Toyota Tacoma

Toyota Tacoma

Year: 2004
Equipment: 4-cylinder, 5-speed manual, 2WD

The last year of the first generation Toyota Tacoma found success not only with truckers but with beach bums and California hippies alike. The Tacoma may not be the cheapest new truck on the market but it sure does hold up its values well. We liked the first generation "Tacos" because of their reliability. It should be noted that recent complaints about this generation's inadequate rustproofing (specifically 1995-2000 year models) prompted the company to offer 15-year corrosion warranties to all Tacoma owners.
Ford F-150

Ford F-150

Year: 2004
Equipment: V-8, automatic, short bed, 2WD

The first year of the 11th generation Ford F-150 saw Ford move more streamlined and angular with its design. The reason buyers tended to like this model was because of its improved visibility (note the "daylight" side windows that dipped down toward the front of the vehicle) and Ford's continuous additions to the option sheet. Buyers could literally have it any way they wanted.
Chevrolet Silverado

Chevrolet Silverado

Year: 2004
Equipment: V-8, automatic, short bed, 2WD

The tail end of GM's "GMT800" platform for the Chevrolet Silverado (and its brethren, the GMC Sierra) was and is loved by many for its simple design and reliability. We like the 5.3-liter Vortec V-8, which had close to 300 horsepower toward the end of its run.
Dodge Dakota

Dodge Dakota

Year: 2005
Equipment: V-8, automatic, short bed, 2WD

The Dodge Dakota isn't as big as the Ram, but with a V-8 and a large bed, it can do many of the same tasks. If you can find one, opt for a 2005 model instead of the 2004s: the model changeover took place in '05 as a result you get a wider and longer truck.
Dodge Ram

Dodge Ram

Year: 2003
Equipment: V-8, automatic, long bed, 2WD

Big, big, big. Those words will probably enter your mind when you saddle up to the third-generation Dodge Ram, a vehicle that might be forgiven for scaring small children. The third-generation Ram features an independent front suspension (as opposed to live axles), something that made the car much more livable from an everyday perspective.
Toyota Tundra

Toyota Tundra

Year: 2004
Equipment: V-6, 5-speed manual, 2WD

Toyota's first foray into the "full-size" truck market was met with some level of cynicism, the thinking being that only American companies knew how to build trucks that truckers wanted. As it turns out, the first Tundra wasn't nearly as big as its competitors, which some people don't like but others love. The first-generation Tundra is a "tweener" size: not too big but not too small.
Ford Ranger

Ford Ranger

Year: 2004
Equipment: V-6, automatic, 4WD

The current Ford Ranger has been in production since 1998. When it debuted it was noted by many how much longer the new Ranger was than the previous generation. While it will never be regarded as a smooth-riding boulevard cruiser, the Ranger does just what a small truck should. And, what's more, it's pretty fun, too.
Chevrolet S-10

Chevrolet S-10

Year: 2003
Equipment: 4-cylinder, 5-speed manual, 4WD, extended cab

The Chevrolet S-10 has been phased out (for the Colorado to take its place), but we still prefer the old S-10 to GM's newer model. This was the first S-10 with standard anti-lock brakes at all four wheels. If you squint you'll notice this S-10 was also sold as an Isuzu, named the "hombre."