Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Did you get a great deal? Let us know in the Values & Prices Paid section!
Meet your fellow owners in our Owners Clubs

Small trucks: Which one is the best for light duty?

pathwaypathway Posts: 8
edited March 2014 in Nissan
Sure, there are the big Fords, Chevys and Dodges... These monster trucks can be extremely usefull. While I don't want to say that nobody should buy these trucks, What kind of truck would one suggest for lighter duty?

Here's what I'm looking at. I'm putting all my predjudces aside, looking at all the "Compact" pickups avalible today. Ford, Chevy, GMC, Dodge, Nissan, Toyota... Now I must ask for your opinions: Which is the best truck?

Here's what I'm looking for:

Enough power (Light hauling duty only. 6-cyl acceptable, 4-cyl will probably do.)
Good mileage (20mpg highway minimum. The more, the better.)
Low Cost (I'm not going to buy a $30,000 truck. The lower, the Better)
High dependablity (Low maininance and long life are good qualities)
Good Safty (Crash test scores, tip-over ratings, etc.)

I expect a few heated discustions over which truck is the best in this catigory. That's fine. I actualy don't think there's a bad truck to choose from...



  • obyoneobyone Posts: 8,054
  • I would have to agree Nissans are good little trucks. Although my kid brother has an 01 Ford Ranger. Nicely equipped with 4.0 V6 manual trans. He got it for about 20K too! No probs with it yet so you may wanna check out the Rangers.

    Tacomas are nice but too much money and S-10's are kindy crappy if you ask me. And Dodge... eeek!

    Oh well.. my two cents worth.
  • but my recommendation given your criteria, would be the Nissan also. The extra cabs are nice, and the crew cabs are even nicer for the room. Due to its lower center of gravity in the crew cab model, it is less likely to roll over than the Toyota Doublecab. According to NTSHA, the Nissan has a 3 star out of 5, the Toyota gets a 2. The Dakota gets a 4 star which is the highest of the compact trucks, but you better consider the extended warranty, as the truck will have more frequent repairs than the Nissan or Toyota.
    My two cents.
  • In my opinion, the best choice would be a Ranger/Mazda. They are not too expensive, you have a choice of 3 different engines, you can get an extended cab with four doors and they are quite durable. Also, when it comes time for replacement parts you pay less than you would for the Toyota or Nissan. Whatever you do, don't even think about going near an S-10 or Sonoma unless you enjoy driving an unreliable, constantly breaking down POS. I had more than enough experience with this.
  • kg11kg11 Posts: 530
    and I have a tacoma.Toyota is great but for the money get the nissan.
  • frey44frey44 Posts: 230
    NISSAN....made in the USA. Tough trucks. I own both a 1989 Nissan and a 2000 Ranger. the old Nissan is a better truck...hands down.
  • smgillessmgilles Posts: 252
    for the money is probably better all around, even though it is a gutless wonder. My Nissan was maintenance free and got around 20-21 mpg. It was a v6 4x4.
  • tbundertbunder Posts: 580
    for non crew cabs, the ranger wins hands down. quad cab, more standard options, standard V6 (I-4 standard in toyota), and most powerful REAL compact truck engine (207 horse 4.0 SOHC). the ranger isn't the #1 selling compact for the last 15 years for nothing.

    toyota and nissan say they're american made, but go ask a dealer. they'll tell you the engines and drivetrain are all shipped in. nonetheless, they're both exceptional trucks as well. the toyota is nearly untouchable (meaning you can't buy one easily) due to availability and price. the nissan is a downright bargain, with a 4x4 crew cab XE auto. retailing for just over $21000.

    the dodge ive heard bad things about, although i've never owned one.

    i had two ZR2 S10's, both were tough, good looking trucks with no trouble. dont be scared of one. the ZR2 may be the best looking 4x4 pkg. offered today. make sure you read its list of factory modifications, it truly is an off-road wonder, and it is all factory off-road stuff, direct from the factory. not aftermarket stuff like the TRD supercharger is.

    i have had three rangers, and my dad has had one. his has around 205000 miles on it, and still runs like a top. stock clutch and is even a 2.3 I-4 with 4x4. ford doesn't let a 4x4 go with a 4-banger in it, only V6's now, so you don't have to worry about not having the torque. toyota is the only manufacturer to still offer puny 4-cylinder engines in its small trucks. can you say cheap, but overpriced? that's toyota's philosophy. and now toyota is in a heated debate with its customers because their V6's and I-4's develop a sludge problem and freeze up at 40K, and toyota won't even replace them unless they have actual documentation of a factory oil change at recommended periods. whatever.....

    bottom line, you can't go wrong with most of them. toyota guys will tell you their trucks last forever. however, their rusting capabilities equal that of michael jordan's capabilities to score 35 ppg 5 years ago. and their engines still have cheap timing belts on them which need replaced more often than others' timing chains. and now the sludge problem. the dodges are also not known for their bulletproofness. the ranger is proven and outsells everything in its class year in and year out. the nissan will go forever and is cheap but still offers lots of gadgets. the S10 gets the job done, just at the expense of a very old but reliable chassis. good luck.

    oh yeah- my '01 ranger s/c had the off-road pkg, 6 cd changer, power everything, step bars, rear slider, keyless, 207 horse 4.0 and auto., and it was barely $19000 with all rebates and dealer negotiations. go drive one. they run hard (the 4.0). one more thing, the new FX4 pkg. has problems with their rear axles (covered under warranty), so you may just want to stick with a regular XLT off-road if you do indeed want a 4x4.
    good luck.
  • smgillessmgilles Posts: 252
    Now that was a Good ol'fashioned Biased post:)

    Keep up the good work, if you haven't figured it out yet I am being facetious on the good work remark....

    Just to refresh your memory Nissan's also have timing belts.
  • Good for you. I respect people who get what they need without being influenced from other peoples egos. If you need a light duty truck and a 4cyl will due, get one. Too many people get the biggest baddest most powerfull and inefficient 4X4 and they don't haul anything heavy or go off road. I say buy American and the ranger is a good little ride with outstanding value. If you go import I would go nissan. They are proving to be as bullet proof as toyota and are a little less expensive.
  • tbundertbunder Posts: 580
    nissan engineers know how to build an engine, with or without a timing belt, and also without building up sludge and freezing up at only 40K miles or so.

    also, how can it be biased when i basically said any would do. the only downplays of other makes i stated are absolutely true. the toyota's are more expensive, and they also are having trouble with sludge buildup. the dodge's i admitted i hadn't owned one, but have read negative comments. the S10's i said were old but still good. please let me know what part of the post was biased, or in other words, the part you didn't like.

    you know, re-reading my post i just thought of something after your remarks on it. the ranger, with its cheaper price and outstanding value and standard features, is just too good of a looking truck for you toyota guys. you are jealous cuz a loaded ranger can be had for lots less than any toyota and with more standard stuff, and lets not forget about the more torque and hp with the ranger. how much did it cost you to finally be able to say you have more power than a SOHC'D ranger? $2000-$3000? oh, if i would've opened my tailgate and drove 55, i could've easily gotten 24-25 mpg im sure too.
  • Check out this web site: You will discover that the S10/S15 and the Dakota have a large number of complaints and recalls. The Ranger, Frontier and Tacoma have no complaints or recalls.

    Hopefully this will assist in your decision.
  • Consumer Complaints per 1000 vehicles:

    Toyota Tacoma 0.2
    Ford F-series 0.3
    Chevy Silverado 0.3
    Toyota Tundra 0.6
    Ford Ranger 0.7
    Nissan Frontier 0.7
    Chevy S-10 0.9
    Dodge Dakota 1.6
  • Wow. I'm impressed with the responses! So far, I've heard mostly this: Best picks are Frontier and Ranger. Runner up is the Tacoma, and the S10 is way behind, as most people had four letter words like "junk" and "crap" associated with it.

    So, let's shake things up a bit. First off, let's get biases out of the way: I'm partial to the import models. Why? My experience with domestic and import _cars_. Cars aren't trucks, but none the less... I've experienced build issues with Fords and Chevys/GM. My import cars have been problem free. Think my bias is wrong? Here's your chance to change it.

    Here's another monkey wrench to throw in: What about the new S10 coming out next year? It's being made by Isuzu... does anybody know some details about it?

    Now remember, I'm looking for light duty trucks: No 4x4. No hauling. Looking for 20+ highway mileage. Man, with my criteria, why can't they make a truck that's front wheel drive? Sm:)e.

  • Get a Subaru and stop wasting our time.
  • Why take a chance with a "domestic?" You'll find both reliability and affordability in the Nissan.
  • ryanbabryanbab Posts: 7,240
    "No 4x4. No hauling. Looking for 20+ highway mileage"

    ford focus
    toyota echo
  • tbundertbunder Posts: 580
    go buy a ford escape. or maybe a rav-4? nah, here's what you insight.

    why would you want a truck if you didn't plan on hauling in it and wanted good mileage? go buy a hatchback.
  • obyoneobyone Posts: 8,054
    Buy a Tundra...........hmmmm...then again you'll get nowhere near 20 mpg. So where else can you find a "no hauling truck"?
  • No, no, no... You're getting it all wrong. By no hauling, I mean I won't be pulling anything. No boats, no ski-doos, no 5th wheels.

    I need a truck, not a closed vehicle. I'll need something that can move large and ungangly objects, if needed. Ladders, the ocational appliance or couch.

    Funny: I make an unbiased post, and I get a lot of good responces... I put my bias in, and all I get back are "Buy an Echo".

  • Welcome to Edmunds.
  • tbundertbunder Posts: 580
    you can't go wrong with any of the small 2x2 trucks. they all have good 4-bangers in them. i like the nissan, its pretty trick. but the ranger's quad cab access is hard to beat, chevy too has a 3rd door. the ford has the most powerful V6 available. and another V6 if you don't want one that big and powerful. toyota's are nice as well, but imo, aren't as safe as the ranger. mazda's are nice too, and come with the best bumper to bumper warranty of the whole bunch. and it's just a re-skinned ranger. im not sure on the horsepower and mpg ratings of the I-4's of each truck. go to and check out the new car guide. it will have every truck for you to check out.
  • obyoneobyone Posts: 8,054
    you mean by 2x2 trucks. Don't think it's the first time you mentioned it either.
  • mjbwrtrmjbwrtr Posts: 172
    i have owned a 1988 Ranger, a 1993 Chevy S-10, and my current 2000 Ranger, and all suited me well and took everything i threw at them. your use of the truck you want to buy sounds like my use, and i can tell you that any of those trucks you mentioned can and will do the job. my advice would be to go for the mazda/ranger or the nissan. in my humble opinion, toyota wants too much for their trucks and they arent THAT much better, to match the price they ask. Ford and Nissan have the best four cylinder engines i have seen/used. i would stay away from the Chevy four cylinder. its at best a weak and short-lived offering intended to simply be an option for those who want a four. wouldnt you rather have a four that is designed for the job and not just there so they can meet CAFE? at this point though its almost entirely up to your tastes. drive them all, have fun, and pick the combination of best deal/most liked.
    have fun and enjoy.
  • modvptnlmodvptnl Posts: 1,352
    He means motorcycles that have 2 wheel drive!!(there actually was one years ago)

    The reason he says "2X2" TRUCKS is that there is a small bed welded to the rear fender.
  • smgillessmgilles Posts: 252
    LOL! I forgot about all the erroneous posts he made about the bed being welded to the frame.

  • obyoneobyone Posts: 8,054
  • If you aren't going to be towing anything with the truck, why not get a 4'x8' trailer that you can hook up to a car when you need it? You can get a decent V6 powered car to pull 1000# easily, get 20+ mpg and a better ride.
  • If he don't agree with it, it's not any good...
    Yeah right...
This discussion has been closed.