Okay, I just drover 15 hours out to see my wife's family in New Mexico. We had the bed of the truck completely loaded down with luggage and Christmas presents (I looked like Santa when you pulled back the cover). The cab of the truck was filled with me, my wife, 1 Golden Retriever, 1 Black Lab, 1 Schnauzer/Terrier Mix, 5 blankets, 1 dog bed, 2 computer bags, and some jackets. It all worked out pretty well.
Then we hit the crosswinds East of El Paso on I-10. Gusts were up to 40 MPH. The speed limit is 80 MPH. That means we had head winds at times of 120 MPH. The high end on the 2.7L doesn't like resistance. We held 80 MPH, but at the cost of fuel economy (average 15 MPG). It was a struggle.
Since so many people are getting close to 20 MPG out of the 4.0L V6 4WD anyway (I average 23 overall), I am considering getting a V6 4WD. If there is anything that I regret, it is not getting 4WD. The cost difference is so close these days that it doesn't make sense to me not to get it.
Also, I want a double cab - always have. My wife and I plan on having kids.
Also, Todd Herman of Diesel Toyz (www.dieseltoyz.com) has a conversion kit to drop a diesel into a V6 Tacoma. It would take some re-engineering to put it in where the 2.7L was. Eventually, I plan on dumping the gas engine for a diesel, but keeping the same truck.
So, now I am in debate. I want a double cab 4WD (no doubt), but I want a long bed too. Problem is, I can't get the 6 speed manual in the long bed. So my question to all of Double Cab 4WD guys is...
Which do you have (6 speed manual or 5 speed auto), and what kind of fuel economy, power, performance, and satisfaction do you get out of it?
Help me out here guys. My wife has given me the go-ahead, but we both want to make an informed decision. I don't want to buy another truck for 10-15 years.