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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Next year I will buying a new *dog* vehicle. It will be my primary vehicle with the Ford Explorer, wich will have 225K by then in retirment as a back up vechicle only. Since I will be working from home commuting miles not an issue but hauling pine straw, fertilizer, etc is.

Looking to a smaller truck (tacoma, ranger, dakota, colorado) but may consider bigger - want to meet my goals while being as fuel efficient as possible.

I have decided on a truck for sure - still debating engine and transmission options. Most efficient and long lasting would be manual transmission with smaller engine and locking differential. But I am not sure how good that would be off road. I know old farm trucks when I was a kid did not have 4 wheel drive and I remember those going everyhwere. Off road for me is: farm fields, muddy dirt roads, clear cuts, lake banks. I think the same vehicle that would work for a hunter * fisherman would work for me. The biggest thing I would ever tow is a jon boat.

What is your take? Fuel Efficiency and Longevity are both considerations but I don't want to get stuck.

Also concerning bed options-most of the beds will not fit 2 crates side by side between the wheel wells but anchored properly above the wells could be an option with storage underneath. I don't want to have to be a gymnast to access dogs and gear. Want to be able to lock everything up and keep it dry.

Option 1 - Fiberglass Shell with crates etc. inside
Option 2 - Custom Dog Topper (Expensive-not sure of hot weather performance, most dog compartments are smaller than I would like but may be big enough at 36x24x24)
Option 3 - Ladder rack and customizing myself (may give me better warm weather performance.

Would love your insights about what does and does not work. I figure dogsport folks probably have almost as much gear and leave dogs in vehicles for long times like SAR folk. I guess you probably don't have to have to accomodate overnight stuff but that is the exception for me, not the rule but you have to be prepared nonetheless.

MY argument against SUVs is that they get hot, not great for 2 dogs, not great for extra gear, no place for me to sleep in a pinch. My argument against minivans is ground clearance and heat issues again.

Thanks for your thoughts on this
 

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I would go for a Ford Ranger with 4WD and a custom dog topper(mounted so you load dogs off the side of the truck and don't have to crawl in the truck bed). I drove my old Ranger for 14 yrs, always as a dog truck and it was a real good dependable truck, didn't have 4WD but as I have it now I don't think I would ever not have it(lots of snow here). The weight of my dog boxes made for pretty good traction(had extra leaf springs put in) in the Ranger but I do like the 4WD if you have to go on really rough going. Extended cab is nice as you can put extra passengers or gear you don't want outside. I would do a custom topper and include stuff like a water tank (like you have for horse trailers) and a good external work light also. I have a full size 4X4 truck and it is a great truck and hauls lots of dogs but is hard on the wallet at the gas pumps.
 

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Don't get a Dodge. Fuel mileage sucks (our 4x4 '99 Dakota gets a whopping 14mpg), and you're guaranteed to have some kind of transmission/differential problem with it. :lol: Ours is in the shop right now, and Stacia had a heck of a time with her brand new Durango. I like Lynn's idea. My first car was a Ford Ranger 2x4 w/a 4cyl engine and manual transmission. Not so good on power, and not good on soft ground unless there was weight in the back (or two guys jumping up and down in the bed to give traction), but a reliable, gas efficient vehicle that could also haul stuff if needed. My dad has a newer 4x4 Ranger w/an automatic transmission, and it seems to be a good little truck, too.
 

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Honda Ridgeline will have at least the fuel efficiency of the smaller trucks, have more room, less depreciation (that is a very big deal people often ignore with trucks), and a lot more compartments and thoughtfulness (vertical/horizontal rear door opening, all-weather lockable trunk beneath the truck bed). V6 would do you fine, they are all, I think, AWD standard. Go test drive one. Check out the ground clearance, I think that is supposedly an issue, but maybe just one from people who like to jump out of their trucks.

I don't have one. But I would like one. It strikes me as an excellent choice if you're limited to trucks and have dogs.

Ridgeline is the top-rated truck according to Consumer Reports.

I am not a big fan of small trucks, not when you can get a Ridgeline or Tundra. I do not like American trucks anymore. Not a real big fan of American cars in general at this point.

BTW, I have a manual 2003 Subaru Forester, which I think is an excellent one-dog vehicle. Would work with two dogs but not much room left for sleeping Nancy. Coolest sunroof ever, AWD and the Subaru engine (horizontally mounted) make for very great control.

But I don't think I'll ever buy anything other than another Honda if I get a car again. They are just insanely great cars. And Honda engineers are the very best in the world for what they do.

Would still want a Honda Odyssey before anything else, IMO. That is a wonderful minivan. I understand your concerns about Minivan heat but bottom line is that a minivan is way more accomodating and has higher utility than anything else.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
You know I like Honda vehicles a LOT and Honda also leads the pack for SAFETY and reliability but ...........

They have that funky design that means getting a topper for dog box would be a challenge - there is only 8.2 inches of ground clearance

AND they put the darned spare tire IN THE BED COMPARTMENT instead of below the truck between the rear wheels. It looks like the target market is the suburban family, kind of like the Explorer Sport Trac. Worth some more research though. Wish the had target the construction market as there are lots of things designed for every day pick up trucks

My Ford Escort straight shift went 275K and never EVEN needed a new clutch (it was starting to slip but by then the engine was going) and my Explorer at 194 has been very reliable.
 

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Nancy Jocoy said:
You know I like Honda vehicles a LOT and Honda also leads the pack for SAFETY and reliability but ...........

They have that funky design that means getting a topper for dog box would be a challenge - there is only 8.2 inches of ground clearance

AND they put the darned spare tire IN THE BED COMPARTMENT instead of below the truck between the rear wheels. It looks like the target market is the suburban family, kind of like the Explorer Sport Trac. Worth some more research though. Wish the had target the construction market as there are lots of things designed for every day pick up trucks

My Ford Escort straight shift went 275K and never EVEN needed a new clutch (it was starting to slip but by then the engine was going) and my Explorer at 194 has been very reliable.
http://www.4are.com/product/view_models.php?mk=h&md=r

You will be more limited in after-market upgrades, no doubt. And the lines are very funky. But I'd still test drive one...lucky you...!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the link good to know someone is making something. I will have to give it a chance and look at spare tire access. Gets frustrating that it is harder and harder to find a fuel efficient pick up designed as a true utility vehicle!!

Buying a vehicle is a BIG deal for me - like I said planning for sometime between next July and November probably Oct when the 2007s are being cleared out. Earlier if the Explorer lives up the Ford Exploder name (ie how the transmission goes when it goes)

We drive 'em until they drop. I cannot think of a vehicle we have ever retired with less than 250K
 

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i'm on my second ranger. my first one was a 93 manual transmission, 2.3 liter 4 banger. DO NOT GET THIS COMBO. sure mileage is a consideration, but that engine is just not powerful enough. i know they have more juice now than the 93 did, but c'mon. that thing was an absolute DOG. reliable as hell though.

my current is a 01 with auto trans and 4.0 V6. this engine has tons of power. it's the same engine they put in the explorer, so you can imagine how it does in a little ranger (i've smoked my buddy who has a full size chevy). it probably has more power than you'll need. i think you'd be fine with the mid engine which i think is a 3.0 V6. i love my truck. i just have the camper shell, dog crate in back combo. this is nice when i have to goto the dumps or load up the back, i just pull out the crate...
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
You know, the 3 liter manual transmission does not offer any fuel advantages over the 4 liter automatic. Go figure. I know the 4 liter engine is tried and true with a long history. Glad to get a 2nd report about the smaller engine note being powerful enough though.

The biggie with an automatic is when they go they go all of a sudden and a clutch gives you some warning. But maybe I should hang it up at that point :lol: - We are actually planning on retiring the Explorer earlier than our other cars because I really don't want to be out in the middle of nowhere at 3am and have the transmission go out on me and anything above 200K is good luck. Plus I am kind of scared of being in the left lane on a busy interstate and losing power all of a sudden.

I have no complaints with the Explorer and have driven a Ranger and it is the same base vehicle as the Explorer (well the NEW Explorers are not and I would not have one) - the only thing attracting me to Tacoma over Ranger is the option of getting a full sized quad cab and better safety features. Reliability looks to be about the same by the reviews. But I have not heard too many people have a bad experience with either vehicle.
 

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Nancy Jocoy said:
You know, the 3 liter manual transmission does not offer any fuel advantages over the 4 liter automatic. Go figure. I know the 4 liter engine is tried and true with a long history. Glad to get a 2nd report about the smaller engine note being powerful enough though.

The biggie with an automatic is when they go they go all of a sudden and a clutch gives you some warning. But maybe I should hang it up at that point :lol: - We are actually planning on retiring the Explorer earlier than our other cars because I really don't want to be out in the middle of nowhere at 3am and have the transmission go out on me and anything above 200K is good luck. Plus I am kind of scared of being in the left lane on a busy interstate and losing power all of a sudden.

I have no complaints with the Explorer and have driven a Ranger and it is the same base vehicle as the Explorer (well the NEW Explorers are not and I would not have one) - the only thing attracting me to Tacoma over Ranger is the option of getting a full sized quad cab and better safety features. Reliability looks to be about the same by the reviews. But I have not heard too many people have a bad experience with either vehicle.
i have the xtra cab model and yes, it's really not that much extra. but with the quad cab tacoma, you get what? a 5 foot bed? plus, i ALWAYS buy american.

as a side note, i get HORRIBLE gas mileage on my truck. i'm pretty sure it has to do with my driving habits (i live 1 mile from work and my truck sees the freeway MAYBE once every two weeks). i usually get about 170-180 miles out of a tank of gas :eek:
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The Tacoma quad cab is available with a 5 or 6 foot bed and the Ranger with a 6 or 7 foot bed.

The Tacoma has an option of side airbags as well.

My main issue with Ford even though I have had good service is they do not have much good in terms of safety focus. The Pinto and Explorer problems coming to recent memory and the Toyotas and Honda seem to lead the pack there. Nissan always seems to have poor safety features. Good point though - a part of the cost of ownership is insurance and that should be a factor too.

I like to buy American too but what does that mean anymore with all the outsourcing that is done and a lot of foreign cars get manufactured over here any more. ...
 

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And funnily enough, the manufacturing principles the Japanese used to reform their manufacturing capabilities...things like total quality managment, statistical process control, process management, etc...that improved their product quality so much in the 70s forward...



...were principles taught to them by American engineers, principally J. Edwards Deming, who MacArthur brought over after WWII to rebuild the economy, people who were virtually ignored by American industry.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._Edwards_Deming#Work_in_Japan

Heh. Funny, just not ha-ha funny. In addition to the good it has done, he American automotive business has also brought a great deal of harm to the American people, and will continue to do so...get ready for the biggest pension fund bail-out in history if GM or Ford go completely under.

That won't happen, GM does GREAT business in China and Europe! :lol:

But I still think the cars and the business model are garbage.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
LOL Woody - I am a CQE whatever that gets anyone
Ideas and Implementation are two different things.

What does ISO mean anymore other than you pay someone to get a certificate but you don't embrance quality improvement?

Guess I am in the "P" part of my Deming Cycle. 8)
 

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Nancy Jocoy said:
LOL Woody - I am a CQE whatever that gets anyone
Ideas and Implementation are two different things.

What does ISO mean anymore other than you pay someone to get a certificate but you don't embrance quality improvement?

Guess I am in the "P" part of my Deming Cycle. 8)
ISO 9000:2000 standards are nothing more--literally--than documenting current operational processes, proving you have people in place to support quality change (these people can be blind chimps with pencils in their mouths) and paying a fee to be evaluated by an ISO inspector. They are nonsense. Not familiar enough with 9004, which is supposedly "evidence" of continuous improvement in a mature operation, but it not an implementation guide. Oh, sheesh, the things that people get to put on their billboards. Firestone of the Exploding Ford Explorer Tires was ISO 9000 certified at the time.

One of the bigger hoodwinks in American business history until Y2K and Sarbanes-Oaxley came along. Don't get me started.

It's a starting point if people want to burn money, but they are better off hiring well-rounded and scarily efficient process managers and actually supporting them (and leaving them alone). My resume availible on request.
 

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Outsourcing: My Pontiac Vibe is nothing more then a Toyota Matrix with a body change. Both built in the same plant in California.
If I'm not mistaken, the Ford Ranger is a Mazda with a body change.
No such thing as all American.......unfortunately.
Ditto with Woody on the reasons Japan has developed their quality. WE taught them.
When I was a kid, "made in Japan" was only on cheap carnival prizes.
No comments Woody! :evil: :lol: :lol: :lol: :wink:
 

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Bob Scott said:
No comments Woody! :evil: :lol: :lol: :lol: :wink:
Just the facts, sir! And if you ever really want to know how any major US company became powerful before the computing revolution...it's all because of gov't subsidy and contracts. Coca-Cola, Catapiller, Boeing...war is good. Search around for some of the whore-festing going on with Iraq as well as military IT modernization. $600 toilet seats are cheap by comparison.

One of the many reasons I'm not a strict capitalist/libertarian anymore is that no business actually survives without gov't subsidy and support (as provided by taxpayers). Not one. Double-dare somebody to prove me different.

Coca-Cola's expansion is particularly interesting, they basically got an exclusive contract to feed GI's cokes in WWII and then...as the Allies progressed through Europe...just opened up production sites!
 

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when people use the excuse that "foreign" cars are mostly built over here, it makes me laugh. great. so they bring factory labor jobs over here. where do the profits go? back to japan...
 

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Tim Martens said:
when people use the excuse that "foreign" cars are mostly built over here, it makes me laugh. great. so they bring factory labor jobs over here. where do the profits go? back to japan...
...To companies who have shown a willingness to reinvest in America instead of living off of govt largess. Instead of creating 54 billion dollar taxpayer liabilities with accounting tricks.

Its an interesting argument. But bottom line is that its a global economy and its virtually impossible to buy American when you are talking about complex widgets like cars.
 

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Woody Taylor said:
Tim Martens said:
when people use the excuse that "foreign" cars are mostly built over here, it makes me laugh. great. so they bring factory labor jobs over here. where do the profits go? back to japan...
...To companies who have shown a willingness to reinvest in America instead of living off of govt largess. Instead of creating 54 billion dollar taxpayer liabilities with accounting tricks.

Its an interesting argument. But bottom line is that its a global economy and its virtually impossible to buy American when you are talking about complex widgets like cars.
Unfortunately, global economy means that big business wants the American worker, earning 15-20 dollars, to find a happy medium with a foreign worker making 15-20 dollars a week.
Sounds like a loser to me.
The "American dream" for a blue collar class worker is going down the tube.
 
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