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Small truck for a small business

I’m looking for a new truck for my small ecological consulting and native landscaping company. I’m not really sure where to start, I’m not ever sure if I should be looking for something new or used. Seems my options include the Tacoma, Colorado/Canyon, Ranger or Frontier. Here are the factors that I think are important:

- Fuel Efficiency: being an environmentally conscious company that whole global warning/peak oil thing is important to me. I don’t need a lot of power.

- Low Cost: I am a very small start-up, just me at the moment with (hopefully) a seasonal employee this summer. I need to save money wherever I can. That said…

- Reliability: If the truck is broke, I can’t make money.

- Four-Wheel Drive?: I’ve never been happy with the performance of RWD trucks off-road and in slick road conditions. That said, most of my work right now is in urban/suburban areas, maybe some AT tires and a few bags of sand in the bed could get me through the winter?

-Largish Bed-Size plus room for a crew: I need room for a toolbox plus mulch and or plants, etc, and employees too, but they don’t have to be too comfortable. I’m leaning towards an extended cab rather then a crew cab.

Does anyone have any strong opinions about any of these trucks or have any other sage advice?

Ford f150 beds are 'FULL-sized" beds.Go from there.

The Tacoma is the nicest one, but it’s also the most expensive. The Frontier’s an okay truck, but they’re not that much cheaper than the Toyota. The Ranger is an excellent truck and, though the fit and finish isn’t quite as nice as the Tacoma, it’s every bit as capable and reliable and they are all around cheaper to buy and run, especially if you’re buying used as there are some killer deals to be had on 2-3 year old Rangers. The Colorado/Canyons have been problematic, so I’d probably avoid those.

A 2wd truck with a limited slip differential is in my opinion a good compromise for when you don’t want the bulkier construction of the 4wd model but still need somewhat better handling in slippery conditions. If you’re somewhere that gets a lot of snow, you might consider getting a set of snow tires.

As for the room issues, if you do really need to seat more than two and have a full bed for space, you might need to consider a full-sized truck. Some of them are available with extended cabs and full-size beds, but usually the extended cab area in a compact truck is not something you can put an adult in.

Another vote for the F-150. Nicer than a Tundra, IMHO.

It won’t carry as much as an F-150, but the Honda Ridgeline will help your “green” image, and you can carry your crew with you in comfort. A comfortable crew is a happy crew. I would not want to be shoehorned into the back of a Ranger extended cab.

You’re going to want a full-sized truck for sure if you’re going to be doing any landscaping. The F-150 would be a good choice. You may even want to consider an F-250 or 350 if you get a diesel you can convert it to run on biofuels. It will be more expensive, but since the bigger trucks have GVWR of over 8500 lbs. you can get a tax break or even write the whole thing off if you’re using it for commercial purposes. I’d opt for the 4WD it’s better to have it and never use it, then to sometimes need it but not have it IMHO. Fuel efficency with a gas engine will be what most people consider marginal with any full sized truck. Diesels will get better mileage but they will cost signifcantly more up front.

BTW wasn’t peak oil supposed to have happened in the 1970’s? Furthermore weren’t we concerned about gobal cooling back then as well?

If you have small loads typically a Ford Ranger with 4 cylinder works fine. The 2wd ones have pretty significant depreciation making them bargains in the used market. When your business takes off you can upgrade if need comes up.

The thing with a larger truck is not only fuel economy but also physical space in my driveway/garage. My father has an F-150 and it barely fits in our driveway. It would be difficult to move around it to load up equipment and such. I have a small trailer too. Heck, I made it through this growing season working with my Chevy Prism and a trailer, ANY truck is going to be a big improvement!

I am thinking along the lines of what Andrew is suggesting. I am working out of home for now but when I grow large enough for a physical location I will also buy a second, larger truck.

I Vote For FoDaddy’s BioDiesel F-x50 Ford Truck Idea!

A (husband and wife?) guy and a chick were loading stuff into a Big Ford P/U, like an F-250 or F-350, at a Home Depot this past summer. It was a landscaping truck or some such thing. It was idling and when I went by, it smelled pretty good and made me hungry. I jokingly asked, “What are we running, today, french fry oil?” The guy thought for a moment and said, “No, I believe it’s Chinese!” I thought that was pretty cool. Diesel was very expensive and I thought maybe this guy was saving money and helping retaurants.

We were in global cooling in the 70’s. I was studying Environmental Science in college. It was supposed to be catastrophic. Glaciers were going to be on the move. Now we have “catastrophic global warming”. However, many scientists think this is another load of (insert expletive here)____________, and that we are actually beginning a mini ice-age. Anyhow, even though “climate change” is highly suspect, this “green image” thing can’t hurt a business, especially something like lanscaping, where trees are often actually hugged.

Go with a mid-size pickup like the Toyota/Nissan size. If you need to haul something bigger a trailer is your best bet. Unless you’re hauling a yard of stone the mid-size with a V-6 can EASILY handle it.

I think people were just a little confused about what you meant, because if you want something with a large bed and room for crew, that’s just about the opposite of a Ranger or Tacoma. Unfortunately this seems to be a case of not being able to have your cake and eat it too.

Well how about this: what brands/models do people like? I have a couple votes for the Ranger, a couple for Tacoma, and at least one against the Colorado. I guess I’m looking for the largest bed size and enough room to squeeze people in the back that is available in this class of trucks.

What are you driving now? Can it handle a small trailer? I’d look for a small trailer to keep everything (equipment, supplies, etc) on it and haul only when needed. You’d be surprised how much you’ll end up hauling around in a dedicated vehicle just to “go for the mail” or on site visits and the like. If you really want to be eco-friendly, you should (IMHO) think about the type of trips/driving you’ll actually be doing. Rocketman

The whole global cooling thing was based on the timing of glacial cycles. It had been estimated the typical interglacial period lasts about 12,000 years, and we’re about 11,000 years in, so, as of the 70’s it seemed like a good idea to invest in snow shoes and parkas.

But no one had figured on the effect that human-caused carbon emission would have. Though CO2 is a small component of the atmosphere, we have increased the amount of it in the air by 1/3rd, and we have more than doubled the amount of Methane.

Back when reptiles ruled the planet there was a lot more CO2 in the atmosphere and the planet was a lot warmer. Then slowly over time that carbon was sequestered in the earth in the form of dead critters which became coal and oil. The planet cooled a bit we kicked those cold-blooded creatons to the curb and well, here we are today. If you think about it, we’re turning the climate back millions of years to make it more like the weather the Dimetrodon would enjoy. Sure there are a lot of factors involved in climate, but if you think of it that way it kind of seems inevitable that we are warming the climate.

The whole goal of my company ( is to make a living doing good things for the environment. But I’m afraid the veggie oil powered big truck will have to wait a bit until, I can get my nursery started up. Cool idea though!

I’d also throw in the Dodge Dakota, which is bigger than most of the compact trucks but definitely smaller than a full size. It used to be they were the only trucks where you could get an extended cab and a regular size or even extended bed, though I’m not sure if that’s still the case. Also, given the testosterone-fueled marketing campaigns Dodge has used for their truck lines over the last few years, the Dakota is probably not going to do much for your “green” image.

Right now I drive a Chevy Prism. Great car. 35 mpg highway, 27 highway with a trailer full of plants. Can’t beat that for fuel economy. Tell my why Chevy stopped selling these when Toyota continues to have great sales with the Corrola?

Unfortunately, it does not project the professional image I am going for. So yeah, whatever small truck I will be getting will be towing a trailer some of the time. And I am indeed looking to improve my driving habits. The only personal driving we do is trips on the highway. We do all of our around-town commuting on bicycles. My wife rides to work every day and I even do some of my site-visits for work on the bike when they are within 10 miles or so. So the use of the truck will be hauling tools and plants and so-forth and long miles on the highway.

Does anyone know if if any of these trucks can come equipped with one of those real-time MPG displays?

Also, how about some opinions on RWD as opposed to 4WD? Can AT tires and RWD come close to the utility of 4WD? Is there a difference between AT tires and “winter” tires? I try not to drive in nasty winter weather but you can only avoid it so much. I will be doing only a bit of my work in locations that require off-road driving.

I’ll throw another vote in for the Ranger/F-x50. You can order a 4 door Ranger, but it’d have to be custom ordered. 4 door F-x50s are kind of common place anymore. I know the newer F-150 has options available on their 6.5 and 8 foot beds that are hide away steps on the side of the bed and one in the tailgate. The last generation F-250 introduced the tailgate step and it’s made it’s way to the F-150

“Right now I drive a Chevy Prism. Great car. 35 mpg highway, 27 highway with a trailer full of plants. Can’t beat that for fuel economy. Tell my why Chevy stopped selling these when Toyota continues to have great sales with the Corrola?”

I think they now make the Pontiac Vibe (Toyota Matrix clone) in the Cal. plant that made the Prism…while the Matrix is made in one of our neighbors country…So the beat goes on. just under a different name.

What about an Isuzu N-series/GMC 4000 turbodiesel truck? You can get them configured many ways: stake bed, dump body, landscape body, box body, single cab and even a crew cab. Prices for a 7 year old truck are around $20,000. I even saw a new 2008 single cab with the landscape body for under $35,000. You can get some ideas here: