Dear Car Talk:
Hi, I love your lousy radio show! I am 6-foot-3 with long arms, and am in my 50s, so things are starting to hurt. I don't fit well in most car seats -- they're too small for me and encourage a slumped posture that hurts my back.
I like the Ford F-150 seat; it lets me sit fully upright. However, I am seeing reports of poor reliability of the F-150 for the past 10 model years or so. Just how bad is the reliability? Thank you. -- Creaky Scott
Well, Scott, as recently as 2014, the F-150 got an "average" rating from our favorite consumer magazine -- the one that collects extensive data on reliability. That's three out of a possible five stars.
But even average isn't that great. Remember what the great George Carlin said: "Do you ever think about how stupid the average person is? And then remember, by definition, half the people are stupider than that."
OK, that's completely irrelevant here, but it was a good excuse to quote George Carlin.
In terms of cars, we've found that most people are not happy with average reliability. It sounds OK, but when your average car breaks down, you get miffed.
So we generally recommend that our readers and listeners try to buy cars with good reliability. Or at least better than average. Here's the bad news, Scott. Since 2014, the F-150 got two out of five stars for reliability one year, and one star all the other years. Oof.
The Dodge RAM 1500, the new version of which is wonderful to drive, had a couple of years when it reached up to three stars, but otherwise falls below that, too.
The Chevy Silverado gets mostly ones and twos. In contrast, since 2014, the Toyota Tundra got one three-star rating (in 2017), one four-star rating (in 2016), and the rest are five out of fives for reliability. If reliability is a priority for you, Scott, I'd see how you like the seat of a Toyota Tundra.
But try to take a good, long test drive. Or if that's not possible, ask if you can just sit in the truck for an hour, then see how your back feels. A 10-minute once-around-the-block may not actually tell you how your back will respond to owning the vehicle and spending hours in that seat.
If the Tundra seat passes your test, I'd lean toward one of those. But if the F-150 is the only truck that really suits you, get one and put aside some money in a repair fund. It might be a little cheaper than back surgery.