I’ve owned two trucks (although the first was a brief and forgettable experiment in buying auction vehicles), and the utility of having a vehicle you can throw greasy parts or a load of mulch in without worrying about it is alluring. The problem with modern pickups, aside from the gas mileage, is that they are just too big for weekend warrior duty. I’ve sat in new trucks from GM, Ford, and Dodge, and all of them felt unwieldy and cavernous. I only really need a truck about once a month in the summer, and driving around in something that could fit six construction workers and pull down the Empire State building, while fun in theory, would get tedious after a while. The once-flourishing small truck market has pretty much dried up, because manufacturers realized that it isn’t much cheaper to build smaller trucks and most truck buyers are easily wowed by horsepower and payload ratings they will likely never need.
The Chevrolet Colorado and its twin, the GMC Canyon, replaced the old S-10 pickup in 2004. While generally out-everythinged by the Toyota Tacoma, these trucks are durable, handle surprisingly well, and would fit my needs perfectly. They are available with a roomy crew cab and manual transmission, although the stick is understandably rare. Most are equipped with the “power of a 4 cylinder with the economy of a 6” inline 5 cylinder engine, although V8 models also exist.
- Readily available and prices are cheap. There are over 100 low-mileage crew cabs in my area for under 15k.
- Useful without being the size of a small apartment.
- I’ve never driven one, but they are supposedly very car-like in their handling. Which is good considering the trucks I have driven felt like, well, a truck.
- Attractive when compared to the competition.
- Notice I said “attractive when compared to the competition.” These things aren’t going to win any beauty contests.
- It’s still a truck, and I’d really rather have a car.
- Less-than-stellar crash ratings.
Overall, these might be the best of the “small” pickups available, considering the Tacoma has bloated to the size of most older full-size trucks. And while the utility of a truck is appealing, like most Americans, I don’t really NEED one. I might be swayed after driving one, but I think I’d really rather have a G8 or CTS-V and hang a trailer off the back.