The Truth About Cars » compact pickup http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 04 Dec 2014 19:13:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » compact pickup http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Junkyard Find: 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1979-chevrolet-luv-mikado/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1979-chevrolet-luv-mikado/#comments Wed, 05 Nov 2014 14:00:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=940441 Once Toyota Stouts and Datsun 520s began selling in sufficient numbers (in spite of the Chicken Tax) to attract Detroit’s attention, the idea of selling small pickups— without actually tooling up to build them— seemed appealing to the Big Three. Chrysler had the Mitsubishi-built Plymouth Arrow pickup, Ford had the Mazda-built Courier, and GM had […]

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02 - 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOnce Toyota Stouts and Datsun 520s began selling in sufficient numbers (in spite of the Chicken Tax) to attract Detroit’s attention, the idea of selling small pickups— without actually tooling up to build them— seemed appealing to the Big Three. Chrysler had the Mitsubishi-built Plymouth Arrow pickup, Ford had the Mazda-built Courier, and GM had the Isuzu Faster-based Chevy LUV. Each type rusted with great eagerness and were near-disposable cheap, so they’re all very rare today. I see maybe one LUV per three years of junkyard visits, so this ’79 LUV Mikado grabbed my attention right away.
07 - 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Mikado option package, if we are to believe online sources, gave the buyer striped seats and a three-spoke steering wheel (plus the cool-looking Japanophilic fender badges).
03 - 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe three-spoke wheel is there, but I don’t see any seat stripes. Perhaps the owner of this truck swapped in a later Isuzu P’Up bench.
06 - 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe G18 engine, making 80 horses. 21st-century Americans require at least that much power for their lawn tractors, not to mention a crew-cab in their “small” pickups. The G18 was also found in the “Buick Opel” (an Isuzu-ized Opel Kadett sold in North America during the darkest days of the Malaise Era).

Now there’s even more to LUV, for everybody!

Did anyone buy the 4WD LUV?

This Thai-market Isuzu Faster Spacecab ad is for a second-generation truck, but I had to include it due to the little spaceman.

01 - 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Review: 2012 Toyota Tacoma TRD T|X Baja Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/review-2012-toyota-tacoma-trd-tx-baja-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/review-2012-toyota-tacoma-trd-tx-baja-edition/#comments Fri, 21 Sep 2012 18:17:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=460053 Toyota trucks have long been the staple of practical truck shoppers, young shoppers looking for a cooler first ride, off-roaders and just about every rebel militia. What’s a company like Toyota do to keep sales of the 8-year-old truck going? Special editions of course. Despite the higher profits, Toyota decided to skip the “freedom fighter” […]

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Toyota trucks have long been the staple of practical truck shoppers, young shoppers looking for a cooler first ride, off-roaders and just about every rebel militia. What’s a company like Toyota do to keep sales of the 8-year-old truck going? Special editions of course. Despite the higher profits, Toyota decided to skip the “freedom fighter” edition with bench seating for 8 in the bed and a .50 caliber machine gun on the roof in favor of an off-the-rack off-roader. Thus the Tacoma TRD T|X Baja Edition was born. In case you are wondering, T|X stands for Tacoma Xtreme. You know, because it is way cooler to spell extreme without an “e.”

Click here to view the embedded video.

Exterior

The Tacoma has been with us for a long time and there’s little disguising that despite the periodic face lifts. Still, in the truck world this isn’t really a problem as styles change slowly and long product cycles are the more the rule than the exception. Despite a 2009 refresh, the most common comment I received from friends during my week with the Tacoma was:  “I didn’t know you had an old truck.” Xtreme? Not so much. While Toyota still offers a regular cab Tacoma for $17,525, the Baja Edition is only offered in with a “Double Cab” or “Access Cab.” Color options are limited to black or red for 2012.

Interior

The last time we looked at the Tacoma’s cabin, a common complaint was the car-like interior. The basics of that interior are still with us, but Toyota swapped in a chunky steering wheel, shiny metal bling and rubber flooring to butch-up our Baja. Compared to the current Nissan Frontier and Chevy Colorado, the Tacoma is a more comfortable place to spend your time and the cabin looks less dated as well. Despite the car-like shapes and Toyota sedan door handles, my forum trolling indicates the interior holds up well to abuse. While the cabin is far from Xtreme, I don’t have a problem with car cabins in trucks.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Infotainment

All Tacoma models (including the base model) come standard with Toyota’s snazzy 6.1-inch “Display Audio” system. The touch-screen head unit is easy to use and allows full control of your USB/iDevice as well as Bluetooth audio streaming and Bluetooth speakerphone integration. The audio quality from the base speaker package is merely average, if you care about your tunes upgrade to the JBL system. Toyota’s Entune software is available as an option and enables smartphone integrated apps like iHeartRadio and Bing. Also available is a $1,930 package that combines Entune, the optional navigation software, JBL speakers, XM/HD radio and a subwoofer.

While systems like MyFord Touch, or even Toyota’s own higher end nav systems use Sirius or XM satellite radio to deliver data content, the Display Audio system pulls the information off the internet using your smartphone and data plan. As a result, there’s no need for an XM or Sirius subscription. The downside? You can’t access these services without a smartphone, so if you haven’t joined the 21st century and are still using a Motorola StarTac, you won’t be able OpenTable.com whileyou roll. Is a well balanced JBL system with smartphone love Xtreme? For this segment it sure is.

Drivetrain & Off-Road Enhancements

The Tacoma’s base engine is a 2.7L four-cylinder engine good for 159HPand 180lb-ft of twist. In order to get the Baja Package you have to step up to the optional 4.0L V6 which produces 236HP at 5,200RPM and 266lb-ft of at 4,000RPM. (And check that 4×4 option box as well.) While the 2.7L is still saddled with Toyota’s old four-speed auto or five-speed manual, the V6 gets a newer five-speed auto or six-speed manual. The Baja uses a traditional two-range transfer case (read: part-time 4WD) and both a “real” locking rear differential and a brake-actuated limited-slip rear differential just like the regular 4X4 Tacoma. The lack of driveline differentiation makes sense as the Baja is built on the San Antonio assembly line, then over to the Toyota Logistical Services building (on-site) where a team disassembles the Tacoma suspension and reassembles it with the Baja bits. By hand.

Compared to the Ford Raptor, Toyota’s changes to the Tacoma donor truck are less “Xtreme” with all the changes working within the stock suspension design as much as possible. For instance, despite going from 8.5 to 9.25 inches, front wheel travel is limited by the the upper A-arm design which is retained from the stock Tacoma. The enormous 60mm Bilstein shocks (originally designed for motor home use) will support more travel should a buyer decide to swap out the A-arm for an aftermarket unit. The Baja receives new springs all the way around for two-inch bump in height and rear suspension travel is increased from 8.5 to 10 inches. To help in cooling and performance, the rear shocks are upgraded to 50mm units that sport a remote reservoir.

The Baja edition also sports a TRD cat-back exhaust, some crazy side graphics and unique 16-inch wheels shod with 265-width BFGoodrich all-terrain tires. As you would expect, all the usual TRD off-road gear is included in the Baja package from skid plates up front to a 400-watt AC power inverter integrated into the truck bed.

Drive

If you’re looking for a head-to-head Baja vs Raptor comparison, you clicked on the wrong review. The Raptor is a different animal entirely and it’s just not a fair comparison to the Baja. The Ford is bigger, heavier, more powerful, faster, more expensive, and plays to a different audience.

On the road the Baja is surprisingly civilized for an off-road tuned vehicle. If you ever needed a reason to select the “factory” off-road truck instead of DIY modding, on-asphalt manners are that reason. Aside from the drone of the TRD cat-back exhaust, the Tacoma’s cabin is quiet, comfortable and a great place to be on a 5 hour road trip. However, it is out on the highway that Toyota’s V6 and 5-speed auto start to show their age. On the gently rolling hills of US-101 in California, the Baja’s lack of low end torque and tall 5th gear meant the transmission shifted frequently. The relatively low fourth gear combined with the cat-back drone spoiled an otherwise well behaved highway cruiser.

Off road, the Baja is a comfortable companion on the trail soaking up bumps without loosing composure. Like all trucks, the Baja is front heavy (56/44 % F/R) and is designed for load carrying in the bed. This combination of a light rear end and suspension designed for a load means that most trucks tend to get “squirrely” out back on washboard dirt roads at moderate speeds. The Baja on the other hand never broke a sweat thanks to the well-tuned Bilstein shocks and springs. The improved articulation of the suspension helped the Baja feel almost as sure-footed as the FJ Cruiser on the deeply rutted trails we encountered.

There are a few things that must be said. First off, pretty much nobody takes their brand-new, bone-stock anything to the off-road park and thrashes it. In our brand-new, bright-red Toyota pickup, all eyes at the SVRA were upon us as we bottomed out on a concrete pipe. They probably went home and told stories about the crazy dude in the new truck. Second, even in Baja trim the Tacoma’s approach/departure/break-over angles take a back seat to the FJ Cruiser and the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Third, Toyota does not offer a locking front differential. I didn’t think the diff deficit would be too big of an issue until we were on tight switch-back turns at Hollister Hills where the large 40-foot turning circle (44 in the long bed) meant I was off the trail more than I was on it. If the Baja had a locking or limited slip diff up front, I wouldn’t have had to constantly resort to the hundred-point-turn to navigate some of the trickier descents. Despite these shortcomings, the Baja is “light” at 4,300lbs, some 900lbs lighter than a Jeep Grand Cherokee and a whopping 1,700lbs lighter than the Ford Raptor. Depending on the type of off-roading you plan on tackling, this lighter curb weight has some serious advantages.

Pricing is where the T|X Baja Edition shines. The base Access Cab model with the 6-speed manual transmission starts at $32,990 and our fully loaded four-door model with the automatic transmission and navigation rang in at $39,150. The observant in the crowd will notice two things, the Baja package costs $4,365 more than a truck without it, but more importantly (and quite strangely) it is cheaper than the Tacoma with the less rugged TRD off-road package. Go figure. While this is much cheaper than the Raptor which ranges from $42,975 to $53,000, it is strangely more expensive than the more capable FJ Crusier which rings in at $37,400  with Toyota’s “trail-teams” off-road package. Toyota plans to make only 750 due to the production limitations in 2012 but has promised the Baja will return for the 2013 model year with some tweaked options. If you’re the kind of person that’s willing to take their new car off-road, the Baja is easily the most Xtreme capable new truck for the price. I’m just not sure I’d take my shiny new truck too far off the beaten path.

Toyota provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.4 Seconds

0-60: 7.08 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 15.5 Seconds @ 87MPH

Average Economy: 17.5MPG over 1020 Miles

 

2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Exterior, Wheels, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Exterior, side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Exterior, front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Exterior, front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Exterior, front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Exterior, front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Exterior, rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Exterior, rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Exterior, T/X badge, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Interior, gauges, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Interior, dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Interior, steering wheel, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Interior, dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Interior, dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Interior, dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Interior, rear seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. DykesTacoma Baja-016 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Interior, rear seat storage, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Interior, rear seat storage, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Engine, 4.0L V6, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Interior, Infotainment Entune, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Interior, Infotainment Entune, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Interior, Infotainment Entune, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Junkyard Find: 1976 Datsun 620 Pickup http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/junkyard-find-1976-datsun-620-pickup/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/junkyard-find-1976-datsun-620-pickup/#comments Thu, 22 Mar 2012 12:30:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=435771 Did any of the Afghani Mujahideen drive Datsun pickups to battle after the Soviets invaded? Probably, but the Toyota Hilux got all the press. For the same reason today, Malaise Era Toyota pickups tend to be kept alive, while their Datsun, Mazda (via Ford), and Isuzu (via Chevy) counterparts get crushed when they finally suffer […]

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Did any of the Afghani Mujahideen drive Datsun pickups to battle after the Soviets invaded? Probably, but the Toyota Hilux got all the press. For the same reason today, Malaise Era Toyota pickups tend to be kept alive, while their Datsun, Mazda (via Ford), and Isuzu (via Chevy) counterparts get crushed when they finally suffer some problem that costs more than $200 to fix. I’ve been seeing a steady stream of these Datsuns in junkyard for 20 years now, and here’s the latest one.
This pickup is a bare-bones, non-King-Cab, zero-options model. No tach, all idiot lights.
The L20 was very reliable, though Toyota’s 20R set the bar impossibly high for four-cylinder truck engines.
Remember aftermarket sunroof conversions?

15 - 1976 Datsun Pickup Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 01 - 1976 Datsun Pickup Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 02 - 1976 Datsun Pickup Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 03 - 1976 Datsun Pickup Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 04 - 1976 Datsun Pickup Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 05 - 1976 Datsun Pickup Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 06 - 1976 Datsun Pickup Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 07 - 1976 Datsun Pickup Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 08 - 1976 Datsun Pickup Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 09 - 1976 Datsun Pickup Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 10 - 1976 Datsun Pickup Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 11 - 1976 Datsun Pickup Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 12 - 1976 Datsun Pickup Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 13 - 1976 Datsun Pickup Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden 14 - 1976 Datsun Pickup Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'Murilee Martin' Greden datsun620 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Wild-Ass Rumor Of The Day: Scion And Daihatsu Considering Joint Small Pickup For US? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/wild-ass-rumor-of-the-day-scion-and-daihatsu-considering-joint-small-pickup-for-us/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/wild-ass-rumor-of-the-day-scion-and-daihatsu-considering-joint-small-pickup-for-us/#comments Wed, 09 Nov 2011 19:11:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=417362 With traditional compact pickups growing into the new “midsized” segment, Scion has long been tipped as a likely candidate to lead the US market back towards smaller, car-based pickup trucks. And, Scion’s VP Jack Hollis tells TTAC’s sister site Autoguide that such a vehicle, though not a certainty, could be possible. Versus other vehicles, I […]

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With traditional compact pickups growing into the new “midsized” segment, Scion has long been tipped as a likely candidate to lead the US market back towards smaller, car-based pickup trucks. And, Scion’s VP Jack Hollis tells TTAC’s sister site Autoguide that such a vehicle, though not a certainty, could be possible.

Versus other vehicles, I can’t say it’s priority one. I’m very interested in it. A lot of prospective owners are interested in it and every meeting I have in Japan, I’m asking, what else can we do.

Hollis reveals that he has, in the past, pushed for an imported Daihatsu pickup for Scion’s US lineup, but that regulatory issues killed the business case. But now he’s suggesting that Scion and Daihatsu might jointly develop a small, fuel-efficient pickup… just as Subaru and Toyota/Scion developed the FT-86 together. If that happens, I’d expect something larger than Daihatsu’s typical kei-style trucks, for reasons hinted at in the video above. And to help you understand the legacy that a Daihatsu-Scion pickup might draw upon, here are a few random images of Daihatsu “trucks” (or possible inspirations) through the ages.
daihatsu_rugger_pair_1993 daihatsuad daihatsubasket daihatsufourtrak daihatsuhijet daihatsulegacy daihatsumiratruck DaihatsuMudMaster daihatsunaked daihatsuruggerpickup daihatsutaft daihatsutaft1 daihatsutriketruck daihatsutruck OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA daihatsuvan

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2012 Toyota Tacoma: It’s A Facelift (Of Course) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/2012-toyota-tacoma-its-a-facelift-of-course/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/2012-toyota-tacoma-its-a-facelift-of-course/#comments Wed, 17 Aug 2011 17:57:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=407667 A new Toyota Tacoma is scheduled for release this fall, and pickuptrucks.com reckons this is it. And because this appears to be nothing more than a relatively mild facelift, we believe it. What would have been too surprising to be true: a completely redesigned, ground-up new compact truck from any automaker in the US market. […]

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A new Toyota Tacoma is scheduled for release this fall, and pickuptrucks.com reckons this is it. And because this appears to be nothing more than a relatively mild facelift, we believe it. What would have been too surprising to be true: a completely redesigned, ground-up new compact truck from any automaker in the US market. Apparently building all-new compact pickups for the US market went out of style towards the end of the Clinton Administration… so we’ll have to make do with another facelifted 5+ year-old product. It’s OK, we’re gettig used to it. Video here

2012tacoma 2012tacoma1 Here it is... again 2012tacoma3 2012tacoma4 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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A Glimpse Of Chevy’s Compact Pickup Future http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/06/a-glimpse-of-chevys-compact-pickup-future/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/06/a-glimpse-of-chevys-compact-pickup-future/#comments Fri, 17 Jun 2011 16:02:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=399211 Well, we’ve accidentally developed something a of a Chevy theme this morning, what with the Cobalt and 2013 Malibu… and now this, the Colorado Rally Concept, a first look at the next generation of GM compact pickups. Though the concept’s 2.8 liter turbodiesel engine is unlikely to make it to the US, Pickuptrucks.com reports According […]

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Well, we’ve accidentally developed something a of a Chevy theme this morning, what with the Cobalt and 2013 Malibu… and now this, the Colorado Rally Concept, a first look at the next generation of GM compact pickups. Though the concept’s 2.8 liter turbodiesel engine is unlikely to make it to the US, Pickuptrucks.com reports

According to manufacturing documents we’ve obtained, the Colorado’s start of regular production is slated for Oct. 3, 2011, in Thailand and Jan. 16, 2012, in Brazil, where it will likely be sold as the S-10.

According to our sources, the code names for the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon versions for North America are 31XC and 31XG. Start of U.S. manufacturing is scheduled for around July 2014, though production of the current Colorado and Canyon are expected to end by 2012 at the plant in Shreveport, La.

Aimed directly at the global pickup segment defined by Toyota’s HiLux and Ford’s Global Ranger, the Colorado looks to be larger than the typical compact pickup and represents a fundamentally different strategy than Chrysler’s planned minivan-based “lifestyle pickup.” And don’t look now, but tough midsized trucks like this could be as much a replacement for current full-size buyers as gas prices and CAFE standards rise, as they could be true entry-level compacts. But then, we’ll need to see how much this global vehicle is modified for the US market before we really know what we’re getting here.

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Curbside Classic: 1963 Ford Econoline Pickup http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/curbside-classic-1963-ford-econoline-pickup/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/curbside-classic-1963-ford-econoline-pickup/#comments Sun, 21 Mar 2010 17:57:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=349854 History does tend to repeat itself, especially in the car business. Detroit’s more recent efforts to compete with import compact trucks was once a serious undertaking, and is now quickly dwindling away to nothing. The same thing happened once before, in the early sixties. In response to real (or imagined) incursions into the light truck […]

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History does tend to repeat itself, especially in the car business. Detroit’s more recent efforts to compete with import compact trucks was once a serious undertaking, and is now quickly dwindling away to nothing. The same thing happened once before, in the early sixties. In response to real (or imagined) incursions into the light truck field by imports, Detroit launched a barrage of new compact vans and trucks.  Ford was the most prolific in the 1960-1961 period, offering no less than three distinct types of pickups. The most creative and nontraditional one was the Econoline pickup. Not surprisingly, it was the least successful (of Ford’s three types), and petered out after a few years. Americans know how they like their Ford trucks, and the Econoline was not it

Of course, the Econoline van and pickup, as well as the Corvair and the later Dodge versions were all inspired by the VW Bus and pickup (coming very soon here). The VW pickup probably wasn’t really that much of a threat due to the 25% “chicken tax” that kept sales mainly confined to VW dealers as parts haulers and a few die-hards. But the raging success of the VW Beetle and to some extent the VW bus put Detroit on edge, and largely precipitated the creative rush of compact cars and trucks that all came gushing forth in ’60 and ’61.

Ford and Chevrolet based their new compact vans and trucks on their respective new compact cars, the Falcon and Corvair. And just like with the car versions, the pragmatic and utterly conventional, simple and cheap to build RWD Falcon trounced the adventurous rear-engined air-cooled Corvair in the car segment, so did their offshoot trucks. The Econoline van instantly became the best seller in the field, and Chevy quickly cobbled up a Chevy-II based van-only version to compete (CC here), and Dodge followed the same steps with their D-100 Van and pickup.  Obviously, the Corvair van’s inherent advantages of drastically better traction, braking and handling were offset by its lack of a flat floor throughout.

It doesn’t take more than a casual glance at the Econoline pickup to tell that it has a serious weight distribution problem. Ford installed a 165lb weight over the rear wheels in a effort to mitigate the problem, but lets just say this is not the thing to take out in the snow. But it was remarkably compact, yeat it sported a 7.5 foot long bed and a roomy cab with storage behind the rear seats; essentially the first extended cab pickup ever. And it was economical to run , with its light weight offering modest resistance to the little 144 and 170 cubic inch sixes. Ford claimed that up to 30 mpg in its ads.

The Econoline pickup faced a lot of internal competition as well as external. In 1960, Ford relaunched the Ranchero as a Falcon. And a conventional F-100 cost some $86 more. That left a pretty compact niche left, and public utilities turned out to be the big buyers of the little Econoline and Corvair pickups. Phone companies loved the space efficiency and low operating costs. But even then, after first year sales of 14k Econole pickups, their sales steadily dwindled, down to two thousand in their final year, 1967. That pretty much coincides with the birth of Japanese small pickup sales on the west coast.

I’ve always been drawn to these trucks for their compact size yet roomy cabs, despite their limitations. Of course, as the former owner of a Dodge A-100 van, I can well imagine what they handled like with another couple hundred pounds less in the rear quarters. And the front crush zone is a comparable to a can of Orange Crush. But it makes a handy around-the-town scooter, like this one, which is the daily driver of Joe, who does superb vintage restoration work on European cars out of his small shop. He picked it up recently, rebuilt the tired 170 six, and will eventually get to the body. Don’t ask why, but I love the exhaust sound of that little Falcon six, a pleasant mixture of nasal smoothness with an overlay of raspiness.

For some reason, this is a vehicle that I can’t quite take my eyes off: the combination of its odd proportions that challenge the conventions, and its jaunty cuteness. It’s also an extremely European-looking vehicle, although pickups in the American sense just weren’t hardly a reality there. And those red wheels don’t hurt either. These pickups may have been a sales dud, but they sure brightened up our carscape in their day. And today. Enjoy.

More new Curbside Classics here

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VW To Bring Amarok Pickup To America If We Promise To Buy 100k Units http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/12/vw-to-bring-amarok-pickup-to-america-if-we-promise-to-buy-100k-units/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/12/vw-to-bring-amarok-pickup-to-america-if-we-promise-to-buy-100k-units/#comments Wed, 16 Dec 2009 20:12:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=339405 The Argentinian-produced Volkswagen Amarok pickup might be coming to the US if VW thinks it can sell enough of them. VW of America’s Stephan Jacoby tells pickuptrucks.com “we’d have to sell at least 100,000 Amarok pickups to make it feasible.” But don’t get too excited: the only compact pickup to sell in those numbers is […]

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Amarok you like a hurricane
The Argentinian-produced Volkswagen Amarok pickup might be coming to the US if VW thinks it can sell enough of them. VW of America’s Stephan Jacoby tells pickuptrucks.com “we’d have to sell at least 100,000 Amarok pickups to make it feasible.” But don’t get too excited: the only compact pickup to sell in those numbers is the Toyota Tacoma, which sold 102,327 units year-to-date.

On the other hand, the compact pickup segment is woefully short on modern offerings, and the sales difference between the relatively modern Taco and its next-closest competitor, the aged Ford Ranger (51,097 units ytd) indicates that updated offerings could unlock serious sales potential in the segment. But VW has bigger fish to fry, what with it’s million-unit ambitions and US plant coming online. Jacoby hedges:

The compact pickup segment is declining. Consumers are going to big pickups, which is a very traditional conservative segment. A lot of our competitors have burned their fingers in it as late entries. Before we could bring [the Amarok] here we’d have to do a lot of homework. But we have other vehicles to bring into this market first. Once we do that, we can talk about the Amarok.

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Ask the Best and Brightest: Whatever Happened to Compact Pickups http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/11/ask-the-best-and-brightest-whatever-happened-to-compact-pickups/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/11/ask-the-best-and-brightest-whatever-happened-to-compact-pickups/#comments Tue, 10 Nov 2009 01:03:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=334712 Ford’s announcement today that the new global Ranger won’t be coming to the US sure seems like a head-scratcher. Though Automotive News [sub] quotes Ford’s Alan Mulally as saying the Ford Ka won’t be sold stateside because “our view is that Fiesta is about the smallest vehicle that we think will be a real success […]

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One of the originals (courtesy:manxsr.com)

Ford’s announcement today that the new global Ranger won’t be coming to the US sure seems like a head-scratcher. Though Automotive News [sub] quotes Ford’s Alan Mulally as saying the Ford Ka won’t be sold stateside because “our view is that Fiesta is about the smallest vehicle that we think will be a real success in the United States,” there’s no similar reason given for the absence of a modern compact pickup from Ford’s lineup. Or anyone else’s lineup, for that matter. The Canyon/Colorado are going out of production since the Shreveport, LA, plant is part of Old GM liquidation Corp. The Dodge, er, make that Ram Dakota will die next year according to the new plans at Chrysler. The Tacoma is no longer properly compact, and Volkswagen’s Brazilian “Robust” won’t be coming here either. Hell, even the latter-day El Camino was stillborn. But if my flu-addled memory serves me correctly, didn’t compact pickups help pull the US market out of one of its last great downturns? Why is it that nobody is giving this segment the time of day?

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