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Compact Pickup Comparison: Frontier, Ranger, Tacoma, S10, Dakota, B-Series, & Hombre



  • cncmancncman Posts: 487
    Hey guys,
    Vinny & Mahi, check out for the latest news on the FS truck and Vinny there is also pictures there of the new SC Xterra, especially look at the interior, it is fantastic! I started up with school again, so I may not be in here often, also in case you have not heard, Nissan is offering another first in the 2002 Frontier, an optional 6' bed! now it will have the longest bed of the compact CC's later!
  • has been pretty nice. I don't have to worry if I can beat the guy next to me off the line so I can move into his lane for the turn a block away ;)

    The downshifts made themselves known at first, but have been getting more smooth. I guess this is a part of the "adaptive" transmission, and is normal.

    My only complaint (which is minor) is that the fuel guage is not balanced. It drops to half a tank after only 100 miles, and then the next 100 miles only moves it from half to 1/4. (BTW, observed milage for me has been 14-16 city, and is ALWAYS 18 HWY)
  • dw94dw94 Posts: 2
    I am needing to get a new vehicle before I go off to grad school. As I am poor, I am looking for a decent price, but especially low maintenance costs and a vehicle I can rely on for the next 4-8 years. As a Caver, hiker, camper, etc. I am looking for a compact truck.

    I was originally sold on the Toyota Tacoma 4x4, until I found that living in the Rocky Mountains, these things just won't depreciate enough to buy a used one. (i.e., they cost about $3000 more then what I have found online in other areas of the country).

    I am now looking at a 1998 Mazda B4000 extended cab 4x4 with 21,000 miles. It is pretty basic with just A/C, Alloy wheels, automatic transmission. The asking price is $13,700.(In contrast a similair Toyota Tacoma 1997 with 60,000 cost $16,000)

    Does anyone have any experience with this vehicle? Have you found it to be reliable? How is it off-road? Does it accelerate OK with an automatic transmission? While all trucks out here cost more, does this sound like a reasonable price? With limited funds and a need for reliability, off-road transportation, and occasional towing, would you buy this truck?
  • scape2scape2 Posts: 4,124
    truck. As far as offroad, it may be better than you think when comparing it to the Toyota. The Mazda may have a Limited slip rearend, Toyota doesn't offer this. What level of offroading do you do? Take the truck to a reputable shop and have it looked over really well.
    I own a 1998 4.0 4x4 5spd RAnger XLT with about 37K on it now and it has been a great truck. I live in the NW and visit the Cascades of Oregon often. It has never let me down. I have however put on some better than factory all terrain tires which makes a world of difference.
    Good luck...
  • cthompson21cthompson21 Posts: 1,102
    With your current and future limited funds, you might want to consider some alternatives.

    The 4L 4x4 auto is not a good vehicle on gas. You'll be lucky to eek out 20mpg at 100% highway doing 65mph. The rest of the time you'll be getting 14-17mpg (or worse in the winter with oxygenated gas and warm-up periods).

    I'd suggest a 3L 5-speed 4x4 Ranger/B-Series (same truck, different sheet metal). You should always do better than 20mpg, and the 3L is more than adequate with the 5-speed (it doesn't do too well with the auto-tranny due to its gear ratios). It should save you thousands too and be very capable of everything you mentioned.

    As for the truck you're considering, the 4L engines made those couple of years are noisy and have had a "marbling" noise attributed to them. I haven't heard of any actual problems other than just being noisy. It is a good vehicle off-road and accelerates quite well with the 4L. The price doesn't sound too bad either.

    BTW, I've got a 98 4L 4x4 auto Ranger. It's been a great truck.
  • dw94dw94 Posts: 2
    Thanks for the replies concerning the Mazda. As far as off-road use goes, this won't be severe off-roading. Mostly jeep trails with some wash-out areas, mud, and occasionaly steep climbs and rock-crawling. Basically just to get from point A to point B, but not just four wheeling pleasure.

    As far as the V6 goes. I do consider the gas mileage a draw-back, however I forgot to mention I will be moving in a month, then in two years, then in two years after that. I want something I can use to haul a trailer. My finances are a little confusing as I will be living on Med School loans, but I think I can adjust my student loan rate to take care of such costs as gas-but car payments are a different category.

    Thanks for your help, I am going to test-drive it tody.
  • scape2scape2 Posts: 4,124
    You don't want to rock climb in any pickup truck 4x4! The wheel base is way too long and you will for sure get something broken. Make sure you get a Mazda offroad pkg that will include the guards for the gas tank and other sensitive areas of the drivetrain. Upgrade your tires, this is a must. The Firejunkers just don't cut it.
  • Hey what's up. As you can guess, I am new on here. You guys appear to be knowledgeable in trucks so I trust you all with your advice. Hope I am not speaking too soon. :) I love my 94 b3000 but this winter it has given me a lot of heartaches. Winter has not been pleasant. Because it is rear-wheel drive, driving on the roads feel as safe as tip-toeing on ice. That bad. I have no traction and pulling away from an intersection is a risk because it goes so slow. I have tried sandbags in the back but that did not work. I thought may be new tires would help. You guys got any ideas which tires will work best. Please let me know. I want to survive this winter without an accident or another scratch. Thanks.
  • cthompson21cthompson21 Posts: 1,102
    Replace your (I'm assuming) open rear differential with a limited slip differential (LSD). It is an absolute must for any 2wd truck in the snowbelt. It'll cost around 500-600 but will be worth it. When wheelspin is detected at one of the wheels, it directs power to the other wheel.

    If that's still not enough for you, get some dedicated snow tires. You can get a set complete on steel rims for about $400. Just switch to them when winter rolls around. Check out for some pretty decent deals.

    As always, put 200-300lbs of sand in the bed directly over the rear axle.

    I used to have a '95 3L Ranger (prolly about the same as your B). It was god-awful in the snow due to the open axle and poor tires.

    If you're just wanted some all season tires, I've heard very good things about BFG and Michelin. Stay away from cheap tires. This is one area where you really get what you pay for.
  • jholcjholc Posts: 25
    I've driven a 97 Tacoma 4x4 with the stock 31" Goodyear RTS tires for 4.5 years and 57,000 miles. This past winter it became obvious the tires had to go. While before, the truck was fairly stable in 2 wheel drive, now it was pathetic even in 4x4. The rear almost came around several times in snow and ice and even in 4x4 had trouble with directional turns at speed. I just got a full set of BFG All Season TA/KO's and couldn't be happier. Even in 2 wheel drive the truck is much more stable. Also had them siped for about $10 a tire. Supposed to help with packed snow and ice.

    Car and Driver did a test where they compared all-wheel drive/all-season to front wheel/winter tires and rear wheel/winter tires. Winter tires won hands down in all but acceleration runs on ice. If I had a 2 wheel drive truck that I had to drive in the snow I would absolutely buy winter tires for it. Just my .02
  • dannygdannyg Posts: 131
    All the reviews say that real snow tires are the way to go. My old Ranger 4x4 isn't too bad in the snow with off-road tires, but I'm considering picking up a new 4cyl 4x2 Ranger this spring (with the new 2.3L engine). Basically, I'm sick of getting 15MPG around town and 19MPG on the highway. In the winter I'll pick up four cheap wheels and put on some real snow tires. I'll use 'em Dec-Feb.

    Does anyone know if the limited-slip axle is available with the 2001 4cyl? The site says that it is optional on all models, but doesn't show it as an option.
  • Thanks for the advice. I am out of town right now. West coast. No snow here and very warm. But when I do get home I will invest in some winter tires. It is unanimous that I should go with BFG. I got an awesome deal on four chrome rims at the car junk lot from a 96 b3000. Much nicer than the rusted ones Mazda gave me on my 94. Can't wait to put on these chrome rims with my new snow tires.
    Cthompson-What is this LSD you are referring to. I do not know much about truck parts. All I know is how to drive. Forgive me :) Can you refer me to some readings. Thanks.
  • cthompson21cthompson21 Posts: 1,102
    LSD = limited slip differential.

    It's the "pumpkin" looking thing underneath the rear of the truck that diverts power from the rotating driveshaft to the tires.

    Currently, you have an open differential. It sends its power through the path of least resistance. If you have one tire sitting on ice and one tire sitting on pavement, the tire sitting on ice will spin (and the truck won't move at all).

    When you have a limited slip differential, wheelspin is limited. When the diff senses that one wheel slipping on ice, it will divert some power to the wheel sitting on pavement. So, you get the truck moving.

    Check out the tech forums at the website if you've got any more questions. There are pleanty of guys there that would be glad to give you any more info.

    I'd personally get a limited slip differential before investing in winter tires. I'd save some cash and just get a really nice set of all season tires (like the BFG's) along with the LSD.

    BTW, you'll also have the option of changing your gear ratio if you replace your open diff with a LSD. You might want to consider it if you want more off the line grunt. You'd notice a very big difference if you go from 3.08s (which I believe you have now) to 3.73s. However, you will have a slight mpg decrease as your engine will be running at a bit higher rpm at any given speed.
  • cygnusx1cygnusx1 Posts: 290
    Long post. Anyway, glad to see CT21 is still keeping everyone in check here. I just unloaded my 00 Frontier 4x4 for an 01 Xterra 4x4. So far I love it (not that it's that much different that the Frontier). I hated letting the Frontier go, but I needed the extra seats. So far I do notice the positive effects of having a rear sway bar while commuting, but some disconnects are coming which will help out off road. I had a chance to try the X out in our latest snow/ice storm and I was able to scramble up a pretty icy incline with no trouble. ANyway, keep up the good posts (even you, Vince) :-)
  • cthompson21cthompson21 Posts: 1,102
    Did you get the S/C version?

    I'll probably be in the same boat as you in a couple of years. My reg cab truck feels pretty tight on those road trips up to Wis. But, I think I'll go with an ext-cab of a club cab before I'd go with an SUV. I need a place to haul stuff without being worried about it getting dirty, and a truck will cost me less.

    Anyways, good luck with your new ride.
  • cygnusx1cygnusx1 Posts: 290
    Nope, the SC won't be out until later this fall as a 2002 model. But I managed a great trade in for the the Frontier. I actually got the kbb value (which is way high if you ask me, but I'm not complaining!), and the cost of the Xterra was pretty much what everyone else is paying, so I think I made out pretty well. Could have probably gotten more if I'd sold the Frontier myself, but what a hassle.

    I thought about a club cab, crew cab, etc...but after owning pickups my whole life I found that I just don't use the bed as much as I used to. I can still strap my fishing rods to the roof of the Xterra (I got a Yakima ski rack that works perfectly for my rods) and pretty much get all my gear in the cargo area. And from what I;ve found so far, there are many more mods availible for the Xterra than the Frontier (cat backs, shocks, etc).

    It's weird making the transition from a pickup to something with back seats, I'm so used to having the back window right behind my head. Anway, I'll still probably keep up with this board eve though I'm now one of those poseur SUV guys now :-)
  • allknowingallknowing Posts: 866
    barlitz says "If we import 1000 cars from them they should import the equivalent in merchandise back". I
    think that the Japanese have shown that they'll buy goods they feel are better and cheaper than they can
    get there. My opinion mind you, but if the average UAW worker wasn't as overpaid as he is, and if the
    Unions didn't put so many restrictions on a company's manufacturing abilities thus bring up cost and
    bringing quality down, then maybe American cars would be too much of a margin for them to pass up.
    More and more American production is moving out of this country as the Unions make building cars here
    continually more unprofitable. Someday the only cars and trucks manufactured in the US will be from
    Japanese companies but you guys don't seem to care because I guess you've got your big payoff hub? I
    know people that lost their jobs when the Unions drove most of the steel industry out of this country
    while also blaming everything on the Japanese. Hopefully auto workers will wake up before they do the
    same to their industry. That's my opinion, and may I note that even as a Manager I probably don't make
    close to as much as you guys but somehow I'm still able to live more than comfortably even living in
    California, one of the most expensive states to live in. I wonder how that's possible?
  • cncmancncman Posts: 487
    JK!, maybe! Well, maybe at least this will get us talking again! CT, Vinny etc. What's new guys? I have been way too busy, school is almost over and I am so behind, we have been doing good at work even with the slow economy, lots of neat stuff coming out soon, the long bed CC will be here this summer, the new altima this fall, a new 185hp sentra with a six speed will be out. Lots to look forward to. I have been thinking of getting a 4x4 because I am doing alot more outdoors at the beach and in the woods, but so far I have been able to get my 4x2 through everything. I'll probably just keep it and pay it off, not much more to go and then no truck payments!! Well, take care for now guys, hope everything is going good for everyone.
  • 97vmax97vmax Posts: 1
    I've owned a 94 B3000 Cab Plus 2WD (limited slip) since February, 1994. It's been a love hate relationship (mostly love). The truck is extraordinarily comfortable on both short and long trips and relatively quiet for a vehicle of this type. The hates have had to do with the miserable warranty service by Mazda (I celebrated when the warranty expired and I could actually work on the truck myself without the miserable dealers and zone office telling me the entire truck was no longer under warranty because I installed an aftermarket stereo or tinted the windows). Miraculously, from mile 50,001 forward, when I was no longer beholden to Mazda dealers for service and could have the vehicle serviced and repaired anywhere I chose (or conduct repairs and maintenance myself), I had little if any trouble with the vehicle. From the day the warranty expired and I was free from Mazda service departments, the vehicle has been a gem on reliability. Other hates have to do with the EPA "myth" of the 4 liter engine versus the 3 liter engine which I selected because I believed the EPA window sticker estimates and thought the B3000 would be more economical than the B4000. In reality, under the most favorable conditions possible, I've never managed to get more than 19 MPG out of my pampered 1994 B3000 3 liter V6 (automatic, limited slip) even on extended trips at 65 MPH with the cruise control on, the windows up, and the air conditioned off (and no load). Many of my friends have purchased B4000's of the same and subsequent years and trim levels and, even though the EPA mileage figures were less favorable on the window stickers, the B4000's have consistently turned in much higher gasoline mileage in most types of use than the B3000's. The reason for this seems to be that the 4 liter engine works less hard to power and move the vehicle.
    Personally, I think the B3000 is far too underpowered and have lived with inadequate acceleration and miserable fuel economy for the entire 140,000 miles I've owned my truck. It won't maintain a level speed on hills or gradually rising gradients, and it's a real "dog" off the line. I wish I had purchased the same truck I have in a B4000 version instead of a B3000 version because it would have delivered far better economy in REAL use conditions. The B4000's offer excellent acceleration, superior performance and superior economy in REAL LIFE circumstances. Overall, however, I have been very happy with the durability and quality of my Mazda B series EXCEPT for the poor acceleration and miserable fuel economy from an under-powered 3 liter engine. I will be trading my '94 model within the next month and custom ordering a new '01 B4000 secure in the knowledge that, regardless of what the EPA fuel economy estimates are, I'll do far better in REAL life with the 4 liter engine. I also won't feel like the thing needs a kick in the rear end to get off the line or make it up every minor hill on the interstate commute to work.
  • scape2scape2 Posts: 4,124
    Hi cncman. Not much going on here. Nissan seems to be really trying to earn market share from Toyota/Honda. The new Max is going to have 225HP? and the new Altima is going to be about the same size with a 190HP V6? and a normally aspirated 170HP 4cyl as standard?? Wow, sounds too good to be true. Now lets hope Nissan can keep the prices at bay, and they will come.
    Ford on the other hand seems to be on a downward spiral they just can't get out of. First the Firestone/Explorer fiasco, next the Escape flop, now the Escape crash test flop, Focus recalls, delay of new Explorer due to design flaws.. list just goes on and on. I don't even think GM has had it this bad. I have to admit, even I'm starting to wonder about Ford. My Ranger runs great at 40K miles.. but all this bad news makes me think twice about maybe looking at other models..
  • steve234steve234 Posts: 460
    The Fords are not having much more problems than any other makers. The Escape problems are the result of trying to push it out too soon, high popularity andvendor problems. They are also mostly inconsequential. The 02 Explorer problems are the result of being overly cautious. The media is dying to get some dirt on the Explorer because it is popular. Ford gets paranoid and everything gets blown out of proportion. There has not been a vehicle yet that did not not have teething problems. That is why the smart money waits until the second production year.
  • Amen to that steve234. With sales as dominate as they are, (Mustang, Explorer, Rangers, F-series), you know they are doing something right. And those with the problems are always quick to voice them (the media's worse and they are borderline gossiping sensationalists.).

    And I also agree on waiting after the initial first production year on buying all cars. You get to enjoy the refinements, bug fixes, and perhaps updated styling too!
  • cthompson21cthompson21 Posts: 1,102
    Hey, good to hear from ya. Nissan is really churning out some serious metal in the near future.

    A Spec-V SE-R Sentra with a LSD, 6-speed, and 180hp.

    The new Altima with 240hp and a manual tranny and a standard 4cyl with 180hp.

    The new Max with reports of 260+ hp.


    Keep on trucking with school and don't work too hard.

  • cthompson21cthompson21 Posts: 1,102
    Your handle wouldn't be what you ride when it snows out, would it?

    BTW, your mpg and power were probably down because your truck was geared too tall.

    My '95 3L auto 2wd would get 24-25mpg highway and 18-19mpg mixed.

    I wouldn't consider it "underpowered" but the tranny would always have to downshift to 3rd go get up hills when cruising at 75mph (very annoying trait).

    I traded it for a '98 4L auto 4wd because I needed better towing/snow abilities. It's definately a worthwhile upgrade.

    Plus, you'll be getting the Cammer engine with 205hp and 240lb-ft as opposed to the 160hp and 225lb-ft OHV 4L.
  • barlitzbarlitz Posts: 752
    What about GM's new inline6 with 270 hp,currently availible in the new trailblazer and soon newly named S-10,may even have an allison tranny in it.
  • scape2scape2 Posts: 4,124
    I changed my password and login name will also change. My password was very easy.
  • cncmancncman Posts: 487
    Hey Vinny and CT;
    Glad to hear from you again,
    I see CT already corrected the HP figures for the maxima/altima, yea things are really looking way up for us, also don't forget about the long bed crew cab coming this summer, also the new interior for the frontier/xterra for 02, SC Xterra, (you can also get a kicking rockford -fosgate audio system!) Also in the near future the Full size truck, real full size, not 7/8ths like the tundra and a new full size SUV, plu we are still waiting to see what Nissan will do for a minivan as the Quest dies after this year. I agree about the Fords lately, my opinion is that they rested on the laurels for too long and got sucker punched by some new models out there and tried to hurry and catch up. ALso I don't agree that a new vehicle is necessarily buggy, look at the crew cabs, the Xterra, the Sequoia, the tacoma double cab, just to name a few, it just takes research, developement and hundreds of thousands of miles in testing and developement. Well, I thought I was graduating this spring, but it turns out I am 6 hours short! I am going this summer to complete it. Hoping to find a normal wekkday job after that, but I also want to be around for the Zcar and the other new stuff so I am torn. Actually thinking of getting the dealership to sponsor a Sentra V spec for racing when it comes out, 180 hp, 6 speed, 4wheel IS, drool! SHould spank all of those supped up civics right from the box. Take care, see you soon.
  • I'm still perplexed at how much money people drop on these little 4-cylinder coupes and hatches. Do they think that by having a muffler tip so big you can stick your head into makes up for the 4 missing cyliders?

    Check out this link:

  • lol that is the funniest thing I have ever read.
    so very very true
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