Toyota Tacoma vs Chevy Colorado
June 9, 2017 5:50 PM   Subscribe

We are buying our first pickup truck and want to get it right. Can you help us decide between the two?

So my husband and I, people who would have never thought of themselves as pickup owners, are now well... planning to be pickup owners. We test drove both trucks today, and are wavering between the two, does anyone have any antidotal or information to share that would help us decide?

Background: Westchester NY, so we get snow and have a fair amount of dirt roads to deal with on a near daily basis. Drive down to long island at least once a week, which can be mad max style driving at times. We have a Subaru Impreza now, that just feels a smidgen low, the manual makes me want to scream in traffic and its not very comfortable (we got the base model, its very base model). The all wheel and feeling like you are sticking to the dirt roads is fantastic. We are planning to trade the subaru in, add some cash and finance the rest. We want to keep this car for 5+ years. I can't see a reason why we would ever tow something, but we do have paddleboards to throw on top/in.

Tacoma TRD Sport: Pros: Prefer the styling both interior and exterior (but not by a huge amount), feels solid on the dirt roads with great suspension, has a sunroof option, everyone says Toyotas just run and run and run, seats are pretty comfortable. Slightly less expensive than the Colorado. Cons: feels slightly underpowered, noticeable when dealing with highway on/off ramps and large hills.

Colorado Z71: Pros: Nice styling, with lots of fun features (remote start!) Has 70 more horsepower than the Tacoma, and you notice it. Cons: no sunroof, not as sticky on the dirt roads, slightly rougher ride. Family has said Chevys are less dependable, although looking at USN reports they come out slightly ahead of the Tacoma. More expensive (probably will come out about 4k ish more than the Tacoma)

I guess this comes down to are we not realizing something that we should be, and if the 70 extra horsepower actually makes that big of a difference for us to spend the extra cash.

Metafilter- what truck should we get?

posted by zara to Shopping (18 answers total)
Assuming you are buying new, the Toyota is going to hold its value better and will be easier to sell. Toyota was well ahead on quality but I know they have slipped slightly while other companies have improved, so that may be less of a factor now. For me the resale would be a major factor; your economic situation may make that less important.

Drive down to long island at least once a week, which can be mad max style driving at times.

It's worth noting that trucks feel safer, but aren't generally actually safer. I'm not saying not to buy one (I own a high clearance vehicle), but just don't confuse the enjoyable feeling of sitting higher up and having a better view with real safety gains.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:54 PM on June 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have a 2003 Tacoma TRD manual V6. I've never driven a Colorado, but if I had any more power in my engine than I do right now I'd spin my wheels for 30 seconds every time I started from a stop. Maybe it's easier to launch as an automatic, but it took me a while to adjust to the manual clutch and I'm surprised power is an issue.

Right now, after 13 years and 150K miles, I have my first mechanical problem that's not wear-and-tear related or regularly scheduled maintenance, and it only involves the climate control. I've never had to change the clutch or brake pads (the latter probably partially due to it being manual). Obviously my Tacoma is too old to be readily comparable, and fairly low mileage for a car that age, but I'd recommend it in a heartbeat.

A couple things about getting a pickup in general: I bought mine in California, but have since lived in Wisconsin and Michigan. I don't know if some kind of bed cover comes with a pickup automatically in snow areas, but you're going to want either a tonneau or a camper shell, so factor that into you purchase price. Look into how the 4x4 aspect of the trucks work - I don't know if things have changed since my car's production, but with 4WD you generally want things to be a little slippery so one front wheel can "scrub", and I can feel my car complain if I try to turn on dry pavement. Without 4WD engaged, you'll be pretty worthless on snow or ice, even with weight in the back (you'll want to put weight in the back). It takes a little bit of rolling for my 4WD to engage, which is a little annoying if I've parked on dry pavement but have to start up again after a snowfall.

Oddly enough, I'm looking at getting an Impreza for my next car, partially for better handling around curves since it's lower to the ground (but more for family needs).
posted by LionIndex at 6:59 PM on June 9, 2017

I am a Westchester NY resident with an extended cab, extended bed Ford F-150. It has the bigger engine option. I drive the truck as my daily driver locally and also long distance to my cabin in the Adirondacks as well as down to North Carolina and Virginia where I have kids in school. (Fwiw, I also drive to the Island over the Throgs Neck although not once a week.) I have had this truck since 2008. It has 140,000 miles. I would get another F-150 in a Westchester second. Oh, my previous car to the pickup was a BMW M5 so I was not a pickup person before this.

While I cannot comment on either truck you are looking at, I would say there are certain things to consider when choosing. One, is make sure you get the back window to open. It really helps the ventilation. I love my bigger engine. It really helps when trying to get on the Saw Mill using one of the short ramps. Same for 287 with traffic. It also helps in the snow, although it is a mixed bag in that too much gas and you spin your back wheels.

The key to me to traction on dirt, sand or snow, with a pickup is the weight in the back end. I do not have a cover on the bed so in the snow, I am carrying a load of snow and it helps. Drving upstate on frozen lake I would put a big container of sand in the back by the gate to add weight to the back wheels.

Driving over the bridges, the Tap or the George or the Throgs Neck, having an open bed is sometimes a negative because of the wind. So consider getting a cover for the bed if you are not using it a lot to carry stuff.

The rougher ride and "not sticky" on the dirt road comes from a stiffer frame and suspension. It also depends on the tires. Rather than get snow tires, I got a more aggressive all year tread pattern. Look into the different tires that come standard on each.

When I first got the truck, my kids were teens with lots of really really smelly lacrosse, hockey and football equipment. Putting that crap in the bed rather than in the back of an SUV was worth it alone to have the pickup.

As for the interior, do either of them have three seatbelts across the back? I have sat 5 in my truck comfortably for a 9 hour ride. I do not have a sun roof, but wish I did. I am a windows open more than an a/c person and a sun roof would help much. I would say in general, especially if it is a daily driver, get the same features you would get with a car. Comfort is comfort.
posted by AugustWest at 7:00 PM on June 9, 2017

Current gen Tacoma are iffy quality-wise. Read up on that. I think I'd lean Colorado until you said $4k more. That said I'd throw the F-150 into the mix. You might be surprised at the price.
posted by LoveHam at 7:39 PM on June 9, 2017

Well, I bought a Tacoma last August.
We had a 20+ year old F-150 that was needed a bunch of work.
We miss the old 8-foot bed that could hold a full sheet of plywood flat and the comparatively large load capacity.
We like the new truck because it's way more efficient, quieter, more comfortable and it has dual cab so the kid doesn't have to squash between us and the manual shift lever too.
The full size Z71 will be a bigger pain in heavy traffic and to park.
I'd buy the Tacoma (again :)), it'll be cheaper to run, easier to drive in crowded conditions and, from your description, your relatively light truck duties will mean that you wont miss the bigger bed and larger weight limit of the full size truck.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 9:05 PM on June 9, 2017

I live in Colorado, and drive in mountains and snow and deserts and heat and salt creek washes and corduroy roads and bad roads and no roads, and it is immediately apparent why you never see a Chevy Colorado at a trailhead or little used rutted out forest road. I just spent 10 days in Southern Utah offroading/Badroading my Taco, and then driving home at 85+ MPH. The truck is an extraordinary machine.

Tacos are geared as trucks and expect to be driven loaded - I hate the ride and feel of my truck empty. Empty, they feel gutless. But with, say, 700 pounds of gear and crap in the bed, the low gearing is assertive and authoritative. Don't forget, the Taco makes peak power at ~4k RPM - it loves to be wound out. I fly past many semis and RVs on 8000 ft AGL passes at 3900 RPM in 3rd gear. Also, the braking is second to none. Toyota gets a lot of crap for the rear drums on the Taco, but I've avoided so many cows and deer I should have been pulling off my hood, that I will never, ever fault them for it.

Toyota has a well deserved reputation for reliability and toughness. I own a slightly modified 2012 Tacoma* with 75k miles on the clock. It's gone wherever I have pointed it, and always brought me back. The market for used tacos is bonkers because of this - I almost made money selling my last Tacoma, and if you count scheduled deprecation, I came out far ahead.

The reason for this is that they have excellent aftermarket support, and Toyota is well invested in the market - they offer engineering support that GM just does not care to. Chevy sells 10x as many 1500/2500/3500s as Colorados. It exists as a niche for them to say they have, but they aren't as committed to the small truck market as Toyota is, and it shows. I could walk you around my neighborhood, and point out a dozen Tacos of various ages, but I haven't seen an S10/Colorado in days.

Buy the truck you like - its your money. But, if I were shopping today, I'd test drive a chevy (and Frontier!) just to be sure and do due diligence, but I'd almost certainly buy a Tacoma. A truck that leaves me stranded is no truck at all and Toyota has earned a lot of trust over the years that I have relied on their products.

* that's my truck!
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:39 PM on June 9, 2017 [5 favorites]

I have driven Colorados and Hiluxs (a bigger car person than me will be able to say how much of a difference there is between a Hilux and a Tacoma, I'm not sure it's just different names between countries but they look quite similar) I have only driven the diesel version of each so I won't comment on the power disparity but I've driven a lot of Hiluxs and know even more people that have had them and they are properly rock solid and will take you anywhere. The Colorados have not at all been in the same league.

In the Australian civil construction and mining world the Hilux is the vehicle to have, without question, and that is not an industry that is kind to utes (or anything else). To me that's the biggest endorsement you are going to get.
posted by deadwax at 12:21 AM on June 10, 2017

Assorted thoughts:
- Resale value- thats totally something we did not think about but does matter to us. The Toyota appears to be fantastic in that regard.
-The Tacoma comes with a factory installed bed cover which trifolds and looks pretty sweet. We would have to after market leather seats, but the two dealerships both bring this up like its no big deal. The Tacoma without the leather is coming in around 38k, and then maybe another 1k for the seats (we have a corgi, corgi hair is impossible to get out of cloth seats.)
- The Colorado has the leather and is pricing at about 42K, we would have to add a cover.
- I didnt pay attention to the F150, but after looking around online at prices, its kind of in the similar ballpark, and maybe we should take a look, although it just seems SO big.
- Didnt factor in Tacoma with stuff in the bed, and it sounds like thats a big deal power wise. It might also be that we are manual people, and i keep trying to "shift" through the gas pedal making interesting ride.

Lionindex- Please dont take this as a fault against the impreza, it was more not quiet understanding our needs than the car's fault. I love the fact that the subarau feels basically bombproof, and its a joy in corners and on the dirt. We got the wagon which has a good amount of room. If we had been smarter we would have upgraded the inside up to leather and some other little points which would help. We got the last year with their old generation screen radio/phone, and its awful, but i hear the new ones are much better. Also, the manual is stiff and picky, so make sure you test drive it and like it (we didnt, my first drive in it to JFK in hell traffic nearly made me leave it on the side of the road)
posted by zara at 5:35 AM on June 10, 2017

Don't buy a Chevy pickup. Consider an F-150 if you want to compare something to the Tacoma, but I would still go with the Tacoma for its higher resale, nicer trim/finish, and reliability. But I wouldn't own another Chevy pickup if you gave it to me for free.
posted by little mouth at 6:22 AM on June 10, 2017

Same. I work in the Alaskan bush and Toyota Tacomas are popular, second only to Fords, for ruggedness. GMC full sized sometimes. The Tacomas hold up beautifully under ridiculous conditions. I have a friend with a 2008 that still runs like a top in a place that kills trucks in 5 years (no paved roads at all!).
posted by spitbull at 6:58 AM on June 10, 2017

If you're looking for a pickup truck, you should at least consider/look at the Silverado and the F-150. They are the flagship trucks of their respective companies, the top 2 most-sold vehicles in the country, and for what you're looking at spending, you might as well get the full-size truck.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 9:22 AM on June 10, 2017

- Didnt factor in Tacoma with stuff in the bed, and it sounds like thats a big deal power wise. It might also be that we are manual people, and i keep trying to "shift" through the gas pedal making interesting ride.

The manual on the Taco is a weird beast. First is geared super low, and its a big gap between that and second. When the truck is empty, you can shift 1,2,4,6 and it's a bit smoother. When it is loaded, the transmission really shines, and the ratios make more sense - it's a very well thought out transmission. Also, that low first gear is a huge asset in low range - I think it's the lowest ratio of any stock auto these days (~40:1 IIRC). Super nice to have on a tricky descent or when lots of torque to ground is required.

The other trick to driving a MT Taco is that the engine, by design, hangs the revs up after you release the throttle and brings them down slowly. This is to reduce emissions from sudden throttle changes, and it improves engine life. However, it means that the shift timing takes a little getting used to compared to a car. Coupled with the long throw on the shifter, and it's a real skill to drive the MT well. Once you get the hang of it, it's a dream.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:10 AM on June 10, 2017

For those still playing along at home, yesterday we did a test drive of of the Chevy, which knocked itself out due to price and on a closer look feeling a smidgen cheap on the exterior and interior (also, the seats are damn hard). The knock on resale that you all mentioned and the fact its not the mainstay product of chevy did help that decision.

Went to try the toyota again, still in the running, but it just doesn't feel great merging on highways/big hills without anything in the bed, which would be a good majority of the time. But has every bell and whistle we would like, and a really good track record.

Any then, because metafilter said so, we test drove the F150 and we were, well, shocked. It handles great, tons of room inside, zooms on to the highway. We cant get the leather seats or heated seats (thats only on models over 50k, and well, no.) but the one we test drove could come out the same price or a smidge lower than the Tacoma. So now its do we want a bigger truck that handles great but is missing some creature comforts, or the super dependable tacoma that has all the bells and whistles we want, but feels underpowered.
posted by zara at 12:22 PM on June 11, 2017

Have Tacoma, love it.
posted by concertedchaos at 7:33 PM on June 11, 2017

The Ford is also going to depreciate faster than the Tacoma, which may mean that you might be able to find good deals on slightly used ones compared to buying new.

I'd choose the Tacoma for off-road, parking in a city, and for holding its value. For power, capacity, and comfort, I'd take the Ford.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:53 PM on June 11, 2017

The Tacoma's transmission is setup to eke every bit of fuel economy out that it can, this makes it feel weird and twitchy. It has a 'tow' mode for when you want it to maximize power. If you test drive it again push the button near the drivers right knee labeled ECT, this will improve the apparent power.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 7:51 AM on June 12, 2017

Watch out for 3rd generation Tacomas (built after Sept. 2015). Some have serious rear end problems: 2016-2017 Toyota Tacoma Is Being Recalled for Leaky Rear Axle

I love my Tacoma (2011, 60k miles, 4WD). I've owned Toyota pickups for most of my adult life. They live up to their reputation as having nearly indestructible engines. I'm clearly biased but I will also say that my brother-in-law, who was a big Chevy fan, stopped buying their pickups because he found them to be unreliable. If it's pre-2015, go with the Tacoma.
posted by not_the_water at 12:33 PM on June 12, 2017

So, we went with the F150 and are so pleased. Its super comfortable for sitting in traffic, we managed to find the exact package we wanted (heated seats, remote start (!!), and electronic opening of the back window. We really in our hearts thought we wanted to be Tacoma drivers, but the bang for the buck of the F150 was too hard to beat.

It looks absurd next to our Fiat Arbath, and we have figured out we are incapable of buying normal mid size vehicles

The only thing, we (cough, very much me) need to figure out how to park the damn thing.

Thanks mefi for convincing me to get the truck I wasnt even thinking of test driving!
posted by zara at 6:46 PM on June 19, 2017

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