Thursday, February 2, 2012

Looking For A Smaller Truck?? A Small / Midsize Truck Comparison

Since the 1970's, Americans have wanted to have the biggest and strongest trucks available.  However, today many Americans and many people worldwide prefer a truck that is smaller, easier to get in, uses less fuel, and yet is still capable of performing serious work. For those people, small or midsize pickup trucks are the better choice and give them the capability of having a strong truck for less money all while conserving fuel.

For quite some time, Ford and Chevy have had great small pickup trucks on the market and, besides the loyal Toyota following, have had a large share of the market. Today there are several different midsize pickup trucks put out by Toyota, Ford, Chevy, and Nissan to choose from and each have their own strong suits.  No, Dodge was not listed among the midsize truck makers. As of 2011, Dodge no longer is making its Dakota, opting to focus on full size trucks and crossover vehicles.

Although many people these days are willing to give up a little size and power for better fuel economy, most are still wanting some elbow room and some creature comforts. Even though small and mid size trucks are aimed primarily at providing utility with economy, they do not have to give up all comfort.
Each of the four makes came within an inch of each other in front headroom, with the nod going to the Toyota Tacoma with 40" of front headroom, and the smallest being the Ford Ranger with 39.2". In hip room, however, the Nissan Frontier has some wiggle room. The Nissan has 55.8" of front hip room, where the other makes have on average 53". The Ford Ranger also comes in an average of 3" smaller in front shoulder room.

As far as interior comfort and accessories, the Toyota and Chevy are slightly stronger than the others. Toyota, for one, offers a rear back-up camera, has a JBL stereo system, and has included their new Entune system, similar to Ford's Sync. Toyota did not, however, have a leather seat package that I could find. The Chevy Colorado had available leather seats and was the only make to have Blue-tooth as standard in every package.

Any small or midsize truck comparison should have two types of fuel economy comparison: a comparison of the best overall mileage, and a comparison of the best mileage with their largest engine.  This is simply because there are two main types of people who are searching for a small or mid-size truck: those who want a utility vehicle but must have fuel efficiency and those who need strength and comfort but are willing to sacrifice a little for a little better fuel efficiency. With this fact in mind, for each make we will look at how they compare overall with their smaller engines here, and will compare the larger engines in the horsepower comparison.

Coming in with the highest overall fuel efficiency is the Ford Ranger. Ford's 2.3L I4 power-plant touts an excellent 22 mpg city / 27 mpg highway. This is the same power-plant that is in the Escape and several other Ford vehicles. It puts out 153 Hp, so it is not Herculean, but for a utility vehicle with primary importance on fuel conservation, the Ranger is king of the small and mid-size trucks.

The other trucks were a bit behind the Ford EPA rating, with some not really focusing on stretching the mileage. Coming in second in overall fuel mileage is the Toyota Tacoma with their 2.7L 4 cylinder engine at 25 hwy mpg and a slightly higher 159 Hp output. Third is the Chevy Colorado with a 24 hwy mpg from their 2.9L 4 cylinder manual power-train that puts out 185 Hp. Finally, the Nissan Frontier is slightly lacking with a 2.5L 4 cylinder that gets 23 hwy mpg but only puts out 152 Hp.

Information to compare these trucks on payload and towing capacity is slightly difficult to ascertain. The Ford website does not have any info, that I could find, about the Ranger's payload or towing capacity. (I am sure some Ford fanatic will prove me wrong!) The largest payload by any of the other three is the Nissan Frontier. The Frontier has a 1524 lb payload capacity, which is over a half ton. Following the Frontier is the Colorado with 1465 lbs and the Tacoma with 1430 lbs.

Only the Tacoma and the Frontier, however, published their rated towing capacity, so between the two of them, the Frontier has a 6400 lb towing capacity. That is just 100 lbs above the Tacoma which can pull 6300 lbs.

Sure, these are nowhere near the huge towing and payload capacities of some of the full size trucks on the market today, but they are, however, more than sufficient for most jobs. These trucks would be excellent for any person needing to carry or pull an occasional load, and won't break the bank to purchase


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