TIPS to Choos­ing Your New Mid-Size PICK-UP

4WDrive - - Trucks - Words by Perry Mack, Pho­tos Perry Mack and Bryan Irons

As 2019 ap­proaches, man­u­fac­tur­ers are fir­ing out press re­leases and send­ing jour­nal­ists on me­dia events to drive the new prod­ucts. As it of­ten is, it’s a bat­tle of num­bers and brand loy­alty.

What they all have in com­mon, al­beit in a mind-bending con­fu­sion of trim lev­els, is a full suite of safety fea­tures, ad­vanced in­fo­tain­ment sys­tems and con­nec­tiv­ity like we’ve never seen be­fore.

Loy­al­ists from each brand can tell you all oth­ers are garbage ex­cept theirs, but the re­al­ity is ev­ery brand has had their share of re­calls and failed engi­neer­ing.

Toy­ota tells us that the 2019 Ta­coma has a pow­er­ful re­spon­sive driv­e­train in their proven 3.5L V6 that de­liv­ers up to 278 horse­power and 265 lb-ft of torque, or for the more eco­nom­i­cally minded the 2.7L four-cylin­der en­gine that gen­er­ates up to 159 horse­power and 180 lb-ft of torque. Prop­erly con­fig­ured the 3.5L V6 en­gine de­liv­ers a 2,950 kg (6,500 lb) tow­ing ca­pac­ity and a pay­load of 680 kg (1500lb). This was the num­ber one shown mid-size at SEMA 2018 kit­ted out for of­froad, trail and over­land use.

Ford fi­nally an­nounced the tow­ing and pay­load num­bers for the new Ranger. The only en­gine op­tion (right now) is the 2.3L EcoBoost I-4, which will pro­duce 270 hp and 310 lb-ft, so you can haul up to 843 kg (1,860 lb) and tow 3400 kg (7,500 lb) when equipped with the right tow pack­age. While the num­bers are im­pres­sive com­pared to Toy­ota, we have to ask our­selves if the dura­bil­ity and fuel ef­fi­ciency of a turbo-pow­ered 4-cylin­der, espe­cially un­der load, is com­pa­ra­ble.

The Nis­san Fron­tier is fourth in Cana­dian sales be­hind Ta­coma, Colorado and Canyon. This is a body on frame pick-up and has a 4.0L V-6 gen­er­at­ing 261 hp and 281 lb-ft (with plenty of big-bore low-end torque) with a max tow ca­pac­ity of 3044 kg (6500 lb) and a pay­load of 649 kg (1430 lb). It hasn’t been up­dated in a decade so it looks dated in­side and out, but it is an af­ford­able op­tion if you’re not in­ter­ested in bells and whis­tles. Watch out for some good deals in 2019 as the up­dated Fron­tier is ex­pected in 2020.

The Honda Ridge­line is a uni­body con­struc­tion, FWD or AWD, so I hes­i­tate to men­tion it here, but we did see one rigged out as an over­land ve­hi­cle at SEMA Show 2018 so let’s at least make men­tion of it. The 3.5 L V6 pro­vides 280 hp @ 600 rpm, 262 lb ft @4700 rpm, a max tow of 2268 kg (5000 lb), and a max pay­load of 721 kg (1590 lb).

Then comes the Colorado, with three

en­gine choices - an anaemic but ef­fi­cient and af­ford­able 2.5L I-4 crank­ing out 200 hp, 191 lb-ft of torque, tow­ing 1588 kg (3500 lb) with a max pay­load of 653 kg (1440 lb), their money maker the 3.6L V6 gas with 308hp, 275 lb-ft of torque, tow­ing 3175 kg (7,000 lb), with a max pay­load of 713 kg (1574 lb) and one 2.8L turbo-diesel with 181hp, 369 lb-ft of torque, with seg­ment lead­ing max tow­ing of 3493 kg (7700 lb) and a max pay­load 686 kg (1513 lb).

Which one is the best? Here are my top tips for get­ting the right truck for you.

Ig­nore the max tow­ing num­bers, odds are they don’t ap­ply to the truck you want i.e. most are for a 4x2. Sim­i­larly the max pay­load num­bers - the only one that stands out is the Ranger at 843 kg (1860 lb), the rest are around 680 kg (1500 lb), but again, this num­ber de­pends on your con­fig­u­ra­tion and it likely isn’t for the truck you want.

Drive them - they are not same, some aren’t even close, espe­cially in the off-road edi­tions. Seat height, head­room, legroom are dra­mat­i­cally dif­fer­ent and all the great num­bers in the world won’t make up for years of dis­com­fort in the driv­ers seat.

Find a good dealer. A great truck that has to be ser­viced at a sleazy dealer isn’t worth the trauma. If you need your truck, you need great ser­vice. Hands down, I buy my num­ber two choice if the dealer for my first choice makes me feel like I’ve been bent over and need a shower.

Think about the af­ter­mar­ket. Some brands and mod­els have stronger sup­port for ac­ces­sories, and by that, I mean more choices. Ta­coma and Colorado are the strong­est right now, but if (when) the Ranger hits the road with big sales num­bers, you can ex­pect the ac­ces­sories to fol­low.

Think about used. If you are of a mind to turn your own wrench, are will­ing to forgo the best fuel econ­omy and lat­est safety tech, there are some solid choices out there. The mid-size mar­ket didn’t dry up be­cause man­u­fac­tur­ers were build­ing bad trucks, they just couldn’t build them within the emis­sions/sales quota rules that were in place. Our next project truck will be a 2011 Dodge Dakota. It’s 4dr, 4WD, short box, with a 4.7L V8 ham­mer­ing out 308 hp, 329 ft-lb of torque, for a max tow­ing of 3040 kg (6700 lb) and pay­load of 603 kg (1330 lb).

By the num­bers, a used mid-size with a proven his­tory is also a good choice.

2019 Chevy Colorado ZR2 AEV

Honda Ridge­line 2019 Ford Ranger at Yakima

Toy­ota Ta­coma

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