By on February 16, 2011

Here at TTAC we often find ourselves bemoaning the lack of compact pickups on the US market, and trying to determine if that fact is due to weak demand or a lack of OEM investment into the segment. But now Chrysler has announced a new entry-level Ram 1500, codenamed “Adventurer,” which proves that full-sizers are the reason  compact pickups are doomed in the US. According to ChryCo’s release, the “Adventurer” is

a value-priced, HEMI®-powered Ram 1500 regular cab truck that appeals to a cost-conscious, new-vehicle buyer who doesn’t want to give up performance and capability. The unnamed new Ram 1500, like the Ram Tradesman, offers buyers a standard HEMI V8 engine with its 20 mpg rating for the same price competitors are charging for their V6 engines.

The price? $23,830, including destination charge. That’s less than a V6, automatic 2WD Toyota Tacoma and nearly identical to a V6, automatic, 2WD Nissan Frontier. And at 20 MPG hwy, the Adventurer’s efficiency tradeoff is relatively small considering the performance advantages of its 390 HP HEMI V8. Though we applaud Ram’s decision to bring an entry-level, utilitarian pickup to the table, we bemoan the fact that this makes selling a compact pickup that much harder.

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90 Comments on “This Is Why We Can’t Have Compact Pickups...”


  • avatar
    86er

    The price? 23,830, including destination charge. That’s less than a V6, automatic 2WD Toyota Tacoma and nearly identical to a V6, automatic, 2WD Nissan Frontier.

    And the Frontier and Tacoma aren’t compacts, either.

    I predict a great deal of Ram Tradesman sales in cheapskate/lower disposable income Canada.

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    Plus, unless you live in San Francisco, New York City or other such cities, parking space isn’t too much of a concern in the U.S. anyway. And these tight cities aren’t the main market of pick up trucks anyway.
     
    Why would anyone choose the Mahindra over this?
     
    You know,  if Chrysler can sell these at roughly the same price in other countries, I bet they’ll be successful, even in emerging markets.

    • 0 avatar

      Ehh, not a lot of people want a gas sucking 390HP V8.
       
      20MPG is considered good for an American pickup, not so much elsewhere.
       
      Now, if Fiat would stick one of their diesels in this thing, it would be a contender. Only problem is, Fiat already has a truck similar to this, called the Iveco Massif.

  • avatar
    tparkit

    Fret not. Compact pickups are coming, part of the trend toward smaller, cheaper cars for a permanently poorer society. I doubt crap will be king, though, which will be a problem for Chrysler.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    My full-size V8 4×4 truck stickered for just a few bucks more than my previous V6 4×4 Frontier, and averages almost the same gas mileage.

    There’s just no comparison in terms of offroad capability and on-road hauling and towing. As well as interior comfort and room.

    It’s not that the Frontier (or the Tacoma) is bad, it’s just, for the same price, a full-size truck is so much better.

    As 86er said, the Nissan and Toyota aren’t really compact trucks. Stand ‘em next to a real compact and they look huge. In fact, park a King Cab Frontier next to a 1975 Ford F150 and it’s darn near the same size.

    What we really need today is that mythical Mahindra true compact. Something to be had for the mid to high teens. With a grunty, little oil burner under the hood. Too bad I hear that getting one of these is harder than finding a pet dragon.

    • 0 avatar
      Polichinello

      It’s not that the Frontier (or the Tacoma) is bad, it’s just, for the same price, a full-size truck is so much better.
      If you want a straight truck, that’s definitely true.  The problem is having to deal with climbing in and the ride.  The Frontier SE I have rides like a car, and my wife can get in and out easily.  The same with my four-year-old.  That’s just not possible with full sizers out there on the market.  Really, it wasn’t the case with the Tacomas well.
      At any rate, if manufacturers can make bigger vehicles that run more economically, what’s the problem.  I know you can get better fuel rates with a smaller vehicle, and that would be ideal for several small leg commutes, but if you reduce those trips with more capacity, why not?  If we really want to push fuel economy, why not push to use diesels in these trucks and get similar results?

  • avatar

    The Adventurer is a good idea. It’s got the right name, good value proposition, although I’m not really sure how much “adventuring” you’re going to be doing with 2wd.
     
    I’ve pretty much lost faith in compact trucks altogether, and as bitter as I am at Ford for killing the Ranger (and I am–there’s no way I’ll buy either a Fiesta or F-150, partly due to the fact that I don’t like either and secondly because of the Ranger thing), I don’t really blame them for making the decision. Fact is, fullsizers are just more desireable than compacts, in terms of everything from fuel economy to feature content. I checked out a bare-bones Ranger with only an automatic as optional equipment, and as it turns out it has:
    -No limited-slip differential with four-cylinder models (Tacoma’s got one standard);
    -21 mpg in auto, just 2mpg less than a V6 F-150;
    -poor crash test results;
     
    And, worst of all,
    -ridiculously high price. That auto is $19K and even then you’re not getting basic stuff like CD player or even power windows and locks. Plus no 4wd, no cruise control, need I go on?
     
    Subcompact and compact crossovers and SUVs have taken over where pickups used to be for most people. Nowadays, a Nissan Juke offers five seats, same price as a compact truck, and sportiness. A Forester has more room, similar price, better mileage, standard AWD. Barring that, a compact car is sportier than ever. If you want an off-roader and just gotta have a truck, compacts are just as fuel-guzzling as full-sizers and pretty much the same price. Oh yeah, and Wranglers are in the same price range and much, much more desireable.
     
    I could see a lightweight, light-duty unibody truck work, for carrying empty beer cans to the recycling center or hauling light loads, but it would have to be $12K, get 30 mpg and offer available AWD to really be competitive. And even then, there would be no “gotta-have-it” factor. Who wants a car with a pickup bed other than an incredibly small minority of people?
     
    Bottom line: When I can either get a compact like a Ranger that gets 24 mpg at best and 21 mpg with an automatic, whereas the F-150 gets 19 mpg with 300 horsepower, the Ranger looks like a complete dog. And then once you factor in the price difference of maybe $5000 maximum, it just lacks any reasonable merits.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @Luigian: “I could see a lightweight, light-duty unibody truck work, for carrying empty beer cans to the recycling center or hauling light loads…”
       
      That reads like a description of the old VW Pickup or the Dodge Rampage from the early 1980’s. I would disagree that it would be a small minority of people who would go for one of those. I think the yearnings expressed on this blog and others indicate a real need for something smaller than a F150 but with more capacity than a Mini. GM, Ford, VW and others all have small car-based haulers in South America. I don’t know what it would take to ‘federalize’ one for the US market, but at least the vast majority of the development would already be completed. I’m hoping that maybe FIAT would introduce theirs as a ‘segment buster’ in the US, along with a few other of their models we don’t get here either.
       
      I can dream…

    • 0 avatar
      Banger

      Luigiian, I share your frustration with Ford for killing the Ranger, then recommending we get into an F-150 or a Fiesta. Because those are obviously worthy replacements, right? Wrong.
       
      I disagree with your assessment of the Ranger, however. The MSRP is misleading. There’s a lot of wiggle room in Ranger prices, especially base “fleet special” XL models. Plus, you’re killing the mileage by going for automatic. Take it from me, the Ranger can get 30 mpg all day long on the highway if driven conservatively. I’ve got the Fuelly tracking to back it up. No F-150 is ever going to pull that off. Ranger fans know the M/T is where it’s at, noisy and clunky though that old M5OD might be.
       

      I also disagree about Wranglers. I can’t for the life of me find a sub-$24,000 Wrangler. And I wouldn’t want one, given the miserable real-world fuel mileage and lack of cargo room. So maybe they’re cheaper and more desirable for you, but not for me.
       
      To your point about a light-duty unibody work truck, check out the Fiat Strada. An honest 30 mpg in magazine testing means it can probably do a little better than that in the hands of real-world drivers. This was discussed when we were talking about Chrysler possibly returning to the compact pickup game earlier this week. It looks appealing, and according to the magazine, can carry nearly 1,500 lbs. For those of you keeping score at home, that makes the little unibody trucklet a three-quarter ton. Quick! Go get your CDLs and buy a semi so you can still feel secure in your manhood!

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      I agree with you The Luigiian. r the biggest problem is these trucks are to expensive. For a truck as primitive as the Ranger the price is sky high. I can’t imagine what the profit margin is on these. The platform is just a couple years newer than the Panther. This thing has to have been payed off decades ago. They should have no problem selling these for $10K and still having good profit margins. At almost $20K it makes no sense. Pickups used to be dirt cheap for their simplicity. That all changed when people started buying trucks to look intimidating and not to haul things.

  • avatar
    slance66

    Count me as one who thinks full sized trucks are just too big.  My garage would have no room at all, and parking is definitely an issue.  The new Ranger looks great to me.  The Tacoma may not be small, but is definitely smaller.

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    Funny how little Chrysler has so much going on that we are getting what seems like 2 or 3 articles a day on TTAC.  Are things really this quiet at GM and Ford?

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Ford had its big news with the new Focus and Explorer, so I wouldn’t expect much from the Blue Oval boys in the near future. GM’s big news was the Cruze. I’m guessing that the Sonic is next, but I don’t know the timeframe for its release. Perhaps Chrysler is shrewdly taking advantage of this lull in activity to gain some publicity and show the public that it is doing something positive. Not a bad strategy.

      So Adventurer goes from top-of-the-line DeSoto, complete with hottest engine and gold trim, to cheapest Dodge pickup. Kind of sad…

    • 0 avatar
      jpcavanaugh

      Geeber, I too thought of that beautiful, fast DeSoto.  IIRC, wasn’t the Adventurer the top of the line Dodge Pickup in the early 70s?  Back when Ford’s F150 Ranger and Chevy’s C-10 Cheyenne were the new breed of luxury pickups.  The 72 D-100 Adventurer was one good looking truck.

    • 0 avatar
      Mike66Chryslers

      My first thought was also of the DeSoto Adventurer, but you’re right about the Adventurer name being used on older Dodge pickups.  One of my uncles used to have a Dodge “club cab” pickup that I’m pretty sure was an Adventurer model.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    FIAT / Chrysler have nothing to show in the compact pick-up arena.    This is just a current generation Ram with a lowered price tag.  Unless compact truck buyers only purchase less than full sized trucks based on price, then a bare-bones Ram 1500 or Ford F150 won’t be siphoning as many sales as one may wish.
     
    It is definitely looking like my next truck will be a Toyota Tacoma with 2.7 four coupled to a 5 speed manual.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      Most trucks have been purchased on price. Just look at small business fleets. They used to be Rangers and whatever GM’s small truck was called. Now those fleets, even the ones that could use a small, lighter truck, are buying full-sized. Fuel economy isn’t any better and small trucks are priced right on top of stripper half-tons. When you shop for a new truck and you can get a bigger truck with about the same mileage for almost the same money, there’s no real reason to look at a compact unless you just have your heart set on one.

  • avatar
    MikeAR

    Unfortunately until compacts come a lot cheaper and much better mileage than full-sized trucks, there really isn’t much of a place for them. That most likely means a truck that is much smaller and decontented and I hope that someone brings out one like that.

  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    LOL! What a great article!  Brought back memories of my youth.  My first truck, and also my very first car, was my dad’s old F-100, with a straight-6 and three in the tree, handed down from father to son. Over the decades it was Ford and Silverado pick’m ups for me, until this year.  Last month I bought a Tundra DoubleCab 5.7. Will I ever go back to Ford or Chevy?  At age 64, I seriously doubt it!  I think, based on fit and finish, handling characteristics, and roadworthiness, I would have been as happy as a clam with Tundra with a straight-6 and three in the tree.  Ah, but once I drove that 5.7 with the six-speed auto, I was hooked.  None of my other trucks even come close. Maybe the domestic manufacturers should consider offering full-sized pick ups with four and six-cylinder engines, instead of creating a whole new batch of midsizers.  They can’t ever beat the Tacoma.  Why waste the money.  Maybe they should develop them for use in China and India, or Brazil, because they would not even dent the market share of Tacoma at home.

    • 0 avatar
      Polichinello

      I don’t think the Tacoma is that invulnerable.  I got tired of my Jeep two years back, and I was set on getting a Tacoma.  It turns out that their rides were nothing great.  It wasn’t much of an improvement over my Wrangler!  Then the cost was ridiculous.  This was in 2008, too, when the car market just sucked.  Despite my prejudice I wound up with the more road friendly Frontier.  At the time, the Dakota was awful, the Colorado hardly any better, and the Ranger just wouldn’t work for me.  Still, I don’t see why the domestics couldn’t try to come up with a street friendly version that displace some of the Tacoma’s share.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Polichinello, the Frontier is great. A guy who works as a repairman for my wife’s real-estate business has driven the same pickup (with the 6-cylinder that has 2-plugs per cylinder + stick shift) since he bought it new. Swears by it (not at it).  Hasn’t had any work done to it in spite of over 160,000 miles on it. He traded his trouble-prone S-10 pickup for it. OTOH, I have a neighbor who drives a ’93 S-10 (4.3) and says he can’t afford to trade it because he has so much time and money invested in it to keep it running. It has just barely over 100,000 miles on it.  Different strokes for different folks, but everyone wants a reliable, durable, long lasting vehicle.  This has not always been the case for everyone who bought  a with Ranger, S-10 or Dakota. A new version of the same old same old isn’t going to win GM any converts.

    • 0 avatar
      Polichinello

      hdc,
      Obviously, any product the domestics put forward would need to have improved quality.  Even GM and Chrysler have come a long way since ’93.  They probably won’t be able to match either Nissan or Toyota in reliability for a while, but they could compensate on the cost side.  Of course, given the general preference for full-sized goliaths, I can see why they’re not really trying.

  • avatar
    obbop

    Couldn’t arduous endeavors result in at least an “economy model” ( a similar van-type conveyance would be appreciated) at an even lower price that still allowed at some manufacturer profit?
    The ever-growing number of working-poor will clamor for a most basic conveyance.
     
    I can “hear” the horde at the dumpsters mumbling these sentiments.
    Yes, in my mind but, I CAN!!!! I can “hear” it!!!!!

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    The Transit Connect gets 21/26. Stiffen the unibody and slice the roof off, and you have the perfect compact pickup. Sadly, the “chicken tax” prevents this.
    Perhaps if/when Ford moves Transit Connect production to the US, this mini pickup becomes viable…

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      I was just about to make a comment about customizing the Transits once they’re already stateside, but then I noticed the “unibody” comment and lost interest. 

      So much for that idea.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      Ford should build the TC in St. Paul, former production facility of the Ranger. I have to look out for those in the home state. I haven’t heard noise that they would even consider it though.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, but if you’re going to go that route what exactly is the point? What could you do with a TC with the roof cut off that you can’t do with a TC right now? It certainly wouldn’t look like a Ranger, couldn’t go camping, couldn’t 4×4, and people could steal the stuff in the back. And the TC, as stands, costs $21,200. How much cost could you lop off by taking out the rear?

  • avatar
    redmondjp

    I too, think that there is definitely a market for a compact pickup in this country that is not being served.  I know two people with Rabbit pickups, they are great unless you have long legs, the cabs have zero extra room to move the seat back.

    Any chance of Kia or Hyundai coming out with one?  The former compact truck makers have all gone upmarket chasing after bigger profit margins it seems.

    Start with something basic, a 4-cylinder 5-speed stick with crank-down windows, with the ability to order single options as desired.

    I also agree that as our country continues its slide into a 2nd-world country, we will have to have less-expensive vehicle options (probably imported from China) as that’s all we will be able to afford.

    • 0 avatar
      cronus

      So what you’re saying is you want a compact pickup but a little bit bigger?  That’s pretty much how we got to this point.
      Also, I’d like to point out that putting power windows in every vehicle is actually cheaper then giving the option between manual and power windows.  The reason is extra design cost, new tooling, extra side impact testing, more assembly line space, extra service parts costs, etc.  Manual transmissions are close to that point now too.  Production efficiency and lower costs from standardization are currently moving the market farther away from the individual option.

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      redmondjp- You may be right, but apparently the buying public does not agree. Sales numbers don’t support your idea that there is much demand, nor do the decision makers at Ford or GM with both dropping smaller trucks.  

  • avatar
    nikita

    I just went over to the Toyota website.
    4×2 Regular cab basic 4-cylinder Tacoma $16,365
    3250lb curb weight
    1350lb payload
    3500lb maximum trailer weight
    21/25mpg EPA estimate
    That looks like a nice small, cheap and efficient alternative to bloated full-size “half ton” trucks. Diesel is already pushing $4 a gallon here and regular gasoline $3.50.
     
    Many businesses and individuals dont need or want a $24,000 monster truck, even if it can eek out 20mpg highway. What’s the city figure on that Ram 1500? Funny, the $23,000 4600lb base Tundra can only hold 300lb more in payload than the Taco.

  • avatar
    tedward

    I, for one, would pay equal money and take the smaller truck, but I think that the post is correct and most people would pass that up. A friend recently bought a Frontier v-6 with a 6speed manual and 4wd for just about $24k once all was said and done. I’d absolutely take that over an automatic hemi in a bigger body, even with the power and towing/payload advantage going to the Ram.
     
    This was an older guy who was looking for his 6th F-series pickup, but since there’s no manual option anymore and they’ve gotten so big… Easy conquest sale for Nissan, and now they’re on his radar when he replaces his CUV.

  • avatar
    VespaFitz

    Small trucks were viable because they were the least expensive vehicles any manufacturer offered. Once everybody started charging north of $15,000 for the cheapest truck available, the small truck was doomed.
    Given the choice between some shitbox Chevette and an S-10, or a crackerbox Tercel and a Toyota truck, you’d take the truck every time.
    They had good gas mileage, fantastic utility, claw hammer simplicity and a little more entertainment than you’d get out of the cheapest car, all for around the same money.
    I was looking at the base F150 XL the other day. $22,000 (if you can find one without a single option on it.) You have to buy the automatic and you have to buy A/C.
    Gone are the days when a dealer would have five or six trucks with rubber mats, no headliner, vinyl seats, a stick and a missing rear bumper, and he knew he’d sell every one of them.
    Idiots. They can’t figure it out.

    • 0 avatar

      You’re missing one big point: used trucks eating at the low-end. As the longevity of them climbs, it makes that much more sense to buy an old truck instead of the new.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      That is exactly the problem. The price is too high. The compact pickup makes sense at the cost of a sub-compact car. At the cost of a decently equipped mid-size car nobody is going to bother.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      MBella, I agree, but I think part of Vespa’s point is that compact PUs used to be really cheap, as in stripped Versa or Excel cheap, and they sold like crazy.  So why isn’t anyone selling anything cheaper than the $16k+ Taco?  Sure, used cars are better than they used to be, but I would think a simple new $12K truck could compete with a used truck that’s loaded with gadgets that are going to cost a fortune when they start failing.

  • avatar
    Truckducken

    See the article about the new Toyota manufacturing plant and pay close attention to the economics lesson therein. If 60% of vehicle cost is in the concrete, so to speak, then how does a car company make compact pickups any cheaper than full-sizers in the US market, given the huge sales volume for the big units? I hate the result, but at least I can now see why we’re stuck with these beasts whether we personally want ‘em or not.

    • 0 avatar
      cronus

      I agree, add to that the extra per unit efficiency of running a full two shifts at a factory.  The labor cost is almost identical too.  How much does an extra 1000 lbs of steel and plastic cost?  Maybe a couple hundred bucks.  Given the economics of the auto industry I wouldn’t be surprised if the big three could produce a full size pickup for less money then a compact.

  • avatar
    YYYYguy

    I miss my 1989 Jeep Comanche 4×4 Sportruck. 

    • 0 avatar
      M 1

      You know… Jeep probably could get away with a very small 4×4 pickup, where nobody else could. Not even “midsize,” I’m thinking Ram 50 territory here. Go all Suzuki-Samurai offroadish with the styling, but keep it dinky and cheap. They won’t, but I think they could…

  • avatar
    Jimal

    This is but one reason I don’t put a lot of weight behind the OEM’s and their claims of not being able to meet future CAFE standards. With transverse engine FWD based AWD cars available, creating a car-based unibody compact pickup that can go offroad isn’t even much of a challenge anymore. Seems like laziness and only wanting to do what they’ve always done are the real excuses.

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      I think that the bar is a lot lower for production worthiness than we realize. It just has to be shown that money can be made, not that it necessarily has to be as profitable as the full size truck programs. Then, there has to be money and time available for nicheing out existing vehicle classes. I think that in recent years fuel prices, limited capital, political pressure etc… have pushed that development focus onto cars instead of trucks. I’d be shocked if the usual suspects didn’t all have competing product coming to light over the next few years as their projections get better.
       
      I also think that having a smaller truck alternative in the showroom, regardless of it having a price advantage or fuel economy benefit, will be a real benefit to dealers in the coming years.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Agreed. The current crop of CUVs could easily be modified into light duty pickups. How hard would it be to chop the top/back off a RAV4 or CR-V?
       
      As I said in the other compact truck posts – the 2 reasons I own a Dakota now: SIZE & V8 for towing. Current V6 or turbo diesels can easily generate the torque needed with better mileage. A smaller truck with some areo tweaks (ride height!!!) should easily reach the CAFE requirements.
       
      Its not hard, its just not profitable. I remember back when trucks were the cheapest choice at the dealership, now its the other way around. BTW my V8 Dakota back in 02 cost the same as this new “Adventurer”. Granted I don’t have HEMI power but I got all the goodies except leather seats, in other words a full loaded mid-size truck for the same cost as a stripped full-size. If I had to do it over again I’d make the same call.

    • 0 avatar

      Did you guys look at the mileage of Ridgeline? F-150 beats it on mileage, carries more, tows more. The “FWD pickup” formula does not work. It seems superficially attractive to people who talk on forums, but in real life it fails.

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      The Ridgeline isn’t what I would call compact, and while technically a pickup, it is more of an SUV with an open back. A Honda Avalanche if you will. If the focus is on car development, adding a small truck variant to an existing car line (Cruze, Focus, 200) wouldn’t be that big of a deal, right?

      I used to own a VW Rabbit Pickup, in all its Diesel “powered” glory. If it weren’t rusted out I would still have it today. It was just the right size for my realistic needs. The Dakota Quad Cab I had after it in contrast was too big and too thirsty to be a commuter that I would occasionally use to go to the dump.

  • avatar
    ajla-

    Or course it’s a truck.
     
    How about a $24K HEMI-powered Challenger or Charger?

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      Yep, a stripper Challenger or Charger with the 5.7l motor would be just about perfect. And $24k would be about the right price.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      That would be great, like a 21st century version of the original base Roadrunner! My Challenger stickered for over $37K, and isn’t loaded by any means. My friend’s was just short of $40K. My dad would drop dead if he hadn’t died in 1973 if he went to a dealer and looked at the window stickers on new cars. He went looking at cars about 6 months before he died, and my mom said the first time he saw a sticker over $6K, he looked like someone smacked him across the face.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    My current truck is a 2003 Silverado regular cab short box with the 4.8L V8. It’s really not a huge truck at all, but the cab is big enough for my 6′ 2″ frame without having to split the difference between legroom and seat angle like on any regular-cab compact pickup. The truck has a one-piece back window and is actually quieter inside for highway cruising than my old Accord (or the new 2009 one for that matter). My loads aren’t a big deal – craft show booth set-up furniture, recycle cans to the big scrap dealer in Tacoma, garbage and recycle paper and glass to the dump – just enough that I do need a truck.
    Every day I see 4×4 club-cab Toyota Tacomas or Chevy S-10’s that are longer than my truck and have bigger tires.

  • avatar
    Robbie

    You guys are just not getting it at all. There is no market for compact pickups in the US.
     
    Pickup trucks are fashion statements, and not something utilitarian. On nearly any pickup on the road you’ll see, the bed is empty, and 99% of pickups is never used for anything a station wagon could not do too. Pickup trucks are a statement of being macho, strong, powerful – as anyone who has ever seen the looks in women’s eyes when getting out of one will know. A small (=weak, puny, little, sissy) pickup truck therefore is a completely crazy and impossible to sell vehicle in this market.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      So you are telling me that this or this wouldn’t work as fashion statements?

      Then there’s the Aussie Utes…

    • 0 avatar
      Robbie

      ajla: all I saw was a teeny little sissy Italian dinky toy; nothing a “man” would buy…

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Robbie,

      Basic sedans may not be as fashionable or macho as trucks but nearly all sedans I see on the road have empty back seats and likely an empty trunk. If full-size trucks weren’t such a bargain compared to average cars or small trucks, things might be different.

    • 0 avatar
      Robbie

      If full size pickups were more expensive, then most people would just buy a second hand full size one… Pickup buyers enjoy their macho image, and a compact pickup is a complete nonstarter in this market. So, my prediction is that at >$4 a gallon gas, you still cannot sell a compact pickup in the US.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Robby,

      If my Full size offends you so feel like better somehow stereotyping me as a macho or manly man impersonator, enjoy that. I’ll just keep on enjoying my truck regardless and I’ll bet I use its bed as often as you carry passengers in your back seat.

    • 0 avatar
      JustPassinThru

      “You guys are just not getting it at all. There is no market for compact pickups in the US.

      Pickup trucks are fashion statements, and not something utilitarian.”
       
      In many cases; but not always.  Long, long time ago, I had a Datsun PL620 King Cab; it didn’t advertise my manhood but it was a jovial, useful, (dare I say it?) stylish ride.  The King Cab on that model with bucket seats, gave back the room that was missing in even the F150 of the era.  The tiny King Cab wasn’t big enough for jump seats, but perfect for four bags of groceries.
       
      It was easy on gas and a  joy (as trucks go) to drive – light steering, light shifting, easy to park.  And would haul a face-cord of firewood when I needed to.  The perfect set of wheels for a single homeowner.
       
      Given a choice between that truck, new, and a full-size pickup of today…I’d pick the Datsun, every time.  Although I’d want to put it on the Ziebart rack next time round…

    • 0 avatar
      Robbie

      Denvermike, your full size truck does not offend me at all, I am trying to analyze this market segment. I am trying to say here that the vast majority of full size trucks are not bought for work purposes; emotions are the driving factor for most. You, the car enthusiast at TTAC, may not be part of that majority. But if I had to invest my own money, it would not be in a venture to bring a compact pickup to the US market.

    • 0 avatar
      CreepyMayne

      That second one reminds me of the Subaru Fail. err, I mean Baja.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Robbie,

      The vast majority of cars have rear seats and trunks that are hardly ever utilized. All vehicle purchases can be emotional but let’s look at the economics. You can get a base full-size with V8, limited slip and power window upgrades for around $25,000. Try that with a $24,500 base Charger and you’ll spend more than $32,000 and have to go aftermarket for the limited slip. Yeah, compact trucks have poor fuel economy for their size with severely limited power, payload & towing capacity but sell for 4/5ths the price of full-size… so what’s not to love?

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      This is ancient history, but may be illustrative. I recall an analysis in the auto industry press comparing the material cost difference between Chevy’s smallest and largest cars -Vega and Impala at the time. Using simplistic cost per pound estimates for steel, glass, plastic, even cardboard, the article concluded that material cost savings alone for the Vega were likely only $60 or $70! The thrust of the article was that it was a huge challenge to make any money on small cars. If we conservatively ratchet that up 10 fold- $600 or $700 today- really not much of a difference on a $20-$30K+ vehicle. Just guesses, but, reasonable guesses.

  • avatar
    MBella

    I use my Ranger to haul things. Unless I can’t drive my car, I usually only use it with things in the bed. The thing is with about three years of owning the truck, I have realized that an F-150 would have been a better choice. The Ranger gets a couple more mpg, but only empty. When I fill that thing up, the gas gauge goes down like the tank had a hole in it. This Ram almost makes sense, but at $24K for a stripper, it still seems very expensive. I’m just waiting for the pissing contest that “urban cowboys” are having  to finally end so that a truck like this goes back to the sub $20K price range that it should be in.

  • avatar
    MBella

    Here is a website I found that has some car prices from 1990. http://www.thepeoplehistory.com/90scars.html One of the comparisons that I would like to make,
    1990 F-150 4X2 – $12,994
    1990 Taurus sedan – $14,594
    A full size truck was cheaper than a (at the time pretty modern) mid size sedan from the same make.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      MBella,

      And what’s that 1990 Taurus worth today compared to a 1990 F-150?

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      My point is that trucks are over-priced. The Taurus was more complicated, and therefore has many more things go bad. The F-150 is simple, and therefore has very little to break, leading to better reliability. It’s the same reason a BMW of the era would fetch about the same as a Civic of the same year.

  • avatar
    AJ

    Smart idea! I’d certainly rather drive that daily over my boring Honda. Screw the MPG.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Get some chrome stacks and you’ve got a “Little Red Express.”  The things got to be decently fast being a standard cab short bed (in a straight line anyway.)  I don’t need power windows or nothing.  Shoot give me a “aux” pug in and a I don’t need a fancy stereo either.  I love trucks that are not “loaded up with crap to break.” 

  • avatar

    Compact truck fans, I’ll say two things in your favor:
    1. The Fiat Strada Adventure Locker is kind of cool, in that it’s a pickup with some attitude and a small size but doesn’t scream yuppie like the Baja did. (I think that’s partly because of the nigh-unusable backseat, making it the sort of thing only singles would drive. Also because of the big wheel-wells and bed length–it’s nice that they were able to make a two-plus-two truck with a bed longer than that on the Explorer Sport Trac. The Tacoma and Ranger do that too but in a unibody car-based truck it’s especially notable.)
     
    2. There are still a lot of little trucks I like. I like the Ranger (but don’t like the MSRP). I do agree that buying an auto Ranger is kind of missing the point, since it’s all about the utility not the fancy tech add-ons. If there’s one good reason to buy the Ranger it’s because it’s the only utility vehicle Ford makes which has a manual transmission. Not so on the TC or F-150.
     
    With that said, the Ranger still isn’t quite competitive. Lack of four-cyl 4wd is probably the worst part as far as I’m concerned, not to mention the lack of options like a locker or even a limited-slip diff on many models. I feel like the manufacturers have missed the boat on providing small, fuel-efficient trucks with transfer cases and real four-wheel-drive. The ’84 Cherokee made decent mileage with four-cylinder and 4wd with transfer case. So did the Ranger, in fact EPA lists manual-transmission 4wd and four cylinder on the Ranger up to 1995, and mileage never dropped below 20 mpg, and as high as 24 mpg highway. Which is astounding when you realize today’s 4wd compact trucks can’t manage more than 17-20 mpg, and even most crossovers with the dinky single-speed T-case don’t make above 21 or 22 mpg, in spite of the weight advantages scrapping the T-case gives.
     
    I’ve been surprised at the enormous push against true two-speed transfer cases for AWD vehicles. For most people, they never get used, but for those that really want them it’s quickly becoming a luxury item. I know that Suzuki forces you into a high-zoot model with heated seats and leather and all kinds of other tat if you want a GV with one, and with the proliferation of crossovers most manufacturers just use the married, single-speed version, which saves weight but lacks true capability. It’s not always the best compromise.
     
    If a manufacturer offered a small-truck with a two-speed transfer case, and if said truck could manage plus-20 mpg average, it would get more than a few sales. Still not as many as a full-size, but they’ll never get those kinds of sales anyway. Simply put, the one thing a compact truck can do that compact crossovers can’t is actually go off road. But it’s gotta be able to do it with a four-banger and do it without struggling under the weight of the big-ass truck on top of the drivetrain.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    Since they don’t offer the hemi in a strippo challenger this truck will be the mopar low buck hot rodder’s dream! I can guarantee there will be a few at the dragstrip for the mopar nationals this summer.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      I ran all three of my pickups at the dragstrip:
      ’77 Power Wagon. In the Vegas heat, 113 degrees, it ran 15.10’s. At Irwindale, in 55 degree cool air, it came to life and ran 14.40s. This was heavily modded. Stock was about 18.0. My truck was the quickest 4×4 with a small block motor in it most days. There was a 440 ’78 PW that ran 12’s on a cold day, it’s launches were awesome, anyone who hadn’t seen it before was shocked as it blasted off and beat muscle cars easily.
      2000 Sierra Ext Cab 4×4 5.3L 3.73 gears ran 15.20 all day no matter what the temp was.
      2003 Ram 1500 Quad Cab 4×4. 5.7 Hemi 3.92 gears, with 17″ wheels ran 14.70’s with 2500 miles on it, and 14.5’s at 10K. I miss it.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    @ Denver…………exactly!   I paid just over 24k for my 07 ram. It’s not a highly optioned truck, but I did get a V8, automatic, power windows/locks, cruise, limited slip and aluminum wheels. There was less than 2k difference between it and a similarly equipped dakota!

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    nrd……if they offered the hemi in a stripper challenger it would definitely sell. There are still a lot of people who want performance without all the unnecessary luxury bullshit. That was why the road runner and super bee were so successful.

    • 0 avatar
      ptschett

      Look into a 27F/28F Challenger R/T.  Most of the Challenger R/T’s you see are going to be J package (with leather & more electronic toys) if not M package (with the Cragar-esque wheels and the body-length stripe) whereas the F package means cloth seats and a limited range of options, equipped about like an SE inside.
      Of course it still doesn’t save much cash.  My car (a 2010 R/T manual, 27F package) stickered at $34k, and I got it for just over $30k.  A 2011 equivalent to mine is about $32k, and even the lowest level of R/T now has electronic toys my car doesn’t have.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I just don’t get the whole “gotta have a truck to run to the dump or Home Depot once in a while” mentality. Sure makes a lot more sense to me (and about 200M Europeans) to have a car with a trailer hitch, and either rent a trailer or own one. I have a 4×8 Harbor Frieght trailer that I’ve owned for 10 years. Carries 1000lbs, costs $12/yr to register, no insurance, no inspections. So I have to conclude that it really is about the macho image of trucks, compact or otherwise.

    For me the biggest issue with trucks, even the fanciest modern ones, is that they drive like TRUCKS! Huge and unwieldy. Those little old Japanese ones were fun, but nobody would buy a little tin box like that anymore. Well, maybe 10-20 a year and they all post on this site.

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    Considering the economies of scale -Detroit 3 sold 1.2Million full size pickups in 2010, it is not surprising that they are better values than the small ones.

    Being too cheap to subscribe to Wards and get model break down data, I can only see manufacturer totals and top 10 car and truck lists.

    Ford F150:               528,000
    GM Siverado/Sierra:  500,000
    Chrysler Ram:          200,000

    No other truck, domestic or import, shows up on the top 10 list.

    Whatever is next sold less than 10th place Town & Country at 112,000

  • avatar
    jaje

    Has anyone considered the option content of the $23k Ram with the Hemi to the compact pickups they say are not worth the money?  The Frontier / Tacomas with v6s that cost the same price have 4 doors versus the Rams regular cab.  Why not compare apples to apples if we can with same body style.
    Here’s the base price of compact trucks (Regular Cab) that is no where near that price:
    Colorado 4 cyl – 18/25 – $17k
    Colorado 5 cyl – 15/20 – $20k
    Ranger 4 cyl – 22/27 – $17k
    Tacoma 4cyl – 21/25 – 16k
     
    On top of comparing the same body styles – is anyone factoring in the discounts on top of the prices for the compact trucks listed above?  You can get today as the HEMI option is an incentive built into the price ($2k option).  What I think is misunderstood is if you compare a base 1/2 ton regular cab even with a pre discounted HEMI option to a highly optioned king / access cab compact truck the prices then are similar with the 1/2 ton giving you some major options and similar mileage.  But in the end a low end regular cab compact truck is still cheaper to buy than a full size truck.  Heck you can option up a Colorado to $30k+.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      MSRP isn’t the real price in most sales though, so that comparison isn’t valid. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a dealers’ newspaper ad but I do remember well that they would have base 1/2 ton trucks special priced sometimes less than the compact trucks. I seem to remember that GM dealers were the worst offenders.

  • avatar
    JaySeis

    I wonder if something else is going on. I consider 4 door pickups as sedan pickup crossovers because they are basically evolving into sedan like comfort and features with a bed in the back. Given that most pickups are used for sedan purposes and not “off road” not “farming”, not anything their marketed for, the whole need for pickups is actually pretty narrow. Jobbers, farmers, yes the but the rest of us..not really. The whole off road thing is hilarious but that’s another subject. Let me say another way. For most buyers a pickup bed is 90% wasted space for a 10% use..
    In the current economic picture, it makes sense to have such a useful cross over sedan/PU vehicle as oppose to a 2 door compact pickup that seats two (and oh yes, has a bed in the back).  Since a family can’t afford to have an extra car lying around, the market for such pickups is about zilch. When at our local Ford dealer I go and look for 2 door pickups and they are rare, everything is 4 door. 2 seaters seem so yesterday.
    And if your going to build 4 door pickups, loaded to the gills, well you end up at full size trucks and compact micro trucks (circa 70’s, 80’s) don’t exist. It might well be that to get the best of both worlds, look for any awd/4wd 30mpg vehicle than can tow 2000 lbs and forgo the empty space behind the seats because it is wasted space for the vast majority of buyers.
    Of course, trailer towing is a lost art. But trailers are good at hauling stuff and usually better at hauling than a PU. Just not convenient.

  • avatar
    doctor olds


    Can’t help Chart Of The Day: The Best-Selling Vehicles of January

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    Can’t resist asking those who claim GM does not build what people want,
    Then why did GM sell more full size trucks than Ford in January?

    F150=35,806, Silverado/Sierra=38,799.
    (posted on Chart of The Day: The best Selling Vehicles in January.) 

    You can’t pin that on fleet sales!!!

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      Doc, I hate to tell you but the GMC/Chevolet combo usually outsells the Ford for the year. I think. Ford uses the broken out Chevy and GMC sales to base claim the best seller title every year. So it’s not news.

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      I know, but in 2010, Ford beat GM’s combined total by 28,000.
      Not bragging about it, couldn’t unless Chevy alone did it.
      It could turn completely around this month anyway.

      Still makes it hard to say no on wants them.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    The only compact PU you’ll see will be the Wrangler model Sergio seems bent on, but with trail rated 4wd, it’ll cost the same as a ram1500. For those who insist on BOF, all jeeps are unibody, and the macho-factor is high. The bias against fwd will dissipate against the right price.

    To get the right price for a compact PU to work, it has to share components and assembly with a compact car. That means an el Aveo or a Focusero with fwd. For awd, maybe a RanchEscapero. Not macho enough? One word: pheromones! Add it to the voc’s released by the dash plastic and you’re all set.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    You’re right, compact trucks would need to share bodies/platforms with compact cars to bring their prices where they should be… right along side those compact cars. Their prices are out of line for how they compare to full-size trucks but I’m pretty sure 1/2, 3/4 & 1 ton frames don’t interchange with cars or SUVs… or each other.

  • avatar
    Roland

    Well, I wish there were genuine compact pickups on the market, or compact truck-based SUV’s. A 4-cyl bare basic 4×4.

    Ranger only has 4×4 in the super cab version, with a big V6. WTF?

    That’s then only compact p/u left on the market.

    A compact p/u is genuinely useful in British Columbia. The shorter wheelbase is easier is get turned around on a narrow forest road, and doesn’t get hung up on waterbars. The compact Toyotas and Mazdas were quite popular in the small towns of the Interior, and those people sure know their pickup trucks.

  • avatar
    armadamaster

    Automakers essentially did away with 1/2 ton trucks over the last decade, Dodge first in 2002, Ford in 2004, and finally GM in 2007. So basically when you go full size truck shopping, you are starting at 3/4 ton sized and up. The only compact pickup left on the market is the bulletproof Ranger, which is slated to go away. That leaves the not so bulletproof quasi-compact Colorado and then on up to what I call the new 1/2 tonner like the Tacoma etc.

    I hate to admit it, the one I like to replace my 1989 C1500 extended cab is what my neighbor just bought, a 2009 Dakota crew cab short bed. It’s not much smaller than my C1500, downside is it doesn’t get any better gas mileage either.

  • avatar
    2ronnies1cup

    A 390HP 2WD pickup?

    How long does it spin its wheels before it actually begins to move?


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