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

pathwaypathway Member 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 Member Posts: 7,841
  • jaguar0027jaguar0027 Member Posts: 387
    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.
  • craig64craig64 Member Posts: 12
    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.
  • erkkilaerkkila Member Posts: 22
    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 Member Posts: 530
    and I have a tacoma.Toyota is great but for the money get the nissan.
  • vwracervwracer Member Posts: 90
  • frey44frey44 Member 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 Member 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 Member 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 Member 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.
  • bobsquatchbobsquatch Member Posts: 136
    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 Member 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.
  • craig64craig64 Member Posts: 12
    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.
  • quadrunner500quadrunner500 Member Posts: 2,721
    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
  • pathwaypathway Member Posts: 8
    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.

  • quadrunner500quadrunner500 Member Posts: 2,721
    Get a Subaru and stop wasting our time.
  • plutoniousplutonious Member Posts: 799
    Why take a chance with a "domestic?" You'll find both reliability and affordability in the Nissan.
  • ryanbabryanbab Member Posts: 7,240
    "No 4x4. No hauling. Looking for 20+ highway mileage"

    ford focus
    toyota echo
  • tbundertbunder Member 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 Member Posts: 7,841
    Buy a Tundra...........hmmmm...then again you'll get nowhere near 20 mpg. So where else can you find a "no hauling truck"?
  • pathwaypathway Member Posts: 8
    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".

  • bobsquatchbobsquatch Member Posts: 136
    Welcome to Edmunds.
  • tbundertbunder Member 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 Member Posts: 7,841
    you mean by 2x2 trucks. Don't think it's the first time you mentioned it either.
  • mjbwrtrmjbwrtr Member 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 Member 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 Member Posts: 252
    LOL! I forgot about all the erroneous posts he made about the bed being welded to the frame.

  • obyoneobyone Member Posts: 7,841
  • rmyers76rmyers76 Member Posts: 34
    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.
  • natureboy1natureboy1 Member Posts: 55
    If he don't agree with it, it's not any good...
    Yeah right...
  • ryanbabryanbab Member Posts: 7,240
    2x2 truck

    hmmm interesting
  • bamatundrabamatundra Member Posts: 1,583
    "So where else can you find a "no hauling truck"?

    Well - since your Lemonado has spent more than four months on the rack, I would have to say it more than qualifies. In fact - I would say that it is not suited for light duty since a truck has to be out of the shop to be worked. Maybe you could start charging the shop for storage?
  • craig64craig64 Member Posts: 12
    I can tell you the gas millage for the 2002 Nissan Frontier and 2001 Toyota Tacoma in the 4 banger.

    Nissan Manual 22 city 25 highway
    Nissan Auto 20 city 23 highway

    Toyota manual 22 city 25 highway
    Toyota auto 21 city 23 highway

    Don't know what the Ranger/B2400 gets, but it is probably pretty close.

    As for the Isuzu, you probably would not want a first year model. Go over to the Rodeo posts and read about all the problems the Rodeo had when it was redesigned in 98 or 99.
  • sc0rpi0sc0rpi0 Member Posts: 897
    Ugh......go and testdrive one instead. I almost bought a Rodeo Sport (aka Amigo). The Rodeo family has probably the softest shocks I've ever felt.....suv sways back and forth, up and down on the freeway. Simply horrible. Not the best vehicle for towing anything....if Silverado folks bash on Tundra for "having soft rear leafs", I'd like to see what they would say about Rodeo.
  • sc0rpi0sc0rpi0 Member Posts: 897
    Whats Mazda's warranty on B-series? And why isnt Ford doing it since B-trucks are Rangers with duct tape over the blue oval? Afraid that at their sales volume the warranty is really going to hurt the profit margins? Heh.
  • tbundertbunder Member Posts: 580
    mazda warrants their offering with a 3year/50,000 mile bumper to bumper plan. why don't you ask ford why they don't? this is a mazda truck, ford just builds it. but they aren't totally identical. if mazda's were actually obtainable, i may consider buying one if they come out with a crew cab for '03. that warranty rocks. no one else comes close to that, bumper to bumper anyway.

    ranger 2.3 for '02 gets 24/28 mpg.
    135 horsies and 150 lb/ft of torque i believe.

    2x2 truck- you all knew what i meant. 2x2, 4x2, it all means the same imo- 2-wheel drive. or, iow, absolutely useless where i'm from. :o)
  • obyoneobyone Member Posts: 7,841
    bicycles anyway....hahaha!!! Guess that's why you bought a Tundra eh fella......


    Please disagree. I'm trying to follow you but of course your post doesn't say much.
  • davedave1davedave1 Member Posts: 45
    what i did was get on kelly or edmunds and build the various trucks, (taco, s10, ranger, dakota)all automatic, 4x2 with the standard engine. Yes if you have anything like a serious gravel driveway or worse, 4x2 isn't a good choice. (maybe not base engine either!)
    After you build 'em on paper, decide whether you can get the options you want at your price. Alot of the time I couldn't. Then test drive.
    I decided on the basic toyota taco extra cab. Yes I know it won't get out of it's own way, but mileage is a factor. 80% of the time it will be empty, and 99% of the time on paved roads. but that 20% will need to carry up to half a ton of "stuff"; tired of dragging the seats out of the van, worried about scraping up the interio and vacuuming the carpet!!.
  • jim4444jim4444 Member Posts: 124
    Then you can see how they drive, what they look like, whats available on em etc.

    Everyone says stay away from the S10 and the aincient chassis from 1994.

    Stay away from the compact truck with the biggest V6 available. Can you say Torque?

    4 wheel ABS and dual airbags are standard and so is power steering. Posi is a great option!

    I use my truck much like you would use yours...back and forth to work and fill up the bed on weekends. I get over 20 mpg with @ 42,000 miles on my truck that I bought new.

    Forget light duty, the S10 can haul/tow the most as far as compact trucks go, as long as you get the V6.
  • mjbwrtrmjbwrtr Member Posts: 172
    but s-10 has the WORST build quality of them all, and Chevy knows it- thats the main reason they're bringing out the nwe model in 2003 or so. besides that, its common knowledge that the 2.2 is a junky motor, and he didnt ask about the V-6s, so thats why i mentioned that. it is a strong v6 but do you really want to be in the dealer service place every weekend for everything else going wrong? i dont. besides that the mileage sucks.
  • mjbwrtrmjbwrtr Member Posts: 172
    i have nothing against s-10s. i had one. i loved mine, but it was a v6 and a 1993, before they ruined them.
    all those features they list HAVE to be on there, because if not, no one would ever buy one. compared to dakota, ranger, frontier, tacoma, and mazda, they suck.
    they sell poorly and look awful unless you get the top of the line 4x4.
    i admit though, that i havent driven one much. most of my info is from people who own them. they sure look cheap inside and i dont think i could stomach paying MORE than a ranger for something LESS than a ranger.
  • sc0rpi0sc0rpi0 Member Posts: 897
    I used to own, prior to my Tacoma, a 1993 Chevy Blazer S10, 4x4 with auto and 4.3L V6. Biggest piece of junk. Every trip to a mechanic was $500 at least, and those trips were very frequent, probably 2-3 times in 6 month. By the time I sold it there was piston knocking from the engine, gas stink from the exaust, and (unverified) fuel injector leak, just to name the few problems. Sure, it had 190K highway miles on it, but it was biggest money drain in 14 months I've had it.
    As for 4.3L......yeah, it has 30 lbs more torque than my Taco. It's also a great gas hog.
  • ryanbabryanbab Member Posts: 7,240
    recent chevys

    87 blazer 2wd 2.7 V-6 130K no problems sold may of 2000 still on the road

    92 S-10 2wd over 105K. 4.3 V-6 great truck
  • mjbwrtrmjbwrtr Member Posts: 172
    i think from our posts at Older S-10's, you know i am not anti-chevy. i am referring to the newer ones which are pieces of junk. the older ones like you're talking about are great. mine went 112k with no problems i know of.
  • tbundertbunder Member Posts: 580
    the "new", or '94 to current crop of S10's ARE your old S10s. the S10 riedes on the same ancient chassis that dates back to '82 i believe. they just added new sheet-metal in '94 with a new interior. and if anything, they made the 4.3 thousands of times better than any pre '94 offering. more power and more torque. ive had two ZR2 trucks, and they were both great. the '95 didn't like cold weather, but the '97 was as smooth as silk. the S10 is nice, but in terms of technology compared with a new ranger or tacoma, there is NO comparison at all. 4x4 or 2x4. and they are way too expensive.
  • mjbwrtrmjbwrtr Member Posts: 172
    i know they are the same chassis but the interior has given way to cheap plastics, the 2.8 and 2.5 engines are gone, the sheetmetal of the years 91-93 was rust free, and it is gone as well. the affordable s-10's of those years have been replaced by the too-expensive-for-what-you-get versions of today. THAT is what i was referring to. the build quality has gone to hell as well, even by edmunds' admission.
  • mjbwrtrmjbwrtr Member Posts: 172
    i saw a mitsubishi mighty max the other day. anybody have experiences with them? i have heard they are reliable but they aroused my curiosity.
  • tbundertbunder Member Posts: 580
    to say the older versions of the s10 are better than the current is absurd. those were the biggest pieces around. boxy, under-powered, usual '80's styling up to '94. and you liked the old interior compared to today's? have you been in a new ZR2? they're darn nice my friend. by no means, cheap at all. and in case you haven't noticed, the days of anything affordable are gone. everything is high now and that's just the way it is.
  • ryanbabryanbab Member Posts: 7,240

    My dads 92 4.3 seems to have more power than my moms 00 4.3 (blazer). I drive these once in awhile and i can tell a difference. The older one is better
  • usaf52usaf52 Member Posts: 70
    I don't think that the Max is made anymore. Believe the last year was about 1995
This discussion has been closed.