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  1. #1
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    Perfect MTB Truck/SUV

    I'm looking for advice on how SUV and truck owners specifically have their vehicles setup for bike hauling, and if anyone has a perfect year/model to recommend.

    I'm in the market for a new vehicle, and the primary consideration for it is to haul bikes. I also need it to be a 4x4 or AWD, have enough cab/interior space for my wife and dog(s), be able to keep a decent amount of gear out of the weather, and is also capable of hauling deer carcasses and firewood. For that reason, I'm looking primarily at crew cab/extended cab trucks, and some SUVs.

    My previous vehicle is a 2006 Escape with a Thule roof Rack system, and my only bike complaint is that the only way to haul my DH bike with it was to remove the front thru axle wheel and transport it inside with the rear seats down. Other than the vehicle being a mechanical piece of crap and requiring laying down tarps to haul deer, it worked fine logisitically.

    Thanks for the help!

  2. #2
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    New or used? Price range? Toyota Tacoma double cabs are nice, as are the Honda Ridgelines- they appear similar, but are very different mechanically. Both beds are pretty short, but can haul a bunch of bikes (or carcasses).

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    So many different options for trucks and suv's. I've been lucky to have driven company vehicles for almost 20 years (switching every couple years on leases) and have tried most American makes and models of trucks and suv's. I personally prefer trucks for hauling bikes. My current ride is a Chevy Silverado. As for which one is best, it really comes down to your preference. Can't really go that wrong with all the newer vehicles now. Just find one that you like the look of and within your budget.

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    I swear by Suburbans; hope to have one as long as they keep making them. 5 bikes and 5 people plus gear inside, no sweat. Fits full sheets of plywood flat with the rear seats folded, can comfortably sleep a couple people and a dog. I keep the third seat in my shed and just keep the back tarped (and half full of bikes, tools, and random ride detritus). One thing I do like about SUVs is that I feel more secure leaving stuff locked in them than I would a P/U with a cap. Plus you keep everything nice and dry and happy on cold wet drives. Not exactly fuel sippers, but comparable to other large 4x4 vehicles.

    I had a 99 that I kept for ~200k, and now I've got a an '05 Z71 with around 150k on it, have had really good luck with both mechanically. I got each with around 40k on them, for less than 1/2 the MSRP (pro tip - wait for a spike in gas prices to shop.)

    My wife has a 2010 Ram 1500 Sport with the quad cab. Thing about the big cabs is a lot of the time their paired with short beds - I can put a couch in the 'burban and close the gate, but the thing would be hanging out the back of the Dodge.
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  5. #5
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    I recently bought a 2003 Lexus GX 470 I didn't want something to big and unnecessary (LX/GL/LandCruiser/QX56 etc.) and definitely did not want a dinky small suv, to me their pointless. So I went in the middle. Something that can still tackle all the off road stuff. Reasonably priced, fantastic reliability, tons of space, optional 3rd row, and great luxury. It was a no brainer.

  6. #6
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    Sounds like what you really want is a minivan . Best beater I ever had was an 89 dodge caravan which I kept for 12 years. Sit lower to the ground than a SUV so the dogs had an easy time getting in and out of it and bike fit standing up with both front and back wheels on. My friends with SUVs borrowed my van to haul stuff, somewhat because I didn't give a crap if the van got damage/dirty but also because it had more room and was easier to load. Anyway SUVs are soccer mom cars now. All the cool people drive minivans and station wagons.

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    I guess this is the thread where everyone goes off about their own ride.

    My suggestion wouldn't be considered an "SUV" but a crossover--Honda Element. Good MPG, cheap maintenance, AWD, good interior room for you, wife and dogs, plus gear. Easily haul deer or other living or dead things. I don't have one, as I have a bigger family and need more space, but for your uses, it seems it would fit. It has a fairly high roof line, so storing bikes inside usually not an issue, even with the seat post extended.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by mudforlunch View Post
    I'm in the market for a new vehicle, and the primary consideration for it is to haul bikes. I also need it to be a 4x4 or AWD, have enough cab/interior space for my wife and dog(s), be able to keep a decent amount of gear out of the weather, and is also capable of hauling deer carcasses and firewood. For that reason, I'm looking primarily at crew cab/extended cab trucks, and some SUVs.
    Define this one part a bit better for me........Firewood. How much do you plan on hauling? Heat your house amounts or have a campfire here or there? It makes all the difference in the world.

    If the former, 8 foot bed trucks are the way to go. If the latter, I'd still go truck over suv, you can add a toolbox for dry storage when needed and pull it if you don't. I heat my house with firewood as a primary heat source. Had a shortbed truck, and it just didn't work. Even for bikes the 8 foot bed is better, you can have a toolbox and still close the gate with the bikes in. Deer, firewood, plywood, bikes, you just can't beat the versatility of a truck.

    Personally, I have a 13 F350 crewcab longbed. Way overkill for bikes, but I have other uses that require it. It can seat 6, haul at least 5 bikes but you could jam a 6th somewhere. Can haul 4 or 5 people plus gear comfortably. I have a giant 27" weather guard toolbox for excess dry storage that I use on an as needed basis, but a box that big isn't for everyone and there are plenty of narrower boxes. Right now I have a Delta stableload bar in it for bikes because it allows for flexibility of toolbox in or out use, where a pipline style rack would not. Far as security of bikes goes, I have a 30 foot kryptonite cable that I pull through all the bikes and wheels if we are going to stop for lunch somewhere. It's not the best thing, and will only keep honset people honest, but thats all SUV windows do too in reality.

  9. #9
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    Agree if you're gonna move a good amount of wood or dirt/mulch etc, you're better off with a p/u than an SUV if you've gotta choose between them. Luckily I've got one of each; I find we almost invariably go with the SUV for any sort road trip. Even when we take go snowmobiling or dirt biking, I'd rather just haul a trailer than load everything into the back of a p/u.

    I had a couple mini-vans in the past and loved them for biking trips. I got spoiled with all the room; I was actually looking for an AWD Honda when I ended up buying my first Suburban. The really big SUVs are the only ones that have the same sort of room as minivans do.

    I've done shuttle runs at Sunday River in an F350 single cab where we've put as many as 12 people and 12 bikes in the truck and took it for some pretty rugged fire road climbs. Used to put 10 and 10 in my buddy's F150 all the time too. That's one thing you can't pull off with an SUV or minivan.

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  10. #10
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    Diesel crew cab long bed only way to do it. Not jacked to the sky either just factory 4x4 height all you need. Plus makes you feel better when you park next to the tacoma driving specialized rider and give em the old "cute hybrid, pretty ride". Let em figure out which one is which.

  11. #11
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    Perfect MTB Truck/SUV

    What u really need is a full size diesel van

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tha Dawg Catcher View Post
    Diesel crew cab long bed only way to do it. Not jacked to the sky either just factory 4x4 height all you need. Plus makes you feel better when you park next to the tacoma driving specialized rider and give em the old "cute hybrid, pretty ride". Let em figure out which one is which.
    Oh, so that was you? Did you figure out my "what are you overcompensating for" was referring to?

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by deuxdiesel View Post
    Oh, so that was you? Did you figure out my "what are you overcompensating for" was referring to?
    C'mon - leave the guy alone. He obviously spent a lot of time and money in his quest to find the ultimate vehicle for impressing strange spandex clad dudes in parking lots. As if the Calvin pissing sticker wasn't enough.

    Take that away, all your left with is the old marketing victim 'the sticker on my bike makes me better than people with a different sticker on their bike' schtick. Let a fella dream.
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  14. #14
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    Haha I love it, if having a factory height 4x4 truck is compensating now, jeez guess all the mexicans with the lowered trucks must be the norm now. hahahah

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tha Dawg Catcher View Post
    Haha I love it, if having a factory height 4x4 truck is compensating now, jeez guess all the mexicans with the lowered trucks must be the norm now. hahahah
    It's only compensating if it 'makes you feel better' than people with different vehicles.

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  16. #16
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    i'll second the CC LB diesel truck recommendation. we've had a bunch of different vehicles and our 99 F350 is by far our favorite.

    super comfy, hauls butt, hauls all your toys, super long range, very acceptable gas millage given how large and powerful it is.

    we have a 4" lift and 35's, and we do use it offroad several times a year. its big enough to handle crap, but not stupid.

    and yes, my truck does make me feel a lot better than most other vehicles. its a lot of fun to drive.

    downsides: no uturns, can be tough to park.
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  17. #17
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    I guess Im guilty of that, for some reason I feel a lot better watching others with smaller trucks try to cram all the gear in the bed of the truck. I think to myself I could fit that all in the back of my cab and still have room to sit two people. hahaha seriously though if you are looking for something to haul your gear camping biking what have you, get the biggest possible truck you can afford and then go a step bigger, trust me when you think you have enough room you dont.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tha Dawg Catcher View Post
    I guess Im guilty of that, for some reason I feel a lot better watching others with smaller trucks try to cram all the gear in the bed of the truck.
    I guess I'm guilty of the same whenever I see somebody on the highway with a truck bed full of gear in a driving rain/snow storm (of course, a cap would address that too.)

    Agree on going big as possible - I stuff mine to the gills on a pretty regular basis.
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  19. #19
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    no cap on ours, but if things need to stay dry they go in the toolbox or in action packer tubs, or we can put the thule box on the rails that go across the bed.

    so yeah... as long as we aren't talking about parallel parking downtown or u-turns... can't beat the full size truck.
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  20. #20
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    I'm looking forward to checking out the new 2015 Colorado/Canyon trucks. It's plenty of truck for my needs. (I'm usually only hauling my self and sometimes one other person and 1-2 bikes.) I also really like the looks of the new Ford Transit Connect van. No AWD, though--just front.

    My ideal next vehicle will feature 30+ mpg hwy, 20+ city, room for 2 people, their bikes with wheels on, and their gear. AND have as small a footprint as possible while still meeting those requirements, for maneuverability, and easy parking and fit in my garage. The Transit Connect is currently my top choice but I want to give the Colorado/Canyon a look, and see what other companies might come up with to compete with these vehicles...

  21. #21
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    I had a 2005 colorado before going full size. the truck was nice parked great but i always needed more room.

  22. #22
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    Yeah, I have a 2008 Colorado and it has plenty of room for me. I'd rather buy as small a truck as I can make work than as big a one as I can afford--just makes more sense for my needs.

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    Hemi getting 18+ MPG w/ 8 speed trans.

    Price tage was a little steep. $55K but it's awesome.



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    We have decided to downsize even further from the Tacoma to a Mazda CX-5. Picking it up this week. Bikes on the back, a pod on top and upper 20's MPG. I felt guilty for driving a truck that got 18 MPG to haul around a bike or two and only towed a trailer 2-3x per year. I could care less what people who drive monster vehicles as commuter cars think, and the $1000 savings per year in gas and insurance will be a healthy addition to my daughter's college fund.

  25. #25
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    whatever...

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    I have and recommend a Chevy Avalanche, room for 5 comfortably, super reliable, tons of power and decent hwy mileage. I use a modified Thule rack that sits over the bed which holds 5 bikes and you still have use of the lockable, covered bed. Chevy discontinued the Avalanche for 2014, but a used one is easy to find.

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    I have to put my vote in for the 5th generation 4Runner. After putting 200,000 trouble free miles on a double cab 4 x 4 Tacoma I went with a Trail Edition 4Runner. Comfortable with decent mileage (18.5 around town, 19-20 on the highway depending on load) and excellent offroad capability for the multiple Mtb trips to CO, Utah, etc.

  28. #28
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    I almost bought a tacoma a few years back.. I ended up buying a Ford sport trac and I'm very glad I did..It has been one of the most reliable vehicles I've ever had and Ive owned a bunch. My only complaint is the MPG sucks but thats pretty much any truck. I just stand the bikes up in the back. Turn the front wheels sideways and run a strap from both sides of the truck.
    When you've seen someone rupture their scrotum on a bike you won't take the standards for top tube clearance lightly!

  29. #29
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    I currently drive an 09 Suburban. Got a T2 on the back, normally set up for two bikes but can convert it to four in about three minutes.
    I have a big plastic box in the back with all my gear in it. The entire box can be pulled out in case I need space for something else.
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  30. #30
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    I love my Chevy AWD Express van. I took the back seat out and can fit 4 bikes inside and still haul 5 people. It gets 19-20mpg on the hwy and about 16-17mpg in town. I love it.

    We can also camp in the back. I have a QUEEN blow up mattress that fits perfectly in the back. 2 people can sleep on the mattress and one on the bench and 2 in the front seats in a jam.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by irishpitbull View Post
    Hemi getting 18+ MPG w/ 8 speed trans.

    Price tage was a little steep. $55K but it's awesome.
    i thought the cummins motor was the entire reason why people bought dodges
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  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by euroford View Post
    i thought the cummins motor was the entire reason why people bought dodges
    I was anti-Ram/Hemi until I drove it. The 400hp Hemi is brutally fast. The interior is as nice as my infiniti. There is a reason it is the 1st back-to-back winner of Truck of the year.
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  33. #33
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    Perfect MTB Truck/SUV-photo.jpg

    another vote for the ram! I put a cap on with a bedrug and its like the world's biggest trunk. the hitch rack is still quicker to use, and its a crew cab so the road bike fits in the back seat without taking the tire off
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  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by irishpitbull View Post
    I was anti-Ram/Hemi until I drove it. The 400hp Hemi is brutally fast. The interior is as nice as my infiniti. There is a reason it is the 1st back-to-back winner of Truck of the year.
    The reason is that they out bid the rest of the "competitors". Motor Trend car or truck of the year is a joke. Google it.

    C&D's 10 best is credible, MT's is for sale.

  35. #35
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    05-06 Tundra

    OP. Are you set on buying new? If I was looking for a full sized truck right now, it would be used. The main reasons I would go this way are gas price fluctuation and new trucks are scary expensive. Remember what happened when gas went to $4+? The bottom fell out of the truck market. The people that freaked out and sold their trucks lost a bunch on money in the process.

    I would also stay with a full size half ton truck. The big diesels are really expensive to purchase and maintain. They will never pencil out unless you are towing a heavy load most of the time. The smaller trucks like the Tacoma are nice, but they get within 2-3mpg of the half tons.

    My favorite truck happens to be the 05-06 Toyota Tundra. Why 05-06? Because of the improved drive train. They sport a 5 speed auto and variable valve timing. The 05-06 will blow the doors off of a 00-04 Tundra and get better mileage doing it. I also like this vintage Tundra for the bed length. It is 6'3" inside length and is perfect for most adults to sleep in. Bed length is the same for the crew cab and the extra cab. Average MPG has been 15 to 17 for my crew cab with cap, 1.5" lift and 285 tires.

    The only downsides of the Tundra that I have noticed (besides mileage) are. The large turning radius, especially with the crew cab. Timing belt maintenance is every 90,000 miles and costs around $700 with a new water pump. Otherwise, they make great all around trucks and should easily last 200,000+ miles.

    My setup can be changed around to fit the mission. With the lock box in the back, I can carry 3 bikes. Without the lock box, I can haul 5 bikes, 5 riders and gear. I can also install the lock box in the cab in place of the large section of the back seat. That set up is great for two adults set up to sleep in the bed on extended trips. Last summer, we did and extended trip with 4 adults, all of our gear in back and the bikes on a hitch rack.

    Good luck with your search.
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  36. #36
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    I have two options for carrying bikes in my truck. I have a Thule T2 rack (hitch) and Rocky Mount Clutch XD mounts in the rail system in the bed. The mounts are QR and require removal of the front wheel, the Thule is not.
    :wq

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kris View Post
    The reason is that they out bid the rest of the "competitors". Motor Trend car or truck of the year is a joke. Google it.

    C&D's 10 best is credible, MT's is for sale.


    It's all a conspiracy, man.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bubba13 View Post
    If I was looking for a full sized truck right now, it would be used. The main reasons I would go this way are gas price fluctuation and new trucks are scary expensive. Remember what happened when gas went to $4+? The bottom fell out of the truck market. The people that freaked out and sold their trucks lost a bunch on money in the process.
    This. I'm a huge fan of letting somebody else take the giant depreciation hit that goes along with new vehicles (MTBs included).

    There are tons of low mileage late-model vehicles out there selling for half off the MSRP, or better. I picked a 3 year old Suburban with ~40k on it for $33,000 less than new, as well as a 3 year old Ram with ~45k on it for ~$30,000 off. Both are loaded models, run and look like new, came with plenty of warrantee, and for the price of just one of them new, I was able to buy both (plus used my big savings to help justify sticking a nice pony car in the garage for sunny days.)

    Retail is for suckas!!

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  39. #39
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    I will never drive a used anything.
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  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by irishpitbull View Post
    I will never drive a used anything.
    You're driving used right now, and have been since the second you pulled off the lot. That momentary flash of newness just isn't worth paying more than double the price to me.

    Personally, I'd be particularly pissed if I paid full price for my Ram - besides the horespower and hidden coolers, I've been less than impressed with it (2010 1500 Hemi Sport Crew Cab, loaded). I'd much rather drive my 2005 Suburban Z71, even with over 150k miles, no working gauges, and spotty heat. Much more comfortable driver and a lot more useful space, given that I don't haul around landscaping materials, and I have trailers for all the motorized toys. YMMV.
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    Yeah but it's used by me. Nobody else's body fluids on my seats, no dried boogers, and I wouldn't even ride in car with 150K on it. That thing should be in a salvage yard.
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  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by irishpitbull View Post
    Yeah but it's used by me. Nobody else's body fluids on my seats, no dried boogers, and I wouldn't even ride in car with 150K on it. That thing should be in a salvage yard.
    Dude, the 70s are long gone. A well built modern vehicle, specially one that they screw you to the tune of $50k or more for, should have no problem at all running over 200k miles with regular maintenance. But hey, I'm not the type that finds any sort of personal validation in chasing marketing hype or playing keep up with the Joneses, though I'm glad there are a lot of people that are. Saves me many many thousands of dollars, which in turn means I have to work less and get to play more. It's your money though, spend it however makes ya happy.
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  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by irishpitbull View Post
    I will never drive a used anything.
    I don't have a problem with used cars, but I've seen people do some goofy stuff with truck, too heavily loaded, too big trailers. I would be more wary of a used truck, compared to used cars.
    How can anyone who's been riding as long as I have, be so slow???

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rock View Post
    I don't have a problem with used cars, but I've seen people do some goofy stuff with truck, too heavily loaded, too big trailers. I would be more wary of a used truck, compared to used cars.
    I have got to agree. I have had two new trucks and two used trucks. While I don't intend to buy another anytime soon, I will NEVER buy another used truck. My last used one (a 2007 Dodge ram 3500) was an absolute nightmare even though it only had 45k on it. Yes it had the Cummins too. Total pos. I bought my 13 F350 new, special ordered, and still payed well below MSRP. My experience with my used car went much better, only minor issues in 12 years and 156k miles, and no intentions of getting rid of it anytime soon.
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  45. #45
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    There are definitely lemons out there, both new and used. It's luck of the draw either way - that's where the warranty (hopefully) comes in.

    I'm not a fanboy of any particular make by any means, but I've personally have had not-so-great luck with Dodge products. Wife fell in love with the look of the new Rams though, so figured I'd give them another a shot. The one I got had no tow hitch, and it was obvious it had hauled nothing more than groceries, so wasn't concerned about it being over-worked.
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  46. #46
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    thats freekin hilarious.

    we'll only buy used vehicles, reap the benefits of the other suckers who lived with the payments. we own 5 cars, all ones we like very much, all bought with cash.

    my current dairly driver truck is 14 years old and has almost 250,000 miles. its nice enough that i enter it into shows, and i just started building its next motor. its needed some maintenance, but parts are cheap, easy to come by, and the thing is a dream to work on.

    heck, at this point we have three cars with over 150,000 miles. our 02 ford escape just hit that and still looks brand new.

    i'll stick with my used cars, fix em myself, and keep putting money into MY back account instead of the dealerships.
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    Quote Originally Posted by deuxdiesel View Post
    We have decided to downsize even further from the Tacoma to a Mazda CX-5. Picking it up this week. Bikes on the back, a pod on top and upper 20's MPG. I felt guilty for driving a truck that got 18 MPG to haul around a bike or two and only towed a trailer 2-3x per year. I could care less what people who drive monster vehicles as commuter cars think, and the $1000 savings per year in gas and insurance will be a healthy addition to my daughter's college fund.
    I feel the same way about my Tacoma. I was able to commute to work by road bike for a while at least. Where I live now I think I might be able to ride my mountain bike to some trails. I just moved here so not sure yet.
    I like to ride bikes.

  48. #48
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    I'm all about used cars too. I've bought one new car...never again. When I buy used I have it detailed to remove as much bodily fluid and boogers as possible. Then I quickly start to add my own fluids and boogers.

    The new GMC Canyon is appealing. I've heard of rumors about a small diesel. I like my Tacoma a lot, it's a 2003. I like the 1st generation over the current. However by the time it dies they might be impossible to find. By then maybe I'll be able to find a used diesel Canyon.
    I like to ride bikes.

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    Love my 2005 Porsche Cayenne S

    Purchased @57,000 miles, for less than a new KIA SUV - this speeding brick was previously owned by a Physician, who took immaculate care of it. With AWD and active air suspension, it easily climbs up rutted, 25% grades with zero wheelspin, plows thru 4 inches of snow at 75mph, in complete comfort. The custom-tuned 4.5L motor has an intoxicating, Marine V8 growl:

    "The ONLY person who needs to race.....is the entrant"

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    Quote Originally Posted by otis24 View Post
    The new GMC Canyon is appealing. I've heard of rumors about a small diesel. I like my Tacoma a lot, it's a 2003. I like the 1st generation over the current. However by the time it dies they might be impossible to find. By then maybe I'll be able to find a used diesel Canyon.
    It's not a rumor. It's a fact, chevy will start selling the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon at the end of this year, then introduce the diesel about a year after sales start, in 2015 sometime. It'll be a 4cylinder diesel, most likely the 2.8L unit. They said this was the plan.

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