Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Matt asks: I’m looking for a decent used light duty pickup truck. Just need something reliable that I can haul things (yard or house related). The cheaper the better. I’m a manual transmission guy, but that is not a deal break. Thoughts?
My reply: You didn’t mention size, so I’ll start with one of my personal favorites… the last generation (2004 and prior) Nissan Frontier. I own an ’02 (and used to own a ’98) and can vouch from direct, long-term experience for these trucks’ general excellence.
The four cylinder versions especially.
Which were available with 4WD (rugged and simple 4WD, with manual locking hubs) through IIRC the 2001 model year. The V6 versions are ok, but more maintenance and harder to work on because the engine is very tightly squeezed in the engine compartment.
Both use a startling amount of gas for their size, though – and that is their chief deficit in my opinion
The Toyota Tacoma and T100 are also top-shelf and I have nothing against the Ford Ranger, either – though some consider it not so great.
You ought to be able to find any of the above in good shape mechanically and cosmetically for well under $10,000 and probably for less than $6,000 if you shop hard.
If you need a larger truck, my pick is the Chevy Silverado (older models) with the 5.3 or 5.7 or 6.2 V8. While I am at war with GM over their current mindset and mulcting of taxpayers to fund their EV shibboleth, they made a damned good truck… until recently. Go back five or so years and you’ll be ok. Their best trucks were made in the mid-late ’90s/early 2000s. Get one with the 350 TBI and 5-speed manual and you’ll be thanking me for the next 20 years!
I also like the Dodge (now) Ram 1500, though it has the usual Dodge issues of early rust and cheap trim bits.
The pre-aluminum/turbo V6 Ford F-150 is also a good choice. Like the Silverado, if you can find one from the ’90s with either the straight six or the 5.0/5.8 V8, you’ll be very happy.
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