mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Yes, it rides like a truck. That's because it IS a truck...

I was reading the
carnival of the cars
and happened on a post on The Truth About Cars (the site best known for having it's access to Subaru's press fleet cut off after a review that compared the front of the B9 Tribeca to a vagina. While on the site, I was curious if they'd ever reviewed the Ford Ranger, since I just bought one a few months ago. Turns out they recently reviewed the Ranger's badge-engineered twin, the Mazda B4000. They don't like it because, well, it's no Honda Ridgeline. Which is true, but not a terribly relevant complaint.

Some of the complaints are legit. The backseat in an extended cab ranger is pretty much good for a few grocery bags (or in MadAnthony's case, a collection of tarps and netting). Ride is rough, and the interior design is dated, and it's not a great vehicle for doing 80mph.

Yes, they are legit, but not terribly relevant. If you are looking for backseat room, you don't buy an extended-cab compact pickup - you buy something with a real backseat and four doors. However, if you are a single twenty-something like me who uses the truck mostly for commuting and errands, you don't need a backseat. The interior might not be the prettiest, but it's functional and everything is in easy reach. And if you want a vehicle that gets to 80mph on a regular basis, a 4wd pickup is nobody's first choice. And yes, it rides like a truck. It is a truck, and that's part of the tradeoff of a body-on-frame truck compared to a car-based unibody like the Ridgeline - off road and duribility versus ride.

But comparing the Ranger/B4K to the Ridgeline is mostly silly based on the price difference. TTAC felt justified because the B4K they tested stickered at 27k, while the Ridgeline starts at 27,800. But that's a base Ridgeline versus a pimped B4K. More importantly, nobody actually pays sticker for a Ranger.

The '06 Ranger I bought is an XLT - it's pretty well equipped (pw, pl, keyless entry, stereo that plays MP3's, 4wd) but doesn't have the fancy fx4 off-road package or leather or the back swing-out doors. After rebates and about 5 minutes of negotiating, I paid about $20,000 for it (before trade, taxes, and fees). A better negotiator probably could have knocked a grand or so more off of it. Even at what I paid, that's about a $8000 difference between my Ranger and the Ridgeline (and if you want to add the mp3 player and fog lights like my Ranger has, it will add another grand to the Ridgeline). (I did look around at the B4k before I got the Ranger, but Mazda was only offering a $1500 rebate agains Ford's $3000, plus there were only a handful of '06 b4k's at nearby Mazda dealers, and all but one were either stripped or fully equipped, while I wanted one in between)

I like the Ridgeline. If, five years or so down the road when I'm ready to trade in the Ranger, I might look at it if I need a four-door pickup. But right now, when what I need is something that can get me to work and class and the gym and the grocery store, and occasionally haul a bunch of stuff to Hamfest or something back from the Home Depot, the Ranger fits my needs. The fact that it's truck-based is a plus to me - it's durable for all the Baltimore City potholes I seem to hit on my commute - and the fact that it's fairly narrow is a plus when I'm parking on city streets at work. I'd rather have the Ranger and $8000 to replace my AC, fence in my backyard and do a ton of other things at Casa de Mad than a Ridgeline.

I think the fact that car reviewers get to test drive manufacturer owned vehicles often puts them into a bubble in regards to the financial impact of buying a car, and the difference between sticker price and the price people actually pay for American cars.


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