Home » Pacific Island Pickup Trucks: 2000 Toyota Tacoma vs 2003 GMC Sierra

Pacific Island Pickup Trucks: 2000 Toyota Tacoma vs 2003 GMC Sierra

Sbsd 5 27 2024

Good morning! We’re back after a three-day weekend with a couple of trucks from Hawaii. Some good friends of ours recently moved there, and it made me curious about the used car market, so I took a look and found two good damn-near-indestructible trucks.

On Friday, I asked you to pick a car from all of last week’s choices to buy for a friend – or an enemy. The overwhelming majority of you picked the cool stickshift Volvo turbo, which makes me wonder if some of you weren’t shopping for yourselves. Oh well, we’ve all done it; who hasn’t come home from holiday shopping with a “gift” for ourselves?

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Over at Opposite Lock, there was a different view: member Shop-Teacher threatened to buy the funny car for a friend who goes by the name Derp, just to see the look on their face. This is the sort of shenanigans I wholeheartedly endorse, and it’s one of the reasons I enjoy that community so much. If you haven’t yet checked it out, do so.

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In the underrated rom-com Six Days Seven Nights, Harrison Ford grumbles, “It’s an island, babe. If you didn’t bring it here, you won’t find it here.” He’s talking about romance, but it’s sound advice no matter what you’re talking about. If you spend time in a place surrounded by water, where everything has to be shipped or flown in, you’d better make sure you get good stuff, because it costs a ton to get it there regardless of quality. And if you’re going to spend money on a vehicle in such a place, it should be something that can earn its keep, like a truck. So today, we’re going to check out two trucks on different islands in Hawaii, and you can determine which one is a better buy for island life.


2000 Toyota Tacoma 4WD – $6,000

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Engine/drivetrain: 3.4 liter dual overhead cam V6, five-speed manual, part-time 4WD

Location: Kahului, Maui, HI

Odometer reading: 243,000 miles

Operational status: Runs and drives well


When it comes to small to midsized trucks, the Toyota Tacoma is the truck, and has been for about three decades now. There are plenty of other choices, and I personally like some of them better, but there’s no denying that you won’t go far wrong choosing a Tacoma. They’re known for racking up an extraordinary number of miles, with few problems to report. Its only natural predator is the tin worm.

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This Tacoma is in a configuration you don’t see too often anymore: It’s a two-door extended cab, with a standard six-foot bed, with 4WD and a manual transmission. You can still get a Tacoma with a stick, but they’re by no means common, and nearly all the ones you see these days are the four-door “Double Cab” style. This one is powered by a 3.4 liter V6, and the seller says it runs and drives just fine. It has had a lot of recent work done, including the clutch, timing belt, water pump, and more. Despite showing nearly a quarter-million miles on its odometer, this truck sounds like it’s ready for years of faithful service.

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Like a lot of old Toyotas, it doesn’t show its age apart from a little normal wear and tear. But looks can be deceiving. The interior looks good, but I bet the cushion in that driver’s seat has had it. And while they may run virtually forever, Toyotas of this age do start to feel really tired after a while.


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Outside, it’s clean and straight for the most part, and Midwesterners will be jealous of its lack of rust. Cars in Hawaii do rust – all that salt air takes its toll – but they aren’t bombarded by dirty slushy brine half the year. It’s worth checking all the nooks and crannies underneath to make sure it’s solid, but it does look good.

2003 GMC Sierra SLE – $6,900

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Engine/drivetrain: 4.8 liter overhead valve V8, four-speed automatic, RWD

Location: Honolulu, Oahu, HI


Odometer reading: 145,000 miles

Operational status: Runs and drives well

Speaking of trucks that last forever, let me introduce the GMT800-chassis GMC Sierra 1500. More refined and comfortable than the earlier GMT400 trucks, the GMT800s were every bit as solidly built. They’re not the same sort of reliable and durable as the Toyota trucks; instead of running flawlessly until they rust apart, the GM trucks are built a little “loose.” Parts are expected to wear out, but they’re cheap and easy to replace. Ancillary systems may fail here and there, but with proper maintenance, the mechanical core of these trucks may just outlast us all.

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The heart of that durability is the famed LS-based “Vortec” V8 engine, here displacing 4.8 liters. It’s backed by GM’s ubiquitous 4L60-E overdrive automatic, which also can pile on the miles if maintained properly. This one reportedly runs and drives great, and like the Toyota, has had some recent work done. It also sports a hundred thousand fewer miles than the Toyota, so it has even more to give.


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Its only flaw – and it’s not an insignificant one in a place like Honolulu – is that the air conditioning recently went out. The seller claims it’s a “minor fix,” but if that’s the case, why not just take care of it before listing it for sale? It’s fully functional otherwise, and nicely equipped for a basic 2WD truck. And having just completed 3,000 miles in a GMC Yukon of this era, I can tell you those seats are mighty comfy.

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Outside, it’s just nicely seasoned for a truck that’s old enough to drink. Scrapes, dings, and even a little rust around the third brake light are just character lines on this old short-bed GMC.

Bombing around island roads in a pickup truck is a delight. I spent ten days once in Curaçao behind the wheel of a Toyota Hilux diesel, and loved it. Both Oahu and Maui are bigger islands than Curaçao, which means even more roads to enjoy. And either of these trucks has a lot more island miles left to go. And yes, they’re both more expensive than they would be on the mainland, but it’s not like you can shop around. So what’ll it be – the 4×4 Toyota, or the shortbed V8 GMC?


(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)

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26 days ago

This is a tough one, but ultimately I have to vote Toyota. It’s the spec I would prefer. I don’t think these prices are all that inflated; even here on the mainland in CA these trucks would command similar prices. I’m not saying these prices are reasonable -they ARE high! But, trucks just seem to be fetching more money in the last 10 years or so.

Andrew Wyman
Andrew Wyman
26 days ago

Toyota. Tacoma’s are the primary truck of Hawaii, so finding parts will be much easier.
Don’t want to overnight parts.

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