After 8 years in a full size, moving back to a mid-size - Recommendations?

Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
(warning - Long post!)

Yep, I didn't think I'd ever do it, but it looks like it's on the horizon.

Back in 2015, I sold my beloved 4th gen 4runner (2007) in gorgeous Salsa Red Pearl (i.e. maroon) because it was inadequate to pull our small travel trailer. Oh, it COULD pull it, but the transmission got hot (230+) and it really seemed to be struggling. Keep in mind that we live in Colorado so going over an 11,000+' (3350m) pass is something we do multiple times during a trip. I decided a full size truck was best so I got a 2004 Suburban with the 5.3l V8.

The Suburban did OK (although it struggled at higher altitudes, especially after we upgraded to a larger trailer) and it definitely showed its age (bought the 'Burb with 136,000 miles on it.) In 2019, after the 2nd time the transmission crapped out, we decided to replace it with another full-size vehicle, my current 2018 F-150 with the 3.5 EcoBoose V6 and 10 speed transmission.

The F-150 has been a great tow vehicle and it has a lot of features I really have come to love including the 36 gallon fuel tank. We've owned it just over 4 years and 40,000 miles and probably hundreds of trips into the mountains, with and without the trailer.

But, with retirement looming, wife and I decided to move out of the Denver area (see the thread I started in 2020, https://forum.expeditionportal.com/threads/where-to-land-after-retirement.221353/ ) .

We've settled on Pueblo West, CO which is far enough to get us out of the Denver area but still close enough to see our grandkids on a regular basis. We've been house shopping and finally found a house we both love that is within our budget and has what we want. For me, that is a 3 car garage (I've been parking my truck outside since we moved to our current house, as a result my truck has significant hail damage that will need to be repaired.)

SO.....the house has the 3 car garage I insisted on. But here's the rub: The "depth" of the garage (front-to-rear) is 19.3 feet, according to the MLS listing.

My F-150 Crew Cab Short Bed truck is .... 19.25' long (231 inches) per a couple of web sites.

Will it fit? Possibly, if I very carefully back it in and put a heavy rubber stop on the floor I can get it into the garage. But that means I'd have to be VERY careful backint it in - every single time - or risk expensive damage to the house.

So I've decided that once we move (assuming our offer gets accepted) and get settled in, I'm going to get the damage repaired and then put the F-150 up for sale. All I need is a truck big enough to pull our ~ 4000lb camper. We don't plan on getting anything much bigger. Almost any mid-sized truck can pull that with ease.

I have mixed feelings on the transition. Much as I love the F-150 as a tow vehicle, and even though it is comfortable on the highway, if I'm honest I have to admit that it has always been too big for what I really need. Parking has always been a PITA. The width of the truck means that I have to park way out at the edge of the parking lot if I want to avoid door dings. The cab is absolutely cavernous - which is nice, but it is also way more space than I actually need.
Even the "short" 5.5' bed is longer than I can reach into from the tailgate.

I really have always felt more comfortable in mid-size vehicles. I've owned 2 Toyota pickups, 2 4runners, 2 (old) Rangers, and one Mazda pickup. I've also owned an R50 Pathfinder and a Mitsubishi Montero. Those mid-sized vehicles always felt more "right" to me than the full size trucks which always felt like big barges.

But herein comes the dilemma and the question: Which one? I haven't shopped for a mid-sized vehicle since 2012 when I got my last 4runner.

Much as I'd like to jump into another 4runner (I prefer the SUV body style to the pickup) the 5,000lb towing capacity seems dangerously low to me. So that leaves me the compact trucks:

* Ford Ranger
* Chevy Colorado
* Nissan Frontier
* Toyota Tacoma

Here are a few random thoughts on those:

Ranger: Don't know much about them except that they have a turbocharged engine. After 4 years of buying premium gas, I'm inclined to shy away from the Ranger for this reason alone. I'll admit they are gorgeous - about the best looking compact truck out there. And I have no complaints about Ford quality based on the last 4 years with my F-150. But the 4 cyl and premium gas requirement has me leery.

Colorado: Honestly don't know anything about them.

Frontier: I've owned ONE Nissan before (an R50 Pathfinder with a manual transmission) and never had any issues with it. In terms of price I could probably get this one the cheapest. But maybe there's a reason for that? I've heard people refer to Nissan as the "Japanese Chrysler" in terms of quality, fit and finish and it's NOT a compliment. Probably the least aftermarket support (not that I need much.)

And that brings us to the venerable Tacoma. You can't swing a dead cat in Colorado without hitting 10 Subarus and 9 lifted Tacomas. They seem to be quite popular and capable. I had previously sworn off paying the "Toyota Tax" but now looking at prices I don't see a whole lot of difference in 1 - 2 year old vehicles with < 20,000 miles on them.

Biggest intriguing thing about the Toyota is the possibility of getting one with a manual transmission. I absolutely HATE slush boxes but I have heard some not-so-good things about the 6 speed manual in the Tacoma. The other issue is that the manual seems to be only available in the most basic trim levels and I'm concerned that this wouldn't include the heavier duty cooling I'd need to pull a trailer. Wife CAN drive a manual (though she doesn't like to) so a manual could be an option if one is available with the other necessary setup to pull a trailer.

So at this point I'm looking for recommendations/suggestions. Most likely this purchase won't happen until next Spring. I still have to get the hail damage repaired on the F-150.

I'll post a separate thread in the Toyota section asking about the Tacoma specifically.
 

Buddha.

Finally in expo white.
I had a 2019 Ranger. Premium was only required while towing. I got about 14mpg towing my 3500# 16’ Scamp trailer. About 20mpg not towing. That was on 32” aggressive AT tires.
The 18gallon fuel tank had me stopping every 200 miles for (premium)gas while towing, I didn’t like that. Truck always had plenty of power though. The double cab rear seats where roomier than my ext cab chevy’s rear seats.
 

MotoDave

Explorer
If you like the 4runner but want higher towing capability, maybe the Lexus GX460 is an option? They have the 4.6L V8 and 6 speed auto out of the Tundra, same size body as the 4Runner. New they're stupidly expensive but they depreciate more than the 4runners do, I bought a 2010 with 120k miles last year for $20k which was $4k less than similar age/mileage 4runners were selling for.

No manual option though, and there's no such thing as a 'base' model

Other ideas would be the 1st generation Sequoia or 100 series Land Cruiser - probably similarly sized to the current 4runner
 

GeorgeHayduke

Active member
Don't forget to look at the Jeep Gladiator as well. Most of the midsize trucks are in the midst of a new generation coming out so I would read up on all the changes. Nissan is killing off the Titan so I wouldn't expect the support for the Frontier to get any better over time.
 

Todd n Natalie

OverCamper
I had a 2019 Ranger. Premium was only required while towing. I got about 14mpg towing my 3500# 16’ Scamp trailer. About 20mpg not towing. That was on 32” aggressive AT tires.
The 18gallon fuel tank had me stopping every 200 miles for (premium)gas while towing, I didn’t like that. Truck always had plenty of power though. The double cab rear seats where roomier than my ext cab chevy’s rear seats.
I was going to mention the small tank in the Ranger. But @buddha beat me to it.

Don't forget to look at the Jeep Gladiator as well. Most of the midsize trucks are in the midst of a new generation coming out so I would read up on all the changes. Nissan is killing off the Titan so I wouldn't expect the support for the Frontier to get any better over time.
Yep, I would look at a Gladiator before the Frontier. Frontier isn't a bad looking truck but the 3 Nissan's I've had experience with (Altima, Pathfinder and Xterra) were all toast before 200,000 miles. There was a member here who bought a '22 Frontier and got out of it shortly after purchasing it saying they didn't trust the truck to last...

Colorado / Canyon seem decent. Son in law has a '18 Colorado that's been solid. I know they were just redesigned recently. Don't know anything about the new ones except they are turbo 4's now. (As is the new Tacoma I believe)
Would you be looking at new or used trucks?

Frontier aside, I don't think you could go wrong with any of those midsize trucks. Test drive them all and see which one you like.
 

Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
If you like the 4runner but want higher towing capability, maybe the Lexus GX460 is an option? They have the 4.6L V8 and 6 speed auto out of the Tundra, same size body as the 4Runner. New they're stupidly expensive but they depreciate more than the 4runners do, I bought a 2010 with 120k miles last year for $20k which was $4k less than similar age/mileage 4runners were selling for.

No manual option though, and there's no such thing as a 'base' model

Other ideas would be the 1st generation Sequoia or 100 series Land Cruiser - probably similarly sized to the current 4runner

The GX could be an outlier but ugh, those things are hideous. And MPG really sucks. I'm also not sure they don't run on premium - it certainly wouldn't surprise me if they did.

1st Gen Sequoia and 100 series are both out for the same reasons: I'm DONE with ancient vehicles that nickel-and-dime me to death. Been there, done that. Anything I buy will be 2019 or newer.

Don't forget to look at the Jeep Gladiator as well. Most of the midsize trucks are in the midst of a new generation coming out so I would read up on all the changes. Nissan is killing off the Titan so I wouldn't expect the support for the Frontier to get any better over time.

Yeah, I'm still not convinced that Chrysler/Jeep has fixed their quality and reliability issues so that makes me worry. Certainly we do see a lot of them around but I think that's because of their unique market niche.

I would definitely have to get one with the automatic because the MT Gladiator is only rated to 4500lbs towing.

I guess I'd have to mark the Gladiator as an outlier. Big plus is the wife would definitely like it since she used to own a Jeep and still misses it. I would think that it would be less than comfortable on long trips though, and we do plan on taking some long (month+) camping trips once I retire.
 

AbleGuy

Officious Intermeddler
Don't forget to look at the Jeep Gladiator as well. Most of the midsize trucks are in the midst of a new generation coming out so I would read up on all the changes. Nissan is killing off the Titan so I wouldn't expect the support for the Frontier to get any better over time.

Gladiator might fit in the garage but the 2023 MT 4,000 tow capacity would not meet the OP’s needs

IMG_8603.jpeg
 

calicamper

Expedition Leader
(warning - Long post!)

Yep, I didn't think I'd ever do it, but it looks like it's on the horizon.

Back in 2015, I sold my beloved 4th gen 4runner (2007) in gorgeous Salsa Red Pearl (i.e. maroon) because it was inadequate to pull our small travel trailer. Oh, it COULD pull it, but the transmission got hot (230+) and it really seemed to be struggling. Keep in mind that we live in Colorado so going over an 11,000+' (3350m) pass is something we do multiple times during a trip. I decided a full size truck was best so I got a 2004 Suburban with the 5.3l V8.

The Suburban did OK (although it struggled at higher altitudes, especially after we upgraded to a larger trailer) and it definitely showed its age (bought the 'Burb with 136,000 miles on it.) In 2019, after the 2nd time the transmission crapped out, we decided to replace it with another full-size vehicle, my current 2018 F-150 with the 3.5 EcoBoose V6 and 10 speed transmission.

The F-150 has been a great tow vehicle and it has a lot of features I really have come to love including the 36 gallon fuel tank. We've owned it just over 4 years and 40,000 miles and probably hundreds of trips into the mountains, with and without the trailer.

But, with retirement looming, wife and I decided to move out of the Denver area (see the thread I started in 2020, https://forum.expeditionportal.com/threads/where-to-land-after-retirement.221353/ ) .

We've settled on Pueblo West, CO which is far enough to get us out of the Denver area but still close enough to see our grandkids on a regular basis. We've been house shopping and finally found a house we both love that is within our budget and has what we want. For me, that is a 3 car garage (I've been parking my truck outside since we moved to our current house, as a result my truck has significant hail damage that will need to be repaired.)

SO.....the house has the 3 car garage I insisted on. But here's the rub: The "depth" of the garage (front-to-rear) is 19.3 feet, according to the MLS listing.

My F-150 Crew Cab Short Bed truck is .... 19.25' long (231 inches) per a couple of web sites.

Will it fit? Possibly, if I very carefully back it in and put a heavy rubber stop on the floor I can get it into the garage. But that means I'd have to be VERY careful backint it in - every single time - or risk expensive damage to the house.

So I've decided that once we move (assuming our offer gets accepted) and get settled in, I'm going to get the damage repaired and then put the F-150 up for sale. All I need is a truck big enough to pull our ~ 4000lb camper. We don't plan on getting anything much bigger. Almost any mid-sized truck can pull that with ease.

I have mixed feelings on the transition. Much as I love the F-150 as a tow vehicle, and even though it is comfortable on the highway, if I'm honest I have to admit that it has always been too big for what I really need. Parking has always been a PITA. The width of the truck means that I have to park way out at the edge of the parking lot if I want to avoid door dings. The cab is absolutely cavernous - which is nice, but it is also way more space than I actually need.
Even the "short" 5.5' bed is longer than I can reach into from the tailgate.

I really have always felt more comfortable in mid-size vehicles. I've owned 2 Toyota pickups, 2 4runners, 2 (old) Rangers, and one Mazda pickup. I've also owned an R50 Pathfinder and a Mitsubishi Montero. Those mid-sized vehicles always felt more "right" to me than the full size trucks which always felt like big barges.

But herein comes the dilemma and the question: Which one? I haven't shopped for a mid-sized vehicle since 2012 when I got my last 4runner.

Much as I'd like to jump into another 4runner (I prefer the SUV body style to the pickup) the 5,000lb towing capacity seems dangerously low to me. So that leaves me the compact trucks:

* Ford Ranger
* Chevy Colorado
* Nissan Frontier
* Toyota Tacoma

Here are a few random thoughts on those:

Ranger: Don't know much about them except that they have a turbocharged engine. After 4 years of buying premium gas, I'm inclined to shy away from the Ranger for this reason alone. I'll admit they are gorgeous - about the best looking compact truck out there. And I have no complaints about Ford quality based on the last 4 years with my F-150. But the 4 cyl and premium gas requirement has me leery.

Colorado: Honestly don't know anything about them.

Frontier: I've owned ONE Nissan before (an R50 Pathfinder with a manual transmission) and never had any issues with it. In terms of price I could probably get this one the cheapest. But maybe there's a reason for that? I've heard people refer to Nissan as the "Japanese Chrysler" in terms of quality, fit and finish and it's NOT a compliment. Probably the least aftermarket support (not that I need much.)

And that brings us to the venerable Tacoma. You can't swing a dead cat in Colorado without hitting 10 Subarus and 9 lifted Tacomas. They seem to be quite popular and capable. I had previously sworn off paying the "Toyota Tax" but now looking at prices I don't see a whole lot of difference in 1 - 2 year old vehicles with < 20,000 miles on them.

Biggest intriguing thing about the Toyota is the possibility of getting one with a manual transmission. I absolutely HATE slush boxes but I have heard some not-so-good things about the 6 speed manual in the Tacoma. The other issue is that the manual seems to be only available in the most basic trim levels and I'm concerned that this wouldn't include the heavier duty cooling I'd need to pull a trailer. Wife CAN drive a manual (though she doesn't like to) so a manual could be an option if one is available with the other necessary setup to pull a trailer.

So at this point I'm looking for recommendations/suggestions. Most likely this purchase won't happen until next Spring. I still have to get the hail damage repaired on the F-150.

I'll post a separate thread in the Toyota section asking about the Tacoma specifically.
I think all those trucks are nearly the same length as the F150. I ended up in a standard length heavy tow Expedition. Closest thing to the F150 but shorter. The current 4runner is nearly the same length as my Expedition. 9200lb max tow.

The Expedition is definitely shorter than my buddies mid sized trucks
 

Todd n Natalie

OverCamper
I think all those trucks are nearly the same length as the F150. I ended up in a standard length heavy tow Expedition. Closest thing to the F150 but shorter. The current 4runner is nearly the same length as my Expedition. 9200lb max tow.

The Expedition is definitely shorter than my buddies mid sized trucks
F150 Supercrew short box is 231 inches long. Most midsize crew cab short boxes will be about a foot short plus narrower.
I looked hard at a newer Ranger a few years ago for garagability and they were approx a foot shorter than the f150 super crew with 5.5 box.
 

Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
I think all those trucks are nearly the same length as the F150. I ended up in a standard length heavy tow Expedition. Closest thing to the F150 but shorter. The current 4runner is nearly the same length as my Expedition. 9200lb max tow.

The Expedition is definitely shorter than my buddies mid sized trucks

Nope, I checked. Per Ford the length of the CCSB F-150 is 231" or 19.25'

All of the compacts are less than 19'.

Gladiator is 218" (18.17')
Tacoma is 212" (17.67') for the short bed and 225" (18.7') for the long bed so even the long bed Taco is 6 inches shorter than my F-150
Ranger is 212"
Colorado is 213"

In terms of fuel, the Ranger is 18 gal, Colorado, Tacoma and Frontier are all 21 gal and the Gladiator is 22.
 

rruff

Explorer
My utterly useless suggestion is... keep your F150... and park it outside, forget about the hail damage, and also stop worrying about door dings! None of the midsize trucks will be as nice or good for towing. Does anybody really park their vehicles in the garage? That's the workshop, man...
 

Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
My utterly useless suggestion is... keep your F150... and park it outside, forget about the hail damage, and also stop worrying about door dings! None of the midsize trucks will be as nice or good for towing. Does anybody really park their vehicles in the garage? That's the workshop, man...

Oh HELL no. I've been parking outside for 6 1/2 years that we've been at this house and I'm done with it. The whole reason I want a 3 car garage is so I don't have to park outside. I'm tired of having to scrape ice or brush snow off my truck, tired of having it be a million degrees in there in the summer time. My truck deserves a nice house just like I do.

I got my first vehicle in 1979 when I was 17. It wasn't until 2008, at the age of 46, that I lived in a house that had a garage I could use. For 29 years I parked outside, every day, all the time.

When we moved from our previous house to this one in 2017 I thought I could figure a way to put my Suburban in the garage but it just wasn't big enough so I parked outside.

A garage can be a workshop, too. You can move vehicles out of the garage to work and then put them back in.
 

calicamper

Expedition Leader
Nope, I checked. Per Ford the length of the CCSB F-150 is 231" or 19.25'

All of the compacts are less than 19'.

Gladiator is 218" (18.17')
Tacoma is 212" (17.67') for the short bed and 225" (18.7') for the long bed so even the long bed Taco is 6 inches shorter than my F-150
Ranger is 212"
Colorado is 213"

In terms of fuel, the Ranger is 18 gal, Colorado, Tacoma and Frontier are all 21 gal and the Gladiator is 22.
Yes! Biggest issue with the mid
Sized Ranger is
Fuel range especially towing a parachute. I have 25gal to work with and typical non towing mileage runs 17-18 in town 21-23 highway. Not sure I would ever bother going midsized truck after having the Expedition. If I hunted maybe. But everything else I do the truck bed vs suv hasn’t been an issue. Width of the F150/Expedition is definitely wider than mid sized. But that hasn’t been an issue
 
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