I'm a little prone to Attention Deficit Disorder. A conversation with me is likely to twist and turn more often than a mountain path. Likewise, my choices for "must Have" trucks may seem all over the board. They are not.
While I understand pickups are for towing and hauling, I like 'em to have street cred as well. Hot rods and motorcycles give their driver/rider a tremendous rush. I like to get that feeling from whatever I'm piloting. I've slowed down enough, at my age, to appreciate the long, slow thrill of off-roading as well. Bottom line? I like a truck with surprizes--good, and/or interesting, surprizes. Two of my "Must Have" choices reflect more of the current truck counterculture than the mainstream. My third choice is an all-American icon that still delivers on the designers dream. Enjoy.
Toyota TRD X-Runner:
Since this premise is a no-limits proposal, I'll start with the most likely candidate for my never ending wallet. There is no doubt that Toyota makes the most fun, trackworthy small pickup, the X-Runner. Ofcourse, the supercharged TRD versions of both the old S-Runner and current X-Runner are the sportiest of sport trucks. Both Ford and Dodge have given up on the full-size sport pickup concept. The Roush and Saleen F-series offerings are nowhere near as flickable. A showroom-stock X-Runner Access Cab will get you the 236-horsepower, 4.0-liter V-6 with six-speed manual. Not a bad start, but a supercharged version boasts 304 horses in the same small package. I drove the TRD Concept X-Runner at Willow Springs last year.It could humble most of the sport-car weenies that populate the Southern California roadscape. For me, a truck that handles, and drives, with carlike abilities is the best of both worlds. The TRD X-Runner is a significant step in that direction. It's for hauling ass, not just payloads.Available colors are black or red. I favor the black, but either will work.
The CXT offers something no other truck Can: super-coolness in a super-economy-size package. I've driven this behemoth on highway and dirt trail. It's something else. The early CXTs didn't have the air suspension seats that are now (thank goodness) standard. Under the hood must be the DT570 option with the extra 90 lb-ft of torque, with Diamond Logic engine and exhaust Brakes. Evolving from the WorkStar Series of International trucks, the CXT retains 5.5 tons of hauling power. SinceI'm riding high, may as well enjoy it with a Prestige Interior package of leather, back-up assist, DVD, burled-walnut trim, and nav system. What good is an eight-foot bed that's over three feet off the ground if you can dump it? So include the optional tilting bed as well. Hey, the kids love it. Because I prefer being beaten up on the Wii tennis court and not on the freeway, throw in the enhanced air-suspension package. International sells the CXT with too much hyperbole that has nothing to do with the truck itself, but only the image. That's certainly not all there is to this truck. I enjoy just looking at the CXT. Even if I never drove it, I could still enjoy it.
Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon:
It's a Jeep thang. Believe me, I hate to perpetuate pompous, idiomatic phrases like the above, but the Wrangler has captured a part of me. Why else would I pass up driving our plush Mazda CX-9 to tootle around town in this glorified military vehicle?Because the Unlimited appeals to me for the same reasons boltaction .22 cal rifles do--simplicity and true-to-purpose design. The Wrangler is truer to its modest roots than almost any other four-wheeled vehicle. As a kid, I was riveted by the TV show "Rat Patrol." While their Jeep blasted through the desert, I'd cheer during the credits when they jumped off that dune. It was great TV for the time, if lacking somewhat in the reality department. Still, that vivid imagery was reinforced by personal experience over the years. The Wrangler is a supremely capable and fun off-road vehicle. A Rubicon is even more so with the ultra-low gearing. Over the pavement, its not very clever, but totally competent. Its Spartan interior isn't distracting. The open-air ride taps into the same bit of Zen motorcyclists feel. In reality, I expect less of it on the road so I feel less like critiquing it while driving.Thatalone makes it worth ANY price, especially to my passengers. Make mine black since I won't care if it looks dirty and it makes the big Wrangler look more menacing than it really is.