Oh, what midsize truck should I get?
Before we start on the pickups, let’s talk web sites. Chevrolet gives you all the information you could possibly want, straight up, without fuss; and the numbers stay the same as you go through. It’s a pleasure to deal with Chevrolet’s fast-loading, gimmick-free web site.
Then there’s Toyota, where the numbers keep changing, almost randomly. The price goes down as you select options, so the “starting at” number is actually higher than it should be; while fuel economy goes up as you penetrate deeper into the system, because it assumes you want four wheel drive up front. The gas mileage number on the web page is different from the number on the detailed PDF the system creates for you. Why does it make you download a PDF? Who knows?
Finally, Ford has the least information readily available, and has videos and other distractions, even when their specs are better than anyone else.
The Toyota Tacoma has been around for too long without major changes; it is specifications-challenged in a big way. So why does it outsell any other midsize pickup by a factor of more than 2:1? Largely because of Toyota’s long reputation for reliability, and a massive ecosystem of aftermarket modifications for Tacomas (reminding one of the Wrangler). Tacoma is more likely to get repeat buyers, too.
The Ford Ranger, with its single powertrain, is likely to dramatically outsell the Colorado before long, unless GM really ups its game. The Colorado is a good reliable pickup, but it’s hard to go up against a standard turbo-four and ten-speed automatic with a plain four-cylinder/six-speed. The GM diesel is a great new engine, but it costs far too much in the Colorado.
Finally, there is the pickup we did not bother to include—the Jeep Gladiator, the best off-roader in the bunch (including TRD Tacomas). It’s a specialty vehicle, well out of the price range of the base midsize pickups, and if you want one, you won’t care much about the specs.
|Chevy Colorado||Ford Ranger||Toyota Tacoma|
|Body style||Ext cab, long box||4-door, long box||Reg cab, long bed|
200 hp/191 lb-ft
|2.3 Turbo Four|
270 hp/310 lb-ft
159 hp / 180 lb-ft
|Max tow||7,700 lb||7,500 lb||3,500 lb|
|Engine options||3.6 V6|
308 hp/276 lb-ft
181 hp/369 lb-ft
278 hp / 265 lb-ft
|Trip computer||3.5” B&W||2.3”||4.2” color|
|Radio screen (std)||7”||Small B&W (text)||7” color|
Clark Westfield grew up fixing up and driving past-their-prime American cars, including various GM and Mopar V8s. He has ghostwritten auto news for the last few years, and lives in Farmingdale, New York.