By on June 5, 2014

1024px-SubaruBaja

For decades, the formula for a successful pickup design in America has been pretty much the same. Design a simple ladder-frame chassis, drop in the biggest engine you can find, give it a front-engine rear-drive layout with an optional transfer case, and start raking in the money. From time to time, however, manufacturers have tried to swim against the current.

The last true unibody pickup (one without any type of traditional ladder frame) sold in the United States was the Subaru Baja, which ended production in 2006. A derivative of the Legacy/Outback platform, the Baja was Subaru’s attempt to cash in on the mid-2000s vogue for “sport utility trucks:” part-SUV hybrids like the Ford Explorer Sport Trac and the Chevrolet Avalanche. While those more successful models were selling well over 50,000 a year at their peak, the Subie barely managed to shift 30,000 examples in a four year run. With its funky body cladding, exposed rollbars, and limited utility compared to those other truck-based SUTs with traditional ladder-frame chassis, the Baja never managed to become anything but a niche product. Even so, it followed in a long lineage of experiments with unibody construction for pickups.

The golden age of the unibody pickup was the 60s, when every major manufacturer offered at least one. Ford had the Falcon-derived Ranchero, as well as a pickup based on the Econoline van. (The 1961-63 full-size F100 is often cited as an example of a unibody pickup design, but as Mike Levine explains here, this is technically incorrect. The ‘61-63 still had a ladder frame underneath its single-piece body.) Chevrolet had a similar offering in the Corvair Greenbrier pickup, although the more popular El Camino utilized a ladder frame. Dodge got in the unibody game with the pickup version of its A100 van. The pickup version of the Type 2 Volkswagen Transporter was increasingly popular in the burgeoning small truck segment before it became a target of the infamous Chicken Tax. That tariff also kept out the Japanese, who might otherwise have attempted to sell car-based pickups such as the Toyota Corona PU. The most popular of all these unibody pickups was the Falcon Ranchero. It offered meaningful size and economy advantages over the full-size trucks of the time, and was available with a greater number of creature comforts.

Many of these unibody pickups disappeared in the 70s, as compact, conventionally engineered Japanese pickups became more widely available. Many of these were captive imports sold by the Big 3, who utilized tricks like importing cab-chassis units separately to avoid the Chicken Tax. Unibody pickups didn’t reappear again until the 1980s. The Subaru BRAT was the first of these, followed by the Rabbit-based Volkswagen Pick-Up. The Volkswagen PU was an attempt to squeeze more volume out of the disappointingly slow-selling Rabbit; the Dodge Rampage and Plymouth Scamp were similar attempts to expand the use of Chrysler’s L Platform. Neither of those was particularly successful, with both the Volkswagen and Rampage/Scamp cancelled after only three years. The BRAT was reasonably popular, lasting in the US market until 1987. The Jeep Comanche was based on the unibody XJ Cherokee, but used a ladder frame to strengthen the superstructure. Around 190,000 units were produced before new Jeep owner Chrysler called it quits in 1992; the company didn’t want the Comanche cannibalizing Dodge’s truck offerings. After that, there were no more unibody trucks in the United States until the introduction of the Baja. Cheap gas and a slew of competitive ladder-frame pickups meant that the incentive to develop a unibody pickup was limited.

Like Subaru, Honda tried to cash in on the SUT trend with the Ridgeline. Although based off the unibody Odyssey minivan, the Ridgeline utilizes a hybrid chassis setup that incorporates a box frame. Sales have been disappointing, with the model scheduled to go out of production this month, although a sequel has been promised by Honda. The Ridgeline is often cited by midsize truck pessimists as emblematic of the reasons the segment has gone into decline. The truck offers no serious fuel economy advantage over a full-sizer. It also has a smaller bed, a lower tow rating, and less power, all in a footprint not much smaller than that of a full-size. Attempting to straddle segments was the Ridgeline’s doom. Buyers who wanted power, room, towing and hauling capability, and who didn’t care about mileage bought Avalanches, Sport Tracs, and full-sizers. Economy-minded individuals went for the cheaper, more utilitarian options like the Frontier and Tacoma. None of these alternatives were particularly great on gas, but neither was the Ridgeline; and they all offered price and/or capability advantages that the Ridgeline didn’t have. That doesn’t mean, however, that the unibody truck should necessarily go the way of the dodo.

The greatest argument against a renaissance in the small-to-midsize truck segment is profitability. Small trucks often have thin margins, and it’s hard to justify separate development programs for unique platforms. That’s ultimately what killed the Ranger in the United States, as well as the Dakota. GM is spreading out the development cost of the new Colorado/Canyon by making it a world market vehicle, but it remains to be seen if this strategy will work. Only the Tacoma has proven to be a consistent winner in the US market, and it also has the advantage of being globally sold; the same is true of the new Frontier. A US-only compact truck platform is a mistake. Repealing the Chicken Tax might open up the market to more imports, but ideally a compact truck would be developed from a platform already in use in the US. This would lower the cost of federalization, while at the same time increasing the margin derived from already existing platforms. That’s where unibody design comes in.

America is awash in unibody CUVs, whose platforms could be utilized to make compact and midsize trucks. The Chevrolet Montana/Tornado has been mentioned by small-truck aficionados as a possible import, but the cost of certifying it for American sale would probably be prohibitive. Instead, it would make more sense for GM to develop a small truck from either the Theta or Epsilon architectures, both of which have already been adapted for the American market. A small truck based on the Equinox, for example, might be profitably produced for the American market. If a small truck can offer significant price or fuel economy advantages over full-sizers, it can justify its existence against highly competitive full-size offerings. Even so, doubts remain about the segment’s overall viability. FCA chairman Sergio Marchionne recently alluded to this when discussing possible plans for a future compact pickup in the United States. Could a unibody truck be the savior of the compact truck segment?

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331 Comments on “QOTD: Bring Back the Unibody Pickup?...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    My Sedona minivan is a unibody truck, complete with 8 ft bed and cap.

    But I can’t haul a scoop of gravel in it.

    • 0 avatar
      billfrombuckhead

      Dealers can hardly sell regular cab trucks of any make or model.

      Ram Pentastars get really good gas mileage and Ford has. Even better gas mileage F150′s on the way.

      If you really have a fetish for a compact truck, restore an old one without all the safety equipment and conveniences today’s vehicles have.

      For most applications, a minivans is more practical. I think the Ram cargo mini van is cool.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        An interesting argument that makes several valid points, but ignores the one salient point. As SCE said just before you, a fully-enclosed body doesn’t let you carry those bulky, messy loads that an open bed allows.

        As for, “restore an old one without all the safety equipment and conveniences…”, the problem is that you have to find one first, and most have either rusted out or been otherwise scrapped. What few remain command a surprisingly high price even in poor condition.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        I have absolutely no desire to own a pickup. My point is that a minivan can provide most of the service of a light-duty pickup (with some exceptions), but has far greater utility overall.

        When I want mulch or stone (suburb dweller here), I just pay the delivery charge, or I could rent a truck for a day. It’s a lot cheaper than actually owning a truck.

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          Don’t forget the ‘borrow your buddy’s truck for a day’ option. What’s the point of owning a truck if you aren’t helping your friends move/landscape/go boating every weekend? I mean, they bought it to spend time with other people, right?

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      “But I can’t haul a scoop of gravel in it.”

      And how often would you want to?

      I’ve ditzed with tradesman work enough to know that except for appliances and simple plumbing I’m rapidly out of my league. I’ll just spend my money on competent professionals instead of an occasional-use vehicle.

      It happens rarely enough that I come out way ahead. Especially because they don’t have to repair something I’ve previously wrecked.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        See my clarification above ^^^. I’m not complaining.

        The truck fanatics will point to how other vehicles can’t haul open-air loads like gravel, or carry 1 ton of bricks, or tow 9000 lbs.

        As you point out, how often does one need to do these things? For me, almost never.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I’d always figured the Honda Fit would make a good starting point for a unibody trucklet: the rear floor is already very, very low and completely flat. All it would require is removal of the C and D pillars and a stiffer roll cage.

    Even better would be a stretched Fit with a second row of seats.

    • 0 avatar
      niky

      @psarhjinian: That clever mid-body fuel tank is to thank for that… and I’ve always wondered what a Fit-based ute or van would look like.

      Just imagine the oodles of space in a Fit-based microvan with an even simpler rear suspension layout than in the current car. And it would likely even have a huge, useful underfloor tray like the Ridgeline. Hell, you could probably fit a hybrid frame rail under there without denting cargo capacity at all.

    • 0 avatar
      pbxtech

      That would be perfect for me.

    • 0 avatar
      Rental Man

      Should have posted here…
      The new Honda Fit has a porky sister arriving soon. Honda HR-V the little SUV. Fit gas tank stayed in the front, between the seats.
      I think Honda is the ideal company for a small truck, well them Mazda and Mitsubishi as those companies have no cannibalization of their larger trucks (Inc. Ridgelines) and US or Mexico locations to avoid Chicken Tax. Another approach would start with a Minivan cutoff crew cab option like the European VW Transporter. Maybe buched up a bit.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    LL Ridgeline: “Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years”

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    A compact regular-cab (2 seater) unibody pickup would have fleet, cheapskates and other bottom feeders licking their chops. Especially now that “extended-cab” midsize trucks are being forced upon miser midsize truck buyers in North America.

    Whether OEMs want any part of that torture machine from the bottom of the bottom is a different story.

    • 0 avatar
      challenger2012

      “unibody pickup would have fleet, cheapskates and other bottom feeders licking their chops” Cruel words, but soooooooooooooo true. These types would buy an ox cart powered by a Briggs and Straton engine if such a product were available.

      As for the Ridgeline, I though the Tampon dispensor in the glove box is what killed off sales.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      So let them be ‘extended cabs’, I’m sure very few would notice the difference.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        I’m sure Orkin will notice the increased size/mass of Access cab Tacos and the approx $5,000,000 bump in annual purchase price of forced Access cabs.

        You kidding? The regular cabs will be sorely missed by mid-size truck consumers. Orkin has an ongoing contract with Toyota, but will no doubt go full-size regular cabs eventually, like they did in Canada.

        You say consumers want smaller small trucks, but forced extra cabs are OK?

        But get used to it. Eventually mid-size pickup OEMs will force a crew cab.

        It’s gotta be crazy expensive logistics handling stacks of various frames. Each cab takes its own frame. Each bed takes its frame. Just having 4wd takes a different frame. Manuals take their own frame. So you get the idea. Too many combinations.

        Your only choice will be a crew cab with a 6′ bed and automatic. 2 or 4wd. Deal with it. Or not.

        But just pay whatever they want for vintage mini-trucks. They’re worth it. Flat out. Last month I paid $2000 for a ’93 Hard Body base stripper, 2wd. Very clean, but needed an EGR, cat, fuel pump and misc. Good truck! I bought for my handyman for work he’s doing for me. He’s loving it though..

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          “Orkin has an ongoing contract with Toyota, but will no doubt go full-size regular cabs eventually, like they did in Canada.” — Until the standard cab full-sizers disappear, as they’re almost guaranteed to do. If you think compacts are going to be the only ones losing the standard cab, you’re in dreamland.

          “You say consumers want smaller small trucks, but forced extra cabs are OK?” — Yup. They’ll still be notably smaller than their full-sized brethren. Probably at least two feet shorter, visibly lower roof line and body width as well. Since, as you say, standard cabs are disappearing, they must have been a ‘fad’ all along, eh?

          No, the extended cab has a viable purpose which really offers a functional advantage over the standard cab at all sizes. On the other hand, a compact truck offers a functional advantage over the full-sized truck especially in tight quarters such as urban centers and even suburban. People who typically want a smaller truck don’t care about how heavy a load it can carry or pull, so long as it can carry the things no other type of vehicle can do easily.

          For some, even a Transit Connect is too much vehicle to use as a daily driver, but a compact pickup offers everything needed as such without creating other issues. Over and over again I’ve seen comments about how the Transit Connect, Sprinter and even SUVs would serve their every purpose, but even putting aside the NEED for an open bed, when it comes to heating and cooling, a compact truck has far less internal volume to work with, which means they warm up and cool down far more quickly than those high-cube vehicles.

          Finally, if even a few people are taking into their own hands to modify an existing vehicle, be it van, CUV, SUV, wagon or sedan (or coupe in some cases) into a pickup truck, then obviously there’s a need for a truck in that size. No?

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            “If you think compacts are going to be the only ones losing the standard cab, you’re in dreamland.”

            Well I must be. And I hope my phone can point me to the Pirates of the Caribbean…

            Regular cab midsizers eventually became the loss-leaders for OEMs still in the midsize pickup market. Similar to the dollar menu, McDouble Cheeseburger. But if too many go into McDonald’s, only buy that exact burger and fly out without even looking at anything else, it’ll be gone from the menu too. Just like regular cab midsizers.

            And no, the regular cab full-size isn’t going away. Not in our lifetimes.

            The regular cab mini-truck wasn’t a fad exactly, but the entire small pickup market was. And consumers got out while the “getting” was still good. They moved on to the SUV and other fads, while mini-trucks were still small and as technically advanced, crash safe and reliable as anything else on the market. They could not have gotten any better at the time. But for American consumers, it was time to move on.

            Then OEMs had to move on. No conspiracies. No reason to cry. Things change all the time. You yourself left the mini-truck market for an SUV. So why isn’t it your fault too???

            You dictate what’s on the menu, 3X a day. The consumer decides. Not the Feds, not even the OEMs. They’re just along for the ride. Hands and Feet Inside the Car At ALL TIMES!

            Now the Transit, Sprinter, Ducato and others, would make great base vehicles for when Molester/Custom Vans make a B!G A$$ come back! Yes they will!! Definitely before small trucks ever become the rage again…

            And yes people are taking it into their own hand to modify current vans into “Molesters”. I’m not talking RV Van Conversions. Although custom upfitters are getting into the game.

            p.vitalmx.com/photos/forums/2012/08/14/dh11_275531.jpg

            lacustomcoachinc.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/sprinter-van-008.jpg

            I want mine with a disco ball and waterbed :O

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Oh, and I have just started:

          “It’s gotta be crazy expensive logistics handling stacks of various frames. Each cab takes its own frame. Each bed takes its frame. Just having 4wd takes a different frame. Manuals take their own frame. So you get the idea. Too many combinations.” –

          This was not always true. With the older trucks you had maybe two, maybe three frames AT MOST for any given brand and model. A standard-cab, short bed truck had it’s own frame, true. On the other hand, the extended cab, short bed truck shared a frame with the standard-cab, long bed truck. Even the idea of a long bed on with an extended cab was anathema. So, two frames. Of course, this was before the crew cab craze. Now you can get an extended cab, long bed on the exact same frame as the crew cab, short bed. That makes three frames, doesn’t it?
          Oh! Hey, they’re dropping the standard cab models! That pulls us back down to two frames, doesn’t it?
          Sheesh, Denver. Where’s your logic?

          4WD taking a different frame? Not really. Different suspension, yes, but can you really demonstrate to me how factory 4×4 requires a completely different frame from a 2×4? I don’t see it.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            “…the extended cab, short bed truck shared a frame with the standard-cab, long bed truck.”

            That’s wrong. They share the same wheelbase, it’s true, but definitely not same the frame. The frame swoops up (to the bed), right were the cab ends. And with different cab/bed attachment ears, different frame. They share the same wheelbase to have common driveshafts, wiring and brake plumbing/cables.

            “Now you can get an extended cab, long bed on the exact same frame as the crew cab, short bed. That makes three frames, doesn’t it?”

            No. The 4X4′s frame drops the attachment points for the front suspension for the axles to clear the engine oil pan and ride under the frame. And to make room for the differential. These attachment points are welded on for safety, obviously. 4X4 rear suspension also drops to match the front. Then there’s the transfer case mounts.

            And the manual trans gets its own frame for it’s a completely different trans.

            Do the math and you end up with a dozen or so frames. Not a good proposition for OEMs of low volume, low margin mid-size pickups.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @Vulpine – and remember that separate HD and LD pickups are just a new phenomenon. At one time 3/4 and 1/2 ton pickups were virtually identical except for axles, wheels and springs.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @DM: “That’s wrong. They share the same wheelbase, it’s true, but definitely not same the frame.”
            That may be true today, but NOT when the compacts and mid sizers first came out. Nor was it true for full sized trucks–back then. Again I have to ask, WHY?

            Why raise the rails behind the cab and lift the load floor so high? That’s completely counter to easy loading and unloading by hand and puts the bed rails so high you can barely reach over them–especially with 4×4 models. It makes no logical sense BUT… does help make them larger for CAFE purposes.

            Also, why have “different cab/bed attachment ears”? Once upon a time it was bolts through the floor of the bed and through the floor of the cab. Much more secure and much less hassle. All you do now is convince me the things are grossly over-engineered as well.

            “And the manual trans gets its own frame for it’s a completely different trans.”
            WHY? The bell housing shapes is virtually identical, even if not in every specific. We already know you can buy aftermarket adaptors to fit almost any transmission to almost any engine if they are even vaguely compatible. Sheesh! even my ’96 Camaro V6 used the same transmission as the V8 version–with the only functional difference being a high-stall torque converter. You really CAN’T tell me that a stick and an automatic are all THAT differently shaped. How, then, does Jeep get away with putting a Mercedes 6-speed stick shift on the JKU OR that 8-speed automatic on the exact same frame?

            Your arguments simply don’t make logical sense. But then, if you’re right, full sized pickup trucks don’t make logical sense either, do they? Where is the logic in making six different frames for six versions of ONE model of truck? I thought the idea was to reduce cost, not increase it. Two or three frames should be able to handle any combination of cab style/bed length they sell. If they’re using as many as YOU claim, it’s no WONDER they’re going broke!

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @Vulpine – Wrong again. And when small trucks 1st came out, there were no choices in cabs and beds. Just take it or leave it. They only came with manual trans and 2wd. Same with full size pickups. But with every new choice, came a different frame. That’s been constant. But why are you even arguing the past?

            Join us in the here and now…

            Raising the side rails is what suits me exactly. Besides style, high sides give me increased volumfe inside the bedd and hides values, materials and power tools better. I constantly drive around with $5,000 in tools/equipment in the bed, but parked in the far corner of the parking lot, you wouldn’t know it’s not an empty truck. If I wanted low sides, I’d get a flat bed/tray.

            But what makes you think they raised the bed floor? And why does any of this have to do with CAFE? Their ‘footprint’ is something else entirely.

            The way cabs and beds bolt to frames on rubber mounts hasn’t changed since day one. It’s just what works. If you know better, let them know!

            You’re completely clueless. The way the engine and trans bolt to each other has zero to do with how they bolt or are mounted to the frame. And factory drivetrains are specific to a frame, and without adapters and or brackets. That’s just more junk to fail.

            And we’re not talking about the “shape” of the trans. They’re designed with a very specific mount location in relation to the yolk. Autos are usually longer with a shorter driveshaft.

            Having to use a dozen different frames is just one of the increasing strikes against midsize BOF pickups. That’s why OEMs are looking at FWD pickups (if at all) for North America. They’re damned either way though. Another is complete lack of other cars within the OEM that can share BOF pickup drivetrains. Never mind platforms.

            So you’re right, it’s no WONDER small/midsize trucks are going broke (and going away).You might let BAFO in on this revelation!

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Denver Mike: “Wrong again.”

            Show us your proofs. Not other people’s opinions like you are so wont to do, but actual proofs.

            I agree that you only had one option for size back then–well, until the extended cabs came out a little later, but THAT’S not the argument; what caused this supposed FAD of yours is the argument.

            Raising the side rails AND raising the floor makes no sense. You claim the frame was raised and yes, I agree the frame was raised–which raises the floor as much as it raised the side walls. Then raising the side walls even higher makes it IMPOSSIBLE for an average-sized person to reach into the bed. Meanwhile, we now all pretty much need some form of “girly step” just to climb up into the bed any more, whether that’s the Ford-style or the GM-style corner pockets in the bumper. A step-side style is now needed for full-sized trucks, but they disrupt the air flow too much for aerodynamic efficiency. So now we have to add wind-harming aftermarket running boards to simply climb into the cab AND to reach into the bed from the side. But hey, they sure look nice, don’t they?

            Oh, and those running boards on average do nothing for the trucks’ off-road capability. I watched one 4×4 get hung up on a little berm that it would have easily cleared had it not been carrying those boards. The driver, by the way, was driving a demonstrator and had to pay for the repairs to the truck.

            “But what makes you think they raised the bed floor?”
            If they raised the frame, how could they NOT raise the floor? Cause and effect, dude. Cause and effect.

            “And why does any of this have to do with CAFE?”
            There’s been more than one version of CAFE, and the first version was concerned more with weight than physical size. Since the OEMs chose to play with the rules (rather than within them) trucks got bigger and heavier. NOW they’re allowed to get bigger, but they can no longer afford to get heavier. At least, not until a power train comes along that can meet the 2025 mileage requirements even for THAT size.

            “The way cabs and beds bolt to frames on rubber mounts hasn’t changed since day one. It’s just what works. If you know better, let them know em”
            Then why did you say they use “ears”? Rubber mounts aren’t “ears”, they’re bushings. And for older trucks the bed mounted directly onto the cross frames, NOT to little tabs sticking out from them. Maybe that’s why Ford trucks CAN’T have any flex in them, eh? They moved the mounts from the cross members in the floor of the bed out to the body sides where any torsion effect is exaggerated (and destroys the tailgate if you stress it off-road. Don’t tell me it doesn’t happen because a certain Chevy video proves that it does.).

            “You’re completely clueless. The way the engine and trans bolt to each other has zero to do with how they bolt or are mounted to the frame.”
            It seems you’re the one that’s clueless, because IT DOESN”T MATTER. If there’s a difference, it’s a MANUFACTURED difference, not a natural one. At one time, both automatic AND manual transmissions used the same bell housing. There’s no reason whatsoever that they can’t, still.

            “And we’re not talking about the “shape” of the trans. They’re designed with a very specific mount location in relation to the yolk[sic].” Hey, a transmission is not an egg, you meant “yoke”. And as I said, those different mounting points are a MANUFACTURED difference. They could just as easily design them to fit a standardized mount across all transmission types.

            “Having to use a dozen different frames is just one of the increasing strikes against midsize BOF pickups.”
            I would use that exact same argument against full-sized trucks. It’s an unnecessary complication that makes sure you have to buy THEIR parts to repair them.

            “That’s why OEMs are looking at FWD pickups (if at all) for North America.”
            That, and the fact that they’re cheaper to build. Especially with all these exotic metals going into the new full-size frames making them even more expensive.

            “Another is complete lack of other cars within the OEM that can share BOF pickup drivetrains.”
            So maybe it’s time to get away from expensive BOF designs. That IS, by the way, why most cars went unibody or “space frame”.

            “So you’re right, it’s no WONDER small/midsize trucks are going broke…”
            You added one word that I did NOT use: “small”. If you’re going to quote me, quote me accurately.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @DiM
            You stated;
            “The way cabs and beds bolt to frames on rubber mounts hasn’t changed since day one. It’s just what works. If you know better, let them know em”

            I don’t know what technology you guys in the US have for you pickup body shock mounts. Rubber? That’s kind of 20th Century.

            I have hydraulic shock mounts for attaching my pickup body to my chassis.

            I would expect the F-150s to have the same as well.

            I think maybe you ought to start to learn about trucks, especially since you claim to now have a trucking empire.

            What other new businesses have you started.

            How’s that huge Spanish F-150 market? Have you broken into that yet?

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @BAFO – Hydraulic mounts aren’t anything new, but they’re needless. The late ’80s Taurus/Continental had hydraulic motor mounts, and when they failed, we replaced them with rubber aftermarket mounts. Rubber is perfectly fine for mounting bodies and drivetrains to truck frames. Who told you different?

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @the Dimmest of DiMs
            You stated this;
            1.“The way cabs and beds bolt to frames on rubber mounts hasn’t changed since day one. It’s just what works. If you know better, let them know em”

            Now you are obviously retracting your statement and stating this;
            “Hydraulic mounts aren’t anything new, but they’re needless.”
            ………………………………………….

            Read you response a total flip flop and you are trying for an escape by highlighting the fact with a DiM’eque, DiM’ism of deflection. ie; they are needless.

            “Hydraulic mounts aren’t anything new, but they’re needless.”

            You are one f4cked up puppy.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @utterly DiM,
            You state;
            “Who told you different?” Regarding hydraulic shock mounts.

            DiM, I actually wrote a précis regarding shock mounts use in aviation.

            I was also involved in the modification of the shock mounting system on the GE F-404 oil pressure transmitter.

            Do you understand harmonics and vibrations?

            You obviously don’t, so why do you discuss matters you have absolutely no knowledge in?

            Why don’t you go back to being DiM to Love Master? Remember the relationship site you blog on in the early 2000s?

            It appears you are very much out of your league on this or any car site.

            If you want to blog on these sits, just sit back, read and learn from those who have actually achieved in life.

            Oh, how did your lessons using the ‘Learn how to Speak Spanish in One Hour’ CD go? :D Cyber space is a great!

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            I haven’t seen hydraulic cab mounts on pickup trucks, but they’re obviously overkill on something that rides like hell compared to cars. Pointless.

            If your truck has them, let’s see a link.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @D|M: “I haven’t seen hydraulic cab mounts on pickup trucks, but they’re obviously overkill on something that rides like hell compared to cars. Pointless.”

            Did you really mean to say that? Really? When new pickup truck reviews are constantly touting “… their car-like ride”? YEESH! What’s the newest truck you’ve ridden, a ’65? ’85? Today’s pickup trucks on average right VERY soft and at least one Ram model is softer yet with the airbag suspension under it. My own ’08 Jeep Wrangler rides harder than most new pickup trucks!

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          @DiM
          Another truck for you trucking empire!

          So now what do we have this month.

          What trucking business do you own?

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @DiM – thanks for taking my word on something. I see 2 Chevy reg cab pickups on a car lot with Orkin stickers and you say all of Canada has gone to that model.

          Detroit badged trucks are the fleet queen experts and I doubt that Toyota would be willing to match sub-prime prices that Ford or GM will offer.

          Contract with Toyota?
          I always thought that it was based on tendered bid. Lowest price wins.

          Canadian tax rules favour regular cab trucks. If a driver of a reg cab fleet truck takes it home it is not considered personal use and therefore the employee is not taxed on its use.
          An extended or crewcab truck is seen as being more able to be used as a personal family hauler and fleet drivers have to claim it as a taxable benefit.
          My brother gets hit with a personal use tax but he doesn’t care because it is considerably less costly to pay the tax then having to buy, maintain and insure a truck.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @Lou_BC – They must have entered into a contract with Toyota to get the max fleet discount. But it’s not that the Tacoma was the cheapest, but obviously the smallest. Techs have to maneuver between trees, outbuildings, decks, pools etc.

            And it’s not hard, obviously, for fleets to buy Toyotas. Except Toyota makes it harder to qualify as a “Fleet Customer” than the Big 2.5 OEMs. That doesn’t mean Toyota won’t sell you a steeply discounted vehicle, except not officially “Fleet”.

            Except fleet sales are a good thing for commercial trucks and livery. Completely different scenario from cars like Camrys and Taurus’. Commercial trucks (upfitted especially), taxis, LE, and limos are kept in service indefinitely, although often resold within that industry, and ultimately sold for scrap value. Awesome for their OEMs.

        • 0 avatar
          Drewlssix

          Actually modern trucks are trending towards nearly identical frames for 2wd and 4wd. With at most a weld on bracket and 4wd hubs the front diff and t case will bolt directly into the current ram. My 04 chevy is convertable to 4 or awd with a bit more work but the OEs have done a lot to tighten up the part numbers

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Similar frames is true. But any slight variation means a different part # and a completely different frame, as far as the assembly line is concerned. That’s what we were talking about. The logistics of having a dozen or more different frames vs a simple fwd pickup with one body/shell.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            And Denver, you emphasize my point with that one statement. There is ZERO reason for having so many different frames when the only real difference between them is overall length. Why have a dozen different frames at a dozen different price points (and limited economy of scale for bulk purchases/manufacturing) when a mere two or three frames at most could form the skeleton of every single pickup model they currently build? Why build a complete different frame just because it uses a different engine or transmission? Why build a complete different frame for the 4×4 versions? Why build a different frame when the bed is only ONE FOOT longer between a crew cab short and a crew cab long? There are cheaper, more reliable ways to do it that would also make collision repair cheaper as well.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @Vulpine – I’m not defending the mfg process. It is what it is. If you think you can bring in your ideas and change it, go ahead. But every truck combination/choice/selection (engine, trans, bed, cab, 4X4) has slightly different frame requirements, all while the frame has to be solid and one-piece, with nothing to work loose, between it and vital components.

            The truck frame is nothing to take lightly…

            Everything revolves around a pickup truck frame, and no welding or straightening of damaged frames is allowed by insurance companies (body shops). They don’t want the liability. Talk about a b!tch when frames must be replaced for minor damage. Body shops have to take apart the truck completely almost.

            But to have one truck frame to fit all, some things or lots of things will have to be compromised. Safety can’t be one of those. Neither can OEMs sacrifice choices… But they already are. Hello Toyota/Nissan/GM. Eventually midsize trucks will only come in crew cabs, one bed, one engine, 4wd and automatic. All forced. Take it or leave it. It’s too expensive for them otherwise.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Denver: Apparently you are defending the manufacturing process, because you really haven’t given a legitimate reason as to WHY they need so many different frames. Sure, it MIGHT make engineering sense–if they really needed different capabilities from each one–but it certainly doesn’t make economical sense. As you say, “The truck frame is nothing to take lightly…”

            You’ve got to look at “economy of scale” (I can only assume you’ve never been to a business economics class). Even practical experience should tell you that the more of ONE size or style of something you buy/make, the less expensive they are individually. To bring it down to a more understandable scale, when you go to the hardware store and look at ½”x 2″ lag bolts, buying one might cost you 75¢. Buying 10 might cost you $6.50 or 65¢ each. Buying 100 might cost you $52.50 or 52.5¢ each while buying 1,000 might cost you $350 or only 35¢ each. Now, when you consider how many pickup trucks Ford sells in a month, is it cheaper to buy 1,000 each of 12 different frames, or 4,000 each of 3 different frames?

            Your logic fails across the board.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @Vulpine – Regardless, all OEMs choose to have a different frame for every BOF truck (bed, cab, engine, trans, etc, combination) they build. It’s not for us to tell them how to do their job (of building trucks that are both safe and solidly built).

            I gave you legitimate reasons why OEMs do what they do, when designing truck frames. What more can I do???

            It is what it is. I don’t disagree 1 frame beats 12 frames (drrr…), if we must oversimplify. But debating truck frame “science” with you is pointless.

            All OEMs build BOF trucks this way. Get over it.

            But at least you’ve seen the light, on how crazy expensive it is to build BOF trucks. Stamped steel body (one body) fwd pickups don’t compare. Especially when they can use an existing car platform, drivetrain, etc.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Denver|Mike: ” all OEMs choose to have a different frame for every BOF truck they build.”
            ** Really? Can you prove this? Can you show me definitive evidence that EVERY SINGLE TRUCK MODEL AND SIZE gets it’s own frame? Now, I don’t mean trim packages, I’m just talking the cab, bed, engine, transmission and 4×4. You’re telling me that every single one has a completely different frame that comes from a sourcing factory to go down the assembly line at exactly the right time–every time. There is no one “base frame” upon which different cross members or extensions might be added on the assembly line to adapt to the different body styles. This I want to see, if it’s true.

            Having watched frames coming into the Chrysler plant near where I live, where some Dodge trucks and Jeeps were assembled, the frames on those rail cars all looked identical; you see, the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Dodge Durango did use the… Exact. Same. Frame.

            What more can you do? Prove to me that what you say is true. Prove to all of us that what you say is true.

            Yet again, you make assumptions with no verifiable data to back you up.

  • avatar

    If its front wheel drive, it can’t take, or tow, a heavy load. If its all wheel drive you give up bed volume and passenger space.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      The Fiat Ducato/Ram ProMaster can tow quite well despite being front-wheel drive.

    • 0 avatar
      Feds

      Citation needed. A Caravan can tow 3600 lbs. It’s cargo capacity (GVWR-curb) is ~2700 lbs. That’s more than plenty for a lot of people. Chrysler sells them full of seats and glass and upholstry for <$20,000. There's no reason a pickup version should cost more than that.

      • 0 avatar

        Here’s a Citation.
        http://www.crazycar.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/IMG_4029.jpg

        But in general front wheel drive vehicles have a less load and towing capacity because as weight is added to the rear axle it is taken off the front axle.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          The actual towing capacity has less to do with which wheels are driving the vehicle and more to do with the capacity of the rear suspension. A vehicle like the Promaster that is available with a sturdy rear beam axle and firm springs that won’t deform with a heavy load and is able to tow 5000+ lbs.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            How heavy a boat can it tow up a gravel boat ramp? When it comes to private-use trucks, as often as not, towing means boats.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Not sure. It depends largely on the angle of the ramp and available friction. I’ve launched and recovered similar boats on the same ramp where a FWD minivan had no issue but a RWD truck struggled for traction. Where there is a question, 4WD is ideal.

    • 0 avatar
      niky

      Small unibody car-based pick-ups of recent years have never been meant to take much in terms of cargo weight… I had a two door that did fine for 1,000 pound loads but not much more… these trucklets are meant to fill in for businesses and delivery services that aren’t hauling heavy items and need something frugal on gas for light in-city or rural back roads work.

      This is a more modern version of what I used to have:

      http://paultan.org/images.paultan.org/images2/Nissan-NP200-Pickup-2.jpg
      http://paultan.org/2008/10/03/nissan-np200-ute-based-on-dacia-logan-pick-up/

      About 800kg (4/5th of a ton) load. 1.6 liters only. Pretty basic.

      Fun little things, though not quite as useful as ladder-frame diesel trucks, which have all but killed these off in most developing markets.

      • 0 avatar
        cwallace

        You are on to something. The buyer of a small truck like this isn’t looking to tow a ski boat. They just want something that can haul some 2x4s, bags of mulch, or whatever else shouldn’t go in their too-fancy-for-real-work SUVs.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        I would say that’s almost ideal for my purposes. A very strong contender to replace my F-150 (If I don’t pick up a certain ’94 Ranger in the fall.)

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @niky – I’ve had an ongoing debate in relation to towing and hauling with 1/2 ton pickups. If one looks at the cargo ratings of most crewcab pickups it becomes blatantly obvious that you can either carry passengers, haul max weight, or tow heavy but not all at the same time.
        Most are around the 1,300 lb weight range for cargo. If you have a family of 4 with pets and some light gear that puts you easily in the 800 lb to 1,000 lb range. That means a max tongue weight (assuming a lowball of 10%) 500-300 lb or a trailer weighing 5,000 to 3,000 lb.

      • 0 avatar
        wstarvingteacher

        Harbor Freight and Northern Tool both sell a collapsable trailer that you can store in your garage. Slightly larger ones will carry a lot more. If it takes more than that you can normally get delivery pretty cheaply.

        Lots of talk about trucks but got tired of having things stolen out of the bed. Most vehicles will carry stuff and put a trailer behind it when you need to. Drove trucks for years. Don’t think I will need to again.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      I don’t think anyone expects a unibody truck to be equivalent to an F-350 with dualies.

      My Sedona can tow 3500 lbs, and I suppose replacing passengers with cargo would mean I could put 1000 lbs inside.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      The people who would want one of these couldn’t care less about weight or towing capacity. As far as they’re concerned, 1,000 pounds capacity INCLUDING passengers would be enough. And nearly every compact car on the road today can do that–but doesn’t have an open bed to carry that stinky mulch or dirty bricks or whatever.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @Vulpine – any crew pickup would be ideal if 1,000 lb cargo capacity did not include passengers.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          @Lou_BC
          The load vs tow capability of a pickup is an interesting debate.

          It shows that the auto manufacturers have studied this closely.

          What I’m about the write will cause some of the full size 1/2 fraternity to jump up an down a little.

          But…….our midsizers with their load capacity can actually tow more than most US full size 1/2 ton pickups using your scenario of a full cab of people with their picnic baskets.

          The downside is the ride quality.

          So, my original comment comes to this.

          The US half ton pickup is an either/or style of vehicle.

          For a business you will generally have one or maybe two guys in a truck. This will allow you to still tow or carry a ‘reasonable’ load.

          If you use the pickup as a family trickster, ie, SUV with a balcony like most pickups are used they offer the comfort of a SUV and the utility when needed.

          Pickups are a compromise vehicle.

          If you want one for work like ours are designed they will cost a little more and give an more ‘unsettled’ ride.

          So, for every upside their is a downside.

  • avatar
    Feds

    Yes, it’s time. Maybe even past time. I still think GM missed big with the HHR. It would have made a natural pickup, and they seemed to do o.k. with the delivery model, which shows there was a market for a 2-seat version.

    It will take a brave or desperate manufacturer (Mitsubishi?) to do it, but something truly smaller than a full sized truck (like an Outlander?) that is sold on small footprint and good fuel economy (make it 4-cylinder only), and marketed to show its true capability (i.e. payload is X, but X really means…), and drop any rock crawling offroad pretense. Give it an AWD option (call it “ALL WEATHER DRIVE”), show it on the beach, show it hauling skis, bikes, sod, washing machines, smelly chairs from the side of the road (a la VW), and you’d have a winner.

    • 0 avatar
      Rental Man

      @ FEDS
      The new Honda Fit has a porky sister arriving soon. Honda HR-V the little SUV. Fit gas tank stayed in the front, between the seats.
      I think Honda is the ideal company for a small truck, well them Mazda and Mitsubishi as those companies have no cannibalization of their larger trucks (Inc. Ridgelines) and US or Mexico locations to avoid Chicken Tax. Another approach would start with a Minivan cutoff crew cab option like the European VW Transporter. Maybe buched up a bit.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Holden Ute = Chevrolet El Camino

    I’ll take mine with a L92 and 6-speed manual please.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    “Could a unibody truck be the savior of the compact truck segment?”

    The desire for salvation is limited to a few guys who post on the internet. Most people wouldn’t put their money where those internet guys mouths are.

    If it was positioned as a niche lifestyle vehicle, then it might be possible to use one in order to amortize the costs of a compact car platform. But unless it can be sold globally, it wouldn’t be worth the development costs to bother.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      I’m one of those people you’re talking about, Pch, and I WOULD put my money where my mouth is. But as long as something that small is not available, I have to look elsewhere. And to be quite blunt, full-size is NOT where I’ll look.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “But as long as something that small is not available, I have to look elsewhere.”

        Nobody really cares. Your tastes are too quirky and unprofitable to merit special accommodation.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          So you say. I know people within 5 square miles of me who want a small truck as much as I do, and I live in a rural town. Try to imagine the demand when you get into a city, where parking is a premium and there’s simply no space to keep a full-sized truck. They have no choice either and simply had to take what was available, which isn’t a truck.

          My point is that you simply don’t KNOW what is “too quirky and unprofitable” because you don’t want to believe something smaller is worth the effort.

          Ok, then tell me this: Why does the Fiat Strada work in Europe and South America? What keeps it from working here? Want a personal opinion? Two words, starting with C and T. Maybe they wouldn’t sell enough to manufacture them here, but if they could avoid that 25% markup caused by the C.T., they’d probably sell enough to make a decent profit.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Of course you don’t know. You’re militantly ignorant and incapable of learning anything,

            On the other hand, there are others who are brighter than you who can read data and understand it. And the data flies in the face of all of your wonderful theories and anecdotes. Explaining it to you again would be a horrible waste of time, so I won’t bother doing it again.

          • 0 avatar
            whynot

            In a city (one where parking is at a premium and no space for full size) people are usually not hauling around dirt/fridges/freezers/stones/mulch etc, so demand for pickups is actually lower. Most people who need to have something hauled (like new furniture/appliances) get it delivered as it is far more practical (because then the delivery men are the ones who have to deal with getting it up the stairs to your apartment, not you).

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Pch101: “On the other hand, there are others who are brighter than you who can read data and understand it. And the data flies in the face of all of your wonderful theories and anecdotes.”

            Show me the data.

            @whynot: “In a city (one where parking is at a premium and no space for full size) people are usually not hauling around dirt/fridges/freezers/stones/mulch etc, so demand for pickups is actually lower. Most people who need to have something hauled (like new furniture/appliances) get it delivered as it is far more practical.

            Most, but not all. SOME are willing to do their own work–if the right tools are available.

          • 0 avatar
            whynot

            For things like small pickups (in which you are banking completely on its size and utility) automakers don’t want to cater to the SOME. They want to cater to the most. That is where the money and volume is.

            Yes, SOME people want to do things like that themselves. But not all of them are going to go out and buy a small pickup (only SOME of them).

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            “For things like small pickups (in which you are banking completely on its size and utility) automakers don’t want to cater to the SOME. They want to cater to the most. That is where the money and volume is.”

            The president of Ford himself once said, “We don’t build cars and trucks for the 80%, we only build for the 20% who are willing to pay the price. Now, I guess I can understand his point of view, but if he DID build for the 80%, he would sell a lot more vehicles.

            The problem is, except maybe with their trucks the simple quality of the rest of their products fall below people’s standards. Nobody I know who has bought a new Ford car has remained happy with it beyond the first year. They just put up with it because their money is sunk into it until they can afford to trade it off.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @Pch101,
            You obviously have nothing to say, when you just resort to personal abuse instead

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @RobertRyan
            Like a typical unionist that Pch101 is (he’s the worst, a UAW stooge) he will try and baffle you with bull$hit, then if that doesn’t work they use abuse.

            The best one is ‘you don’t understand’ position.

            These tactics means they don’t have their UAW research assistant alongside of them.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        @Vupine – I want pizza for breakfast, but pizza parlors don’t open till 11AM. WTFs? Why are they missing out on serving all of us that would love just-out-of-the-oven pizza for breakfast at 6 AM? Are they stup!d???

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Clearly, the reason everyone isn’t eating pizza for breakfast is because the pizza places refuse to open before 11AM. It’s some kind of conspiracy perpetuated by the pancake and waffle consortium.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Why aren’t you cooking your own? I have three pizzas in the freezer for exactly that purpose!

          See how silly you sound?

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Even simple analogies that a kid could understand soar right over your head.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            See how silly YOU sound. You have $25K to spend on a brand new small, extra cab pickup, if they make it small enough, but you still drive an ’89 F-150 regular cab, long bed? With that kind of budget to spend and on and upgrade a ’94 Ranger, you’d have one hell of an awesome little truck and leave us the heck alone.

            Btw, there’s no way the Ranger grew 2 feet, from the early Ranger to the last. Least not unless you’re comparing a reg cab to a super cab.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Ah, but Denver, DID I BUY THAT F-150 NEW? No. I bought what was available in the almost non-existent time I had to carry the load. I always had a mild need for a truck, but I was given less than two weeks to get something capable of carrying those 20 tables and I really had a need for a second vehicle by then, having sold my Saturn Vue to my father-in-law (who needed wheels of his own).

            I repeat, I bought what was available–and lucked up on a very low price for the condition of the truck. The body was almost entirely rust-free, but it needed a brake overhaul and one exhaust manifold on the engine. I got a decent deal money wise because if I parted it out, I could probably make more money off of it than I paid–even after repairs. The bed alone is worth what I paid before repairs; completely rust free and eight feet long. It is, by the way, a Lariat trim package for that model year (’90, not ’89, though it was assembled in October of ’89).

            Oh, by the way, my budget at the time was $5,000, NOT $25,000.

          • 0 avatar
            Drewlssix

            Sticking to the analogy why don’t you build your desired small truck?

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @Vulpine – I didn’t say you had a $25K budget for an old truck. But you’d better have that much if you’re seriously thinking about a new extra cab, small pickup. But it’s doubtful you’re considering a brand new anything, with a bed. I’m sure you’re just like most small pickup fanboys and want someone else to take the original hit, so you can swoop on it as the 2nd or 3rd owner. Thing is, there’s plenty of folks that love older small trucks (I’m one of them), but a complete shortage of those willing to step up to the plate and buy ‘new’. That’s why people are stuck paying $10,000 plus, if they gotta have a clean 20 year old small pickup, if 4wd, extra cab and reasonable mileage.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @D|M: So now you’re trying to tell me something that I quite obviously already knew: “you’d better have that much if you’re seriously thinking about a new extra cab, small pickup.” Even so, it would cost less than my current Jeep Wrangler did back in ’07 and do things that Jeep can’t simply because of its larger, open bed.

            Another thing you’ve obviously ignored is that I simply DON’T buy used unless I have no choice; I’ve simply had too much bad luck buying ANYTHING used–including the F-150 I’m currently driving where I had to spend as much to make it roadworthy as I initially paid for it (but I went into that one fully expecting exactly that”. When I buy new, I don’t have to put a penny into it for ‘unexpected’ maintenance for a minimum of 50,000 miles and sometimes more. That’s about 5 years of my typical driving habits today.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          @DiM
          Do you live in a socialist economy?

          I can get pizza in NJ at that time. Just go to Subway.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @BAFO – A pizza sandwich from Subway? Maybe if you’re used to vegimite… Otherwise YUCK!

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            Nobody should buy a Subway pizza.

            You don’t go to Papa John’s and try to get a hoagie, so why would you go to Subway and get a pizza?

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @DiM
            Do you live in the USA?????

            I mean really, do you think Subway only make subs???

            I do know I can go to Walmart with a Subway in it a 7:00am and get what’s in the link.

            I bet you’ll try and tell me it’s a sandwich or salad ;)

            http://www.subway.com/Menu/MenuCategoryItems.aspx?CC=USA&LC=ENG&MenuTypeId=1&MenuId=57

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @NoGoYo
            So, a Hoagie, you’re form around Philly I’m guessing.

            Wawa make good coffee and hoagies.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @BAFO – Subway subs $uck. The hamburger dives I go to make better subs. Subway doesn’t sell pizza in my town. “Not in all areas”. But if they ever do, I won’t eat it.

  • avatar
    blackbolt

    Ridgeline shoulda been a home run for Honda becaus it’s a nice Home Depot or Costco companion but the engine was gutless and thirsty and the transmission held onto 2nd gear too long. Fair amount of road noise also. To their credit they hold their value but what they offer in positives are nulled by that greed for dead dinosaurs.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Oh my God you’re gonna send Vulpine and Al of OZ into a huge truck tizzy again. Unibody meltdown!

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      OK, here is my question: What exactly is a Grand Cherokee?

      I am not questioning the name — I mean, who wouldn’t want to name their vehicle after obese native Americans?

      I wonder what exactly the GC is. The image says All American SUV. But the reality is a German engineered, Italian owned unibody, right? So does that make it a crossover?

      If the GC is a 5-seat crossover, then how is it different from the non-Grand Cherokee, which is a Dart on stilts, with Alfa ancestry, right?

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        It is what the marketing says it is. The Grand Cherokee has traditionally been the definition of an SUV. A wagon body using a truck powertrain.

        While technically not untrue today, it’s definitely gravitated towards more car-like fitting the description of a tall wagon with a powertrain shaed with cars and trucks. Shades of grey really.

        • 0 avatar
          jhefner

          While the Ford Escape is based on the Ford Focus platform, which technically makes it a CUV, but Ford insists on calling it an SUV. So yes, it is all about marketing and positioning nowdays.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            According to Ford, the Explorer is an SUV while the Flex and MKT are CUVs. Nevermind that they share a platform.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @jhefner
            It used to be easy in Australia to distinguish the difference between a CUV and SUV.

            A CUV had all wheel drive and a SUV had 4×4 high and low range.

            I think it’s more the manufacturers attempting to market something that isn’t, since their is no hard and fast rule in what these two similar but different vehicles are.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        VoGo, since I own a 2012 JGC Overland Summit V6 4X4, I’ll try to answer your question with brevity.

        1) The JGC is a girlie car, a Chic mobile, a Babe magnet. Draws women like stink on sh!t. It makes even the butt-ugly ones look good.

        2) The German engineering really is superb but costly. I do not think ours was worth $49K+. But it was worth the $44K+ I paid for it.

        3) It retains ALL of the features that makes a Jeep a Jeep. Surefootedness and all-terrain capability.

        The unibody construction now labels it as a CUV where before the BOF architecture classified it as an SUV, like the used Grand Wagoneer I used to have.

        The buyers of the GC appear to have put the death of Chrysler behind them, now looking to Fiatsler as another foreign auto maker who makes cars in America, providing jobs for Americans in America.

        What takes getting used to is that the UAW members employed by Fiatsler now have extra benefits, like drinking, smoking and toking while on their lunch breaks. No doubt another benefit collectively bargained for by the UAW for its members.

        In any other job a worker drinking, smoking and/or toking wouild be shown the door. In the US auto industry they are hailed as heroes and able to pull the wool over the eyes of their employer.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        It’s an irrelevant question, that’s what it is. Stop trying to divert the discussion.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Blood in the water for the small truck jihad.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        I suggest you look up the definition of “jihad”, you’re using it incorrectly.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          My bad, I should have said “jihadists”. As in those people who partake in small truck fundamentalism.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            That’s an insult to militant radical Muslims, who appear to be more reasonable than some of these small truck nutjobs.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Ok, I’ll admit I’m a fundamentalist when it comes to small trucks. Why? Because full-sized trucks are simply too big and too thirsty for my needs and wants. They’re clumsy, hard to park and simply won’t fit into places I take my Jeep Wrangler JKU regularly. Even my own 1990 F-150 has difficulty with them. On the other hand, a true compact pickup could go places even my Wrangler can’t simply because it would be shorter, lower and narrower. And still carry lumber.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      This fox knows what he wants, and it’s not a bloomin’ CHICKEN (tax).

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      @CoreyDL
      I don’t mind the unibody ute. I don’t HDs as well.

      I really don’t know where you got this “I don’t like full size pickups from”, maybe from the UAW stooges like DiM an Pch101.

      What I don’t like is uncompetitive behavior like the chicken tax. This has nothing to do with vehicle size.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Oh no, I was just commenting on how you two (or three) always rack up big angry comments when trucks are involved!

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          @CoreyDL
          I only do this to a couple of fools who blog on TTAC, ie, esp, DiM and Pch101.

          • 0 avatar
            CRConrad

            Yo’re not that up on the terminology, are you?

            DiM and Pch101 don’t blog here, they comment.

            It’s Baruth and Kreindler and Schreiber et al who blog, and the rest of us comment on their blog posts (or blog entries).

            HTH!

  • avatar
    skor

    Here’s a little more information regarding the Ford Ranchero. The Ranchero was originally offered in 1957 and was based on the full size Ford station wagon (body on frame). In 1960 the Ranchero was switched to the Falcon chassis, which was unibody. In 1966 Ranchero was again switched to the slightly larger Fairlane chassis which was also unibody. The Ranchero remained on the unibody Fairlane/Torino chassis until 1972 when the Torino was switched to body-on-frame. Torino went out of production in 1977 at which point the Ranchero was switched to the LTD II chassis, also body on frame. The Ranchero started as body-on-frame, went to unibody, and finished out production as body-on-frame in 1979. BTW, the Ranchero beat the El Camino to production by 2 years….1957 for the Ranchero versus 1959 for the El Camino…although the El Camino remained in production until 1987.

    Oh, the original Econoline van was not truck based, it was unibody and based on the Falcon.

    One more bit of useless trivia: Ford was the last car company to offer a regular production ‘sedan delivery’ body style car. Ford sold the a Falcon based sedan delivery until 1965.

    My personal favorite car based pickup is the 1960 body style Ranchero. It just looks so right as a small pickup.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Doesn’t the HHR Panel count as a “sedan delivery?”

      • 0 avatar
        skor

        I think the HHR would be consider a panel van. A sedan delivery was a two door station wagon minus the rear side glass.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Now I’m thinking the VW Quantum 2-door estate would have been the last sedan delivery if there were a panel version. Which there might be?

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Different names for the same thing, skor. Others called it a “panel wagon” yet looked the same as the others and performed the same tasks. And I think we all know what a ‘step van’ is.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Sorry but the Econoline was not based on the Falcon. It did offer the same engines as used in the Falcon but that is where it ended nothing in the Chassis was interchangeable. Yes they did sell the passenger version as the Falcon Station Bus to capitalize on the Falcon’s reputation as a durable, economical vehicle.

  • avatar
    pragmatist

    Not sure there is a good market.

    Real users (Contractors etc) need the capacity. Wannabes buy the big pickups for size.
    Business users requiring less capacity are better off with a trade type van. Home users with occasional requirements are better served by an SUV or even minivan.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Too many assumptions there, Pragmatist. The people who really want these things NEED the open bed but most certainly don’t want the size of a full-sized truck

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        You mean the few guys who insist on overloading the back of their tiny trucks with a 1/4 yard of gravel as would be the case with a vehicle like this article mentions?

        Even the Ranger would struggle with a 1/2 yard of stone. Anyone doing gravel hauling isn’t going to do it with a compact truck unless they want to spend all day going back and forth to the quarry.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @danio3834 – unless one buys a 1/2 ton pickup with a max cargo package they are going to be making just as many trips to and from the rock quarry as the small truck guy and be just as overloaded.
          Ford and GM have max cargo packages but Ram does not.

          My first truck was a reg cab 4×4 long box Ranger(1984), my brother has a (1979)Chevy 4×2 reg cab long box truck. I had a higher cargo rating than he did.

          one has to look at each truck individually as there are multiple cargo ratings based on trim level and number of doors etc.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Right, I’m not suggesting the bed of any LD truck is particularly ideal for gravel hauling. A cubic yard of stone can weigh nearly a ton and a half. Anything less than that though is a pretty small project.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    “Chevrolet had a similar offering in the Corvair Greenbrier pickup, although the more popular El Camino utilized a ladder frame.”

    Actually, the first two years of El Camino production, 1959 & 1960, an X-frame was utilized. The ladder frame arrived when the Camino made the transition (or rebirth?) to the A-body (Chevelle) in 1964.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    For us suburban Home Depot/Lowe’s/Menard’s weekend warriors, a unibody pickup that’s more efficient than a Ridgeline would be most welcome.

    Or just bring back the Ford Ranger…

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      For most suburban Home Depot/Lowe’s/Menard’s weekend warriors a CUV/Minivan is more than sufficient.

      The problem is that the segment of the general public that this most appeals to really don’t need to use is capabilities enough to justify purchasing one with all its compromises.

      The “fleet, cheapskates and other bottom feeders” are exactly that, cheapskates. So it is harder to make money off of them (or, if they are not a business, get them to purchase new vs use).

      People concerned about image are still going to buy full size.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        @whynot: FALSE. The open bed is still important for those who need to carry messy loads or things that simply can’t fit in the cargo area of an SUV–like lawn mowers with their long handle. You also can’t fit the typical refrigerator/freezer into one.

        In other words, they don’t NEED the capabilities of a full-sized truck when they’re only going to use those capabilities for light and infrequent loads. A smaller open-bed unibody design “trucklet” is almost perfect for their needs and desires.

        And not everybody is concerned about “image”.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          I’ve carried a frigde in a Stow N Go Grand Caravan with the seats folded down. You could also fit several push mowers in the same space. A $10 tarp to keeps things from getting messy.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            You do know that “This End Up” really does mean “This End Up”, don’t you? Maybe you got away with it, but it’s not recommended by the manufacturers.

            And about those 8′ event tables… How many can you fit inside that S’n’G Grand Caravan with the tailgate closed?

            Hey, I’ll give you credit though, at least you can carry a 4′x8′ sheet of plywood or wallboard flat on the floor, right?

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Fridges are OK to haul on their side as long as you don’t plug them in right away once you’ve stood them up.

            “And about those 8′ event tables… How many can you fit inside that S’n’G Grand Caravan with the tailgate closed?”

            If you’re talking about the round ones, probably none, but they wouldn’t fit very well or safely in the bed of compact pickup either. A cube van or tall roof cargo van would be ideal there.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Danio. I’m talking about the long, straight tables and my current truck fits 23 of them between the wheel wells. I’m pretty sure a ’94 Ranger could carry them too, even if I have to leave the tailgate open. In fact, with a couple pieces of 2×4 as a shelf, the Ranger could probably carry MORE of them than the full-sized truck and have room to carry a few underneath the 2x4s as well. I think the Ranger could handle 30 of them without a strain while using just two tie-down straps to hold them secure. (I use one strap with the 8′ bed on my full size just to keep them from flopping around.)

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            What danio says about fridges is exactly right. Not that I’m an expert.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            “I’m talking about the long, straight tables and my current truck fits 23 of them between the wheel wells.”

            Depending on the thickness of them, a DGC could probably fit a good number inside and close the gate without having to do any additional strapping. In fact, probably more than could be stacked freely in the back of a pickup.

            “I think the Ranger could handle 30 of them without a strain while using just two tie-down straps to hold them secure.”

            Since we’re getting a bit janky with how were securing our loads now, I suppose you could strap a good number of them to a roof rack of a DGC if you absolutely needed to haul 30 tables and refuse to use a more appropriate vehicle.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Danio: If you knew what you were talking about with those 8′ tables, you’d probably say differently. Each table is 8′ long, 30″ wide and 2.5″ thick when folded. Standing on edge in the 8′ long bed of my 1990 F-150, I can fit 23 of them between the wheel wells, where obviously they will tip to one side or the other as you drive. I use the strap simply to prevent this tipping and hold the load stable. Now, considering that I KNOW those tables couldn’t fit between the wheel wells of a ’94 Ranger but that there are pockets allowing you to create a ‘shelf right at the top of the wheel wells, I should be able to put at least 25 if not 30 of those tables between the rails, though I acknowledge that the straps would be needed to not only keep them from shifting side-to-side but also prevent them from sliding out over the tailgate. Still, a simple task using between two and three ratcheting cargo straps.

            Now, how many could you fit in that DGC AND ensure they don’t shift, risking loss of load or interfere with the driver?

        • 0 avatar
          whynot

          Yes, and how many people are hauling around their lawn mowers, refrigerators, and freezers on a constant basis? Those that do already own a work van or work full size pickup.

          I can’t fit my coffee table in my Focus sedan. That doesn’t mean I am interested in buying a truck just so that I might possibly be able to move it one day.

          Hell when I moved out from my parent’s house after college to my new place I did it with a rented Grand Caravan, and my bed was the only piece of furniture I left behind.

          Most people who need the capabilities for light and *infrequent* loads are just going to rent a truck or borrow a friend’s if they need to. Not go out and buy a small pickup. I bought a table about 2 months ago and chose to do in-store pickup. Renting a pickup from Home Depot saved me far more money than the monthly payments of a $18,000+ truck would cost me.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Yes, about that, Whynot…
            “Can I borrow your truck? I need to carry some bowling alley fittings tomorrow from one alley to another. They’re too big to fit in my Jeep and I don’t have anything else available to carry them.”

            Assuming for the sake of example that I DON’T have a truck, how would you answer that request?

            Oh, and yes, I did exactly that about 2 weeks ago.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            You go to U-Haul and rent one of their F150s for $19.95 per day yes there is a mileage charge but even if you have to go 100mi and do it once a month you’d still come out way ahead vs buying a new or late model truck to use its capabilities 12 times a year.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    The problem with trucks like the Ridgeline is that they cost more than a comparable conventional 1500 truck, but offered less utility. They had smaller engines, shorter bed, etc.

    If they had stickered at $25k fully loaded, it would have been different.

    The point is unibody trucks are going to be more expensive and offer less utility than conventional ones.

    Who wants to pay more for less?

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      Same problem with the midsize trucks. They aren’t cheap, they are bad on gas and have less utility than the full size trucks, so why bother. If you really need just the cheapest truck possible, the big 3 all offer regular cab base models than can be had dirt cheap

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      The same definitely went for the Ford Sport Trac. I couldn’t believe the sticker prices on some of those things. Toward the end, they basically had no pretense of even being for any kind of traditional truck use and were just marketed as lifestyle vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      Beerboy12

      Some people just want a smaller truck, so yes, they might pay more for less because that is what they want.
      Think of it like this. I want to buy a mini van but I can get an 18 seat bus for about the same price… OK I don’t want a bus, I want a mini van so…

      • 0 avatar
        Mandalorian

        @Beerboy- the problem is that the segment you are talking about, despite its voice on the internet is quite small and negligible in real life to automakers.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          @Mandalorian
          The problem with that segment is……………………….they are not competing with one hand tied behind their backs with import tariffs and technical regulations.

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        This is me. I don’t want a HUGE truck. I just need something that can tow my boat and still fits in my garage. Thus I’ve got a ’02 Dodge Dakota Quad Cab with the V8. I’d love the same size vehicle but with small diesel for better mileage (and massive torque). The problem is truck market has gone so upscale that the OEMs don’t want to sell a mid-sizer when they can offer a full size loaded up with leather and 100 other goodies I could careless about.

        My experience with SUVs (I had Rodeo) is they can’t carry nearly the same as a pickup due to the limited sized rear hatch and odd interior dimensions. With a pickup even long or tall objects fit, for example a BBQ grill or a bike. And of course since the bed is outside you really don’t care about mulch or other dirty items, just hose the bed out when your done.

        As I mentioned on another post yesterday I’m in Brazil doing some work and these FWD trucklets are EVERYWHERE. I’ve never seen so many examples: Fiat, Chevy, Ford, VW all make such a vehicle in this market!

  • avatar
    dwford

    A great cargo hauler was the Honda Element. Boxy design, flat, plastic load floor and flip up seats. Could’ve made into an easy pickup. Hell, it even had a flip down tailgate already! And it was cheap.

    • 0 avatar
      Rental Man

      The Element, like the Ridgeline’s still gets amazing resale values. There is nothing like it if you must AWD and the same amount of people who needed them new, needs them used. Problem is, that group is not that big.

  • avatar
    mcarr

    Here’s the simple formula for success in the small (not midsize) “truck” market:

    30 mpg +
    $18k or less real world price.

    That’s it. Instead of econo-car, think econo-truck. Unibody, latter frame, doesn’t matter as long as these two targets are met.

    Heck, Ford could bring back the old Ranger, slap a small ecoboost in it, and they would still sell boatloads. It was still selling well when they killed it, if I’m not mistaken.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      The last few years of Ranger production hovered below 60k units. In 2011 it spiked to 70k as fleets like Orkin and NAPA got their final orders in, then tapered off.

      Continuing the Ranger simply wasn’t worth the investment to Ford. The amount needed to bring it up to the myriad of standards coming into affect didn’t justify an annual volume of 60k low margin units to fleets and cheapskates.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Shrink it down by 20% and not only would costs be reduced, but economy improved even using the same engines. Sales would have skyrocketed almost certainly and not JUST to “fleets and cheapskates”.

        • 0 avatar
          whynot

          Shrinking something doesn’t necessarily mean cost to build goes down all that much. That is why full size pickups and SUVs generally have such high profit margins. Costs about the same to build as a small/midsize, but can charge far much more money for it.

    • 0 avatar
      pbxtech

      I need a commuter vehicle. I would buy a truck that could; hall stuff back from Ikea, fit in my garage, be something I could loan to my kids when they need to do the same, something my wife or kids could commute in when their cars are down for service, be comfortable for a fat old man to ride enter and exit and get close to 30 MPG. I would even go as high as $20k.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        Dodge Caravan

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Where do you put the stone, bball?

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            He didn’t say anything about stone. I get stone delivered. It costs 49.95 extra, but its not like I get it delivered all the time. I also have access to a pick up truck.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @bball40dtw: Fine. You have access to a pickup truck. The nearest family member to me who has one lives over 100 miles away. The next nearest over 600 miles away. I don’t have any friends who own pickup trucks and I can bet none of my neighbors would loan me one considering how much time they spend washing and polishing them. You apparently are the exception to the rule.

            I have a need for a truck that can carry things that simply WILL NOT fit into a Caravan or any SUV. What does that leave? To be blunt, 99.99% of all new vehicles available in the US either can’t carry the load, or are simply too big for the need. It’s that simple.

          • 0 avatar
            whynot

            @ Vulpine. Then rent a pickup from Home Depot/Lowes. Or buy a tarp/use an old blanket you don’t care about and use your van/CUV/SUV.

            There are many (easy/cheap) options available between having something delivered and buying a pickup.

        • 0 avatar
          pbxtech

          I’ve had a Voyager, Caravan and then a Town and Country as family haulers. They were awesome to use, but suffered from quality issues. The Daimler Town and Country was the worst. The extended warranty was written around know defects. The power steering racks were garbage. I don’t want to ride with my cargo either. I will likely get a Mazda 3 and rent a truck when I need it. I owned an S-10 back in the late 80′s so I have some idea about how I would use one, but it did not hold up well, and well, Chevy was unhelpful. An updated version of that with safety features and decent fuel economy would tick all of the boxes for me. Maybe the new Nissan will be like that, I will go drive one before I buy.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      I agree whole-heartedly. That is, as long as they go back to the pre-2000 size or even the pre-’94 size.

      Ford themselves argued that they were canceling the model because, “any new model would come too close to the size and price of the F-150,” meaning they fully intended to make it bigger still, rather than smaller.

      • 0 avatar
        Rental Man

        @PBXTECH Fiat said NO to the US market and that sucks because a Fiat Strada Adventure double-cab with the 1.3 TD would be perfect for my needs. FWD, 4 seats in a pinch, good on paved gravel and an open small bed.

        • 0 avatar
          Victor

          There’ll be a bigger trucklet based on CUSW from Fiat, it is currently under development in Betim. This one will be some sort of a new Commander since it will be underpinned by the same platform as the new Cherokee. In Brazil it is likely to carry a Fiat badge, bit who knows… I would not rule out a US launch, regardless of that Sergio said about the Strada.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        They did make the replacement Ranger bigger, see Big Al’s object of lust. They just decided not to sell it here because they didn’t see a large enough market for it.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          The Aussies will also pay higher prices than Americans. Slash a few grand (US) off the Aussie price to accommodate the US market, and the profit goes away.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @Pch101
            Again, you are negating to tell the truth.

            You lack sincerity. You are socialist UAW stooge.

            So, we pay more. But why?

            1. Our average earning are 33% higher, ie, we don’t even have school kids on $7.50 an hour.

            2. Market size, our market is 1/15 to size of the US market.

            3. We haven’t socialized our market to have 240 000 vehicles per model (not brand).

            4. We don’t always pay more than the US. A classic example is the Mistubishi Canter truck. we actually pay less.

            5. Our cheapest pickup is THE same price as the cheapest pickup in the US.

            So, we pay on average 25% more for a vehicle, but we earn 33% more.

            So, who is paying the most for a vehicle.

            Even our fuel costs are very close between Australia and the US.

            One gallon of gas in Australia is 2.8% of our weekly average earnings vs the US’s 2.6%.

            We pay $5.60 a gallon.

            We pay roughly the rate of tax as a product of GDP as the US as well. So in effect taxation impacts us the same.

            I do think you must stop with your “half truths” and become sincere.

            But, alas, you have no intergrity.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Considering the new Ranger is at least the size of the old F-150, it’s simply too large for the market that WANTS a smaller truck. That’s also why I question the viability of the new Canyon/Colorado. Personally I think it will be a modest success. But it would have been more attractive to a lot of customers had to been about 20%-25% smaller than full-size. As many have complained, the difference in size isn’t enough to make THAT much difference in market. It’s a compromise hoping to pull in small-truck holdouts and satisfy those who bought full size only because that was the only thing available.

    • 0 avatar
      Roland

      30+ mpg, <18K. Yes.

      For me, one more thing: minimum 8" ground clearance.

      When I was shopping in 2011, a 4-cyl. 2WD std cab Ranger was the only vehicle left on the market that fit those specifications.

      Cheapskate? If you say so. No apologies from me. I think what you mean is the state of mind historically known as, "Rational."

      The fact of the matter is that back in 2011, I was taking real money to the marketplace, and looking to buy product.

      There were a lot of makes, and lot of models in the market, but instead of a really wide variety of types of vehicles, all I found was a whole bunch of Tweedles. You could get Dee, Dum, or Doo-Doo–what selection! In my case, all the so-called "compact" pickups were almost as big as the 1980 F-150 I once owned. Tacoma? Compact? Yeah, right.

      After some shopping, I got pretty frustrated. My mental "Small Truck Jihad" warning light was blinking (one day maybe Murilee will come to the my gravesite and collect it).

      Std cab fullsizers weren't all that badly priced, but they still worked out to be thousands of dollars more, for a vehicle that would not do anything better for me than a small p/u would.

      It's all very fine to say demand was dropping for small pickups. But it's no less true that a lot of small pickup buyers have been forced to buy something less suited to their wants. You can't buy something that isn't offered.

      But I'm now reasonably contented with my base Ranger.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    I have always wanted a 5 speed Baja Turbo. The closest one I could find during my car hunt was Vancouver. At this point in my life, going new made a certain kind of sense.

    However.

    I know they are over-clad and oddly proportioned, but the combo of a 2.5 Turbo, 5 speed, symmetrical AWD, carlike seating for 4, and a box that can either be secured with a hard tonneau or opened up to carry bulky cargo seemed a very compelling combination

    • 0 avatar
      zamoti

      I wanted one too for quite a while. Then I found that a 5-speed turbo Subie likes to eat pilot bearings and pilot snouts. Also, they still have spotty head gasket issues and the average equipment level was pretty low. I gave up my search for that Outback XT or Baja pretty shortly after that. Darn shame though, I still have a soft spot for them.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      I would have bought one instead of my Jeep Wrangler–but production was canceled the year before I made that purchase and none were available.

  • avatar
    whynot

    Automakers also want to make money off the trucks. Making a 18K 30+ mpg truck is not as simple or cheap as you think. Especially since many things that make a truck a good truck work against fuel economy.

    Edit: this was suppose to be in response to mcarr…

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      They could still make more money off of a mini-truck than they do off of any other unibody vehicle. One of the biggest savings is the simple fact that you don’t need that second row of seats or all that extra noise reduction/insulation/upholstery/carpet material and associated hardwares.

    • 0 avatar
      mcarr

      I don’t buy it. We have cars/drivetrains now that get 40+ mpg for less the $17k, and you’re saying automakers can’t use the same drivetrain in a car-based truck and get at least 30 mpg? Take an early 2000′s Chevy S10 2wd and drop the Cruze’s 1.4T engine and 6-speed. More power and torque than the 2.2 and I bet you easily crack 30 mpg on the highway.

      As for automaker wanting to make money. They make money on the cars they sell at that price, why is a “truck” different? If anything, it can be simpler. And let’s not forget about the CAFE benefits of selling a “truck” that gets 30+ mpg.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Making products that customers don’t want is a money-losing proposition. There has to be enough business to make it worthwhile.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Volume is the difference. GM can sell 250k + Cruzes per year which justifies the low selling price while allowing them to cover their costs and eventually make a profit.

        They couldn’t hope to move half that volume with a compact pickup in today’s market.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Unless fuel prices skyrocket to levels seen in the Eurozone, I don’t see any great demand for such a vehicle materializing in NAFTA regions. For the money, those who need a bed can get a lot more vehicle for not much more than what something like this would cost. As we’ve beaten to death in previous threads about small trucks, those who insist on a tiny truck because of the desire for small dimensions are very few and far between. So step on up into a Tacocanyonrado or make a few extra square feet in the driveway for a full size LD.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Almost every time fuel costs approach $4.00/gallon, larger sized vehicles start hitting the used car lots. Prices don’t need to approach Eurozone rates to drive buyers to more economical vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Truck buyers are willing to put up with quite a bit of pain at the pump before they turn away from full size trucks. The proof is in the sales figures, average fuel prices have been nearing $4/gal in much the US for a while, yet full size sales numbers are still roaring ahead at full steam. Even in Canada, where gas is over $5 a gallon, full size and bigger trucks are the top 2 selling vehicles and are making tremendous YoY gains.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          I’m surprised that you haven’t noticed that EVERY TIME regular gas get close to that $4 mark, full-size sales plummet. As soon as regular gas drops back to about $3.50, full-size sales rise again.

          Now, I’ll grant that this newest bunch of full-size trucks might survive that $4 mark, but at $4.50 I’ll bet they fall off yet again. When you consider that European prices for fuel, with taxes, approach $8/gallon and in some places exceed it, all of a sudden fuel economy greatly overrides size and comfort.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            That’s the thing, they haven’t. Gas has been spiking to $4/gal periodically over the last few years and they’ve only picked up momentum.

            “When you consider that European prices for fuel, with taxes, approach $8/gallon and in some places exceed it, all of a sudden fuel economy greatly overrides size and comfort.”

            That’s exactly what I said at the onset.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Aye, Danio, it is. But my point is that it doesn’t even have to get close to those figures to have an effect. I was pointing out why you don’t typically even SEE a full-sized-style pickup truck in Europe, Asia or any place else. Though I will admit they’re kind of popular in Bahrain. But then, anything big, powerful and flashy is popular there.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    The reason Chrysler shut down the Comanche – it didn’t want to cannibalize its full size truck sales – is the reason there will be no small pickups from GM, Ford, and Chrysler. You can probably forget about Toyota and Nissan too, since they’ll think the same thing about their midsize trucks.

    Only Honda, Mazda, and Subaru among the big US sellers have anything to gain from building small pickup trucks. Subaru has tried and failed with AWD, Mazda has to get a handle on rustproofing, and Honda is too timid to try to sell a FWD Civic-based pickup, its only real option.

    A RWD mini-pickup is such a small niche that only BMW is best suited to building one, off its 3-series platform, or Mercedes, from one of its truck lines. BMW will never do it, due to the image problem and price, Mercedes doesn’t build trucks in the US, and nobody will bet on a FWD pickup selling in decent numbers.

    I don’t expect to see a small pickup here until/unless the chicken tax is repealed.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      I agree! But with more foreigners opting to build in America and then ship them home to ‘mama’, that dreaded chicken tax could be repealed, depending on how the Free Trade negotiations work out.

      With the current administration there is no way of telling, forecasting, or even making an educated guess how this will turn out in the next two years, since the current administration is really lost at sea, groping at straws and anything that floats to remain upright on this Titanic.

      America is in deep doo-doo and Fair Trade negotiations are just not high on the list of flotation devices. The Keystone pipeline ranks higher.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        @highdesrtcat,
        Dep Doo Do is right. Our Dollar is saying artificially higher as a result of US problems.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @hdc
        Rob, is correct in that the US and other OECD economies didn’t latch onto the developing nation economies as well as they could have.

        Australia has something more than most other OECD economies can’t provide and that is commodities, ie, mineral and agricultural.

        The US (as well as many other’s in the OECD) is now in a position of “what can it offer a developing nation that another economy can’t”.

        FTAs, particularly in the Pacific has shown the new and growing weakness in the US’s bargaining position.

        The US isn’t happy with Australia’s agricultural agreement with Japan. The US wanted to play hard ball with the Japanese, but the Japanese stated no. But we in Australia could only gain with our agreement no matter how small it was. Why? Because we don’t have subsidisation at the same level as the US in our agri industries.

        We only gained. The US must have a better deal or it will cost. Now because of the greater protectionism offered to US farmers by the US taxpayer has left the US in a less competitive position than Australia.

        The auto industry is no different.

        The US will eventually play ball with the rest of us. It has no choice but to do so or it will gradually become locked out of more trade deals.

        The other problem with the US in negotiating FTAs is it tries to overly tailor the deals between countries, and this is apparent and the countries don’t want to deal that way, the EU FTA vs Japan FTA.

        What this is showing is as the US’s GDP diminishes as a percentage of global GDP, it bargaining position is also dimimishing.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          RobertRyan & BAFO, it always saddens me to see economic decisions made by America’s leaders that put America at a disadvantage.

          What Reagan, Bill Clinton, Bush The Elder and Shrub all realized was that there is no such thing as Fortress America when it comes to economies, economics or trade relations.

          America may be the strongest economy but if we don’t watch out, we’ll lag behind, like we do in education, internet connectivity and science degrees.

          In MY part of the country much of the food we eat is imported from Mexico, Guatemala and other foreign nations. Beef from Argentina? How about beef from Colorado, Texas or Kansas?

          Why should my fresh pineapple come from the Philippines instead of Hawaii? Why should my Orange Juice come from Brazil instead of Florida or California.

          What exactly happens to the overabundance of food we, the US, produces? My guess is it goes out to school lunch programs and food banks, courtesy of the USDA.

          Since the US almost always has a trade deficit with its trading partners it would behoove us to keep the US dollar on par or lower than the other currencies so our exports would be cheaper.

          I don’t like to eat Mandarin Oranges from China. In fact I don’t want to eat anything made in China!

          While it is true that American cars are not always in demand as much as foreign cars are overseas, I’m all for the more choice, the merrier.

          I think there is room for a unibody pickup truck for the American market, just like when Ford brought in their Turkey-built Transit.

          I’m not in the market for a small truck, but I’m sure that a number of people would be, just like with the Tacoma, the old Ford Ranger, and the GM Canyon/Colorado. There are still a number of the old Dakotas running around in my area as well.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @hdc
            It’s the same here in Australia.

            We export 80% of what we produce agriculturally. I’ve read we import 50% of what we eat.

            What we import is processed and what we export is raw mainly, just like out minerals and mining.

            Australia can’t compete in the manufacturing industry. But, why should we try?

            We are currently running record trade surpluses.

            My motto is if you can’t cook, but can build a home, don’t open a restaurant.

            So, countries should start to look at what they can do. If they can’t cook, then don’t subsidise the cooks because they will lose their jobs.

            Someone has to pay in the end and it’s the consumer/taxpayer.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      @Lorenzo: I agree with your conclusion, but not with your reasoning. It wasn’t the AWD that failed for the Subaru, it was the same thing that killed the Ford Explorer Sport–simply not enough open bed to qualify as a ‘truck’ in buyers’ eyes. Even so, had the Baja held out even one more year, I would have very probably (better than 90% chance) purchased that over the Jeep Wrangler I ended up with. Not only would the Baja have been less expensive (by about $3,000) but it would have an open bed large enough for most of my needs (and my need to carry 8′ event tables twice a year is shrinking rapidly). Still, I’d rather have something with the equivalent of an ‘extended’ cab over full 4-door capacity.

  • avatar
    Victor

    Every time I see a ladder frame truck all I can think of is how high the center of gravity is, and all that steel it must carry around, mostly useless while on tarmac duty or not hauling big things. I see tons of S10, Hilux, Ranger, Amarok every day, 99% of the times with empty beds, doing nothing a car wouldn’t do – and a lot better. While saving heavily on gas. And tires.

    The unibody truck simply makes more sense to me. I know the Strada has leaf springs in the back, and that the Montana is one of the worst vehicles in history of mankind, but it is still a lot better to live with than a mid size ladder frame truck. I’ve found myself lusting after a Strada Adventure more than once. Would be awesome to haul our bikes without that god awful roof rack I have to use, while still fitting into regular parking spaces.

    • 0 avatar

      But sometimes that 1% of ability makes it all worthwhile.
      But I agree that a small, efficient, utility pickup would be great, but there’s little money to be made in them.

      • 0 avatar
        Victor

        I believe there is money to be made. But it will take a major OEM with balls of steel to release a proper trucklet that will set the trend. And the others will follow. It takes very specific conditions to make small trucks like the Strada profitable. Brazil has them, but not the US. It must be bigger.

        The Ridgeline could have been this vehicle, if it wasn’t so big and underpowered.

    • 0 avatar
      koshchei

      It’s the supposed utility that sells these trucks to a majority of buyers. They’re so busy preparing for the apocalypse that they don’t realize that the two times during their ownership of the truck that they put something in the bed that couldn’t otherwise be carried by a minivan or CUV, they could just rent one from the local Budget or Enterprise for $35.

      In effect, for $19,995 + $70, they get to enjoy all the advantages of a heavy cargo hauling truck when they need it, and the excellent fuel economy and car-like handling of a Caravan or whatever else they drive the rest of the time.

      Pickup ownership is for the other 15% of the population, who work in agriculture or the trades, and actually use/need the cargo bed and hauling capacity every day. For the rest of us, it’s just magical thinking and insecurity that car dealers prey upon to sell us expensive, rough-handling, crude, gas guzzling dinosaurs that we’ll get the worst out of 99.9% of the time, while only thinking of that 0.1% where we might possibly save the day.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        And the same argument stands against it; many of these people WANT, if not NEED, the open bed. While I’ll grant I can carry a fair amount of stuff even in the back of my JKU Jeep, I can’t carry a fully-assembled lawn mower or loose landscaping materials. I don’t even like carrying flowers and bushes back from nurseries because then I have to leave the top open and the vehicle unsecured until the moisture dries out. You can’t even do that much with most hard-bodied CUVs, SUVs or minivans.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @koshchei – and try to see how that Caravan would hold up following me around in the winter or down some logging road.
        I had a rental pickup for 9 days and fortunately for me I was covered by my insurance. Even though it was a 4×4 almost identical to my own, the rental agreement forbade me to “take it off-road”.

        Another point lost on the “minivan” will do the job 99% of the time crowd” is that if you actually carry anything in the van, your van will smell like the cargo. That is all fine and dandy if you carry fresh cut flowers and lumber but it sucks if you put a load of garbage or rotting lumber in it for a trip to the dump. A couple of Labrador retrievers after a romp in a swamp are lovely additions to the inside of that van.
        Ask me why I know?
        When the 2008 meltdown hit I was in need of a vehicle that could carry my family and gear. I wanted a truck but got a good deal on a 8 passenger Safari van. I took the back row of seats out and put a net up to keep those labs in the back. I had to pull the remaining row out to carry lumber.
        No thanks.
        I’d rather have that “expensive, rough-handling, crude, gas guzzling dinosaurs that we’ll get the worst out of 99.9% of the time, while only thinking of that 0.1% where we might possibly save the day.”
        35k wasn’t too bad for a new F150 XLT SuperCrew 4×4 6.5 box truck with all the options.
        It actually rides reasonably well and if far from crude – I’ve done the same 2,000km round trip in it twice that we’ve also done in our Sienna minivan. The truck is a nicer place to spend 8 hours traveling in ……thank you very much.
        Gas guzzling – I’ll concede that one but 20.5 mpg highway isn’t too bad for such a big truck.
        Guess which vehicle took the kids to school after each winter storm?

  • avatar
    TW5

    Unibody offroaders have enough problems, yet all they do is drive over rocks and ford shallow streams. If you start slamming cargo around in the bed, and towing heavy-ish utility trailers on a regular basis, you’re asking for all kinds of structural problems.

    Unibody trucks are good for “that guy” who must commute in a truck to signal his masculinity, though he never actually uses it to do work. Unfortunately, “that guy” would learn from the real blue-collar laborers that unibody trucks are “for pussies”. “That guy” would never end up buying a unibody. In fact, he’d probably switch from F-150 Platinum to F-350 Powerstroke SuperDuty just to distance himself further from the concept of unibody “pussy trucks”. He’s a real man. Rollin’ Coal on his way to work and paying 3 mortgages.

    • 0 avatar
      koshchei

      And have 7 young mouths to feed because real men don’t take precautions, even when their household income is less than $35k/year, if we want to take your absurd example to its natural conclusion.

      “Real men” have penises. That’s the only requirement to join the club. Basing financial decisions on not being confused for a 47 year old office worker riding high on a midlife crisis doesn’t make you a man; it makes you a moron.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Yup, take it to the ridiculous extreme. When’s the last time you saw one trying to, “start slamming cargo around in the bed, and towing heavy-ish utility trailers on a regular basis”?

      And your reasoning is all wrong. ““that guy” who must commute in a truck to signal his masculinity,” would never buy a compact truck in the first place, so while they “might” be sufficient, they aren’t.

      On the other hand, the do-it-yourself type who simply needs the ability to carry their own landscaping and home repair supplies and otherwise needs an economical second car for personal purposes (NOT as a family hauler) needs enough bed to comfortably carry lumber, paints and other materials from the local hardware store and doesn’t care about needing massive load-bearing or towing capacity. The old compact pickups more than met this need and were quite popular–even after the choice was taken away from them. Some of those old trucks in good condition still command from 50% to 75% of their sticker value while those in near-mint condition sell for more than original sticker. When you can find them.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        Jeez-O-Pete, Vulpine, how much dirt, rock and nursery is the average homeowner gonna want to haul over the life of a vehicle? Because everything else is easily handled by decent minivan (and arguably the leafy things, too).

        If you’re doing enough of that for it to dictate your every consideration why aren’t you in business? Which would put your vehicle choice on a whole different plateau.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          I’ll make it super simple for you. I don’t want or need a van of any type because they are a waste of space far more often than not–For Me.
          I don’t want or need a full-sized pickup truck because they are simply grossly too large for where I have to park it AND too unwieldy on the roads I frequently drive.
          I CAN’T use a trailer because my HOA won’t permit a trailer visible on the property when not functionally in use (meaning for loading and unloading, fine–once done, it MUST vanish.) Sure, they provide “overload parking” where such might be parked, but so far every such trailer parked in those lots has vanished–been stolen–within days. Travel trailers and enclosed utility trailers secured with some form of hitch lock (and too heavy to pick up and load into another such trailer/truck) have been broken into and vandalized. In other words, a trailer of any sort is out of the question. (I blame the HOA for permitting homeowners to rent said homes on Section 8 after one year as primary residence for said homeowner.) What can I do about it? Nothing.

          My only option? Buy what works for me as a private vehicle–THOSE get left alone because they are always in plain view of residents and their owners.

          Will I ever consider a full-sized pickup for myself as a NEW vehicle? Probably not. Even if I moved I simply don’t like the gross size that pickup trucks have become over the last 20 years. At least the new Colorado/Canyon come near the ’90 vintage size of full-sized models.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            I don’t blame you, I blame Emerson. He knew exactly what this QOTD would yield.

            Baruthian, but crueler.

      • 0 avatar
        TW5

        Truck-buyers are generally people who prepare for extremes, which poses no problem, unless they use the pickup for mundane daily driving. The guy who does 80%-90% mundane driving would benefit from a lightweight unibody with car-like sophistication, but ultimately he’s buying the truck for its masculine-work-cred.

        What pickup truck owners want and what they need is not aligned. If you expect them to buy only what they need, you’re kidding yourself. That’s why we don’t have unibody trucks. They don’t satisfy the want for productivity and masculinity, hence my ridiculous extreme narrative.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    The BOF Ford Ranger was built from 1983 to 2012 with two minor updates. It was also sold in Mexico, South America and as the Mazda B-Series.

    With tooling paid for since the Reagan administration Ford must have made gobs of money on it. It was discontinued to boost F-150 sales.

    Ford will have to rethink its pickup marketing plan real quick if the 2015 Colorado/Canyon takes off.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The updates to the Ranger were not minor. It got virtually all new sheet metal once and a new cab another time and the chassis was completely redesigned once. All in all the last vehicle to carry the Ranger name shared not a single part with the first generation vehicles.

      It was not discontinued to boost F150 sales. It was discontinued because about 1/2 the buyers were fleets who only purchased the least profitable versions and many of the other buyers bought them because they were at the time the cheapest new vehicle on the Ford dealer’s lot.

      The Ranger would have needed another bunch of updates to make it meet the current safety standards and with ever dwindling sales of compact pickups and the fact that compact pickup buyers often purchase base models there just wasn’t a business case to spend the money to upgrade it to meet the safety standards. The fact that it hurt CAFE under the new footprint rules also didn’t help. They fully expected a lot of the fleet buyers to switch to the Transit Connect not a F150 and the people who were just buying the cheapest vehicle on the lot to get a Fiesta. The few that would defect to other brands would not have been worth chasing.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Scout, I’ll give you 50% on your argument; your first paragraph is fully correct. However, after that, you fall more into opinion than fact, and it shows.

        The simple problem is that Ford, like GM and Ram before them, kept making them bigger to stay under the CAFE caps, and that alone is what killed the compact truck in the long run. Not any “fad” or “cheapest new vehicle on the Ford dealer’s lot,” simple, ordinary, BLOATED size. They outgrew their purpose and THAT is why people stopped buying them.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          Ford did not make them larger to meet the CAFE requirements, the last redesign was done before the footprint regulations were enacted or proposed. The regular cab Ranger did not grow 2′, it was about a foot of growth in the length.

          1983-88 regular cab, short bed 175.6″ OAL 107.9″ WB 66.9″ width
          1989-92 regular cab, short bed 176.6″ OAL 107.9 WB 66.8″ width
          1993-97 regular cab, short bed 184.3″ OAL 107.9″ WB 69.4″ width
          1998-2011 regular cab, short bed 188.5″ OAL 111.6″ WB 70.3″ width.

          The increase in length between the 1983 and 1993 was mostly due to the curvy front and rear ends instead of the flat face and tail gate used on the early vehicles. The increase in 1998 was a 4″ longer cab to make the interior bearable for an “average” sized American.

          For the extended cab the longest OAL was 202.9″ and the shortest was 192.7″

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      “The BOF Ford Ranger was built from 1983 to 2012 with two minor updates.”

      Minor? The standard-cab, short-bed model gained a full two FEET in length over that time. And that doesn’t even mention the other dimensions. While I admit it was still smaller than the full-sized F-150 in 2012, it came very, very close tot he size of the full-sized F-150 of 1990 at the end of production.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I think I already wrote the article about the Tornado/Montana for TTAC :)

    Yes, yes I did! The big fact I cited was that the unibody pickup would really help any manufacturer’s truck CAFE numbers.

    One thing that hurts is the availability of small, unibody, commercially-intended vans like the Transit Connect or NV200. Companies that need light-duty delivery or service vehicles are moving from compact pickups to these small-but-tough vans.

    If one of those was available with a clutch, I’d buy one.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      But you did overlook one point. While the NV200, Transit Connect and even the RamCargo (or whatever they call the cargo version of the Caravan) are the most popular NOW, they have one serious lack that no other vehicle their size provides and which MANY of those buyers would like to have–a simple, open, bed. That’s the one thing the Tornado/Montana would offer American buyers that no other compact vehicle provides.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      I do think the Chev version of the Nissan van would make a nice pickup.

      So long as a 2 litre diesel version came out.

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    It’s an irony that many of the pro compact pickup crowd are of the libertarian or capitalist fundie bent and their beloved free market keeps kicking them in the face by rejecting this type of truck. They need to just buy an old one, fix it up, get a greasy baseball cap, some NRA/prepper bumper stickers and call it a day.

    BTW, go the epampg.org website and see how the RAM with the Pentastar V6 destroys JapanInc trucks of all sizes in gas mileage. Owners tell me they get even better than estimated hwy mpg with the 8 speed Torqueflite.

    • 0 avatar
      niky

      The rest of the world doesn’t use the 4 liter V6s you use over their in their “compact” (well, more midsize now, really) pick-ups. We all use diesels, which are good for well in excess of 30 mpg (should net nearly 40 mpg on the EPA highway test).

      Of course, the cost equation doesn’t quite work out in the US due to different diesel laws and the cost of localization… but you will likely see something more representative of what we get when GM finally launches the new Colorado there.

      That’s if they launch it with the diesel.

      • 0 avatar
        billfrombuckhead

        The answer is profitability. You don’t see many 2door midsize cars anymore even though one upon a time they ruled the roads. Short wheelbase minivans,midsize convertibles, BOF SUV’s, full size cars, many automotive form factors are withering.

        If Ford saw no profitability in replacing the Crown Vic, why screw around with a Ranger especially after Explorer went Taurus based?

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      “BTW, go the epampg.org website and see how the RAM with the Pentastar V6 destroys JapanInc trucks of all sizes in gas mileage.”

      So make it available in a smaller body–preferably about 25% smaller. You simply can’t FIND one of those ’80s-vintage compacts in good condition today.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      @billfrombuckhead
      Why would I want a V6 gas engine with at most 300ftlb of torque giving poor FE when I can buy an over 400ftlb diesel and get a third better FE?

      Some of you US guys must realise that the midsizer in the US isn’t what we have. Our midsizers are more capable vehicles.

      They have to be, HDs and full size 1/2 ton pickups are toys for us, not work trucks.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Why would I want a diesel engine with less horsepower and have to pay more not only to buy it but to keep it in fuel because the measely increase in mpg is more than offset by the higher cost of fuel?

  • avatar
    turboprius

    When we purchased our Ranger in 2008, we bought it thinking that it’d just be a good way to haul lawn debris and stuff around without messing up our MPV. Because we also had another vehicle, we got a regular cab Ranger.

    But that month, my grandfather needed a car. So, we were only with one passenger vehicle for four years (the MPV/Rogue) until we bought our other RAV4. In that time, our vehicle flexibility was compromised, and we had to use the MPV/Rogue for almost everything.

    I agree with all of y’all. Our RAV4 easily carried a 55 inch tv with the backseat folded down, but if you’re a landscaper or handle messy things, a truck is for you.

  • avatar
    George B

    Depends on price and utility. I like the idea of a vehicle that drives like a car, but can carry bulky and messy items like a pickup truck. I could see a Ute/El Camino as an alternative to a RWD coupe like a Camaro or Mustang.

    The Chevrolet Avalanche had much more car-like suspension motion than an equivalent Silverado. I care more about suspension tuning that avoids the “bouncy” under-damped motion sickness inducing truck ride. What makes a truck ride like a truck?

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Subaru already has the ideal platform, a 4WD stamping for the Legacy which could be easily converted into their version of a mini-El Camino.

      Peg it ~$26K with a 4-banger and ~ $31K for the 6-cyl version, and there would be buyers. Price it any higher than that and we’ll see a rash of V6 Silverado sales instead because those retail for about $25K in MY area. Probably other areas as well.

      All the goodness of a full-size halfton truck with a normally aspirated uncomplicated V6 under the hood. But then you’ll be wondering when the next recall comes out…….

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    The Comanche was a unibody truck it did not have a separate frame, the “frame” under that box was basically the same frame rails that were under the Cherokee, stretched slightly with a sheet metal cap to tie them together. True the bed bolted on to that but it did not have a separate ladder frame. Search the internet for some of the crew cab Commanches that people have built out of a Cherokee and a Comanchee. Many have some detailed pictures of the construction and the merging of the unibody stiffening rails.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I just thought of the perfect solution to the wants of having a small truck 99% of the time vs. the actual NEEDS of a small truck 1% of the time:

    Rent the truck for $19.00/hr. or so at Home Depot/Lowe’s/Menards like we do!

    Problem solved while cruising merrily along in my Impala…

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Ummm… Home Depot won’t rent you their truck unless you’re carrying a load from THEIR store. And they charge extra if you keep it longer than one hour. Significantly extra at some locations. I can’t just rent their truck, go to the “tent events” operator, load up 20-30 tables, keep the truck overnight, unload at an event, reload after the event, keep the truck overnight, take the load back to the operator and finally drop off the truck at Home Depot. And certainly Hertz, U-Haul and any other truck rental agency would charge you far more than a mere $19 to do that.

      I bought the truck I have now simply because I needed to do exactly that. I paid $2500 for the truck and after repairs a total of $5000 including registration. That truck has been driven a total of 4,000 miles in over two years while my Jeep is driven about 8,000 miles every year. True, the Jeep only get marginally better gas mileage, but it’s smaller size and tighter turning radius allow it to go where maneuvering an 18 foot long truck that is also wider than that Jeep is a pain. I have enough need to keep a truck, but I don’t have an absolute need for a full-sized truck when a compact truck can carry the same loads with better agility and is easier to park when finished. But as you can see, I have NO need for massive load-bearing or towing capacity.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        The Hertz 24/7 (competitor to ZipCar) rental trucks at Lowes don’t have a restriction. You make the reservation on-line and use a yellow Hertz key-fob to unlock the truck. I just took a look at a local Lowes on-line and there’s a choice between a Sprinter and an F-250 for $20.52 an hour. It’s raining right now so the Sprinter would be a good choice today if I had something to cart home.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        I meant to include when you bought something from HD that required a truck.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          It doesn’t have to be that complicated.

          Some of my contractor friends have rented U-Haul or Ryder vehicles, including a 1-ton pickup truck when their truck was in the shop. It’s a pain moving all their gear, but without a truck they can’t make money.

          And like Steve Lang suggested, you can always rent or borrow a trailer for the one-sies and two-sies.

          U-Haul, Penske, Ryder, most are willing to rent you a trailer.

          Avis, Hertz, Enterprise will rent you a pickup truck but they always want and arm and a leg for them.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            But renting a truck from Hertz et al a couple of times per year is still cheaper than owning a truck of your own if you will only use its capabilities a couple of times per year.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @HDC: @Scoutdude:

            Would YOU rent a trailer just to run to the store, etc? I’ll admit that I have rented a trailer–once–because I had to move furniture from one part of the country to another and didn’t have a second driver available to drive a truck. The SUV simply couldn’t carry anything more than a couple of lamps after all the boxed stuff was loaded. BUT, to say, “I’m going to Home Depot to pick up a load of paving bricks,” then go down to U-Haul, et al, and go through that time-consuming process of renting, tow it up to the shop, load, tow it home (by now possibly after dark so let it sit overnight (remember that HOA? They don’t like that.) Unload it in the morning, tow it back to U-Haul et al, go through all the check-in paperwork only to find they’re overcharging you “because you kept it over the 12-hour time limit”… Really, my point is that renting is very typically a hassle in itself that makes any hardware store run a hassle. At best (renting directly from the hardware store), it forces you to make two trips. At worst, it costs you three times what it’s worth. I could have bought 20 more paving stones for that $19.95 rental price.

            The perception of utility means the capability to carry what you want, when you want, at no extra cost. In my own case I may be carrying camping gear one week, those event tables mentioned elsewhere another week, some lumber and tools a third week, Ikea a fourth week all in a row or with 2 – 4 weeks in between. I don’t live my life around a schedule that says, “Ok, I need to rent a truck tomorrow, a trailer next week, oh, when are we visiting your father? Didn’t he say he had a pile of stuff for us? Will we be ok with the Jeep, or do we need to rent a trailer?” Sure, I’ve been known to pack a lot into a small space–simply because I’ve had to. I’ve also been known to leave things behind simply because I didn’t have the room to carry them. As a second vehicle, a pickup truck IS a more convenient choice–as long as it has enough room in the cab to securely contain things you don’t want to leave out in the open bed–things like your cargo management tools, any regular tools you might want to carry on a short-term basis, etc. In fact, most extended cabs are now big enough to carry a couple of bowling bags with easy loading through the half-doors (well, maybe excepting those using conventionally-styled half doors. Another logical and functional fail that Ford hasn’t adopted.

            In other words, I agree with all you people who prefer pickup trucks over other types of vehicle. What I don’t agree with is the supposed NEED for such gargantuan size and ‘muscle car’ horsepower. It’s these gigantic trucks that are a fad now, and they simply cannot survive for much longer. When an F-150 starts to impinge on Class 5 capabilities, it has just grown too large for everyday consumer use.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            For you having that truck makes sense I was just pointing out that for people who only need the capability a couple of times per year renting makes sense. Yes you could by 10 more bricks for the price of the rental truck but how much did your pickup cost, how much is the annual license fee and insurance?

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Ah, Scoutdude, therein lies the rub.

            “… but how much did your pickup cost, how much is the annual license fee and insurance?”

            If the pickup serves as a second vehicle, then no more than had I purchased a second SUV, or a sedan, or sports car, etc. Literally, the only place where your argument holds water is if the owning family only uses one car… exclusively. When you already have need for a second vehicle, the pickup truck–especially a compact pickup truck, pretty much makes the ideal choice with its capability to do things the family car was never meant to do.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Vulpine, a pickup truck has always been a part of me and my household, even when I was single and living in the Air Force Barracks. My first vehicle after joining the Air Force was a used Air Force IHC 4-door pickup truck that had been used on the flightline.

            But before I amassed my collection of vehicles and trailers, there have been times when I had to go down to U-Haul and rent a robust trailer. That was in the time frame 1980-1985 when I was actively building/expanding my house and did not yet own all that stuff.

            After I retired from the Air Force in 1985, worked full-time on our house, and my wife had joined her family’s business, I started buying up cars, trailers, trucks, motorcycles, just for grins, and with an eye to possible resale at some future date.

            A fellow Air Force retiree who was a welder while on active duty was persuaded by me to build a custom flatbed trailer for me in 1986 with three axles, a long yoke and a detachable back steel mesh ramp. I still own that trailer today and he has been successfully building custom trailers for people here and in Texas ever since. He even builds them for renown commercial trailer retailers, making excellent money.

            So my experience doesn’t mesh well with the experiences of others because MY purchases were purpose-driven, and the stuff that was not available to suit my needs, I had built; like my custom shorty trailer for my girthy Wacker Generator.

    • 0 avatar
      Roland

      Zackman, I thought long and hard when I was shopping in 2011.

      One notion was to just rent a truck for the several weeks during the summer when I do a lot of backcountry driving.

      When I looked at the insurance fineprint on truck rental agreements, they wouldn’t cover me for off-pavement use.

      I also looked at some auto sharing companies and co-ops, which are now common in Vancouver. Their arrangements didn’t make economic sense for my usage pattern.

      Most of all I hunted for good quality used compact trucks. All overpriced. Made more sense to buy new.

      But when I went to the new vehicle market? No choices. Nothing really compact. They sell ‘em all over the world, but somehow we can’t get them in USA/Cda. Definite case of Market Fail.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @Roland – agreed and yes rental companies won’t let you go offroad unless you are willing to pay extra.

        Another point is that in my part of the world (Northern BC) many seasonal resource companies will lease or rent pickups during prime time. That means that during tree planting/brush thinning season, fire suppression season, and the summer construction season you don’t stand a hope in hell of finding a rental truck available anywhere.

  • avatar
    cpthaddock

    I’m holding my breath, waiting for Toyota to bring us the Prius T hybrid pickup trucklet. It will success where others have failed simply by virtue of being a Toyota and a Prius.

    In 15 years time we will look back and wonder why we questioned the validity of the concept as day laborers trundle along 20MPH under the speed limit in ugly beater survivor Prius T’s with their motley assortment of yard work equipment dangling precariously from the bed …

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    The light user of trucks is already taken care of thanks to a long list of market substitutes.

    For $500, you can buy a new utility trailer from Lowes which can haul a new fridge, a lawnmower, and any number of odds and ends I wouldn’t want to put on a daily driver.

    Five years later, you can sell it for around $300 to $400.

    Then there are the $19.95 pickup truck deals that wind up costing about double in the end. Most places also charge only about $60 to deliver these units.

    A lot of folks already either have access to a truck, or keep one as an extra vehicle with infrequent use.

    In sum, the demand for this type of vehicle may be a reality by the end of the decade. However, like the compact minivan and the front bench midsize sedan, the marketplace just doesn’t reward automakers for offering compact solutions to consumers who want “volume” in terms of space snd overall price.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      #1: Can’t do it. HOA does not permit utility trailers visible at any location on the property. No garage to store it? No trailer.

      #2: With minimum 3-day use on any one occasion, rental is almost out of the question–especially if it’s an unexpected load. There’s typically a waiting list for commercial renters.

      #3: Guess who gets to be the ” keep one as an extra vehicle with infrequent use.”

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Pretty much every time I pass by the local U-Haul places they have a F150 and E150 out front and ready to go. If you go with the longer rentals they give you a better deal and include free miles too. Call it $150 per time tops and it would take a lot of rentals to catch up with the $5000 truck, the insurance, oil changes ect.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          If money were the only object, Scout, you would likely be right. But convenience falls in there too, and rental is NOT a convenience when it takes time away from other tasks. I might as well lease then and go for a 1, 2 or 3-year rental. Now THAT’s wasted money. Granted, it has its short term advantages, but you can’t even trade it in per se–you have to turn it in and either rent something else (Ok, lease), try to buy it back (maybe at a higher price than it was new when you take your lease payments into account) or try to buy something else. Or, if you want to change brands, you’ve now got to find your way to some other dealership because you’re walking, since you no longer have access to the vehicle you drove in.

          You see, every choice has its advantages and its disadvantages. What works for you may not work for me and what works for me may not work for you. It all depends on personal needs and desires. That’s why there’s such a broad choice of brands and models of vehicles BUT, there’s a huge hole in the truck market here in the US where car buyers have choice from town car to econobox but truck buyers only have choice of biggest and big. The people who WANT small and smaller either have to get more than they want, or accept a less-capable vehicle in the size they want.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    Considering compact pickups are not for sale in the US market there is nothing to save.
    Compact pickups with uni body construction and FWD comfortably exist and even thrive in many other markets around the world, made by amongst others, Ford, Nissan, Fiat and GM. They, don’t need saving either.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    It seems there are some on this site who really don’t know vehicles.

    I do think the US would sell Holden and Falcon unibodied pickups.

    They are very useful and some can carry a ton.

    They can also be very quick and out handle a Rousche Mustang, like the Maloo.

    These are also the quickest pickups in the world. Even your so called performance style pickups like the Tremor is only good for 98mph, slower than a diesel Yaris.

    http://www.caradvice.com.au/240453/hsv-maloo-r8-review-2/

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The reason that “the Tremor is only good for 98mph” is due to the speed limiter’s setting. It is set there because they equip it with truck tires with that speed rating. The fact is that 98mph will get you a ticket on any public road in the US and the number of people who take their cars, let alone trucks, is extremely small so there isn’t a good reason to equip it with tires that allow a higher top speed.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @Scoutdude
        I run a 4×4 that can carry 2 1/2 times the load of the Tremor.

        I don’t seem to have any issues acquiring tyres that are speed rated to do the job.

        ALL major tyre manufacturers produce tyres to manage over 200kph for light duty trucks and 4x4s.

        The Tremor is no more than a SUV.

        Can you please come up with a better response.

        My issue is the Tremor is slated as a “performance” pickup. Even our 2.2 litre diesel Rangers are quicker at 109mph.

        So, how well are Tremors at speed?

        For $42 000, especially in the US you’d expect a lot more.

        Even our V8 Holden SS utes are speed limited, so I know what you mean, but they are speed limited to 250kph.

        They carry roughly the same weight as the Tremor.

        So why is it so?????

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          Why is it so?

          1. Because we have 27 lawyers for every regular person in the US and they are happy to sue big corporations any chance they get.

          2. Because the fastest you can legally drive on a US road is 80mph so there really isn’t a good reason to justify fitting it with tires capable of higher speeds and adjusting the speed limiter accordingly and thus exposing themselves to the lawyers.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          @Scoutdude
          Your maximum speed is actually 85mph on the half useless highway in San Antonio, Texas.

          I thought you would have understood tyres and the standards that are set for tyres?

          I’ll help you out.

          1. If you don’t have the correct speed rated tyres on any vehicle and you have an accident due to a blowout the insurance company will not pay.

          2. Tyres are speed rated, generally by the use of a letter, ie, ‘N’.

          3. Tyres are also load rated. This is expressed in pounds and kilograms. This means each and every tyre is designed to carry a certain load safely at the designated speed rating.

          4. Tyres are also made to suit standardised rim sizes, ie, 17″ (ie, a common size on midsizers).

          5. Tyres also measure the wall height. This is expressed as a percentage of their width, ie, 70 Series. This indicates that the tyre wall is 70% of the tyres width. So if the tyre is a 265 (expressed in millimetres). The wall height is 265mm x 0.7 (if you don’t know 0.7 is a decimal expression of 70%).

          If you need to know more about cars and trucks, just give me a ‘hoy’.

          So, you see, there are many tyres that will go onto the F-150 Tremor.

          The reason for the speed limiting is similar to Ford Australia limiting their Fords to 180kph.

          Reliability and drivetrain issue can arise under warranty.

          The Falcon is speed limited in the 4 litre six.

          I do think the real reason behind the low speed the Tremor is limited to is more an engineering issue not a legal one.

  • avatar
    RobertRyan

    @J. R Emerson,
    The Tacoma is not sold all over the world. The Hilux a different Pickup is.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      The Tacoma is a peculiar vehicle for a peculiar market with peculiar government regulations. That peculiar market is too big to ignore, so the Tacoma was built for it. If our peculiar government didn’t have such peculiar regulations that create a peculiar market, and instead coordinated its regulations to match the rest of the world (within reason), the Hilux world version likely would be built here instead of the Tacoma.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        While I doubt the current Hilux meets US regulations, regulations aren’t the reason Toyota developed a truck specifically for our market. We buy big pickups to do big jobs, while in many other places people make do with smaller trucks. Since the majority of small trucks here don’t have to carry a ton of building materials, most people don’t want a little truck that rides like an empty 1-ton. For that reason Toyota developed the far more civilized Tacoma. Nobody wants to suffer behind the wheel of a light duty truck here.

        • 0 avatar
          RobertRyan

          @CJinSD,
          Current Hilux is much better in its ride comfort, but still lags behind the Amarok, BT-50 and Ranger, which have F150 ride like characteristics All of these Pickups have their “Laramie” version.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @Lorenzo
        You are half correct in your response.

        What also must be stated is that the US midsizer must be ‘dumbed’ down as not to take away from full size 1/2 ton sales.

        I do know that my over 30mpg 200hp, 350ftlb diesel Mazda BT50 that can tow 7 700lbs and can carry up to approximately 3 000lbs would be very attractive in the US market.

        I’ve actually set my cruise on my BT50 for 200 miles at speeds quicker than a F-150 Tremor can attain as well.

        There are a multitude of example of pickups like my BT50 globally.

        These do pose a threat to US manufacturers. Not that they will set the US on fire, but they will reduce enough sales of US full size 1/2 ton pickups to make the viability of the US pickup more expensive and challenging them to improve FE, load capacity etc.

        The consumer would state why is it that imported pickups can get up to 40mpg and be able to carry 2 500lbs on a 6′x8′ bed and our trucks can’t.

        These will force the US manufacturers to produce competitive trucks.

        At the moment regulation has more control in improving the US 1/2 ton pickup. Whereas for us globally, the competition is more driven by the market.

        Sort of a more socialist system the US does have.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I still think the Strada is awesome.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Again, another interesting debate on TTAC about the viability of pickups, irrespective of size.

    Now, lets look at this logically. And try and find out why the US full size is deemed as superior.

    What is their in place to increase the attractiveness of a full size.

    Also, if they are so competitive that no other vehicle can compete, why does the 25% Chicken Tax remain in place, like it has for over 50 years now?

    So, if this Chicken Tax has remained and the full size pickup is invincible according to our UAW Stooges, why do they don’t they state we don’t require any form of protectionism for the US full size market?

    The UAW Socialist still have yet to explain this.

    To the embedded UAW stooges, ie, Pch101 and DiM, please explain this.

    Why is their a need for the Chicken Tax if full size pickup dominance is unchallengeable?

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      The chicken tax was imposed by Europe (we were flooding the euro market with less expensive chicken meat, killing euro chicken farmers), and the pickup tax was imposed in retaliation. The euro chicken tax is still in place, so the import tax on teeny-weeny euro trucks remains.

      The tax just happens to ensnare the rest of the world’s teeny-weeny truck makers, who weren’t the target, because they weren’t building/importing teeny-weeny trucks at the time. Now it’s too late. Our peculiar government has peculiar government regulations that make teeny-weeny trucks impossible to build OR import at a profit.

      The problem obviously lies with our peculiar government made up of peculiar government agencies that impose peculiar government regulations. While the rest of the world probably enjoys watching America’s peculiarities as a long-running soap opera, this is one of those cases where America reaches through the screen and slaps the audience without resorting to using its military.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @Lorenzo
        That doesn’t answer my question. It appears to be an excuse.

        Why is their a need for the chicken tax?

        When it’s apparent to some that the full size is too competitive. This is the reason for the poor showing of midsize sales?

        If this is the case why the chicken tax? Answer that.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          @BAFO – The only thing the chicken tax has done to affect the US market is bring on the whole mini-truck crazy/fad/invasion. After that, it was the American market that pushed mid-size trucks out of the equation. And sent Mazda, Isuzu and Mitsu pickups to greener pastures from lack of sales/profitability. Same with domestic D3 small pickups. Plus VW and Subie. Anything beyond that is just wives tales proven wrong repeatedly, but your child’s mind just won’t let go of.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @DiM
            Provide links to support your claim.

            If it is as widely known as you claim how come I can never find this information on the net.

            Read Roberty Ryan link written by a Canadian in the auto industry.

            So provide a link to confirm your UAW inspired paradigms.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @BAFO – A link for what specifically? You’re just talking crazy.

            OK, try to follow the bouncing ball here. If the chicken tax had any teeth, the ’80s mini-truck crazy/fad/invasion would’ve never happened. Then if the CT has zero affect when there’s ACTUAL demand for a product, what the heck does that tell you? You’re a troll? Don’t be so hard on yourself mate!!!

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @DiM
            Just provide links to support your views on the chicken tax and it’s impact on the US pickup market.

            You continually make broad statements that you can’t verify with any credible backup.

            Comment’s alluding to all information on the internet regarding the chicken tax is a ‘wive’s tale’ leads me to believe that you just don’t have any clue on what you are debating.

            Do you want to debate lawnmowers? You might be better at this subject.

            You obviously are quite clueless regarding anything related to pickups let alone motor vehicles in general.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @BAFO – What’s a “broad statement”? You can’t say the chicken tax has any real affect on what’s for sale here AND still admit the ’80s mini-truck craze/fad/invasion happened with a straight face. Which is it?

            There’s either real demand for a product or excuses. So which is it???

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            FALSE, Denver. The Chicken Tax had no effect on bringing smaller trucks IN–it was created to keep German trucks OUT. It was the ’72 oil embargo that triggered the massive influx of small trucks and cars even though most had already entered our markets in small numbers years earlier. After all, watching gas prices double and triple in the course of about two years brought on a strong demand for more economical transportation. That included trucks.

            When I started driving, self-serve gas cost me 25¢ per gallon. By the mid ’70s, gas prices exceeded $1,00 per gallon. Now we’re approaching $4.00 per gallon again and if prices jump over that point, there’s a good chance that people will be willing to pay mid-size prices for more economical COMPACT trucks.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @Vulpine – You said it yourself:

            “The Chicken Tax had no effect on bringing smaller trucks IN.”

            OK, so what’s the difference Today? Why did the Chicken Tax that had zero effect then, now dictates what’s sold, TODAY???

            Then you said this:

            “It was the ’72 oil embargo that triggered the massive influx of small truck and…brought on a strong demand for more economical transportation. That included trucks.”

            OK, now you’re seeing the only difference between then and now. The Chicken tax hasn’t changed.

            Finally I see a breakthrough happening right before my very eyes!!! Now if you could just share this information with BAFO…

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @ Denver: “You said it yourself: ‘The Chicken Tax had no effect on bringing smaller trucks IN.’”
            * You forget to mention that this is in direct response to, “@BAFO – The only thing the chicken tax has done to affect the US market is bring on the whole mini-truck crazy/fad/invasion.” Your own words.

            “OK, so what’s the difference Today? Why did the Chicken Tax that had zero effect then, now dictates what’s sold, TODAY???”
            * Because while they were able to make profit despite the increased cost >before the American brands could build their own ‘compact’ trucks’<, once the Detroit Three started building their own, their numbers fell by 50% or more simply BECAUSE the Detroit Three themselves were no longer buying them. Profits became slimmer and the American made trucks gained ground on the Japanese trucks to the point the others gradually started to die away.
            However, once that happened and in conjunction with multiple fuel economy regulations, the Detroit Three started making their trucks bigger and heavier to stay ahead of that economy break over point until there was no such thing as a compact pickup truck any more. And yes, even the Nissans and Toyotas and to do what they could to stay legal.

            "Then you said this: 'It was the ’72 oil embargo that triggered the massive influx of small truck and…'"
            * Naturally, since you misconstrued my initial statement, you wouldn't understand my reasoning for the REAL reason we had that influx of small trucks.

            "OK, now you're seeing the only difference between then and now. The Chicken tax hasn't changed."
            * But you're not, because you're trying to blame the wrong source.

            "Finally I see a breakthrough happening right before my very eyes!!! Now if you could just share this information with BAFO…"
            * Oh, please do share! I'm sure he'd love to see just how obtuse you choose to be.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @ Denver|Mike:

            “You said it yourself: ‘The Chicken Tax had no effect on bringing smaller trucks IN.’”
            * You forget to mention that this is in direct response to, “@BAFO – The only thing the chicken tax has done to affect the US market is bring on the whole mini-truck crazy/fad/invasion.” Your own words.

            “OK, so what’s the difference Today? Why did the Chicken Tax that had zero effect then, now dictates what’s sold, TODAY???”
            * Because while they were able to make profit despite the increased cost >before the American brands could build their own ‘compact’ trucks’<, once the Detroit Three started building their own, their numbers fell by 50% or more simply BECAUSE the Detroit Three themselves were no longer buying them. Profits became slimmer and the American made trucks gained ground on the Japanese trucks to the point the others gradually started to die away.
            However, once that happened and in conjunction with multiple fuel economy regulations, the Detroit Three started making their trucks bigger and heavier to stay ahead of that economy break over point until there was no such thing as a compact pickup truck any more. And yes, even the Nissans and Toyotas and to do what they could to stay legal.

            "Then you said this: 'It was the ’72 oil embargo that triggered the massive influx of small truck and…'"
            * Naturally, since you misconstrued my initial statement, you wouldn't understand my reasoning for the REAL reason we had that influx of small trucks.

            "OK, now you're seeing the only difference between then and now. The Chicken tax hasn't changed."
            * But you're not, because you're trying to blame the wrong source.

            "Finally I see a breakthrough happening right before my very eyes!!! Now if you could just share this information with BAFO…"
            * Oh, please do share! I'm sure he'd love to see just how obtuse you choose to be.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @Vulpine – If the chicken tax controls the pickup market, the chicken tax provided us the ’80s mini-truck craze/fad/invasion. So does it or doesn’t it? You have to stick to one story.

            So when the Detroit 3 stopped buying Mazda/Isuzu/Mitsu pickups to rebadge, it put an end to that artificial market for those Japanese OEMs? Is that what you’re getting at? You have a good point! They sold good only because of their USA badge umbrella. Without it, they were nothing. I get it.

            But what does this have to do with the chicken tax? And what does this have to do with Toyota and Nissan? Or VW and Subaru? Lots of trucks were falling like flies. And they were all made in the US by then.

            So I’ll ask again. What does any of this have to do with the chicken tax???

            And I’ll keep asking this unlit you answer: What exactly has changed about the chicken tax since then and now?

            How is it so different now???

            And nothing forced Toyota and Nissan trucks to grow. There was no CAFE pressure then and none today. Toyota in particular, P!$$E$ away its CAFE ‘credits’ because it mostly builds small cars. Nissan’s truck sales are to dismal to worry about ‘footprints’. And Nissan stopped building regular cabs before any talks about footprints.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @extremely DiM,
            You state;
            “If the chicken tax controls the pickup market, the chicken tax provided us the ’80s mini-truck craze/fad/invasion. So does it or doesn’t it? You have to stick to one story.”

            DiM, why don’t you comprehend what was written and stop trying to use deflective language to alter the discussion.

            This display of yours, which is quite common illustrates that you have a low sense of sincerity and integrity.

            No one that has discussed the Chicken Tax has ever used the word “controlled”.

            I do think the term “influence” has been used on more than a dozen occasions.

            So, why to you try and distort an argument?

            Are you trolling because you lack the required knowledge on this particular subject?

            Why are you such a douchbag?

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @Big BAFO – Exchange the word “controls” for “influences” and it doesn’t change the story. It’s your fairy tale anyways, not mine.

            Your exact word was “impact” actually. “…its impact on the US pickup market”

            If the chicken tax impacts and influences the US pickup market today, it impacted the US pickup market during the ’80s and influenced mini-truck craze/fad/invasion just the same.

            What’s changed since then? Other than American consumers are fickle and have to keep trying the next new thing.

            Simply put, it was the perfect storm for small pickups in America. It won’t happen again though. Not before the Molester/Custom Van movement comes back! I’ll be ready this time!!!

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Read your own words, Denver, then try again. Attempting to deflect my argument is senseless when it was YOU who said, ” The only thing the chicken tax has done to affect the US market is bring on the whole mini-truck crazy/fad/invasion,” not me.

            “So when the Detroit 3 stopped buying Mazda/Isuzu/Mitsu pickups to rebadge, it put an end to that artificial market for those Japanese OEMs? Is that what you’re getting at? ” In part, since they were roughly 50% of the market for those smaller trucks.

            “They sold good only because of their USA badge umbrella. Without it, they were nothing. I get it.”
            Something I’ve been saying all along, but which you adamantly refused to believe both here and elsewhere. Now who’s showing two faces? You keep insisting that the low sales of Toyota Tacomas and Nissan Frontiers are proof that people don’t want smaller trucks. The only thing they prove is that Americans don’t want JAPANESE smaller trucks! And there’s probably not much market for European ones either, which is why FCA is choosing not to bring in obviously European-styled light pickups.

            “But what does this have to do with the chicken tax?”
            If those Japanese and European trucks were priced 25% less, do you think people would still avoid them as strongly as they do? ESPECIALLY if there was more choice available as well? (Let me answer that for you. In your opinion, they would.)

            “Lots of trucks were falling like flies. And they were all made in the US by then.”
            There’s a difference between “made in America” and putting the bed on in America. Those Japanese and European vehicles in most cases were NOT “made in America” and even just the simple task of mounting the bed in some warehouse meant they had to pay American wages for that final bit of assembly which ate into any profits they would normally take. Adding to this the fact that the American branded trucks almost immediately decimated Japanese branded sales, and they couldn’t afford even that workaround. Nissan and Toyota held out and even Mitsubishi and Mazda tried to at least break even, but by then the “buy American” craze pretty much wiped out what little market they had left. By the time the Ford Ranger was killed, people began to realize the American OEMs simply didn’t want to build smaller trucks any more and the remaining Japanese brands were–ARE–having to fight back with full-sized truck as best they can.

            “And I’ll keep asking this unlit you answer: What exactly has changed about the chicken tax since then and now?”
            Nothing. And that’s the point. The Chicken Tax did NOT bring in the small trucks, the Oil Embargo did. The American OEMs did. The American demand for economical trucks did. Once the Oil Embargo died, once the OEMs quit re-badging direct imports (that likely had their beds installed on American OEM assembly lines–I’ll admit I don’t know that for certain) and once the American OEMs had American Made compact pickup trucks for sale, the Japanese market for small trucks vanished because they simply could not compete on price any more. They can’t bring them in now because they’d still have to add 25% to the price just to make their regular profit.

            “How is it so different now???”
            This is the third time you’ve asked this question in this one comment. I’m not answering it a third time in the same comment.

            “And nothing forced Toyota and Nissan trucks to grow. There was no CAFE pressure then and none today.” False. The fuel economy regulations affect them just as they do the American brands. With their smaller trucks they’re at least attempting to meet those regulations, but they’re also relying on their cars with significantly better economy to overbalance the fact that the trucks can’t, quite, meet those rules. What with the newer rules actually singling out trucks and distancing them from the automotive products, they’re having to make more drastic changes that the American OEMs don’t want to make.

            As far as “footprints”, your argument is just blowing smoke, trying to fog the argument.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            Sorry Vulpine, but truck CAFE is and always has been totally separate from car CAFE. That is why Chrysler got the PT Cruiser classified as a truck to offset what at the time were the pickups with the worst fuel economy out there.

            The footprint thing is a new thing for CAFE and it does indeed hurt the potential for a true compact pickup to return to the market since CAFE requirements are now based on wheel base x track width.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @Vulpine – Regardless of why Japanese mini-pickups sales dropped off dramatically, it had zero to do with the Chicken tax. Was there a Chicken tax on Rubik’s Cubes when their sales dropped off???

            Nope. Wrong. By the mid ’80s all “import” small pickups were made in the US from the ground up. And had a VIN that started with “1″. Technically they were as “American” as S10s and Rangers.

            But sales of all small/midsize pickups eventually fell through the floor. Including Ford, GM and Dodge. What about those? The Chicken tax killed sales of those too???

            No, CAFE affects every OEM differently depending on what they build. Same rules, but different vehicles.

            And Toyota does let its CAFE “credits” evaporate. Toyota is that far ahead of the CAFE schedule. The same is true for Honda, Nissan, Hyundai/Kia, Mazda, VW, Subaru and others, because they mostly sell small cars. They sell off their excess credits to Ford, GM, Chrysler, BMW, Mercedes, etc. But Toyota would rather NOT sell their excess credits to anyone.

            Toyota and Nissan pickups grew keep up with consumer demands and no other reason. They cancelled regular cabs thanks to fleet, cheapskates and bottom feeders ruining it for everyone.

            Toyota, Nissan and GM can build mid-size trucks any way they want. Actually, any way consumers want.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Scoutdude: Maybe you’re right there, though I fully remember many news reports long before the Internet where they discussed “Fleet Wide” economy and not just trucks vs cars. However, even assuming you are correct, the GVWR was the sole measurement of economy ratings for vehicles, which is why many full-sized cars grew themselves to humongous proportions (GM especially made their full-sized sedans hideous by making them look like blowfish with their rounded body sides and bubbled nose and tail). Even then, they couldn’t maintain sales as those sedans got bigger and heavier yet only barely improved their economy. People wanting a more comfortable car ended up buying the new take on “full sized” cars which were once called ‘mid-size; or even ‘compact’. For example, a 1967 Chevy Nova would be a full-sized car today, though back then was a “compact” while the vast majority of Japanese cars in the States back then were “sub-compact”.

            So, now we have full sized trucks that grew simply to gain weight and avoid what the OEMs considered ‘too restrictive’ economy ratings. And while they were able to improve the efficiency of the larger engines and generate more power, they really didn’t get better economy. The result? Full sized pickups today are more often used as “muscle cars” than working trucks. Only after the newness wears off and they get traded for newer models do we really see those big trucks used for “real work” in many cases. They also don’t survive very long when that time comes.

            As an example, my Father in Law is a farmer/mechanic in central Pennsylvania. He has never purchased a brand-new vehicle in his life. The newest vehicle he owns right now is an ’04 Ford Explorer, followed by an ’02 Saturn Vue (the gas mileage of which amazes him for its performance) and an ’89 Ford F-150 which can’t even pass State inspections but is used to haul cut wood from farms to his home where he burns it in a wood-fired furnace and that’s all. His best friend, a farmer himself, buys a brand-new truck every three years and never uses it for hauling of any sort until his older truck is traded off after three years of being the hauler in the house. Yes, he keeps a “Sunday” truck and a “Work” truck while his wife drives relatively new sports coupes–the most recent a ’12 Mustang.

            The point? Full sized trucks rarely get used for their supposed design purposes right off the lot.

            However, you’re wrong about one point in particular: the new CAFE rules are basically going to drive full-sized pickup trucks OUT of Class 2 and Class 3 status. They’re going to have to keep growing in size and weight in order to stay on the ‘comfortable’ side of the fuel economy ratings, which means they will almost invariably grow to Class 4 and 5 Medium-Duty status. The ONLY way they’re going to stay away from that is to shrink–drastically–so that the new, smaller engines don’t have to haul as much bloat around. It’s either that, or go fully hybrid or even all electric.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Denver|Mike: “Was there a Chicken tax on Rubik’s Cubes when their sales dropped off???”
            * What? You mean you can’t buy any Rubik’s Cubes any more? When did that happen? (/s)
            Sorry, D|M, that was probably the worst simile you could have chosen, because Rubik’s Cubes are still available and are still QUITE popular puzzle toys.

            “By the mid ’80s all “import” small pickups were made in the US from the ground up. And had a VIN that started with “1″. Technically they were as “American” as S10s and Rangers.”
            * Show me your proof. The Courier, the Luv, the D-50 were exclusively imports simply given different grill configurations and some using a locally-stamped tailgate where most used a ‘flat’ tailgate with the brand name painted/stickered on. What you seem to forget (and I’ve told you this more than once) is that I sold cars and trucks back then, so know a lot more about it *first hand* than you. I quit the car-sales business because I didn’t agree with dealership morals which basically said, “tell the customer what they want to hear, whether it’s true or not.” I also was not a fan of the very blatant 50% markup the dealerships put on certain truck models. (Saw the dealer invoice on an ’83 Rampage where it came in at $12K and was stickered at $19K.) Even now, there’s a reason why dealerships don’t want customers looking at the cars and trucks as they’re unloaded from the hauler even now.

            “But sales of all small/midsize pickups eventually fell through the floor. Including Ford, GM and Dodge. What about those? The Chicken tax killed those too???”
            * Yup… because they were no longer COMPACT trucks, having grown to near the size of 20-year-older full-sized trucks.

            “No, CAFE affects every OEM differently depending on what they build. Same rules, but different vehicles.”
            * A pickup truck is a pickup truck. CAFE affects every OEM the same–it’s how the OEM responds to that regulation that’s different. As Scoutdude pointed out, GM and Chrysler tried going a different ‘small truck’ route by building the PT Cruiser and HHR–claiming they were trucks, but which were incapable of serving as more than delivery vehicle. More recent regulation stripped the two of “truck” status becomes they’d become too similar to modern CUVs. I fully expect the majority of CUV/SUVs to lose their “truck” rating and be listed as “wagons”, putting the onus back on the OEMs to build smaller TRUCKS that are purpose-built as load haulers and not people-movers. That means that any seating will need to be either completely (and easily) removable or capable of folding down flat enough to properly carry a truck-like load. When you look at the typical 2-row and 3-row CUV/SUVs, even when folded take up more than 10 cubic feet of load space and in some cases significantly more.

            “And Toyota does let its CAFE “credits” evaporate. It’s that far ahead of the CAFE schedule. The same is true for Honda, Nissan, Hyundai/Kia, Subaru and others, because they mostly sell small cars. They sell off their excess credits to Ford, GM, Chrysler, BMW, etc. Toyota would rather not sell their excess credits to anyone.” * Now here, to some extent you’re right. However, that also means that Ford and GM in particular have to sacrifice sales to those other companies (and cash money) to get those credits; something they simply don’t want to do but have little choice. Yes, they each have their super-economy cars, but with limited exceptions they’re not all that popular. As it is, FCA has made it clear that in order to comply with CAFE, their entire product line will eventually have to go all-electric or at least hybrid.

            “Toyota and Nissan pickups grew keep up with consumer demands and no other reason. They cancelled regular cabs thanks to fleet, cheapskates and bottom feeders ruining it for everyone.”
            * I disagree since I have presented a LOT of evidence to show why they’ve grown their models, but I know I’m not going to change your opinion.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @Vulpine – You’re trying too hard and can’t even think straight. When I said “sales dropped”, does that mean they’re “unavailable now” to you? And do you think Rubik’s Cubes are as popular as they were in the early ’80s? Are you living in 1984???

            The last Couriers and LUVs were around ’82 at the latest.

            Nissan’s Smyrna, Tennessee, plant opened its doors in 1983 with production of the Nissan Hardbody pickup truck–it was simply known as the Nissan Truck in the U.S…

            That was a cut&paste from this:

            http://www.automotive.com/news/nissan-celebrates-10-million-vehicles-rogue-production-begins-152981/

            You’re right about the others not jumping on a “US build” as quick, but Nissan about had the small pickup market locked up. Best looking, best value. Still is (except missing regular cabs).

            Point is American consumers were about done with mini-trucks by the late ’80s, regardless of any excuses you can dream up. And sales dropped straight across the board. All brands of small pickups suffered. And remaining pickups are still suffering, even though just 2 OEMs currently have the mid-size market entirely to themselves.

            But too much drama is kicked up on these pages about the CAFE schedule. “Click Bait”, as they call it. Particularly when it comes to pickups and “footprints”. Even if ‘Fleet Averages’ stayed the exact same from now till 2025, the worst offending OEMs would pay less than $50 per vehicle sold. And the worst offending cars/trucks make the most money for OEMs (so they can easily afford the fines). Yes CAFE fines are way too lenient and there’s been much talk of the Feds raising the ‘fines schedule’. Completely laughable as they stand.
            Not likely to happen though. BMW, Mercedes and Porcshe spread around too much money around Capital Hill.

            Other than the Big 2.5 OEMs, mid-size pickup OEMs are way ahead of the CAFE ‘fines schedule’ and don’t have a care in the world! They can shrink the size of midsize pickups if they wanted. But they don’t want that because consumers don’t want that. Toyota and Nissan only cancelled their regular cabs to ward off fleet, cheapskates and bottom feeders.

            And if you remember, mini-truck started growing to immense proportions long before there was any talks of “footprints”.

            But why would Ford and GM have to “sacrifice sales” to (Honda, Nissan, Subaru, Hyundai, etc) AND “cash money”? Cash money (for CAFE credits), I understand, but why “sacrifice sales”???

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            http://rubiks.com/history

            @D|M: “When I said “sales dropped”, does that mean they’re “unavailable now” to you?”
            ** Exactly my point, Denver. Now tell me; Is the Ford Courier still available? Is the Mitsubishi Mighty Max still available? How about the Isuzu P’up? Any of those compact pickup trucks? Unlike the Rubik’s cube, when sales “fell off” they vanished–when they really didn’t need to IF there hadn’t been a “chicken tax” in place driving their prices up. Yet, while maybe those specific models are no longer available, trucks the same basic size are still available starting just south of the United States border and just across both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Consumers weren’t “done with them”, the importers simply could no longer afford to import since nearly 70% of their market went to the American made equivalents–the S-10, the Ranger and the Dakota. The American OEMs themselves were fully 50% of their market OR MORE until they could come out with their own competing models.

            You simply refuse to even acknowledge that possibility, which is why you can’t understand what I’ve been saying all along. I lived it; supposedly you did too, but apparently you weren’t mature enough then to understand what was happening. That’s ok. Today’s kids aren’t mature enough to even know how to drive a stick shift in most cases–proven by the fact that car thieves and carjackers give up on their attempted crime when they run into a vehicle with a manual transmission.

            Ok, so Nissan and Toyota both built assembly plants in the US. You might also note that they continued to sell compact pickup trucks as long as they had direct competition. However, since they were building their trucks in the US, guess what? That’s right, they too fall under the purview of the CAFE laws which means they needed to make their trucks bigger and heavier to avoid being heavily fined by those same laws. As long as those trucks were *notably* smaller than their full-sized brethren, they continued to sell, but by the end of the ’90s they’d grown almost as large as the full-sized trucks built when their own trucks were still compacts.

            No longer were they “compact” trucks, they’d taken the class of “mid-sized” trucks–a label, by the way, triggered by the first Dodge Dakota which had been visibly larger than all the other compacts when it was introduced–including the Ranger and S-10. Remember that day?

            “Other than the Big 2.5 OEMs, mid-size pickup OEMs are way ahead of the CAFE ‘fines schedule’ and don’t have a care in the world! They can shrink the size of midsize pickups if they wanted. But they don’t want that because consumers don’t want that. Toyota and Nissan only cancelled their regular cabs to ward off fleet, cheapskates and bottom feeders.”
            ** Don’t forget Chevrolet in there too. But, again you’re making assumptions because obviously Chevrolet IS trying the mid-size market again and depending on how they sell, there could be an interesting revelation–that *not everybody wants a full-sized truck*. Worse, with the kind of noise generated on sites like this one and the fact that some few are so adamant that they HAVE to have their full-sized trucks, it demonstrates a fear that their favorite toy might just go away AND that they’re afraid the demand for smaller trucks is much larger than they want to admit. (I’m looking at you, here.)

            “And if you remember, mini-truck started growing to immense proportions long before there was any talks of “footprints”.”
            ** True. The deciding factor before that was weight. Or haven’t you noticed that the WEIGHT of today’s full-sized trucks is nearly double that of an early-’80s full sized truck? The same is true for today’s mid-sized trucks.

            “But why would Ford and GM have to “sacrifice sales” to (Honda, Nissan, Subaru, Hyundai, etc) AND “cash money”? Cash money (for CAFE credits), I understand, but why “sacrifice sales”???”
            ** Is it really that difficult to see cause and effect? How can they buy credits from those other brands if those other brands don’t sell their cars? In order to sell their big trucks, they NEED the credits those imports earn or they’d be forced to completely change their engineering in order to better fall in line with the CAFE regulations. I repeat again, FCA has already stated that they’d have to go all-hybrid to meet the 2025 goals.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @Vulpine – Now you’re desperately arguing semantics. And you act like the Chicken tax suddenly, out of nowhere attacked mini-trucks in the late ’80s. So I’ll ask again for the umpteenth time:

            What exactly changed about the Chicken tax between the early ’80s and the late ’80s (or now)???

            Hint: Nothing changed about it. The American market largely shifted to SUVs. Get over it.

            Profits dropped when sales figures dropped. Not exactly rocket science…

            Mini-trucks grew because American consumers demanded the 4-door crew cabs Muslim fundamentalists already enjoyed. And then 6′ beds AND crew cabs on the same truck. Small pickups haven’t gotten notably wider. They look funny at this point. Super narrow/skinny and extra long…
            Like fish?

            And consumers complained about regular cab mini-trucks being way too cramped, steering wheel to back window. They were. And Nissan solved that problem with taking away the regular cab Frontier altogether.

            But Toyota and Nissan can afford to make their midsize trucks much smaller. They’re that much ahead of the CAFE schedule. But consumers still want bigger. Including bigger regular cabs.

            Although regular cab buyers just aren’t paying their share of building their stripper trucks with their own specific frames. How many frames are getting cancelled with the regular cabs? One frame for the base truck. One for the automatic. One for the 4X4. One for the 4X4 automatic… All for ungrateful fleet, cheapskates and bottom feeders!

            But you’re crazy if you think CAFE has any influence on OEMs selling or not selling big, inefficient/performance/heavy cars and trucks. OEMs may end up buying credits and or paying measly fines (maybe), but it’s all worth it. These big thirsty vehicles are the most profitable cars/trucks/SUVs they have. Use some logic here…

            End of day, they’ll sell consumers what they want and not look back!

            And FCA’s CEO is being a total drama queen. All hybrids??? Stup!d…

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            “Now you’re desperately arguing semantics.”
            ** No, I’m taking your words as literally as you attempt to take mine.

            “And you act like the Chicken tax suddenly, out of nowhere attacked mini-trucks in the late ’80s.”
            ** Really? And where did I say that?

            “What exactly changed about the Chicken tax between the early ’80s and the late ’80s (or now)???”
            ** And as I’ve said said multiple times, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. The Chicken Tax did not cause compact trucks to just “appear out of nothingness”, but the Chicken Tax did make it too expensive to remain in the market with their imports, >once the American OEM’s quit buying them!< Quantity sales made it possible to still make a profit as long as both retail customers AND the OEMs were buying them, once the OEMs dropped out of their partnerships, they couldn't sell enough to make enough profit UNLESS they built assembly plants in the US–which was too expensive for some of them.

            I can't help it that you don't understand my words. I've said the same thing four times now and you still insist on thinking I'm saying something else. Hey, what do you call a person who keeps asking the same question, expecting a different answer every time? A politician.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @Vulpine – You forget sales of ALL small pickups took a sharp nosedive, including the S10 and Ranger after the mini-truck craze/fad ended.

            So how did the Chicken tax kill off sales and make it “too expensive” for domestic D3 small pickups and domestically built “import” pickups???

            But you don’t know that assembly plants needed to be built for import pickups to survive. Import OEMs already owned assembly plants in the US and all it takes is an idle plant. But how do you know it wasn’t still cheaper to ship over partly assembled Japanese pickups and finish them in the US? Hint: It WAS cheaper. It worked fine for Mazda, Isuzu and Mitsu after the chassis/bed loophole closed in 1979.

            Mazda went on its own in the US, with separate B-series pickups in ’82 when Ford went with its own Ranger concept. And Mazda pickups still sold like crazy and thrived. So your theory that Mazda depended on Ford is totally debunked!

            No, Mazda depended on strong sales, same as any OEMs does. All OEMs struggle to continue selling a car when sales are poor. No OEM or model is immune.

            Isuzu pickups were completely on their own and separate from GM (starting around ’80), before, during and after the whole mini-truck craze/fad. And they sold like crazy at one time.

            So at the end of the mini-truck craze/fad, “import” pickups were no more susceptible to failure than D3 domestic small pickups and US built “import” pickups.

            The rest is all in your misinformed head.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @D|M: Yet the S-10, the Ranger, the Dakota and even the Tacoma and Frontier soldiered on for another 30 years, meaning there was obviously enough market to warrant keeping them in the inventory. It wasn’t until they grew to older-model full-size that sales really started to drop and even so, there’s an obvious market for that size as evidenced by Toyota’s survival specifically and GM’s re-entry into that field. But having abandoned the true compact sizes, NOBODY knows for certain how much market there is for those smaller trucks but we all know there IS a market as there are multiple vocal commenters on these boards, including myself, and we are just the tip of the iceberg.

            “So how did the Chicken tax kill off sales and make it “too expensive” for domestic D3 small pickups and domestically built “import” pickups???”
            – Remember what I said about “politicians”? How many more times are you going to ask that question? Just because you don’t LIKE my answer doesn’t make it any less true.

            “But you don’t know that assembly plants needed to be built for import pickups to survive.”
            – False. That 25% tariff simply made it too expensive to ship them in once quantity sales fell off–and as I’ve said many times in many places SPECIFICALLY TO YOU, once the American OEMs stopped buying them, their American market fell by over 50%. Again I point out the economics of scale.

            “Import OEMs already owned assembly plants in the US and all it takes is an idle plant.”
            – Really? Outside of Nissan and Toyota, WHO?

            “But how do you know it wasn’t still cheaper to ship over partly assembled Japanese pickups and finish them in the US?”
            –You mean like what Ford and Mercedes are currently doing? Have you noticed that even with their workarounds they’re both crying for the repeal of the Chicken Tax? Economics is still at play here, and while the idea of sending the cab-chassis as one package and the bed as another, you’re now shipping two different assemblies, effectively doubling the cost of shipment even before leasing the location and hiring the personnel to bring them together. It’s not helping Mercedes with the Sprinter while Ford goes another way, building the vehicle as a people-hauler and effectively throwing away the seats and glass to convert them to cargo haulers. In both of those cases we’re talking about vans, too. Ford’s trick simply can’t work with a pickup truck.

            “Hint: It WAS cheaper. It worked fine for Mazda, Isuzu and Mitsu after the chassis/bed loophole closed in 1979.”
            – False. Not “cheaper”, but not as debilitating again due to economy of scale. And again, once the OEMs killed off 50%+ of their market, it was no longer economically viable to do so.

            “Mazda went on its own in the US, with separate B-series pickups in ’82 when Ford went with its own Ranger concept. And Mazda pickups still sold like crazy and thrived. So your theory that Mazda depended on Ford is totally debunked!”
            – False. Mazda remained in their partnership with Ford and the B-series pickup trucks were American made Rangers with Mazda markings and nosepiece. They were built on the exact same assembly lines.

            “Isuzu pickups were completely on their own and separate from GM (starting around ’80), before, during and after the whole mini-truck craze/fad.”
            – False. The Isuze P’up and the Chevy Luv were the same truck. In fact, the only really visible difference between them was the Chevy bowtie on the grill and the “P’up/Luv” badge on the sides. The tailgates were screen printed with either Chevrolet or Isuzu.

            “So at the end of the mini-truck craze/fad, “import” pickups were no more susceptible to failure than D3 domestic small pickups and US built “import” pickups.”
            – False. For exactly the reasons stated above.

            Now if you wish to PROVE me wrong, please do so. So far, you’ve offered not one shred of verifiable evidence and that’s simply because you CANNOT present any verifiable evidence.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @Vulpine – The Ford, GM, Toyota, Dodge and Nissan small pickups soldiered on, but were they profitable? These OEMs are known to be as stubborn as mules and have the backing to keep loser models going, in perpetuity. The most stubborn OEMs win in the end. Simple fact. That’s what we have today.

            But sales started dropping off around ’87 when small trucks were still small. Mini-trucks began to grow as a last ditch effort by remaining OEMs to keep the dying segment going.

            Mazda, Isuzu and Mitsu pickups were still small when they ran screaming from the American market.

            But when remaining mini-trucks grew in proportions, most of bloat was the added 4-door crew cab option and long beds available on crew cab pickups.

            Consumers had been complaining about no crew cab mini-trucks since the mid ’80s. Crew cabs that the rest of the world already had, but not available in American.

            This is another reason why consumers left the small pickup segment around ’87 for the wave/crush of small/midsize SUVs that could seat at least 4.

            Small pickup OEMs had no choice but to eventually give in, again as a last ditch effort to keep their trucks in the market.

            Then consumers complained that crew cabs left ridiculously tiny beds. Again OEMs gave in. Because they had to.

            But how did a 25% tariff become too expensive, when they didn’t pay it in the 1st place? There’s no reason to pay it why loopholes available. And you forget that a huge drop in sales is plenty of reason for OEMs to drop ANY model, domestically made or otherwise.

            Mazda had been building cars in the US since ’87, and it wasn’t because of any Chicken tax. Mitsubishi since ’88. Isuzu was never serious enough about the American market to fully commit.

            The Isuzu Pup and Chevy LUV were the same truck, but that was pre ’80s. What about ’80 to ’88? Chevy/GMC separated and had something called the S10/S15. The Isuzu Pup was on its own for the entire ’80s mini-truck craze/fad.

            But why wouldn’t offshore (based) truck OEMs want a repeal of the Chicken tax? USA D2.5 domestic OEMs want it repealed. So what? If the tax costs them 10₵ per car, they’d want it repealed. Means nothing. If there’s strong demand for a truck, it will be sold in the America. No different that the ’80s mini-truck craze/fad. Mini-trucks were here because of strong demand. Nothing could stop them. Except a drop in consumer demand.

            What do you want me to “verify”? Stop being so vague. Everything I state is easily verifiable and or common sense. If you disagree with ANYTHING I’ve stated, let me know EXACTLY what you’re questing…

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            “Mini-trucks began to grow as a last ditch effort by remaining OEMs to keep the dying segment going.”
            Prove it.

            “Mazda, Isuzu and Mitsu pickups were still small when they ran screaming from the American market.”
            Prove it.

            “But when remaining mini-trucks grew in proportions, most of bloat was the added 4-door crew cab option and long beds available on crew cab pickups.”
            Prove it.

            “Consumers had been complaining about no crew cab mini-trucks since the mid ’80s.”
            Prove it.

            “Crew cabs that the rest of the world already had, but not available in American.”
            Perhaps. But I don’t believe it was the reason Americans adopted crew cabs so quickly. After all, Crew cabs have been available in the US since the ’60s at least. They just haven’t been all that popular until the Chevy Avalanche introduced the pickup truck as a “family” truck.

            “This is another reason why consumers left the small pickup segment around ’87 for the wave/crush of small/midsize SUVs that could seat at least 4.”
            Prove it. While I agree the SUV based on the same platform was popular, I do NOT agree that the SUV was the death of the compact pickup truck. After all, not everybody needed seating for 4, BUT insurance agencies rated anything with only 2 seats a “sports” vehicle, at which point insurance rates rise sharply; increasing the cost of ownership. (As I’ve said before, there is no ONE cause for anything. Insurance rates doubled and even tripled with two-seater trucks, depending on drivetrain.)

            “Then consumers complained that crew cabs left ridiculously tiny beds.”
            You’re talking post-2000s trucks now, since crew cabs weren’t all that common before the Avalanche.

            “But how did a 25% tariff become too expensive, when they didn’t pay it in the 1st place? ”
            I knew you were going to bring that up again. However, I love how you constantly try to say the Chicken Tax had no effect–even when those same brands started out by importing their trucks. Even Toyota and Nissan started out by importing and Mazda never did build their own assembly lines–they simply dropped their imports and sold Ford Rangers as Mazdas once the American made trucks started. Isuzu gave up pretty quickly without even trying to build an American assembly line of any sort while Mitsubishi at least tried, though I’ll admit I was surprised when I discovered they’d lasted as long as they had. Then again, for about 15 years I lived in a town that didn’t even have a Mitsubishi dealership.

            “Mazda had been building cars in the US since ’87…”
            Cars are not trucks.

            “Mitsubishi since ’88.”
            Cars are not trucks.

            ” Isuzu was never serious enough about the American market to fully commit.”
            Yet the Isuzu Trooper–a passenger vehicle–survived at least into the mid-’90s. However, as Isuzu was still partnered with GM, it is very possible that GM chose not to compete with itself, as it were. As Big Al from Oz will tell you, Isuzu and GM are still hand-in-hand even after all these years.

            “The Isuzu Pup and Chevy LUV were the same truck, but that was pre ’80s. What about ’80 to ’88? Chevy/GMC separated and had something called the S10/S15. The Isuzu Pup was on its own for the entire ’80s mini-truck craze/fad.”
            True. And the S-10/S-15 was far the more popular truck–until it became the Colorado/Canyon and grew WAY out of ‘compact’ status.

            “Mini-trucks were here because of strong demand. Nothing could stop them. Except a drop in consumer demand.”
            And since the American AND remaining Japanese OEMs succumbed to the easy way out of CAFE, they grew the existing trucks right out of the market.

            “What do you want me to “verify”? Stop being so vague.”
            I’m hardly being “vague” when all I’m asking for is VERIFIABLE PROOF of your opinions. Without proof, you’re just blowing smoke. Smoke, by the way, intended to blind everyone to the REAL reasons small trucks disappeared. You SAY, “Everything I state is easily verifiable and or common sense,” but you’re wrong. I have found NO proofs anywhere for the statements you have made, only opinion pieces that you have parroted.

            “If you disagree with ANYTHING I’ve stated, let me know EXACTLY what you’re questing…”
            I have. Many times. You have yet to prove anything, choosing to repeat yourself as though you were the only proof necessary–one person among 7 BILLION people.

        • 0 avatar
          CRConrad

          THERE, for ****’s sake! “Their” means “belonging to them”.

          (I thought English was the primary language in Australia.)

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @CRConrad
            You are very correct.

            I just type as if I’m speaking then hit sbumt :)

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          “Why is their a need for the chicken tax?”

          To give your life purpose, Al and a reason to live

  • avatar
    pacificpom2

    Chicken Tax, and I quote “The chicken tax is a 25% tariff on potato starch, dextrin, brandy, and light trucks imposed in 1963 by the United States under President Lyndon B. Johnson in response to tariffs placed by France and West Germany on importation of U.S. chicken.[1] The period from 1961–1964[2] of tensions and negotiations surrounding the issue, which took place at the height of Cold War politics, was known as the “Chicken War”.[3]

    Eventually, the tariffs on potato starch, dextrin, and brandy were lifted,[4] but over the next 48 years the light truck tax ossified, remaining in place to protect U.S. domestic automakers from foreign light truck production (e.g., from Japan and Thailand).[5] Though concern remains about its repeal,[6][7] a 2003 Cato Institute study called the tariff “a policy in search of a rationale.””

    So basically the Europeans have dropped their tariffs, but the US (federal government) still maintains/ can’t make the change/ plain ignorant about the “chicken tax” because they only believe in a free market when it suits them. So it is a “tariff” or trade barrier in this enlightened age of FTA’s (one way only) and the WTO

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “So basically the Europeans have dropped their tariffs”

      Relying upon Wikipedia is generally a bad idea. Relying upon the Cato Institute is even worse.

      No, the Europeans continue to maintain a 22% tariff on trucks with engines larger than 2.5 liters, and a 10% tariff on those with motors under 2.5 liters. In essence, all of the Detroit-made trucks would get hit with the full tariff.

      The EU also has a 10% tariff on imported cars, versus the US’ tariff rate of 2.5%. The car tariff impacts a lot more vehicles, and the EU’s tariff is obviously higher.

      You should also note that the chicken tax battle was begun by the Europeans, not by the Americans. The US tariffs were implemented in retaliation for tariffs imposed by the French and the Germans. The WTO allows tariffs to be set if they are retaliatory, so the US was perfectly within its rights to respond.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        Again Pch101 you negate to give a sincere response.

        What trucks are taxed at 22%?

        Are ALL trucks taxed at 22%.

        So how does this disadvantage?

        The difference is the chicken tax targets imported trucks at 25%.

        So, stop with you bull$hit and be open and sincere with your comments.

        You are nothing but a UAW spin doctor.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          “So, stop with you bull$hit and be open and sincere with your comments.

          You are nothing but a UAW spin doctor.”

          To an extent, from his perspective he is right.

          But all that really has fallen by the wayside since foreigners, including those from Europe, have opened up transplant operations inside the US and Mexico.

          And that’s why I believe that the Chicken Tax will eventually be negotiated into obscurity because the European manufacturers assembling in the US will want to send their products home, without being taxed to death.

          It’s cheaper to assemble in the US, so why would they want to kill their margin with this Chicken Tax?

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @hdc
            What does the EU tax that is American that doesn’t have the same tax leveled at EU goods?

            Cars do have a tax, but that tax is in place in lieu of the chicken tax.

            Agriculture? But what does the US have in place to protect it’s agri industries?

            I do think you comment is an uneducated remark.

            Pch101′s comment has no truth in it, just like his comment on the Australian luxury car tax stating it’s protecting the local industry.

            The chicken tax is purely a form of protectionism supported now by socialists including the UAW and the Democrats.

            US auto manufacturers don’t want to remove the chicken tax in Asia, but are happy with it’s removal in the EU. Why?

            What region external has the largest pickup industry?

            South East and East Asia.

          • 0 avatar
            CRConrad

            “I do think you comment is an uneducated remark.”

            Pretty hilarious.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @CRConrad
            Yep, I just type, i do have goodly englosh.

            Just caunt git it rigte touch typing.

            I dunt pruf reed either ;)

            thunk u fore you’re guidunce.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            BAFO, I’m not defending PCH. He does not need defending since he already knows everything about anything, fully documented and fully backed up by Google and Wikipedia.

            What I mean to convey is that if you look at it from his perspective, he’s right, to a large extent. I did not write that I agreed with PCH.

            There are lot of people (in the US) who do not like to see the Chicken Tax go away on trucks.

            The reasons are obvious. It’s protecting Ford, and to some extent bailed out GM, but to a lesser extent.

            Since RAM now belongs to the Italians,it doesn’t count here. Toyota makes’m in the US, so that doesn’t count either. Nissan isn’t even a player. Honda has the Ridgeline, more El Camino-like than an El Camino.

            Were the Chicken Tax to go away, and I think it will but maybe not until the next administration gets into power in the US, we should see an influx of trucks from more manufacturers, and in different sizes and classes available for sale in the US; A nightmare for the US truck makers and a paralyzing trauma for the UAW.

            With the EU, America can be comfortable when it comes to a Free Trade Agreement. Everything there, including labor costs more than in the US.

            But with the Asians and South Asians, not so much, because the Asians have cheap labor on their side of the FTA equation.

            Some of the stuff coming from Asia has been better and cheaper than we can make it in the US. Plenty of documented evidence to support that, based on the sales of Japanese and Korean cars in the US, over decades.

            If you look at it from the UAW perspective, it should not surprise anyone that they would be dead set against dropping the Chicken Tax against ASIAN trucks, because the US market would be flooded with them at lower prices.

            BTW, I only commented AFTER I read “So, stop with you bull$hit and be open and sincere with your comments.

            You are nothing but a UAW spin doctor.”

            That normally means that your patience has run out with a pontificating commenter. And rightly so!

            I just had to see who that was, and why you had written that.

            Didn’t mean to piss you off more, but it is all in how you look at a situation.

            The UAW would not be happy to see the Chicken Tax dropped, nor would the UAW be happy if the transplants remain non-union.

            Once we get the UAW’s priorities out in the open and catagorized, we can understand better why some people make the comments they do.

            But they all are entitled to their opinion since opinions are like @ssholes.

            Everybody’s got one.

            What really matters is what actually happens, and how the real-world buyers react to it.

            What matters for me, personally, is that Toyota does not take away my 4-dr 4X4 Tundra 5.7 before I can buy one. If they do, I’ll have to step back into an F250 — not a comforting thought after having owned a Tundra.

            Everything else, including a 2015 Sequoia with a smaller engine, I can live with, since I won’t be the one driving it.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            BAFO, my comment is awaiting moderation.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @HDC
            I do think that Pch101 deliberately misinforms and so does DiM.

            I will hammer them, because I do debate with integrity and sincerity like you do.

            But, I do fully understand the want by the UAW socialists to maintain the chicken tax.

            But, I also see that the US auto industry has become reliant on the chicken tax for it’s existence.

            I do think it’s in the best interest for the US to adopt and accept a more integrated approach to the auto industry, similarly to the aviation industry.

            This will benefit the consumer. I support the consumer first, not the manufacturers or UAW. I really don’t care about the UAW.

            The Big 3 are where they are because of mismanagement on their part along with UAW and US energy.

            These bodies have lobbied and influence Washington and that’s all sides of politics regarding their respective industries to the point where they failed.

            Maintaining the status quo is not the correct line of action for all parties involved in the US auto/energy industry.

            It will change, but I hope it changes quickly enough.

            Protectionism creates inefficiencies in any industry.

            Like I stated our pickups have developed more because of market competition and not regulated competition.

            The US pickup market is displaying more changes regarding regulated change than market forces.

            This will be the death of the industry.

            I would rather see 2/3s the number of full size trucks sold with the difference made up by midsizers and other alternatives like the Transit/Ducato that what occurred here in Australia with the loss of our indigenous utes.

            Thanks for your response, but Pch101 needs to be sincere. Until then I will hammer the guy.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            BAFO, I don’t know the motivation behind unsolicited comments offered by ttac readers, except to say that I try to adhere to the straight and narrow, neither exaggerating nor minimizing what I offer in comments.

            Remember, that we’re dealing with the Internet here and different levels of anonymity, so much of what we read we should take with a bag of salt.

            I have a pretty good idea of which commenters are the genuine article, and which are the bogus wannabes. I skip over the comments of the bogus wannabes.

            The whole Chicken Tax thing is a sensitive subject for many who actually sustain themselves based on the US auto industry. Without protectionism their livelihood is directly threatened since Americans have the proclivity for buying better foreign goods at cheaper prices.

            Hell, books have been written on that subject alone!

            Let me tell you something about selling only 2/3 of the full-size trucks now sold, with the remainder being made up by smaller trucks. It is highly unlikely it will happen!

            The Tacoma blew everyone of its American competitors away and out of production, and pressure was exerted on Toyota to make the Tacoma ever bigger, to the size it is now.

            Ford, GM, RAM, Toyota and Nissan are going to fight tooth and nail to keep the sales of their full-size trucks up, while resisting the importation or building of smaller trucks.

            This was ONE of the motivations behind dropping the Ranger, Colorado/Canyon, and Dakota; to improve the sales of the fullsize trucks, with downsized engines.

            To me that doesn’t make sense because now you have a squirrel engine having to haul around the body of a fullsize truck, with reduced capacity (because of the smaller engine and higher differential ratios.)

      • 0 avatar
        CRConrad

        @Pch101: “No, the Europeans continue to maintain a 22% tariff on trucks…”

        But that’s hardly “continuing”, when the original tax on the European side was on *chickens*.

      • 0 avatar
        CRConrad

        Also, @Pch101: “You should also note that the chicken tax battle was begun by the Europeans, not by the Americans. The US tariffs were implemented in retaliation for tariffs imposed by the French and the Germans. The WTO allows tariffs to be set if they are retaliatory, so the US was perfectly within its rights to respond.”

        1) Does Europe still tax American chicken, specifically? (I doubt it.)

        2) Since the American tax on small European (and other) trucks was in retaliation for a European tax on chickens, the current European tax on American trucks has nothing to do with anything. (The Americans can retaliate for that by taxing Europeans chickens or something.)

        3) There was no WTO in 1961.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          @CRConrad
          Don’t let fact get in the way of Pch101s version of history!

          It ruins his storyline.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          “Does Europe still tax American chicken, specifically?”

          No, but it still has a 22% tariff on imported trucks with engines over 2.5 liters. The Detroit full-sizers are subject to that tariff.

          Also as noted, the EU tariff on imported cars is 10%, which is four times the US rate. All in all, the EU tariffs on vehicles are higher than the US tariffs.

          “There was no WTO in 1961.”

          The WTO is an evolution of GATT, which came into effect in 1948 and was in place during the 1960s when the chicken tax was first imposed. GATT allowed for retaliatory measures, and the US chicken tax was retaliation against the German and French tariffs on American poultry.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Pch101,
            Would you be in favor of repealing the tax on small pickups from Japan and Thailand? I can see why the US might want to tax European pickups (which are rare anyhow), since they tax ours.

            But why tax the rest of the world?

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “Would you be in favor of repealing the tax on small pickups from Japan and Thailand?”

            Within the context of a broader FTA, sure. It’s just a bargaining chip.

            But a unilateral end to the tariff doesn’t make sense. In matters such as international trade, it makes little sense to give away concessions without getting something else in return.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            “But why tax the rest of the world?”

            VoGo,to protect the American truck builders.

      • 0 avatar
        pacificpom2

        You are right, Wikipeadia isn’t the most accurate source of information, but can you argue against your own?
        “http://jalopnik.com/lets-celebrate-the-50th-birthday-of-americas-worst-tax-977715943″
        “http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-drive/news/trans-canada-highway/the-chicken-tax-why-its-hard-to-find-a-small-pickup-truck/article15435229/”

        So basically most car & truck people in the USA would prefer the chicken tax to go, but it seems that vested interests would like it to stay. Even a major manufacturer in the Americas has sought ways around it to bring in a variety of smaller vehicles

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          “So basically most car & truck people in the USA would prefer the chicken tax to go, but it seems that vested interests would like it to stay.”

          These tariffs end up being negotiated away as part of free trade agreements.

          The US is currently involved in negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and an EU free trade deal is possible. One would expect that those members would get exemptions, which would for practical purposes effectively repeal the tariff. There is no reason for the US to unilaterally reduce its tariffs without getting something in return.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @pacificpom2
      It the Cicken Tax has had some bizarre consequences,
      http://thechronicleherald.ca/wheelsnews/1209009-how-suvs-were-hatched-by-a-chicken-tax

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @DM–If you really want to make the argument for loss leaders then you could say any vehicle whether it is truck, car, or CUV that is below 40k is a loss leader because the profit margins are not as great as a fully optioned vehicle. Maybe if the dealers start stocking just the optioned vehicles then they will make more money, just extend the loan period. You could make the same argument for lawn mowers as well, why sell something below $500 or $600 for a self propelled and why sell a riding lawnmower below 2k. Just eliminate those bottom feeders and go for the higher sales. You could also start with new home sales at 500k in price and eliminate a lot of bottom feeders. Anyone that cannot afford to buy at that price range should rent. Just eliminate all cheap skates across the board. Seems like Henry Ford didn’t do that with the Model T.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      “…you could say any vehicle…below 40k is a loss leader”

      It depends on volume, what it cost to design/R&D/bring to market, platforms/parts shared, assembly line/plant shared and the length of the production run/generation, advertising, to name a few.

      Is $39,995 for a Corolla dressed up as a Lexus? Or a Chevy Volt? Base Corvette? Or Poorman’s Porsche?

  • avatar
    Michael S.

    I really think Toyota could have had something with a Rav4 based trucklet/ute. The 2GR-FE 3.5L V6 had 260+ horses (pushing only 3600lbs), a US tow rating of 3500 pounds (4200 in Australia with the same drivetrain), and the side opening rear door would have lent itself nicely as a tailgate. I’ve thought of converting mine as a side project at some point in the future when it is strictly a secondary vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      Victor

      Renault is about to release a Duster-derived trucklet that will be somewhat close to what an open-bed Rav4 would be like. Well, minus the engine since it’ll have a 2.0 inline four as range topper. The link below is somewhat dated, don’t bother translating much. The latest issue of brazilian 4Rodas magazine confirms the trucklet for next year.

      http://carplace.virgula.uol.com.br/flagra-renault-duster-aparece-em-forma-de-picape/

      Nissan already sells the Duster in selected markets, and its platform has been running in the US for some time now, underpining the Versa. The latest Sentra is said to have a certain degree of commonality with that as well, so federalisation is probably not that expensive.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @Victor
        That’s a neat little truck.

        I do know there is a Nissan variant of the Duster. Hopefully the Nissan version will be on sale in Australia with a little diesel.

        When in France I saw lots of Dusters on the road, particularly outside of Paris.

  • avatar
    Les

    It distresses me to see all this talk of who would want/need a smaller pickup being couched exclusively in the context of contractors, people who shop at Lowe’s, and the Orkin Man.

    For me, the pickup truck was, is and forevermore shall be the signature vehicle of farmers and ranchers. Out here almost everybody has a pickup (9 out of 10 vehicles in the parking lot when I was in high school were pickups, usually compacts or short-bed half-tons), many have more than one and while we all respect the capabilities of the 3/4 tons they are just too clumsy and heavy (Oh the times I’ve had to go pull my grandad’s Silverado HD out of a hidden mud-hole out in the pasture) for most general utility work. Today the fleet of older pickups is skewing more and more compact since there’s nothing out there to replace ‘em so there’s a big incentive to keep the old ones on the road. Sure UTVs like the Gator and Ranger can do some (but not all) of the things that compact pickups used to do but we still crave small pickup trucks.

    Is there a market for small pickups? ..a significant and potentially profitable one? Hell Yes there is! Only it’s not with the weekend warriors and suburban commandos.

  • avatar
    grinchsmate

    Working in the West Australian building industry this is a list of people who use Ford Falcon and Holden utes.

    Plasterers
    Brickies
    Electricians
    Glaziers
    Painters
    Brick pavers
    Tilers
    Carpet layers (with racks)

    I’m sure I’ve missed a few. The other big one is site supervisors, they hardly ever need to carry anything but when they do having a tray is handy. There is also all the blokes who use them to pull tool trailers.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      There’s a famous home builder/contractor here that runs an ’86-ish El Camino, but he’s the boss and just uses it to run around to oversee workers, ongoing projects, write estimates and pickup any materials that are needed in a pinch. Everything else is delivered by big trucks, his or materials contractors. Car-based pickups are for good small jobs and light work, but most in industry want a truck that can also do real work.

      • 0 avatar
        grinchsmate

        Of that list the only ones who are delivering more than about 100kg are the glaziers and carpet layers, all others are basically carting tools around. Everything bigger is delivered by ‘big trucks’, as in 10-25 tonne trucks that can actually carry all the stuff you need for a house.

        I’m not saying utes are the only solution, for example when I worked in Denmark everything was done in vans. Im just pointing out that utes are perfectly fine for the ‘small jobs’ that make up 80% of house building and the ‘real work’ that requires a real truck to cart the stuff. I’m sure there is stuff inbetween where a fullsize would be the most efficient.

        Youre right about utes being perfect for supervisors.

        • 0 avatar
          grinchsmate

          I’ll also add that I would never use the Ford or Holden because they arent 4×4. In my Hilux I can drive right up to the door of a house, in the 2WD’s I would have to park on the street or risk getting bogged. Such is life on the sand plains of WA.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Any construction contractor or even a handyman who works completely out of a car-based anything, looks unprofessional to me. Even an electrician can carry most of what he needs in a truck of a large car, but it tells me he’s going to be doing a lot of runs back to the shop or building center for every little thing that pops up unexpectedly.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            Unprofessional is not a consideration .I have seen an F250 used as the bosses car.The Ford Cab Chassis is used a lot for builders, bodies being up fitted on the East coast States: NSW, Victoria, especially Victoria. The Hilux is used a lot as an up fitted donor as well.All of them deliver tools, glass, have concrete mixers etc. Heavier trucks bring in most of the items for a building site.
            F250/F350′s are non-existent on construction sites.I have seen early 2001-2003 F250/F350′s used as Utes, but they only carry as much as the Car Utes. Trucks carry all the bulky and heavy items.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @DiM
            Here’s what we use instead of an HD in the building industry, this is just the house frame.

            We use trucks that are capable of carrying weight and having a ‘Hiab’ on the truck to unload.

            http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Iiox-aYJTXM/Uefcu6U1-eI/AAAAAAAAAKc/q0jNRhO0nUs/s1600/image-10.jpeg

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @DiM
            Here’s a midsizer decked out for someone in the building industry. It can carry the same weight as a bottom end HD, around 3 000lbs.

            http://www.traderisk.com.au/images/tradesman-ute.jpg

            DiM, here a photo to give you an idea of the size of my BT50.

            http://images-2.drive.com.au/2013/11/28/4961787/1_vd-ute-Best-Video-thumbnail-408×264.jpg

            A ute with a trailer full of scaffolding

            http://quickally.com.au/__data/assets/image/0004/75145/varieties/gallery_full.jpg

            DiM a side tip dump truck where I live. A little bigger than a HD. Bigger than Texas!

            http://www.primemovermag.com.au/uploads/trailer/articles/tm-news-maxitrans-azmeb-lge.jpg

            DiM a few of these I’ve seen on the highway. A little bit bigger than a HD.

            http://www.primemovermag.com.au/uploads/trailer/articles/tm-april-feature-drake-lge.jpg

            http://www.trailermag.com.au/images/uploads/trailer/articles/TM0310-Drake-2.jpg

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Most jobs for contractors are medium sized. Too big for lifestyle Utes based on cars and too small for big rig deliveries. And in my area, 4wd is a must, often just to get the material from the street, up the hillside to the site.

            Crews swing by The Home Depot or building center at 6 AM for a couple pallets of materials and head for the job site (while scanning for pizza parlors open at dawn). They start work at 7 AM instead of having to wait (and pay) until 10:30 AM for the wrong/damaged materials to be delivered.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @DiM
            Have you moved???????

            You stated you live in LA.

            Is LA sort of like La Plaz in Bolivia???

            Boy, you are into real estate now as well??

            I don’t even think you live in the US with that Subway comment you made.

          • 0 avatar
            grinchsmate

            Mike.

            The only problem I see with your system of deliveries is that the builder ends up paying tradesman’s wages for delivery driver work. I don’t know how wages breakdown where you are but in WA the builder would rather pay a $30 an hour to a truck driver than $50 an hour to a tradesman. The other factor that is relevant here is the lack of skilled trades, if a builder can only get a few good plasterers he is going to use them for plastering not waste their talents on delivery work.

            These factors might not play in your local industry but they make a difference here.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @grinchsmate – It takes one tech to pickup materials, but the important thing is the materials show up when the crew does. And it’s the right color, shade, texture. Having a crew stand around and delaying the job gets real expensive, real fast. Having the materials delivered makes sense in certain instances, like having a bundles of roofing stacked on the ridge for you, but it’s crazy not to bring a truck that can handle anything that’s needed in a pinch. Schedules, strategies, plans and designs change all the time and you have to be very flexible.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @grinchsmate
            This guy knows little about cars, let alone the logistics/project management involved in the building industry.

            I think he considers himself a ‘whip’ regarding lawn mowers and whipper snippers.

          • 0 avatar
            grinchsmate

            MIke.

            Anything that uses a crew here, render, roofing, ceilings, bricklaying, granno, and roof plumber, uses so much material they need a real truck. Anything smaller is usually one bloke and maybe an apprentice.

            It’s certainly interesting hearing about different work practises. My guess is that the cost of labour makes the biggest difference in how logistics are managed. I do wonder what you mean about colour and texture, building materials here are completely standardised so the opportunity to fuck up is pretty minimal.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        “Car-based pickups are for good small jobs and light work,” — And with that one statement you described exactly WHY compact pickup trucks would be popular again.

  • avatar
    ktm_525

    I have had many trucks, big, small, fat, thin….and for me a week full of commuting, dirtbikes, kids sports and weekend projects and nothing come s close to a Ridgeline. The beauty of the Ridgeline is that it handles like a big sedan and easily fits in the garage. If Honda puts a diesel in the next offering I will be first in line with cash in hand.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @Denver Mike–A Chevy Volt is a loss leader. Demand for the Volt is not that high. Even a low priced Corvette would not get that many sales. A 39k Corolla would not have that much demand even with a Lexus badge on it. Maybe the Mercedes model at 39k but then you might as well say 40k. I do think there is a market for a compact truck that is based on a front wheel/AWD platform of an existing CUV and that share components that a compact truck that is priced not too would sell but then again you would not have an 8k to 10k manufacturer markup. My point is that if you base demand on what vehicle provides the largest profit margin then you would only sell highly trimmed full size pickups, top trim luxury cars, CUVs, or SUVs. On the other hand if you only sell the vehicles with the highest markup you would have a customer base with a much higher age. By having more affordable vehicles mixed in (less profitable) with the higher end vehicle the manufacturer can get younger customers that could eventually trade up to their higher profit vehicles. That is the case with trucks as well which is not just based on size but price. Many independent businesses such as farmers, remodelers, and building contractors need a larger work truck but don’t need King Ranch or Platinum trim levels which is for the most part what the dealers and manufacturers want them to buy. They can order a HD work truck but at over 50k. By your standards these types of buyers would be cheapskates and bottom feeders which is a term you embrace. Maybe it is about time for the Chicken Tax to end and let imports of more affordable trucks with a diesel option in–not just midsize but larger. My handyman who is rebuilding my 2 story enclosed porch would buy a new truck and replace his 10 year old high mileage and rusting F-250 crew cab with a Power Stroke but he cannot justify paying over 50k for something that does not meet his needs. His truck has a manual transmission, hand crank windows, vinyl seats, and rubber floors (it does have air, power steering, and power brakes). He is one of the cheapskates you are referring to who will not buy the full optioned truck because he gets dirty and does’t want to mess up an expensive interior. He also would prefer an manual transmission. Maybe its time to give the Chinese truck makers a shot at this market as well. So yes Big Al is correct the US truck market is a protected market with the Chicken Tax that creates a noncompetitive market that discourages competitiveness. Why not force all truck buyers to buy the most expensive truck you can at a 8k to 10k profit margin when your market is protected. Maybe we need the same type of tax for autos and CUVs as well and then the profit margins could be increase by that amount as well.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    If the pro-small truck gang are jihadists then what are the big truck chicken tax supporters?

    Onward Christian soldiers……..

    The Crusades were ideologically based protection of the “Holy Land”.

    Sounds a helluva lot like those pro-tariff types.

    At least those small truck jihadists don’t drive anything big enough to take out tall buildings ;)

    Does owning a 20 ft long F150 powered by a 5.4 make me a “Jihadist”?

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      @Lou_BC
      To give you an idea how big my BT50 is, here’s one alongside a Commodore ute.

      My ute is nearly 19′ long with the bulbar and towbar.

      I hope the link works this time.

      http://images-2.drive.com.au/2013/11/28/4961787/1_vd-ute-Best-Video-thumbnail-408×264.jpg

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @Lou_BC
        I think I have third time around.

        http://www.drive.com.au/motor-news/dcoty-2013-best-ute-20131128-2yc82.html

        http://media.drive.com.au/cars/car-of-the-year/dcoty-2013-best-ute-4961786.html

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @Big Al & Lou BC–Most of us are not calling for the end of the large American pickup, just a more level playing field without protective tariffs (Chicken Tax) and restrictive regulations meant to protect the existing truck market. There is a place for large, medium, and small trucks in the market just as there is a place for different sizes of cars and CUVs. I don’t see my handyman buying a compact truck but he would like something a little less expensive and not with every option available for his work truck. He does not dislike the fully optioned trucks but he does not want one for his work vehicle. I have to question anyone’s motives for being against a more open and less restrictive market for trucks.

    I myself am satisfied with the size of a midsize truck, but more competition would make it much better and more efficient. There is a need for true compact truck but it would have to be based on an existing platform and share components with existing products to be feasible. Manufacturers should not be forced to provide any vehicle they do not want to make, but then they should not be protected from competition nor should they be bailed out by taxpayers for bad decisions.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @Jeff S – that has always been my point. Tariffs and technical barriers have shaped the market. Some want to say that those factors have had zero impact or most likely try to discredit our side of the debate by making it sound like we are too daft to see all of the other factors involved.
      If those barriers are ineffective why does Ford want reciprocity with the EU but not Asia?
      It will be interesting to see what happens in Canada once our FTA with the EU takes effect.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @Lou_BC and Jeff S
        I tend to agree with Lou’s views.

        But, there will always be full size pickups. I mean even in Australia we have full size pickups.

        I gave a pretty good rant in another article why I have the views I have regarding tariffs, etc.

        This pickup article reminds me of a story of literally taking a first step by a person who knew how to walk.

        In Australia we have many ‘boat people’ refugee’s in Darwin. One day at the local shopping mall a guy a work wanted to go up an escalator at the mall.

        He was confronted with an adult who didn’t know how to move onto the ‘moving’ steps at the base of the escalator. True story.

        He assisted them by being there and holding their elbow.

        The took the ‘first’ step, even though they knew how to walk. Incredible but true.

        The US can build pickups. But it needs to take it’s first step.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @Big Al–Reminds of when I was a child and visited my grandparents on the farm in Kentucky. My granddad would take the people who worked for him every Saturday to go shopping, mostly locally but sometimes to Cincinnati where the bigger department store with escalators and elevators. There were some of these tenants who had never been in a city and had never ridden an elevator or an escalator and were afraid of them. There were some of them that had never left KY and were afraid to cross the Ohio River. This period of time was in the late 50′s to the mid 60′s. I know what you are talking about someone who has never seen or ridden an escalator. I could tell you some other stories like that as well, but yes I agree about the analogy of this article being similar to someone who does not know how to walk. There is a whole other world out there besides the USA and we do not have a monopoly on knowledge.

    Doesn’t the current Frontier share a platform with the Titan? If so couldn’t the other manufacturers do the same?

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    @Jeff S
    I do believe the chassis’s are ‘related’ between the current Titan/Frontier/Navara.

    There are difference though. If I remember correctly the Navara has a 7 cross member chassis. Manufacturing differences, ie, cost savings would give them different load characteristics.

    I do believe the stories of the Titan having a weak chassis to be true. As in Australia we’ve had occurrences of Navara chassis’s failing over the tray. Most have been caused by the use of airbags.

    The airbags acted as fulcrums when a heavy load was towed.

    I would expect the next Titan to have it’s chassis based on the Patrol platform and not the Navara/Frontier. It would not surprise me if the last generation Patrol chassis is used either. We had one ton Patrols with a coil sprung assend with a 2 500lb load capacity.

    That’s why I find it odd that Fiat Ram can’t make a decent coil sprung pickup in the US. I think it has more to do with how far Fiat Ram want to ‘push’ their pickups. They might break.

    But I think the D40 and Titan was one big screw up by Nissan. I would bet my balls that Renault had much to do with this, since they are the controlling partner in the relationship.

    The French would have little idea on pickups and platform sharing with a full chassis. I don’t think Nissan with it’s experience would have made the same mistake.

    I read with interest DiM’s view on chassis construction and had a slight chuckle to myself.

    The Toyota Tacoma and Hilux also share the same basic platform. The Tacoma is built on the weaker SUV Surf chassis. The difference in them is marginal, but yet significant. The biggest noticeable difference is the Hilux is a fully boxed chassis and the Tacoma isn’t.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @Big Al–Nissan made some really good solid vehicles. Renault to me has much less to offer Nissan than Nissan has to offer Renault. It is too bad that Nissan did not remain independent but in a highly competitive market they had to do what is necessary to stay viable. I am expecting sometime in the future that GM will merge or be acquired by a competitor. Ford might end up as the only US based manufacturer left.


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