As many here already know, I am not a fan of full-sized trucks. Even today’s mid-sized models are bigger than I really like (see TTAC’s article about the ’83 D50 for further details.)
However, this past weekend I got the opportunity to check out all the available pickups, full-sized and mid, at a local auto show. The reasoning is that I now own three vehicles and I need to pull it down to two, which means the Jeep SUV has to go and one of the other two, either the Fiat 500 or the Ford Ranger, to be replaced by some vehicle that can serve both purposes. The Jeep offers seating for four, a decent interior load capacity and 4×4 for foul weather and off-roading (not sport but in particular muddy fields and driveways.) Her car offers extreme fuel mileage and is easy to maneuver on small-town streets and heavy traffic. The Ranger offers good fuel mileage (rated 27mpg on the highway and has done so) is still reasonably maneuverable and gives me a 6′ bed for hauling whatever. But no 4×4 and the standard cab makes it impossible to carry anything inside when I’m carrying a passenger. So the options are either to get a more economical SUV OR get a compact AWD pickup. The final issue is the transmission, as the wife as yet does not know how to drive a stick and our current Jeep and Ranger are both manual transmission models.
Yes, there’s a reason behind this exposition; as I said up front, we looked at trucks (and SUVs but even the ones we’d been looking at before show unexpected issues that would require possibly illegal modifications.) I and the wife sat in each one and studied their layout and their stickers for fuel economy and other data. In each case, the full-sized trucks were complete failures due to their size, layout and in most cases their poor economy (not really any better than the Jeep’s.)
That brought us down to the mid-sizers and similar to the testers’ scores, we ended up with two choices that came closest to what we want. The truck had to be able to seat both of us comfortably behind the wheel, which killed the Toyota as while it fit me just fine, her 6′ height and long legs had her thighs rubbing the underside of the steering wheel with the seat in the last notch on the track and the wheel in its highest position.(Photo courtesy blogspot.com)
The Nissan did reasonably well, but there were too many ‘small’ things that just couldn’t bring it up to what we wanted.
The Canyon fit most of our wants and needs, though its slightly higher price and oversized grill didn’t really appeal to us the way the Colorado did. (Photo courtesy steering news.com)
The Colorado made #2. (Photo courtesy Chevrolet Trucks)
The Honda Ridgeline however, made #1 on our list.
It was a tight competition between #2 and #1 but it came down to features and convenience for the price. Both the Chevy and the Honda were priced around $35 thousand and the Honda simply had more on board for the money outside of towing capacity which, to be quite honest, was not a major factor. We don’t ever expect to even want to tow more than 5,000#. The other factor came down to, believe it or not, attention to details. Very bluntly, the steering wheel controls on the Chevy consisted of a thin membrane covering microswitches which just felt like it would wear through in short order, eliciting an inconvenient and potentially expensive repair compared to the Honda’s more robust buttons that felt as durable as the old Nintendo Game Controllers. Finally, the floor of the back seat was FLAT–as in only a single bar running from side to side in which to rest the seat front supports, leaving the floor clear for carrying boxes, golf bags, bowling ball rollers, etc. where they’re easy to access without having to rig some sort of box rig or deck over the Chevy’s plastic, partitioned support that simply wastes space and makes loading more difficult.
The rest now rides on what comes out within the next year or so in smaller trucks. The Hyundai Santa Cruz and Fiat Toro (Ram 700?) are still strong contenders because they could cut as much as two feet off the overall length and still provide sufficient carrying capacity to meet our needs.