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View Full Version : Could a Tacoma be right for me for an Expo Rig?



Topgun514
11-02-2011, 03:27 AM
Shhhh, I am also looking into a Land Cruiser, but dont tell anyone!!!

So as I have been posting tons lately, I am a Cherokee guy but would like something a little more comfortable. Starting price to get an expo rig would probably have to be 8K, but local sales for Taco's are around 4K, and I figure some baselining, some lift, and tires, RTT, front and rear bumpers... etc.

After reading up on here, the most reliable years seem like 2001-2008. But I would like to know if there are any problems that seem to pop up? Like FZJ80's have the PHH and expensive axles etc, so I am wondering if Taco's have similar things. BTW, I can afford the maintenance on a LC, so I am still keeping it in mind 100%, but wondering other Yota options.

I am sorry if this is jibber-jabber, I am excited about getting into a new vehicle within the next few months.


My style of driving is FEW MILES. I average 2000 a year in my current cherokee. I do about 1000 miles of snow travel on steep roads and highways, so I am nervous about the Taco with the pickup being so light. I would definitely put a spare tire carrier in the back to add some weight, but worry this would not be that much. I also would like the back end not to spin around on bumpy roads, lots of washboards here.

Tell me your thoughts please. And if I need to clarify more I would be glad too. Thank you very much!

NorthernWoodsman
11-02-2011, 04:28 AM
Check out this thread as it may prove useful to you in your search:

http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/68779-The-most-dependable-and-expeditionable-ExPo-Vehicle-under-8K

Topgun514
11-02-2011, 05:49 AM
Thats a good one! I think I have narrowed it down to a Toyota product line vehicle however.

TangoBlue
11-02-2011, 06:39 AM
Maybe you've already done this but I recommend looking at the this thread - http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/52528-Collection-of-Build-Threads

It's a collection of build threads; I think scanning might help you fine tune some of your desires and perceived requirements from this series of vehicles.

I'm not going to try to convince you one way or the other. Obviously, I have a Tacoma and am very happy with it for the type of off-road travel I do, but it might not meet your plans.

As you read through these posts you'll gather the feelings of the owners and how they modified their vehicles which might "check the box" for your plans too. You can also ask those owners their opinions about their trucks. I like to think we're all influenced by each others vehicles of all makes and types, in how we express our builds.

Good luck! You have some tough decisions but the results are enjoyable.

Applejack
11-02-2011, 11:02 AM
If you are worried about the rear being too light and don't need a pickup bed, why not consider a 3rd gen 4runner (96-2001) . It's the same platform as the Tacoma. Think of it as a Tacoma SUV.
Otherwise, keeping a load of 200lbs in the back of a stock suspension Tacoma should weigh it down enough that it won't be so squirrelly.

frobuster
11-02-2011, 04:11 PM
4runner seems to be right up your alley. Short, narrow, comfortable.

Pikeman
11-02-2011, 04:17 PM
One thing you didnt mention is size you are looking for in the Tacoma. You currently have a 4 seat SUV and your other option is a 4 seat SUV(Land Bruiser). If you go with the Tacoma would you get the Regular, Extra or Double cab? Those affect both weight distribution and wheel base. Also if you are running an RTT you will have enough weight over the rear to keep it steady.

Wash board roads is more a result of proper spring/ shock combination than weight. Take a look at pre-runner desert trucks, very little weight out back but track nice and straight.

Martinjmpr
11-02-2011, 05:15 PM
I'm curious about what is "uncomfortable" about your Cherokee?

Or, more to the point, what is it about your Cherokee that makes it unsuitable for your intended use?

If you already have a vehicle, I think one thing you should do is consider whether modifying your existing vehicle will give you the capability you think is missing.

A pickup can be a great vehicle for overland travel because you can configure the bed in multiple ways. However you also have to be willing to accept the trade-offs of owning a pickup, primarily the limitations on carrying people (it is that very limitation that caused me to switch from an 04 Taco to a 99 4runner.)

Also where are you finding Tacos for $4k? Here in CO you can't touch a 4x4 Taco for under about $6k and even at that price you're probably only going to find thrashed 4 banger regular cabs with extensive body damage and upwards of 250,000 miles. For a nice 01 or newer extra cab with less than 150k on the clock, you can figure at least $7 - $9k, minimum. And if you want an 01-04 double cab, you might be able to find one for $10k, but it will have high, high miles. It's not uncommon to see an 01-04 (1st gen) double cab 4x4 with 150k on it advertised for $15k.

Of course, it may not be Tacomas you're looking at. The Tacoma didn't come out until 1995. The 89-94 pickups were actually import versions of the Hilux, and came with either the 4 cyl 22r or the 6 cylinder 3.0 motor. Those you can find for a lot less but that's because they're overall less desirable (as well as being older, they have less powerful engines and in the case of the 3.0, somewhat more prone to problems.) I can easily imagine a lot of 89-94 pickups in that price range, both regular and extra cabs.

Box Rocket
11-02-2011, 05:16 PM
I've replied in your other threads too. My double cab tacoma doesn't have any of the negative characteristics that you list as concerns. I'm driving all the same roads and conditions you are here in Utah. The OME suspension on my truck does great on the washboards, and I've never not felt confident in the snow around here. But tires have as much to do with that as anything.

As for a rear tire carrier, Might not be necessary. The spare is already under the bed so the weight is already over the rear end. If you do add a tire carrier, you should consider adding the frame reinforcement plates to the rear section of the frame.

Topgun514
11-02-2011, 08:20 PM
I'm curious about what is "uncomfortable" about your Cherokee?

Or, more to the point, what is it about your Cherokee that makes it unsuitable for your intended use?

If you already have a vehicle, I think one thing you should do is consider whether modifying your existing vehicle will give you the capability you think is missing.


Also where are you finding Tacos for $4k? Here in CO you can't touch a 4x4 Taco for under about $6k and even at that price you're probably only going to find thrashed 4 banger regular cabs with extensive body damage and upwards of 250,000 miles. For a nice 01 or newer extra cab with less than 150k on the clock, you can figure at least $7 - $9k, minimum. And if you want an 01-04 double cab, you might be able to find one for $10k, but it will have high, high miles. It's not uncommon to see an 01-04 (1st gen) double cab 4x4 with 150k on it advertised for $15k.



http://www.ksl.com/index.php?sid=0&nid=443&tab=list/view&ad=4730277


Long story short about my cherokee. She is old, lacks power up mountains or maintaining speed on flat sections on the highway if any wind or incline is near. And it was my uncles who passed away Sept 11. I feel guilty beating it up, wearing and tearing, and would like to keep it as more of a constant project and memory. I never show emotion but have never cried so hard when I got in a wreck last year that I am sure totalled it, but I paid to repair everything. I dont like having that on my mind. I have discussed this with my mom who suggests I keep it and have it as a tinker-vehicle and get something else. It is worth more than the 2 extra paychecks I would get by selling it but probably not worth getting a newer engine and tranny. I plan on moving back east in the next 10-15 years and it does much better at sea level.

Is there a very reliable year 4runner that I could look into along with Taco's. If you state the year if you could also state issues that could develope as well so I can weigh all options.

Scott C
11-02-2011, 08:24 PM
I too am curious about the 4k tacomas.

Topgun514
11-02-2011, 09:41 PM
I added a ksl add on my last post

Pikeman
11-03-2011, 04:09 AM
If you are looking at the 8k range for build you can find some 3rd gens(96-02) Most of the 3rds gens came equiped with the 3.4 V6. This is a very nice strong running motor that will go for a long time(same as the Tacos) Generally speaking the Taco will get 1-2mpg better on avg. with same equipment. I have a 98 with 235k miles and still running very strong. There is a little more aftermarket support for the Tacoma but we are gaining more support for the 4Runner all the time with new vendors offering or expanding their product line. The 90-95(2nd gen) I would get it with the 22RE 4cyl as this is a much more reliable motor than the 3.0 V6. 84-89 have removable hard tops and the 84-85 were solid axle and are nice if you like more difficult trails, but dont have the same creature comforts as the 3rd gen Runners. Again 84-95 = 22RE and 96-02 3.4 V6. The 4th gens are a little bigger and can be had with a 4.0 V6 or a V8 but will most likely be out of your price range. For 4Runner information www.t4r.org

Applejack
11-03-2011, 11:45 AM
Perhaps the most coveted 4runner is the 1999 Limited, they sat a little taller than other years and the Limited has the electronic locking rear differential, leather etc.
Most people would find them to be comfortable but as for me, 6'1'', 200lbs I start to feel a little cramped after about 2hrs in the saddle. But having had a 93 Cherokee I can say that the 4runner is far more comfortable, and feels stout and sturdy, where my Cherokee felt kind of like a plastic lined soda can.

Not a whole lot to be worried about on the 3rd gens. There are going to be numerous threads out there with people who have had issues but I think that a lot of them are more isolated cases. Stuff happens every vehicle no matter what we drive.

Overall I can say there are no "RED FLAGS" to watch for on these vehicles. I've owned 2 now and yes I've had to replace a few minor things here and there, NBD.

Martinjmpr
11-03-2011, 02:46 PM
The only real weak point on the 3rd gen 4runners was the automatic tranny (and it's important to state that "weak" here is a relative term.) The auto tranny comes from the factory with a cooler that is integrated into the radiator. Sometimes the "firewall" between the engine radiator and the tranny cooler is breached because of a failing radiator and that causes antifreeze and water to mix with the tranny fluid, which will destroy the tranny in short order.

There are two things to note about this, however. The first one is that this typically happens on high mileage 4runners (125,000 +) and is more common in wetter/saltier parts of the country where the radiator is more susceptible to corrosion. The second is that for less than $200 you can install an aftermarket tranny cooler that completely bypasses the radiator which makes this kind of failure impossible.

Other than that and possibly some rust issues (again, primarily in 4runners that have spent their lives in very wet climates which UT is definitely NOT) there are no major weaknesses in the 3rd gen 4runner with the V6. Manual trannys were available through 2000, as were 4 cylinder engines. Manual tranny 4runners are very desirable in the off-road market, and there aren't many of them out there.

The 99 - 00 4x4 Limiteds and all 01-02 4x4 models have a very slick multi-mode transfer case that lets you run in 2wd or 4wd on the highway (basically, it drives like an AWD vehicle.) For off-road you can then lock the center diff and it behaves like a normal 4x4.

I have heard some people say the VSC/TRAC (traction control) systems in the 01-02 models can be problematic, but AFAIK this system can be disabled if neccessary. 96-2000 4runners did not have VSC/TRAC. 96-2000 were also available with an electric-locking rear differential, another highly prized item, (although it's not difficult to find a 3rd gen with one.)

About the only other differences are quibbles: The 96-98 models have a smaller and less functional center console than the 99-up versions. Lots of folks with 96-98 4runners convert their vehicles to the 99+ center console design. The 99+ models also have a 'fat lip' front bumper (energy absorbing) that some people don't like (personally I didn't mind it a bit, in fact I'm pretty sure my 'fat lip' saved my front end from more serious damage this past March when a Jeep Patriot pulled into my path and I hit him broadside.)

You ought to be able to find a 96-2000 4runner for between $6k and $9k, depending on the miles (obviuosly the higher mile vehicles will be cheaper.) I would budget at least $1000 to "baseline" it, with particular attention to the timing belt, only because I doubt someone would pay $500 for a new T-belt and then sell their truck. T-belt interval on the 3.4 is 90,000 miles but the good news is that the 3.4 is a non-interference motor so even if the belt breaks, you just get it towed to the shop and have the new belt put in. Not sure what the interval on the 2.7 4 cylinder is (or if it even has a belt.)

As for longevity, there are people out there with 250K miles on their 3rd gen 4runners with no major problems, still on the original engine/tranny/running gear.

Topgun514
11-03-2011, 05:16 PM
Thanks guys, I will keep a look out for them but may be leaning Land Cruiser still for the space it has. I am 6 feet tall and enjoyed the spaciousness of the LC, as well as having it for an expo rig. Not ruling anything out yet, just keeping an option open and will test drive one soon to feel it out.

Whichever I get, Taco, LC, 4Runner. It will be used heavily in the snow, and 10% of its life on rugged, but easy terrain of Utah. Camping platforms is something I would like to consider which makes me question the 4Runner a tad with capability of an RTT plus added weight. But I also know that a Taco is cramped a bit in the interior sometimes.

I am glad I am asking and getting Yota guys help so early. You guys rock!

phsycle
11-04-2011, 04:49 AM
I've had all three. For comfort, LC can't be beat. Practicality/utilitarian uses goes to the Tacoma. I current have an LC, but I'm looking to get a Tacoma as well. If I had to only have one, I'd go with a 4-door Taco. But those are pretty hard to find for $8k. Ones I'm looking at are $12k+.

mikesurfs
11-09-2011, 11:50 PM
I'm currently driving a 2007 Unlimited Rubicon and I like it. Before that I had a 2000 Land Cruiser 100 series and LOVED IT! I'm going back to a Land Cruiser as soon as it's feasable since I want an '08 and used ones are still out of my price range. My Land Cruiser would go anywhere my Rubicon goes. Additionally, the LC has rear air, is fully enclosed, and has a cabin air filter. You will not be dissapointed with an LC and it's nice for keeping all your gear clean and secure. I would never hesitate to recommend a LC for expo travel. I live in Vegas and we used to go everywhere, at any time of the year, without worry of heat, cold, wet, dry, etc. My Rubicon however only has dash air and the black fiberglass top SUCKS in the heat. Pickups are popular, but it gets old when you have to routinely drag dirty stuff out of the bed all the time. Then again, each vehicle has it's merits and downfalls but the LC has very few downfalls. I don't think the 80 series LC has rear air but that may also be worth a look if you're on a budget. The 80 is bigger than a 4runner, has straight axles, a straight six, and sometimes comes with factory lockers. Plus, 80's are bombproof. Visit IH8MUD for more toyota related info if that's the route you're going.

Good luck, Mike.