With California’s Zero Emissions Vehicle mandate looming it is only a matter of time till we see an EV from each of the major players in the California market. Nissan has the Leaf, BMW has the Active E, GM has the Volt and Honda electrified a Fit and Ford has electrified everything that isn’t nailed down. That brings us to the elephant in the room: Toyota. To give us some insight into Toyota’s CARB (California Air Resources Board) compliance plans [s]and to see the fruits of the unlikely Toyota/Tesla marriage[/s], Toyota flew us to sunny Southern California to sample the 2013 RAV4 EV.
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?
Finally something tangible out of the Toyota/Tesla-hookup: Tesla and Toyota will build an electric version of Toyota’s RAV4 compact crossover. According to a communiqué by Toyota, the two companies signed an agreement to that effect. The E-RAV4 is supposed to be available in the United States in 2012. So fast? Well, it’s as simple as combining the Toyota RAV4 model with a Tesla electric powertrain, says Toyota. The first prototype has already been built and is now undergoing testing. Tesla will “produce and deliver a fleet of prototypes to Toyota for evaluation within this year.”
That was fast: Two days after Consumer Reports slammed the Lexus GX460 with a “Do Not Buy” rating, and one day after ToMoCo halted the sale of said vehicle, Toyota already has a fix. Today at lunchtime in Tokyo, Toyota said to The Nikkei [sub] that there will be changes to the Lexus GX460. This in an unusually quick response to CR’s assertion that the SUV’s tail can wag too much when the gas pedal is released while turning at high speeds.
A few weeks ago, we reported that the commerce bureau and consumer protection committee of China’s Zhejiang Province’s called on Toyota to compensate drivers for costs stemming from its recall of the RAV4. The bureau wanted that Toyota supplies loaner cars while the RAV4 is in the shop (Toyota says the reflash takes 30 minutes.) The Chinese also suggested that Toyota compensates drivers for gasoline and other expenses involved in bringing cars back to dealerships. At the time, Toyota had a polite “no thanks,” for the request. Now, Toyota changed their minds. They will pay.
All right, I have a thing about short cars. I haven’t spoken to a therapist about it yet. Perhaps its just a reaction against the obesity crisis in modern cars and trucks. But where did they all go? There were once so many of them. Well, I’m going to collect all of them: Have the Suzuki Samurai, X-90 and the shorty Kia Sportage. That leaves as few to still find: