Philadelphia Auto Show, 2014

On Valentine’s week 2014, the Philadelphia Convention Center hosted its annual auto show for new, concept and classic cars, along with many customized cars and vendors. Overall the show wasn’t as good as the previous one I’d attended several years back, but this was due more to a severe lack of new introductions than to any lack of vendors. that said, a few vehicles stood out for me and because this site covers pickup trucks primarily, I’m going to cover just those subjects here. If you want to see my views of other vehicles go to anopinionatedtraveler.com.

My wife and I went to this auto show with the express intent to look at pickup trucks. As noted in my previous post, I currently have a 1990 F-150 that–for all that it’s in decent physical condition–does not make me happy. It met the urgent need when we purchased it, but in the now near two-year ownership we have only driven it about four thousand miles and much of that has been working towards getting my wife her driver’s license. When you note that a full-sized pickup truck can be as much as twenty feet long, you can see it’s not an ideal choice, but to avoid issues during her driving test we decided to teach her and let her test with an automatic transmission–which leaves only the truck as a teaching vehicle. Still, the size might be an advantage because if she can learn and pass with it, driving the Jeep at a full three feet shorter (the F-150 is eighteen feet long) will be child’s play by comparison.

After looking at several cars, one of which she fell in love with instantly and another that grew on her very quickly, we made our way over to the Toyota display to start our search. They only had an SR5 Crew Cab Tacoma and a crew cab Tundra in their display, though they had another pair and a couple other vehicles running their almost-hidden off-road course behind the display. Her first comment was: “Bed’s too short!” when she saw the Tacoma and when you consider she’s used to an eight-foot long bed, the five-foot short bed is massively short. Tying that tiny bed onto the tail of a truck who’s cab and hood make up 2/3rds of the overall length and that bed looks even shorter.

That said, we looked at the interior where she was pleasantly surprised at the available room for our dog and even more pleasantly surprised that she was able to fit her six-foot height behind the wheel. The seats of the Tacoma were quite comfortable and offered her the legroom she needs to operate the truck despite the seemingly cluttered appearance of the Tacoma cab. She feels cramped in our 1990 F-150 simply because the seat can’t move far enough back for her long legs. By contrast my own 5’9” has me in the next-to-last notch on the seat and reaching the controls comfortably. In the interest of clarity, our 1990 is a standard cab which explains at least partially why leg room is so short.

The overall size of the Tacoma is ideal for our purposes, especially if you swap the crew cab for the “Access Cab” and put the longer six-foot-plus bed in place of the short bed. At 17’5” it still comes in shorter than our long-bed, standard cab full size while the overall width of six feet is just narrower than our older full size. For all intents and purposes the new Tacoma would qualify as a full-sized truck when compared to older full-size models.

From there we went to look at the GMC Canyon just across the corner from Toyota’s display. We weren’t able to get up close to either it or the Colorado sitting in the Chevrolet display, but the talker walking around it as it rotated on the turntable told us he stood six feet tall to give us a visual reference. Taking describe lengths and proportions to his height, the Canyon/Colorado is as ‘short’ as the Tacoma, though it stands almost a foot wider overall to push it into full-size width. In fact, this may be a serious sticking point because while we were looking at the trucks, we talked to another couple who said the Canyon’s 84” width was too wide for their garage in their brand-new house–by over 6”! The length was fine, but it wouldn’t fit through the door. Mistake on GM’s part on that. Otherwise I’m thinking the double-C twins are an acceptable option to modern full size. More on full-size later.

The last two mid-sized trucks we looked at were the Nissan Frontier and the Honda Ridgeline. Keeping in mind both of these are due for a redesign which Honda specifically has announced, I can only say that in both cases the wife hated them–the Nissan for a hideously ugly dashboard (looked like the old ‘generic’ black-and-white theme of the ’80s) and the Honda for, “too car-like” appearance, especially inside.

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