• I am Buying an SUV and a Truck for $80K Cash: Chevy, Honda, or Toyota? (Ask TFLtruck)

    2017 pickup truck tail lights tacoma canyon f-150 ford ridgeline super duty sierra
    Which midsize truck to buy? Chevy, Honda or Toyota?

    We recently received the following question from David D.

    I’m in the position of purchasing two vehicles in the next week of so. Cash purchase with a maximum combined budget for both vehicles of $80k. My trade-in vehicles are a 2016 (pre-facelift) Ford Escape SE and a 2014 Ford Fiesta 1.6 SE.

    I’m looking at the following: a three-row SUV and a midsize pickup truck. I’m considering purchasing both vehicles from the same manufacturer and have narrowed it down to the following :

    • Toyota Tacoma Limited and Highlander Limited AWD
    • Honda Ridgeline RTL-E and Pilot Elite AWD
    • Chevrolet Colorado LT 4WD and 2018 Chevy Traverse Premier AWD
    • GMC Canyon SLT 4WD and Acadia Denali AWD


    1. Is it worth sticking with the same manufacturer for both vehicles and using the dual purchase as a bargaining tool?

    2. The three-row SUV is my wife’s vehicle. Shuttling the kids and family around and carrying antiques from time to time. Would a minivan be a better option? (Sienna AWD?)

    3. Is there anything in particular you’d recommend we avoid?

    4. I don’t think I need a full size truck. I don’t tow. I only carry household and garden items and the odd motorcycle from time to time. Is there one truck that stands out particularly?

    Ultimately, is it just a matter of doing 8 test drives and deciding what we like?

    Here is our midsize pickup truck mega-mashup!

    There are so many good questions here, I am not sure how to start.

    Since it does not sound like you tow or go off-road much, I would immediately narrow down the search to Chevy and Honda. The Colorado and the Ridgeline are comfortable daily drivers. The Tacoma is more off-road focused among this group. I am rooting out the GMC Acadia because the new Acadia is now much smaller than before.

    All of the other three-row crossovers you listed are great and fairly roomy, with the Chevy Traverse being the largest. There is just one big caveat.  We have not yet tested the all-new 2018 Chevy Traverse, so we cannot comment on its driving ability and features.

    What do you guys think? What suggestions do you have for David?

    Here is our take on the new Honda Pilot and the Toyota Highlander.

    Andre Smirnov
    Andre Smirnov
    Andre Smirnov is an Automotive Enthusiast, Producer, Reviewer, Videographer, Writer, Software Engineer, Husband, Father, and Friend.

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    47 thoughts on “I am Buying an SUV and a Truck for $80K Cash: Chevy, Honda, or Toyota? (Ask TFLtruck)

    1. Ridgeline sounds right, really like the traverse though. full size would probably be less out the door. go have funny test driving and dangling two potential sales in front of them.

      1. Traverse is too small now, so your first commenter is an education in how good of advice you are going to get from this crowd.

        Normally I would say Toyota and Toyota.

        But the Tacoma can be a pain if you are not using it off-road much. So my second recommendation would be the Ridgeline. But its tough to beat the Colorado/Canyon with the diesel option.

        For the wife, just get a Toyota Sienna and don’t look back. Your life will flow effortlessly for 400k miles. You’ll love that v6 too. Its a Lexus along with its transmission. And the minivan space can’t be beat.

        But by chance your wife does not love the size or style of the minivan and is willing to compromise space for a bit of off-road worthiness, then go Highlander and get the same engine and transmission as many Lexus vehicles, and you won’t regret it.

        1. Pretty sure the 2018 Traverse is bigger than the previous model.

          The Acadia and Traverse no longer share the same floorpan.

          GMC ‘right-sized’ the Acadia, but Chevrolet didn’t follow suit with the 2018 Traverse.

    2. The passenger room in the Ridgeline is enormous compared to the others. If you’re going to ever be using it with the whole family then the others aren’t even worth the consideration. Make sure the Ridgeline can fit the motorbike though.

    3. I really doubt Honda and Toyota will do any cash sales rebate. But I can be wrong. For sure GM will do a cash and combine rebate sell (Ford and RAM would also, but no mid-size truck).

    4. 1st, drive all of them. Be sure that you’re OK with the driving position in the Tacoma (I like it, many don’t) and the back seats in all the trucks but the Ridgeline.
      The single dealer strategy is probably more about service convenience than anything else. If you have convenient dealers near you, I’d reduce that criteria.
      You cannot beat the Tacoma on resale.

    5. Dodge Caravan is well priced in that range.Get great value in certain package.And if a 6ft bed is needed,would a crew or quadcab be needed or a regular cab could it do the job.Certainly regular cab will save a ton of money.And any of the truck manufactures offer base V-6 power trains or for that matter 4 cylinders as well.

    6. Since towing is not a consideration, I would lean towards the ridgeline. I like those trucks and when compared to the others in its class it gets the best fuel economy (gas engines), the quickest, and a car like ride. However, everyone has their preference on ride quality. For the SUV, any of them would be fine. It really comes down to styling you like, options, and interior space that works for you, power that your happy with, ride quality that you like. You may be able to cut a good deal on a two vehicle purchase from the Honda and Toyota dealers, but I have heard they don’t move to much. But you are allowed to walk from the deal if you don’t like it. End of each month is a dealer push so that is an option for a hungry salesman.

    7. I don’t personally like them, but the Hondas seem to be the best choice. And don’t overlook the odyssey, having a built in vacuum cleaner is great no matter how old the kids are

    8. I’d go Ridgeline plus any of the SUVs. If you and the wife are switching vehicles from time to time, the Ridgeline and Pilot have nearly identical interiors from the front seats forward, so you will have no problem adapting between the two vehicles. And if you hang out on enthusiast forums for ideas to improve your vehicle, what works on one will work on the other, if that makes sense.

      OTOH, if you want a breath of fresh air between vehicles, pick up a Highlander.

      Don’t know about Toyota, but Honda dealers are independent of Honda Corporate. Think of it as the dealer buys the vehicles from Honda the manufacturer, then resells them to the consumer. Don’t think you’ll see incentives from the factory, but you can work with the dealers. They can be quite different from one another, so shop around. Also, you can’t special-order a vehicle from Honda….the dealers just get what they get from Honda, and then trade with each other. Best deals are at the end of the month, and the end of the year.

      Also, don’t ignore the minivans. They probably have the most value packed into them. The only problem they have is a made-up social stigma.

    9. I’d stay away from a traverse personally. Timing chain issues. Supposedly they fixed the problem in 2012 but we just had a 13 in the shop last week for that problem. The wife has a highlander and we bith really like it

      1. Thanks for your post.

        Just to clarify; I’m talking about the new 2018 Traverse, not the previous model.

        1. I figured as much but if it’s the same engine as brake is previous generations i would be wary. We do at least a couple timing chains a month and seems to be getting more frequent. They get 60-80k on them and start ticking

    10. Oh yeah, go test-drive them all. If you get the Pilot, avoid the nine-speed trans and get the six-speed – it is much more sorted out and behaves much better.

    11. I don’t really have much of opinion on this question. I think I wouldn’t discount any half ton with a standard v-6. They do just as about as good as a mid size on fuel mileage.

    12. In our family we personally have 2 Chevy Colorados and 1 GMC Canyon and they are some great vehicles. One of the Colorados having the duramax, and boy it is a great engine! I also personally sat in and drove the 2018 Traverse and it is a lot more roomy than the Pilot and Highlander. If it were my money, I would go with the Colorado with the Duramax and Traverse! Sounds like a happy medium between car like and able to do truck duties, just like you are looking for.

    13. David D whether you off road or not the Tacoma is a good truck with the highest resale of the bunch. Look at appraised tade in values for each vehicle and date it back 4 years or so to see what their actual worth is or as far back as possible to get an idea of the actual value of each vehicle vs MSRP and dealer incentives on already marked up vehicles. If you want at least one truck then get the Tacoma, otherwise you will be buying two minivans. Even if you dont off road the other vehicles will make you cringe on large potholes, steep driveway transitions, snowbanks, curbs, ect. However, the other options have available AWD for rainy roads where the Tacoma wont do well with 4×4

      But you will not come out of this with what you want unless you research research and research. MNTNMN use to say this, wonder where that guy went to. If you dont eliminate any with research then you have to test drive them all. No two butts are the same, you may weight something as simple as the comfort of the seats as your decision to tip the scales. No forum can do that. You may regret what you buy if you dont test them all. Also, never rely on a salesman’s knowledge, do your own research and your own test drives. Im sure 80k doesnt come easy. Also check reviews on the dealerships in your area and see who offers better service.

      My experience with the Tacoma is the seats are more comgortable than the Canyon because Tacoma has better lumbars to hold in in position better, less sliding around. If you or your wife are short watch the short girl video on you tube and how your heels cant touch the floor vs seeing over the hood, it just doesnt work. You can also look at the ZR2 as an option otherwise move into a Canyon and remember you can get a performance dealer installed exhaust on the GM’s that I like. The Canyon in my opinion is a bit of an upper trim. The GM’s also have a deeper bed which is good for storage but harder on site lines. I never drove the Ridgeline as my needs are for a capable off road vehicle for work play or for that one time I need the right tool for the job than I have a real truck. The ZR2 is decent for that but the payload is very week.

      My overall gut is saying Toyota Via consumer complaints, Toyota ranks in number two with Lexus at the top. The others are far down the list.

      Put the work in and test drive them all. It would be interesting to hear what you choose and why.

      1. Fantastic info there, thanks a lot! I’m David, the guy who posted the original question.

        I’m not too short; I’m 5ft 10″ and my wife is 5ft 7″.

        I have driven the Taco and Colorado so far. Taco was in Limited Spec, the Colorado was a Z71 gas engine midnight edition.

        I’ll work on getting test drives of the other vehicles soon.

        You’re right, $80k doesn’t come easily. Hard work makes $80k come! 🙂

        1. Note, the Tacoma off road will have a different ride than the limited. Because it has Bilstein shocks and the limited does not. The off road still has every option the limited has minus a few details.

    14. I think your $80k price point might help you narrow down ur choice. If you dont owe anything on trade in’s that will also help but a majority of these vehicles you are looking at are probably avg. $40k a piece. I prefer GM but that’s just me good luck!

    15. TFLT: “I AM BUYING AN SUV AND A TRUCK FOR $80K CASH…” Which to get?

      David, I would definitely get your last option listed:
      GMC Canyon SLT 4WD and Acadia Denali AWD

      They are (near) top-of-the-line; your wife may be happy with the Acadia’s nice interior; and getting BOTH from one dealer may give you more bargaining leverage.


      1. David – – –

        In this case, one more suggestion: bias your decision toward your wife’s preferences. “Happy wife; happy life”. (^_^)…


    16. Great question and great advice from everyone. I personally like the Honda and Toyota products that your looking at. Drive them and go with what you and your wife like the best.

    17. I would steer clear of the Traverse. Ours stayed in the shop and left us stranded when two cylinders fouled out at 50K miles. Almost everything electrical stopped working. I did like the size of it but to me it drove like a minivan and also came apart like a minivan. Of the bunch I would recommend the Highlander. For the truck, it depends on what your needs are. If you will always be a mall crawler and will never venture off road then I’m not sure I would recommend the Tacoma until their rear differential issues are fixed, and I’m a Taco guy. If you want to off road then take your chances and buy one. If comfort and road manners are what you are after then you are likely going to like the Ridgeline. If you occasionally off road then look at a Colorado. The main thing is that you need to spend some time in whatever you buy. Drive all of them but do your homework. The 9 speed Pilot is a hot mess but it is a good vehicle in the 6 speed. Just drive them and get what you want.

    18. It’s probably not a good idea to put forward several different vehicle choices to a forum full of vehicle enthusiasts who all are fans of different brands.

      One piece of advice: unless you are “set” on getting a small truck or live in a very tight neighborhood, I’d recommend upgrading to a full-size truck. With the many discounts available, you could pretty much have a full-size for the price of a mid-size. In the end, you end up with nothing but advantages: similar fuel economy, much roomier, much faster, more comfortable, better towing capacity, similar easy driving and handling.

      1. There is simply no arguing about what is better between a fullsize truck and a midsize. The fullsize market is just crazy competitive and is leaps and bounds ahead of the midsize offerings. This coming from a midsize truck guy. I may bail next time.

    19. Hands down the Toyota Highlander for reliability and Colorado because you have more configuration to choose from.

    20. I almost pulled the trigger on an Acadia, and a Traverse when shopping for a vehicle for my family of 5 (2 adults, 2 kids in rear facing car seats, and one in a booster). The wife was trying to avoid the minivan at all cost, but we ended up with a Sienna with 2 captains seats in the middle, and a bench in the last row. She drove it and immediately fell in love with all the room for the family, and the cargo space. The 2 little ones drop right into their car seats, and the 9 year old walks right between the captains seats, and buckles herself right in. It’s by far the best decision we ever made for our family. We’ve had no issue carrying 7 to 8 passengers when needed, and just finished a 1200 mile road trip with zero issues averaging about 25 mpg.

      My parents purchased a Highlander the following year, and while it’s a nice vehicle, we once took a 45 minute drive with 7 passengers and it was miserable. The 3rd row is absolutely useless for adults, and children in car seats, and cargo space is reduced to almost nothing. 5 passengers would be the max for everyone’s comfort in my opinion. They’re also never been able to get more than 18 mpg on a tank, driving all highway, and they drive like turtles.

      I also have a friend who recently purchased a Acadia Denali, and while he likes it, he never drives it because he’s filling the tank up ever 3 to 4 days.

      All in all, test drive them all, and see what works best for you, and your family. They’re all major purchases, and buyers remorese is a bitch.

    21. Hi Guys, thanks for all the responses so far!

      For clarity – the SUV’s I’m choosing from are all 2017/2018 models.

      I could go up to $90k if needed; I just didn’t want to go that high.

      So far, I’m swaying toward Colorado/2018 Traverse, or the Honda Pair.

      Keep the comments flowing please guys!
      Thanks so much.

    22. Colorado and traverse hands down! I’d go diesel with the Colorado, and that 3.6 v6 is a great motor, had 2 in the past (I trade my cars at 100k) and had no problems with them what so ever!

    23. The Nissan Frontier will save you money with the lowest cost compared to the competition, and the Nissan Pathfinder has three rows with good MPG from the CVT transmission, and it’s still rated to tow, I think at or a little above 5,000 pounds. The Frontier is an older design but if that doesn’t bother you it could be a cost effective reliable option, but fuel economy might be a problem. Your other choices that you mentioned are probably all great options, I would just recommend test driving, and researching each vehicle. If you’re going to be spending that kind of money there’s nothing wrong with taking your time to be fully informed before you step on to a dealers’ lot.

      1. The problem I have is, I hate CVT transmissions!

        If the Frontier is replaced with the Euro-model Nevada for 2018, I may be tempted, but I think it’ll be release too late for his purchase.

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