This post was originally posted by me on a different blog on Nov 7, 2011:
This answer is from Janet & Tom, a couple traveling through Central & South America. You can see their related post at ExpeditionPortal, as well as their website cataloging their travels through Africa and Latin America.
“We looked at several trucks, the Tundra, the Titan and F150. We also considered the payload capacity of each truck and the off road package. It is the payload capacity and not really the engine size that is really important. We did also consider a Tacoma earlier on but after reading all we could on payload etc we decided the payload capacity of the Tacoma was not big enough for a camper. We met a couple who had a Nissan Frontier from the UK who had a pop up camper and on a bad road they broke the chassis. When driving on really bad corrugations and rocky roads the camper will move and bounce on the chassis. We traveled with one couple who hit a speed bump and their pop up camper broke their rear window. They have a Tundra and between the tundra and the camper there is a roof wind up mechanism which broke their window. So the campers do move when bouncing hard.
We have really enjoyed having the power of the V8 especially as Central and South America are really mountainous so there is lots of passing of slow moving trucks. Our Land Cruiser had great torque but little acceleration so passing was an issue at times. We used to say, we give it gas and then the cruiser would think about it before going!
We choose the smaller cab of the Nissan as we liked the door configuration. In Africa we often would have people try to open the back doors of the cruiser while we were in the car. Our Nissan can only be opened by the front doors of the cab so for us it was a safety issue. We have used our emergency seat but when looking into the cab it is not obvious we have a spare seat. We have already been asked by officials to take a passenger and we just say we have no seat, we had that request frequently in Africa. We have more than enough space so would not go bigger unless we planned to take passengers on a regular basis. We like having a space at the back of our seats as we have our daily supplies such as cameras, binoculars, water, snacks, maps etc in easy reach.
Putting the camper up and down is really easy as it is electrical so we just push the button and up or down it goes. We can also do it manually if need be. We have a furnace in the camper if it is really freezing and it heats up amazingly well. I also have a hot water bottle and a really good Canadian sleeping bag so am toasty in the chilliest of weathers. The only issue we have with really cold weather and all campers do, is that we get condensation inside the camper, but have found a few tricks to overcome that.”