Buying a new pickup the Mexican way

Our trusty 2000 Nissan Frontier 4×4 pick-up, which has served us well and saved our butts on several occasions—most recently facilitating our escape, literally, across an adjoining neighbor’s ranch when a too-enterprising land developer blocked the entrance to ours for several days—is near the end of its useful life, at least for us.

In rural Mexico, of course, vehicles can live almost forever so we expect the Frontier will undergo several reincarnations, patches, repairs, paint jobs, and many more years of service before it lets out its final puddle of oil, somewhere under the Mexican sun, stripped of every useful part.


I’d give the Frontier at least ten more years, given that we maintained it very well, and the deliriously happy new owner is Félix, who got the truck for free, including the six months remaining on the insurance.

Our new pickup is a 2018 Chevy Colorado, which at first looks enormous but isn’t really. Not compared to monsters like Nissan Titans or Ford 150’s King Ranch, panting impatiently alongside you at a traffic light, their drivers sneering at your puny wheels. 

In Mexico, a seemingly impregnable backwater of capitalism, there is no bargaining over the sticker price—indeed, no competition whatsoever among dealers—so you just go by whatever features catch your fancy.

In our case we wanted a four-wheel drive, in case we had to make another escape, and a touch screen with navigation, internet connections and other gizmos.

Made in the U.S.A.

It became clear Mexican new-car dealers have yet to have their #MeToo moment, and so showrooms are often decorated with mini-skirted young women, tip-tapping around in their high heels offering you a soft drink or a cup of coffee along with a big smile.

Shopping for a vehicle also confirms the irreversible march of globalization. Pickups are assembled all over the world, from Argentina to Thailand, sometimes with bodies made one place and engines shipped in from three thousand miles away. 

Even with our short spec list, our shopping soon became complicated. A Toyota Hilux 4×4 only comes with a diesel engine, and it’s sold throughout most of the civilized world except the U.S. A Ford Ranger 4×4 also had a diesel version that was not sold in the U.S.  Nissan Frontier came with a gasoline or diesel engine but had antiquated and clumsy electronics and a wheezy engine. 

After some test drives, we zeroed in on a third consideration: The new pickup had to be serviceable in the U.S. in the event we drove it back home and some mechanical problem arose. That ruled out the Hilux and the Ford Ranger diesel.

At the last minute we tried the Chevy Colorado which is manufactured, YES!, forty miles outside St. Louis, Mo., as in the ol’ U.S. of A.!

The happy—and bashful—new owner.

The delivery of our new truck was an unexpectedly festive event. The truck was hidden under a blue tarp and the nervous woman in charge of deliveries—this was her first week on the job— walked over with a boombox blaring a triumphal Mexican oom-pah-pah tune. She let out a sigh, as if relieved her Wheel of Fortune cameo would soon be over, and pulled off the tarp while the entire staff clapped and cheered.

Then Stew was handed a celebratory cardboard frame for him to hold while having his picture taken. Most people would have been too embarrassed by the hoo-hah, but not Stew.

The inside of the truck was filled with balloons the cats back home enjoyed popping. Felix lovingly washed his new/old Frontier and got a pretty good shine on it. Stew tentatively fiddled with all the knobs on the dashboard, without bothering with instructions which are in Spanish anyway. 

All and all, a good time was had by everyone.

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