Friday, March 8, 2013

The Great Truck Caper

I'm posting this on my birthday.  What better way to celebrate than share with all of you the early gift I bought myself.

There has been a changing of the guard in my stable.  The Cadillac CTS-V is gone and has been replaced with a truck.  Which truck you might ask?  You have to read the tale of how my decision was made.

In the distant past, okay about 8 months ago, I decided that it was time to upgrade from the sports car to something a bit more practical.  I knew I wanted a truck to embrace my inner redneck. Which truck was the HUGE question.  At the very beginning, I had my mind set on getting a 1955-57 Chevy pick-up.  They have a style that fits my personality.
I wanted one that was restored with modern upgrades to the brakes, steering and even a fuel injected engine.  Finding one to meet these needs is almost impossible.  Anything I found was either too far away, too expensive or had questionable work done to them.  The practical side of me kept telling me to find something newer and more reliable for daily commuting.  I couldn't sacrifice safety features for an old truck.  Anti-lock brakes, air bags, crumple zones and electronic traction gizmos have kept me safe on occasion.  This puts me into mid-90s and newer trucks category.  After dealing with the Cadillac, that someone had modified, I didn't want another vehicle with a questionable history.  That leaves me with figuring out which brand new truck I would like to drive.

Okay, now what does the mid-size truck market have to offer?  Well, not a whole lot to choose from.  Ford doesn't offer the Ranger any more.  Dodge killed off the Dakota.  This leaves the Chevy/GMC Colorado/Canyon which are not pleasing to look at and the interior is very cheap looking.  Same goes for the interior of the Nissan Frontier.  I've always had a soft spot for Toyota Tacomas.  We had a 2003 double cab and really liked it.  You can't beat their reliability and we have a 2007 4Runner that shares a lot of parts with the Tacoma.  I happened to find that Toyota offered a Tacoma with a TRD Baja/TX package.  This was a Baja racer looking truck.  Totally cool on all aspects.  This was not meant to be since it was only offered as a 2012 model.  I wasn't ready to buy and wanted to wait until the bulk of winter had passed.  Why get a new vehicle to get beat up with all the junk they put on the roads for snow and ice?!?!
After this disappointing revelation, I changed over to the full size trucks while keeping the Tacoma TRD Off-Road version on the short list.  I didn't care for the looks of the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra.  I took the Nissan Titan off the list because of the cheap looking interior.  The final list had the Toyota Tacoma and Tundra Rock Warrior, Dodge Ram 1500 Sport and Ford F-150 FX4.

 I spent many evenings on Ford, Dodge and Toyota web sites building numerous trucks with the options I wanted.  I also weighed all the options like; fuel mileage, engine horsepower and torque, towing capacity, safety equipment and pricing.  I was able to find a truck to meet every want for each on my list.  Color was the only thing that was plaguing my choice.  I wanted blue, but it had to be to be the right shade of blue.

The wife and I wanted to go to the Washington DC auto show to check out all the trucks before heading to the dealer for test drives.  I want to celebrate the anniversary of how this blog started, but mutual colds kept us away.  Now President's Day weekend is upon us and we make the decision to head to the dealers to test drive trucks and maybe take advantage of some good sales.  First stop was Toyota.  We walked the lot checking out the Tacomas and Tundras.  This Tacoma was the only shade of blue they offer.
They had this Tundra on the lot.  We got a test drive and really liked it, but they didn't have any in blue and no one in the area had one in blue.  A couple funny things happened during the test drive.  The first was getting in and out of it since it didn't have running boards.  It wasn't too hard for me since I'm 6'-1".  Suzanne getting in was funny to watch.  Short legs and a high step-in had her pretty much crawling up into the truck.  It was a funny site.  I couldn't stop laughing.  The other part was the fact I didn't warn the sales guy, in the backseat, what I was planning to do.  So, I tested the brakes and the acceleration and he was bouncing around the back seat.  He was laughing and had fun too.  The V8 had great power, sound and towing ability.  It had a pretty trick back seat that slides and reclines in the Crew Max version.  We weren't 100% sure and went off to check out other trucks.
Next stop was Ford to see the F-150s. When we were pulling into the lot, this is the truck that caught my eye.  It is a FX4 and the color blue (Ford's Blue Flame) I wanted.  I go over to check it out while Suzanne went in to get a sales person.  This one had the EcoBoost, twin-turbo V6 engine.  It was fully loaded with leather, touch screen climate/audio control and sunroof.  Took it for a drive and the acceleration was surprising.  The turbos spool up and this truck takes off.  I wanted to drive the 5.0 V8 truck to see if there was any difference in performance.  The Ecoboost is rated at 365 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque.  The V8 is rated at 360 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque.  You can definitely feel those 40 extra lb-ft of torque in the seat of the pants.  The only downside to the V6 is losing the deep V8 sound.  The test drives went well, but we decided to see if we could work a deal for the EcoBoost FX4.
After a couple hours of being beaten up over the trade and us beating them up for better values on the trade and truck, a deal couldn't be made.  We were feeling bad and wanted to leave to get some dinner and re-evaluate our budget.  They wanted to "meet their sales numbers" for the day and "we were the last sale of the day."  Likely stories.  They just wanted our money.  Our sales lady worked her butt off digging through the dealers inventory to find a truck that met our needs at a lower cost.  I was set on the color, Super Crew cab and 4x4.  She was able to find a F-150 XLT, Super Crew, 4x4 with front bucket seats and in Blue Flame.  The bad part was it was at their other location and had to be brought to our dealer.  We waited around for the lady to go to that dealer and bring the truck back.  We wanted to check it out before finalizing the deal.  It turned out to be a great truck without all the bells and whistles of the FX4 we started with: power everything, no leather, no touch screen, no sunroof.  But we did get the Chrome Package, very nice tan and charcoal interior, power sliding rear window, XLT Plus package and a 6.5' bed with the tailgate step.  We finalized the deal and I drove the truck home after 9pm on Sunday.
This is the first car I have named.  I have named the truck Babe.  After Babe the Big Blue Ox.  And this Ox is getting 18.5 miles per gallon.  Pretty good for a truck weighing over 7,000 pounds.  With a 36 gallon tank, I'm filling up every 10-11 days vs every 7 with the CTS.  My inner redneck has been found.  Where's the mud?!?!

We never made it to Dodge to check out the Ram trucks.