Having been primarily based within the Florida Keys for about six months now, now we have realized that accessing a car is sort of important. With every little thing you could be stretched out alongside the sides of the one highway heading from north to south of this assortment of islands and keys, a easy tour to 2 or extra shops for common provides can take up an entire day should you depend on public transport, or a really pricey $5 per journey forwards and backwards across the island(s).
By far the commonest sort of automotive you’ll discover within the Florida Keys is the pickup truck; as synonymous with South Florida as seashores, alligators and good ‘ole-fashioned southern hospitality! However the query I’ve to ask is, ‘Is it actually essential?’ We now have pushed a number of pickup vans whereas we’ve been right here, all with loads of cargo area within the truck mattress, excessive clearance for tough roads and, after all, an enormous American V8 or V6 engine.
Inside just a few days of driving such a car, I started to query the aim of driving one. Did we want the flatbed and further clearance and will that justify the decrease gasoline mileage? Now I’m not saying that I haven’t discovered a pickup truck helpful in any respect. When Hurricane Irma determined to make use of the Florida Keys for goal apply we, like many others, evacuated additional north to security. To attempt to minimise our losses as a lot as doable, we rented a mid-size pickup truck to hold every little thing we owned in our boat and our small storage container on land. The truck was invaluable, and it saved all our possessions from being destroyed within the 100 mph+ winds and Eight-foot storm surge that swept throughout the islands. We wanted a truck that day and virtually lived out of it for the following ten days, however that was an distinctive state of affairs.
Since many of the driving we do across the Keys is up and down US1, on paved roads, in various visitors, and solely often needing to hold giant objects, we determined to attempt one thing totally different.
That’s after we discovered the Toyota Rav four Hybrid. When it arrived, I’ll admit my first thought was, ‘Oh, that’s fairly small!’ However then I had simply spent per week driving the Toyota Highlander SUV, which is a a lot bigger car. As soon as the Highlander drove away that comparability was gone and I may get a greater concept of the true measurement of the Rav four – it’s no compact! To start with, the four-wheel drive mannequin we drove had superb clearance for a smaller automotive, making it straightforward to slip into the automotive slightly than climb down into it.
As soon as inside, it feels extremely spacious in all instructions. Additional headroom reduces the necessity for further legroom, which is already ample for adults sitting within the again. There may be additionally loads of width within the entrance, so you would need to attain throughout the middle console to conflict elbows together with your passenger! The cargo area within the rear was plentiful for this measurement of a automotive, particularly being a hatchback, and completely enough for our wants across the Florida Keys.
After I began to get impressed, nonetheless, was after I fired up the engine, or not because the case turned out to be! Though Toyota has been on the forefront of hybrid automobiles for over a decade, this was my first time driving one. My preliminary response to urgent the START button and never listening to a starter motor was to press it once more, thus turning off the automotive. I received over this confusion fairly rapidly although as soon as I put the automated gearbox in to reverse and silently backed out of the parking area – it was eerie, I preferred it!
That day was the proper check of the suitability of the Rav four Hybrid for the driving we do within the Keys. I needed to drive about 50 miles from Marathon to Key Largo to pickup up some elements of the boat. Site visitors was gentle, so I wasn’t driving slowly (however not thrashing it both) and as quickly as my pace exceeded a quick strolling tempo, the gasoline engine mechanically kicked in. The very first thing I’ve to say is that this automotive dispelled any concepts that hybrid = sluggish… this factor strikes!
The drive was quick and clean, overtaking was straightforward due to the journey peak, and better of all I averaged slightly below 40 miles per gallon. That’s virtually unprecedented within the USA! That mileage did lower over the week as I principally used the automotive for brief journeys and was heavier on the throttle to tug onto or throughout US1, however I nonetheless stayed properly over 30 miles per gallon.
After utilizing the Toyota Rav four Hybrid for over week, we are able to confidently say that should you’re planning a go to to the Florida Keys with a gaggle of four individuals or much less, then that is the proper automotive for the duty. Consolation, know-how, pace if you want it, and unbeatable gasoline mileage!
You may learn our detailed evaluation of the Toyota Rav four right here.
Now’s time to check out the opposite facet of the coin – Is there a cause for driving a pickup truck in your go to to the Florida Keys? Since we had been so impressed with the Toyota Rav four, we determined to stay with the identical model and spend per week with the 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD 4X4. Whereas we had been nonetheless engaged on our liveaboard sailboat, Empress, within the boatyard we spent per week driving the Tacoma’s huge brother, the Toyota Tundra iForce V8 Platinum. The 5.7-liter iForce V8 was extremely highly effective and really satisfying underneath energy, however without having to tow something, I simply couldn’t justify the 13 to 15 miles per gallon.
So right here’s the large query – Can the Toyota Tacoma TRD V6 assist us to justify a pickup truck on a visit to the Florida keys?
Firstly, the Florida Keys is all about nice climate, the ocean, seashores and all of the actions that associate with that. Among the hottest actions within the Keys are fishing and boating, with loads of guests from the mainland convey their boats with them by the trailer. Clearly, to tow a ship, you want a car that’s able to towing. Each the Toyota Tacoma and the Toyota Tundra have acquired nice critiques in that division, so there’s a plus level to the vans proper there.
The Florida Keys can also be some of the lovely locations on the planet for out of doors actions like kayaking and paddle boarding. When you have your individual and the power to convey them with you, then it can save you some huge cash on leases. With a pickup truck all of this gear, in addition to snorkeling gear, fishing poles, paddles and every little thing else conceivable to benefit from the Keys to the fullest, can all be piled into the flatbed of the truck, preserving the inside clear and sand free.
So can the Toyota Tacoma TRD V6 ship all of those advantages with higher gasoline mileage than the larger Tundra V8?
With a towing capability of as much as 3500 lbs (1587.5 kg), the Tacoma would don’t have any downside getting your small to the mid-size fishing boat (or a few jet skis) all the way down to the Keys. The 278HP V6 engine with the four-wheel drive automated gearbox has loads of torque and might nonetheless ship between 19 and 24 MPG – a big enchancment on the Tundra.
This alone might be sufficient to make much more sense of bringing a pickup truck all the way down to the Florida Keys! The inside of the Tacoma additionally makes it really feel a lot much less like a ‘huge car’ whereas nonetheless being rugged. Leather-based seats and armrests make for excellent consolation, and all of the devices and onboard pc are simply as straightforward to succeed in as every other automotive. I’m additionally very impressed with the dealing with; given its off-road critiques, you would anticipate a few of the typical wallowing related to off-road automobiles, however the Tacoma has a agency journey and responsive dealing with with out feeling unsteady.
In order ever, it’s one other case of execs, cons, and compromises. In case you’re visiting the Florida Keys to eat nice seafood, go swimming, snorkeling and lay on the seaside, then go forward and get a smaller automotive just like the Toyota Rav four, with the extra financial system of the hybrid. You’ll discover that it meets all of your wants and you’ll spend the cash saved on renting paddle boards or becoming a member of a gaggle fishing constitution at some point!
If the entire function of driving to the Florida Keys is to go fishing in your boat and discover the islands with all of your gear, boards and gear, then you definately would discover it laborious to beat the Toyota Tacoma TRD as a superb all-rounder!