By on December 10, 2013

2015 Chevrolet Colorado Z71

Among the pet segments that enthusiasts hold dear, none has been on a roll the way the mid-size truck market has been. News of the Chevrolet Colorado’s return, along with diesel and manual transmission options, have been greeted with the sort of fanfare that in the glossy buff book era would have been reserved for the newest European supercar.

But this is the age of the internet, the long tail and niches are able to thrive in cyberspace. Our coverage of the Colorado’s debut garnered hundreds of comments, and Phillip Thomas’ excellent analysis piece was our most popular article for a number of days (on the strength of this piece, Phillip will be back with more truck segment pieces).

While it’s easy for us to get excited about the Colorado, the numbers indicate a different story. The mid-size truck market has been in consistent decline, and the Colorado has an even tougher job than it did last time around if it wants to kickstart the segment all over again.

A just over a decade ago, the Ford Ranger accounted for 226,000 units alone. Today, the entire mid-size truck market is worth 225,000 units, in a truck market worth about 1.6 million units, and an overall SAAR expected to hit around 16 million units. with the Toyota Tacoma accounting for 62 percent of the market. The second place Nissan Frontier pales in comparison, moving about 55,000 units.

In 2002,  its best year, the Colorado cracked 150,000 units, declining steadily until its demise a decade later, when it sold just 36,000 units. By contrast, sales of the Tacoma have been stable, and consistently stayed above 100,000 units, peaking at 178,000 in 2006, outselling the Colorado that year by a nearly 2:1 margin.

It would be foolish to assume that the market has stayed stagnant since those years, but in many ways, it’s quite a bit tougher. Having rebounded from the shocks of 2009, the latest crop of trucks is the best yet, and many of the key features touted by the latest full-sizers further diminishes the raison d’etre of the mid-size truck.

The two key selling points for mid-sizers has always been fuel economy and the fact that not everyone wants a full-size pickup. But the newest half-tons from Ram, General Motors and Ford offer 6-cylinder powertrains that meet or exceed that of a Tacoma V6 while offering superior performance. Even the latest crop of V8s, as thristy as they are, have set new standards for fuel efficiency in the segment – and the bar will be raised even further with the introduction of the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, which gets fuel economy figures more inline with a mid-size V6 sedan.

Of course, there are those who claim that they don’t want a big truck, and that a mid-size makes sense and is all the truck that they (and sometimes, others) really need. But then again, there are people who claim that crossovers are wasteful and inefficient and that station wagons would meet their needs (and in a spectacular feat of paternalistic solipsism, claim that consumers are too dumb to realize this). In both cases, the numbers come down heavily against them, and it doesn’t look like it’s about to change any time soon. People want pickup trucks for towing, payload capacity, versatility, status displays and even as a replacement for a full-size family sedan or wagon.

Even if the Colorado does take off and ends up reviving the compact truck segment, the regulatory and commercial deck is already stacked against it.  The newest CAFE requirements brought into place by the Obama administration place an onerous fuel efficiency burden on small and mid-size trucks, while cutting full-size trucks way too much slack. By 2017, a small truck the size of the outgoing Chevrolet S-10 will have to hit 27 mpg (real MPG, not the confusing CAFE number) combined, rising to 37 mpg in 2025. On the other hand, a full-size truck need only hit 19 mpg by 2017 and 23 mpg by 2025. Add to that the simple fact that full-size trucks are far and away the most profitable vehicles on the planet for any automaker, and the mid-size market’s future prospects appear to be out of step with the amount of fanfare being heaped upon it.

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267 Comments on “Editorial: Mid-Size Trucks Don’t Matter...”


  • avatar
    ash78

    Whatev, bro. One day I’ll have a 3-car garage with a 4-door diesel Ute (6MT, natch), an AWD V8 wagon with rear drive, and a Chevy Colorado. Haters be hating.

    You’re exactly right — there are too few Americans with the space constraints to necessitate this size truck, the fuel economy/towing/hauling limitations hamper it a little, and the full-size trucks have always had a lot of slack for everything from emissions to tax treatment. The full sizers are a protected class, so to speak.

    Anyone who buys a Colorado (myself included, maybe) will inevitably drive by half their neighbors’ houses and wonder if that Ram Megacab or Titan Crew or F-150 would have been a much easier choice for a tiny bit more cash. But then again, the Wrangler makes little sense for most, yet sells like hotcakes. The make-or-break on this truck is sadly going to be the marketing. Conquer some cute-ute and Subie buyers, make sure the product and fuel economy deliver solidly, and it might be a winner for a long time.

    • 0 avatar
      Jellodyne

      Your AWD wagon has rear drive? Is that because it has wheels in the rear?

    • 0 avatar
      ellomdian

      You inadvertently nailed the biggest issue – neighbor truck envy. I would be awfully surprised if more than 75% of all full-size trucks sold actually get used for ‘truck stuff.’ It readily reflects the SUV craze of the 90s – buying more car than you actually need, for stuff you don’t actually do. While a pickup might be crazy versatile, it seems like most of the ad copy these days is going to What-If’s; I don’t need to pull a space shuttle, ever.

      It’s easy to walk into the dealer with a mental list of towing needs and hauling capacity based solely on your daydreams, and to add interior space requirements and trim levels based on keeping up with the Joneses, when what you should really be buying is a Midsize for that time twice a year all of your friends ask to help move something big.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    CAFE is a joke and should be completely eliminated.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I agree. On one side we have emissions standards, on the other we have fuel prices.

      All CAFE seems to be doing is hurrying in (costly) technology that may or may not be proven in order to meet regulatory needs, instead of the fluid demands of customers directly.

  • avatar
    jz78817

    as much as I like my 2011 Ranger, I have to wonder how many of those 226,000 sold that year were white 2WD regular cab 4-cyl models with no carpet and vinyl seats.

    • 0 avatar

      The majority of them. But I still love my 2011 Ranger and I’m surprised how many random people either fondly remember theirs or want to buy mine after seeing it. Many Texans actually like small trucks.

      • 0 avatar
        jz78817

        though I don’t have too much room to talk; even though mine’s a Sport 4×4 it doesn’t have carpet. Nor power windows or locks… kind of an oddly equipped truck. Now if I could just disable the DRLs.

        • 0 avatar

          You’re better than me: a 2wd regular cab with every option but the V6 and automatic. Almost got it in Orkin Man white, too. Opening the door and seeing a floor fulla carpet is kinda odd, but I like it.

          Too bad it never got the R&D of the F-150, I still think they’d sell well to fleet and retail if they just threw a little more money at it.

          • 0 avatar
            mkirk

            Who needs R&D…Twin I-Beam FTW!

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            @mkirk, sorry to burst your bubble but the Ranger lost the Twin I bean and Twin traction beam IFS and switched to a torsion bar IFS in 1998. Now the Econoline on the other hand still has Twin I beam IFS.

        • 0 avatar
          jz78817

          I wish I could find a way to cram the 3.2 liter 5-cyl turbodiesel into it…

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            “I wish I could find a way to cram the 3.2 liter 5-cyl turbodiesel into it…”

            Way too heavy for the compact US Ranger.

          • 0 avatar
            jz78817

            “Way too heavy for the compact US Ranger.”

            Bull. dry weight of the 4.0 SOHC is about 475 lbs. dry weight of the 3.2 Duratorq is 530 lbs. the length of the engine would be a bigger problem.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            “Bull. dry weight of the 4.0 SOHC is about 475 lbs. dry weight of the 3.2 Duratorq is 530 lbs. the length of the engine would be a bigger problem.”

            Where did you get the weights from? It is heavier and longer than the V6 I know that but your drivetrain would have to be upgraded too.

          • 0 avatar
            jz78817

            “Where did you get the weights from?”

            <__>

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          ” Now if I could just disable the DRLs”

          You can.

          It might involve redoing the wiring to bypass the DRL controller entirely, but there’s no reason you couldn’t.

          (Now, *why* is another issue; I always run with my lights on – because idiots see you better when your car is glowing – and the automatic DRLs in my Corolla make my life *easier*.

          Headlight bulbs aren’t that hard to change, and running at reduced wattage isn’t a big strain on them.)

        • 0 avatar
          catachanninja

          That was my 01 ranger, I miss that truck, especially now that w’re hitting winter

  • avatar
    crtfour

    I’m a truck guy and they matter to me. The latest crop of half ton bethemoths will not fit into my garage.

    • 0 avatar
      RightYouAreKen

      This is the only place I see mid size trucks being of benefit. Specifically height. Width as well, but it’s only been an issue for me on extremely narrow forest roads.

      I used to have a 2011 Tacoma Double Cab 4.0 V6 4×4. I averaged 19mpg in daily driving and it would barely pull a 20 ft camping trailer with it’s measly horsepower/torque ratings and 5 speed auto,

      I traded it on a 2012 F150 SuperCrew 5.0 V8 4×4. I average 17.5 mpg in daily driving with it, and it pulls our 27 ft camping trailer with ease. It is also a much nicer place to be inside, with leather, heated/cooled seats, nav, lots of space in front and back (limo legroom in back), heated mirrors, power folding mirrors, etc etc etc. None of these were even options on the Tacoma beyond Nav. Way more truck, and only $5k more than I paid for the Tacoma.

      The only downside of the F150 other than the slight MPG loss (1.5mpg in my driving) is the height. I need 6’4″ clearance with it, so most of the downtown parking garages I used to use are out.

      Other than that, I’d never go back to a midsize truck unless they were significantly cheaper.

      • 0 avatar
        imag

        Off road capability as well. Try to get a full sized truck on most trails.

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          If you’re worried about off-road trailing, shouldn’t you be buying a Wrangler anyway, rather than a midsize pickup?

          If we’re going to talk edge cases, let’s take them seriously…

          • 0 avatar
            imag

            That’s like saying if you are going to take your car to the track, you should only consider a dedicated race car.

            A Taco is an excellent off road vehicle, but also offers practicality and daily driveability, moreso than a Wrangler. It is better for long excursions and camping, since you can carry stuff in the bed (and even sleep back there). When I had one, I also found that the longer wheelbase made it more enjoyable for high(er) speed trails. All off roading is not rock crawling.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            “A Taco is an excellent off road vehicle, but also offers practicality and daily driveability, moreso than a Wrangler. It is better for long excursions and camping, since you can carry stuff in the bed (and even sleep back there). When I had one, I also found that the longer wheelbase made it more enjoyable for high(er) speed trails. All off roading is not rock crawling.”

            Totally agree. Wrangler and Taco can both be top-notch off-road vehicles, but not all “off-road” use is the same. Lots of people take big pickups into some nasty off-road country too. It just depends on what sort of terrain and conditions you are in and what you are trying to do.

          • 0 avatar
            mkirk

            How off road are we talking here. The Wrangler is going to destroy any midsize currently sold when it comes to suspension articulation due to the solid axle under the front. If we are talking driving to your favorite fishing hole org camping spot the truck will be fine, but if we want to play in rocks the Jeep is the only option if you want to buy new…granted most folks that play on the more extreme end of the off road crowd buy used and build.

            And yes, you can get a full-size on most trails…It becomes a question of how much body damage are you willing to take though and do bent up rocker panels bother you. My FJ80 was massive compared to a 2 door Jeep and you felt that heft on the trail. A new full-size truck dwarf my 80 and would tend to get hung up on stuff I’d think.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            “How off road are we talking here. The Wrangler is going to destroy any midsize currently sold when it comes to suspension articulation due to the solid axle under the front.”

            Agree with everything in your post mkirk, but rock crawling is just one specific type of off roading and Jeep people often do it for the sake of doing it.

            Other people take pickups up into the mountains for hunting, as just one example. Do they get beat to shit? Yep. Almost immediately. It is a source of much humor. Nevertheless, they need the space for all their gear, especially if they are camping. Those trucks can be set up to do some pretty serious off roading up and down the sides of mountains in the snow and rain. Jeeps would do a lot of it better, but they do not have the cargo capacity.

            Tacos are huge in Hawaii, and I see guys off road the fk out of them through rutted and muddy bogs that they are perfectly suited for. As good as any Jeep, in my opinion, as long as you have the right tires. Tacos, set up right, can do most of what a Jeep can do, in my opinion, except the extreme Rubicon rock stuff.

            Off road in the desert, give me a Raptor rather than a Jeep. I can carry lots of fuel, spare tires, water, and go fast over the bumps all in comfort.

            Other people need a work truck that they can take off road on the weekends and on vacation. It is a family vehicle, recreation vehicle, commuter, hunting and fishing transport etc… Only a pickup can do all of that.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @thelaine:
            “The Wrangler is going to destroy any midsize currently sold when it comes to suspension articulation due to the solid axle under the front.”

            That point is about to change, though whether for the better or worse is yet to be seen. That solid axle does make the Wrangler heavy and with it’s already too-square frontage, dropping weight is just about the only way left to improve economy. That–and diesel.

            I don’t use my Jeep for rock crawling per-sé; I use it more for driving in foul weather and literally going places few other vehicles CAN go. I see many other jeeps used for the kinds of trips you mention, right beside the trucks. A JK Wrangler–especially the 4-door model–can do almost everything for the hunter a pickup truck can do–and go places the full-sized pickup truck can’t reach due to clearances between trees and sometimes very tight turning radiuses and take less damage doing so. Even pickup truck owners tend to mount their kill on the hood, rather than risk getting blood on their gear in the bed.

            And this IS where the mid-size truck has the advantage over full-size, especially if they’re on a short enough wheelbase. The biggest drawback to the full-sized truck is the simple fact that the wheelbase is so long that the turning radius is almost 50% wider than a 4-door Wrangler’s; especially if it’s a crew-cab pickup.

            For desert racing, maybe the Raptor is the better choice–as long as you avoid jumping it. That longer wheelbase adds to stability at speed which a Jeep’s shorter wheelbase doesn’t offer. But at the same time, when it comes to desert racing on a global scale, a blooming’ MINI has won the last two Dakar rallies; a shorter wheelbase than even a JK Unlimited and not that much more ground clearance for the race version.

            And no. “It is a family vehicle, recreation vehicle, commuter, hunting and fishing transport etc… Only a pickup can do all of that.” A JK Unlimited can do all that you state here. What it CAN’T do is carry a load of mulch, lumber, flat-pack furniture, appliances, etc. In other words, the outsized loads that ONLY a pickup truck can carry.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            @Vulpine
            I respect your point of view, and a Wrangler Unlimited is 80% certain to be my next vehicle, but I already have a pickup and it can do a whole bunch that a Wrangler cannot. You do sacrifice some hard-core off-road capability, no doubt, but for versatility, a big pickup cannot be beat. That is why so many more people buy them as family vehicles than do Jeeps.

            I won’t go into how much gear guys carry when they go camping/hunting for a week or so, but it ain’t going to fit in a Jeep.

            Also, putting an animal across the hood of your car is not a good idea. The heat ruins the meat. The blood ruins the paint. You can’t keep it there over steep terrain. It obstructs your vision. It is not possible to transport more than one animal at a time. Some of us hunt elk and bear and moose. Try putting one of those on your hood.It looks bad to non-hunters and some of us consider avoiding that to be an aspect of courtesy.

            Again, it just depends on what you use the vehicles for. I don’t think a pickup is the best for every application, but for me and many others, it does it all. That’s important when you cannot afford to have a bunch of specialty vehicles. Lots of guys I know have one pickup and a cheap-on-gas little commuter. That’s all they need.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @Vulpine said
            “But at the same time, when it comes to desert racing on a global scale, a blooming’ MINI has won the last two Dakar rallies; a shorter wheelbase than even a JK Unlimited and not that much more ground clearance for the race version.”

            The MINI is NOT a Mini, it is a rebodied BMW SUV, with a 3 Litre Diesel. Still it is a short wheelbase car that has won the Dakar(to be run this year again in early January)

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @thelaine: Essentially you just made my point for a mid-sized pickup truck; it’s pretty much as capable as the Wrangler Unlimited for off-road (smaller physical size and shorter wheelbase) while still having an outside load bed for that outsized/dirty cargo. There are things the Wrangler Unlimited can’t do that a pickup truck or roughly the same size CAN. They both can do things a full-sized pickup truck can not. But that’s also why I WANT a Wrangler-based pickup and if I can’t get that, then a Wrangler-SIZED pickup and not a full size. Even my 24-year-old standard-cab F-150 is taller and wider than my Wrangler Unlimited, and it’s only a 2WD, not to mention almost 3 feet longer. You can imagine how much bigger today’s 4×4 models are.

            @Robert Ryan: Acknowledged; but that race MINI is BASED on an available MINI model, even if heavily modified.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            Vulpine. I intended to agree with you and do agree with you. We just have different needs. Most pickup buyers are like me. They need or prefer the bigger pickup. The Wrangler pickup will be a second pickup for me, if they make one. Otherwise, I will just get the Unlimited. In any event, I’m keeping the full-sized pickup, because the smaller vehicle will be inadequate for me, as it will be for most buyers. Bring on the small pickups, I love them too. They are just no substitute.

      • 0 avatar
        mkirk

        5K and being a pain to park are significant concerns. I tow with the Nissan 4.0 and it does well. So far I’ve pulled 4500 pounds without any drama though it was relatively flat.

  • avatar
    GoFaster58

    I had my hopes up but I don’t care for the mid-size Colorado at all. It’s too damn big. Bring back the small pickups. Some of us (1,000′s) don’t need something to haul Mt. Rushmore or pull the Statue of Liberty around. Just build a small truck to haul a couple of pieces of lumber or maybe a piece of furniture and pull a trailer with a lawnmower or golf cart around. It wouldn’t have to have a monstrous engine to do so either. It could get great gas mileage. Bigger trucks are just a ploy of gouging the public out of their money.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      Small pickups have been replaced by landscape trailers that can be towed behind a car or CUV. You get the towing capacity of a small truck without the micro cab that virtually nobody wants. $1000 +/- and your problem is solved.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        I find more of those landscape trailers getting pulled by full-size trucks than behind a car or CUV. On the other hand, the truck itself is usually carrying the mulch they use to landscape the trees/flower beds.

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          Few things are more humorous than a 1 ton longbed truck hauling a dinky trailer.

          Granted, this local painter who pulls a ladder on a trailer behind his Jetta Mk III is even funnier.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree with you GoFaster, I am falling more in love with my 82 Rampage as I fix it to road worthiness… but as the article states, it is the market, not practical sense (described as paternalism) that drives production. I think this market has always been better from the used perspective than the new perspective. New car buyers aren’t as often concerned with small simple machines. From a business perspective I understand perfectly well why micro trucks always fail here and why old rangers/s-10s and the like aren’t made here anymore. Americans said no.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        In inflation adjusted dollars, the Rampage was a $17k vehicle, too… does that sound like a great value for the money, compared to the rest of *today’s* market?

        Better than a base Tacoma for almost the same price, with airbags and ABS/ESC, and over half again as much power?

        No. The relatively modest real-world economy gains of the Rampage can’t justify it.

        This is not about “practical sense” favoring “simple machines” – it’s about how much better every car is than they were in the early 80s.

        I would rather have *any* car sold new in the US now than *any* American car from 1982, and *nearly* any world-wide car from 1982.

        (Admittedly, I’d be sorely tempted by a 1982 S-class vs. a Kia Rio, if the S was in good condition.

        But in terms of pure un-emotional car quality, the Rio would probably win on everything but interior space and materials quality. Perhaps not against a *new* 1982 S, but there aren’t any of those around, are there?)

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      “Just build a small truck to haul a couple of pieces of lumber or maybe a piece of furniture and pull a trailer with a lawnmower or golf cart around.”

      They sell those.

      They’re called SUVs.

      Get an Escape or a CRV, problem solved.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Nope. My Ikea purchases won’t fit (too short a load bed). My appliance purchases won’t fit (covered load bed). My plywood/wallboard purchases won’t fit (load bed too narrow).

        Care to make some more excuses?

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          “ust build a small truck to haul a couple of pieces of lumber or maybe a piece of furniture and pull a trailer with a lawnmower or golf cart around.”

          I was answering *his* requirements, not arguing that nobody ever needs a pickup – I own a long-bed F-250, for God’s sake.

          Plywood?

          Get a full size truck, not a “small truck” like he suggested; I had a 94 Toyota Pickup, and I always had to have my plywood quartered to get it home.

          This was fine for my projects, but for serious people it was a dealbreaker, 100%.

          • 0 avatar
            Toad

            As I posted above, Landscape trailer solves the problem. Sizes from 4′ x 5′ and up; 5′ x10′ or 6′ x 12′ bigger than most full size pickup beds. Load capacities from 800# to the more common 2000 – 3500 range; again more than most full size pickups. Cost from $800 new, less used. Low or no taxes, some states don’t even require license plates.

            Pull behind almost any vehicle; car, SUV, CUV. Bonus: you can loan it to friends with little or no risk (unlike a pickup). For most people this makes far more sense than a small pickup with a small cab.

        • 0 avatar
          mkirk

          Yes, the rear of a CUV/SUV and even a small truck bed ARE NOT one in the same. Maybe the old GMC Envoy with the crazy rear open roof thing was close, but we see how it sold.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        “Just build a small truck to haul a couple of pieces of lumber or maybe a piece of furniture and pull a trailer with a lawnmower or golf cart around.”

        They are called cars. Yes SUV’s/CUV’s do that too.

  • avatar
    LanciaDeltaIntegrale

    Price is also a factor. For a crew cab 4×4 the cheapest full siza truck you can get is like $35,000, that’s a lot of money for some people. If the mid-size trucks with 4×4 and the larger cab could be had for under $30,000 then that would be another reason to go mid size. The full size trucks are also behemoths, it’s almost embarrassing to drive them to a regular office job every day not to mention the parking hassles, etc…

    • 0 avatar
      RightYouAreKen

      Don’t forget to include the usually MASSIVE rebates/incentives on the domestics. $10k off sticker right when you walk on the lot seems common. My F150 stickered at $47k, and I paid $37k with no haggling.

    • 0 avatar
      Mandalorian

      Exactly. Large domestic Trucks and SUVs are like furniture. They artificially inflate the MSRP so they can make it seem like it is massively on sale.

  • avatar
    Clueless Economist

    Nice opinion piece. My opinion is you are wrong. The fact that people are interested in articles about the new GM mid size trucks indicate that there is strong interest in this truck. The diesel is a game changer provided the mpg numbers are impressive.

    • 0 avatar
      grzydj

      Where the piece goes wrong is the comparison of incoming technology with technology that was considered impressive when G.W. Bush was in office.

      Hey, my brand new laptop sure makes my first generation iPad seem awfully clunky.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      I think the interest is similar to the interest in a Brown, AWD, diesel, Manual station wagon. Everybody talks about how great they are and how they’d buy one right away if only they’d import them. Then when some company reads the forum and decides to import them they sit on dealer lots for years.

      I own a midsize truck. I think if you want a base truck with 4 doors they are a good value since you can’t really get a fullsize 4 door without a lot of equipment. But if I had wanted power windows, navigation, and all that stuff as many people are proned to want the price difference is very small and I would likely be driving an F-150 which is right there with my Frontier mileage wise.

      The midsize market consists of:
      1. Fleet buyers
      2. Cheapskates
      3. A few folks who are scared of the size of a fullsize truck
      4. The lifestyle crowd for whom a fullsize won’t do because it won’t physically fit on most trails but they want a truck, not a Wrangler. These folks buy Tacomas by in large.

      There is money in the lifestyle/offroad segment I think, as the Wrangler demonstrates but many in this segment are put off by the trucks when they look under the front end and see the IFS. The rest buy a Wrangler because it is cool to own a Jeep. Someone is going to have to lose money on several generations of product to crack that market.

      Midsizers need regulatory change to succeed…no, not the damned Chicken tax, I am talking the CAFE standards. As was pointed out there is no incentive to sell a midsize truck in the US.

      I also wonder if Nissan’s approach couldn’t work (given product’s that don’t date back to the Bush administration). Where the midsizer is on a common frame as the half ton and a gaggle of other products though this has compromises for all products involved admittedly.

      Bottom line though, if a company wants to make money on midsize trucks I think the Wrangler buyer should be the target, not the Orkin Man. I think you will have an easier time getting the Jeep buyer than the F-150 buyer and unless you are Chrusler this represents a customer that would have bought from another maker.

      • 0 avatar

        Great post, mkirk!

        • 0 avatar
          thelaine

          Agreed, DK. I am cross-shopping small pickups with the Wrangler. They are similar vehicles for my purposes. I think Wrangler will enter this market with a pickup version and a diesel.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            I own a Wrangler. I own a full size truck. Should Jeep come out with a Wrangler-based pickup, I would willingly trade BOTH for that Jeep.

      • 0 avatar

        A gentleman working in Tacoma plant in San Antonio left a comment on my blog to the similar effect: where originally Tacoma was often sold with minimal options and 2 doors, nowadays its product mix leans heavily towards 4-door, 4×4 versions.

        And of course CAFE is a big problem. Even diesel may be not mighty enough to tackle it.

        • 0 avatar
          JK43123

          And of course they are talking of eliminating the single cab version!

        • 0 avatar
          mkirk

          I also wonder if in addition to this “lifestyle/offroad” market if the midsize nut couldn’t be cracked with something akin to the Ridgeline, only better executed and more tilted towards the truck end of spectrum than the Ridgeline. The Ridgeline wouldn’t be half as bad as it is if it had a normal looking bed.

          Take something like an Explorer and give it the truck treatment. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel, just make it look like a truck is supposed to look. Then reap the benefits of the car based architecture in the fuel economy arena. Perhaps even a driveline akin to the Cherokee in 4WD trim (dual range 4WD) to add to the truck “illusion”. Make sure it has some towing capacity. I think Honda gets 5k with the Ridgeline so something along those lines with the big available motor.

          It seems that a package like this would be easier to optimize for CAFE than the traditional BOF small truck. The key is that it has to look like a truck…not the Ridgeline.

          The Avalanche was another route. Take the fullsize and make it lighter duty. But again they put a crazy body on it. I would have loved to see Ford give the F150 the Avalanche treatment, minus the body stupidity and slap F100 badges on the side of it. That is still a fullsize truck however so I see the other route as being more successful with a midsizer since the midsize buyer is already willing to give up some capability.

          This or lifestyle vehicles are how I see the midsize market. The current iteration just doesn’t seem profitable.

          • 0 avatar
            Quentin

            I have 2 friends with Ridgelines and they swear that they are the best thing since sliced bread. Both are engineers in their early 30s with 1 kid that drove Subaru STIs prior to the Ridgeline. They don’t do any towing other than a utility trailers filled with home building supplies, lawn mowers, etc. The big thing that they love about the Ridgeline is the payload capacity (>1500 lbs) and still having a nice ride. The flying buttress is probably necessary for the unit body rigidity, unfortunately. I think you are right, though. The look turns off a lot of people.

          • 0 avatar

            Honestly, I like Ridge’s features quite a bit. I just cannot get over two things about it: lack of lower ratio gearing, which is unfortunately essential for my mission definition, and also how heavy it is. The unibody Ridgeline is noticeably heavier than any BOF Wrangler with Dana 60 live axles. How could that be? One would imagine that GM or Toyota should be able to make a better Ridgeline than Ridgeline, but it’s probably a question of money.

          • 0 avatar
            mnm4ever

            I know a couple of guys that have Ridgelines with aftermarket wheels and tires, and that helps a LOT with the look. The standard wheels are too small for the “weight” of the body with that weird sail panel treatment. Fitting it with either 20″ sport truck rims/tires or large off-road rims/tires change the look completely. I would drive one but the fuel economy isn’t any better than any other truck or SUV.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        mkirk – - –

        I agree with Derek: your comments are reasonable and well thought out.

        I have all three: a mid-size (2010 Nissan Frontier); a full-size (an old 1996 Dodge Ram 1500); and a Jeep (2007 Wrangler X).

        I enjoy the Frontier enormously (at 22-24 mpg!), and hope that the Colorado can re-invigorate the mid-size truck segment. The feature that swayed me toward the Frontier was a manual transmission, and I see that the Colorado may be offering that option too.

        But with regard to your Jeep comment: this may be an opportune time for Chrysler to consider restoring us to the Jeep Pick-up, which would be a mid-size and offer the bar-axle suspension you alluded to.

        …. _ ____
        ” /l ,[____], ”
        … l—L-olllllllo
        … ()_) ()_)—)_)
        ========================

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        VERY opinionated, mKirk–but not very accurate.

        “I own a midsize truck. I think if you want a base truck with 4 doors they are a good value since you can’t really get a fullsize 4 door without a lot of equipment. But if I had wanted power windows, navigation, and all that stuff as many people are proned to want the price difference is very small and I would likely be driving an F-150 which is right there with my Frontier mileage wise.”
        I don’t want a base truck with 4 doors–so it’s not a good value. I want a comfortable truck with 2-2/2 doors. I need a 6′ bed. I need a lower load floor (Really, does the load floor of the bed HAVE to be 40″ off the ground?) The point is that a compact truck does not HAVE to be a “Base truck”.

        * Fleet Buyers — Why? Because they’re more economical and that they’re more maneuverable. Plumbers, electricians, even HVAC have to get into some pretty tight places on occasion and their typical carry load isn’t large or heavy enough to warrant a full-sized truck.
        * Cheapskates — That depends on the definition. The typical definition is an insult: “A Stingy Person”. Scrooge was a “cheapskate”. On the other hand, why spend more for something much larger than you want or need? I’m NOT a “cheapskate”, but while I want reasonable comfort, I don’t need the Cadillac- or Lincoln-level trim packages just to get the options I want, either.
        * The few folks who are ‘scared’ of a full-sized truck — Let’s qualify that to a VERY few folks. It’s not that they’re scared of full sized, it’s that they simply don’t need or WANT a full-size. I’ve driven much much larger than the typical full size truck of today and I’m certainly not scared of it, but that doesn’t mean I’ll buy one if something smaller is available. Sure, I have a full-size truck right now–a nearly 25-year-old F-150; I got it for a ‘steal’ when I needed something with a load bed. I’ve put a grand total of 4,000 miles on it in 18 months simply because it’s too big to park comfortably in the places I typically go and gets too poor gas mileage (despite achieving 19.7mpg on the highway) for my typical daily driving. My Jeep does better both in town and on the highway.
        * The Lifestyle crowd — In other words, an insult because you think they are nothing but poseurs. You simply can’t imagine that some people simply don’t have a need for anything larger and more capable. You simply can’t imagine that ANYONE who really wants to have a pickup truck for its ability to carry outsized loads could possibly want something that fits comfortably in the shopping mall where they buy a big-screeen TV or a washing machine or a refrigerator or plywood or whatever that simply wouldn’t even begin to compress the springs of a full-sized model. In other words, people like me. I almost never tow–the last time I towed anything was a 10′ closed U-Haul trailer behind a 2002 Saturn Vue because I was carrying things too big to fit inside. I could have carried that same load in a compact pickup truck (it was the only size trailer available at the time). The trailer itself was heavier than the load. Why do they buy the Tacoma? Because that, and the Nissan Frontier, are the only semi-compact trucks available. The Toyota just happens to be the better of the two.

        CAFE? Honestly, I think a new compact truck using today’s technologies would easily match CAFE standards for small trucks. No other legislation would be needed; certainly not a “You Must Make Compact Trucks” legislation.

        One place where truck costs have gone through the roof is the fact that you now see at least four frame lengths for any one brand. Three frames should be plenty for anyone’s purpose. Extended cab-standard bed; extended cab-long bed/crew-cab-short bed/ crew-cab long bed. And the difference between short-bed/long-bed should be a minimum of 18″; the 5.5′/6.5′ bed is just stupid and a waste of money in production. The old 6′/8′ bed lengths made much more sense. An extended cab-6′ bed model was the same length as a standard cab-8′ bed. A crew cab-6′ bed would be roughly the same length as an extended cab-8′ bed and offer plenty of comfort for both driver and passengers in both sizes. Both would still be shorter than the typical 20-foot length of todays’s full sizers.

        Would the Wrangler buyer be the target? Not likely. On the other hand, many of those buying Explorer, Traverse, just about any of the mid-sized crossover SUVs would be prime candidates for a truck this size.

        • 0 avatar
          azmtbkr81

          Well reasoned post. You echo my thoughts exactly. A mid-sized truck is a goldilocks vehicle for many people (and businesses), myself included. I currently own a full-size Bronco and a Mazda 3, if I could get rid of those two vehicles and replace it with a modern, efficient compact truck or SUV I would. The Wrangler is too small, the 4runner/Tacoma too dated, and full size trucks too long. A modern, mid-sized truck or SUV would tick a lot of boxes for a lot of people with very few compromises.

          • 0 avatar
            Quentin

            The 4Runner was a complete redesign in 2010. The only carryover was the transmission and the basic frame. It does a high 7 second 0-60 and is rated at 22mpg highway (and is actually achievable). It has all the interior toys you could want or need and even a trick swaybar setup that gives you good onroad sway characteristics while not compromising off-road articulation on the Trail Edition. Yea, it still drives like a truck thanks to the solid rear axle and has the space inefficiency of a body on frame, but if neither of those are important to you, there are a slew of great crossovers out there now that give you all the space of yesterday’s midsize SUV but push 30mpg on the highway. What you are asking for is the hottest segment in the US market right now.

          • 0 avatar
            azmtbkr81

            Let’s not forget the engine. The 4Runner was a great truck in 2005 but 18 MPG combined is no longer competitive when full size trucks and SUVs can achieve the same or better while costing less.

            What I am talking about is a vehicle that more efficient and maneuverable than a full-size but with more durability and capability than a crossover. Right now buyers are forced to choose between two extremes: increasingly large full size trucks or crossovers which are really no more than minivans sans sliding doors.

          • 0 avatar
            Quentin

            The engine was redesigned for 2010. Dual VVT, roller rocker valve train, etc. Everything you find in the Ford 3.7 and the Chrysler Pentastar that came out in 2011. It is a 4600 lb SUV that does 0-60 in less than 8 seconds. If you browse fuelly, you’ll find that the 4Runners are averaging in the 19 range and the full size trucks are in the 16-17 range. Ram, with the 8 speed, seems to be around 19.

            I agree that there aren’t many true SUVs out there anymore.

        • 0 avatar
          mkirk

          Whoa who whoa….I think you are taking me out of context here. First off, I use the “lifestyle” term as I have seen it bantered around on here and include the hard core offroaders in there. I own a Frontier and my last truck was a lifted 80 Series Land Cruiser that while it did see some rocks and trails saw way more time shuttling me back in forth to work than dirt so it is likely I am one of those that you claim I am trying to insult. By lifestyle crowd I means the off road types or the types that throw a couple kayaks on the roof.

          I also see myself as a cheapskate. I’d just assume roll my own windows up and lock my own doors. I likely would have purchased the Pro 4X were I able to get the mechanical bits of the pro 4x model but equip it like my S model, but I digress and the market says I am not a typical buyer as most individuals prefer power windows and locks.

          Certainly a compact truck does not have to be a base truck. I originally wanted a Frontier Pro 4X…They are not base When loaded up though they start to push closer in price to the full-size trucks. But there really isn’t a base full-size 4 door out there. My Frontier was right at 20 after all the rebates and what not. Had I gotten the loaded truck the price was closer to the full-size trucks with cash on the hood.

          Yes, there are those who don’t want or need a full-size (again, self included), but most truck buyers would buy the full size if the prices are close. Again, not my opinion, not me saying good or bad, just market reality. I’m certainly not scared of the heft either…I drove 32 tons through downtown Baghdad, but that doesn’t mean I enjoyed it. The Frontier is just the size I prefer.

          And I crossed shopped them both and have driven them both here and in some worldly crapholes, yes, it was a Tacoma, not a Hilux…we had them too. The Tacoma is the NICER of the two and the Frontier has an interior that will scratch if you look at it wrong, but I think the VQ40 is the better motor and the Frontier is the better overall package. Just me though and again, the market seems to disagree.

          What I really want as my midsize truck is a crew cab 70 series Land Cruiser with the inline 6 diesel and a flatbed. When my kids are grown you can keep the rear two doors.

      • 0 avatar
        TW5

        Agree. The lifestyle segment is the profit-center, and it should be the uncompromising identity for mid-size trucks. Sell them with 4wd only. Forget luxury trim. Sell functional options.

        I don’t believe it will take several generations of losses to make the segment work. If buyers want a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited with an automatic, they will have to shell out nearly $30K, and they don’t even get a hardtop or a bed. By offering the new Cherokee, Jeep have abdicated their traditional role as a provider of moderately-efficient rugged offroaders, and they’ve canceled Jeep pickup plans on several occasions to protect Ram.

        CAFE is still a problem, but perhaps they can work some kind of deal for BoF light trucks. Personally, I’d like to see all BoF light trucks classified under the most lenient requirements. By 2025, the vehicles would only have to make 23mpg combined. The market can decide whether or not that is sufficient economy for a Wrangler, Xterra, or Colorado.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @mkirk
        I do think the dreaded chicken tax has to go.

        How else after decades of running down the midsize market in NA can midsizers gain a foothold?

        You need the VW Amarok, global Ranger, my BT50 to be allowed to enter into the US market. Without the need to manufacture and produce 100 000 midsizers a year to be viable.

        CAFE, EPA (anti-diesel regulations) and chicken tax all are a thorn in the side of the US pickup market………..unless you manufacture a NAFTA constructed full size truck.

        I forsee up to the medium term (at least 15 years) full size trucks will dominate your market. But our midsizers have great potential for work, probably on par with your full size 1/2 ton pickups in many instances.

        Your new Colorado isn’t a global midsizer and wouldn’t compete with them, unless you are wanting a SUV.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      It is interesting when Midsize NA Pickups are bought up as a topic, that article has the greatest number of posts?

  • avatar
    Quentin

    Downward pricing pressure from the Silverado will be the biggest problem for the Colorado. If you watched an NFL game this weekend, you saw $5xxx of incentives advertised on a 2014 V6 All Star Edition Silverado. For the Colorado to be a success, they need to be able to build it cheap enough that they can keep $5k or so between it and an incentive laden Silverado and still sell the Colorado at a profit. Part of the Tacoma’s success is the fact that you can’t buy a vehicle on the same lot comparably equipped for the same money. They have a decent gap between the Tundra and Tacoma as far as price and specification.

    • 0 avatar
      bachewy

      Exactly – the difference between a fully-loaded Tacoma and Tundra is about $20k. That’s a major factor for someone on a budget no matter how much better/improved the more expensive vehicle may be.

      • 0 avatar
        mkirk

        But look at Tundra sales in comparison to the fullsize market. Toyota has a lot less to lose by hurting Tundra sales than the Big 3 in hurting fullsize sales. Bottom line is that a domestic midsize buyer can likely be sold a fullsize at a higher profit. For Toyota this isn’t such an important upsell.

        • 0 avatar
          Quentin

          Oh yeah, definitely. Toyota has the “advantage” of not being in a dog fight for most truck sales in America. They know they want to move 100k to 150k Tundras each year. When you have that target, you don’t need to offer a seat for every butt. You only need to offer a seat for 75% of the market. They don’t offer a 4WD, double cab, V6 Tundra that might be within spitting distance of a 4WD, double cab, V6 Tacoma. That hypothetical truck would be $30k in the base model, which would be only $2k more than the long wheel base Tacoma V6 4WD. They just started offering the Tacoma with leather for MY13. You had to buy a Tundra to get leather until then. It basically boils down to this. If you want cheap, small, or spartan, the Tacoma covers you. If you want big or gadgets, have a look at the Tundra. They might miss out on that fringe buyer, but they have a pretty predicable, and likely quite profitable, business plan without being cannibalistic.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            And every sale of a Tundra is one less for the domestic full-size trucks.

            But to be fair, Tundras cost more than similarly-equipped domestic brands, so they are not for the financially challenged or those living on a budget, perpetually short of money.

            And Tacoma whipped the domestics until they were down and stayed down by withdrawing from the market.

            Maybe this reemergence of the domestic midsize trucks will cause Toyota to revamp and upgrade the Tacoma because it is way beyond long in the tooth these days.

          • 0 avatar

            Interesting on the cost of the Tundra. 2 years ago I had a co worker and my inlaws bought new Tundra’s (both to tow toys) Both cross shopped the F150. Both said they got the Tundra cheaper than a comparable f-150 (both double cabs SR-5 models.)I believe my co worker said it was more then 2k less. Interestingly both were from the same dealer in Mass so maybe he just had to move some metal.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            mopar4wd, that is true, especially in the rust belt and the farther East you go from the Mississippi. My sister’s husband in FL bought a Tundra 5.7 4-door and paid less than I did for a DoubleCab in TX!

            That’s because those regions are heavy on the domestic trucks; their stomping grounds, so to speak.

            In those regions, the Tundra and Titan are interlopers, fur’ners, strangers in the land where Ford, GM and RAM once had the market all to themselves.

            But in areas where trucks are huge sellers, the competition is tighter. And where F150 best-sellers sell for x-dollars, the Tundra is marketed as an upscale truck for x+7000 dollars. And judging from the number of Tundras on the road here, they’re selling well.

            They have a price for everyone, depending on where you’re at.

          • 0 avatar

            Highdesertcat
            It very well maybe that the drop in personal use sales of pickups here in the northeast drove it. Back in the early 2000′s dealer lots were filled with crew cab half tons last time I drive thru the local Chevy dealer they had 3 Imaplas for every half ton silverado on the lot. I think the Tundra appeals less to the local contractors, landscapers, and plumbers that seems to make up the largest portion of new truck buyers here now. It’s funny because the first Gen Tundra was quite popular here but again we seemed to have more people buying them as every day cars then.

  • avatar
    NN

    Car and Driver recently tested a regular cab, 4×4, bench seat Sierra that stickered at $36k. They’re going to have to discount those things 30% to move them off the lots. If that is where full size pricing is going then the midsize trucks could find buyers, provided their pricing is really that much better. This Colorado is the size of full sizers from 15 years ago, so it’s not “too small” anymore.

    The F-150 really sets the pickup market, however, and since Ford doesn’t plan to have a mid-size player, they may see an opportunity and have some better value pricing on their lower end trucks. If that is the case then the Colorado will have a tough time.

    • 0 avatar
      OldandSlow

      Here in Texas that value priced F-150 would be the XL or possibly an STX regular cab. An XL regular cab, short bed, base model can be as low as 20 to 21K with incentives. Add a tow package and select shift, it will be at least a couple of K more.

      Trouble is not many folks want a 2 person regular cab model. A Tacoma, extended cab, base model, with a 2.7 inline four sells for about the same price as an STX regular cab with incentives.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      F-150 is Ford’s midsize player. I know, not a traditional midsize truck but keep in mind it is the smaller of Ford’s truck offerings. Just like midsize sedans, trucks have gotten bigger. Used to be if you needed a truck on occasion you got a Ranger or S-10 or similar. F series was reserved for doing work. Now the Super Duty fills that role while the F150 is what gets parked at home.

      • 0 avatar
        OldandSlow

        mkirk – I threw in the Tacoma extended cab for comparison – because it has about the same wheel base and overall length as a short bed, F150 regular cab.

        With that said, I would hope that the F 150 XL has a greater payload and towing rating versus a base Tacoma.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      You just emphasized my points, NN: “This Colorado is the size of full sizers from 15 years ago, so it’s not “too small” anymore.” In fact, it’s still TOO BIG!.

    • 0 avatar
      jz78817

      “They’re going to have to discount those things 30% to move them off the lots”

      you assume dealers order very many of those.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      Sierra 4×4 Regular Cab is not indicative of pricing for the segment. Regular cab configurations have shorter wheelbase; therefore, higher fuel economy requirements. However, the truck still uses full-size platform and 4×4 powertrain so it is inherently inefficient. If you want to curb demand for a truck configuration that will ultimately lead to CAFE penalties, raise the MSRP.

  • avatar
    Hank

    At least here in Texas, the Greatest Generation is the one that used to buy pickups for real work and practicality, not for work they pretend to do. So pickups are bought more for the way they enhance our image than for their capability. They are often the male equivalent of those awful shoulder pads women wore back in the day.

    Around here, real ranchers, farmers, welders, contractors, etc. typically drive much more practical pickups, while the dime-store cowboys, suburban khaki-crowd, and college students drive F350 crew-cabs with diesels, leather, and sunroofs. The former have my respect, the latter are just as much douches as the typical 19 year old 3-series driver with enough hair gel to hold Myley Cyrus’s tongue still.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    They don’t matter in their current iteration, but when the next generation of mid-sized trucks roll out with the same, or even newer technology that is giving current full size trucks their fuel economy gains, then they will matter. They’ll matter for CAFE standards, and for the people who currently buy them in pretty significant numbers.

    It’s a delicate balancing act designing a capable mid-sizer that buyers can fully utilize, but without cannibalizing sales of very profitable full-sized trucks.

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    They matter to me and if none are available, then I will not have a truck. I do not need a 14MPG commuter truck. And please don’t say they gas mileage is comparable- it is NOT. Not even close. My Dakota averaged 19 and my Tacoma 21-22.
    Both with 4WD. They are/were more than adequate for all types of work. I would like to see *someone* continue making a mid size truck (other than GM).

    • 0 avatar
      Goatshadow

      They matter everywhere else in the world outside of Amurrica, too. Full size trucks are a laughable excess. Has the author ever even stood next to a recent full size model? What was the point of this editorial?

      • 0 avatar
        old5.0

        They’re a fad, a fashion statement, just like every other vehicle that falls outside the “transportation appliance” classification. I’ve always seen the truck/suv phenomenon of the past 15-20 years as analogous to the musclecar era of the 60′s.

        To be fair, even people who genuinely need a full-sizer tend to get caught up in the hype. I can’t count the number of farmers I’ve seen cruisin’ to the co-op in a max-loaded King Ranch or Platinum F-150. Seems like a waste when an XL will do the same work for half the cash.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          False. I know that many people feel that way and I won’t deny that larger trucks are far more capable in many ways–but the only thing that made them a “fad” was the fact that they were driven out of the market by multiple causes–of which sales alone was NOT. Even if you discount the Toyota, the Nissan, the Misubishi and the Mazda, the S-10, the Ranger and yes, the EARLY Dakota remained popular through the ’90s. However, all three brands chose to make their ‘mid-sizers’ larger, at which point there really wasn’t enough difference in size to matter. Had they kept them smaller, they’d still be going strong today.

          Why aren’t Toyota and Nissan doing better? They grew too–and they’re Japanese. It seems American truck owners want American trucks; but strangely, the Toyota’s starting to show growth again beyond merely absorbing the loss of the Ranger’s last year.

          • 0 avatar
            old5.0

            I meant that upper-middle class suburbanites buying big trucks and full-frame SUV’s, for which they have no real need, was and is a fad. Like buying a new HemiCuda in 1970 and then only using it to drive Gramma to the grocery store.

            I agree that smaller pickups were genuinely useful.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          By this logic anything more than a Yugo is a sign of extreme excess.
          What if someone wants something nicer? Big friggin deal, if they can afford it more power to them, I hope they get whatever they want.

          Stop trying to demonize others for not agreeing with your logic.

          Nothing different about driving a loaded F150 vs driving a loaded civic.

          • 0 avatar
            mkirk

            This! Spend your money on a fullsize truck and the “B&B” on this forum will be quick to demonize you. But throw down that same money as a down payment on a Lotus and you win the Internets! Do you really need bluetooth and Nav on your Prius? You can “Do you really need” everyone right into a Trabant following this logic to its conclusion.

          • 0 avatar
            old5.0

            At what point did I demonize anybody, or make any sort of claim that people shouldn’t be able to buy whatever they damn well please? If you’re a young IT exec living in a brand new house with postage-stamp lawn in a brand new subdivision, then you don’t need a 3/4 ton 4×4 super crew off road pickup with the heavy duty suspension option and the snow plow package. If that’s what you want, however, more power to you. What do I care? Don’t take my pointing out that most people buy cars they don’t really need to mean I think people should be told how to spend their own money.

            Check my avatar. Does that expensive POS look like the chariot of choice for the self-righteous $*!%# who’s going to tell other people what they ought to be driving? Goatshadow said that fullsize trucks are excessive. I replied that they’re a fad, no different than the many other fads that have come before them. I’m not making any moral judgement here. Drive whatever you like.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            Fox Mustangs with a big cowl hood are the most unoriginal drag cars and don’t really take any skill to make one go fast.

            But, if that is what you want to race, I won’t stop you.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Well sure anyone including the buyer can tell you they don’t “need” the vehicle. But by making the conversation revolve on “needs” it looks, at least to me, that your injecting your (negative) opinions towards every individual that does this.

            Which while that’s fine, just expect others to counter it.

            However my reply was meant as a statement to more than just yourself.

            …I don’t need to have plumbing in my house, an outhouse would suffice, however I enjoy the benefits of plumbing….

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @old 5.0: And “drive what you like” means “Let me have my compact truck!” I don’t care that other people want full size; just don’t try to force me to take it when I don’t WANT it!

            In other words, Old, I’m agreeing with you.

          • 0 avatar
            old5.0

            @ajla. Agreed. In my defense, however, I’ve been involved in Fox Bodies since the late 80′s, before everybody and their mom had one. Back then, 67-69 Camaros held the “Most Unoriginal Dragcar” trophy. Before that it was 55-57 Chevys. Someday the supply of Foxes will dry up and another car will take over the distinction. I’m greatly looking forward to that day.

        • 0 avatar
          el scotto

          My last work truck was an F-150 Lariat crew cab. A nice little tax write off, yessiree. No one had mentioned that lot of families are buying full sized crew cab trucks because-drum roll please-you can’t get a full sized sedan anymore. Yes, Mercedes will make an S-class until the end of time. A large ‘murrican 4 door? As dead as the dodo.

          • 0 avatar

            Folks, take a look at the 1977 Ford LTD. Then take a look at the 2014 F-150 Lariat crew cab.

            There was a time when full-size quad-cab pickups were the sole domain of highway departments and contractors. Now they’ve completely supplanted the role of the traditional full-size full-length American sedan. CAFE regs and insane profit margins made that happen.

          • 0 avatar
            NMGOM

            Hi el scotto – -

            Bingo! BOF, good ground clearance with seating for 5 adults! THAT is precisely the reason I got my first pick-up in 1974: Dodge D100 Club Cab with 8-foot box, $3600 brand new.

            I simply said to my wife, “Look honey, this is cheaper than sedans and you get a lot of rugged vehicle for the money. Plus, I can build us a camper on the back to use for the mountains.” She agreed. And we were off on a great 22-year adventure.

            Well, it panned out, although it certainly was not popular for urbanites to get pick-up trucks as their only vehicle in 1974. But I’ll bet that filling the missing “real-car need” is exactly why pick-ups are so popular now across so many lifestyles and need groups. And I believe that mid-size pick-ups may have a place in that spectrum —- they certainly do with me now…

            ———————-

  • avatar
    seth111976

    “I wish the bed was bigger.”

    Most people don’t need a full-size truck. Most people don’t need a Wrangler. Most people don’t need body-on-frame SUVs that have now morphed into unibody crossovers. Yet all of them sell, and sell a lot.

    “I wish the bed was bigger.”

    Most people don’t buy the type of vehicle they need day-to-day. They purchase for the 99th percentile situation they might find themselves in one day. Two kids? You need a giant SUV with a third-row!

    “I wish the bed was bigger.”

    I’ve heard that refrain uttered numerous times when actually attempting to use a compact/mid-size truck as a truck rather than as a terrible small car with a terrible ride and terrible fuel mileage. The couch goes easily in the back of a Silverado, but it might have to ride with the tailgate down in an S-10 (and forget about getting anything else in that bed along with the couch).

    Compact/mid-size trucks are vehicle platforms of compromise. They try to strike a balance between size and utility. Everyone I’ve ever known who’s had one has been willing to tolerate the lack of room up front and poor gas mileage in comparison to a car because “It’s a truck!” However, it became a deal breaker when they needed to put that couch in the bed. It’s at that moment they have vowed that the next truck will be full sized.

    I fear the only real future for the smaller pickups are fleet sales for auto parts stores.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      “I fear the only real future for the smaller pickups are fleet sales for auto parts stores.”

      They were pretty popular with exterminators and plumbing shops for small jobs but I see more and more Transit Connects taking that sort of role.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      “I wish the bed were bigger.”

      I never, EVER heard that complaint from any compact truck owner I ever knew–not even the electronics shop owner who used to pick-up and deliver big-screen TVs when they were the heavy rear-projection models (I’m talking early ’90s). In fact, he wished the load bed were lower but loved the fact that he could fit anything and everything into it–even when he used it to expand his shop into the next storefront and did all his own construction work.

    • 0 avatar
      toxicroach

      The 5.5-6.5 foot beds that are common in pretty much every popular full size truck kind of belies that argument, since the Colorado will also have a 5-6 ft bed. If single cab 8ft bed trucks were popular, you’d have a point. I haven’t done any research, but seems like all your doing is getting a love seat in there with the tailgate up regardless. I can’t imagine the 4-6 extra inches being the difference between couch success and couch fail all that often.

    • 0 avatar
      typhoon

      I can fit a couch into my long-bed Ranger and still close the tailgate. A queen size bed and box too. I have a removable rack for dimensional lumber, metal stock, long ladders, and so forth. Anyone who actually regularly uses their truck for anything has some ratcheting straps under the seat anyway. As non-fleet full-size trucks are increasingly sold in four-door, short-bed configurations, bed length is becoming a bit of a glasshouse for them.

      Granted, mine only seats two, but “it’s a truck!”

  • avatar
    Luke42

    Numbers be damned, midsize trucks matter if auto makers ever want to sell me a new truck.

    I owned a Ranger as a DD for 8 years, and it was about right except for the wheel well humps (which can be worked around with a flatbed conversion). I’ll own one again the instant I need its capabilities. I’m at an age/income where a new vehicle can happen, so a lack of new compact/midsize trucks matters.

    I have an ownership interest in an F-150, and driving it blows. Loading it is a b*tch because I can barely see over the bedrails, much less lift heavy objects and set them gently ibside. It’s a big heavy beast that needs a badass V8 just to keep up with traffic. As a RWD vehicle with something like a 70/30 weight distribution, its weather handling capability is lousy. It technically has 4WD but, as a traditional 4WD system, it’s mostly useless in the slippery-road conditions I encounter in real life. And that’s before I even try to park it. My 3 year old son likes riding in “the beast”, though, so that’s something.

    Sell me a midsize truck with a slip-and-grip AWD or full-time-4WD system and all of these problems are solved. Make it utilitarian (skip the “cowboy up” BS), and put a diesel in it and I’ll be camping out at the dealership with my checkbook in hand.

    Until then, I’ll own another full sized truck under the same conditions required for most people to own a box truck or a commercial delivery van. I’ve even got a Ranger rebuild plan on paper, in case I need it.

  • avatar
    Sgt Beavis

    The Ford Ranger was never a mid sized truck. It is significantly smaller than anything currently offered or the Colorado. It is a true compact truck…

    IMO the industry abandoned the small truck market, not consumers. The industry was able to drive down the costs of the most basic big trucks while greatly increasing their margins. Why invest in a low margin vehicle when you can drive the market to vehicles with bigger margins.

    As for fuel economy. The regular cab F-150 4×2 with 3.7 v6 is rated at 23MPG with over 4700lbs of weight. Just imagine what the fuel economy would be if Ford had put that exact same power train in a 3136lbs Ranger. Even better, how about one of those ecoboost I4s. I bet those CAFE standards would be blown out of the water.

    I’m hoping for the Colorado to succeed, but I’m also a bit realistic. It isn’t a “compact” truck. I don’t think there is enough of a difference between it and GM’s fullsized trucks to let it gain long term traction. IMO you need to offer something that no one else has. Right now that is a true compact truck like the old Ranger was. Do that and get the MPG over 30mpg and you’ve got a winner.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      You could talk me into a midsize truck (Colorado/Dakota size), if it had enough room between the wheel wells for a stack of drywall. I could always throw a flatbed on a smaller truck instead, though.

  • avatar
    harshciygar

    I’ve always felt like the diminishing sales of the midsize market was a straw man used by automakers to push consumers into pricier, larger trucks with higher profit margins.

    Why do I want a mid-size truck, instead of a full-size? Price, plain and simple. If I want a 4×4 V6 F-150, the MSRP is about $30,000, for a regular cab, 6.5 foot model.

    That’s Mustang GT money, or nearly so, and Ford doesn’t even throw in power windows or locks (that’s an almost $1,000 option!)

    The 4×4 Ford Ranger had a MSRP of under $26,000, fully loaded with the best engine, power everything, tow package….you get the point.

    It’s all about the dolla dolla bills, and that matters more than ever in the new car market. Most people are shopping for cars between $20,000 and $25,000. I’d much rather drive a 25 mpg 4×4 pickup (an attainable reality for a midsize I feel) than a 35 mpg sedan.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    First off, it really wouldn’t be all that difficult for a smaller truck to reach that 27mpg goal–if it’s small enough. Simple aerodynamics could handle much of the difference simply by offering 70% of the frontal area on the same engine or even better using a smaller engine as those high-economy 6s used in the full sized models. They would also lose almost a third of their weight by being physically smaller and not demanding ridiculous load capacities. Those changes alone could exceed the gas mileage goals. Remember, one of the reasons the small truck took off back in the ’70s was that they could average 18-20mpg (highway) while full-sizers were lucky to get 12mpg.

    The second advantage of the compacts was the simple fact that they could go places bigger trucks couldn’t. No, I’m not talking about off-roading, I’m talking about narrow alleyways and frequently too-tight garages. My stepfather still has his 1992 Ford Ranger and keeps it in the garage. He refuses to part with it and to be very honest I WANT THAT TRUCK! Even the Colorado looks larger than I really want and is almost definitely larger than that 20-year-old Ranger.

    And that’s likely to be the Colorado’s biggest problem with breaking the field open; it’s a compromise based more on its model year 2000 size rather than the older S-10′s size. Yes, I know the Tacoma is bigger than the S-10 too, but not by nearly as much. I keep hearing the question, “Why would anyone want to buy a smaller, less-capable truck?” My answer is: Because I simply don’t need Larger and More Capable. I carry loads that are bulky but light, not dense and heavy. Most full-sized trucks today can’t even safely carry the loads I’d carry because their beds are too short. A 4.5 foot bed does not make a stable platform for an 8 foot load, even with the tailgate down. A 6 foot bed does. As long as it also offers an extended-cab option for more driver comfort, I’m happy.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      70% of the frontal area and weight of a Silverado isn’t a truck. It’s literally a Malibu.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Or an ’80s vintage compact truck.

        • 0 avatar
          TW5

          An 80s vintage compact truck will be required to reach 37mpg combined (EPA) by 2025. It’s a non-starter. I’m not sure CUVs will survive either.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            I disagree. 37mpg will be just as doable with a compact pickup as it is with a modern sedan–and has at least 5 years longer to get there. BUT, it may not run by traditional liquid fuels by then. Burning hydrogen or going all-electric might just take that small truck over the 100mpg mark since it would no longer burn a petroleum fuel.

          • 0 avatar
            TW5

            If it sits 4″ off the deck and its anemic 4-banger is geared for gas mileage, what’s the point? You might as well buy a wagon or a full/mid truck.

    • 0 avatar
      wolfinator

      That was exactly what I was thinking when I read this piece. I cannot believe it’s impossible to make a 27mpg compact truck. Not if it’s patterned after the compact trucks of the 80′s. Once you get down to that size, a large 4-cylinder engine is feasible, and lighter weight makes a huge difference.

      My ideal truck would be a modern equivalent of the 3/4 ton Toyota truck long bed (the 7-foot bed). My grandpa had one when I was little. He used it for farm work, so don’t tell me it was inadequate. It was perfectly capable, insanely reliable, nicely sized and very economical. It’s exactly what I want in a truck.

      And I agree with you – I would like to own a pickup truck. However, I hate the full-sized monsters. I will not buy one, and if that’s my only choice, I’ll just not have a pickup. I want a pickup truck for occasional medium-duty hauling tasks – bulky furniture, lumber, random home improvement supplies, a new water heater. I don’t want to buy a full size truck that drives like a land whale and gets mid-teens mileage. I don’t need it, and I don’t WANT IT.

      Also, I don’t buy that newer full-sized trucks have decent fuel economy. Not in the real world, as opposed to some EPA treadmill with a rear-end gearing that’s never seen in the real world.

      • 0 avatar
        JK43123

        Perfectly stated! For 20 years I owned a Dodge Dakota and loved it, not too small, not a whompin’ truck, just right. Always fit what I wanted in the bed, got 31 mpg highway with manual trans (no I’m not lying). I don’t want a land yacht with marginal mileage, it’s a waste of money and I don’t need it. So I am waiting for another Dakota to come along and if it doesn’t I just won’t buy a truck.

        John

      • 0 avatar
        MK

        I would posit that many folks pining for the return of the mini-pickup or the second coming of the “ute” don’t REALLY want a truck at all and would be just as well served with a utility trailer And a hitch on their car.

        I’ve owned a bone stock 87 S10 4spd iron duke single cab no options and a 2004 ranger edge 2wd v6 auto and now an 09 f150 Supercrew lariat 4wd. There is no way in hell you’ll get me back into a compact single cab pickup.

        But I always enjoy the consternation, frustration, mild resentment and paternalism that full size trucks bring out in the “B&B”.

        I think mkirk (iirc) nailed it up near the top. People not living in space constrained coastal or ultra dense urban locations have overwhelmingly decided that they’d rather own full size trucks than compacts or “midsize”. Or in many cases they’ve picked them over the traditional family sedan.

        There are any number of theories as to ‘why’ this is so but to DK’s point, the data doesn’t lie.

        • 0 avatar
          RobertRyan

          We have SUV’s, You have Pickups. Pickups and SUV’s are taking the place of small cars. Traditional Utes have their own unique niche.

        • 0 avatar
          mistrernee

          Where am I suppose to keep a utility trailer? Do I need to rent one every time I need one?

          I live in a city and I get one little parking spot to stuff a vehicle. Whatever goes in there needs to do everything (except commute, that’s what transit is for) and hopefully leave enough room in the spot for a motorcycle. A compact truck would fit and I could haul my bike around places when needed among other things. It could do everything I need AND fit into one parking spot and leave me with 1 insurance bill. Well 2 including the motorcycle.

          I actually don’t care about mid-size trucks because they are just as long as full size trucks and difficult to navigate around town and park. The Frontier had me interested though as it hides its girth well, the Taco looks longer than a limo somehow.

          I want something along the lines of the early 90′s taco, single cab with 4wd and a 4 cylinder engine. They used to be everywhere. The problem with buying an old one is no rear wheel ABS (let alone modern ABS) and I won’t drive a truck in the winter without that ever again. Not to mention all the other missing safety equipment. Maybe the later S10′s?

          Till I can buy a new small truck I won’t be buying a truck. I don’t think I am alone in this either and the sooner someone makes one the better.

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          @MK: “I would posit that many folks pining for the return of the mini-pickup or the second coming of the “ute” don’t REALLY want a truck at all and would be just as well served with a utility trailer And a hitch on their car.”

          That’s how I do it now.

          I owned a Ranger for 8 years though, and would kinda like to own an improved version again, thougj I could be talkes up to a Dakota/Colorado size if it was done right. The way things have going, I’d have to just restore/modify a late 1990s Ranger if/when I need a truck next.

  • avatar
    thalter

    I gotta believe that most of the Rangers and S-10s sold back in the 90′s were bought because they were cheap transportation that happened to be a truck, and not because they were trucks (or intended to be used as trucks). As someone pointed out above, they were rough riding compact cars.

    I recall when Ford axed the Ranger that someone there said that the transportation needs of the Ranger buyer can be better met by a Focus. That person was probably right.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      By a Focus at one end, an F-150 at the other end and a Transit Connect for the Orkin Man.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      There is some truth to that. But I did beat the hell out of my Ranger for 8 years (including using it like a truck on weekends) and it took every abuse I could throw at it in my 20s.

      The Ranger was a real truck, even if it was efficient enough (25mpg highway for the 4-cylinder 5-speed that I had) that you could use it like a car. And I really ran it hard in both roles.

      Despite the fatigue of driving it for 8 years and 100k miles, I was happy with my Ranger in practical terms and I’d like to buy a modernized machine like it in a few years…. So why doesn’t a car company want my money?

      (That’s a rhetorical question intended to reflect the voice of the customer; I’m familiar with the counter arguments.)

      Since I care about cost, MPG, and utility, the Ranger was a total win over a full size truck. I’ve spent some time in full-sized trucks and they’re fantasticly capable machines, but I can’t see myself using one as a daily driver. My lack of desire for a full-sized truck is similar to my lack of desire for a box truck or delivery van – I respect the capability but I won’t be driving one regularly unless I have to for practical reasons. Poor MPG, poor variability, and concessions to cowboy-up fashion (longer hoods than necessary and higher load floors than necessary) de-optimize the design of a modern full sized truck.

  • avatar
    mikedt

    A decade-plus ago a small/mid-sized truck was a small truck and priced accordingly. Today the mid-size segment is within spitting distance in both size and price of a full size pickup (possibly, after incentives, a full size might even cost less.) It’s no wonder the segment is dead/dying.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    When the Japanese spawned the compact truck market, the trucks were cheap as chips because the yen was valued at 300+ to the dollar, and they were cheap to build (lower emissions and safety standards, simple construction.) They were also considerably more fuel efficient than the behemoths that roamed American roads, which was an important feature during the OPEC crisis.

    None of these factors exist today. Vehicles generally grew in size at the end of the oil crisis, and the compacts morphed into midsizers that no longer offer much of a price or fuel economy advantage. Safety is now legally required and desired by consumers, which further raises the cost. The hipster/youthful segment that liked the mini trucks during the 70s have since moved on to SUVs and the like.

    It’s no wonder that the sales have fallen. Automakers are not charities, and for most of them, the economics of selling one truck platform in the US are better than peddling a second, less popular and less profitable model. Things change, and some people need to get over it.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      If you assume that the technology in those Japanese trucks doesn’t change, then you MIGHT be right. Otherwise, you’re making far too many assumptions on far too little data.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “If you assume that the technology in those Japanese trucks doesn’t change, then you MIGHT be right”

        I didn’t make any such assumption, nor do I see what that has to do with my point.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Everything. With modern technology, today’s compact truck should be just as capable by comparison as the ’80s compact was with respect to the full sized trucks. That includes better gas mileage, better comfort and better safety than their ancestors while still running at about 20%-30% lower price than their full-size equivalents. Probably the biggest effect they will have is to drive the price of the full-sized trucks back down to more reasonable levels–as they’ve maintained a 25% or higher (much higher in some cases) profit margin while every other type of car barely breaks 5% margins.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            That really had nothing to do with my point.

            Nobody’s claiming that it’s impossible to build a safe or capable compact pickup. The issue is that it can no longer be priced to undercut everything else in the market, as it was back when the yen was weak, compact trucks were cheap to build, and there was a significant market demanding basic transportation at low prices.

            Now, the smaller trucks aren’t cheap to build, they don’t offer any particular advantages, and the market is demanding bells and whistles that further erode any possible advantage. You’re about 30-40 years behind.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Sorry, PCH, it still has everything to do with your point. The simple fact that the typical Toyota Tacoma averages $7,000 cheaper than its full sized equivalent by any brand shows that it IS cheaper to build (doesn’t need as much steel, aluminum and plastic and smaller engines) than the full sized version. The market is obviously there, as evidenced not only by the number of commenters here supporting the concept but also by the fact that GM is actually trying to ADDRESS that market (though they may not have gone far enough).

            It seems YOU are the one 30-40 years behind, as you seem to believe that technology for compacts hasn’t improved as much as technology for full size–including the ability to keep the costs down.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            During the compact truck boom, those trucks were primarily competing against compact and subcompact cars. They were competitively priced compared to that segment, and could attract a portion of the market that wanted many of the virtues of a smaller vehicle without the stigma.

            Now, they aren’t. That aspect of the market is gone. Otherwise, the shoppers have migrated to crossovers, SUVs and larger trucks. The world has changed, but you haven’t.

            There’s no point in arguing with me. If you were correct, then you would have sales figures that you could wave under my nose that would prove me wrong. The fact that you have no such data should be a big hint that the market doesn’t agree with you, and it’s the market that counts.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            @ Vulpine a compact truck is not that less expensive to build than a full size truck. Yes there are less materials but materials are one of the smaller costs of building a vehicle. Development, compliance and labor costs are the big ones. It will take basically the same amount of time to CAD a less than full size frame, cab, bed or suspension as it does for a full size truck. Crash testing and emissions testing will also cost the same. Assembling a less than full size also takes about the same amount of time. Because they don’t sell as well as a full size truck the development costs must be amortized over a smaller number of trucks which eats up any savings in materials.

            The big reason that a Taco sells for less than a full size truck is because people won’t pay as much for a less than full size truck so they are stuck with a lower profit margin, which is why so many players have left the game and don’t plan on getting back in the game.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Scoutdude: Almost all of your arguments are effectively one-time charges that get spread out over the lifetime of that particular model. None of those affect the manufacturing costs specifically outside of safety and economy compliances. Even then, by being a lighter vehicle certain of those compliance issues can also be reduced by the fact that certain components don’t have to be as strong to offer the same level of safety and economy. Even a difference of $1000 per vehicle in manufacturing costs can add up to millions of dollars depending on sales. Based on current MSRPs, the difference in manufacturing costs averages closer to $7,000 per vehicle from the same manufacturer–or are you saying that the $7,000 difference is pure profit taking?

            Let me ask you this: While I’m fully aware that the RAM trucks are the 3rd most popular line in the US, they are also all full-sized models. How many Toyota trucks of both sizes–the Tacoma and Tundra–sell by comparison? Do they sell as many as GMC alone, or more? I know this seems like a stupid question, but the simple point is that Toyota, despite being a non-American brand, still sells nearly as many, if not more than, the least popular American brand of truck.

            Those more compact trucks DO make a statistically significant difference. There is a market and GM is addressing that market. Until I see a Colorado for myself, I don’t know if they’ve addressed that market well enough.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            It’s fortunate that Vulpine doesn’t run an auto manufacturer, otherwise it would be bankrupt. (And we’ve had more than enough automotive bankruptcies as of late.)

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      @pch101: “Things change, and some people need to get over it.”

      Tell that to my checkbook, and see if it opens. ;-)

  • avatar
    tresmonos

    I’m getting 18.7 miles per gallon average, over the life of my F150 since I got it.

    I’ve used it to move two friends, haul a bunch of crap in the bed (antiques) and have towed my project car with it. All for the additional cost of $178 over what I was paying in gas for my 2 door Cavalier, in 5000 miles of driving.

    Now if I could have bought a smaller truck that got substantially better fuel economy, I would have. But I’m a cheap ass. I bought a stripped F150 with 4 wheel drive. There is a reason Ford discounts their STX line more than any trim level: no one wants it.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      And there in lies the rub. My Frontier 2WD averages 20.2 over 3500 miles. Buying a full-size doesn’t compromise fuel economy like back in the days when the Ranger got the 2.3 or the 2.9 versus the F series with say a 460. Even the F100 with a 300 six was a gas hog by comparison to a Ranger. Now throw in the fact that they aren’t substantially more expensive price wise and you can see why people opt for the full-size trucks. This from a Frontier owner.

  • avatar
    JK43123

    Bravo! Most people don’t need a whompin’ truck, just that marketing makes them THINK they MIGHT….someday.

    John

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    I guess we will see who is right and who is wrong. In the past, the mid sized trucks were the redheaded stepchildren of the industry, the only compelling reason to buy one was the smaller size compared to the full-sized trucks. Fuel economy was no better, price was not dramatically less, and they were pretty poorly designed for the consumer market. The Nissan has too small of a back seat, the GM trucks had pretty poor build quality, only Toyota had a compelling package (albeit at a very high price), and that is the one that sells, even at the high price. Toyota also has a rabid fan base, have you seen the resale prices on even the older generation Tacomas that are relatively tiny trucks?? Clearly the market is there.

    My bet is the fuel economy is the biggest factor here. Right now, for only a small difference in price buyers can get a much nicer full sized truck that gets about the same MPG. Buyers who cannot stomach the truck thirst or size go elsewhere… Wranglers, SUVs/CUVs, Subarus, or they buy a car AND a used truck. If GM offers a nice mid-sized truck that gets sedan-like MPG and prices it right, then they will get sales from all those other categories, not just full sized truck buyers.

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    Two points:

    The Big Three crippling the mid size truck because they think it snakes full size sales, and Toyota coasting on a very old platform is all well and good, but doesn’t really indicate consumer demand too much. Back when mid sized trucks were halfway technologically relevant they sold well; now that they’ve been ignored for so long they don’t. Seems like a bit of a chicken and egg problem, and the R&D decisions of companies that were in Stage 3 bankruptcy is not necessarily the best possible decision making. And Toyota has had little incentive to spend any money since they own the segment.

    Two, those fuel economy standards for the midsize trucks are pretty doable. The Aussie Colorado already has a combined MPG of 30 with the Diesel. 23 MPG overall for a full sized truck over the 15-16 they get now? That’s at least as big of an engineering challenge.

    Not saying this segment will blow up, necessarily, but I also don’t know whether it’s irrelevant because consumers don’t want it or if it’s irrelevant because the manufacturers have been complacent or lazy.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      Demand is a function of both volume and price.

      The greatest challenge that automakers face in the American market is not tariffs or CAFE or wage rates or environmental laws or exchange rates or unions or evil yellow furriners, but the low prices that Americans are willing to pay for cars.

      Not only is the demand low, but the price points are, too. Prices in the US are often several thousand dollars less than they are in other industrialized countries for similar cars (and that’s before including the high VAT rates that are common abroad.)

      If Americans were willing to pay $30,000-50,000 for a compact pickup, then there would be no shortage of choice. Even if the volume wasn’t high, it could be made up from margin.

      But when the base price has to be in the high teens and the optioned price ends up in the mid-20s, then there isn’t much profit to be made. That’s the point at which introducing product isn’t standard R&D, but gambling.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        So whats the absolute break even price on such a model in your estimation, $15K? $25K?

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          The breakeven point depends upon volume.

          And it has to be considered within the context of the big picture, such as cannibalization of other vehicles and the ability to platform share.

          I would presume that they’re making money at $18k for a base model, but not very much money. The large trucks are far more profitable because they have tremendous scale and the price points can be very high. There are other segments that are more lucrative and a better use of resources than the small truck segment.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            So if one could reuse a small truck platform the way a car platform becomes an CUV or a truck becomes an SUV, does the venture become more attractive due to the increase of scalability?

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I think that one of the challenges for the compact truck segment is the migration from SUVs to crossovers.

            If there is no SUV to share the platform, then there’s even less reason to offer the truck. A crossover can share a car platform, which makes it cheaper to build the car while providing one less reason to build the truck, killing two birds with one stone.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            Well that is what they did back in the 80′s and early 90′s since the Blazer, Bronco II, Explorer, 4Runner et all were based on the their respective compact trucks and they shared some sheet metal, drive train and many other parts. However people started demanding more out of their mid sized SUVs and for example the Explorer only shared it’s base engine and trans with the Ranger after 2002. Then people tired of midsize BOF SUVs, so that economy of scale is gone and just isn’t likely to return.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      OK, first off, the only “back in the day” midsize truck was maybe the Dakota if we are talking about the US market. The Frontier only became midsize in 2005 and I believe the Tacoma was also around that time. The Dakota was an also ran for its entire life.

      I don’t ever recall the small trucks as being technological showcases. My 93 Ranger had the same 2.3 4 cylinder my 88 did that could also be found in a late 70′s Pinto. The Cologne V6 in my 88 Bronco II was a relic as well. And didn’t the Ranger cling to the Vulcan V6 until the bitter end? I know the twin I beam was there for a long while. The new 2.3 duranc or Ztec (can’t remember which) was the only halfway modern motor I recall in any compact truck. Even the imports were the same…the 22R was in Toyotas for ever (may still be for all I know) and the S-10 when it died in 2003 got the 2.2 from the J-Body or a 4.3 that was based off the Chevy Smallblock though they were modern compared to the iron duke powered S-10s.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    The part about “status displays” just makes me think of all these people around here who buy 3/4 or 1 ton quad cab diesel offroad package 4x4s to haul NOTHING. I can understand wanting a truck so that you can move things if things need moving and do some home improvement work or whatever, but I can’t wrap my head around the thought process that leads to dropping 60 large on a truck you don’t do anything with 99 percent of the time.

    See a lot more rolling city blocks hauling nothing than actually functioning as work trucks…

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      What type of thought goes into purchasing ANY luxury car? Or the thought that goes into purchasing anything more than 20k?
      The difference between buying that 4dr 4×4 cummins VS buying the 7 series BMW?
      Well the truck is cheaper, parts are worlds apart in costs, the truck is a hell of a lot more reliable, oh and after 100k miles the truck is still worth a lot, no one wants the 100k mile 7 series that is a nightmare on wheels.
      But then I said 7 series… A 5 series is a better match for costs, but same deal, just a worse end result.

      Oh and did I mention the cummins will get better fuel mileage then the 7 series?

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        It’s not “truck vs car”, it’s “enormous truck vs less enormous truck”.

        You ain’t hauling sh*t, so why not just buy a F150 Platinum or Sierra Denali or whatever the Dodge equivalent is (Laramie?)? That’s what confuses me.

        There’s not much difference in in-cab luxury between a high-dollar 1/2 ton and a high-dollar 3/4 or 1 ton, or at least there doesn’t seem to be, so the only rationale I can think of is that these rolling city block buyers are obsessed with the “bigger is better” mantra.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          There’s not much difference between a 1/2 and a 3/4 in regards to size.
          There’s also the fact that 3/4 lack a lot of nanny equipment found on 1/2.

          Want a engine without cyclinder deactivation, either go OHC or go 3/4 for the rest of us.

          Want to be able to beat te hell out of it without worry of breaking parts?

          Want to be able to get under to work on stuff? Not happening with the current 1/2 that scrape the ground.

          Want a diesel, that will last 500k miles?

          1/2 trucks have been neutered, logically 3/4 are what people are going to convert to. Why waste time fitting a 1/2 with a lift or fixing parts, when a 3/4 has a much stronger setup already in place.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            My response is “why would someone who doesn’t do truck things with their truck care about any of the things you just said?”

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Lot of reasons, sitting up high is pretty dang big, I’ve avoided more collisions then I care to remember by bring able to see ahead better.
            Then there’s room, cars today are cramped, whether it be a spark or an impala, I definately do not like having a B pillar touching my head, I dread think of accidents. Compare a 1st gen S10 blazer(a compact) to a current compact CUV. The difference in room is massive, the blazer has more room then many cars in today’s midsize category.

            There’s looks, today’s cars are meant for women, plain and simple, that F250 is made with a seat, sitting position, and room for a male. That F250 is roomy – who the hell wants to go on a trip to the beach in a civic VS a fullsize pickup?
            And finally 3/4 look better, they use their weight much more appropriately than 1/2s.

            Am I suppose to be arguing for fullsize pickups in general or 3/4+?
            If I were to buy a pickup today I wouldn’t even consider what was offered in 1/2 too much nanny crap telling me how to drive.
            Edit: diesel is also a nice advantage, it only takes a chip to open up a diesel, the half tons need a supercharger, then have to build up a transmission, and a rear end, etc

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Besides what do you think the intent of a Power Wagon is? To haul stuff?

  • avatar
    hf_auto

    This piece misses some of the key points that put the Colorado at the top of my next car list. Fuel economy IS a big one, I need ~30mpg hwy to make this a daily driver.

    What’s special about the Colorado is that it looks like it will check these boxes:
    - Fuel economy (current options are poor)
    - Nice interior (again, current options are poor)
    - Crew cab
    - Small enough for a city dweller

    By hitting those points, the Colorado is the only truck out there right now that I can justify as a daily driver. The current mid size options are pretty poor, so I’ve resorted to driving a regular car and buying a $1500 Ranger for work duties. The Colorado could replace both. SUVs/crossovers won’t work as I refuse to fill the inside of a car with dirt, gravel, etc. as I often do.

    The one thing that remains to be seen is how tall the box is. I love being able to reach over the side of the Ranger. The fact that the Colorado has bumper steps makes me nervous.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Well, three out of four ain’t bad. I don’t need or want Crew Cab. Extended cab is plenty.

    • 0 avatar
      Tifighter

      If your boxes say MPG, nice interior and crew cab, then you are looking at the diesel. So just make sure you add a box that says “willing to pay well over $30k” because that’s going to be the reality. Doesn’t bother me, but I think a lot of “buyers” aren’t prepared for it.

  • avatar
    Fonzy

    If the resale value on the Colorado is as good as the Tacoma, it will be a success. The prices on used Tacomas are crazy. Older models with high miles even command a high price.

    My Dad had a 90s Nissan Hardbody when I was growing up. That was one of the best cars we ever had. I wish the rust didn’t kill it.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      I will be shocked. The truck may be as good as the Tacoma, even better, but resale is as much about perception as anything, especially new models and the Sombrero on the grill is worth more than the bow tie in todays resale market.

  • avatar

    I think there’s a bit of a chicken or the egg problem with pointing to sales numbers as the reason that small trucks aren’t viable – part of the reason that small truck numbers are so low is because very few companies are making small trucks, and the ones that were being made were typically such old designs that they weren’t competitive. The other problem is size creep – some trucks, like the Dakota, were so big that they were more like 9/10 trucks than compact trucks.

    I had a 2006 Ranger, it was bought new and was my daily driver for 6+ years. It was great for what i needed it for – commuter plus the occasional flea market/auction/home depot run. It was, however, clearly an outdated design, with a fleet-grade interior and an awful highway ride. It was also pretty much the most reliable vehicle I’ve ever owned.

    I think there is a niche for small trucks – there are a lot of younger people moving to cities who do things that require a truck, but where parking is a pain. There are people who can use a truck, but don’t want a huge one because of handling, or $3.50 a gallon gas, or parking. The question is if manufacturers are willing to spend the money to design decent trucks, and actually market them. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an ad for a Frontier or Tacoma, or a Ranger when they were still being made.

  • avatar

    …it sure doesn’t help that the automakers all want to make substantial **profits** on all of their products these days. If it weren’t for that pesky ‘new automotive age’ approach, we could have our compact and mid-size utility trucks back. I wonder if the newfangled 4 cylinder turbos might improve CAFE numbers enough to bring the smaller trucks back from the grave. (An en-mass diesel won’t happen, so everyone can give up the ghost on that)

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Two figures I’d like to see, the OEM’s margin on a major bread and butter model, and the cost breakdown between materials and labor. I would imagine it to be very eye opening.

  • avatar
    86er

    “But then again, there are people who claim that crossovers are wasteful and inefficient and that station wagons would meet their needs (and in a spectacular feat of paternalistic solipsism, claim that consumers are too dumb to realize this).”

    I want sources for this, Derek. :)

    Are they the same people whose only answer to buying a pickup is “utility trailer”?

  • avatar
    imag

    What planet do you live on where 225K units “don’t matter”? That’s bigger than the entire pony car segment.

    The Tacoma gets 150K units with hardly any R&D. That’s like printing money.

    Sure, in comparison with full size trucks, which are one of the largest segments in the United States, it is a fraction of the volume. But I can think of a lot of segments that would love to be at 225K units. And many of them get a lot more press than mid-sized trucks.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      With one brand dominating the segment, that doesn’t leave much room for the competition. It’s printing money for Toyota, but not for everyone else.

      There’s also the question of amortizing the platform. To optimize the platform, there needs to be an SUV or something similar that can share it. To squeeze more margin out of it, there should also be a luxury SUV that can generate higher price points.

      So it becomes a matter of not just one vehicle, but two or three. And as compact crossovers replace body-on-frame SUVs, those opportunities for amortization will be harder to find.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @Pch101
        You have to assess why one brand is dominating.

        If you look at the global vehicle market you will see the US because of its very large market and protectionist policies has an out of balanced market for vehicles.

        The US has 236 000 vehicles per model sold. The UK 40 000ish and Australia 16 000.

        What this does indicate is there is huge scope for an opening up of the US vehicle market. This would mean to adopt the measure I continually discuss on this forum.

        Even if the US has an average of 150 000 vehicles per model would allow for many more brands/models to enter into your market.

        The consumer is the winner, more competition equates to lower prices and better quality.

        If the midsize market in the US is as poor as some claim then the alternate brands would research prior to entry into the US market.

        It’s called free enterprise.

    • 0 avatar

      Everyone knows ponycars are niche. People treat midsize trucks as if they are a potential savior for American truck buyers. The fact is, even if Colorado adds another 100,000 units, they still will only make up 20 percent of the total pickup market, and be saddled with inherent regulatory and economic disadvantages. The Tacoma is great for Toyota, but that doesn’t mean everyone else can emulate their success.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Also, there are only three brands of pony car. Apparently, three are enough.

        Its cousin, the compact sporty coupe segment, had a wide variety of brands and was owned by the Japanese, but that’s now almost completely dead. It was once very popular, yet it’s now no longer worth the effort.

        The market for vehicles with two doors is shrinking. That doesn’t bode well for compact pickups.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @Pch101 – The Colorado will not come with a reg cab. Toyota is going to kill the reg cab Tacoma. Auto companies may also kill full sized 1/2 ton reg cabs because they are short enough to fall into the “small truck” emissions and MPG regulations.

          That may leave the truck market without any regular cab truck.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            That illustrates the essence of the issue.

            There used to be a market for small cheap pickups with minimal equipment. When you add weight, size, cost and features to that format, there is then less reason to want one and more reason to buy something else, such as a full-size truck.

            When the compact truck boom began, the consumer truck market was limited. The small trucks competed with small cars, more so than they did with large trucks.

            But the small trucks caught on for a time, which paved the way for minivans, which paved the way for SUVs and the popularization of large pickups, which paved the way for crossovers. A lot of the market shifted to the features found in trucks (high seating positions, for example) and never looked back.

            The compact truck is a victim of its own success. It spawned other segments that went on to later bypass it. It happens.

      • 0 avatar
        imag

        The point is that ponycars get far more hype, as does the FT-86, which has a tiny volume. Heck, if you looked only at press coverage, you would think that supercars were the most important vehicles on Earth.

        I guess I missed the part where people called mid-sized trucks saviors. What I have seen is that they are well liked by multiple large niche groups, including automotive enthusiasts, city dwellers, 4WD enthusiasts, and small business owners. Those folks are celebrating a promising new entrant into a market that has been stagnant for years.

        I think it is also important to remember that mid-size trucks are a hedge against high gas prices. They are just like compact cars that respect; they not only get good mileage, but they become trendy when gas prices go up. When gas prices are low, everyone says they are pointless. When gas prices jump, those segments do very well, and the companies that don’t have smaller vehicles get creamed (GM made a great example last decade). I think smart car companies avoid over-committing to segments that rely on low gas prices, just as smart investors diversify their portfolios.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          Based upon the outcome of the latest oil bubble, there’s no indication that higher fuel prices help to drive smaller pickup truck sales in the US. Fullsize truck buyers who aren’t completely committed to the category don’t downsize within the segment, they just leave the pickup segment entirely for something else, such as crossovers.

          During the 70s OPEC crisis, there was an issue of fuel supply — in some parts of the country, it was difficult to buy gas at any price. The bubble of the mid/late 2000′s didn’t lead to supply shortages, just higher prices.

        • 0 avatar
          mkirk

          Gas prices were pretty low during the mini truck boom in the 80′s.

  • avatar
    redav

    I don’t disagree, but I suggest clarifying that if midsize trucks were significantly cheaper, they’d be popular. There needs to be a difference between midsize & fullsize; otherwise, the midsize cannot hope to have a benefit over the fullsize, and it would then fail.

    I’m not sure how much smaller the Colorado is, but if it’s nearly as big as a Silverado, then I gain nothing by it being smaller. If the Colorado costs the same as a basic F-150, I gain nothing by it being cheaper. Same for fuel efficiency.

    TTAC ran an article about Dart sales suffering because its cost runs into the larger Dodge’s range, and then there’s no reason to get the smaller car. I think the compact truck suffers the same problem.

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      I am rooting for the Colorado as much as anybody, if only for the sake of choice and competition. I don’t have much hope that it will ever sell very many, for the reason that you mention, redav. Between regulations for mileage, safety, emissions and God knows what else, I don’t think you can build them much cheaper, if at all, than their larger counterparts. Hell, they might be more expensive to build, since they are making relatively fewer of them.

      If they can’t build ‘em cheap, they can’t sell ‘em cheap and if they can’t sell ‘em cheap, then they are a specialty vehicle with a very small market. Instead of expanding the market, they will have to chip away at the Tacoma and Frontier and will soon become as dated as those two, since no one can afford to invest in upgrades. I suppose GM has a plan. I hope I am missing something and it works, but I don’t see it.

  • avatar
    RS

    I like that TruthAboutCars is also TruthAboutTrucks. More truck articles please.

  • avatar
    andyinatl

    I liked reading the article, but i think it’s mistaken. Perhaps i’m in a (very) small minority, but i like to have a truck that has a manageable size. I live in a subdivision with driveways that are not too long, so every time my relatives park their Tundra on it, it looks like it’s going to swallow the house. I want a truck that i can park in my driveway with room to spare, maybe even will fit in a garage (if i remove enough junk from garage first), will be comfortable with kids in backseat for longer trips, fairly quiet and have decent amount of equipment (Bluetooth, nav, good sound system, etc). I don’t care if the mileage will be the same as full-size truck. I’ve had GMC Sierra for couple of years; every trip in that truck felt like starting a project. Zippy it was not. It was very comfortable on highway, but so was the Tacoma double-cab i test drove the other day.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Am I the only one that wishes the Colorado came with an Avalanche-style mid-gate?

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      Yep.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Yes.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        What don’t you like about the mid-gate?

        • 0 avatar
          thelaine

          Sorry ajla, I should have done one of those smiley faces. I was just being a smart-ass. They are another way to expand the available space, so I like them.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          They have their advantages; they have their disadvantages. At least for now the concept of the mid-gate is a total failure because “real truckers” don’t want to risk their dirty toys making those all-too-clean, fancy leather interiors dirty. Under certain weather conditions, having that mid-gate open means you’re letting in all that frigid (or roasting) outside air into that too-comfortable closed cabin. Even if you planned your trip to Ikea absolutely perfectly, a sudden rainstorm could drench your cab while you’re carrying that 8′ bookcase.

          Personally, I see the advantages and wouldn’t be opposed to it, BUT it would no longer be a pickup truck in the traditional sense, which is why the Subaru Baja and Chevy Avalanche died. Even the Honda Ridgeline, which I believe also has a mid-gate, is doing rather poorly in the truck market. Let the Colorado re-build a mid-size market (I’m hoping, but I still think it’s too big to call mid-size) before putting something so risky into it. So far, just about every style of hybrid bed has been tried in station wagons, SUVs and pickups–and they’ve all died.

    • 0 avatar

      Oddly enough, I saw one Avalanche converted four days ago, hauling some kind of house thing like a sofa despite freezing temperatures in our area. I usually see one converted maybe once in 2 years.

      • 0 avatar

        a friend of mine has one, and while very useful, we seldom ever drop the midgate. I think I drop the back seat on my ancient Explorer more often for longish stuff than he does his midgate, then again, his bed is almost as long as the 6’5″ cargo length of my now tiny ‘midsize’ SUV.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      I do not like the idea of a mid-gate. What is in the box ends up in the cab. That is okay if you are hauling a fresh load of freshly cut 2×4′s but not so good if you are hauling a load of rotting lumber after tearing up the flower beds.
      You can’t use it in the winter, well, at least not my winter ;) or any inclement weather.

      @Vulpine – the Ridgeline does not have a midgate. It has a trunk under the box and a 2 way tailgate.

  • avatar
    Atum

    The Colorado didn’t come out until the 2004 model, or at least January 2003. I think you meant the S-10 when you said that. Also, Honda’s teasing a new Ridgeline. Death isn’t quite near us yet.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    @mkirk: Didn’t the F-series have twin I-beam steering until 1997 (and 1998 for the 3/4 and 1 ton)?

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      Yes, think thats right but I want to say that the Super Duty 2wd trucks still have it.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      The twin-I-beam was better than normal IFS, but the problem was the big rubber fore/after bushings would wear out quickly, then you had sloppy steering. But it was entertaining to drive a truck that when you turned right, it would go slightly to the left first, and vise versa. Those radius-arm bushing mounted low on the frame and were susceptible to sun damage, heat from aftermarket exhaust and oil leaks, besides age.

      It really was a better design because you had an independent front suspension and almost the articulation of a solid axle suspension.

      Replacing the bushings (by the book) meant dropping the whole suspension, but I would replace them (one at a time) by simply removing the nut/washer, keeping the radius-arm centered in the mount with a floor jack, chaining the I-beam to a tree and backing up the truck slowly, just enough to slip in the new bushing. Then came the miracle of urethane bushings.

      http://www.fullsizebronco.com/forum/showthread.php?t=184211

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        I disagree that twin I beam was better than a SLA setup. Poor effective suspension geometry, tire wear issues and steering wander were all big problems with twin I beam that were easily corrected with an SLA setup. There’s good reasons why Ford finally ditched it on the Ranger and F-150, and bad excuses why they still use it on the E Series and F Super Duty.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          @danio – All those TIB issues are symptoms of worn out bushings. Ford had the right design, but they were misunderstood and poorly maintained. When they’re fixed and working right, the TIB out performs the IFS, but you’re right, the straight axle is always best for hardcore off road, hard work and long term durability. But the TIB out performs the IFS when you want an independent. 2WD especially.

  • avatar
    sunridge place

    Nice piece Derek although I disagree with a couple of points.

    The pickup truck market was cut from 3 million ish yearly sales in the early 2000′s to 1.5 million by 2008 and is just recovering to over 2 million units per year. So, even full size truck volume is off 33% from peak. In the US, F Series was 940k units in 2004 vs 645k units in 2012.

    In my opinion, mid-size segment cratered due to lack or product investment by the Big 3. Yes, crossovers helped reduce it as well. But, as GM/Chrysler crashed (and Ford almost crashed) they let their small trucks wither away from age. Makes sense when you don’t have the $$ to invest or you have to choose very carefully. Gee, am I going to sink a couple billion bucks into the mid-size trucks or the full size trucks?

    Colorado/Canyon was tied to the HUMMMER H3 in terms of platform/plant/investment ….goodbye HUMMER…goodbye business case to invest in Colorado/Canyon when funds are limited and the plant in Louisiana was way underutilized without 50k plus units of H3.

    Ford had other needs and made the decision to kill the Ranger around 2006 as they were circling the wagons to save their company. It hung on gathering cobwebs until 2011 unchanged and without any investment. Now, I doubt Ford has the NA capacity to even think about ramping up a new Ranger here without moving dirt and building a new factory.

    GM added some capacity to the van plant in Missouri and sees mid-size trucks as a chance to carve out some volume in a segment where they don’t exist. I doubt the Colorado/Canyon will hurt full size Crew Cab sales (60% of the light duty market).

    I think mid-size can be a mini-van sized segment with 350k units and 2-3 OEMs making money in the US from 2015-2020…after that, all bets are off on trucks.

    But, the entire truck segment took a hit from the early 2000′s to today….full size as well. Mid-sizers died of neglect as the Big 3 scaled back. Some argue that the investment wasn’t made because the segment was dying….I argue the segment died because the investment wasn’t made.

  • avatar
    George B

    What I want is a “classic” size full size pickup. Not as tall, but with just over 4 ft between the wheel wells and a lower bed. Basically build a 1969 C-10 using 21st century parts. That size looks best in short bed regular cab, but current full size pickups look best in extended cab.

    http://classiccars.com/listings/view/382550/1969-chevrolet-pickup-for-sale-in-orange-california-92867

  • avatar
    Andy D

    I had a 72 Datsun 1.6 Pick up. It was almost Jeepish with its stiff ride and under sized drum brakes. I also had several 40s -60s 1/2 ton pickups. My 94 Ranger is just what I wanted. It has the 4.0 Cologne V6, a 5 spd MT and part time 4wd. It has power brakes and steering, no AC. I bought it because I wanted something basic and nimble. I had wanted a 4 cylinder, but, other than being thirsty, the 4.0 is an OK engine. It is a purpose built 60′ V and purrs with EFI very similar to the set up on my 528e. I don’t use the truck to commute , but I see many well kept Rangers in daily usage. And just as many in the final stages of being worked to death. It is a great little truck. Suitable for small loads or a cheap basic ride.

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    Sure, but look at the risks. Back in the 1980′s, as someone pointed out in an earlier thread on this topic, the cheapest truck was as cheap as the cheapest car. That guaranteed good sales. From there, adroit marketing, good overall value for money, favorable gas price climate and an improving economy allowed the manufacturers to ladle on the options where the real money is made on these things.

    Evidently, a small truck cannot be made for the price of a Fiesta. That means the smaller truck has to slot right into its niche from the beginning and hope that the larger vehicles which are certainly capable, after all and have good profit margins, aren’t discounted to kill them. I’d rather do something besides a crap shoot like that if I’m trying to manufacture personal vehicles.

    Yeah, an F-150 is a behemoth, but it gets pretty good mileage, has an excellent base engine and decent amenities in basic trim. If an average suburbanite tried to use all its hauling capabilities he would probably end up in a hospital. The reality is, not too many Americans will turn up their nose at a good car at a good price because it is “too much”

    Remember, there is an extra 40 cents per gallon or so of general fund subsidy to build and maintain roads in addition to the gas tax. Rationalize the system by adding 40 or 50 cents to the gas tax and eliminating the general fund subsidy, and all of a sudden the risks of making a smaller truck go down.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    Usually a hole (a vacuum in this case) in the market is filled pretty fast… IMO. Lets see how this pans out, then.

  • avatar
    KennethofGA

    I’ve driven pickups most of my life ranging from a 56 F-100 to 2000 F-150 and in size from a Courier to an F-350 four door dually. I’ve daily’d full size and mid size trucks back when I commuted to a job in Augusta and for me personally I wouldn’t buy a truck that’s less than full size, however my wife and I are considering a Ranger as her next ride. (We’re actually cross shopping Rangers with Lincoln LS’s of all things.) It comes down to use, I don’t care about mileage because my average daily commute is 10 miles total, I don’t really care about size because I’m a truck driver and we’re in a rural area, and since we’re buying used the cost difference is much smaller than new which towards the end of the Rangers run wasn’t that big to begin with (Indeed there almost seems to be a premium placed on Rangers.) My wife’s ride on the other hand has to handle at least three to four hundred miles a week so mileage is a big factor. She has been splitting time between a beater 2000 Caravan and an 03 Navigator. All things being equal I’d rather her be in the Navigator as it’s four wheel drive (we live on a dirt road) and it’s blunt nose doesn’t have a tendency of sliding deer up and into the windshield (Both the van and the Navigator have impacted deer and the difference in damage was astounding.) not to mention that it came with better safety features. The big Lincoln’s 14.5 average mpg on the other hand, not so hot. A Ranger would be a good truck for her and the kids hit all my safety points and in all likely hood better the van’s 19.5 average mpg. I know I “could” get more truck for almost the same money and if we had a reliable sedan that’s what I’d do but since the van is basically waiting for a trip to the scrap heap and the Navigator is in more or less good shape we may just have to see what deals are out there. Right now all the pickup duties are handled by towing a trailer behind the Navigator and all though that’s a do-able solution it isn’t as nice as always having a bed behind you.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      One strong recommendation for whatever you choose–especially since you already know deer are a hazard: Put a strong brush guard on the front–preferably mounted to the frame. The guard would help prevent a deer from doing serious damage and keep the truck (whichever you choose) looking decent.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    I do agree that many tout fuel economy as a reason to buy a small truck but that really applies only if you buy a basic base model 4 banger. Anything with 4×4 and 4 doors isn’t going to be excellent on mpg.
    I do agree that the main reason for many to buy a small truck is because that is what they want.

    Freedom of choice is always a valid argument but the ironic thing is that the guys buying the 70K crewcab 1 ton diesels with monster lift kits, monster tires, straight pipes out the box and emission delete kits are the ones who use that argument. Do they also have a “loud pipes save lives” sticker on their wannabe tough guy Harley?

    The contracture of the small truck market is due to many things, I’ll list some of the reasons:
    1. Tariffs
    2. MPG/Emission rules
    3. Lack of R&D
    4. Lack of Competition within the segment
    5. Size creep
    6. Supersizeme mentality
    7. Shifting trends
    8. Not manly
    9. Lifestyle stigma (8&9 could be the same)
    10.Fullsized trucks
    a. multiple configurations
    b. competitive segment = aggressive R&D
    c. Golden goose – why cut into this pie with a small truck
    d. Last bastion of the V8
    e. Replacement for the BOF full sized sedan.

    The cheapskate argument does not hold water anymore just like the “domain of fleets” doesn’t hold water anymore.

    In 2012 Toyota sold 140,490 Tacoma’s and 7,013 were fleet sales. That is roughly 5% of sales.
    If I pull up Ford’s data, in 2012 they sold 428,263 F150s and 85,077 were fleet sales. 20% of sales were to fleets.
    The Tacoma is not the queen of cheapo fleets.
    Ford is.

    I am not a small truck fanboy, I currently own a 2010 F150 Supercrew XLT 4×4 6.5 box truck.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      “I am not a small truck fanboy, I currently own a 2010 F150 Supercrew XLT 4×4 6.5 box truck.”

      I knew a few Camaro fanboys that owned 5.0 Mustangs, reluctantly almost, during the “Can’t catch a 5.0″ era. Mustangs offered more Bang 4 your Buck, responded much better to mods and had a tremendous aftermarket. Plus LX notchback 5.0s could be had with crank window and radio/AC delete. Two of those Camaro fanboys were line mechanics at the Chevy dealer. Hilarious… You remind me of them.

      But you should know, “fleet” totals can mean nothing. A parts store could buy 10 Tacoma bare bones strippers at a substantial discount in a single transaction, and none of them get recorded as fleet sales. Ford has the most lax rules as who qualifies as a “fleet customer” and what counts as a “fleet sale”. Toyota is the toughest, but that doesn’t mean Debbie’s Window Cleaning can’t buy several base stripper Tacos, deeply discounted in what’s called “Fleetail” and all those Tacoma sales get recorded as “Retail”.

      http://www.tundraheadquarters.com/blog/fleet-sales-versus-retail-sales-trucks/

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        That’s reaching, DM. Can you PROVE the statement, “A parts store could buy 10 Tacoma bare bones strippers at a substantial discount in a single transaction, and none of them get recorded as fleet sales”? Please show me where even ONE parts store has done so and I won’t question it–but ONLY if you show proof.

        And yes, I can acknowledge that F-150 sales through Costco/BJ’s/Sam’s Club count as fleet sales. Rarely do I see Toyotas offered that way.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @Vulpine – yes, that is what DeadMan Mike does, he reaches and stretches.
          I’ve owned every size of truck and I change from small to 1/2 ton to 3/4 ton based on what I need/want at the time.

          Since DiM wants to discredit fleet numbers by saying off the lot sales are not recorded, here is the rest of the picture:
          Cars.com search engine shows 9,158 Tacoma’s.
          under 20K = 612 (7%)
          20-25K = 918 (10%)
          25-30K = 1,877 (21%)
          30-35K = 4,352 (48%)
          greater 35K=18 (0.2%)

          Ford F150 – 94,683

          under 30K = 9,929 (10%)
          30 – 40 K = 29,658 (31%)
          40 – 50 K = 35,740 (38%)
          greater 50K=13,280 (14%)

          The majority of Tacoma’s sold are in the 30-35K price range. More evidence that small trucks are not the exclusive domain of cheapskates.

          This is what is sitting on the car lots. I am sure that DiM will say that those numbers show what DOES NOT sell.
          Bull $h1T.
          Dealers order what sells and the fact that they DO NOT have a lot full of bare bones trucks proves that point.

          The fact that Tacoma is discontinuing the reg cab and the Colorado will not have one also show that base model strippers will not be missed.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          The automakers define a fleet sale as a (a) sale to a certified fleet account or (b) a bulk sale of 11 or more.

          If somebody who isn’t a certified fleet buyer makes a bulk purchase of ten or fewer vehicles, then those probably won’t be recorded as fleet sales. How often that happens, I don’t know, and I seriously doubt that those fleet-booked-as-retail sales comprise a significant percentage of overall sales.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Pch101: References? What I demand from DM I demand from you. Just saying something doesn’t make it fact without references. Meanwhile, it seems Lou_BC’s statements–WITH references–refutes that argument.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            It’s funny how you hold others who disagree with you to a higher standard than yourself. I’ve yet to see you post an actual verifiable fact, and then you also don’t know how to read links even when they are provided to you. (Have you figured out yet how to read a tariff schedule?)

            But since you asked, this is a description of Nissan’s fleet program. It’s typical of the industry:
            __________

            Vehicles delivered to certified fleet accounts must be reported as fleet sales, and must include the customer fleet certification number in the RDR. *****Up to and including 10 units for a single Account per program period (a program period is defined as a calendar year quarter) are eligible for retail payments (including retro bonus) and can be reported as retail sales provided the vehicles are delivered out of dealer stock and are not ordered out of the national fleet pool for sale as fleet vehicles.***** Any units in excess of the 10 are ineligible for retail payments and must be reported as fleet sales (which are eligible for fleet incentive payments).

            http://www.nissancommercialvehicles.com/fleet/nissan/program-enrollment/details

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            That tariff schedule DOES NOT even mention the comment about the German decision. As such, the German decision apparently never happened as there is no proof that it ever happened.

            As for the link you provided: I accept the data–for Nissan. Does the same hold true for Toyota? Does the same hold true for Ford? I don’t know. We may be able to assume that, but at the same time those companies that see higher overall sales may be able to offer more lenient rules–where as few as five purchases in a year can still count as Fleet. Since the examples proffered were Toyota and Ford, they would have been a much better choice for providing reference.

            In fact, DM’s own link tends–again–to refute his example as Toyota, Ford, GM and Chrysler DO use the 5 sales = fleet sales in a given year. That parts shop argument is shot down by his own link. Add this to Lou_BC’s references that show “strippers” are the SLOWEST moving models for Toyota proves that most fleets don’t buy ‘strippers’. Parts shops, regional or national ones in particular, tend to buy far more than 5 trucks in any given year which would make them far more than the low, low percentages DM’s ‘strippers’ can account for.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            So now you’re expecting me to provide links for the entire auto industry. Do you not have Google on your computer?

            The industry definition for fleet includes the magic number of 10. I don’t know why this should be so difficult to believe or understand.

            If you don’t believe it, then go do your own research and show me otherwise. Since you care so passionately about this topic, go ahead and research it for yourself.

            (And unless you understand German, the ruling from the Germans on the Dodge pickups isn’t going to do you much good.)

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Pch101: Done. Look above. DM’s link refutes even your own argument, now.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Oh, and go ahead and have a good time misunderstanding this:

            Kraftfahrzeug für den Transport von Waren, sog. Dodge Ram 1500 Quad Cab, Foto siehe Anlage, – vierrädriger Pick-up in den Varianten “Sport” und “Laramie”, – im Wesentlichen bestehend aus laut Antrag einer viertürigen, gut ausgestatteten (Audiosystem, Rückfahrkamera, Sitz- und Lenkradheizung etc.) Fahrerkabine mit fünf oder sechs Sitzplätzen und einer davon abgetrennten, offenen Ladefläche, – laut Antrag mit: – - einem Hubraum von 5.700 cm³, – - einem Hubkolbenmotor mit Fremdzündung, – - einem Automatikgetriebe, – - einem elektrisch verstellbaren Fahrer- und Beifahrersitz mit Lederbezug, – - nicht herausnehmbaren Sitzen, – - polierten und lackierten 20″ Aluminiumfelgen, – - einer Ladefläche mit 51 cm hohen, nicht klappbaren Seitenteilen; ohne Vorrichtungen zum Festmachen der Ladung, – - die Ladefläche ist mit einer faltbaren Abdeckung versehen (sog. BAK-FLIP), die ohne Werk- zeug oder Bohren montiert und demontiert werden kann, – - die Konstruktion der Abdeckung ermöglicht einen vollen Zugriff auf die gesamte Ladefläche sowie das Fahren auch im aufgeklappten Zustand, – mit einer Länge der Ladefläche (1938,02 mm), die mehr als 50 % des Radstandes (1785,62 mm) ausmacht, – aufgrund der Ausstattung ist das Kraftfahrzeug nicht hauptsächlich zur Personenbeförderung sondern zum Transport von Waren bestimmt, somit kein Fahrzeug der Position 8703. “Kraftfahrzeug für den Transport von Waren, kein Muldenkipper, mit Kolbenverbrennungsmotor mit Fremdzündung, mit einem zulässigen Gesamtgewicht von 3 Tonnen, nicht zum Befördern von Waren mit starker Radioaktivität bestimmt, mit Motor mit einem Hubraum von 5.700 cm³, neu”

            http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/dds2/ebti/ebti_details.jsp?Lang=en&reference=DE23282/12-1

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            This process of doing all your research for you is not particularly gratifying. You could have found this easily enough:

            How to Become a Fleet Customer

            A Fleet account is defined by Toyota as any company that maintains ten (10) or more vehicles in service.

            Lease companies are not considered by Toyota as accounts which qualify for Fleet production. However, commercial accounts who choose to finance or have their fleet purchases through a commercial lease company, may order Fleet production. For orders of this nature, the commercial lease company, must supply the Toyota Dealer with a copy of its purchase order from its commercial customer.

            If you qualify under the requirements listed above then you and/or your lessor are welcome to apply for a Fleet or Customer Identification Number. Toyota’s Staff of Fleet Sales Professionals are trained to assist you in choosing the right vehicles for your particular needs. Simply contact your Field Fleet Manager and they will help you select the best mix of cars and trucks for your fleet.

            http://fleet.toyota.com/support/how_to_customer.asp

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            I see a detail was left out of the argument: “with a length of loading ( 1938.02 mm) , which makes up more than 50 % of the wheelbase…”
            Considering the full description is a crew-cab truck with a bed length of 6.5 feet (long bed) the argument is only barely valid; the standard bed for that model is 5.7 feet, not ALL Ram 1500s fall under that tariff schedule. The argument implied ALL Ram 1500s.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            This is one reason that it is annoying to post links for some people: Even when information is provided, it isn’t understood.

            The customs offices don’t rule on every single car or truck. Typically, either the automakers make a request or else the customs folks themselves raise the question. Those rulings are then used as precedents that can be used for other similar vehicles.

            Most individual vehicles will not be subject to a ruling. We can safely assume that pickups are goods vehicles based upon this ruling.

            Presumably, Chrysler argued that it was a vehicle for passengers because it had a large passenger compartment. The Germans said “nein” — they focused on the cargo-carrying features to rule that it was a truck. And trucks with engines above 2.5 liters get hit with a 22% tariff.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Pch: It was well understood. Taking the provided data by the letter of the resolution, ONLY THE LONG BED VERSION IS AFFECTED.

            As for you, 28-cars: Maybe that horse knows something you don’t. If that horse ain’t drinkin’, the water might be poisoned.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Getting a root canal would be easier than this.

            If you’re going to claim that other pickup trucks are classed as passenger cars under 8703 instead of cargo vehicles under 8704, then provide me with a link to a credible source that supports your position.

            There’s no reason to believe your assertion. That’s particularly true when you had never even heard of these things until I spoonfed them to you.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            The data that you, yourself provided made it perfectly clear.

            “…with a length of the loading area ( 1938.02 mm) , which makes up more than 50 % of the wheelbase ( 1785.62 mm) , – due to the equipment the motor vehicle is not intended primarily to carry passengers but for the transport of goods…”

            That makes it very obvious that the short-bed version of the same truck–while only one foot shorter in the bed–can be considered a passenger vehicle rather than a ‘transport of goods’ vehicle.
            Prove me wrong.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Incidentally there’s a good chance the water is poisoned, Vulpine.

            “Traces of 18 unregulated chemicals, including solvents, herbicides, caffeine, metal and antidepressants were found in the water of U.S. water facilities.”

            http://www.care2.com/greenliving/18-unregulated-chemicals-found-in-drinking-water-2.html

            Not to mention birth control

            http://www.livescience.com/20532-birth-control-water-pollution.html

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Yes, the root canal would definitely be less painful.

            Pickup trucks are understood to be cargo vehicles, which normally subjects them to the higher tariff.

            The argument was being made that the passenger carrying capability of the Quad Cab made it a passenger car, hence a lower tariff.

            That argument obviously didn’t fly. (It was worth a shot, but the outcome was not surprising.)

            We don’t need a case to tell us that a Ford Focus is a car, and not a motorcycle. If you understand the process by which these decisions are reached, this wouldn’t surprise you and you wouldn’t misinterpret it as you are.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            That’s AWFUL 28, (except for the antidepressant and, possibly, birth control components.)

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Pch101: And exactly how many times has the “letter of the law” been used to bypass the “intent of the law”? Just because pickup trucks are “understood to be cargo vehicles” doesn’t mean they are being used as such by many, MANY pickup truck drivers even here in the US. ESPECIALLY when the bed is covered in such a way that no load with any real cubic volume can be carried. Even assuming no wheel wells, the volume of a typical covered pickup bed roughs out to 45 cubic feet (1.5 x 5 x 6). The typical mid-sized SUV boasts 100 cubic feet of storage in a permanently covered load area; more than twice as much.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            What’s missing from your last post is a link that supports your position that the EU is some oddball in the world of trade that ordinarily classifies pickup trucks as passenger vehicles, instead of as trucks.

            Let’s see your link. I’m not particularly interested in your opinions, I just want to see the evidence.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @Vulpine,
            “That tariff schedule DOES NOT even mention the comment about the German decision. As such, the German decision apparently never happened as there is no proof that it ever happened.”

            I asked Pch101 the same question and he came up withe same non-existent answer.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            “with a length of loading…, which makes up more than 50 % of the wheelbase…”

            My evidence came out of your own link. If you don’t want to see it, that’s your problem. I at least acknowledged your evidence that ONE MODEL was Chicken-Taxed by the Germans.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I’m discovering a newfound appreciation for my dentist.

            Provide a link that shows that there are some American full-size pickups can be imported to the EU with the lower 10% tariff.

            Provide proof. Your opinion and continued misinterpretations of the rules aren’t helpful; post something definitive that makes the case clearly.

            (A couple of hints: Not every component of the pickup truck designation is included in that particular case — there is more to it than the 50% definition — and they don’t issue rulings on every individual vehicle; cases are meant to be applied to similar vehicles.)

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            … exactly like the Chicken Tax, which several corporations–including Mercedes and Ford–and used the letter of the law to get around the tariffs. For all that some have said the Chicken Tax has had no effect on imports TO America, the Chicken Tax has had reciprocal effects on exports FROM America.

            That, my friend, was the real point behind all of this. But I had to drag it out of you tooth by tooth.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I’m still waiting for the link that shows that US fullsize pickups other than the Ram Quad Cab can be imported into the EU without being subject to the 22% tariff.

            For a guy who keeps demanding links, you sure do a rotten job of providing them yourself.

            It’s time that you came clean and confessed that you didn’t know that this tariff even existed until I spoonfed it to you. You have plenty of opinions, but you support them with a whole of nothing.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @Vulpine,
            “What’s missing from your last post is a link that supports your position that the EU is some oddball in the world of trade that ordinarily classifies pickup trucks as passenger vehicles, instead of as trucks.”

            They are classified as “cars” you are right. Watch the Dakar Rally and see the “cars” and “trucks” section. No relation to a US idea of a truck.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      I’m going to agree with every point, Lou. Personally, I’d be in the Taco Ext Cab (24%), 4×2 (41%) group. So I would fit in the roughly 33% bracket.

      What I’m really looking for is a Wrangler-based Jeep truck so I can get a more playful car for the wife. As it is now, I have a Wrangler Unlimited that only I can drive (she’s not yet able to coordinate the clutch and gas) and a full-sized pickup that’s the only vehicle we have she CAN drive (automatic). We need a 4×4. We need a pickup truck (not massive) and she wants a car (economy and sport). For now that means three vehicles where we only have room for two. We can’t swap the truck for a car because we still have the occasional need to carry something simply too big to fit in the Jeep (like two dozen 8′ long event tables) and we need the Jeep because when it snows, the truck simply goes nowhere (one-wheel-drive). Both average under 20mpg in daily driving.

      People (like Denver Mike) seem to insist that a full sized truck is the only real choice for someone like me, yet they totally ignore the simple fact that a full sized truck is simply too large in almost every dimension–not even considering that you have to load the bed–even with 4×4–in snowy/icy weather. And yes, I’m fully aware that I’d have to with the Jeep truck too, but that’s where the smaller size is still an advantage. If Jeep doesn’t come out with a Wrangler-based truck, my next vehicle choice WILL be a more compact 4×4 pickup and if its gas mileage is good enough, then I’ll later trade the Wrangler for… a 2-door Wrangler.

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        Vulpine, I am with you on the Jeep pickup and would buy it in preference to the Unlimited. That is one reason I am waiting this one out. I haunt the Jeep forums for info. The Jeep guy, Manley, constantly hints at it. It means nothing, I know, but I’ll bet they would be doing it already if they were set up for it. Since they are at max capacity now, I assume the issue is complicated. I’m betting they are going to do it, however, as a variation on the redesigned (2015?, 2016?) model. I will be right there on the dealer lot to get one. If Toyota can sell Tacomas, Jeep can sell pickup versions.

  • avatar

    Well I think the real answer to all these arguments is to see what happens If GM has brought a decent product to the party. While we can discuss prior numbers and sales trends, it has been shown in the past that these can be disrupted by a new product with a different approach. (Not sure I would bet money on it but it does happen) You also can’t rely on the public to tell you what to build (aztec anyone)

    So Gm decided it had to build a new global midsize anyways so they would test the waters with an american version. I thin the others are smart in waiting to see how this plays out before they throw their hat back in the ring.

    I think it could work (again I’m not the public at large) Here are my thoughts on its prime customers and what it needs to capture them.

    Life style (hate the term but it works) Most of the people I know who drive a tacoma fit into this (also when I worked as a claims adjuster I saw the same thing) These were people from mid 20′s to mid 40′s who would fit your typical Subaru buyer profile. An off road model would help a lot for this crowd maybe just as a HALO same as Rubicon does for Wrangler

    Empty nester/grumpy farts There are 4 new midsizes at work right now 3 of them are in this category. These are guys who use their truck as primary transport, don’t have to pick up the kids from school but like to be able to make the impromptu home depot run. These are also the guys that buy stripped out 2wd tacomas. I know several of them. For this category you need low step in height, easy to drive, reasonable mpg, easy to load cargo height, reasonable purchase price, allow the buyer to pick his options.

    The guy new to trucks. Here in New England the use of trucks as cars has dropped off a cliff since the early 2000′s when it was really common to see crew cabs with no hitches and scratch free beds. One exception to this seems to be younger people buying first houses. Almost every neighbor that has moved in on my street in the last 5 years either buys or mentions buying a truck. Lots of them have only ever driven compact cars, I think if there was a modern truck with all the goodies that was smaller than fullsize they would buy it. And if they were like me sell it any buy a utility trailer.

    And last cheap skates. Yes there are those who like to buy new, if they can save 15-20% over a fullsize with the same options they are going midsized. I don’t believe this is a large market but I think it does exist.

    And finally my thoughts on why the mid size market is the way it is

    Stagnant R and D

    Fuel economy gains over full size need to be bigger

    Lack of choice

    Pricing

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      You have a good point about the younger folks buying homes. I’ve driven many vehicles over the years but I’ve never personally owned a truck or SUV and this goes for several people I know around the 30 age bracket. Depending on where you live/work, an aircraft carrier such as the new Silverado or F150 are just too much.

  • avatar
    Tifighter

    Well, market viability or no, the Colorado certainly has received a lot of recent press and buzz. Enough it would seem to get Honda to finally commit publicly to a 2nd gen Ridgeline. Maybe Honda’s early PR announcement is meant to get midsize truck shoppers to postpone a decision on their next buy a little longer while keeping their current owners from defecting outside the brand?

    In any case, they must feel there is opportunity in the category.

  • avatar
    kkop

    I like mid-size trucks, but I appreciate the increased room in the full-sized trucks. I like stretching my legs, and fortunately full-size trucks are pretty cheap right now.

    I recently bought a 2014 RAM Black Express Regular Cab. This is the Express model with the blacked out exterior and the Hemi engine and a few other upgrades people like (power windows, sat radio, bluetooth etc.). Advertised at around $21K (+ taxes & fees).

    Mid-size trucks are going to have a hard time competing with that.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @kkop – I disagree. That is a market segment that I doubt anyone is going to cross-shop with a 4 banger or V6 gasser. The Express with the 5.7 is going to appeal more to the “muscle car” type of guy wanting a “sleeper” to build upon.
      A Ram 1500 with V6 IS the truck that will get compared to ANY small truck. Similar cost, power, capability.
      If Chevy puts the Ecotec 5.3 or 6.2 into the Colardo, then that would be cross-shopped with the 5.7 express.

      • 0 avatar
        jim brewer

        well, speaking for myself, no. KKOP and I are actual customers faced the choice. I had the choice of a new F150 and a left-over new Ranger for about $3500 less. No AT in Ranger of course. That Ranger was dreary. I would have bought the 215 hp Silverado before that Ranger too. (It was only $2500 more). 9 out of 10 in my shoes would have bought full-size. Fords start out at 302 hp, and Dodge allows upgrade to the Hemi for cheap. Most will make that calculation.

        I keep reading about how people really want these spiffy small trucks even if they cost as much as full-size trucks, but I think all of the people who really think that way have posted on this thread. In real life, with few clear advantages to the smaller truck, people like KKOP and me opt for full-size and its bang for the buck.

        When I bought my first Nissan in 1984, it cost the same as the cheapest Nissan car and had 20% more horsepower. No wonder they sold a lot of them. The equivalent today would be a $14,000 truck, with a 145 hp engine. Fine, but it doesn’t exist, and it doesn’t exist probably because it can’t be done. The manufacturers without a full-size segment to protect have every incentive to do that if they could. They don’t.

        Building a more expensive version of that truck and hoping it catches on out of sheer stylishness is a fool’s errand.

  • avatar
    armadamaster

    I think it’s laughable at best to call these ‘midsize’ trucks, that designation went out in 2007 when the last true fullsize truck went away (the GMT800 platform) & was replaced with these monstrocities you need a stepladder to climb into that they are labeling full size pickups today. This new Colorado is more in-line with my 1989 C1500 fullsize than the compact/midsize S-10/Colorado it replaces. Anybody remember when people bought a truck to haul ‘stuff’? Now these ‘fullsize’ trophy trucks haul people, while dragging a trailer behind because the owner doesn’t want to ‘scratch the bed’. In today’s increasingly stringent CAFE environment, we should be making full size trucks sized more like Toyota’s 1993-1998 T-100, instead they’ve eliminated 1/2 ton trucks in favor of the 3/4 ton behemoth trophy trucks.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    I really don’t think an unmodified 6 ft bed crew cab F-150 is is all that big. Maybe because I grew up with pickups and station wagons. It looks normal-sized to me. All the comments about monstrosities and behemoths only make sense to me when people are talking about seriously jacked up rigs and 8 ft bed crew cabs and dualies. Those do look big and can be pretty obnoxious, depending on the driver. Most full-sized pickups don’t look like that, however. They don’t look any more monstrous than a big Mercedes to me. I guess if you live in a busy urban area, you get a different perspective. But even there, if it is full of rich people, they have some pretty big cars. I think the negative focus on big pickups is mostly cultural.

    (A Prius, on the other hand, looks like a toy. I think they are great cars, efficient and reliable as hell and little technological wonders. I don’t blame anyone for buying one, but they are not for me. To me it is a claustrophobic little coffin.)

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      I have to disagree, since I’m currently driving an unmodified, 1990 standard-cab, long-bed F-150 and the average non-4×4 F-150 today is both taller and longer by a very visible amount. The unmodified 6ft crew cab stands a minimum of 6″ taller than mine with a 4×4 as much as 9″ or 10″ taller while being almost two full feet longer. I see these trucks every day in the subdivision where I live as they lap over the curb and sidewalks at both ends while mine *just* fits between them. They’re so big that some owners have taken to parallel parking along the curbs in the few places there are no marked parking spaces. Today’s full size IS bigger.

      It may be that you’re so used to driving them and not had to fit them into tight parking areas where you live that you haven’t noticed this growth. I’m not sure what you currently drive, but if it’s less than 5 years old, try parking it next to one twenty years older and compare the size. I think you’ll find it taller, longer and wider than that older full-size truck.

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        I didn’t say they hadn’t gotten bigger, I said they did not appear to be large to me. You are not correct on this Vulpine, you simply have a different perception. Parking spaces have gotten smaller in many places, there is no doubt about that.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Yes, I’ll grant parking spaces have gotten smaller; back in ’75 when I bought my Cutlass Supreme, I couldn’t park it in the “compact car” spots at the local mall because it overlapped the lines on both sides. However, when putting my old truck next to a newer one in parking spaces the exact same size, the difference IS visible. Putting even my truck next to an S-10 or Ranger of the same age makes the older full-size look almost 25% larger, which means the newer full-size is nearly 30% larger.

          My wants and needs all along have been for a truck the size of the 1990 Ranger/S-10, not a ‘mid size’ that’s only 10% smaller than today’s full-size.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    “My wants and needs all along have been for a truck the size of the 1990 Ranger/S-10, not a ‘mid size’ that’s only 10% smaller than today’s full-size.”

    Agreed. That would be a real alternative to the F-150 size if you did not want or need the larger one. If they could sell them cheap and make them cheap to run, I’ll bet lots of people would buy them. The actual selling price difference between the F-150 size and the Ranger/S-10 size would be the key. It would have to be substantial. I just don’t think they can build them cheap enough to sell them cheap, due to never ending regulatory mandates.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      I will agree with you, thelaine, as long as you’re talking in the range of the more commonly-priced trucks. However, GM in particular is jacking up the prices of al its full sized models and we’ve already seen that the most desirable trim packages for Ford and RAM tend to exceed $40K. By that measure, a fully-equipped compact with a roughly-equivalent trim package should stay comfortably a minimum of $7K below that and maybe even beneath the $30K mark for an extended cab/standard bed 2×2 model. That would put them as much as $10K apart and VERY attractive to those who simply don’t want a Road Whale™. True? Who wouldn’t like a mini-Raptor priced at $35K instead of $65K?


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