Most can be bought, and their evaluations are sold to the highest bidder. Ever wonder why EVERY truck has won the Motor Trend Truck of the Year award, at one time or another?

      But here a few for starters…

      pickuptrucks dot com

      kickingtires at cars dot com

      edmunds dot com

      Another way to find a site that may appeal to you is to Google “pickup truck reviews”.

      If you want, visit sites like motor trend, carsanddriver, roadand track, autoweek, even popularmechanics, they often have reviews, but I am suspicious of those since their vote is up for sale to the highest bidder, based on the amount of ad space purchased and demo vehicles provided to their employee fleets.

      There’s always consumerreports dot com. But what they have to say often rubs people the wrong way because they can’t be bought, and they tell it like it is, warts and all. They are not loved by most of the industry, unless that car maker gets a good rating from CR.

      There are many sites that have reviews of trucks. You just have to make inquiries with Google into a topic and then branch out. I’d say start with edmunds or autonation. IMO they are the most objective, but CR is the most truthful.

  • avatar

    If by “good life” we’re talking about a simple, natural, fat-of-the-land sort of thing, for me it’s going to be a Toyota pickup. Basic: 4 cyl, 4×4, 5 speed, regular cab, with BFG T/As. Just an honest no-frills truck. I’ve never owned one because it hasn’t been practical for my type of work, but I longingly browse the classifieds for them.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s what I was thinking. In fact, my ‘perfect’ good-life vehicle would be a cross between the Ford SportTrak, Chevy Avalanche, and Toyota Tacoma Double-Cab 4×4, essentially a Tacoma Double-Cab with the Avalanche’s folding mid-gate. For the vast majority of retirees with a comfortable pension, it’s the vehicle that would accomplish damn near anything they really wanted/needed to do themselves (and it’s small enough for adept parking lot maneuvering, something that can’t be said of the Avalanche).

      Unless they also wanted something they could use for traveling. Then maybe a Subaru Outback…

  • avatar

    Veyron super Sport.

    Life MUST be good. Even if you suffered extreme tragedy, this thing will put a smile on your face.

  • avatar

    A dark blue Ford GT with white stripes. Actually, I can’t picture never owning a full-size domestic pickup. Rich or poor, I’ll always have one. They’re not just a work tool for me. They’re not just a play thing either. They represent all that’s wholesome and American.

  • avatar

    For me, it has to be the 2007 XC90 V8 Sport that I purchased as a 40th birthday gift for myself. I wanted a Volvo (for some reason) since I was in my 20’s and finally had the means to buy one. At the time, my wife and I were planning a family but who knew we would have twins 3 years later. I am just happy that I am able to provide my wife with a safe car to drive our kids around in (she drives it now).

    I am not living the good life, I am living the great life.

  • avatar

    My 1997 BMW 740iL….
    Big,fast and so QUIET about its business.
    I only wish the cellular phone in the center consul still worked.Ha!
    THIS is what the Russian gangsters drove…cool

  • avatar
    Andy D

    mythical would be a faux wood ’91 Grand Wagoneer with narrow whitewalls. Nothing says bucolic like a battered work a day 60s pickup to schlep around the fahm. My father was an organic gardener and had a 62 F-250 that was replaced by a 68 C-20. My ’94 Ranger beater is my current utility. In many ways he embraced the Nearings way of life after he retired.

  • avatar

    The good life for me is packing up my family, hitching up the camper, and escaping for the weekend. But this does not mean eschewing all forms of human progress… I’d like to go in comfort, safety, and with as few hassles as possible. My faux-SUV Santa Fe excels in this role, in fact it probably brings me more pleasure than any g-force machine ever could.

  • avatar

    It’s the car you always wanted as a kid.

    For me it’s my 80 series. I put 15 grand of Aussie ARB/OME/Kaymar gear into it. I saved it from my mom who had bought it as a “luxury SUV.”

    The rumble of the 37″ tires on the highway before I get on the trails reminds me of 4 wheeling when I was a teenager. It also gets more attention from random strangers (mostly Land Cruiser nuts) than any supercar could, and reminds me of the good old days of BS’ing about gear ratios, lifts, wheels, and tires.

    It’s also fun to park next to a Prius.

  • avatar

    2011 Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide Ultra.

  • avatar

    A Pagoda SL, preferably a ’68 280 with a stick in a period correct color, brown or the weird green, and an Audi S7 to haul the family around. Until then, the A5 and V70 R-Design ain’t too shabby…

  • avatar

    Ford Fairmont wagon, with chrome roof rack and vinyl wood paneling. gutted, 351 Windsor bored & stroked to 427cu. in. Kenny Belle supercharger, quiet hidden dual exhaust, widened steel wheels with sticky rubber (Nitto drag radials in rear) with stock hub caps, 4:11 gears. Then go Porsche hunting at red lights!

  • avatar

    I’m going to follow the Nearing example – its not the vehicle itself, but the life that functioned around it: 1996 Dodge Dakota 4×4 long bed. The company truck for Syke’s Sutlering, my 17th century re-enactment sutlery. The prime ride of the decade where I was completely out of debt, unmarried (with a live-in girlfriend until ’98), working for myself at something I (for the time) enjoyed, and looked forward to retirement at 50 once I sold the business. Did the latter in ’99, actually got the first six months afterwards in said retirement at 49, then let my fiance (later wife) talk me into a couple of decisions that screwed up everything and put me right back into the rat race. Where I still am.

    I still look back fondly at that metallic green Dakota. And not just because it was a damned good truck.

  • avatar
    Sam P

    I’m very happy with my ’04 BMW 330i with the 6-speed manual and sport package.

    But it can’t go offroad and has very low ground clearance. I like hiking and getting to remote places on Forest Service roads in Washington and Oregon. Can’t do that with my BMW. I end up bumming rides with friends who have SUVs or trucks.

    So to really achieve the “good life” I’d like a Jeep in the household along with the BMW. Something with the 4.0 liter six. 1997-2001 XJ Cherokee or a 2003-2006 TJ Wrangler. The newer JK Wranglers are nice, but they’re big and bloated compared to the compact XJ and TJ.

  • avatar
    Aaron Whiteman

    I live a little over a mile from work and take advantage of my feet to carry me. Thus, my two cars are both “pleasure” vehicles.

    For me, the good life can’t be represented by a single vehicle, but the pair does nicely.

    There’s the summer car, a ’75 MG. Fun, feels faster than it is, and a total waste of resources. There’s nothing environmentally redeeming about it (which bothers me), but I love it so.

    But then there’s “the times that I can’t drive my MG”, and a simple, basic Subaru Outback Sport Wagon (paid off in a month!) fits the bill.

    In both cases, the cars are an extension of me. They reflect that I use my car for pleasure (drive to the ski area, drive to the trail, drive to … well, drive), while not taking the fun out of getting there.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    An EV located where the electric power comes from a hydro-electric plant, that is about as green as you can get.

  • avatar

    The Good Life?

    Okay one of 3 possibilities:

    Mercedes-Benz 770K 1939 open top German Army Staff Car or
    Jensen Interceptor Mk.IV or
    248 RPA, Inspector Morse’s 1960 Jaguar Mk. II

    • 0 avatar

      This wins the thread, at least so far.

      Almost all the rest of the responses are from people who seemingly don’t care at all about cars except for their ability to function as an appliance. While that’s a valid point of view, for the life of me I don’t understand why such folks hang out at a car site.

      • 0 avatar
        Sam P

        Many readers of TTAC are almost “anti-enthusiasts”.

        They love driving cars that make the most financial sense possible and look down their noses at anyone who might appreciate a car for any other reason.

        Reverse snobbery, I guess.

  • avatar

    I think for that type of life, a base model Ford Ranger would do the trick. Maybe a stripped Toyota Tacoma.

    For me, and those who live near me, a large truck or SUV best represent “The Good Life.” With family and/or friends as well as your boat in tow, people around here use their big trucks and SUVs to get to the lake in style and comfort.

  • avatar

    Good life?
    In vancouver where liquid sunshine is king… Traction is needed, My EVO x touring fits MY bill to a T, Sport mode and cracking through rapid fire twin clutch goodness to any legal speed brings a smile to my face day after day. KM/L be damned.

  • avatar

    A full-size American pickup and I’m good. It doesn’t have to pretty with soft touch plastics and tight panel gaps. My navigation system is the side of the tree that moss grows on.

    They represent freedom and all that is wholesome. What could be more American? I don’t care if it’s made in Mexico with Chinesse parts, it’s still American.

    My first memory is of riding around in a dusty old pickup truck along the countryside. Child seat? Yeah right, it didn’t even have seatbelts is what I’m told. As kids we rode into town in the bed of pickup trucks and loved it. I hope to always own one.

  • avatar

    70 Series Land Cruiser with a Diesel and a 5 speed with my family inside pulling the pop up behind it.

  • avatar

    A van full of mountain bikes doing the dry land version of Endless Summer.

  • avatar

    A mint condition E39 M5…or a bit loftier, a Carrera GT.

  • avatar

    My Vauxhall Corsa. Not exciting, bought as a stopgap that I can’t bear to lose. It just chugs on and on economically, without fuss. I couldn’t ask for more.

  • avatar

    Pile of rocks in the sticks doesn’t appeal. Pretty sure Thoreau was playing an elaborate prank with his Walden schtick. To each his own, I guess.

    The good life would be comfortable homes in London, Tokyo and NYC. With the means to move easily from place to place, and interesting friends and acquaintances in each city. In London the vehicle of choice would be a Jensen Interceptor. In Tokyo a pristine 928, meticulously maintained by the best P mechanic in town. NYC would be home base, an orange H1 would help to abide the traffic. I’d let the MIL drive, she’d scatter those doofus hipsters like bowling pins. H hath no fury….

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