By on December 19, 2019

The midsize pickup truck market was once thought dead, particularly in the wake of seemingly unstoppable sales in the full-size class. But after General Motors brought forth updated generations of the Chevrolet Colorado and the GMC Canyon a few years ago, Ford brought the Ranger back to North American shores, realizing that it couldn’t sit on the sidelines, joining the Japanese stalwarts – the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier. Now midsize pickup market isn’t just heating up, it’s starting to catch fire.

To see if they’re up to the task of some good ‘ole classic four-wheelin’, I took part in an event that rounded them all up — well, nearly all of them — at the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area in Eastern Pennsylvania for a day to test their off-road chops.

Although they may not seem quite as imposing as the larger full-size pickups, these midsize brutes offer plenty of capability. Their smaller footprint also allows for easier maneuverability around tight trails. So a bunch of us auto journalists gathered up all the contenders in the most off-road-biased specification to duke it out for off-roading superiority: The Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison, Ford Ranger FX4, Jeep Gladiator Rubicon, and Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro.

Nissan’s Frontier sat this one out because it’s seemingly older than planet Earth itself and a completely new model is supposedly on the way. Also sitting out was the GMC Canyon, which is available with optional soft-roader All Terrain X trim. That trim is still just essentially a nicer Colorado and the Canyon “ATX” still doesn’t come as decked-out and trail-ready as the AEV-approved Colorado ZR2 Bison.

The Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area resides in the heart of Coal Township, Pennsylvania. Built upon 6,500 acres formerly dedicated to coal mines, the AOAA area consists of hundreds of miles of off-road trails for nearly all types of vehicles — a perfect testing ground for our four candidates.

In the four-wheeling world, a general scale between zero to five helps to classify the difficulty of trails based on vehicle capability: Zero is the easiest of trails, which any passenger vehicle could traverse largely without issue. Think basically a simple dirt or gravel road. On the opposite end of the spectrum is a five-rated trail, which even most purpose-built and road-legal four-by-fours can’t cross without extensive modification.

The trails we tackled brushed up upon a level-four trail, which typically necessitates the use of low-range, locking differentials, off-road tires, and high ground clearance.

(Ed. note: The bolded “what we liked” sections are unique to this comparo, and don’t signify a change to our review format. Unless, of course, you like them.)

So, which did it best?

  1. 2020 Jeep Gladiator
    • What we liked: Every tool you’ll ever need to make off-roading an effortless experience; bad-ass long-bed Wrangler looks; an interior that always feels like an occasion
    • What we didn’t like: Its length can make maneuvering tight spaces and sharp breakovers worrisome
    • Verdict: The ultimate all-around overland and off-road midsize pickup

If there’s one thing to be said about the Gladiator, it’s that it lives up to its namesake in spades while answering the calls of pickup lovers and Wrangler lovers alike. Around AOAA, it was hard to find another contender that did everything so well, all around. Aside from being the perfect tool for the job on paper — four-wheel-drive with low-range and multiple locking differentials, electronically detachable sway bars, and nearly unbeatable approach and departure angles — the Gladiator is clearly built for the job.

When traversing over some of the rockiest bits and the toughest terrain we could find at AOAA, short of dirt bike trails, the Gladiator simply shrugged it all off as if it were a walk in the park. The suspension is clearly purpose-built and while all the other trucks seemed outrageously stiff and bouncy, the Gladiator ironed out all but the largest of rocks, making it the smoothest and most effortless truck to drive over the trails. The Jeep’s 3.6-liter V6 and eight-speed automatic is a pairing made in heaven.

 

  1. 2019 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison AEV
    • What we liked: Bad-ass rugged looks, as tough as it appears, felt like it was the most capable of the bunch
    • What we didn’t like: Bouncy ride and body motions when rock crawling, V6 needs a good revving to get into the powerband, confusing electronic four-wheel controls
    • Verdict: If off-roading is the priority, the Colorado ZR2 Bison AEV is the sharpest tool of the bunch

The Colorado ZR2 Bison is the most rugged of the bunch with a seal of approval from one of the biggest names in aftermarket off-road equipment, American Expedition Vehicles. It clearly showed while exploring AOAA. With specially designed DSSV shock absorbers, 32–inch Goodyear Duratrac all-terrain tires, and AEV boron steel skid plates; We felt like we were just grazing the surface of the Colorado’s potential. With those grippy off-road tires and toughened undersides, any thought about getting stuck or damaging the undercarriage simply never crossed our minds.

There were a few compromises, however. While the Colorado excelled at its off-road capability and prowess, it did so at the expense of comfort, similarly to how a track-biased sports car isn’t the best daily driver. While seemingly the most capable, it also felt a bit taxing during the whole experience. While the Gladiator smoothly coasted over its obstacles, the Colorado bounced around and jostled its occupants as if we were actually trying to ride on the back of a wild bison.

  1. 2019 Ford Ranger FX4
    • What we liked: Just as smooth over the trails as the Jeep, beefy turbo-four, easy maneuverability
    • What we didn’t like: Least amount of ground clearance meant a lot of underbody bumping and scraping
    • Verdict: Nearly as refined as the Gladiator, but with a much more tolerable length.

The Ford Ranger’s third-place rank in this comparison isn’t meant to disparage its off-road capability; as it handled everything we could throw at it just as well as all the other contenders. It’s certainly equipped for the job with its optional FX4 Off-Road Package, which features off-road-tuned shocks, Dana AdvanTEK independent axles, underbody steel skid plates, an electronic-locking diff, and controllable transfer case, and Ford’s latest Terrain Management System.

But the Ranger felt the most challenged by the terrain. It matches the Chevy for the least amount of ground clearance at 8.9 inches and thus, we found that it bumped and scraped over the rockier and rougher bits of AOAA, while all the others treaded over obstacles without needing extra care.

Otherwise, it was quite easy to drive the Ranger throughout the park, as long as the surface didn’t include large, pointy rocks. Similarly to the Gladiator, the Ranger just seemed to cruise smoothly over some of the rougher trails. Its 270-horsepower, 2.3-liter EcoBoost turbocharged four-cylinder convinced all of us that it felt like there was a greater cylinder count under the hood.

  1. 2019 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro
    • What we liked: One of the few in its class with a manual, a powerhouse of a motor, as rugged feeling as it looks
    • What we didn’t like: The side rails with step extensions hindered ground clearance (so much that we accidentally broke one-off), poor outward visibility, cramped feeling interior
    • Verdict: The oldest truck of the bunch, but the most honest-feeling workhorse, if that’s what you’re after

The Tacoma TRD Pro is probably the most seasoned truck here, having been around in its current guise since 2016. As a result, the Tacoma TRD Pro definitely feels like the truck most in need of an update, being almost void of any of the gadgets found in any of the other contenders. For example, it didn’t have hill-descent control, a result of having a manual transmission. The upside to the minimalistic package is that the Tacoma probably felt like the purist truck of the bunch, if not a bit old-school.

Its 3.5-liter naturally-aspirated V6 is an absolute powerhouse and probably the most-desired engine of the bunch. With plenty of low-end grunt, it made rock crawling and water fording seem effortless. With low-range engaged, the Tacoma confidently climbed over the rocky bits while sitting at idle in first gear, proving that it’s clearly up to the task.

If you’re looking for the most honest and fluff-free trucks of them all, then the Tacoma TRD Pro is the truck to get, despite its dated feeling.

No matter the terrain: Whether it be dirt, rocky trails, muddy water pits, or steep inclines that left nothing but the sky as the view forward, all of these trucks are clearly built for places like AOAA. What it all comes down to really is a matter of splitting hairs. All of our contenders are purpose-built machines with more than enough grunt and capability to tackle some of nature’s most difficult surfaces. It comes down to which machine suits your needs and purposes and where your taste lies. But one thing’s for sure, all these trucks are certainly up to the task.

That said, we rated the Gladiator as the best overall of the bunch. Chalk another one up for the Jeep.

[Images © 2019 Chris Chin/TTAC]

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60 Comments on “Gone Truckin’ Nuts — TTAC Compares Midsize Trucks...”


  • avatar
    Don Mynack3

    The Gladiator looks like shit, though.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    “…I took place…”

    You mean, “I took part”?

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Remember, “midsize” trucks.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Sounds to me like that Bison package made the Colorado worse, not better. Oh, I’d like to have the belly armor but not at the cost of the better ride the Z71 offers.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “Its 3.5-liter naturally-aspirated V6 is an absolute powerhouse and probably the most-desired engine of the bunch.”

    I don’t believe I’ve ever read any praise of the Tacoma’s 3.5L engine from an objective source. Did Toyota change something recently?

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      @ajla: I avoided the Tacoma specifically because of that engine… It’s an either/or type that offers power OR economy, with almost nothing in between. I get the same average gas mileage with my 2019 V6 Colorado as I did my 1997 2.3L Ford Ranger, despite the extra cylinders and more than twice the size while giving me nearly 3x the horsepower and torque.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        I mean 1997 was a loooooong time ago. I mean the 1.6 in my Fiesta ST is just about as powerful as the 4.6 one could get in a Mustang back then. And the current 2.3 in current Ranger similarly destroys your 97.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          @Art: The engine in the new Ranger is still a 2.3L I-4, the one in the Colorado is a V6. The only reason that 2.3L is as strong as it is relies on that turbo for most of its power. If that turbo goes, you’re stuck with 150 horses or less. That 2.3 in the ’97 only has 112 horses. So getting nearly triple the horses with the same economy to me is a good thing.

          And honestly, I don’t trust such a tiny engine to hold up to heavy pulling over the long term, even if it can handle it over the short term. The new Ranger weighs nearly double the old one, even empty. Now try putting its rated load in the bed or on the tail. The engine is probably fine for everyday, unloaded, driving but once you put that load on the back end, that I-4 is going to be working harder than a V6 to carry that load. All of the economy advantages of the I-4 fly out the window once you start relying on the turbo to motivate the vehicle.

          The principle is little different from the old single-barrel, two-barrel and four-barrel carbs. The four-barrel carb let the engine run on much less fuel when just idling along but as you brought more barrels into play with the accelerator, it would draw more fuel and air and fuel economy fell through the floor. Once you draw on the turbo, you lose economy. The turbo system for economy cars relies on you NOT loading the engine for best economy. The V6, with its higher cylinder mass, has the torque advantage up front, even if relatively marginal, and will use less fuel under load even if it uses slightly more when not.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            Enough with the “Turbo’s Suck”. They are proven tech at this point. If you disagree please site sources of, specifically Ford Ecobost turbo failures in truck applications. I am sure there are some, just as I am sure there are failures related to displacement on demand and all of the other nonsense they use on NA motors.

            With respect to V6’s vs Turbos and Torque, well I tow and took the “Why not both approach”. Frankly my half ton does better mpg wise than any midsizer I ever owned. If you are loaded all of the time, get a bigger truck…these little trucks are at best a compromise in that situation, but if you aren’t the turbo motors are great compromises giving you the ability to work them, but good economy if you stay out of the boost.

            Honestly though, at the end of the day the only one of these IMHO worth owning is the Gladiator because it brings the coolness to the table and the SFA, etc. It is something different. In the realm of real world pricing, a half ton spanks the rest with respect to refinement, capability, and comfort. Real world fuel economy is close enough to not matter. The other modern midsizers are 9/10`s of a half ton size wise, closer price wise, and way down on everything else. I don’t get any of them save the Gladiator…and I am a Ford guy.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Art: “Enough with the “Turbo’s Suck”.” —- You, sir, need to learn how to read an entire statement BEFORE popping off with a knee-jerk reaction like this. I acknowledged that turbos do have their advantages but they do have disadvantages that can be catastrophic.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8RvoppZT0Y

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOdJ2gd4hOQ

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DJk8Cbpf5E

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2T8Se71N_o

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QC5sUPFAIw

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zgy-3IaCJo

            Now, I don’t care how reliable you believe they may be but when they blow, it’s a spectacular event and even if the engine itself isn’t trashed, it’s power is a small fraction of what it needs to handle that load.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            I would be happy to share pictures of 2 of my NA blocks (A GM 2.8 and a 305) that failed in a similarly fantastic manner (the 305 at around 40k no less) when bits of the reciprocating assembly decided they no longer wanted to be constrained in the block. Furthermore I have rebuilt 2 in my garage (80’s Ford Lima 2.3 turbos ironically…not because they “blew” but because the engines they were attached to were getting refreshed as they both had over a quarter million miles on them.

            Modern engines are complex. Turbos are among the simplest bits bolted to them.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Again, Art, perhaps. But if I’m towing something near the limit of the turbocharged engine’s capacity (let’s say 7,000# as an example) and that turbo decides to disassemble itself, then I don’t want to have to try and drag that gross now-overload even to the nearest repair shop at 10mph (if I’m lucky.) Sure, bigger engines blow too, if they’re not properly cared for; but with the V6 I don’t have to worry about the risk. I’ve never had an engine blow on me in almost 50 years of driving. I don’t want it to happen now.

            My next vehicle will very probably be battery-electric. More power than a turbo with a lower fuel cost.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            Yet vehicles literally designed to do nothing but tow and do so for millions of miles have turbos. Yes, they are understressed compared to a modern gasoline turbo, but then again, nobody is asking modern gas turbos to pull 80,000 pounds like those motors either.

            If my turbo failed, I’d call a tow truck. Same as I did when my Caprice punched a hole in the block. 70,000 miles now without incident…pretty low but based on the records of the ones sold before it I lose zero sleep.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            I would counter also that the torque curve of the turbo 4 is much more suited to work than the V6 which even this review notes must be reved to make power. I much prefer the turbos to spin fast vs. the bottom end of the engine.

    • 0 avatar
      bkojote

      It’s all about the transmission.

      Speaking from personal experience, the manual makes all the difference in the world- most of the tests have been with the Taco’s auto trans. The gearing ratios are different, and an engine that feels like it’s lugging and lacking grunt in the auto feels much better balanced (though I’d say it’s still an engine you have to wind out to get more power when you’re not in 4Lo)

      • 0 avatar
        dukeisduke

        It may be the transmission. I drove a friend’s 2016 with automatic, and I thought the 3.5l was wheezy and gutless compared to the 4.0l in my 2013. It may have more horsepower, but it didn’t feel like it had the low-end torque of the 4.0.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        Well duh. I’d rather drive my old 84 hp Saturn SL with a stick than pretty much any automatic equipped car. And yes, the trans makes the car…no one knows this better than the guy who owns a manual in a car that the auto option was a Ford Powershift.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      It sounds like Toyota should put a more responsive automatic trans in the Tacoma. Although I guess they are selling enough of them right now that there is no reason to bother.

      • 0 avatar
        digitaldoc

        The gear hunting, 6 spd sloppy transmission in the Tacoma has been a perennial problem for years now. Needs to be replaced with a better 8 spd one for too long now, but Toyota rests on their laurels, and enjoys the profits instead.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          The 6 speed may be part of the problem (one other reason I didn’t choose the Toyota) but the programming of the engine, Atkinson cycle, actually reads as weaker in economy mode as by holding the valves open longer on the intake means that some of the fuel-air mixture gets pushed back out during the first few degrees of the compression stage. https://news.pickuptrucks.com/2019/02/engine-deep-dive-toyota-tacomas-atkinson-cycle-v-6.html

          As a result, you can have power OR economy but the transition isn’t smooth, especially when the transmission is trying to balance engine load to highway speed. It’s not JUST the transmission but the way the engine operates as well that makes for the hunting and sloppy performance around shift points.

  • avatar
    jfk-usaf

    I’d still take the Frontier. Simple old tech that works. Probably made out of better parts than the Chinese part filled Chevy, a lot cheaper than the Jeep and the Ranger just doesn’t…. do it for me.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      Having ridden in both the Tacoma (I own a 2013) and a Frontier, I’d call the Frontier more cramped inside (especially the back seat).

      And I think any of the examples here, and the Frontier, are made out of better parts than the Chevy.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      Not sure “better parts” and the Frontier really go together.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      No. Just no. I owned a Frontier. The interior scuffs if you look at it funny. My B pillars looked like the lunar surface from the seatbelt hitting it when retracting. Tes, the 4.0 has plenty of power. Yes, my F150 supercrew gets on average 7 mpg better. The bed bent if you crawled in it on your hands and knees. The front bumper’s paint didn’t match the rest of the truck.

      I didn’t hate it, but I paid right at 23k for a crew cab 4.0 auto in 2013. It was worth every penny, but not a penny more.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Note: I do NOT like that “View all Comments” bar. It’s an annoyance at best.

    • 0 avatar
      Blackcloud_9

      Hear! Hear!
      I whole-heartily agree!

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      I’m so friggin tired of:

      Post -> Scroll to the bottom of the article -> Click on Read all Comments -> scroll back to where I was reading

      Not a good user experience.

      Btw: When I Edit a comment, it behaves much better.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Let’s update the complaint: I absolutely hate the new format because it’s too easy to skim past the article on which you want to make a comment or reply to another’s and end up hunting through multiple different articles all with their own comment sections. HIGHLY inefficient and potentially confusing!

  • avatar
    JMII

    I like the comparison style of this article. I’ll need a new midsizer to replace my Dakota at some point. However I am on the opposite end of this off-road use case: I want a 2WD sport truck vehicle, think F150 Lighting. As is I know the GM twins are already too far off the ground for my taste.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Ford is missing a market by not building a Ranger 2wd homage to the sport trucks of the 90s. Add a “drift mode” and bring in the Fast and Furious crowd too.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      so get a 2wd F150 regular cab with the 5.0 or 2.7 Ecoboost if that’s your bag, lower it and throw some rims on it. Such a truck would outperform a Lightning in every objective metric.

      I wish Ford would put the Raptor’s 3.5EB with the Limited’s AWD in such a rig with some Recaro seats akin to the Shelby Mustangs and affix the Lightning emblems.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    The Ranger is the odd man out. I don’t think it belongs with the others in really challenging off-road conditions. Not yet. I’m sure Ford is going to up their game in this category. With the other three, it is personal preference, with the Toyota getting the edge for reliability, as usual.

    If price was the most important consideration, the Nissan Frontier should get a look. Price no object, the Gladiator with the best warranty money can buy is the way to go.

  • avatar
    bkojote

    One thing not mentioned in this review is price, and the way these are optioned out doesn’t make a lot of sense. The TRD Pro is not worth the $8k premium over the TRD Off Road (which is a great value in the mid 30’s.) The excellent Jeep Gladiator, optioned with differentials and features found in the others skyrockets well over 50k (if you want a hard top, which you do.) The Jeep is objectively the best one, but costs a good 50% more.

    The Ranger, well, that one just isn’t worth it at any price. Savagegeese already tore it apart, but it’s just a total flat-out POS and a really lazy effort by Ford. The interior is awful from construction to ergonomics, the interior flexibility is sad in crew cab configurations (no behind seat storage, can’t fold the seat flat) , and the piped in engine noise serves nothing but to remind you of what a piece of garbage it is. Factor in what’s likely going to be the worst reliability of the 4 trucks in this comparison and forget it.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “if you want a hard top, which you do”

      Do I?

      • 0 avatar
        bkojote

        Yep.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          I don’t know about that. I’m pretty sure I’d go for the soft top. Saves some money, much easier to raise/lower when alone and I live in a place with a lot of sun and no cold days.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            The soft top is also easy to replace. Third-party tops tend to become available pretty quickly and they only need to slide the bars into the sewn-in sleeves and refasten them to have a brand-new top.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            I doubt there is a soft top easier to replace than the one I did (twice) on my NA Miata. It was still a PITA.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Art Vandalay: It’s a Jeep thing. You wouldn’t understand if you haven’t owned a Jeep.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            Ih I have owned a couple. I can honestly say I have replaced more manual transmissions behind 4 cylinders (3) than soft tops (1). Honestly the transmission isn’t that much more difficult though that is about as easy of a transmission drop as you are likely to encounter. Still, wish they had made the syncros out of something other than glass

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      Excellent points bko. The Gladiator Rubicon…oy. Very expensive.

    • 0 avatar
      Rick Astley

      Going to have to disagree with you on the Ranger. It’s target may not be (and isn’t) OEM off-roading. Like the JEEP, Bison package equipped Chevy and TRD Pro.

      The FX4 package is most definitely a light-duty offroad package.

      It’s interior, fit, finish and on-road manners put the JEEP and Toyota to shame (have driven all three, including over a thousand miles in the Ranger). No comment on the Chevy, but it doesn’t seem to garner much love by this comparison.

      For what the Ranger was made for (the vast majority of home owners who need a truck to haul stuff and be comfortable enough for work), it hits a home run. It has just enough off-road potential to keep buyers happy, carries plenty, tows plenty, has enough engine to keep people happy, and on-road behaviors the others can’t match.

      If you want less of a “look at how stuffed my jeans are!” truck, you buy a Ridgeline. If you want a true off-road truck…. You didn’t buy any of these and run them straight from the showroom into the mountains (which they “can” do, but not seriously. You spent quite a bit to modify them.

      • 0 avatar
        brn

        Gonna agree with Mr. Astley. I’m also tired of the TRD getting a pass because “It’s a Toyota”. If it had any other badge, it’d be ripped apart for being a terrible ride.

      • 0 avatar
        bkojote

        The FX4 package is the best thing about the Ranger especially on lower trims, but I wholeheartedly disagree with fit/finish. It’s arguably nicer than the Colorado but at least the Colorado is ergonomically sound- the Toyota is assembled better and is at least function over form, and the Jeep has way way nicer details. The build quality inside the Ranger is super sloppy (as have most FoMoCo products as of late. See Ford Edge.

        For example look at the entire button setup in the center stack on higher trims – it’s impossible to operate while the vehicle is in motion bobbing around, and wholly inappropriate for a truck (not surprising as it was just lifted from the Edge/Explorer/etc.) Everything lags from climate control to infotainment and it has the rare honor of making the Toyota’s system feel responsive. They didn’t even bother to update the gauge graphics the MFT-era, which is just icing on the cake of how little effort they put into this.

        It’s not even useful – every other truck in this class can reconfigure the rear for storage in a clever way, but on the Ranger the rear seat doesn’t split fold (and check out the sloppy finishing back there). Adding insult to injury it can’t even fold flat.

        The Taco is conservative but the formula all makes sense and is well thought out. The Frontier is ancient but it was a good design. The Colorado is still super solid. The Ridgeline is clever and surprisingly capable. The Jeep is a luxury item but damn it’s got the kitchen sink. The Ranger is the most half-assed vehicle on sale since the Chrysler Sebring.

  • avatar
    thejohnnycanuck

    I finally saw my first new Ranger in the wild today although I’m not sure why that took so long. I liked it a lot, looks good in the flesh and I was pleasantly surprised at the size. I’ve owned a couple of old Rangers in the past including a new ’09 and other than the extra length because of the rear doors it really doesn’t appear to be a whole lot larger.

    That said I still wouldn’t buy one until Ford sees fit to give it a third pedal.

  • avatar

    What about the Chevrolet’s rubbish interior. It is a GM vehicle after all.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Dude they are midsized trucks…all of those interiors look like they were plucked from an era when one could turn on the radio in them and hear the phrase “Here is a new one from Soundgarden”

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      You may consider the Chevy’s interior ‘rubbish’ but I’ve found it nice enough. It is only a vehicle after all, not a luxury apartment.

  • avatar
    newenthusiast

    “Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area in Eastern Pennsylvania”

    Northumberland County. My 4th grade teacher lived in Frackville and commuted everyday 60+ miles to Northampton County in a…..Ford Festiva….

    He was a former college basketball player, so I’m not sure if he was just thrifty or thought a 6’6″ man in a Festiva was hilarious.

    Never missed a day because of weather though. And he lived where it was MUCH snowier than where I lived.

    Anyway, AOAA is cool. Rode along with a friend once, an easy drive down I-81 from were I went to college. My only experience off-roading in a truck. It was fun, but I’ve never been able to justify owning a vehicle to do that since my everyday needs as an adult are so different.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Strangely, those old Festivas weren’t short on headroom. It was like a phone booth on wheels. The Aspire that replaced them however, was garbage.

      • 0 avatar
        newenthusiast

        I thought the Aspire was just the name for the 2nd gen Festiva in North America? I agree, not as boxy as the Festiva.

        A kid in my HS who I jammed with in my first ‘band’ had the first gen as a daily beater in 1992-1993. Not a lot of leg room, but head room wasn’t an issue. With the rear seats down his guitar, my bass, and the small PA system somehow crammed in.

        I think the Subaru Justy was the sub-compact with the tallest greenhouse, though.

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