Where is the "sweet spot" for buying a 4-banger 2WD/MT Ranger
My son is in the market for a new car/truck. He currently has an Outback that is likely on its last legs. He'll consider a compact 2WD pickup and that includes a Ranger. My experience is with an 87 and 91 4WD and that's been a while back. He can spend up to $4K but would like to spend less.
Where do you guys consider the be the "sweet spot" in terms of getting the best Ranger for the buck? Hoping you guys can tell me what range year based on better engines & trannys, reliability, get up & go (if you can call it that with a 4-banger), better front suspension, etc. and maybe what to avoid. I'd like for him to get at least a 96 to get OBDII in case he needs to do any troubleshooting. Would also be great if he could get 4 wheel ABS if that came on a certain year (as opposed to the crappy rear wheel ABS). He's about 6' and, as I recall, in about 98 or so they made the regular cab bigger? Doesn't have to be a stretch cab.
He won't be driving it a lot at any given time (like to ride his bike if he can) but he will, on occasion, need to got across state lines while he's moving between seasonal jobs. He would like to tow my 14' boat on occasion (very light boat, I can tow it easily with my Focus).
Where do you guys consider the be the "sweet spot" in terms of getting the best Ranger for the buck?
I don't know if it's true everywhere in the PNW, but my experience in western Washington is that used cars (and boats and motorcycles) in general are over-priced here. Perhaps it's because the sellers expect to have to bargain with the buyers, but I don't think negotiating on price is unique to this area. Maybe it's not that way down in Portland. I know three people who bought cars (one new car, three others were used) from California. California is a good place. Lots of supply and cars from in-state are generally rust-free. Something to consider if you ever get down to northern California and you have the time to shop around for cars while you're there.
Another option, if you happen to visit the country frequently, is to pick up something from a small town away from large population centers. Prices tend to be lower, but you may not always find what you're looking for.