2012 Ultimate 4x4 Shootout Preview No. 4

Ultimate 4x4 Group 6 II

Here is the last of our four Ultimate 4x4 Shootout highlight videos: a brief walk around each of the competitors.

Here's the quick background if you're a first-timer here. This all started when we heard from you — our readers and truck-loving fans — after we published our Duel in the Desert (SVT Raptor vs. Mopar Ram Runner) and set of videos. More than a few readers noted that particular Shootout could be considered unfair because the Raptor was a factory-built supermodel and the Ram Runner was basically an aftermarket Frankenstein.

Fine, we said, let's test our way to the ultimate champion of all factory-offered four-wheel-drive packages and settle this once and for all. We asked the various pickup manufacturers to send us their best 4x4s so we could compete them in 10 head-to-head contests, culminating in our first-ever Ultimate 4x4 Shootout champion.

The four trucks we have for this contest, in alphabetical order by brand, are the Ford SVT Raptor, Nissan Frontier PRO-4X, Ram Power Wagon ST and Toyota Tacoma TRD Baja (highlighted below). It's important to note before anyone cries foul that, with a new truck on the horizon, GM declined to participate in our Shootout either of their midsize or full-size Z71 packages.

You've seen the first (SVT Raptor), second (Frontier PRO-4X) and third (Power Wagon) highlight videos from our Ultimate 4x4 Shootout, and here's the final one, with our full story and competition video coming next week.



Wow, did you hear those angry squirrels barking?

36,000 Dollars for this grocery hauler. Wow. I cant believe that. Thats what I paid in 03 for my 4x4. What can this anemic 6 cylinder haul a jet ski in the slow lane. LOL I thought the DROF club was drunk on the blue Kool Aid. Whew!

This truck will probably be second fastest to 60 mph (behind the Raptor), and have the best stopping distance.

The following may sound uncharacteristically harsh, coming from me:
Mixed results on the TRD exhaust is right- my brother's Taco came with it, and it just makes an aweful drone on light throttle. And medium throttle... and full throttle. Not satisfying at all. I don't get why the Tacoma is the only vehicle left with the intake only VVT 1GR engine. Even the Tundra, built in the same plant in San Antonio gets the upgraded engine. With 31" BFGs, it has to be a slug. They could at least give the Off-road and tow package trucks a 3.92 or even 4.10 gear. All TRD Off-road trucks should at least have these springs with their regular monotube Bilsteins.

The 2 kings of big trucks in the back, the 2 kings of small trucks up front. No Chevrolet's here. Too bad Chevy isn't getting it done off road anymore. They were once the kings of all things truck. I'll still run my 85 Chevy on the trails though and I wouldn't have it any other way.

After looking at all 4 video's, the Tacoma seems to be lackluster. It looked like it was powering out climbing the sandhill. The rock steps seemed to be an issue as well.
My money is on the Nissan. It seemed to fly up the sand hill, and looked like it was slowly crawling up the rock steps.
The Power Wagon looked like it was beating itself to death on the rock steps. The Raptor didn't look like it was having an easy time either. The PW also looked like it was scrambling for traction on the sandhilll.

I think I'd buy the Nissan if I were going to buy one of these 4 trucks for offroad work. I , heaven forbid, do not want to sound like Oxi, but for all around offroading with a truck one needs a smaller truck. Jeep - ARE YOU LISTENING?
Personally, I'd rather have some quads and dirtbikes and leave the truck at the trail head.
Any of these trucks will put a smile on your face. It all depends on preference and/or mission parameters.
Only 1 can be a winner in a shootout.
Bring on the results and the subsequent whining, complaining and gloating from the poor winners and losers.

I agree with Lou. After rewatching all four videos, from the very limited footage in the clips, the taco looked like it struggled the most, followed by the raptor. The frontier and power wagon looked like they handled things ok with maybe a slight edge to the frontier. Based on specs though I would expect the power wagon to be able to outdo the frontier if they hit the right terrain. Disconnecting from sway bar can make a big difference on rutted and uneven terrain. Front locker *can* make a difference, but I would be amazed if PUTC found a location where only a front locker could just barely let the truck eek through. Front locker can also help with some of the problem of not having a disconnecting sway bar, sadly I think that only the powerwagon has a front locker. Think that the Raptor has a torsen in the front though.

We have a rough idea how they will do against each other in different categories, but there's also value and bang for your buck. Not just against each other but against there own regular or everyday 4X4 counterparts.

The Frontier's Pro 4X pkg (the mildest of the bunch) is approx $4K with mid-level luxury for a total of $31K

The Tacoma's Baja TRD TX pkg is approx $8K with mid-level luxury for a total of $36K

The Ram 2500's Power Wagon pkg is approx $10K on an ST with vinyl seats and rubber floor (which I don't mind) for a total of $45K

The F-150's Raptor pkg is approx $10 over a mid-level XLT, but includes the 6.2L engine and Lariat-level luxury. This plus the extra $10 in options that dealers saddle them up with, for a total of $53K

Oxy would rather take the cash and build/mod it up himself, but we're not him. Most people looking to spend this kind of scatch for a toy, usually have more money than time or tools.

The software upgrades like hill descent and selectable traction/slip settings are better left up the OEMs though. Never mind widening the frame and fenders.

@DenverMike - agreed. Guys who build their own are different animals and rarely have I seen guys like that start with a brand new truck.
The biggest mods most go for are a mild dealer installed lift kit, maybe dealer catback exhaust, a set of decent offroad tires, and maybe a winch.
I am always surprised that the heaviest modified trucks I see are HD diesels. Lifts, big tires, engine mods, EGR deletes are farely common where I live. These types never go offroad and you can always hear them at 2 am revving them out and burning rubber. Tire smoke and soot abound.

@phillyguy - My money is on the Nissan. It is the cheepest, and from the limited footage, didn't loose anything to the Tacoma. If they rely heavily on "high speed" stuff the finish order will most likely be: 1. Raptor, 2. Tacoma, 3. Nissan, 4. PW.
If it is supertight trails I'd score it: 1. Nissan, 2. Tacoma, 3. PW, 4. Raptor
If it is more open ground with severe rock crawling, I'd score it:
1. PW, 2. Nissan, 3.Raptor, 4.Tacoma
The results are completely dependant upon the test criteria.

A shootout of all the factory 1/2 ton "offroad" packages would make the most sense. FX4 vs Outdoorsman vs TRD Offroad vs Z71 vs Pro-4X. That would at least make them all directly comparable.

I always like to run the prices through Truecar since MSRPs can be way off. If you think think the prices you just listed seem like a deal then check out the truecar pricing for a Frontier. I just loaded up a Pro4x crew cab, with every option:

luxury package
bed extender and hitch
ipod interface
front/rear floor mats

Those were all of the choices.

Final price came to$29,837. Nissan has some good incentives right now. I know a guy that got one 4-5 months ago for $29,000. I really like the truck too. The crew cab in the frontier is too small in the back, but if you just want it for groceries or whatever the folding seats work well. I also like a little bit longer bed. I know this has the bed extender, but I would rather just have a 6-6.5 ft bed, so I would personally go for a king cab. The skids that come from the factory are pretty useless. They will absolutely have to be replaced if you want to wheel with the truck. If you're just putting around the hunting camp they'll be fine. He hasn't tried with his (its brand new) but I think you can slap on slightly bigger tires from the getgo without a lift. Although a slight lift is probably a good idea on the truck if you really want to go wheeling. Actually don't remember where the air intake is, and whether or not a snorkel setup is readily available in the aftermarket, but its always nice to have that option. All in all the pro4x is a great value, and the entire frontier line is a great value. They have had issues with the transmission and radiator mixing and with the diff breather flooding in the past. Think they fixed the radiator issue, don' think they have fixed the breather tube issue. Simple to take care of yourself, if you know about them.

Look at your truck (nissan) now look at mine (toyota) now back at yours, now back to mine. You notice that? Im 6 inches higher from the ground on the break angle. Now back at yours. Im on a horse.

The tacoma has everything tucked well away. Nissan is like a sedan.

The Ram was $25,000 more than Raptor in the Duel in the Desert and nobody cared about pricing. Now it's all about pricing? I hope not. They are different classes. If the idea is to rectify the Duel in the Desert, just keep it about the shootout, and not all about price.

Bilstein: Not "bill-steen", but "bill-STINE". And if you are Germain, "Bill-SHTINE"

You can get snorkels for the Frontier, if you haven't got them you can probably buy one on the net. We have them for our 4 litre V6 Navara's.

Also a 2" lift on the Frontier would be an easy option to give it that little bit of an edge. Having a soft spot for the Nissan I hope it can perform well.

It's all about money. Why fork out an extra 20k for something if you don't required it. I know the Raptor and Ram will out accelerate the Toyota or Nissan, but for an off road application its how you get the power down and traction. Some of the most capable of road vehicles have less than 250hp.

It would be interesting to see the V6 base models against one another to give a better idea on their suspension and chassis performance of road.

Go Taco!

Seriously I agree with Lou in some areas...

The Tacoma stands taller in ALL off-road angles, something to ponder...

I would rather buy a stockish pickup that fits your personal needs and build it up from there unless your lazy or have no knowledge about off-roading let alone been out there much...

I have always been a fan of 4-cylinder powered off-road capable pickups and today, only Toyota offers that option!

And unlike the top of the line Tacoma Baja edition, I have 4.10 ring gear in the rear with my 5-speed MANUAL transmission!

That plays a huge role over the stock V-6 with 5-speed handicap transmission in the test vehicle, that is I can have more control over RPM bands and torque levels: advantage manual transmission folks!

Look what I have completed with my original stock-ish pickup and I am still under the price of the Baja edition in stock form! I am more capable off-road...


Rear suspension now comes with Fox 2.0's with resivoirs, Toyota is stealing my ideas, lol!


Oxi, how much gear is your truck loaded with in those pictures because the rear is sagging. Looks like you have Dakkars?


It is parked on an angle and she is pretty level, no gear at all...

No custom Deaver 9-pack 700lbs. over stock...

OMG oxi! what do you have in that poor truck? with all those springs and it looks like you are about 2-3" away from the bottom out stops! if you have to drive around with all that, you would be better off with an old 3/4 ton beeter, and unload you taco! the frame and drum brakes were not built to haul all that around, and if you were to ge into an accident, and your insurance co. finds out about all that unrated weight you are driving around with you could be thrown onder the bus by you ins. adjuster! whatch out it has happened before!

I have to agree with Oxi and Lou. I also agree with Oxi that anyone that would be a serious off-roader is going to build their own and whatever they build is going to be more capable. No serious off-roader is going to take one of these trucks out with their expensive plastic parts and watch them break. These are expensive muscle machines that represent an era that will soon end just as the muscle car craze. They won't necessarily go completely away but they will fade in popularity. They are only a nitch product.

With Tacoma and Frontier basically the only smaller trucks left they will fill in the void that the GM twins have left for the next couple of years and they have already filled in the gap left by Ranger. Eventually the Chinese will come in and take some of the market as well. GM will have to have a competitive Colorado/Canyon in the next few years are they will be totally left out. Either the Frontier or the Tacoma are good midsize choices and both Toyota and Nissan have been in the American small truck market for over 50 years with a proven track record. I would easily take either one of them as a choice and have no regrets.

Oh and bigger is not always better @HemiV-8 Tacoma is plenty capable and is not just a grocery hauler. Toyota and Nissan trucks are used around the World in the most hostile environments. I would not call the Australian Outback, South Africa, and the Southeast Asian jungles easy places.


36k back in 03, what does your truck have on it, 20's? Ten years ago with inflation is about 45k today. Not such a close comparison as you said huh? Your 45k truck with 4x4 but no off road package im guessing versus the Taco, what can your mall crawler tackle that this can't? Different strokes for different folks buddy...

Everybody has an opinion--some better than others--so here's mine.

First off, both big trucks seemed to have more trouble on the steps than the smaller ones. I think I'll give that over to the smaller trucks' shorter wheelbase allowing them to move back and forth at a sharper angle and thus having more overall grip. Of the larger trucks, the Power Wagon seem better as it wasn't bouncing nearly as much as the Raptor. The same seems true on the sand hill as well as the rocks.

Personal view so far is that the Nissan might be the better of the smaller trucks because its suspension isn't set up for desert racing. The RAM will be the better of the larger trucks for the same reason. Simply put, most off-roading isn't Baja-style racing, it's crawling through creek beds, climbing steep slopes and essentially taking whatever terrain your path leads you to. The Raptor and Baja may be faster, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're the best for all-around 4-wheeling.

Oxi, I have to agree with Sandman about those rears; it looks like you have hardly any flex remaining at all back there, putting almost all of the work on the front suspension. What good is all that shock capability if you're hitting the stops all the time.

Judging by the lack of curve in those springs, that bed cover, wheel carrier and who know what-all you're carrying in the bed, you're pretty much loaded out with no extra capacity. Considering how you've often touted how much load you claim to carry, it really looks like you're riding the frame rather than any suspension when you do.

Welcome back Oxi and thanks for the positve contribution to the story.

Each truck has unique strengths and weaknesses. I'm looking foreward to seeing what the test criteria are. The video's showed 4 trucks playing in an offroad park. Not really what I'd call offroading. One must assume that living in a heavily populated area like Caifornia that there are limits to where one can offroad.
The Raptor's strength is stability at speed. That requires suspension and width. The trade off is a wide truck with a loss of cargo capacity. It makes the truck a poor choice for tight narrow terrain.

The Power Wagon's strength is capacity and crawling. To gain that ability a 3/4 ton is used with solid axles. The trade off is a big heavy 3/4 ton. It makes the truck a poor choice for tight trails or soft ground where floatation is necessary.

The Tacoma' strength is its size and ability to soak up bumps. The trade off is cargo capacity. It seems to me that even though it is a smaller truck, it looked underpowered. It is the biggest small truck on the market. Combine that with bigger than stock tires and a setup made for higher speeds - it looses tight terrain ability. That is an area where it should shine.

The Frontier has an advantage of decent offroad performance in a next to stock truck. The trade off is that it won't ride as nice as the Tacoma or Raptor. It also won't have the capacity of the PW. It does seem to have the best features a small truck should have. Decent power to pull it up hills, ability to navigate tight areas. Decent capacity and cost.

I could find reasons to buy each truck for where I live.
The Raptor would give me the best ride on the tens of thousands of miles of gravel roads where I live. That could save me hours of travel time.
Big negative- extremely expensive in Canada.
The Tacoma like the Raptor would give excellent ride on those same roads.
Big negative - quads can carry more gear. Probably not available in Canada (haven't found any info from any dealers)
The PW would give the most capacity for carrying gear into remote areas.
Big negative - 3/4 ton ride, size and fuel economy. Expensive too.
The Frontier would give the best all around offroad capacity compared to the Tacoma for a price that would allow me to buy other toys.
Big negative - isn't really strong in one area.

I'd rather stick with what I got. My truck will take me and my family where I need to go. My toys will cover the rest of the geography.

At the end of the day - buy what you want.
Your choice is just as valid as mine.

@Jeff S
You are correct that hp isn't the winner in off roading in the outback.

I have made a couple of comments regarding the weight carrying capacity of these vehicles. They wouldn't be very useful over here because of that important deficiency.

Most of our aftermarket gear on 4x4s is storage, suspension and protection. You guys tend to lift more radically than we do for no good reason other than looks. And at that a lot of 2wd pickups were lifted. That is totally alien to us.

As for engine power you don't required a massive amount of power, why have it if it isn't really usable.

Diesel is the best engine for off roading and off road touring.

Off road and off road touring is much bigger here than probably in any other country.

Aftermarket off road accesories is a massive market here, TJM, ARB and Old Man Emu are all Australian businesses.

Ok everyone it's time to post how you think it's going to go down.
Let's see who can pick it right.
My unbiased results are

1 Tacoma
2 PW
3. Raptor
4 Frontier

I think you hit the nail on the head with the styles of off roading available to people.

On our south east coast petrol engines would work, abeit much more expensive to operate off road than diesel. But you are never far from civilisation.

Up where I'm at in the NT, distance is described in time. Just to go fishing "locally" a 7 hour drive with 5 or 6 of them off road is very normal. This is where diesel is far superior to gas in lower speed operation the diesel is getting 50+% better fuel economy. We tow a 20' length boat with all the camping gear for several days and a family, that is a lot of weight to move in off road conditions. Most of this is done with our mid size trucks and Landcruiser/Patrol style SUVs.

@Jeff S
The Colorado when it is released will be a superior vehicle to the Toyota and Nissan, especially off road. The Tacoma and Frontier are becoming obsolete in the technology and chassis performance area.

Its a shame you have to wait for these vehicles. Like you said once the Chinese start to compete in the small pickup market like here, people will look at costs. People who can't afford to come into the 4x4 pickup market will be able to.

Like here the cost of operating 4x4 vehicles is much more expensive that small cars, so operating costs is a very significant factor in buying one of these vehicles. Especially the Raptor and Tacoma which target the person who want to buy off the shelf.

@Jeff S
The Colorado when it is released will be a superior vehicle to the Toyota and Nissan, especially off road. The Tacoma and Frontier are becoming obsolete in the technology and chassis performance area.

Its a shame you have to wait for these vehicles. Like you said once the Chinese start to compete in the small pickup market like here, people will look at costs. People who can't afford to come into the 4x4 pickup market will be able to.

Like here the cost of operating 4x4 vehicles is much more expensive that small cars, so operating costs is a very significant factor in buying one of these vehicles. Especially the Raptor and Tacoma which target the person who want to buy off the shelf.

@Big Al, I don't think the styling of the Colorado as is will fly in the States. It needs to be reskinned big time. A new front end and a new bed with taillight redesign. It looks more foreign that both the Tacoma and Titan and as a Chevrolet it's supposed to be "America's Truck". If I recall, you mentioned (or someone here did) about how cheap and poor of quality the interior is. That likewise needs to be fixed if Chevy wants to get in the ring with Toyota and Nissan. In all honesty, if they do those things and come out swinging, they might have a real chance with the small truck-mid size truck crowd. They're as finicky as the HD crowd.

I still say Ford is screwing up by not bringing that new Ranger to the States. That's an out of the box winner in both styling and quality.

I totally agree with the build quality issues on the Colorado. But GM should be able to resolve them at the factory.

As for the looks the DMax version the pickup is much prettier. Unfortunately pickups will change their "looks". I do think the Colorado is uglier than my BT50.

But its chassis and suspension performance here in Australia is supposed to be quite good.

I hope GM is listening to some of these comments as they appear to be relatively simple to fix.

In Australia the Toyota and Nissans are by far the largest selling utes and the most outdated.

The Toyota Hilux is simply old school, way overpriced and is lacking in all areas of performance like your Tacoma in NA. Like I said hopefully GM can produce a nice Colorado.

But the Toyota is relatively reliable and looks reasonable.

@Big Al, I hope the new Colorado is a winner for Chevrolet. I really do. GM is a habitual violator of extreme bean counting though. While I have not seen the Colorado interior in person for example, I have read the comparison here on PUTC between the Colorado and Ranger. When it was mentioned by some that the interior was somewhat poor on the Colorado compared to the Ranger, I no doubt can believe it. GM notoriously cuts costs on interiors. The exterior design really does need to be fixed as well. That's not a bean counter issue. That's an overall design failure for the North American market anyway. It looks like an Equinox with a bed from a Chinese truck. I have no doubts about it's capabilities. I'm sure it can off road with the best of them. None of that matters though if it looks bad. You need both Form And Function to sell a truck in big numbers. It appears that the Colorado as I've seen it has the function down pat. It's the form that's lacking. Likewise, the best looking truck will not sell in big numbers either without the function. That's why Both are required for high dollar purchases like 4x4 trucks.

For those who are saying the Tacoma is under powered, lets remember that just 6-7 years ago V8s were putting out 225-260 HP. V6s do that these days (albeit without as much torque). What we are hauling has not changed (boats/lumber/campers etc) have not gotten heavier, so why the need to have so much extra HP is 240HP not enough? 6500lb towing capacity not enough? Really?

You are very correct about the hp requirements for a pickup. Below is the link from Robert Ryan. The base engine for the F-350 was a 6cyl with less hp and far less torque than my diesel mid size. You know what they worked quite well.

To many people are caught up on the horsepower needs. I do know some want muscle car performance etc, but most want a ute/pickup for utilatarian purposes. As DenverMike stated you need all the horsepower to merge on an on ramp onto a freeway.

There was even an Australian built F350 in 1979, 6.8 Litre Gas engine(DenverMike note)

Welcome back, brother!

@Big Al from Oz--I have nothing against the Raptor or the Power Wagon except maybe they are too big and too expensive for most off-roading which I have seen where I live except it is not the desert but the woods, hills, and farm land and a lot of passages are too narrow for something this big. I have seen lots of old Toyota trucks, old Rangers, old S-10s, old Bronco IIs, and old Blazers. Those trucks being adapted and more on the lines of something Oxi would make and many of these are not daily drivers. I have seen a few Raptors but they are all shined up and are either used for daily drivers or for show. There is a younger gal around me that has an orange extended cab Raptor that is a couple of years old but it appears to be used on the street only. Of course I will not be critical of that since my crewcab Isuzu has never been off-road or has seen a dirt or a gravel road but my 2 wheel drive S-10 and my Mitsu Mighty Max saw everything.

@FordTrucks 1--I too am skeptical of GM and the bean counters. At the very least on the exterior if the grill of the Colorado looked more like the Isuzu D Max that would help and make the top part of the doors soft touch and parts of the dash soft touch like my S-10 that would be better. Surely that would be nominal cost. My 08 Isuzu has a much better grill than the comparable Colorado and Canyon (it looks more expensive and like a totally different truck). At this point though with only two other comparable trucks on the market, Tacoma and Frontier, I would take a serious look at it if the rest were good.

The 4 cylinder in my S-10 is pretty good and it has a steel timing chain not a timing belt. The 5 cylinder in my Isuzu is good as well with a steel timing chain but it is a little more thirsty and not much different in economy than a V-6 but it is a strong motor and with 242 horsepower it is more than adequate. We will see but I hear you FordTrucks1 and I concur.

@Oxi-Welcome back as well and good to hear from you. It is nice to hear from another smaller truck fan. I have been getting beat up by these F-150 Ford fans that think that small trucks are a niche product that needs to go away. Big Al has backed me up and so has Lou but some of the others have been pretty bad. Also the Ram Spammers have more than taken over from Big Bob and have gotten out of hand. We are missing Big Bob as well since we are getting over Rammed. We need to have a little more variety and we missed you Bro.


My rear springs may look odd at times, but they work just fine!

End of July, took a 1,200 mile camping trip, I had estimated 1,600 lbs. payload overall, so a decent payload including 4 loaded fuel cans, tent, 2 chairs on top in the roof basket to load test it, yeah the rear suqated and just about rode the whole way on the bumpstops but again, no issues!

Remember I like to build similar to desert style racing, with that said the focus remains with downtravel, not up...

Toyota's have always been downtravel or droop known so my rear is mostly setup for droop and minor up travel for those annoying concrete patches that are uneven, etc...

As long as my bumpstops remain intact, no chance in h/ll for bottoming out those Fox 2.0's... they are 14" stroke, so plenty of downtravel as I off-road in slower speeds, not desert speeds... the setup is near bulletproof, that is why I like the desert style suspension setups that is I can handle moderate speeds off-road near empty but she can handle heavier payloads at gental speeds off-road, which is what I seek for this setup...

No issues to this day with the rear leaf springs!

@Jeff S.,


I still think their is a market for these mid-sized pickups!

I had those compact Toyota's, they were great off-road because of their nimble size, sure but were tough as nails but offered little in cargo capacity and payload thoug I have seen many overloaded and they do just fine...

With my 97 Tacoma, I rubbed elbows with my wife, had to store our suitcases in the bed along with other gear, etc...

Again tough as nails and relibale little pickups but not real world practical if you own a home, take longer trips or have a family... at best it would be your personal bud pickup like you hear many Ranger guys talk about that is getting to the fishing hole pulling a small boat, going to work, stuff like that...

When the 2005 Tacoma debuted, it just about hit the marks of what I was seeking in a pickup!

The cab was larger, we each got our own bucket seats, room behind the seats in accesscab configuration for suitcases and other gear and a 6' foot bed ready to accept cargo for our new home and life in general...

And it is still nimble enough to drive around town, park it in the garage and get through some tighter spaces on and off-road...

And I love that 2.7 liter 4-cylinder with 5-speed manual and 4.10 ring gear that I have! Gret combo, it's no speed demon on the pavement but that is not the focus and with the manual I get better control of my launches off the stoplights anyways and it is sweet off-road to have that manual...

I had the 4.0L V6 running 325hp at the crank and 380 ft/lbs. torque also with the 6-speed manual in the old X-Runner I had but I prefer the 2.7L in my 4x4...

Agaian how many 4-cylinder pickups on the market of late can off-road like a Tacoma can?

With the 4-cylinder I get many features the V6 has like the suspension basics, ground clearance, axle size though 4.10 ring gear is sweet, cooling package, 6-bolt lugs, etc...

Their is a place for a mid-size and Toyota Tacoma's sales prove this!

Some folks just do not want to deal with the size of a full-size everyday or want some decent off-roadability...

They want a simple and reliable pickup...

A family just moved in about 5 houses down, brand new 4-door Tacoma 4x4 2012 model, folks are still buying them and sales are up over 20% from last year levels...

@Oxi--They will always buy smaller trucks. I kept my 99 S-10 extended cab and use it for my hauling and parking at the bus stop. You are correct in that the size of my S-10 would not meet the needs of a family with kids and pets but for my wife and I it gets the job done and it only has 97k miles which I put on in 13 1/2 years of ownership. My Isuzu 4x4 with a crewcab would be a good second vehicle for families as would the Tacoma crewcab your new neighbors have. I see lots of Tacoma crewcab 4x4s and most of the people I know that have them love them. One of my neighbors and a friend has a 2002 Tacoma 4x4 extended cab with 5 speed with 60k on it and he was offered more than what he paid for it a couple of years ago, but he does not want to part with it at any price.

There are quite a few older Toyotas, Nissans, S-10s, and Rangers around me that are 2 wheel drive owned by retired guys and you see a few young guys that drive around in these older trucks that are customized. An inexpensive base compact truck is still great for younger people that want the utility of a truck without the full size and need the fuel economy of a 4 cylinder. My 99 S-10 has a 5 speed and gets about 21 mpgs around town and 27 mpgs on the open road (I have done mileage checks and keep a log of all mileage).

They stopped making the current Colorado and there are about 6.000 nationwide in stock which will go down considerably over the next few months. For the next couple of years Tacoma and Frontier have the market to themselves and both will have considerably more increases in sales. Ranger nationwide has about 125 new trucks available which are mostly V-6 4x4s so they are not even a factor now and if Ford changes their minds about the small truck market in the US it will probably be too late because a couple of Chinese truck manufacturers are currently looking for places to put truck assembly plants in the US. I think a lot of guys on this site underestimate the potential of compact and midsize trucks especially when fuel prices continue their climb upwards. We will see but I think it will be a question of when and not if.

I like my Isuzu but I actually prefer my S-10 with the 5 speed manual and the greater maneuverabilty (it is just more fun to drive).

@Jeff S,

It is nice that I can still park my mid-size with little effort in our garage next to the wife's Subaru and still have room to work around...

In just it's third endurance race, the Toyota Hybrid team dominated and won the FIA World Endurance Championship at the Six Hours of Sao Paulo at Interlagos...


So I cannot wait to see what type of technology Toyota will place in their next generation Tacoma soon...

I will be in the market for a vehicle to replace my old 1996 Corrola that gets 38mpg with over 200,000 miles on her in a few years and cannot wait to see what the next Tacoma will offer compared to the next Colorado!

Ford's obsession with everyone owning an F-150 by axing the Ranger will be their downfall or at least get something durable in their lineup to replace the Ranger, sorry suv's do not cut it for me...

We need competition in this category and life was good when we had the S-10 ZR-2's, Rangers, Tacoma's, Hardbodies, Dakota's...

Now it's just full-size guys fighting amonst themselves!

I'll still buy another mid-size in 2015 if they meet my criteria or else an FJ Cruiser used or older Mega-Cruiser troop hauler version...

If you cannot parallel park it with ease, why bother... I do not pull large trailers so no need for that full-size!

this true ford have a lawsuit for the llc injection they stole the pattern from shoul.hou in philadelphia court..

@Oxi-I agree that the axing of the Ranger without a viable replacement will hurt Ford in the long run. Most midsize truck buyers are not going to buy a full size just out of loyalty to Ford. Sure there will be some but not most. Some of these former Ranger buyers have blogged on this site that they have already gone to Frontier, Tacoma, and Colorado.

You possibly might have more information than I but my feeling is that Tacoma will not have any major changes until the new Colorado comes out and possibly the new Great Wall of China truck. For all we know they are probably working on a new Tacoma now or have been but they are waiting to see what comes out. It will be interesting to see what happens with the Frontier as well. It would be hard for me to believe that either Toyota and Nissan will not do anything once some more competitors enter the market. For we midsize truck buyers this should make things even better.

Ford is focusing most of the attention on the F-150 at the expense of their other products. In the next few years I will be buying a new midsize crossover, but I want fuel economy that is at least in the mid 20s with a premium package (heated and cooled leather seats, power passenger seats, handsfree phone, navigation system, and etc.). Ford's Explorer and Edge offers an Eco-Boost 4 cylinder as an optional but with this option you get cloth seats and little else. GM offers V-6s in their midsize cross overs that get 17mpgs. Ford offers 6 exterior color choices. The Kia Sorento offers everything with the 4 cylinder even 4 wheel drive and a full optioned out Sorento with a 4 cylinder is not much more and the fuel economy is what I am looking for and it is made in Georgia (it offers 10 exterior color choices). I have a couple of years before I buy but if the domestics don't offer what I want then I will buy Japanese or Korean. I don't want to be told by Ford or their fans that Ford is not interested in my opinion and that they cannot make money offering what I want. This is for my wife and she wants the luxuary items and I want the most efficient midsize crossover I can get that meets this criteria. This will be our retirement vehicle.

Corollas are good cars and I know many a Corolla owner that has gone well beyond 200k Same with Camry. I have another neighbor who works for Toyota North American headquarters that has a 1992 Camry with a 4 cylinder which is still going strong after more than 200k and plans to run it till it quits (he bought it new and it will probably run for a long long time). I have never owned a Toyota but I am sure that there will be one in my future. I have owned a 85 Mitsubishi Mighty Max (14 years and over 200K) and my wife had a 77 Honda Accord for over 17 years so I know that Japanese vehicles have a good track record.

I have gone beyond domestic manufacturers and as long as it is made in the USA and it meets my criteria then that is good enough.

@ Jeff, I would not buy a 4 cylinder Sorento or Santa Fe. Those vehicles are 4K lbs + and the 4 they put in them leaves it feeling very weak, but to each his own. The new turbo 4 in the new santa fe sport is fantastic though.

I really wonder why Nissan isn't busting their butts to update the Frontier. Slightly improved interior design/features/materials (which they can take from their other vehicles), maybe an auto 4WD setting on the transfer case (which they can take from the pathfinder), and find some fuel savings and they will have the dominant truck in the mid size market. Now is the time for Nissan to make their move with all of the Americans out of the market and stupid Toyota resting on their laurels.

@phillyguy-Thanks for the info I will look into the turbo 4 Sante Fe. I bet as soon as the new Colorado and GWC truck come out you will see updates to the Frontier and Tacoma. I would find it hard to believe that Toyota and Nissan would not come back with a better more up to date product.

@ Jeff, you are probably right. It just seems ridiculous to me right now. Even minor cosmetic improvements to the Frontier would help move a lot more. When I travel out to rural PA and talk to various people it seems that *most* want a mid size truck. Those with Tacos want some feature or another or want something updated, since the current ones are the same as what they have.

The guys with half tons have looked at new half tons, would prefer a mid size, but since all of the new half tons are all whiz bang bells and whistles these guys expect the mid sizes to have those, and be cheaper, since they are currently priced pretty close to the half tons and have the same mileage as the half tons.

The guys with Ridgelines all love them to death, and most wouldn't consider getting any other truck. I have a buddy with a Ridgeline, it works really well for what it is. They are incredible in crappy weather. AWD setups have some nice advantages.

I do my "complaining" about the frontier because I see very few in rural PA, yet they would fit into what most of these guys want pretty well. Usually its one or two little things that if Nissan would improve they could really boost sales to these types of people. Have one buddy w/ a fairly new Frontier and I think that they're fantastic. I would really like to see more people buy them, and Nissan seems much more likely to work to improve than Toyota, since Toyota is leading the market by a large margin. Only way my next truck won't be a Frontier is if the spiking gas prices force down used half ton prices to the point where I can get a fun/project half ton substantially cheaper than a Frontier.

In regards to this comparison I would love to have a Power Wagon or Raptor like truck, I just can't imagine spending that much on something unless I had a true business need for it. $50,000 to me means I can easily go through 3 used Frontiers, or go through 2 extremely heavily modified frontiers, with some change left over. But, I really like trucks and I am glad that people buy the expensive stuff. Keeps the manufacturers making more of everything.

@phillyguy-It is great to have a choice. I think if gas prices go up dramatically and stay there for a while there will be a lot of good buys in full size used and new. I do hope it does not get as bad as 4 years ago--you could get a real bargain then but too many people were hurt and that is something that I hope won't happen for a long time. In my 40 plus years of driving I have yet to hear of a Datsun or Nissan compact truck owner have nothing but positive things to say about their trucks. That would be enough for me to put them on my list. I agree I am glad there are those that buy the more expensive trucks because it helps the workers that make them and it gives them a product they like. I feel the same way about smaller trucks, and any vehicle--choice is good. Thanks again about the tip on the Sante Fe, I will be researching that as well. Have a good evening.

There is a NA market for mid size pickups.

The August pickup sales shows a signifcant difference of improvement between full size and "small" pickup trucks.

Both have improved but the smaller pickups have improved significantly over the full size trucks.

I purchased a full sized truck simply becuase the small trucks didn't fit my goals.
I do think that the small truck market would be larger if it wasn't for the extremely profitable full sized market, relatively cheep fuel, various trade barriers, and the American belief that bigger is better.
If NA full sized trucks cannot meet EPA guidelines,they will shrink to global size or be replaced entirely by globals.
Time will tell.
Dinosaurs went extinct, will climate change pick off domestic trucks too?

I can live with that if we get small trucks considerably more up to date than the 2 remaining small trucks in the market (3 if you include Ridgeline).

The small truck market is decling. People wanted more interior room! More room = cost. Now the larger "small trucks" are more expensive and people just opt to spend a little more on the larger, more capble full-size trucks.

Frontier and Ridgeline don't sell enough. All small trucks could use a total makeover, but it would be a lost cause.

Tacos were scheduled to get a remodel for 2015, but that was pushed back to 2017/2018 due to the economy.

I have some serious questions for you.

I heard that you were trying to make your truck wider for stability reasons. Is your truck not stable?

Did Jeff at Deaver get back to with written confirmation that your payload went up to 1 ton even though your chassis, brakes and axle are still the same?

You also made your truck taller with the roof basket. Is this becaues you didn't have enough storage? Shouldn't you have just bought a full-size?

In the Raptor preview shoot-out video, Mark Williams stated, matter-of-factly, the Raptor was better because it was wider and is able to avoid the ruts created by the smaller Jeeps and Tacos.

Before you say Mark knows nothing about off-roading, he has driven and off-roaded in more trucks than you could dream of. He was Editor at Four Wheeler Magazine, the first and oldest magainze for 4x4 trucks and off-roading. He had been there since the 1980's. He does this for a living.

How can your experience even compare to someone who does it for a living?

Taco is going to lose big here. PUTC did a mid-size truck shootout and the Toyota Hilux came in last place. Hilux is supposed to be a better version of the Tacoma. How is the Taco going to compete if it is not even better than tha Hilux which is very outdated.

If the Toyota Hilux is better then the taco, and the Colorado beat it off road, then we know who the new off road kind will be in the states soon. LOL poor oxy will have to buy a chevy instead of a toyota incase the zombie apocalypse happens LOL!!

Posted by: johnny doe | Aug 30, 2012 4:12:23 AM


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