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Thread: Car shopping

  1. #1
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    Car shopping

    Well, I'm starting to shop for a new vehicle.

    I drove a new Ford F-150 and used Honda Ridgeline today.

    F-150 Pros:
    - Very nice interior -- possibly the best truck interior ever.
    - Quieter stock than my CR-V is with it's 70 lbs of aftermarket sound dampener.
    - The back seat folds up to reveal a huge interior cargo capacity.
    - Fully boxed frame and crossmembers for extra strength.

    F-150 Cons:
    - Expensive. Even with the "distressed industry" discount, the mid-range model I looked at was over $30,000, and that was for cloth seats. ($38k before discount)
    - Too many models/options. Chances were slim they had the model I wanted on the lot, and they didn't. I would order one instead of buying off the lot just to avoid the hassle & confusion of figuring it all out. Which is bad news for the Ford dealers who have F-150s in stock. Note to Ford: Rationalize your models down to fewer choices.
    - It's big. Really big. Parking it is going to be a challenge for anyone.
    - It had adjustable foot pedals, but the steering wheel only tilts & doesn't telescope. Took a while to get the controls & mirrors adjusted to fit me, and still didn't feel totally right afterwards.
    - Six-speed automatic hunted once while under moderate acceleration.

    Ridgeline Pros:
    - The size feels right
    - Amazing ride quality
    - Typical Honda ergonomics. Only fault was that the cargo light switch is easy to hit with your knee.
    - In-bed trunk
    - Not as quiet as the F-150, but still better than the modified CR-V.
    - 3.5 liter V6 was obviously not as powerful as the 5.4 liter V8 in the F-150, but still got the Ridgeline moving quickly enough.

    Ridgeline Cons:
    - This was used, and the underside had a lot of rust on it for only 35,000 miles on the odometer. It must have come from up north, where they salt the roads. This alone made the vehicle a "don't buy"
    - Black paint. Will not buy a black car.
    - If I were going to tow a boat, I wouldn't pick this truck. Just not enough torque.

    Still to test drive:
    Nissan Frontier
    Toyota Tacoma
    Ford Explorer SportTrac

    Chip H.

  2. #2
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Of the ones you mention, I recommend the Frontier. Nissan makes perhaps the best small-medium-sized pick-up on the road. These things still feel as tight (and often look as good) at 10 years old and 100,000-plus miles as some others do at five years and half the mileage. Stay away from the Ford unless you need the towing capacity and even then, the 4.6/5.4 engine is basically a car engine and nowhere near as stout as the equivalent pushrod V-8s in the GM 1500s.

    The Ridgeline gets a lot of abuse for not being "real" truck (and of course it's not) but that doesn't mean it's not a great on-road utility vehicle that's very versatile, handles remarkably well and has virtues that "real" trucks lack. If you find a nice one, I would say go for it.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Mase's Avatar
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    Out of all those I would certainly vote for the Frontier, even over the Toyota. The Frontier has a sturdy box frame, and I think the Toyota has only a "C" frame. I recall a Factory demonstration at the Dealer where they guy jacked up the right front and left rear corners of the Frontier on ramps and the thing didn't flex at all. The doors were still aligned, nothing was warped.

  4. #4
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    What kind of cargo do you carry that requires a truck for your daily driver?

  5. #5
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mase View Post
    Out of all those I would certainly vote for the Frontier, even over the Toyota. The Frontier has a sturdy box frame, and I think the Toyota has only a "C" frame. I recall a Factory demonstration at the Dealer where they guy jacked up the right front and left rear corners of the Frontier on ramps and the thing didn't flex at all. The doors were still aligned, nothing was warped.

    I haven't owned one of the current (upsized) Frontiers yet but have driven several and they seem to be as well-built as the '98 (and 2002) models I own. My only issue with the 2005 and up (to current) is that the additional size/weight means you can't get 4WD with the four-cylinder (and the four-cylinder is a little overtaxed even in the 2WD/manual version). Nothing wrong with the V-6 Frontier at all; it just uses more gas and makes more power than I need. Your needs/wants may be different - and in any event, the V-6 Frontier is probably easier on gas than the V-8 F-150 while (I'm betting) delivering as good or better acceleration and (again based on past experience) will be much longer lived and far more reliable.

    The old F-trucks with the inline six or pushrod 302s and 351s were magnificent and would run and run and run and run.... but I am not a big fan of the new V-6 (it's an underpowered pig that drinks as much gas as a V-8) and the OHC V-8s are not nearly as stout as the old 302/351.....

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel View Post
    What kind of cargo do you carry that requires a truck for your daily driver?
    I don't actually need it as a daily driver. When my contract in Charlotte is up at the end of the year, I want a vehicle I can use to move my stuff to another town.

    Chip H.

  7. #7
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chiph View Post
    I don't actually need it as a daily driver. When my contract in Charlotte is up at the end of the year, I want a vehicle I can use to move my stuff to another town.

    Chip H.
    In that case, why not rent a truck for the period you need to haul your stuff?

  8. #8
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    Because I don't want to.


    Went by the Nissan dealer in Concord this afternoon. Not a new Frontier on the lot. They had two used ones (a 2004 and a 2006), but they were both 4x2 and King Cabs when I want a 4x4 Crew Cab.

    But they did have two Skyline GT-Rs in the showroom (roped off).
    I suspect they still have them because they can't find anyone to buy them. $84k for one, $87k for the other (sticker)

    Chip H.

  9. #9
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chiph View Post
    Because I don't want to.


    Went by the Nissan dealer in Concord this afternoon. Not a new Frontier on the lot. They had two used ones (a 2004 and a 2006), but they were both 4x2 and King Cabs when I want a 4x4 Crew Cab.

    But they did have two Skyline GT-Rs in the showroom (roped off).
    I suspect they still have them because they can't find anyone to buy them. $84k for one, $87k for the other (sticker)

    Chip H.
    Frontiers are hard to find!

    It took me a good month - and I had two sold out from under me, before I had a chance to get to the lot.

    I'm looking forward to spending a week with a GT-R ... someone else's GT-R!

  10. #10
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chiph View Post
    I don't actually need it as a daily driver. When my contract in Charlotte is up at the end of the year, I want a vehicle I can use to move my stuff to another town.

    Chip H.
    So, for the two days out of the year that you actually need a truck, you're willing to put up with the excess unused capacity the rest of the time?

    Jeez, get a UHaul when you move.

  11. #11
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    The problem with renting a truck for moving cross-country is what to do with your daily driver. With a pickup, my daily driver is my moving van.

    Drove another Ridgeline tonight -- I really like the design of the vehicle. This was a used 2006 RTL with almost 42,000 miles on it.

    A curious thing was that there was some mold on the sides of the tailgate opening. But the warning sticker on the wall of the bed was sun faded. So if the truck had been parked under some trees (which would foster the growth of the mold), how did the sticker get faded?

    Chip H.

  12. #12
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Permanent solution for a temporary problem makes no sense.

    You rent a Tow Dolly.

  13. #13
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    Over the weekend I drove the Ford Explorer SportTrac and the Toyota Tacoma Crew Cab

    The Ford had the optional 4.6 liter V8, which surprisingly gets 1mpg better fuel economy than the V6.

    Likes: Power. Oh yesssss... The rear seats are pretty flexible and have good cargo carrying ability.
    Dislikes: Uncomfortable seats, cramped driving area, poor ergonomics (why is the turn stalk up at the 11 o'clock position?). The storage bin in the bed is not weather-tight and doesn't have a lock (maybe you could carry a set of chains in there, or a fabric beach chair, but not tools or guns)

    The Toyota came with their 4 liter V6 and a 5-speed automatic (pretty sure -- could have been the 4-speed automatic -- their option sheet shows that both are possible fits for the Crew Cab body)

    Likes: Well put together. Even the eyeglass storage compartment is solidly built. Backup camera in the rear view mirror.
    Dislikes: Firm ride from the leaf spring & solid axle. Can't get leather seating.

    Saw two of these at the Ford dealer (one red, one silver). Way out of my price range (had $30,000 market-adjusted-price tacked on, bringing it to $111,000) But a beautiful musclecar.

    So looks like the winner is the Ridgeline. Just need to find a nice used model now.

    Chip H.
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  14. #14
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chiph View Post
    Over the weekend I drove the Ford Explorer SportTrac and the Toyota Tacoma Crew Cab

    The Ford had the optional 4.6 liter V8, which surprisingly gets 1mpg better fuel economy than the V6.

    Likes: Power. Oh yesssss... The rear seats are pretty flexible and have good cargo carrying ability.
    Dislikes: Uncomfortable seats, cramped driving area, poor ergonomics (why is the turn stalk up at the 11 o'clock position?). The storage bin in the bed is not weather-tight and doesn't have a lock (maybe you could carry a set of chains in there, or a fabric beach chair, but not tools or guns)

    The Toyota came with their 4 liter V6 and a 5-speed automatic (pretty sure -- could have been the 4-speed automatic -- their option sheet shows that both are possible fits for the Crew Cab body)

    Likes: Well put together. Even the eyeglass storage compartment is solidly built. Backup camera in the rear view mirror.
    Dislikes: Firm ride from the leaf spring & solid axle. Can't get leather seating.

    Saw two of these at the Ford dealer (one red, one silver). Way out of my price range (had $30,000 market-adjusted-price tacked on, bringing it to $111,000) But a beautiful musclecar.

    So looks like the winner is the Ridgeline. Just need to find a nice used model now.

    Chip H.
    Did you get a chance to try a Frontier? Just curious...

    On the Mustang: It's a nice car but the gouging is a real turn-off. Six figures for a new Mustang is absurd. No offense. This isn't a perfectly restored '70 Boss 429; and just as the '70 Boss 429 wasn't worth the equivalent of $111k back in 1970, neither is that new Shelby worth anything near that today, either.

  15. #15
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    I never got a chance to drive a Frontier. I visited 3 local dealerships and they had very few on the lot, none of which was the model I want, much less the color or trim level.

    (I didn't bother to drive the 4x2 models because the suspension & handling will be very different from the 4x4)

    The salesmen were very eager to sell me something, but they simply didn't have any stock. One guy said it was his first day on the job, and demonstrated an amazing ability to not listen to what I was asking for.

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