Opinions Solicited......Another Head Scratching Mid Size Truck Choice Thread

Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
Who in the right mind would not consider advancements in safety when shopping for a new vehicle TODAY? :rolleyes:

Me, because all of those "advancements" come with a price tag as well as adding a level of complication and potential failure points that weren't there before.

Do you tremble in fear at the thought of riding in a vehicle that DOESN'T have airbags, ABS, traction control, rollover control, etc? I don't.

Most of these "safety features" in modern cars are things I did just fine without in the past and don't necessarily need/want now.

I'm happy to have them, as long as they work, but I wouldn't complain if we were able to get vehicles without them either.

And whether a vehicle placed first or last in some arbitrarily created "safety test" would have ZERO impact on whether I chose that vehicle over another one.

Honestly, color is a more important consideration for me and as long as it's not black or dark blue, I don't care a bit about color. IOW if the vehicle with the #1 safety rating was black and the one with the #52 safety rating was blue, green, red or any color BESIDES black, I'd choose the one that wasn't black.
 

phsycle

Adventurer
Part of that is realizing where the information comes from. Which tests is the Frontier performing poorly on and how how have those tests changed over time? As noted, it's probably the small overlap test which is relatively new. Automakers have been working around to get better results just in this test by fitting extra reinforcement in the front corner of the vehicles. Since the test was only initially performed driver's side to driver's side (simulating collided on a narrow road), many manufacturers only added these supports to the driver's side. Vehicles appeared better on the test, everyone was happy. Just hope that overlap doesn't happen on the passenger side, because then it would be just as before. Hell, Ford got caught only adding the overlap piece to their crew cabs and not the super and regular cabs. Then, you search to see that many people remove this support when they add larger tires.

I'm just saying the ratings only show so much, take them with a grain of salt.
The Frontier test in question is the small overlap, which was added in 2017, which they scored Marginal. Note though, in 2005, the Moderate Overlap test was also scored marginal. Then it improved to Good with the latest testing.

IIHS may not cover all the bases when it comes to safety, but it's a good "real world" test for these auto makers to see where they fall short and improve safety. Ram was the same way. Their 1/2 tons scored dead last back in 2015. Now they're at Good across the board (Tundra now claims the lantern rouge). Same with Ford. Their supercabs now are rated Good.


I'm not sure where else to measure safety. Again, IIHS doesn't cover everything, but I think they do a good job.
 
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spectre6000

Observer
Anyway, then I started to read about the Frontier’s “marginal“ crash ratings. Even though those ratings certainly were better than the ones for my older 16 year old full size K2500, I decided that, heck if I was going to lay out a big hunk of cash for a newer or brand new rig, it would be pretty stupid to not try to buy the safest rated rig (damn all you distracted drivers! 💀😌).
WRT the Frontier crash ratings, I don't think that's necessarily a fair comparison. The Frontier is a 15 year old design, so it's only "bad" in the sense that over the past 15 years others have gotten BETTER.

I don't recall people considering the Frontier to be a death trap 15 years ago and it's still the same truck, for the most part. The fact that newer trucks are better doesn't mean the Frontier is bad, it's just not "AS GOOD."
As noted, it's probably the small overlap test which is relatively new.
As a survivor of a head on small overlap (~25% to the drivers' side) highway speed crash in a pre-anything-safety-but-seatbelts-and-mass vehicle ('81 K10), I feel it's worth mentioning that these improvements are marginal. To wit, the surgeon that put my face back together told me that had I experienced the same accident in a modern car with airbags, instead of a few large facial fractures, I'd have a ton of smaller ones, and that's would not have been a better thing. If it is meaningful to you, the buyer, from a peace of mind perspective, then it is meaningful to you and you should weight it accordingly in your decision making process. If, however, you look purely at the numbers it may not be as significant a difference as you think.

After a good bit of research and lots of test drives (Tacoma, Gladiator, Ranger and Colorado), I went with the ZR2.
When I was out and about looking at toppers for my Colorado, one of the topper salesman made a comment that stuck in my brain, but wasn't exactly meaningful at the time. I had done my research on toppers, and I had just showed him a feature of an item in his own inventory he was unaware of. When I mentioned I had just ordered a Colorado, he commented off hand that it seems like people who really do their homework end up in Colorados. This was in juxtaposition to a Tacoma in the lot with a similar topper/rack setup I was interested in. There wasn't an explicit comment/observation about his perceived typical Tacoma buyer that stuck in my memory, but that comment stuck out.

GM did have a transmission issue but that appears to have been solved with software mods and changes to a different spec fluid.
This comports with my understanding of the issue as well. If you're looking used, someone mentioned looking for a '16 or so model year truck as having the less problematic 6-speed (still in the diesel FWIW), but there's a TSB out for the 8-speed where they flush the transmission with the new spec fluid and maybe flash the transmission controller for problem free motoring going forward. The issue definitely doesn't seem to affect 100% of the trucks out there, and it's not yet clear to me if that's because people aren't mechanically savvy enough to notice the issue or if those experiencing problems are doing something weird to cause it to happen.
 

85_Ranger4x4

Well-known member
Its mostly theatrics to fuss over crash testing on new trucks at this point.

IMO they are close enough that "real life" is going to make or break you more than the design of the truck.

And if I was to go midsize hands down it would be the Ranger.
 

leeleatherwood

Active member
I don't get the "designed in the past, so today's tests are unfair" argument. Seat belts, head rests, airbags, traction control, ABS were all new innovations at one time, which made the vehicle much safer. Who in the right mind would not consider advancements in safety when shopping for a new vehicle TODAY? :rolleyes:
A little bit off topic...

I may be atypical, but I personally do not factor safety at all when considering vehicles. I think in general, all (Modern) vehicles are "safe enough" with all these airbags, self adjusting/tightening seat belts, crumple zones, etc.

I am more concerned of the vehicle breaking down on the side of the road, and myself having to get out of the vehicle and get struck than I am about actually getting into an accident and injured while driving. That probably again steers me back to the reliability thing, and why I value it so much.

Not trying to argue or anything, just stating my thoughts.
 
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phsycle

Adventurer
A little bit off topic...

I may be atypical, but I personally do not factor safety at all when considering vehicles. I think in general, all (Modern) vehicles are "safe enough" with all these airbags, self adjusting/tightening seat belts, crumple zones, etc.

I am more concerned of the vehicle breaking down on the side of the road, and myself having to get out of the vehicle and get struck than I am about actually getting into an accident and injured while driving. That probably again steers me back to the reliability thing, and why I value it so much.

Not trying to argue or anything, just stating my thoughts.
I'd agree--I do value the reliability factor as well. But like you said, just as all modern vehicles are "safe enough", they are going to be pretty reliable as well. Which is what you get when your labor force is picked from a homogenized talent pool. I'd not hesitate to drive a Ford, Chevy, or a Dodge.
 

jmnielsen

Tinkerer
If I were to buy a midsize (of those choices given) it would be the Ranger #1, then the Frontier #2. Suspension upgrades are simple to do, if you find you do not like how the Ranger rides. I wasn't pleased with the room in a Colorado/Canyon or the Tacomas I've been in and I feel, if you are using the vehicle for extended travel, comfort needs to be towards the top of the list.
 

phsycle

Adventurer
Ranger did feel pretty comfortable just sitting in it. I also felt Colorado felt good as well. Tacoma's stock seat is like sitting on plywood. Especially after 9 hours.
 

AbleGuy

Officious Intermeddler
Thx very much to those of you for sharing your “driving comfort” opinion/experiences. We are lucky enough to be able to take about 4 big trips a year, totaling 4-6 months combines, and driving about 15-18,000 miles annually in recent years. So driver (and passenger) seating comfort is important, especially on those too frequent 400 mile days.

As to vehicle crash safety, say what you will but once the topic gets firmly planted in one’s mind, that brain burrowing worm has turned, and that pernicious fear then sits up front right on the driver’s left shoulder whispering, whispering, whispering malicious thoughts.
 
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AbleGuy

Officious Intermeddler
....... continued

On almost every long trip we’ve taken, we’ve been lucky enough to avoid, at times just barely, what could have been horrible accidents that would have been due to other drivers’ incautious, or idiotic, or aggressive behavior. And we have to drive the length of California several times a year to go to and from the PNW....’nuff said right there.

We’ve also just barely avoided hitting head on moose, deer, elk and cattle numerous times in the past. The most recent, worst “almost got killed” scenario was us cresting a hill on a rural two lane in Utah and seeing a speeding car coming right at us in our lane as it tried to pass a big semi. In the blink of an eye, that other driver incredibly had the presence of mind to swerve widely and zip past us on OUR side of the dirt shoulder of the narrow road! We were going about 65 and they were probably going 10 mph faster (at least). If we’d met and hit head on, I suppose all of the fanciest air bags and crumple zones in the world would not have saved us.

So yeah, I’m going to openly acknowledge and be aware of the statistics of accident risk for all the miles we drive on high speed rural, western two lanes every year. Am I being a scaredy-cat though? I don‘t think so. Again, I’m just saying....if I’m gonna write a check for upwards of $25k (used) to $35k (new) for another truck, I think I’d be pretty stupid to not try to get the safest rig out there....all other things considered.
 
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D

Deleted member 9101

Guest
That’s actually a pretty good idea, cause I do like the Ranger otherwise. Does anyone have any advice or experience as to what folks are doing, suspension wise, to create an improved ride? Anyone?
A few months ago I test drove a stripped down, crew cab, 2wd and it didn't ride bad at all. It simply rode like a small truck.
 

spectre6000

Observer
[engineer]
You may consider making a simple spreadsheet, itemizing and weighting your priorities, and see what floats. Some things like MPG are easy numbers, others like seat comfort will be more subjective (1-5 scale is usually helpful). The safety aspect is conveniently converted to some semi-objective numerical device for you by the NHTSA. Just a thought.
[/engineer]

On the other side of the coin, not all vehicle purchasing decision points are completely rational. I just spent ~$50K on a diesel Bison. Was there solid rationale? Yup. Were all elements of the rationale rational? Noop. It's the most common letter in the English language, but sometimes it makes a huge difference...

I used to go through a lot of cars. I averaged about two a year (I always netted a few hundred to a few thousand). I bought cars for other people, and far more would ask me for car buying advice. The first question I asked was always, "Before we get into anything, what are you leaning toward?" Nine times out of ten, they just wanted validation. One woman asked me, and her answer was a Prius. I would never buy a Prius, but I understand the appeal. I offered her a variety of cars along the same general ethos just for consideration, but in the end she just wanted a Prius and wanted me to tell her it would likely get good gas mileage and be reliable. The reality we inhabit provides a wide variety of safe, reliable automobiles. All of them will do you quite well. We're spoiled for choice. So, knee jerk, what truck do YOU like the most? Ceteris paribus, it'll serve you beautifully, and that's probably the one you should get. You stated at the start that the ZR2 was "leading the pack". It's a solid choice. You'll undoubtedly be very pleased with it. You've clearly given it a lot of thought, and maybe some over thinking could have colored that initial statement, but if you knee jerk want a Tacoma, maybe give it a really good hard look. Sometimes those irrational decision points make the car more reliable in the long term because you're more likely to want to be with it long term and more willing to put in the work or the dollars to keep it going strong.

Just make sure you check the "big engine" box (or option package equivalent, since I think the Colorado is the only one that even gives you an engine option). That's the one that maximizes resale. ;-)
 
Don’t have any of the midsized trucks. Personally drive a power wagon. Buddies Colorado was tight by end of weeklong camping trip. Much better mileage than mine though. We both agreed my truck next time, mileage be damned.
Ranger was well represented at SEMA this year, so aftermarket isn’t far behind. Can you say mini raptor?
Drive them all then decide.
 

AbleGuy

Officious Intermeddler
Don’t have any of the midsized trucks. Personally drive a power wagon. Buddies Colorado was tight by end of weeklong camping trip. Much better mileage than mine though. We both agreed my truck next time, mileage be damned.
Ranger was well represented at SEMA this year, so aftermarket isn’t far behind. Can you say mini raptor?
Drive them all then decide.
a min version of the raptor sounds pretty good....
 

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