By on March 24, 2014

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TTAC reader Evan Reisner thinks that a small pickup is just the ticket for GM. But it’s not the one you may expect.

The prevailing wisdom on TTAC is that many Americans are interested in a compact pickup truck – but the same wisdom also suggests that such a truck would be bad for GM’s CAFE ratings. Market demand aside, CAFE is one of the reasons that Chrysler and Ford got out of the small truck game.

Yet few people know that The General has a product that can combine the best of both worlds. But they’ve chosen not to offer it in the USA.

 

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You can buy it in South Africa, where it’s called the Chevrolet Utility. In Brazil, it’s the Chevrolet Montana. When it’s built and sold in Mexico, it’s the Chevrolet Tornado. I call it the Cruze-amino. And Mexico, which is one of its assembly sites, can allow for duty-free importation, without the dreaded Chicken Tax.

In terms of wheelbase, the truck is squarely between a Cruze and a Sonic. Ironically, it has more in common with the Jeep Renegade than either of those cars, since it’s based on the same SCCS platform shared with Fiat Chrysler. And yes, a diesel is available too.

The Chevrolet is only available in a single body style, and two trim levels. The bed is 66″ long by 52″ wide. That bed would be plenty handy for a lot of folks’ needs. If you need to haul sheetrock or plywood on a regular basis, this probably isn’t the truck for you anyhow. But if you need to do the occasional Home Depot run, you can always buy a small trailer.

Pricing is reasonable as well – right in Sonic and Cruze territory. There’s a base model that’s pretty stripped, starting out at US$13,800. The next level up adds A/C and some creature comforts for around $15,500. The top of the line doesn’t get much over $18,000.

Some time ago, a front-drive “lifestyle” truck was apparently being considered by FCA, using a Fiat platform, but the project never made it to America. Unlike the mid-size Colorado, which is a revival of a declining segment, the front-drive truck has scarcely been tested in America – only the Subaru BRAT comes to mind. Maybe it’s time to try something new.

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172 Comments on “Ur-Turn: The Cruze-amino Is GM’s CAFE-Proof Small Truck...”


  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    This little truck could offer GM some additional sales in the US.

    Stretch the bed to 72″, with a 2 litre diesel, 1 600lb payload like a full size 1/2 ton, 4 000lb tow, AWD, leather and some more bling and have this high end Cruzamino for less than $30k. It will sell in the US and even Australia.

    What I wrote is viable. I think the platform it sits on has many variants at Fiat.

    Have a base model like the one shown.

    But change that grille. It looks quite like a global Colorado grille.

    Uck.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      What you describe would not sell in the US anywhere near $30k. I do believe Americans will buy small trucks, but they must cost significantly less than their full-sized cousins; otherwise, they’ll just buy the larger truck.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      I’m going to disagree with most of that, Al. A lot of the people in the US who want a true compact don’t care about massive load capacity but just the ability to carry certain outsized loads. And honestly, even for the short term the 62″ bed will let you carry lumber and drywall for the DIY home repair. This thing comes closer to my personal wants than any “global” or mid-sized pickup truck currently or soon to be on the market. Just as there is demand for “bigger is better” there is demand for ‘smaller and sensible’.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        The garage, they want a small pick-up to fit nicely in the garage

        • 0 avatar
          Gardiner Westbound

          Exactly! If it’s longer than 210″ it won’t fit in my garage and won’t get bought.

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          Agreed, Lie2me. I squeezed a 203″ Ranger in my garage before, but it only had an inch or so all around.

          Even the shortest new Colorado is over 208″ long, and that’s still too big for me (until I build my own house and put in a proper garage).

      • 0 avatar
        ellomdian

        The issue is, I don’t believe that the market for a ‘true compact’ is as large as the commentariat here seems to believe.

        We all love the Ranger, but it died for a reason…

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          It died because of regulation. Ford not wanting to build a truck with less profit.

          Nothing to do with the consumer.

          Remember, economics and regulation are the biggest drivers that influence a vehicle market.

          • 0 avatar
            FormerFF

            What particular regulation prevents US builders from selling compact pickups?

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            It’s the same regulation that appparently prevents Toyota and Nissan from selling over 200,000 units per year.

            Oh, wait a minute…

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @FormerFF
            The Chicken Tax.

            Both Ford and VW have stated that.

            VW stated that it requires a market of 100 000 Amaroks before they can build them for the US market.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @FormerFF – The segment unwillingly caters to fleet and the bottom end of the truck market. It’s not a truck maker’s favourite part of the bird. Chicken butt basically. The Ranger died and agonizing death, scavenged by all kinds of cheapskates. The Tacoma and Frontier haven’t had a redesign in too many years. No money in it for Nissan or Toyota. That’s not the fault of any tariffs. If anything, tariffs should make it a booming business for the “potected” Tacoma and Frontier, if there was any market to speak of.

          • 0 avatar
            mkirk

            B U L L S H I T Al, Pure B U L L S H I T

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            Yes it had everything to do with the consumer. Every mfg was updating their small pickups at regular intervals and the introductory year they would sell a few more than they did in the last year of the old model. After than the numbers went down to below the worst of the last model and kept dropping until mfgs decided to exit the market. When Ford announced the Ranger was going away they had a small last year increase in sales. Then once it was gone Toyota and Nissan picked up about 50% of the volume the Ranger did in its worst year.

            The fact is the economics of building a small truck just isn’t there anymore. The only way they survived as long as they did was because mfgs weren’t spending any money on updating them.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @mkirk
            Provide links to disprove my comment.

            Hmm, I would really like to see where your ‘opinion’ is driven from.

            If you don’t provide links, then you are talking through your ass.

            This is one debate I will have you hands down.

          • 0 avatar
            mkirk

            Well Al, you are probably correct as you are certainly an expert on this matter. Talking out your ass I mean.

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          “The issue is, I don’t believe that the market for a ‘true compact’ is as large as the commentariat here seems to believe.”

          Agree and disagree. There is an absolute small truck market that includes folks like me who have a max size limitation. IMO, that market *is* small. There is also a variable small truck market that is interdependent with the large truck market and depends on comparative cost & performance (see Dart v. Avenger).

          Ford, IMO, correctly decided that most of the Ranger market would slide up to the F-150. They are not crying over the lost sales to the absolute small truck market because it is so small.

          As far as costs, if small trucks cost nearly as much as large ones, then that dries up the market, too. The small truck may be exactly what people need, but since we are so good at making comparisons, we see that the bigger truck is a ‘good deal’ in comparison, and that’s what gets bought.

          For the small truck market to grow, the value proposition needs to tip in the small truck’s favor, such as having all the capacity of the big one for less $$$ or costing so much less that its lower capacity is not a concern. Or, the price can be lowered below the cost threshold that keeps truck buyers out of the market altogether. In either case, the solution seems to be to make a much smaller truck, not a kind-of smaller truck.

          The most basic F-150 has an MSRP ~$25k. (I don’t know actual transaction prices.) I think a Ranger would probably need a starting MSRP around $18k-$19k with comparable incentives to make sense to consumers.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            This statement I will agree with 100%, redav. Aside from myself, I personally know four other people who want that ‘much smaller truck’ at that lower price point. A true “compact” truck is desired, not a 9/10ths “mid size” model.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @Vulpine
        With a 72″ bed it will be competitive with many full size trucks.

        Also, the vehicle will still be over a foot shorter than a Taco with a 6′ bed. Even in Australia we consider a single cab with a 6′ bed small.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          @Big Al: Over on PUTC a commenter going by the username of Caroloskis bothered to list the size stats of several vehicles, including my own 1990 F-150 reg-cab/long bed. When compared to my own truck, all the new full-sized trucks were around 2 feet longer and anywhere from 3″ to 6″ taller in 2WD form. The Colorado/Canyon come out to almost exactly the same size (only marginally lower roof line) and the Japanese mid-sizers also about the same size. The truck I have is uncomfortably large, so you can imagine my dislike of the newer full size trucks.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @Vulpine – You’re also comparing your old regular cab to modern crew cabs. New full-size regular cabs have lots more behind the seat storage and room to comfortably recline the seat, compared to your old F-150 reg cab. Try one with a short bed.

            Obviously a new regular cab full-size with a short bed would be a big improvement from your current reg cab. Your long bed was a poor choice and you would be better served with a new regular cab, short bed.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Is there enough room to comfortably place and retrieve two 2-ball bowling bags without being a contortionist? The extended cab (suicide door) is an almost perfect size back there with nearly every truck I’ve looked at–including the mid-sizers. I simply don’t need OR WANT a crew cab or a quad-cab that looks like a crew cab. For all that I hate Ford as a brand, they’re the only one keeping the suicide doors on the full sized extended cab, though GM’s choice of keeping the suicide doors on the Colorado/Canyon make them MUCH more attractive.

    • 0 avatar
      Eyeflyistheeye

      Dude, go take care of the problems in your own country before writing manifestos about how we’re evil because we’re not buying the trucks you want us to buy.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    With regards to the “El Cruze-amino” wouldn’t GM have to meet engine and safety certifications – on what probably would be a niche product.

    Secondly, when I reviewed my most recent smog certification for my Mazda Tribute, the type of vehicle was stated as a “Truck/Van” on the print out.

    To call this FWD wagon a truck is BS – unless myself and 1/4 ton of passengers are considered cargo.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      There’s the rub. If GM could count a “Cruze-amino” toward TRUCK CAFE then we might get it whether we want it or not. A tiny truck like that would really help overall CAFE #s. Its just like Chrysler getting to count the PT Cruizer as a truck while it was being built, a great boon to an automaker trying to hit CAFE targets.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Unfortunately, the reason the Cruiser and the HHR were dropped from their lineups is that they could no longer be classified as “Trucks”; their primary purpose was people-hauling and very rarely did you see a delivery-only version. Had they been build in 2-door style with the rear gate/door, the only Chevy Nomad style or more succinctly the old “panel wagon” style, they could have retained their classification. Adding the full second row seating is what killed their rating.

        Consider this: If a vehicle offers more than half its wheelbase length to cargo-only utility, it is considered a truck in most European countries. With that second row of seats (even if they could fold flat) the actual load bed of those two models was barely over two feet; you had to drop the seats to load more. Since the wheelbase is roughly 8 feet, they simply couldn’t qualify as a truck. On the other hand, if they had not installed that second row, it did make a perfect delivery wagon.

        This “Cruze-amino” would qualify as a truck no matter where you went because the bed length equals about 2/3rds of the wheelbase.

        • 0 avatar
          whynot

          The PT Cruiser and HHR were dropped because they were old, sales were going down to the toilet, and neither Chrysler nor GM could afford to replace them at the time.

          And while the PT Cruiser’s mileage was okay at the time it was released, its 19/24 mpg is pretty abysmal even for Truck CAFE standards considering its size.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Aye, but new engine/transmission technologies would have changed that with little extra cost. After all, they were both using available automotive engines and transmissions.

            The PT Cruiser started off on a bad foot with a grossly underpowered engine; otherwise I would have purchased one myself (I ended up buying a first-year Saturn Vue instead.) I really did like it, but like so many models, if the first year is a flop for any reason, that reputation sticks. As for the HHR, I didn’t like the looks and I have no idea what the power and performance were like.

            The point is that they were classified as Trucks when they came out, but because they and most SUV/CUVs carry more passengers than cargo, they no longer qualify as “trucks”. I expect some of the “truck of the year” competitions will start dropping them soon.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Yes they would have to meet emissions and safety standards like any other vehicle sold in the US and that is whey they won’t bring it here. The emissions thing probably wouldn’t be too bad they would just have to fit a current engine that meets emissions but a vehicle that wasn’t designed to meet US safety standards would likely need significant changes to meet standards that would cost significant amounts of money to develop.

  • avatar
    Monty

    On a week’s vacation in Mexico we saw 100′s of these, and the VW variant as well. I would buy one in a heartbeat if they were offered for sale in Canada. It’s perfect for my needs. It may be a niche product, but I wonder if the niche would expand if it was available in the US and Canada. GM probably won’t bring it to our shores because it would cut into Colorado/Canyon sales.

    However, to import one from Mexico would be too cost prohibitive for the time being.

    I seriously want.

    • 0 avatar

      See on the post right below yours some Brazilians’ opinion on the Montana. It isn’t worth it.

      There’s nothing confirmed yet, and final versions are still being developed, but I’ve been hearing some noises from the Fiat people. It’d seem that the next Strada will be a super-sized Strada. That would put it a at a size that is a bit smaller than the old Ranger, but bigger than this. As strange as it seems, Fiat now feels that after making PUs based off of cars in Brazil for 30 yrs, they know how to do i better than anybody else and I hear a lot of excitement around the factory here as to the new Strada. The word here is that they are pitching it to their North American operations and that this possibility is on the desk of people all the way at the top.

      It may well never happen, but it’s a possibility. How big of a possibility I’m not in a position to know.

      • 0 avatar
        Monty

        Marcelo: Presently I am driving a 13 year old Ranger with a 4 cyl. and stick. It has NO options, other than A/C. I replaced the original vinyl bench seat, but other than that it is a totally stripped version. Rubber floors, crank windows, no power locks, doors, or mirrors. For my uses, the Tornado would be an upgrade. I also like it for the size, because most of the time the bed on the Ranger is loaded with items smaller than a 4′ x 8′ drywall sheet. I can fit the snowblower or lawnmower should I need to, to deal with my in-laws’ homes while any of them are away.

        I am certain the driving dynamics are worse than a 13 year old Ranger; it will be an upgrade!

        And it’s cheap. And it’s also repairable at a GM dealer, if need be.

  • avatar
    Viquitor

    “In terms of wheelbase, the truck is squarely between a Cruze and a Sonic. Ironically, it has more in common with the Jeep Renegade than either of those cars, since it’s based on the same SCCS platform shared with Fiat Chrysler. And yes, a diesel is available too.”

    Err… No. The Montana is a brazilian project based on the ancient GM4200 platform that underpinned, of all things, the 1983 Opel Corsa. It is a awful, awful, awful car that shares its everything with the sad little Chevrolet Agile. This specific generation of the Montana is lagging behind the Fiat Estrada and the VW Saveiro, selling mostly to fleets because then it is embarrassingly cheap.

    The last gen amazingly was more modern, being based on the GM4300 from the Corsa C. But was also more expensive to make, and that is all GMB really cares about these days.

    Really, don’t bother believing what GM says about the Montana. I know it, I’ve driven it, and it is not worth its wheight in mud, to keep things classy.

    • 0 avatar
      TurboX

      You are spot on. I would only add that even if GM thought they could sell it in the US or Canada they would not be able to do so due to safety regulations – this car uses ancient technology and would never pass North American requirements, it is essentially a death trap.

    • 0 avatar

      Hey Viquitor, I agree with you. The Montana is lagging behind in comfort and refinement. Also capacity. While the Strada and Saveiro are better to drive, I’d venture to say that the Strada is only of these small trucks that’s still offers work versions. Both Montana and Saveiro use bushings as part of their suspension and not springs. It’s amazing how the Strada just obliterates everyone in the segment in that regard.

      • 0 avatar
        Viquitor

        Yes it is. What puzzles me is that the Saveiro was even more dominant, like, 15 years ago. VW really screwed things up.

        But this is a very weird market. No small pickup in Brasil was ever more versatile than the Ford Courier, a car that nobody wanted. The Peugeot Hoggar is a very nice option, but is also largely unwanted.

        • 0 avatar

          Renault almost launched the Logan PU here. Then, caution got the best of them and seeing the Strada predominance, they backed down. In a market like ours, where a sinlge model dominates 50% of sales and has done for yrs., if you want to go in you have to do it differently. You can’t do more of the same. VW has a problem that they won’t lower price. They like to pretend their sh.. smells better than others’. Well, in a market like the PU market, where rationality dominates, you can’t do that. Fact is, it’s very hard to beat Fiat in commercial vehicles. Strada, Fiorino, Doblo, Ducato dominate their respective segments. Cheap maintenance, little down time, great capilarity of network. Imagine you’re in the interior of Piauí, the north of Minas, the back roads of Santa Catarina, would you rather be in a Ducato or Sprinter? Strada or Hoggar?

          I think VW aimed at the urban playboy market and they were right. Doing that they saved the Saveiro from irrelevance. If you’re a fleet buyer, the extra VW charges does not translate to any meaningful advantage. Better to take the Strada. Not to mention the Strada covers the urban cowboy very well as well, you well know the “Adventure” versions.

          DO you know that the Strada broke new ground in PU suspension systems? Take a look at the inverted U back axle. Developed by Fiat, now copied by Ford, even Toyota.

          Don’t want to sound like a mindless fanboy because I’m not, but the Strada is that crazy thing, a little truck that could and did set new benchmarks for everybody else, due to its competence and Fiat’s competence as a whole.

          Saying that, I do agree as to Ford Courier. That was killed by Ford incompetence and not any superiority by Strada. One day I’ll tell you the story of me trying to buy a Courier…

          • 0 avatar
            Viquitor

            Do tell!

            As for the Strada tear suspension, I did not know that. The Strada is really onde great product.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        “Both Montana and Saveiro use bushings as part of their suspension and not springs.”

        This makes no sense. I think you meant to say that they use coil springs rather than leaf springs in the rear.

        • 0 avatar

          Hey gtemnykh, the Fiat has what Google translated as “rigid axle with semi-elliptic springs” and the Montana has a “torsion beam with coil springs” in the back. Don’t know if Google translated well and if it is now understandable.

          Anyway, as a result of this, the Strada is tougher and will handle severe cargo use better. The Montana (and Saveiro which is closer to the Montana than Strada) drives more like a car as it uses a car setup. The bushings are the weak point in the sense that they’re very hard in order to make the Montana able to carry lots of weight in the back, but they give out much faster if you do load up the back. If you don’t carry much weight, then because of them it’s not very comfortable because it’s very hard.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Yeah I think it’s a language thing. “Bushings” here are the rubber bits inside control arms and attached around sway bars and such.

            You’re right though, in general leaf springs tend to resist sag better than coil springs, at the expense of sideways axle hop over bumps and in general a less controlled ride. In an SUV I like having coils in the back for a better ride and handling. I installed manually adjustable air shocks in my 4runner to level out heavy loads ($50 for the pair, route a line that I can top off with a bike pump in 30 seconds or so). Best of both worlds, although I don’t expect my shocks to be quite as durable.

    • 0 avatar
      Magnusmaster

      The Montana is on the way out anyways. CUVs have obliverated this kind of trucks. The Agile will get a new generation riding on the Gamma platform in a couple of years, but the Montana will likely get axed, and so will the Saveiro, both with no replacement in sight. The Strada will get a dose of steroids (also riding the Gamma/SCSS platform, hopefully, if they don’t try anything funny this time) and Renault’s future competitor will also be significantly larger than the Montana, since it will be based on the Duster.

      • 0 avatar
        Viquitor

        I believe the Onyx will go slightly upmarket and the next Sonic will go a bit downmarket, so there won’t be a place for the Agile anymore. Or maybe the next Agile will replace both itself and the Sonic while riding on a new platform. I suspect it will be what GMB calls the GSV architecture though, which now underpins the Cobalt and the Onyx.

        I also believe there will always be a market for small PU down here, but not for GM. Maybe they’ll follow Fiat with a Cruze-Amino to fight the Dart-Amino that will be the next Strada.

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    I’m all for smaller vehicles, but in the USA, this thing would sell like molasses climbing Mt. Everest in January. Niche product, “not a real truck”, very small.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      The “not a real truck” is the telling statement. People who would buy this don’t WANT a “real truck”, they want something that can carry a refrigerator, a load of household trash, bulky but not heavy loads. You’d be surprised just how many people DO want a rig like this.

      Sure, there’s no way it would match the sales of the full sized truck simply because there are those who need more power, more size, etc. But for those who don’t, this is a perfect utility vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        But could this thing handle a refrigerator? Once you get small enough, it can’t even handle the bulky but not heavy payloads.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          By the data reported and the visual cues, it should handle a refrigerator nicely–albeit maybe a narrow squeeze to get between the wheel wells. For my purposes, it’s an almost perfect size. Maybe–just maybe a little too small, but it could still handle more than 80% of what I need a small truck for. I’d have to see how many event tables I could fit between the wheel wells or if there’s a way to lift them to ride just over those wells and still be secure.

  • avatar
    Tomifobia

    “Only the Subaru BRAT comes to mind.”

    VW Rabbit Pickup? Dodge Rampage/Plymouth Scamp? You missed those. Easy to do of couse, since they sold so few of them while they were on the market.

    • 0 avatar
      bullnuke

      …and, I believe, all Subaru Brats were all-wheel drive, not front wheel drive…

      • 0 avatar
        Tomifobia

        Sorta. Back then, Subaru offered their models with part-time four wheel drive. I’m not well versed enough on the semantics of all vs four-wheel drive to call it one or the other.

    • 0 avatar

      I still see Rabbit trucks out there, and they were built right here in Pa. I personally see a Rampage every day in my garage! No excuses to miss them though, a Rampage Prospector was reviewed on TTAC quite recently. Great little trucks but it doesn’t make sense for automakers to try and sell trucks that are only popular as used vehicles. Those of us that would love a striped down $13.8 truckette tend to only be willing to pay $8-10 grand for one.

    • 0 avatar
      WildcatMatt

      I was just about to bring up the Rampage — good catch!

  • avatar
    ToniCipriani

    Actually this is based on a Corsa, so it’s smaller than the Cruze. Sonic-amino would be closer.

  • avatar
    troyohchatter

    First, the Brat’s iconic in bed rear facing seats were specifically so they could list the vehicle as a passenger car and not a truck.

    Second, and I know I am in the very small minority, but this vehicle is EXACTLY what I want/need. FWD for winter time driving and the empty bed I carry 99% of the time and an open bed of limited capacity when I need it. Basically, my 2002 Ford Ranger 4cyl/5spd that’s not allergic to snow. That’s the ticket!

  • avatar
    Quentin

    No double cab version available would instantly relegate this to 80% fleet buyers. Isn’t the Colorado not coming with a regular cab trim? I’ve read that the next Tacoma won’t have a regular cab, either.

    IMO, a stripper Equinox with a heavy duty lined cargo area*, uprated rear suspension, and a 2 piece tailgate** would probably have much lower federalization costs, marketing costs, and just as much or more utility for the market that would actually buy these cruzaminos.

    *Didn’t GM make a 2500 Suburban back in the 90s that offered a carpetless cargo area with no 3rd row specifically for contractors?

    **Instead of the current one piece hatch, it would be a glass section that swung up and an actual tailgate that swung down. A removable roof section, like the Trailblazer XVU or whatever it was would allow for tall items, too.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      2500 Suburbans have been made ever since they went to a longer wheelbase in 1967. And up until the 2000 models (GMT800), they were actively marketed as a “Silverado Wagon”, with everything the pickup trucks did or did not have. After 2000, they were still available as stripped-out commercial versions; they just weren’t advertised. The high school I went to several years ago has several GMT900 Suburbans with no options (although they are only 1500′s).
      Starting on the new 2015′s, the 2500 will no longer be available, partly because the tow ratings on the 1500 have been steadily increasing, and partly because if you want to tow a boat and bring people along, you’ll just end up getting a 2500HD Silverado crew cab.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    The Ford Ranchero, the Holden Ute, the Chevrolet El Camino…I’ve always thought that this kind of pickup truck was hideous. But to each his own, I suppose.

    • 0 avatar
      AllThumbs

      Well, do you like the Chevelle? If so, the El Camino is a Chevelle with a bed instead of back seats, but at a third the price. The owner’s manual for my 1970 El Camino SS is a Chevelle manual with a half a page covering “if you have an El Camino.” I could never afford a nice 1970 Chevelle SS, but have one. It’s just called something else.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Wouldn’t sell.

    While I am not a member of the small trucks don’t make sense camp, this one is ugly and, lacks a frame.

    The frame is what will make a good small truck sell enough units.

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      Landcrusher – -

      Agreed.

      No frame.
      No RWD.
      Poor towing ability.
      Can’t put 4×8 plywood flat.
      No listed load capacity.

      > No sales.

      For $18K you can buy a nice CPO American full-sized pickup.

      As “Viquitor” says, “Really, don’t bother believing what GM says about the Montana. I know it, I’ve driven it, and it is not worth its wheight in mud, to keep things classy.”

      ————-

      • 0 avatar

        I’m sick of this plywood nonsense. I never carried plywood in any truck. Bags of stones, ferilizer, furniture, garden tools, guns, projection TV, a fridge, a motorcycle: all these things have smaller footprint that your stupid plywood.

        A bed as short on Subaru Baja would be a problem though.

        • 0 avatar
          JMII

          +1 just this weekend I hauled a ton of stuff in my Dakota. We are redoing TWO bathrooms in my house so that meant toilets, vanities, tiles, etc but plywood never entered the mix. I’ve only hauled plywood ONCE and I did that another vehicle people claim can’t do the job: a Ford Ranger Splash which has a step-side short bed.

          I’ve found the key hauling stuff is: no height or opening restrictions, IE: CUVs/SUVs are worthless. Next you can always put down the tailgate then add some good straps/tie-downs. Over the years I’ve hauled BBQs, bikes, tires, trailer bunks, furniture, landscaping supplies (mulch, rocks, pavers, even a pond liner), a transmission, several coolers, fishing rods… the list goes on. But plywood? Only once and that was due to a hurricane. Honestly sheetrock / wallboard would be more of a concern since you must keep it flat, plywood can be stacked at angle without breaking so moving it is easy.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          A 4×8 sheet of plywood is a fairly standard real world measure of cargo capacity as it is a very common item for people to haul. It might not matter to people like you who haul smaller items, but it does to many others when considering a vehicle that can haul. Most minivans can accomodate this no problem while being a manageably sized vehicle with good fuel economy. It sounds like a Caravan based Ram cargo van would fit your bill nicely. As a bonus, it’s cargo area locks securely without the addition of a cap.

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          I carried plywood, drywall, etc., in a Ranger plenty of times. The mistake is thinking it needs to lie flat.

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        If I need plywood or a sheet of drywall I can always rent the truck from Home Depot or Lowes, so I don’t need a 48 x 96 truck bed. Come to think of it, I don’t need a truck at all. Guess that’s why I don’t drive one.

        Seriously, a vehicle like this is more of a want than a need. It’s too small for most US work requirements, and it’s more than most of us of us weekend project types usually need. Yeah, I’ll have to rent the load n go truck once or twice a year, but that’s a total of $40 spent and that’s well worth not having to drive a ute the rest of the year.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        “For $18K you can buy a nice CPO American full-sized pickup.”

        That’s too big and too fuel hungry. Why does everybody think the full-sized truck is the perfect vehicle for anyone who wants to carry unusual loads? I mean, sure if you’re planning on carrying such loads all the time but if it’s an occasional use, a full sized truck is a complete waste of money. The current batch of mid-sizers are too big too but at least they’re not AS bad.

        Give me a nice compact truck with a four foot wide tailgate and six feet of bed length with maybe a spare foot or so in the back of the cab and I’d be quite happy.

        And yes, that sheet of plywood IS important. A DIYer wants to be able to carry that sheet between the rails, even if it doesn’t lie flat on the deck. There are many ways to rig an easy support so the panel can lie flat over the wheel wells. A lot of the old compact trucks had formed pockets and notches to serve that exact purpose.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    They’d have a better chance with a Cruze wagon.

  • avatar
    rnc

    Didn’t read, but just from the picture, for the 700 or so people that really want that Subaru truck thingy to come back but would never buy a GM car, genius?

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      +1 A truck with less utility than most CUVs? Where do I sign!

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        You can’t carry a refrigerator in a CUV. It seems this has MORE utility than most CUVs.

        • 0 avatar
          Quentin

          So, a refrigerator delivery company shouldn’t buy a CUV… OK. How many refrigerators do you, presumably not a fridge deliverer, expect to tote around over the next decade? A tiny utility trailer would handle a fridge with ease. You can also drop the load from the vehicle by detaching the trailer rather than immediately having to unload the truck if you have to run out to grab something after returning with the original load. Usually better ergo loading and unloading heights, too.

          There is always an additional option. I’m ordering $4000 worth of fencing materials today. $60 to deliver the lot to my house from Lowes. I’ll pick up the 2 man auger in my CUV or station wagon on Weds. Renting a truck from Home Depot is comparatively cheap to the ownership costs of a truck. Giving up all of your covered cargo room on your daily driver, which is pretty nice for kids, luggage, groceries, etc for a bed that is particularly useful only a couple times a month doesn’t make a ton of sense with the low cost options available. If you haul big things ALL THE TIME, it is a different story, but most of us don’t.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            You couldn’t carry a fridge in a GMC Envoy either. Then, GM fixed that with the XUT. Strangely, few sold. It must have been because GM didn’t sufficiently market it to fridge delivery companies.

            I’ve carried a fridge laid on its side in the back of a Grand Caravan and it worked out great. Plus, when not hauling fridges, the DGC can haul up to 7 people. Amazingly, one can be bought new for 20 grand!

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            I’ve already had to have one upright freezer delivered (at extra cost) because I didn’t have a truck to carry it in. I’ve had to have other objects delivered because I didn’t have a truck to carry them in. Now I have a truck (even if I don’t like it) and I haven’t had to have anything delivered since purchasing it; I carry it myself and save money.

            What I don’t need is a full-sized truck (which is what I have) that gets worse gas mileage than my Jeep Wrangler or four full doors and a rear seat that will never be used. An extended cab with a six-foot bed behind meets my needs perfectly.

        • 0 avatar
          mkirk

          I can rent the Home Depot truck to bring a fridge home the one time each decade I need to do so

        • 0 avatar
          mkirk

          Yeah, well you can’t carry a dead hooker in this little truck thing

  • avatar
    troyohchatter

    Maybe I am missing something but here’s what I need:

    -Daily commuter for ONE person, max MPG, min size.
    -Weekend landfill and the odd Lowes trip to haul a few bags of mulch or an appliance.

    This vehicle would be perfect. I don’t tow, don’t haul more than one person, don’t haul over 1000Lbs in the bed. What’s not to like?

  • avatar
    danio3834

    There is little demand for such a vehicle. With the plethora of small vans available in North America now, a small, car based pickup wouldn’t be able to hold it’s own at all.

    GM appears to agree with that assessment as they chose to rebadge the Nissan NV200 van as a Chevy instead of importing their own Utility.

  • avatar

    The Montana is the wrong pick. It doesn’t have any body styles except single cab, it’s based off a 3 decades old platform, it’s not a real truck in the sense that the suspension has given up any pretense of pickup-ness.

    The other South American contender is the often cited Fiat Strada. Here in Brazil, and yes the markets are different, the Strada takes up 50% of all commercial vehicle sales. If you add up all other car-based Pus, Real Pus, vans etc., they only sell as well as the Strada.

    Finally, the new Strada is being developed. It will be bigger, almost old Ranger-size. I have good info that it’s being pitched to North American operations and should they find a market, the new Strada could eventually find its way, in a 3 yr time frame, into North America. It’s in no way a done deal, but I do think that in their present state of development, none of the South American car-based pickups have a chance north of the Rio Grande.

  • avatar
    Short Bus

    A truck like this would come far, far closer to my actual needs than almost anything currently on the market. If it undercut the base model Taco by enough, it would certainly make sense.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    If it isn’t based on the Cruze, it could be – built off the European Cruze wagon platform.

    Mexican safety specs are surprisingly close to US specs.

    I believe the volume they could/would sell would be worth the price of federalization.

    And if they *did* build it, and it *did* sell, it would encourage other manufacturers to jump in.

  • avatar
    Yoss

    This is the kind of vehicle people like to say they would buy, but bail out when it comes time to put their money where their mouth is. When that vehicle is on the lot, the realization hits that they want something more versatile than a 2-seater. Sure, sure, 98% of the time they never carry more than one passenger, but they want the extra room just in case.

    And mentioning the purchase of a small trailer hurts the case more than anything. Why buy that little trucklette and a trailer when you can just tow the trailer with the Camry you already have?

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      This is so true, I look at this little truck and think, hmm, perfect. Then I think what could I haul in it that I can’t with the rear seat folded and the tailgate window open on my CUV and I come up with zero plus I can haul people in my CUV. No sale

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Not all CUVs can run with only the rear window open, you have to open the entire hatch. Worse, some of those two-part tailgates have oddly-shaped windows so that you can’t even offer a flat support surface for whatever you’re carrying. A lot of what used to be practical vehicles have lost their practicality to make them lighter, more aerodynamic and more pleasing to the eye.

  • avatar

    Many people seem to handwave about safety regulations without actually knowing much about them. I sure do not know the details. However, I know that Mitsubishi americanized a kei car in 2012, and it is still on sale, meeting all the applicable safety standards. An kei car, guys! Fixing up a small pickup cannot be all that hard. It’s a matter of expense and seeing if this expense can be recoped, and not some kind of engineering impossibility.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      Japan has fairly rigorous crash standards. South America does not.

      The problem isn’t with the size, but with the overall design and the ability to add safety equipment to the existing model. Much of what is sold in the developing world is based upon old architecture that would be considered obsolete in a first world country.

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t know about the Montana, but the Fiat Strada is on sale all over Western Europe. so it can meet Euro standards. So, I’m guessing, if Fiat so wished, it could be made to meet US standards. The problem is more if the market size would justify making the investment. Probably not.

        I believe all Fiat Stradas in Europe come from Brazil, but maybe the European Stradas are built in Turkey or Poland. I’ll try to find out.

        EDIT: According to the English Wikipedia page on the Strada it’s built at 2 plants. The Fiat plant in Brazil, and a Nissan plant in South Africa. According to the Brazilian press, all Euro Stradas are built in Brazil;

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          It varies depending upon the vehicle, of course.

          The VW Kombi and Beetle provide extreme examples of how long a vehicle’s service life can be extended in developing markets long after it has been retired elsewhere. Suzuki kept the Maruti 800 going with few changes in India for almost 30 years.

          • 0 avatar

            Hey Pch101, ok as to the examples of the Beetle and Kombi (I can’t comment on the Maruti), but markets evolve and the new legislation in Brazil killed them off as well as the Fiat Uno.

            However, that is tangent to the discussion here. Unless commercial vehicles have a lower set of safety standards in Europe than passenger cars (doesn’t sound right, does it?), the fact the Strada is on sale today, all over Western Europe, shows that it can be made safely and is worthy of the latest safety standards. Which probably makes the sale of such trucklets in the US technically feasible, if not necessarily economically viable.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I would say that there are a couple of basic problems with this type of vehicle for the US market:

            -The combination of low volume and low price point doesn’t make it profitable for the US market

            -It would cannibalize other small car sales, which means that selling this reduces profit elsewhere.

            If the buyer for one of these trucklets would have otherwise bought a Cruze, then it makes more sense to just build another Cruze and sell it, instead. The Cruze sale would be a profitable one; this one probably wouldn’t be.

          • 0 avatar

            > If the buyer for one of these trucklets would have otherwise bought a Cruze, then it makes more sense to just build another Cruze and sell it, instead.

            This makes sense across a system as a whole, but not for competitors within it.

            If a trucklet Cruze will sway an otherwise Focus buyer, then it makes sense for GM.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “If a trucklet Cruze will sway an otherwise Focus buyer, then it makes sense for GM”

            There probably aren’t enough of those people to make it worthwhile.

          • 0 avatar

            > There probably aren’t enough of those people to make it worthwhile.

            I’m just pointing out the hole in the reasoning.

            Not enough people to buy these things is what makes the whole issue sink anyway.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The point is that it just isn’t a matter of how vehicles can be sold, but also a question of many other sales are lost if the new vehicle is added to the lineup.

            The marginal calculation has to be included. For example, if Automaker X adds 60,000 sales with new Truck A, but then also loses 20,000 sales of existing Car B, then A may becomes even less worthwhile because A just made B less profitable.

            That’s particularly true when the margins aren’t high to begin with. Compact truck buyers don’t want to pay very much, which makes them even less appealing. It would help if they were willing to pay what the full-size buyers are paying, but they’re not.

          • 0 avatar

            > The point is that it just isn’t a matter of how vehicles can be sold, but also a question of many other sales are lost if the new vehicle is added to the lineup.

            Again, this assumes no competition, ie. someone else won’t eat their lunch anyway. So unless the implication is that the makers are all in cahoots, the problem is that the demand simply isn’t there for *anyone* to make trucklets.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “Again, this assumes no competition”

            Not at all. It’s merely an expression of the cannibalization component of the equation.

            For this segment, cannibalization may be less obvious. These probably don’t take sales away from larger trucks, so much as they do from similarly-sized passenger cars.

          • 0 avatar

            > Not at all. It’s merely an expression of the cannibalization component of the equation.

            If it were true, nobody would make smaller/cheaper cars for fear of undermining large car sales.

            Cannibalization is more of problem across a system as a whole, ie. those akin to monopoly producer as GM used to be, where lack of decent small GM car might push a buyer to the big one. Of course this fell apart as soon as a competitor appeared which made a good small alternative.

          • 0 avatar

            BTW, you seem to imply as much in the other thread:

            http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/qotd-chevrolet-colorado-to-render-other-trucks-obsolete/#comment-2996201

            “GM is right to say that cannibalization won’t be much of a factor — many of the Silverado/ Sierra buyers will simply not be interested.”

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The basic formula: Benefits – Costs = Net Benefit

            If that math is negative, then the activity should be avoided.

            Similarly, a positive result has to be high enough to justify the risk that is required. (The money spent on a project like this could be spent somewhere else.)

            In this case, you’re talking about a low-price, low-profit, low-volume vehicle. The low-low-low part doesn’t bode well for it.

          • 0 avatar

            U mad scientist: As the original Brazilian rocker, Raul Seixas, used to sing, “eu prefiro ser, uma metamorfose ambulante”. I’m pretty sure one day, if you haven’t already, you will catch me in some inconsistency as it seems that you keep pretty close tab as to what everyone writes.

          • 0 avatar

            > In this case, you’re talking about a low-cost, low-profit, low-volume vehicle. The low-low-low part doesn’t bode well for it.

            If it’s a low/low/low vehicle, the implication is that nobody really wants one anyway. Those vars also aren’t really independent; eg profit/demand. Basic demand is the driving factor here.

            Another way of putting my point is that the strength of the cannibalization variable for each actor depends on their market monopoly, and nobody really has one anymore. If there were a demand for these things, surely anyone who doesn’t have a fullsize to cannibalize will eat their fill.

          • 0 avatar

            > As the original Brazilian rocker, Raul Seixas, used to sing, “eu prefiro ser, uma metabulose ambulante”.

            Not sure he’s talking about transforming back and forth the day though…

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            This has nothing to do with monopolies. It’s more closely related to access to substitutes.

            In the absence of availability of a given product (in this case, the Montana-style truck), a would-be buyer could fall into one of these categories:

            A. Buyer of something else from GM
            B. Buyer of something else from a competing automaker
            C. Buyer of nothing (for our purposes, the used car shoppers belong in this category)

            Group A is being cannibalized. Those buyers are merely being shifted from one GM product to another. This shift from one product to another may or may not be more lucrative. But in this case, odds are good that this group won’t provide any upside, and could produce a net loss.

            Groups B and C offer what there is of the opportunity. (Group B provides the dual benefits of both a sale and a chance to deprive a rival of market share.) But in this particular case, these are likely small groups, not producing enough volume or margin to matter.

          • 0 avatar

            > This has nothing to do with monopolies. It’s more closely related to access to substitutes.

            A monopoly implies lack of access to substitutes, which leads to A instead of B. If such a monopoly exists, might as well leverage it by for example not making a better for the customer but lower price/margin vehicle. The point is:

            1. No such monopoly exists so the cannibalization of A simply isn’t a thing, which is why I brought up lack of competition/substitutes in the first place.
            2. It doesn’t matter anyway because there’s no such vehicle.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            An automaker that was considering the launch of a new vehicle would perform an analysis similar to what I just outlined. What I’m saying above isn’t controversial or debatable.

            The point remains that counting sales of the new vehicle while ignoring lost sales of the other inventory doesn’t make any sense.

          • 0 avatar

            > An automaker that was considering the launch of a new vehicle would perform an analysis similar to what I just outlined. What I’m saying above isn’t controversial or debatable.

            Sure, and hopefully they can figure out that competitors will eat their lunch even if they choose not to themselves. This is perhaps not trivial given the common pattern of industry stalwarts who assumed a static marketshare until it was too late.

            All contingent on existence of said lunch in the first place.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Pch101: “If the buyer for one of these trucklets would have otherwise bought a Cruze, then it makes more sense to just build another Cruze and sell it, instead.” Unless the buyer for one of these ‘trucklets’ bought a Nissan or Toyota instead because they really wanted a small truck and not a Cruze.

      • 0 avatar
        CRConrad

        South American safety standards don’t much come into it, since this vehicle is built in Mexico, which is in _North_ America.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    “Maybe it’s time to try something new.”

    Losing money on vehicles is nothing new to General Motors.

    It might work as a lower-volume lifestyle vehicle ala the Fiat 500, but I doubt that it can be profitable at those low volumes, particularly if much of that volume comes from cannibalizing GM’s small car sales. It’s probably better to just sell Cruzes to those buyers; there’s real money to be made in that.

  • avatar
    JK43123

    This is more like what I thought the Honda Ridgeline would be.

    John

  • avatar
    AllThumbs

    I think there would be a good market for this vehicle, simply because all other trucks have got so enormous, and lots of people like the idea of a truck but not a TRUCK. Trucks have just got too unwieldy: Look at a even ten-year old F-150 (not even a fifteen or twenty year old one) and compare to today’s version. Ridiculous.

    I have a ’97 Ranger Extra Cab (or whatever the space in back with fold-down seats is officially called), and it’s my go-to vehicle most weekends for something or other. I can even haul two extra people in the surprisingly spacious back if I have to.

    A few thoughts on above argument:

    1) I’m with the need to fit plywood crowd. It’s not the most important measure, but think of it this way: if the bed isn’t big enough for plywood, why not buy a more useful minivan, except…

    2) Small trucks trump other options when the cargo is DIRTY. Very important to be able to load mulch by shovel or chute than by bag, or to haul grimy stuff (I put an engine head in the back of my truck last week that I would have had to be extra careful with to put in a trunk or my wife’s minivan) or things that stink or might scratch a car’s interior. I need that a few times a month, and I’m only marginally more of a handyman/mechanic/landscaper than your average guy. I manage a property I own and go there once a month or so with the back full of all kinds of dirty equipment, tools, gasoline, mulch, whatever that’s just too much of a pain to pack properly in another vehicle.

    3) Safety and emissions considerations matter, but not so much if there is a Euro- or Japan-certified version (which I did not see noted). Their safety and emissions standards are largely better than US standards, if somewhat different. In any case, the conversion could happen if the manufacturer wanted it to, which is not necessarily the case for an African or South American model.

    • 0 avatar

      Fiat has exported the Brazilian Strada to Europe for many years. It is on sale in many countries there,like Germany, France, Italy, Spain, all the main markets except the UK, so it respects Euro standards. So it’s conceivable that it could meet US standards.

      I don’t know how popular it is and what’s the predominant use, but I have a friend who took some pictures of it, hard at work at the Frankfurt Auto Show so it seems that even Germans buy it.

    • 0 avatar
      Les

      Agreed on all points AllThumbs.

      My only caveat is, as a rural resident, I’d want a trucklet with a 4WD or AWD system sufficient for letting me take it out into a muddy field and then take it right back under it’s own power, I don’t need any rock-crawler rigs.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Saw these all over the place in Mexico – they seem darn pragmatic for what they are.

  • avatar

    > Market demand aside, CAFE is one of the reasons that Chrysler and Ford got out of the small truck game.

    This is the sort of ridiculous illogical BS that makes ideologues look dumb.

    If a manufacturer can make more money by making the same auto with a truck bed in the back, there’s absolutely nothing to stop them.

    The fact that they’re making PT Cruiser to bring down truck CAFE averages should make it obvious what they’re trying to sell (ie what people actually want to buy). If people wanted to buy a PT Trucklet, it’s all the same to CAFE.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      CAFE is part of the equation holding back small trucks. When the formula changed to make fuel economy target concessions based on the vehicle footprint for 2011, it started making a lot more financial sense to push customers into larger trucks. The larger the vehicle, the lower the target.

      The smaller trucks weren’t netting enough of a fuel economy benefit to improve the fleet average, and even if they did net a significant percentage better mileage, they weren’t selling enough of them to make a difference in a meaningful way.

      • 0 avatar

        > CAFE is part of the equation holding back small trucks. When the formula changed to make fuel economy target concessions based on the vehicle footprint for 2011, it started making a lot more financial sense to push customers into larger trucks. The larger the vehicle, the lower the target.

        Again, the argument seems to be that CAFE is not strict enough and too charitable to big cars. It’s worth pondering the implication of such an argument in the context of anti-gubmint rage.

        • 0 avatar
          Les

          Or, CAFE was a dumb idea to begin with.

          • 0 avatar

            > Or, CAFE was a dumb idea to begin with.

            Without CAFE people will still want to buy big trucks thus manufacturers will make them, thus proving the argument quite stupid. If anything, general increasing fuel standards puts broad downward pressure on size.

            Stupid is not a good attribute of an argument.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Without CAFE some people who are now buying big trucks or CUVs would be buying smaller trucks, thus proving YOUR argument quite stupid, ums. As you say, general increasing of fuel mileage standards WILL put downward pressure on size–as evidenced by the final dissolution of the Panther platform. Pickup trucks are getting away with it simply BECAUSE they are trucks and serve a different purpose from cars. Now with trucks becoming big cars with an open bed, the rules WILL change to drive that size down again for better economy. As long as they were exclusively utility vehicles, they got away with being gas hogs. Now that their primary purpose is becoming people-haulers, their designations as utility vehicles have to change.

          • 0 avatar

            > Without CAFE some people who are now buying big trucks or CUVs would be buying smaller trucks, thus proving YOUR argument quite stupid, ums. As you say, general increasing of fuel mileage standards WILL put downward pressure on size

            Trying to think that one through again. Recall CAFE *is* the fuel mileage standard. Therefore without it there’s no downward pressure period, compared to the weaker pressure which exists today.

            What those bitching about this really wanted to say is that CAFE is *not strong enough* to legislate big trucks out of existence, but that perhaps crosses their threshold for cognitive dissonance.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Go through that one again, ums; you seem to have even misunderstood yourself.

            Let’s start off with the fact that without CAFE, today’s trucks simply would not be as big as they are–there would be no reason to make them bigger to slide under a certain economy bar. Secondly, we would still have true compact trucks as well–well, assuming the Chicken Tax didn’t take them out. As such, people would actually be getting the size trucks they WANT, not what the auto companies want to sell them.

            Yes, CAFE is the fuel mileage regulation and both back in the ’70s and even in this later iteration larger trucks were given a bye due to their heavy-haul business plan; the rule was intended to physically separate consumer vehicles from contractor vehicles. Today’s full-sized pickup trucks are the same size as the “medium-duty” trucks of the ’60s and ’70s with much of the same towing and hauling capability compared to the pickup trucks of that day.

            The problem with the old CAFE wording is that it gave manufacturers a way to squeak past that rule for consumer pickup trucks–but in the process killed the compact truck because they couldn’t get the gas mileage up enough to counterbalance the full-sized trucks’ poor mileage at the time. So, rather than playing with the balance scales, they simply cut off the bottom end to play in the ‘big boy’ sandbox. The “footprint” rule today still plays with that size thing and is part of what has made our full-sized trucks even bigger.

            Here’s a truism for you: “Anything that can be used to the benefit of others can be mis-used to the benefit of yourself.” The auto companies simply can’t do that with cars any more–as proven by the final demise of the Panther platform–but they’re still able to play that game with trucks. Another rules change and those trucks will HAVE to come down in size and capability to retain their consumer-level sales. The larger ones will likely need a CDL licensed driver at all times, even when not loaded.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        The CAFE issue for smaller trucks (to the extent that there is one) is that a lot of them are six-cylinder gas guzzlers that don’t fetch high prices. A car on a similarly sized platform would get better fuel economy; the larger pickup produces more profit.

        With fuel economy restrictions, it doesn’t pay to sell low-priced gas guzzlers. Since the high fuel usage counts against the averages, there needs to be profit to make up for it.

        • 0 avatar

          > Since the high fuel usage counts against the averages, there needs to be profit to make up for it.

          This all goes to show just how much Merica loves gas guzzling and how few small trucks fit into the landscape without CAFE.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        What CAFE doesn’t understand is small trucks need to drink more fuel than big trucks, pound for pound. So it’s not unusual for similar mid-size and full-size to have identical mpg figures. Often mid-size have worse mpg. It’s just the nature of the beast. Engines are small, but geared aggressively.

        Full-size pickups drink more fuel that 18 wheelers, pound for pound. Some things just don’t compute with them.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          @DiM
          Fantastic logic again from you. Boy, you’re a powerhouse of intelligence.

          So everyone should drive prime movers??

        • 0 avatar

          > Full-size pickups drink more fuel that 18 wheelers, pound for pound. Some things just don’t compute with them.

          Weight is probably the most linear correlation possible with economy. As matter of basic physics it simply takes proportionately more energy (ie fuel) to move more mass.

          If it’s even true 18 wheelers drink less fuel it’s due to better gearing and better aero of a very long body, etc.

          Not sure what this has to do with CAFE since it’s not predicated on weight.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            >Not sure what this has to do with CAFE since it’s not predicated on weight.

            CAFE ‘Footprint’ is a correlation of weight. Unless you’re talking paper mache trucks. A truck’s ultimate mpg depends on a few things that need to be overcome, but the smaller a truck is, the less efficient. It’s different for cars, because they’re not expected to perform hard tasks like moving 2 or 3 time their own weight.

            If you build a pickup the shape of an egg, it won’t radically increase mpg. Give a pickup 20 gears and the same thing.

            Not all 18 wheelers are aero eggs. A conventional flat nose KW (no sleeper) 18-speed and a lowboy hauling an earthmover doesn’t exactly cheat the wind. But a 6-speed, diesel F-250 trailering a skidsteer is about 1/5 the mass that drinks about 1/2 the fuel.

          • 0 avatar

            > CAFE ‘Footprint’ is a correlation of weight.

            Exactly, fuel economy is trivially first order relation to weight, which is why this makes zero sense:

            > A truck’s ultimate mpg depends on a few things that need to be overcome,

            Namely weight, just like cars or anything which possess mass.

            > but the smaller a truck is, the less efficient.

            Perhaps slightly, but not significantly so. The point is that if a 3000lb car can serve the same role as a 4000lb one, it doesn’t really matter if it’s a bit less than 25% more efficient.

            > It’s different for cars, because they’re not expected to perform hard tasks like moving 2 or 3 time their own weight.

            Monocoque or frame has little bearing on basic physics.

            >If you build a pickup the shape of an egg, it won’t radically increase mpg. Give a pickup 20 gears and the same thing.

            However if you form the pickup’s mass into a long slender shape it’ll have drastically less drag even if it’s too awkward to contain humans simply due to less frontal area. That can be mitigated by making said cigar big enough a la 18-wheeler. Get it?

            To be technically correct, a larger cigar will be somewhat more efficient than a smaller one w/re: to weight as speed increase, because weigh increase as cube of lineal size whereas frontal area increases as square, but this isn’t as significant with the differences between a mid vs full pickup.

          • 0 avatar

            ^ BTW, that’s only for the case of hwy cruising where aero drag predominates. Lower speeds is where maintaining optimal engine speed comes into play, since there’s only so much which can be done about rolling resistance of tires.

            This is all assume a fair comparison; pickups can get much better city mileage too if they accelerated at the pace of 18-wheelers.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            >Perhaps slightly, but not significantly so. The point is that if a 3000lb car can serve the same role as a 4000lb one, it doesn’t really matter if it’s a bit less than 25% more
            efficient.

            Right. 25% less weight, mass, footprint, shadow, water displacement, doesn’t always mean 25% fuel savings. With trucks, it may mean zero fuel savings despite 25% less weight. And it does with some setups.

            CAFE’s expectations or schedule requirements is unrealistic for small footprint trucks. But it’s not that CAFE is “too charitable to large cars”, but just doesn’t understand the physical dynamics that make small footprint trucks much less efficient than large footprint pickup trucks. So it’s much easier for full-size pickups to meet CAFE requirements. It’s not a conspiracy, they just don’t understand a few things. If CAFE set full-size pickup fuel standards by 18-wheeler efficiency, regardless of shape, full-size trucks would have unrealistic expectations too.

          • 0 avatar

            > Right. 25% less weight, mass, footprint, shadow, water displacement, doesn’t always mean 25% fuel savings. With trucks, it may mean zero fuel savings despite 25% less weight. And it does with some setups.

            As mentioned this is basically impossible between equals, and implies some definitive advantage like far better acceleration in the pickup vs the 18wheeler. A proportionately sized engine in the pickup (~1 liter diesel) will produce close results.

            > CAFE’s expectations or schedule requirements is unrealistic for small footprint trucks.

            No, your argument is essentially that a bigger car is necessary for some tasks and it’s unfair to evaluate them using the same fuel criteria. It has nothing to do with efficiency. CAFE isn’t fuel use per unit mass, it’s fuel use period, ie prejudiced against larger vehicles period.

            This is a poor argument since average utility in trucks/suvs/pt cruisers is quite low given the vast majority are used to drive one person to work and back.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            >As mentioned this is basically impossible between equals, and implies some definitive advantage like far better acceleration in the pickup vs the 18wheeler. A proportionately sized engine in the pickup (~1 liter diesel) will produce close results.

            An 18-wheeler can accelerate surprisingly fast, just the tractor alone (10-wheeler), if there’s a need, and skipping through gears. A pickup with a 30,000 lbs trailer (not counting the pickup) is not surprisingly slow.

            The problem with small trucks is they’re expected to do the job of full-size trucks, proportionately. They’re about 9/10ths the size and 7/10ths the engine, but end up with 10/10 or 11/10 the fuel consumption. That’s why CAFE has a problem with small trucks. In theory, they should do better than they do. Much better. They’ve hit the wall and can’t really improve much without losing considerable weight.

          • 0 avatar

            > And 18-wheeler can accelerate surprisingly fast, just the tractor alone (10-wheeler), if there’s a need, and skipping through gears. A pickup with a 30,000 lbs trailer (not counting the pickup) is not surprisingly slow.

            Therein lies the answer to your argument. The trailer-free tractor alone will have poor efficiency per unit weight, while a laden pickup will be great (but slow).

            > The problem with small trucks is they’re expected to do the job of full-size trucks, proportionately. They’re about 9/10ths the size and 7/10ths the engine, but end up with 10/10 or 11/10 the fuel consumption.

            Unless full-size pickups found a way to violate the laws of physics, this is trivially false. Shorten the same truck (or anything) to drop some weight, and it will inviolability use less fuel.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            >The trailer-free tractor alone will have poor efficiency per unit weight, while a laden pickup will be great (but slow).

            It’s their fully loaded trailers that makes both classes complete slugs off the line, as they should be, at max load. Either that, or they’re not exploiting their respective capacity. Or have way more power (and poor fuel economy to match) than they need.

            Both should have phenomenally better mpg unladen, and possibly both in the teens. but the 18-wheeler still embarrasses the 3/4 ton diesel pickup when talking equal type, lowboy type trailers, hauling similar equipment/loads and a conventional nose rig. When the get down fully loaded pulls and both deep into the single digit mpg, which is way more efficient and hauling way more, per fuel consumed.

            >Unless full-size pickups found a way to violate the laws of physics, this is trivially false. Shorten the same truck (or anything) to drop some weight, and it will inviolability use less fuel.

            It would work that way if you lighted up a full-size truck dramatically. Kept the same engine, same everything, except much lighter. The same would be true of a smaller truck. Less weight, less fuel consumed.

            But it doesn’t always work that way when comparing the similar fuel economy of say a much lighter, fully equipped Tacoma to the fully equipped F-150 with much more power. That does’t compute well with a lot of folks. But that’s typically the case when comparing mid-size economy to full-size.

          • 0 avatar

            > But it doesn’t always work that way when comparing the similar fuel economy of say a much lighter, fully equipped Tacoma to the fully equipped F-150 with much more power. That does’t compute well with a lot of folks. But that’s typically the case when comparing mid-size economy to full-size.

            If this were the case it imply minimal weight differences or engine tech (ie ecoboost). Unfortunately it’s not; ~20mpg vs ~15:

            http://www.motortrend.com/cars/2013/ford/f_150/specifications/
            http://www.motortrend.com/cars/2013/toyota/tacoma/prerunner_crew_cab_pickup/1178/specifications/

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            >If this were the case it imply minimal weight differences or engine tech (ie ecoboost). Unfortunately it’s not; ~20mpg vs ~15:

            Slightly outdated info there.

            19 vs 18 mpg average.

            fueleconomy.gov/feg/noframes/34535.shtml

            fueleconomy.gov/feg/noframes/34408.shtml

            And the trucks aren’t even comparable as far as class, capabilities, passengers, power etc. But mpg yes.

          • 0 avatar

            > And the trucks aren’t even comparable as far as class, capabilities, passengers, power etc. But mpg yes.

            They also aren’t comparable with a 4spd auto (vs 6), antique engine, and evidently less efficient 4wd (~2mpg drop vs 1). I’m pretty sure you if you compare a f150 from the 90′s it’ll fare worse, too.

            It’s the downward spiral of being in an unpopular class. There’s no money in it and so the cars languish and become even less desirable.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Totally illogical, DM. Back when there were true compacts, the smaller trucks got more than 50% better fuel mileage empty and about 25% better when loaded mostly because they ran on much smaller engines–in the 2-3 litre range as compared to the 4-7 litre range.

          As for your 18-wheeler argument, I believe you have that backwards too, as when they’re driving in city traffic, they’re only getting 1-2 miles per gallon compared to 5-7 (or more) on the highway. Sure, “pound for pound” you’re right–up to a point, but then trains then qualify as the best all ’round as they get over 400 ton-miles per gallon. Want to own a train?

          It’s not the “pound for pound” that’s important–it’s the REAL fuel usage over time that’s important for a car or pickup driver. A car gets better gas mileage than a truck because it’s both lighter and more aerodynamic. The average CAR gets about 50% better gas mileage than the average pickup in the US. The average SUV gets about 25% better gas mileage than the average pickup truck. A smaller pickup truck, about the size of an average SUV should get the same gas mileage benefit because it weighs less (typically by about 2,000 pounds) and is more aerodynamic (not a brick wall of a nose bulldozing through the air). As such, they can get away with smaller engines than a full-sized truck (even taking the EcoBoost into account) and get better fuel mileage than that full-sized truck. Proof is in the fact that the Ford Escape with the 3.5 EcoBoost gets better gas mileage than the F-150 with the 3.5 EcoBoost–by almost 50%. It’s smaller, lighter and more aerodynamic than the F-150 by about 25% across the board.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Some of the comments in this article appear to be based on the past.

    Well, it might come as a surprise that a significant surprise to many that regulation does have a bearing on what you drive.

    CAFE is forcing pickups to become aluminium. How big will the full size market be then?

    I suppose with a 144 month finance plan many in the US on $10-20 per hour can go out and buy $40k plus trucks.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      It is not going to be significantly more expensive than the current model. and people like you said 3 dollar a gallon gas would kill the full-size trucks. It obviously didn’t.

  • avatar
    daniel g.

    Hey guys, GM engine emission problem in India is not for a truck similar to ISUZU LUV/CREVROLET CHEYENNE???(in the pictures see something similar)is not the rigth size of truck?

    In argentina the STRADA/SAVEIRO/MONTANA/HOGGAR are derived from cars but are small for the plywood measure, always see this trucks just for take your bikes and go in the weekends,of course they work too but 0.5 ton of load capacity, the only similar derived for a car is the old and respect peugeot 504 pickup diesel(1.3ton load capacity with A/C and electric windows) many contractors in construction still used, they can´t killed yet and is very apreciated.
    the next step is RANGER/HILUX FROM THE 90´ in size.
    In this market is replaced for KIA trucks (amaizing for my an official HONDA dealer use this trucks) and some MB SPRINTER.
    something more big or new is expensive, maybe GM can reuse the platform / concept of the ISUZU? MONTANA in argentina the big critics is for the old platform of corsa (they continue sales the corsa now with 2 airbag and ABS) if you tink is a proved and old but plenty of spare parts.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I’ve been beating the CUV or car-based utility truck drums on TTAC for years.

    That said, I also thought the Envoy XUV was a brilliant idea.

  • avatar
    Reicher

    Not sure if that styling would fly in US/Canada

  • avatar
    mkirk

    #PIECEOFSHIT

  • avatar
    el scotto

    It’s not really a truck unless you can rinse deer blood out of the bed.


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