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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Comparison: Hot Wheels Mini Trucks!

Wow what a few years difference makes:  If I was to say that Hot Wheels would be producing mini truck castings in the next few years you would've laughed and say it isn't true, but here we are with five mini trucks, four of them are all new castings, and all that have appeared in the past two years.  The newest is the VW Caddy, or better known as the Pickup in the USA.  More than just a VW Rabbit with a pickup bed, it is also designed to handle the track with aggressive flares, intercooler at the front, and a rollcage inside.  Last year's big deal in mini trucks was the Datsun 620: while the VW goes for a sporty look, the 620 is more of a stock look with only the slight flare of the wheelwells to show any signs of sport in this truck.  In 2012, the other three made their appearance, starting with the revival of the Dodge Rampage truck, which also incidentally started the prediction of the VW Caddy to appear sometime soon as both share the same front-wheel drive setup of the group.  Also car-based is the Subaru BRAT pickup, the go-anywhere and only one to haul more people of the group.  Finally is the cool 1987 Toyota Pickup with it's bold looks and tall height for all-around practicality.  Now with five mini trucks offered by Hot Wheels it's time to see who's number one.

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As you can see all of these trucks have a varying degree of ride height, with the lowest being the VW Caddy.  The Caddy looks good with the sporty look flanked by flared wheelwells, exposed intercooler at the front, and dual center exhaust at the rear.  There's more: check out the stock light details, the VOLKSWAGEN on the tailgate, the skateboard in the functional bed, and even the open sunroof!  The Datsun, meanwhile, is a bit tame in the K-mart-only yellow color, but it still looks good with the stock truck look, quad headlights, sweep in the side beltline, DATSUN on the tailgate, and the functioning bed.  The BRAT has a cool look with a raked appearance, dual exhausts on the sides, detailed grille and headlights, and the rollbar with lights.  The Toyota Pickup also has that cool-while-stock look with fared fenders, rollbar with light, and lots of creative details from the front window vents to the bolt patterns on the fender flares.  The Rampage is a bit bland, though has a wedge front-end with headlights from the metal base, and a neat three-wheel ATV in the bed.  Out of them all the VW Caddy looks the best.

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All of the trucks are regular cab, two-seaters except the BRAT which gains two more seats in the bed to bypass the 'chicken tax' to import the BRAT to the US.  It looks cool if a bit unsafe and using half of the pickup bed.  That may be the coolest feature of the BRAT since the rest of the interior is a letdown: no details, missing shifters, it looks like an empty template.  The Toyota offers a more inviting interior with the most modern comfort features at a premium of interior space and access into the cab despite the running boards.  The Dodge Rampage may look tight, but thanks to the dashboard design has some pretty good interior room, while the VW Caddy has a bit more going on with a rollcage and racing seats with 5-point belt; not even the sunroof can air out the tight cabin with Rabbit-inspired dashboard.  The Datsun 620 is the best bet with a more adequate interior with straight-forward controls and easy interior access.

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All of these trucks have four-cylinder motors with manual transmissions, with the VW and Toyota using 5-speed manuals while all others have four.  Only the Toyota and Subaru offer four-wheel drive, the Toyota with part-time 4WD and the Subaru with part-time AWD activated by a separate lever.  The VW Caddy has a 1.6L I-4 that is likely turbocharged and produces power at around 150-200 hp.  The Datsun has a 2.2L I-4 producing 110 hp (est.), while the Dodge Rampage uses a 2.2L I-4 producing 88 hp to the front wheels just like the Caddy.  The Subaru uses a 1.6L Flat-4 with enough room in the engine bay for the spare tire after the engine, produces 55hp.  The Toyota uses a modern fuel-injected 2.4L I-4 that produces 105 hp.

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Acceleration and Braking

Not all of them will be true sports cars, but at least the Caddy will with it's turbocharged motor and low stance producing sports car reflexes in the acceleration and the shortest braking distance of the bunch.  It's amazing!  The Datsun was right behind, featuring a brisk acceleration and quick braking despite the ordinary truck roots compared to the VW.  The Toyota was fast, but a taller stance made it slower and made the longest braking distance, as did the Subaru BRAT with similar if yet less extreme results.  The Rampage was in the middle with just adequate acceleration and decent braking.

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Handling and Off-Road

The VW Caddy again shined like a sports car with no body roll and quick reflexes, at the expense of a ride that is rough and requires careful attention to speed bumps, especially the low, exposed intercooler.  The Datsun was right behind, though the rear-end was prone to swinging out due to the lack of weight at the rear.  The Subaru was pretty stable even with a slight hint of body roll, while the Toyota was not really happy with the handling tests thanks to its height.  The Rampage was in the middle with neutral handing (thanks to the metal base), but lacked the power to match the VW Caddy.  Only the Toyota and Subaru was off-road worthy with the Toyota being the best, yet the Subaru has no problem catching up the the Toyota even though rock climbing is not in its ability.

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Features includes details and hauling ability of the bed using coins in a roll to fit in the bed as best as it can.  The VW Caddy offers a lot of excellent details, as does the Datsun 620 and Toyota Pickup, with the Subaru BRAT and Dodge Rampage offering the rear, but to be fare all of them have some pretty cool features.  In the back, however, there was some noticeable differences:  First, the Rampage was out thanks to the non-removable ATV taking up residence in the bed.  The Subaru could only haul half the load thanks to the rear seats, but the stability was excellent with the load.  Even with the rollbar, the Toyota still hauled a good amount, then got so heavy at the rear the front-end almost lifted itself off the ground!  For the Toyota, a metal base would be better suited for heavy loads.  Only the Datsun and VW managed to haul the biggest loads with no problem.  The Datsun hauled the most coins, but the effect of this is a light feeling to the front wheels.  The VW Caddy, with the wheelbase stretched to the corners, managed to not only haul the second biggest load, but handle it without any ill effects; pretty surprising for a truck built for the track!

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All are pretty affordable at their prices, so to estimate the Datsun would be the cheapest, following by the Rampage.  The VW would be subjected to the slightly high costs typical of VW's so it's third, with the more comprehensive (and imported) Subaru forth, while the Toyota is fifth since its the newest of the five and with a few more features will likely cost more than the rest.  Otherwise the prices are very close to each other.

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Fifth place goes to the Dodge Rampage:  It's cool-looking and is so far standard with the metal base, but from a styling, performance, and function perspective it's the weakest of the group.  Fourth place goes to the Subaru BRAT: It's unique with seating for four (two out in the bed), unique four-wheel drive system, and cool looks, it lacks the performance and interior detailing it needs to reach the top of this comparo.  Third place goes to the 1987 Toyota Pickup:  I still like the macho-looking truck of the bunch with plenty of versatility and details, but it's a bit too big in this group of smaller (and lower) trucks.  Second place goes to the Datsun 620 Pickup:  It's got great details, practicality, and performance, but only to be upstaged by the First Place winner, the VW Caddy:  A truck for the track that is also the most highly-detailed and surprisingly the most versatile of the bunch, it's an unlikely truck to take on the other four and win this comparison test.

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks TwoLane Team, were you using plastic mini truck in this blog? As per your images you used here.