Used car recommendation (first time buyer)

I live in New England and will be purchasing a vehicle to commute to work. I’m currently a college student and will be moving soon, hauling stuff around, occasionally giving a ride, etc.

Looking to spend between $6K - $8K (for Toyota up to $10K).

Toyota Tacoma Access Cab

Nissan Frontier

Ford Ranger Extended Cab

Subaru Outback

I’m looking at 4x4 models with manual transmission. (personal preference, I like to crawl to the middle of nowhere, hike, and camp)

I’ve read consumer reports, edmunds, etc. The Toyota and Nissan cost more and are “more reliable”, but the others cost less and parts are readily available. I’m trying to figure out what would get me the most for my money. Personally, after testing several, I really like the Tacoma (even if the jump seats are small… 4 passengers will be rare and can suffer)

I’m looking for opinions and advice. If anyone has personal experience that’d be great. Thanks!

I can’t like the Tacoma because the interior looks all wrong. The floor is too high and the seats will be too low. The ride may be too stiff and the seats have to be uncomfortable after a while.

Check out the Nissan because it looks more like a normal vehicle if you get the four door. Their extra cab is a joke. I wouldn’t trust an Outback to get me back from anywhere off road. Ford Rangers used to tip over a lot more than other trucks. I would never go off road with one of them by choice and would never buy one to go anywhere there is snow. Your first two choices may be winners.

Subaru. A buddy managed mountain top communications sites here in Colorado and drove his Subaru up logging roads to get to the tops during winter storms. Never got stuck. Just remember to put on four real winter tires.

I’m curious. What do you drive?

And any decent driver learns the limits of a vehicle to prevent unnecessary personal/property risk. I’m more concerned with reliability of each engine rather than the looks of the vehicle.

Tacomas have had serious rust issues, and I’d avoid the Ranger unless you can go with 2wd. They were very reliable with 2wd, but the 4wd systems caused some significant issues.

Wow, thanks. I pulled up a number of forums and this seems fairly common for Tacomas in the NE.

So far, the Tacoma is the vehicle I liked best (meets needs, fits me (tall guy), handles well), but this might be a deal breaker if it’ll cost me more down the line. Is there an inexpensive way to fix/prevent further frame rust?

It’s true that some years of Tacomas have had frame rot. However, since you’re buying used you’ll want to get the truck checked out thoroughly before buying anyway, and that includes getting it up on a lift. Be sure to comment to whoever checks it out that you’ve heard that some Tacomas have had rust problems and you’d like the frame checked out thoroughly.