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Older full-size pickup truck?

I currently drive a 2009 Isuzu I290 2wd pickup. I’m finding that I’m having to haul heavier payloads and need 4wd as well as needing to pull a larger trailer at times. The Isuzu is a great size for city driving, but too small for construction and farm work. For years I’ve shied away from considering a full size truck due to their poor fuel mileage, and overall size, but now I"m thinking I’ll have to bite the bullet and up size. I’ve heard lots of horror stories about U.S trucks, but Toyota and Nissan seem way overpriced. I don’t want to buy new, and I’m considering an older truck with 4wd and an extended cab in the 1995-2004 range. I’m a bit torn between taking the risk with an American truck, or just paying more and buying a Nissan or Toyota. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

'round these parts, buy a Chevy or Ford.

I’d have no problem buying a used Ford F150 pickup (gas, not diesel). They’ve done better than the Nissan Titan most all years, according to Consumer Reports.

I recall my brother, when he had his excavating company, saying that of he drive to a site in a foreign pickup half of his customers would refuse to do business with him. If you’re a contractor living in a conservative region and plan to use the truck for business, get a Chebby or a Ford.

Are there any ‘years’ that are better than others? Back in 2001 I was looking at F150’s until I ran into a fellow who had gone through 2 transmissions in a year and a half. It was a theme that seemed to repeat itself after I asked around. I went with a Nissan and never had a problem. I’m not to concerned about 'local sentiment. I’m much more concerned about not having a truck sit in the mechanics shop more often than I drive it.

buy whatever comes with maintenance records from the owner of the truck and is in good working condition

For any used vehicle including pickups the single most important thing is the life it’s led. Any candidate vehicle should be thoroughly checked out by a reputable mechanic.

“I’ve heard lots of horror stories about U.S trucks, but Toyota and Nissan seem way overpriced.”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but you already own and are driving an American “horror story” in the “American named” Chevy Colorado / GMC Canyon pick up in the Isuzu. They share the same platform.

If you need a full size pick up, I suggest you buy one on it’s own merits whether it be “foreign or not”. They all have their advantages but all like gas more than the intermediates. In full size my first choice would be the F150 and second the Tundra.

No one builds a better compact truck IMO than the Toyota Tacoma with the 4.0L motor. It can handle heavy loads much better than the Isuzu/GMC you have and do it more economically. A half ton is a half ton whether it be compact or full size. Toyota Tacomas are more expensive because of their higher demand and capabilities. Crawl underneath and look and compare; compare performance of their motors and check long term reliability. The Chevy Colorado is POOR according to CR and the 2.9 is weak. That’s why the Isuzu cost less than the Toyota Tacoma. In this case, you get what you pay for. The F150 will cost more than Isuzu compact for the same reasons.

I also agree with “Same” in that where you live and the business you are in may ultimately limit your choices.

I would look at 1996-1999 Chevy/GMC 1500 EX CAB. You can sill find them with under 200,000 miles and under $5000. I have a 1997 with 321,000 plus on her. 305 4 WD. Sill does not use oil between changes. any were between 4000 - 7000 miles. I tow a fifth wheel trailer and I haul wood. It spends as much time off road as on. I also sill get 18 mpg Highway 12-14 pulling fifth wheel. Things to look for are: trans, dash lights, and u-joints. A bad u-joint can cause a cracked trans. I just pulled mine to have it welded. Would have just replaced it but it was just rebuild 30000 ago (first time too). I know of a lot of these trucks that have over 200,000 on them and there are all running good with little maintenance. If you look at newer than 2000 get the 5.3, 6.0 is hard on gas. 4.8 its ok but I think the 5.3 is the better engine. More power same mpg.

I have not seen much bad out of the Chevy or Ford full size pickups. Personally, I prefer the Chevys. The 1998 and older ones had the classic smallblock V8, which was durable and has been since it’s introduction in 1955. The 1999 and newer models had various versions of the LS engine platform, which is also bulletproof with it’s six bolt mains and easy serviceability. The trucks were also offered with a V6, based on the classic smallblock, but it is weak compared to the V8s and just as thirsty. A few years ago, I drove a Suburban with a 5.3 in it that had nearly a half million miles on it, still running flawlessly, powerful, and with no leaks or oil consumption. It’s 4L60E transmission had also never had any issues according to the owner. If you go 1998 or older, get a 5.7L (350). If 1999-up, get the 5.3L. If you are going to work the heck out of it, go 1999-up with a 6.0L in a 1500HD or stronger. I’m guessing, however, that a 5.3L in a half ton will easily meet and exceed your needs.

Thanks everyone for the insight. dagosa, yes unfortunately the I290 is really just a re-badged Colorado, and has been unimpressive at best. Having been out of the country for an extended period I needed a city truck quick and it fit the bill, but it certainly won’t work now.