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1st Truck Recommendations [small w/ good MPG but powerful]

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1st Truck Recommendations [small w/ good MPG but powerful]

Old 12-20-2013, 08:56 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 6
Default 1st Truck Recommendations [small w/ good MPG but powerful]

Title is basically contradictory, but hoping for the best.

Budget = $3K tops, maybe $2700 even, gotta see how much I get for my current car someone crashed into and their insurance is replacing. Book value of my car's approx $2500 and I'll put the other $500 cash in myself, but might only get like 2K for my car.
Not sure If I'll use NJ craigslist or the local guy I got my past 3 cars from who goes to the auction (first two cars he got me were amazing deals, last one had hidden frame issues that would have cost about %30 of the car's value to fix but i never fixed it though should have). I took what I can get those times (100K mile sedans with no problems for $1500) but I don't know if he'll be actualyl find what I'm looking for in a truck.

Looking for:
-no stick shift
-Seems the best I can do for an auto trans is about 20 MPG combined city&highway.
-I need hauling power but not much. Maybe 4 times a year I'll fill the bed with top soil or about half full of stone, the rest of the time will be medium size mower etc. Will be putting sheetrock in so need the bed size hub-to-hub 4' min. Plan on getting a small aluminum boat and outboard to put in the bed and chain it so it doesn's seasaw out. I've read people hauling small loads with 1999-era rangers 2WD auto 4cyl without issues, so I'm looking for something like that because better MPG is basically more important than power for me.
-I'm %90 positive I want it to have a back seat/extended cab instead of having only the passenger seat and bed tool box as the only unexposed storage (might get a cap for like $100 later, but can probbaly do without it especially if I chain everything up when in stores etc so no one messes with my stuff).

I searched for a few hours, and found lots of crap with over 150K miles for like $2800.
I'm not sure all the models to search for small trucks like this with 2WD (could use 4x4 but seems to loose MPG), auto, and backseat. I've been looking at Izuzu hombre, chevy s10 and I like the ford ranger, Maybe a frontier if they have the specs too. These are the only small pick ups I know of. I knew them all when I did all this 2 years ago and settled on a 98-ish Ranger 4cyl auto 2WD but never got it. I'm asking for input before I just start looking for only Rangers.

The best deal I found so far seems to be this, 2004 Ford Ranger Extra cab $3, 000 o.b.o
it's a 2004 6cyl but only about 1 or 2 MPG less than the more effecient 1999-ish auto 4cyl rangers etc I've been thinking I was restricted to with only 3K$ budget.

So any suggestions besides 'get a bigger gas guzzler eventhough you read people hauling small loads with small trucks'? What other small trucks should I search for besides Fronteir, Ranger, S10, Hombre?

Old 12-20-2013, 10:28 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 6

Some good info I got elsewhere: "93+ Mazda B series trucks are just rebadged Ford rangers. Just like the Isuzu Hombre is just a rebadged Chevy/GMC S10/Sonoma, except Mazda offered all the same engine/trans options as Ford did. The Mazda trucks were built on the same assembly lines as the Rangers.

No small truck has 4' width between the inner fenderwells. But, the ranger/B series trucks do have cutouts in the bedsides to fit a 2x4 into, for holding 4 x 8 sheets of drywall/plywood. (tailgatedown, as the bed is either 6' or 7'. 7' bed is reg cab only, and was dropped around 91-93. All extended cabs are 6' bed.)
3.0 V6 is less desireable than the 4.0. They get about the same MPG, but the 4.0 has quite a bit more grunt. The 3.0 isn't much more power than the 4cyl, but less MPG. "

fitting drywall is probably the least of my concerns since I can fit a decent amount on an angle and have larger orders delivered if needed.
Old 12-21-2013, 06:16 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 175

Personally, from what you describe what you want to do with a truck, I would go for a full sized truck with a v6. It will haul more and I am pretty sure you wont lose much, if anything on fuel mileage. I have a buddy with a 2 year old Ranger and all he does is bitch about the crappy fuel mileage.
Old 12-22-2013, 05:58 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 6

Power Search Just learned about this link can search basically all trucks/cars and filter results by MPG to compare.

List of all small trucks. list of every small truck.

edit:I changed my mind and am instead getting a coupe with decent ***** and good MPG and a trailer when needed. Harbor freight has some nice foldable trailer bargains on sale and coupon.

Last edited by tanger3424; 12-25-2013 at 01:57 AM.
Old 12-29-2013, 05:46 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2013
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I didn't get a car and might get a 20MPG truck if I can even find one. I might just have to drive less and not exceed 50MPH when not in a hurry to save gas and tires.

Basically gas is going to cost me like an extra $700 for an 18MPG truck or $400 for a 20MPG truck per year vs a 24MPG car with a trailer. I could sell the approx $250 trailer down the road and probably get %70 of that, so that's barely in the equation. Same for the car hitch i'd install. Truck tires are probably more expensive and harder to come by, I easily find car tires for like $25 with %70 tred from salvage yards. I think about $30 a year is all I need for trailer registration.

I read very small cars (Corolla etc) getting like 28 combined MPG CAN tow up to about 1,400 lbs as noted in manuals and testimonies. And cars slightly bigger getting about 24 MPG (Camry etc) can tow about 2,000 lbs. Both examples should have trailer brakes when exceeding about half that max tow limit, but I don't think anyone even does that. If I do this, it'd be with something with about 24 MPG and I'd go real slow and safe.

I'm considering the Harbor Freigh 1195 lb capacity trailer (plus another 253 lb for the trailer). The bigger 1720 lb trailer doesn't fold and thus is out of the equation.
1195 lb equals about the payload of a small pickup.

If I get a truck, I just found bed extender bars which would be good if I put a 10'-12' jon boat in the bed without worrying about it kinking from hanging half out the bed. 8 footer should be okay without the extension bar. I think I'd still need a receiver hitch for the extender but could install one and sell it later if needed.

So with the extra cost of gas, I think i'll just get a trailer and coupe eventhough I know I'm going to get shjt for storing a trailer here.
Old 12-31-2013, 03:03 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 6

I setteld on a truck. I did a lot of calculating and stuff. Maybe someone will find this useful. I was previously excluding RWD vehicles in the power search I linked because I was under the impression that they were basically a thing of the past, get stuck easier, and cost more to build. But I found more trucks with rear wheel drive and better gas mileage than when I omitted RWD. Makes sense to have the drive under the back bed weight. Some swear by RWD's handling, and I can keep $5 DIY tire snow chains in the truck if needed, or just dig it out like I've had to with my RWD thunderbird or add weight to the bed to get it to grip.

I don't drive the average 15K miles a year the gas cost calculators etc sometimes have as default. I'm more like 9K. There are quite a few small trucks getting 21 mpg combined and 23 highway which is a bit better than the more common 20 combined and 22 HW.

When I gas calculator these vs something like a camry getting 25 mpg combined and 31HW, at 9K miles a year, it's only like $200 bucks more if all miles combined are city&HW, or $325 if all are HW.

I'd also have to loose approx $200 if I sold the trailer used eventually (cost of hardware, assuming $20 in gas to go get some free craigslist decking for the trailer, $10 in gas to go get the trailer) and % lost because the trailer and $120-ish hitch would be used.

Small cars getting like 29 combined and 35 highway (even smaller than camry) would save me yearly something like $180 more than a camry for combined miles but not much more for highway.

Eventhough people are towing with small small cars, I voided it out since I'd be really pushing it and risking breaking the trans or something costing more than I'd save.

Plus as mentioned, there's detaching the trailer, finding storage for it, a few days getting, putting together, then selling later etc, not always having cargo when the trailer's not on, etc.

Last edited by tanger3424; 12-31-2013 at 03:08 AM.
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