Tacoma, Ranger and Frontier owners, check in please.

OK, this will be the LAST time I bother you with this.

This is the final leg in my new car research. Truth be told, I would rather have a pickup truck. God alone knows why. I’m never going to haul anything…

If you have one of these models, tell me about it. Runs good? Enough power(particularly with the 4 cylinder)? Good mileage? Comfort? (I’m looking at extra cabs) Basically, are you happy with it?

Thanks in advance.

Since model year 1994, the Mazda B-series pickups have been made by Ford on the same assembly line as the Ranger, and under the badging and some slightly different exterior detailing, they’re the same vehicle. If for no other reason, you may want to keep this in mind as the Mazda styling is arguably a little nicer, and the option packages available may be a little different. Rest assured, though, that under the skin they’re exactly the same.

I drive a 1997 Mazda B2300, and I love it. This one, as the name suggests, has a 2.3 liter 4-cylinder engine that I don’t believe they offer anymore - the “small” engine is now a 2.5. “Medium” and “large” are 3.0 and 4.0 liter V-6’s.

Since getting it new in August of '97, I’ve put 98,000 miles on it with no trouble to speak of. Had a crappy connection in the windshield wiper controls replaced under warranty, and that was it for the first 60k.

At around 95,000 miles, the temperature control on the climate control system began acting up. I believe what’s happened is that the heater blend door buried within the core has broken or jammed wide open, and I can only get full-hot air right now. Since I’m in pleasant southern California, I am presently living with the problem as just leaving it off and rolling the window down is a viable option for most of the year. Getting to the ducting/doors is pretty labor-intensive, requiring removal of the entire dashboard. I want to do it myself to see what I need to fix/replace, but since it’ll take all weekend it’s not real high on my priority list.

I have the 5-speed manual tranny, and I get about 25 mpg. I have a camper shell on the back, which probably helps the aerodynamics some and may be increasing the fuel economy a bit.

Mine’s a regular cab - this I sort of regret. I believe they did a redesign of the standard cabs in 1998 that added some room behind the seat, but there’s really not that much in this one.

The 2.3 liter engine cannot possibly be described as “beefy”, and this is one of the more underpowered vehicles I’ve owned. However, it’s good enough for me - I’m willing to accept the relative lack of power as a tradeoff for the fairly good (for a truck) fuel economy. I’ve had it loaded up to the GVWR, and the engine was still able to deal with that. What seemed to be reaching the limit was the rear suspension, but it survived the experience just fine.

Whether it’s a sign of real strength or simply lazy over-designing, the tailgate on this thing is quite beefy (and heavy) compared to, say, a Chevy S-10’s. It has strong hinges mounted as they are on full-sized pickups, not little doorway-style hinges like I’ve seen on some older compact trucks. The bed also has four rope holes (reinforced through-holes in the top edges of the bed walls) - features I’ve observed to be absent on most other compact trucks. These are in addition to four tie-down hooks inside the bed - pretty much everything has these.

Still on the original clutch (no surprise). Still on the original brakes (absolutely shocking, but I’ve checked them myself and they’re still within spec). I’ve done thorough regular maintenance and have had no engine/driveline problems of any sort.

If you can’t tell, I like mine. :slight_smile:

My '97 Ranger, like brad_d’s Maxda, is 2-wheel-drive, regular cab,4-cylinder, 5-speed, with an aluminum shell.

I,too, have had few problems in 4 1/2 years. I had an oxygen sensor and a battery replaced under warranty–and that’s it for
non-tire-related problems.

The first 3 winters I owned the truck, I needed extra weight in the
bed for traction. Once I got rid of the Firestone FR480 tires that came with the truck and bought Goodyear Wrangler AT/S tires, I’ve had decent traction without the extra 200 lbs or so. I’ve seen new Rangers at dealers with AT/Ses already installed. If yours doesn’t have them, insist that the dealer swap tires with one that does or you’ll back out of the deal.

When the truck was new, it was super-tight mechanically. Acceleration and fuel economy were terrible. The engine had no pep at all pulling away from stoplights with the defroster on(the A/C compressor comes on in Defrost at temperatures above 35).
My son, who had a '95 Ranger until he traded for a 4WD ’ 97 F-150, said that at around 1000 miles the gas mileage would break 20, and the acceleration would improve; and he was right. Since the end of break-in, I’ve averaged 23mpg with the A/C on and 26 without. During break-in, I got 19 no matter how I drove.

The vehicle is quicker in the 15-to-55mph range than it is either above or below that range–not the slowest off the line or at passing on the open road, but definitely not the equal of my old Dodge Rampage in either range. ( That little rustbucket pulled strongly all the way from zero to top end).

If you live in an area where, like the Omaha area, the localities plow snow with a saltshaker, be aware that a lot of older Japanese pickups around here now sport homemade flatbeds in place of their rotten-away original boxes, while most older Rangers actually have less rust than most big Fords of the same age.

I have a 2000 Ranger extended cab and I love it. The only thing I want to add to this discussion is that if you get an extended cab, I recommend getting it with the 4-door option. Having the extra doors makes it so much easier to get people and things into and out of the back of the cab.

And I also recommend that if you’re interested in getting a bed-liner, consider a sprayed-on kind like Line-X or Rhino. Like you, I don’t do a whole lot of hauling with my pickup. But when I do, I never worry about scratches or leaving any marks in the bed.

I bought a 1998 Ranger brand spankin’ new. 5-speed, king cab, 2 wheel drive.

Even with the air conditioner on full blast it was very perky and fantastic to drive.

I filled the tank up about every 3-4 weeks (just driving in town). Highway mileage just as good.

I agree with Kepi that if you choose the extended cab, the 4-door option is best, especially if you intend to put people back there. Critters are okay, or small kids, but it can be quite a squeeze otherwise. If it will just be you and groceries, no problem.

Bed liners as well - better go for the spray-on type. I found that water gets under the liner otherwise and can cause huge rust problems. The spray-on type is great for grip as well so whatever you’re hauling won’t slide around. An Uncle had his truck Rhino’d and it lasted for years - and you can (supposedly) get it touched up if need be.

I had a friend who had a Tacoma and enjoyed his truck as much as mine (we drove each others to see how they rode, etc). I’ve owned a Toyota before and absolutely loved it. Beat it to near death and it came back kickin’ :slight_smile:

I would definitely buy the Ranger again, or even the Tacoma as they are just as nice to drive.

my wife wants a 2000 frontier crew cab bad! damn bed it too short to really haul anything, and the new ones with a tiny bit of more bed space are so ugly!

we really like nissan, however. she has a 96 that has been FLAWLESS mechanicly and we are pretty impressed with it. cheaper than toyota, superior to chevys.

just what i think…

I currently drive a Jeep Cherokee (bought new in 98) but I have experience with many other makes and models. I am a die-hard Toyota truck person. If I were to buy a new one without a doubt that is the route I would go. They hold their resale very well and are tough as nails.

The only downside I can think of is power. While more than adequate for intown, I found highway passing power was barely adequate. Now, this was about an 94 or so model so this may or may not be an issue now, but I would still look into it.

I’ve driven the Ford many times as well. It was OK, but just didn’t have the fit and finish that the Toyotas had. The re-sale value (at least where I live) isn’t even comperable between the two… the Toyota is far, far superior.

The Toyota gets my vote.

PS - As a 4X4, they are tough as nails, too… and very capable for a stock vehicle.

I’m already on my second Tacoma. First one was a '99 PreRunner (2WD in a 4x4 body). I liked it, but one rainy day I slid out of a turn and it rolled over into a ditch. It required thousands of dollars of bodywork but I walked away without a scratch. I even wrote the company to compliment them on their toughness.
New ride is a '01, 4x4, 5-speed and I like it even more. Of course, it rarely snows here but when it does, I’m out there!
Not very roomy, but 99% of the time it’s just me anyway. Gas milage is usually in the 19-20 range, but most of my driving is residential/non-highway. On trips I’ve gotten 23-24 mpg.
I don’t drive real fast or do “jack-rabbit” starts so I can’t really rate it there.