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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys... I'm looking for a family hauler with AWD for my wife, with a bed. The reason for the bed is because we are musicians and would like the extra space for the gear, while still fitting 5 people in the truck. Most regular SUV's don't offer than kind of space. Also, we have a puppy that will grow quick big (golden retriever) and would like to carry her in the bed - The bed would get a camper top.

I'm looking to buy used and the budget is between $13,000-$15,000.

I'm down to 2 cars... The Ridgeline or the Gen 1 Toyota Tacoma Crew Cab. Both can be found more or less around the same price.

Now, this is what I have deduced from the research...

1. The Honda will ride better and likely be safer. It's also nicer and more comfortable inside.
2. The Tacoma would be a better offroader if we ever wanted to wheel it.
3. The Ridgeline is less fuel efficient with an average of 16MPG +/- vs the Gen 1 Taco's 18MPG +/-. (What I can gather from Fuelly.com)
4. The Taco should be cheaper to maintain and repair.

I mostly want AWD for the snow and for the occasional beach trip... I could take it wheeling, but honestly I could care less and it's not a deal breaker for me. I sort of prefer the more "truck" look of the Taco, and my wife prefers the more refined look of the Ridgeline - But we're both a bit on the fence and we simply want the superior car.

Assuming I find a good Tacoma that does not have any rust issues... Which would do you think would be more reliable assuming both are well cared for vehicles? This is important as most of the vehicles in my price range have over 85,000 miles and some well over 125,000.

The gen 1 Taco's downfall is rust, but here in San Diego, that's not a problem. I have heard more stories of broken Ridgelines than I have heard about Tacomas, but the info might be skewed.

I'd appreciate any info you can give me as I have started shopping around and would like a more informed opinion from guys that actually own Ridgelines.

Thanks
 

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Hey guys...
Howdy! Welcome to the ROC.
I'm looking for a family hauler with AWD for my wife, with a bed.

The reason for the bed is because we are musicians and would like the extra space for the gear, while still fitting 5 people in the truck. Most regular SUV's don't offer than kind of space. Also, we have a puppy that will grow quick big (golden retriever) and would like to carry her in the bed - The bed would get a camper top.

I'm looking to buy used and the budget is between $13,000-$15,000.

I'm down to 2 cars... The Ridgeline or the Gen 1 Toyota Tacoma Crew Cab. Both can be found more or less around the same price.
I am surprised that you haven't found some early Gen 2 Tacoma models in the same price range.

The Tacoma is a fine conventional pickup truck. Many people have done the "on paper" research and come down to the same Tacoma versus Ridgeline short list. We have discussed it many times here on the ROC. Here is a previous thread, which contains links to many earlier ones for your reading pleasure:
http://www.ridgelineownersclub.com/forums/showthread.php?t=39326 .

You say that you want AWD. I am not sure whether you are drawing a distinction between AWD (which the Ridgeline effectively has, despite being labelled 4WD) and conventional part-time 4WD,(which the Tacoma has). I used Toyota's part-time 4WD in a 3rd-generation 4Runner, and it's good, but it pales in overall usefulness to the Ridgeline's automatic AWD system.
Now, this is what I have deduced from the research...

1. The Honda will ride better and likely be safer. It's also nicer and more comfortable inside.
That is correct on all counts. Until you test drive them, you might not realise how light years better the Ridgeline is regarding these factors. The cab is almost that of a modern full-size truck.
2. The Tacoma would be a better offroader if we ever wanted to wheel it.
Correct. The 4WD Tacoma, especially the TRD version, is a true off-roader. The Ridgeline is better adapted to crappy roads, but roads nonetheless.
3. The Ridgeline is less fuel efficient with an average of 16MPG +/- vs the Gen 1 Taco's 18MPG +/-. (What I can gather from Fuelly.com)
All that I can gather is that there must be a lot of aggressive or city-driving Ridgeline owners on fuelly, because the overall mixed mileage is more like 18-19, and highway is 22-24 (or even better if you have a 2009+ model and drive sedately like me). Also, do those Tacoma numbers include 2WD and 4 cylinder models?
4. The Taco should be cheaper to maintain and repair.
I don't have any objective information with which to respond there. Both vehicles are extremely good. I don't see any distinguishing deal-breakers in personal observations or by checking the long-term reliability records on Consumer Reports. They are so close that individual vehicle record-keeping and pre-purchase inspection would be the best information.
I mostly want AWD for the snow and for the occasional beach trip... I could take it wheeling, but honestly I could care less and it's not a deal breaker for me. I sort of prefer the more "truck" look of the Taco, and my wife prefers the more refined look of the Ridgeline - But we're both a bit on the fence and we simply want the superior car.
The superior (ahem) "car" is the Ridgeline for your purposes, by a wide margin, just as it is for the actual needs of most people who want a recreational vehicle that can two or haul moderate amounts and do Home Depot runs. I am not claiming that most people buy what they actually need.

I can suggest the following exercises...

A. Two people, unloaded:
1. You and your wife test drive the Tacoma, then the Ridgeline. Take the Tacoma to some challenging road that has bumps on curves. If you can find one that's slippery too, all the better. Drive the Tacoma as fast as you dare, to the point where the axle hop makes you think that you might be in danger of sliding into the ditch. Try this in 2WD and 4WD if you like, but remember that you had to have foreknowledge to engage 4WD (which cannot be used for long on dry pavement).
2. Test drive the Ridgeline in the same spot at the same speed. It has lightning-fast AWD, stability control, and independent rear suspension to defeat axle hop.
3. Think about which vehicle you want when the road offers the next "surprise". The Tacoma won't be on your short list any more.

B. Five people, unloaded:
1. Bring five people to test drive the Ridgeline, then the Tacoma. Make sure they they are well fed before hand. You want them good and bloated.
2. There are no special actions to take. After being in the Ridgeline's cab and then cramming everyone into the Tacoma, you might not make it out of the lot. If you actually complete the Tacoma's test drive, everyone will spring out of it, possibly running and screaming, or maybe just going "aaahhhh, that's good to be out of there".

C. Five People, loaded:
1. Bring five people to the test drives, including the unrestricted list of gear that you would like to bring.
2. Load as much as you can into the Ridgeline. Don't forget the trunk, under the rear seat and in the front center console. Document how much you actually got in, as well as any special notes about whether you could still get access to it in the cab or offer it extra weather/crush protection in the trunk.
3. See how much of that stuff you can load into the Tacoma. Unless it's the extra-length box, it won't all fit. What does fit will be in a conventional truck box and won't get the extra value that you had in the special notes from the Ridgeline.

The cap over the bed will be a rarity among used Ridgelines, and it will likely cost more to buy a new one for the Ridgeline than the Tacoma. It's a special design for a low-production vehicle.
Assuming I find a good Tacoma that does not have any rust issues... Which would do you think would be more reliable assuming both are well cared for vehicles? This is important as most of the vehicles in my price range have over 85,000 miles and some well over 125,000.
They are both very good, with the Ridgeline edging out the Tacoma 2nd generation a bit. There don't appear to be maintenance deal-breakers for either truck.
The gen 1 Taco's downfall is rust, but here in San Diego, that's not a problem. I have heard more stories of broken Ridgelines than I have heard about Tacomas, but the info might be skewed.
It is contradicted by owner feedback on Consumer Reports. CR isn't perfect, but I'd take that over anecdotes any day. Both models are good, to the point where individual ones would bear inspection more than the models themselves.
I'd appreciate any info you can give me as I have started shopping around and would like a more informed opinion from guys that actually own Ridgelines.

Thanks
You are welcome. Best wishes on getting a vehicle that you really like.
 

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Last spring, my future sister-in-law and her husband (both work in banking) were choosing between a new Tundra or Ridgeline. She already drove a Nissan SUV (state brand of TN where they live). She preferred the Ridgeline for the reasons cited above. He ended up buying a 4WD Tundra Double Cab because they own hunting land in rural TN (think banjo music, no teeth, spotty cell service, and side arm rural) that he is prepping for building their retirement home.
 

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+1 on the Taco reference the cap. I've known a few musicians and they have all either used a van or a pickup with a topper. You can get higher toppers with the Taco as well, if needed. I don't think the Ridge is cut out for a shell, and it's the first of four pickups I've had where I will not bother with one.
 

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He ended up buying a 4WD Tundra Double Cab because they own hunting land in rural TN (think banjo music, no teeth, spotty cell service, and side arm rural) that he is prepping for building their retirement home.
Offense taken!! :rolleyes: Lifelong TN resident with all my teeth, like banjo music, have good cell service, and do pack hardware on occasion. Wife has all her teeth and does not dip snuff!! :act024:
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you all for the responses.

Ian, thanks a lot for that VERY detailed response.

Below are my thoughts...

1. I haven't looked at Gen 2 Tacomas because at or around the $15k mark they are usually really high mileage and 2WD, or early 2005 models (rather start in 2006 for the Gen 2's).

2. I do know the difference between AWD and 4WD. For us, AWD is actually better suited than 4WD. +1 for the Ridge.

3. The bed topper camper shell - I know the toppers are more readily available and fit the Taco better... However, I don't mind the look of the camper top on the Ridge, and I don't need the extra space of a high camper shell - a standard height one if more than enough for our needs. We need to carry drums and bass gear, but not an entire PA. I used to carry music gear in a 2000 S-10 with a Leer shell, so I have experience with such a thing and it used t work great for me at the time. I will till keep an eye on some SUV that might have the potential to carry all that gear inside along with 5 people. Maybe one of those 7 passenger SUV's by taking the third row out. I don't know, I'll have to look further into it.

4. I do want to bring my wife and have her drive both. Just by looking at the interiors I can tell the Ridgeline is way more refined than the Gen 1 Tacoma. But we have to experience it first hand.

5. My research on MPG is based on worse-case-scenario. Why? Because around here we get horrible gas mileage. CA gas sucks (most agree it has less oomph than gas in other states). Secondly, we live in a hilly area. We have a V6 Mustang that's supposed to average 23+ MPG. Around here, even while making sure we don't spin the engine past 2500 RPM, we still only get 16MPG average. I also have a Miata that only averages 22MPG. My experience with all my other cars is that in SoCal they do much worse in gas mileage than in other areas. So, that's why I'm stating the numbers I am. I'll be lucky if the Ridgeline give me more than a 16MPG average around here with all the crazy hills. The average for the gen 1 Taco I gathered by listing the V6 readings only. They seem to be slightly better than the numbers on the Ridge.

6. Ian, Those test driving exercises you suggest are very detailed. I don't have the time to do ALL those tests, but I'll try and do as many as I can. At least to the point where I can really learn of the differences first hand.

There is a Ridgeline for sale locally that already has the hard shell camper on it, which is a big plus. However, quite a bit over our budget... It has 55K +/- miles on it, 2008, and they want $20.5 for it. I looked at it and it's in good shape but it does have a brake controller installed, which means they used to tow with it. It also had a K&N CAI. This is it:

http://www.ncbcg.com/VehicleDetails...rew_Cab_RTL_w/Leather-Escondido-CA/1891066113

But like I said, because of the low miles, it's priced over our budget. Yes, I could buy it, but I don't think I want to go that high. Plus, I can't get infatuated with that one simply because it already has the camper... I can take my time to source a camper later and I'm not in a hurry for that yet.

One thing I noticed though, and it's a bit of a concern: There are WAY MORE Ridgelines for sale on the used market than there are Tacos. Now, that's a good thing for negotiating price, but it's also a concern as to why are people unloading so many of them.
 

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The Ridgeline just isn't as cool as the Tacoma or a big truck. If you don't need a testosterone booster the Ridgeline is a way more practical, comfortable and roomy ride. I've had 2 Tacoma's (a crew and a double cab) and while they were nice it was really not near as comfortable or fun to drive. The safety factor and not having to think about 4wd was enough for me. The ride was a big bonus. Gas mileage is a minimal factor as 3 mpg at the very most isn't going to change the budget much.
 

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The Ridgeline just isn't as cool as the Tacoma or a big truck. If you don't need a testosterone booster the Ridgeline is a way more practical, comfortable and roomy ride. I've had 2 Tacoma's (a crew and a double cab) and while they were nice it was really not near as comfortable or fun to drive. The safety factor and not having to think about 4wd was enough for me. The ride was a big bonus. Gas mileage is a minimal factor as 3 mpg at the very most isn't going to change the budget much.
IMO the Tacomas are ugly and feel cheap
 

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Yeah. My last was a black 01 double cab. It was great then. Plus people like that you can put a lift and 33's if you want.
 

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Gee whiz Chip. Other than the driver's seat, that looks brand spanking new.

I note the date of mfg is 8/05. Does it have the reverse circuit or is it pre August 24, 2005 DOM?
 

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Offense taken!! :rolleyes: Lifelong TN resident with all my teeth, like banjo music, have good cell service, and do pack hardware on occasion. Wife has all her teeth and does not dip snuff!! :act024:
Ya, but your wife is also your sister..... ha-ha-he-he!

Just kidding, please don't take offense..:act060:
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
@Chip - that's a good looking truck. I like that color too. In fact, I think I like all the Ridgeline colors except for silver (sorry, not a fan of silver on any car). The soft topper will not work for me for the most part, but that can be sold.

However, there are literally TONS of Ridgelines available here in SoCal that I doubt I'll go out of state for one. I'm going to go out with my wife this Saturday early to go look at a few. I might post the ones I'm interested in for advice.

Thanks all!
 

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Thank you all for the responses.

Ian, thanks a lot for that VERY detailed response.
You are welcome. What goes around comes around. :)
Below are my thoughts...

1. I haven't looked at Gen 2 Tacomas because at or around the $15k mark they are usually really high mileage and 2WD, or early 2005 models (rather start in 2006 for the Gen 2's).
So be it. The Tacoma is a prized used vehicle and prices will be commensurate with demand and perception of value.
2. I do know the difference between AWD and 4WD. For us, AWD is actually better suited than 4WD. +1 for the Ridge.
Yes, for everything except serious off-roading. In case you did not notice: the Ridgeline's VTM-4 system does not have a low range. While I used to use low range on my 4Runner to extract the boat at the ramp, I have never missed that feature when doing the same with the Ridgeline.
3. The bed topper camper shell - I know the toppers are more readily available and fit the Taco better... However, I don't mind the look of the camper top on the Ridge, and I don't need the extra space of a high camper shell - a standard height one if more than enough for our needs. We need to carry drums and bass gear, but not an entire PA. I used to carry music gear in a 2000 S-10 with a Leer shell, so I have experience with such a thing and it used t work great for me at the time. I will till keep an eye on some SUV that might have the potential to carry all that gear inside along with 5 people. Maybe one of those 7 passenger SUV's by taking the third row out. I don't know, I'll have to look further into it.
I thought that a van was mandatory for musicians. :) Have you considered an AWD Toyota Sienna?

Most 7-passenger SUV's are extremely cramped in the 3rd row, and have virtually no storage space if you do use the 3rd row. Most of them would not be suitable for a road trip with the 3rd row in use.
4. I do want to bring my wife and have her drive both. Just by looking at the interiors I can tell the Ridgeline is way more refined than the Gen 1 Tacoma. But we have to experience it first hand.
Yes. BTW, the Ridgeline's interior might be more usable, but the seats stain easily. So, be prepared to get seatcovers or towels or just put up with it. The rest of the vehicle makes it worthwhile.

For ergonomics, I recommend playing with the seat height as well as distance. This might make up for the lack of telescoping steering column. I nearly skipped the Ridgeline altogether until a salesperson pointed out that even the non-powered seat had a height adjustment.

You might also have to slightly recline the seat if the head restraints bother you. The design is pretty much mandated by law now and most vehicles have these "poke you in the head" design. My mom just turns her restraint backward. Note that they are called "head restraints", not "headrests".

For all test vehicles, check the tire pressure. Some vehicles are set with very high pressure to withstand prolonged stays on the parking lot. It can produce a very firm ride.
5. My research on MPG is based on worse-case-scenario. Why? Because around here we get horrible gas mileage. CA gas sucks (most agree it has less oomph than gas in other states). Secondly, we live in a hilly area. We have a V6 Mustang that's supposed to average 23+ MPG. Around here, even while making sure we don't spin the engine past 2500 RPM, we still only get 16MPG average. I also have a Miata that only averages 22MPG. My experience with all my other cars is that in SoCal they do much worse in gas mileage than in other areas. So, that's why I'm stating the numbers I am. I'll be lucky if the Ridgeline give me more than a 16MPG average around here with all the crazy hills. The average for the gen 1 Taco I gathered by listing the V6 readings only. They seem to be slightly better than the numbers on the Ridge.
Ah. That would do it then. The Gen 1 Tacoma is about 700 lbs lighter than the Ridgeline, so it will have a permanent advantage in your area. However, some of that extra weight buys you modern safety design features, such as crumple zones and more air bags (in case of collision) and traction control plus stability control (to avoid collisions).
6. Ian, Those test driving exercises you suggest are very detailed. I don't have the time to do ALL those tests, but I'll try and do as many as I can. At least to the point where I can really learn of the differences first hand.
I hope that just exercise A with your wife will be enough. You could also get in the back row as a test, with her in the middle seat position. That spot is one that many passengers dread, but it's fine in the Ridgeline.
There is a Ridgeline for sale locally that already has the hard shell camper on it, which is a big plus. However, quite a bit over our budget... It has 55K +/- miles on it, 2008, and they want $20.5 for it.
Okay...
I looked at it and it's in good shape but it does have a brake controller installed, which means they used to tow with it.
That's a "yellow light".
It also had a K&N CAI. This is it:
That's a big bright yellow light. Here is an informative thread on the topic. Look for where it talks about "premature engine wear". http://www.ridgelineownersclub.com/forums/showthread.php?p=228074
But like I said, because of the low miles, it's priced over our budget. Yes, I could buy it, but I don't think I want to go that high. Plus, I can't get infatuated with that one simply because it already has the camper... I can take my time to source a camper later and I'm not in a hurry for that yet.
That's the right attitude. While the Ridgeline is of low risk overall as a used vehicle, you might as well take your time and find a "garage queen" that has a completely stock drivetrain, complete maintenance records, and passes a pre-purchase inspection by a Honda-trained mechanic.
One thing I noticed though, and it's a bit of a concern: There are WAY MORE Ridgelines for sale on the used market than there are Tacos. Now, that's a good thing for negotiating price, but it's also a concern as to why are people unloading so many of them.
When I was shopping for a used 4Runner or Tacoma over a decade ago, I could find only one of each in all of eastern Ontario over a period of three weeks. Owners are particularly attached. I was loathe to give up the 4Runner for years, and only parted with it when the early recession led to fantastic incentives for the Ridgeline.

I am not sure why so many would be selling Ridgelines. Maybe it's because buyers are open to more possibilities and are willing to move on to other interesting choices? I don't know. They are hard to find used around here, except for auction-house imports from the US. Just make sure that the individual one you want is a good one and take advantage of the supply to avoid paying too much, I guess.
 

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Seems if there are a lot of RLs for sale, that will be a buyer's market... not a seller's market. Now which side of the aisle are you on again? ;)
 

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Don't forget the Ridgeline is a BAJA winner. Can't say that from most truck makers!
 

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Gee whiz Chip. Other than the driver's seat, that looks brand spanking new.

I note the date of mfg is 8/05. Does it have the reverse circuit or is it pre August 24, 2005 DOM?
It's early production, so does not have the reverse circuit. Which, for most utility trailers, doesn't matter as they don't typically have a back-up light anyway.

eluviis said:
However, there are literally TONS of Ridgelines available here in SoCal that I doubt I'll go out of state for one.
If you were up north, you'd want a rust-free Texas truck. Like mine. :)

Chip H.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I thought that a van was mandatory for musicians. :) Have you considered an AWD Toyota Sienna?
Haha. I've only had a minivan once, and it was in Maui, a Nissan Quest. I didn't know you could get an AWD Sienna… However, we are "cool car people". Haha. Meaning, my wife ain't gonna drive a minivan unless it's the only option. The Ridgeline might not be a testosterone booster and someone here called the Taco. But dang it's cool compared to a Sienna!

I run a car website and we attend all the local car shows and meets. We have cars for that... But even for our utility vehicle, we'd like it to have some kind of charisma to it.

For ergonomics, I recommend playing with the seat height as well as distance. This might make up for the lack of telescoping steering column. I nearly skipped the Ridgeline altogether until a salesperson pointed out that even the non-powered seat had a height adjustment.
Height-adjustable seat is super important for us. My wife has a short torso and long legs. I have a long torso and short legs.

For ergonomics, I recommend playing with the seat height as well as distance. This might make up for the lack of telescoping steering column. I nearly skipped the Ridgeline altogether until a salesperson pointed out that even the non-powered seat had a height adjustment.
I bet they aren't worse than the head-pokers our Mustang has!

Just make sure that the individual one you want is a good one and take advantage of the supply to avoid paying too much, I guess.
That I will do. :)

Seems if there are a lot of RLs for sale, that will be a buyer's market... not a seller's market. Now which side of the aisle are you on again?
I'm in SoCal. Supply is usually not a problem here, for anything. Want a Ridgeline? There are plenty! Lambo? Plenty of those too! :)

BTW, very little rain here and no snow. Cars are rust-free.

Thanks again for all the feedback. Looking forward to test drives this weekend. I'm going to read a little more on here to learn the differences between the trims and little details like that.

Any particular threads you highly recommend for RL newbies like me?
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Hi guys,

My wife and I took the time to drive both a Gen 1 Taco and a 2008 Ridgeline yesterday. It was a bit of an apple vs oranges comparison as the Ridge was an RTL, so much more upscale than the Tacoma. We should've compared the Tacoma to an RT or a Sport, but hey.

So, this is what I gathered.

Pros for the Ridgeline.

1. Yes, the Ridge is much more comfortable inside. It's wider and the back seats feel the like back seats in a sedan. The backseats in the gen 1 Tacoma are as comfortable as getting kicked in the a$$ by a wild donkey.

2. The Ridgeline is faster and drives more like a car. In fact, it drive better than both of the Xterras I've owned. The visibility is great too.

3. The interior amenities in the RL are much more posh. Like I said, we drive an RTL, but still, I guess that even the RT is more posh than the Tacoma inside. Putting a center console seat with a lap belt (which is something my wife wants to do for the rare event when my parents come to visit and we need 6 seats) is much more doable in the RL than in the Taco.

Pros for the Tacoma.

1. This one's opinion: Ok, I admit... I like the Tacoma more for 2 reasons... I like the truck feel and the styling. I've always loved these trucks and always wanted to own one and never have. It's simpler and kinda stripped out... That's actually something I like. Of course, my wife prefers the gadgets. She actually likes a lifted truck with slightly low offset wheels and black rims, so if I buy her the Taco I have to give her that. But not a problem, I love that. She still likes the RL more nevertheless.

2. The MPG thing is still in favor of the Tacoma... I really don't want to get anything under 15MPG and I'm fairly certain the RL is going to average us 14MPG in our hilly town with crappy weak gas. After my research I'm pretty sure the lighter gen 1 Taco would give us about 2 MPG better. Plus, the RL's revvy engine will promote ever more fuel consumption over the Tacoma's more rough unit.

3. There are many places to go offroading - here. The Tacoma would be better at that if we decide to do that.

Finding a good gen 1 Tacoma with low miles can be a bit tricky (in the condition I want it to be in) - The one we test drove yesterday is the best one we've come across. The thing was well above average and with low miles for the year, 70,000. It was also price around $17,900 for an '04. It even had the camper shell we need on it. One of the better units too. The RL we tested was a 2008 RTL with 53,000 miles and they wanted $21,999. That one was at Car Max... Good car, but Car Max is always more pricey and they won't negotiate on top of that.

I put in an offer for the Tacoma but it wasn't accepted. It wasn't a lowball offer... I think it was pretty reasonable. Even though the dealer said no, and we walked, it was late at night on the 1st and I have a feeling a small counter-offer today might do the trick to get the deal. But we'll see. I might try and get a hold of a Ridgeline RT that's priced more closely to the Tacoma and take it for a spin. I like the Tacoma more, but in the end, it's going to be my wife's car so I have to keep that in mind.
 
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