Hey there, y’all.
In comments and some of my posts, I have hinted at my desire to replace my 2012 Toyota RAV4 Limited with a 2016-2019 Toyota Tacoma Limited 4x4 in Blazing Blue Pearl or Cavalry Blue with a brown leather interior. Instead of explaining bits and pieces of the story in assorted comments, I figured it would be better to explain everything in one concise post. I realize I am a wordy person, but I want to explain the important details.
I’ve kept this mysterious on purpose, mainly because I don’t want comments accusing me of being privileged.
My parents pay for my college. Because my tuition is free and I go to UGA Junior (so no additional fees for a Sanford Stadium), college has been cheaper. Also, I’m graduating in only three years. As my “reward” (that’s how I think of it) for graduating early and being a good student, I’m inheriting what’s left in the college fund. This was also the case for my sister, but pretty much all of her money went to her emergency new Rogue.
I definitely want to make a smart choice with some of the money, but a new vehicle is tempting. Even if I am able to purchase a “new” car on the spot, I would prefer financing. For instance, even though my phone is interest free, I chose to drag out payments for two years instead of paying $750 on the spot. I had more than $750, but I didn’t want to pay it all at once.
Along with receiving the money, I’ll have ownership of the RAV4 transferred to me after I graduate. Now THAT’S the real graduation present. This way, I have control over the decisions I make with the car, but I’ll have to pay car insurance. There’s always a trade-off!
Why Would I Sell the RAV4?
I hit 96,000 miles this past Saturday. By the time I graduate, I will definitely have more than 100,000 miles. The RAV4 was purchased new in August 2012, and I have been driving it since July 2016. Nearly half of the miles are mine; the RAV4 had just under 50,000 miles when I started driving it.
My RAV4 has been incredibly reliable. I want the RAV4 to leave in a good state, knowing it will make another driver happy. I don’t want to be forced to get a new car because mine was totaled (what happened to my sister). Keeping the RAV4 past 150,000+ miles runs the risk of oil leaks and other potential issues Toyotas may develop. There is also the selfish reason: I could get more money selling the RAV4, with lower miles and no problems, this year.
There’s a lot going for my RAV4 specifically. First of all, it’s the last model year of the “tire on the back.” This is a very sporty look few vehicles have besides Jeeps. I think others would classify it as cute. The color, Black Forest Pearl, is a nice dark green. It’s too dark for me, but a lot of people love the color. Being a Limited, there are many nice features you wouldn’t even find on some newer cars: smart key buttons on the front doors AND the swing gate*, push button start, a sunroof, heated front seats, leather, a power driver’s seat, and an actual power outlet in the backseat. There is Bluetooth calling and audio streaming, as well as a backup camera. An aftermarket system isn’t necessary. The speakers, which can be adjusted -5 to +5 bass and treble, are amazing.
*The smart key for the swing gate handle and the associated button are my favorite feature of the whole car.
Maintenance has been meticulous. Since I started driving the RAV4, I always like to keep the oil change sticker on my windshield. During 2017 and 2018, I got changes and tire rotations every 3,000 miles. When I, and the shop, finally convinced my dad that the RAV4 uses synthetic, the changes have been every 5,000 miles. Any issue that has been found has been addressed on the spot. As of the last oil change, there are no lurking mechanical issues. Mavis (formerly Kauffman) doesn’t partner with CarFax, so oil changes don’t show up in the CarFax. There were two serious wrecks (one of which involved a tow), but they were very well repaired. I have noticed no issues in how the RAV4 drives or looks structurally after the repairs. I am almost certain CarFax didn’t report these accidents, either...No injuries, by the way.
Finally, the RAV4 is a practical car. It isn’t very long, visibility is great, the little camera helps tremendously backing in or parallel parking, and cargo space is incredible. As a family car, it’s impractical. As a car for a sorority girl driving her sisters to Chick-fil-A or moving furniture to her apartment, it’s perfect.
My RAV4 is new enough to be safe, connected, and fit with nice convenience features, but it’s old enough to be a good, cheap used car. The automotive industry keeps getting better, and the positive changes of the early-2010's are now more accessible.
Why Do I Want a Tacoma?
I think I’m the only person that wants a Tacoma because it has smart key, a sunroof, heated seats, and push button start. Running with these four items, a vibrant exterior color, a surround-view camera or parking assist (for non-trucks), and AWD (if offered), I’ve looked at dozens of cars online. These include the GTI Autobahn in Great Falls Green, the Infiniti Q50 AWD Hybrid in Hagane Blue, and the Ford F-150 Lariat and King Ranch in Green Gem and Blue Flame.
I like the idea of a midsized truck because it provides the capabilities of a larger truck, such as the bed and towing, without being too large. The four features I want have co-existed for more than a decade, but guess what? The Tacoma is the only one that gives you all four together! Am I the only truck shopper that wants normal features that have been mainstream for a long time? If the current Frontier came with smart key and push button start, this post would be about the Frontier instead; I really liked one that I drove. I would consider a Ridgeline, but the exterior colors and the interior are dull to me. Plus, I’d get roasted for having a Ridgeline.
With that being said, one of my interests is brands and products that hold their value. These include clothes from lululemon and Vineyard Vines t-shirts and Apple products. I love finding items like these for lower prices and flexing them. For instance, I got brand new Adidas UltraBoost for $77 and my Apple Watch for $143 off retail when it was still the current model. The Toyota Tacoma is this mentality in vehicle form. The Lincoln MKZ Hybrid is one of my favorite cars, but finding one for under $25,000 is easy. It’s disappointing if you don’t find one for a low price. Meanwhile, it’s a challenge to find used Tacoma’s, even RWD ones, well below MSRP. A Tacoma Limited I found that originally had severe front end damage was $30,000; the front end was still smashed WITH a bull bar. I love the challenge of finding a clean title one for an excellent price.
Aside from mental image, I like how the Tacoma looks in Limited trim. The grill, the pink taillights, the wheels, and the brown leather are all nice to me. The blues are beautiful, too. A TRD Sport or TRD Off Road is hard to find with the Premium Package, while the Limited bundles the Premium Package, the JBL sound system, and the exterior upgrades I like together. It was rather easy for me to maneuver the Tacoma I drove around, even though it’s much bigger than my RAV4. I liked this about the Frontier I drove, but my dad’s Canyon feels huge.
Along with capabilities and options, the main selling point for the Tacoma is that historic Toyota reliability. I’ve found it silly when people got new cars like Highlanders over Atlases, but for used cars, I can attest to Toyota’s reliability. I treat my RAV4 like it has the V6, but it still goes strong. Today, I was doing a variety of Interstate driving, and that 2.5 can get up to speed! I’m not a fan of people relying on one example, but my RAV4 isn’t the only reliable Toyota I’ve heard of. People keep coming to the brand because of that reputation for reliability, and that’s partially why used Tacoma’s command a premium.
I’ve seen mixed reviews about the reliability of the current Tacoma. If I get a Tacoma and issues arise, that will encourage the end goal of all of this: buying a redesigned, brand new Nissan Frontier.