Nathan and The Fast Lane Car team are here to answer your (reasonable) questions. Interesting and/or entertaining emails will be posted to this column. If it’s relevant in the automotive universe, there’s a chance we may know something about it. The author’s email address and full name will be omitted – leaving your first name, initials or nickname, your preference.
In this week’s Ask Nathan:
- Will there be a Lexus Pickup Truck?
- My dealership wants to charge me $5,000 for a routine service!
- Great car for a 16 year-old?
The first question comes from a Toyota fanboy who want to know if there will be a Lexus pickup truck.
Q: I know you like Toyota products just like me Nathan. Tell me if you think they will build a Lexus pickup truck.
I have a 2008 Toyota Tacoma Rugged Trail package, with a locking rear differential. It’s the best vehicle I have ever ever owned! I’ll never get rid of it! It has almost 200,000 miles and it still looks and drives great. The problem with it is its interior. It’s not that comfortable. From what I have seen from your shows, the new one isn’t that much better.
Then I saw that there were rumors about a Lexus pickup truck. This made me think for a bit because I’m getting up there in years and the idea of a second comfortable pickup is appealing. I know that it’s a odd idea but Lexus already builds off road SUVS right?
Pizza Man Taylor
A: Howdy Taylor!
While Lexus has said nothing official about building a Lexus pickup truck, they have expressed interest in the idea in the past. A few years ago, Makoto Tanaka, the company’s product planning project leader, showed interest in the idea.
I spoke to an executive a few years back who found the idea almost laughable too. That was before the skyrocketing luxury pickup truck prices became a reality. That’s also before the Mercedes-Benz X-Class – which is basically a Nissan, started to sell.
Some people don’t seem to have an issue buying trucks that cost over $75,000 – so why not build a super luxurious version of either the Toyota Tacoma or Tundra and make them a Lexus? I think that’s what we’re actually talking about here.
Right now, the Toyota Tundra is about to go through some changes. While Toyota is slow to perform serious updates, the time is closing in. Does that mean they will build an offshoot that’s Lexus-bound? Me thinks – no.
You’re right. The Toyota Tacoma needs a serious interior upgrade. I doubt this will lead to an updated model with a luxury interior. Maybe they would consider doing something like this when an all-new one debuts – maybe.
If – and that’s a big “IF” Lexus builds a pickup truck, it will have to be after outrageous consumer demand. Lexus usually takes a pragmatic approach to their product lineup. There would have to be some serious data to support the possible risk.
I doubt they will take the risk.
The next question comes from a reader who has to deal with a $5,000 bill for service done to his parent’s car.
Q: Hi Nathan and TFL. I think my parents are getting ripped off!
I sent them to the dealership because their 2007 Honda Pilot was shifting weird. It was supposed to be a routine check. After a week of checking and phone calls back and forth, they want to charge them about $5,000 to replace the transmission!
We can’t afford that and I don’t think it’s a good idea to begin with! I sent the car in to be looked at and it was supposed to be a quick examination. Why did it take so long? Should I even trust this dealership’s mechanic?
What would you do? Can you send me an answer before July?
I’m sorry to hear that Nancy.
Unfortunately, even a remanufactured transmission for a Honda Pilot costs nearly $3,000. A new one is obviously much more and installing it is pretty pricy too. If the dealership says you need a new transmission, they need to tell you why they can’t service the one that’s in your vehicle in the first place.
Above all, no matter what they say, take the vehicle to other mechanics for a second or third opinion. Look around and find one who’s highly recommended. It’s worth a few bucks to gain more insight. This kind of investment deserves due diligence.
I highly recommend you look at what the Federal Trade Commission says about Auto Repair Basics here.
The bottom line is: “routine” service usually involves fluids, filters, rotations and general inspections. If the dealership called this a routine inspection of an already troubled transmission, there is a communication disconnect somewhere.
The last question comes from a question sent to my Twitter (@Nathanadlen) regarding a good car for a 16 year-old.
Q: (Twitter@Nathanadlen) My little girl is about to turn 16. I am looking at a few cars for her.
I want to get her something simple. We live in Florida so all wheel drive is not necessary. I was thinking about a hatchback for utility and a four cylinder for economy. I am thinking about a 2005 Pontiac Vibe, a 2006 Chrysler PT Cruiser or a 2007 Chevrolet HHR. All three have low 100,000 mile odos and they all have great maintenance records.
What do you think? I know some people will say Honda or Toyota. But I can’t seem to find one that’s in my price range with low miles.
You’re in luck, out of that list, you did manage to find a Toyota. The Pontiac Vibe is, for the most part, a Toyota Matrix. Basically, a Toyota Corolla wagon-ish/hatchback. It’s the best choice on this list.
The Chrysler PT Cruiser is okay, but it’s not the best driving car and it’s not that well made by comparison. Chevy’s HHR is on the bottom of your list. Now, if you get the GT Cruiser or the HHR SS, both are pretty fast… but I would still go with the Vibe.
Hope that helps!
Speaking of new Lexus vehicles!
From day one, The Fast Lane Car has made it our policy to answer as many questions and comments as we can. We get thousands of emails and comments and feel that, as part of a tight-knit automotive community, having an open dialogue with you keeps things fresh and exciting.Got a question for Nathan? Drop him a line at: firstname.lastname@example.org.