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I thought the Celica was the last review I was going to write, but then my brothers in law came to town to visit so I had a chance to take a couple of "new" trucks out for a drive and use them a bit over a few days. Here's my experience with a 2WD Toyota Tacoma.
The truck: ($10,500) 2002 Toyota Tacoma 2.7 Inline 4, automatic, broadside wreck..who knows how many miles. 70,000...yeah right.
Now I'm no fan of your run of the mill Camry or Highlander, but I do love Toyota Tacomas, so I'll try to remain objective here. I used to own a 99' V6 with 380,000 km, and it never seemed to miss a beat, and that's been the norm rather than the exception. Most people I talk to have similar feelings toward their trucks, so even though most junk in Cambodia is "polished turd" grade, these trucks are likely to still outlast much of what's on the road today.
This particular truck is the 2.7 Inline 4 version, just imported from the U.S. a month or two ago, and was a broadside wreck. Everything was fixed at the dealer, so the $10,500 was an out the door price, painted, fixed, etc. Truthfully, I don't trust dealers here, so I rather would have paid the $8k or $9k for the wreck and then had a shop fix what was necessary, but it's not my truck.
In terms of features, it has almost nothing. Hand crank windows, hand adjusted mirrors, manual door locks, but at least A/C.
Afterwards, new semi knobby tyres were fitted and the truck was raised slightly (don't know the price), I would assume the tyres are around $450.
What's it like to drive? Very long, and despite the raised ground clearance and big tyres, it feels so much lower than a 4WD pickup.
The 2.7 motor is nice and torquey for a 4 cylinder, notice the 5,500 rpm redline. Opening it up on "clear" roads and it had decent power, and even spun the rear tyres when "encouraged". Personally I don't think there's any more need for the power the truck has, and of course going with a V6 is an instant drop in fuel economy, so there's no need. For the record I also got to play with a V6 over the weekend, so yes I have something to compare it to. The V6 was undoubtedly nice, but in my opinion in Cambodia it's just not necessary at all.
Around town driving this truck is annoyingly long for being a small truck. It's a long bed extended cab, so no surprise, but tight corners were a squeeze.
Visibility however was excellent with straight windows all around, and the ride was on the rough side when it was unloaded. With a load of 5 passengers though, it softened up just as anything else.
Practicality? Best you can get for a pickup.
I would have to guess with fuel economy, and my guess would be around 16 mpg US (18.3L/100 or 5.4 km/l) if you're in Phnom Penh most of the time. If you're doing on the road driving between provinces you'll easily top high 20's (8.3 L/100 or 12 km/l), maybe even 30 if you're lucky.
Since it's a Toyota, parts are readily available for it and most anyone should be able to service it.
Seating capacity is great with the long bed, room for 10 or 15, but safely you can take only 4 people in the extended cab.
Conclusion, final thoughts? It's the perfect combination between work vehicle and "car" for non off-road usage.
Lots of people need utility in one form or another in Cambodia, and honestly a pickup makes so much more sense than a "furnished" SUV. However, if you don't want to have a utility flatbed diesel for once in a while "messy" jobs, a "car like" pickup is the perfect choice. Car like fuel economy, car like repair bills, car like ride quality (almost), and a big long box in the back for the odd job or two.
I don't have much more to say than that. It's a factory made Camry pickup, and it's great.
Reckless driving cucumber - 成
I used to gave the 4 cylinder auto Tacoma. It had the worst turning circle of any vehicle I have ever seen and it was 2wd. Why was that so,oh guru. And it didn't like steep hills, it refused to climb the hill at Preah Vihear. That road is pretty steep.
Turning circle, could just be how the truck is (I didn't notice it being particularly bad on this one but I didn't pay much attention), or it could be front improper repairs that would affect the steering geometry.
Reckless driving cucumber - 成
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The Tacoma has its wheels quite near the front, so it turns quite tightly normally. You've likely snapped the bar that connects the two steering wheels. A big, fuck-off pothole will do this.
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