By on May 26, 2010

If you’ve been reading TTAC regularly, you might have noticed that many of us have something of a soft spot for compact pickup trucks. And what started for me as an innate affinity for all forms of cheap, honest, rugged transportation has become full-blown affection on the strength of several months driving a ’92 Toyota with four-cylinders, four-wheel-drive and a manual transmission. Of course, all auto writers struggle with the disconnect between their personal taste and that of the buying public, and cheap full-sized trucks seem to have eliminated all chances of a re-investment in the segment. Ford, for one, has said that it plans on “replacing” its aged Ranger (which dies next year) with Ecoboost-powered F150 options and its Focus hatchback. Dodge, or Ram, or whoever builds the trucks in Auburn Hills is said to be considering an unibody Dakota replacement, but hasn’t made a peep about it in months. Meanwhile, GM is shutting down Canyon/Colorado production at its Shreveport plant by 2012, ending its half-hearted competition in the segment. But, according to (which is usually one of the best at breaking these kinds of stories), GM is considering a new entry into the otherwise neglected segment.

This is one of those “anonymous sources” deals, and the details are still very fuzzy, but the gist is that

GM is said to be working on a new compact runabout that’s reminiscent of the original Chevrolet S-10, according to our sources… The key elements of success for GM’s future small truck would be fuel economy that’s greater than its full-size pickups and a window sticker that’s significantly less. It would also be a completely different and smaller platform than the planned next-generation overseas version of the Colorado that will be built in Thailand.

According to the report, the fact that other automakers are neglecting the segment, and the recent growth in the size of the Toyota Tacoma have “opened the door” for a possible neo-S-10. Color us intrigued.

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45 Comments on “Wild-Ass Rumor Of The Day: GM Re-Committing To Compact Pickup Market?...”

  • avatar

    Bout time. 84 DIESEL Isuzus Pups that still run and roll get 4freakinthousanddollars. Dont even try a Toyota.

  • avatar
    Samuel L. Bronkowitz

    I’m still driving my ’92 Ranger… I honestly don’t know why this segment has died out. If you’re a homeowner looking to do weekend runs to the Home Depot there’s nothing better. I snicker every time I go there and see some yahoo tying plywood to the roof of his family sedan and loading landscaping supplies in the trunk.

    • 0 avatar

      And yet the ideal solution to the homeowner dilemma is a small 4×8 or 5×9 utility trailer for $500. You don’t have to insure it, or get it inspected, or do more maintenance than repack the wheel bearings every 4-5 years. Registration in Maine is $30 every other year. Why on Earth would I want yet another full vehicle to use just because I need some plywood or dirt?? And why would I want to pack crap into a brand-new $15K+ vehicle?

    • 0 avatar

      As a homeowner, I disagree. And SUV does it much better because it can be converted all the way. The secret is to carry a good tarp with you at all times (fits nicely into the tool compartment under the floor of RAV4). The only thing that S-10 can carry and RAV4 cannot is a really big TV or perhaps a dual W/D stack. Fortunately, most stores sell from warehouse anyway, so you never get to carry any appliances, unless you’re really really poor and buy off Craigslist. So, capacity is the same, but then my SUV can carry kids and your S-10…? This is exactly what “unility” part of SUV stands for.

      Edit: I don’t even have a trailer hitch installed, because a trailer requires storage space, and my lot is too small. But if you can use a trailer, it’s even better.

    • 0 avatar

      Kids? Double cab.

      Your RAV4 cargo area cannot carry a 4-wheeler, or a motorcycle, or have rocks/mulch loaded into it by a back-ho, or be cleaned by the rain, or be converted into a giant beer cooler or a pool.

    • 0 avatar

      Double cab is the dumbest idea ever (unless it’s F-250). I laugh at it every time these people drive around with the proverbal plywood sticking out for half of its length.

    • 0 avatar

      I have a removable roof rack that I use when I need to carry something like plywood. Once I’m done, off comes the roof rack. If it’s too heavy for the rack, I just rent a full size pickup or mini van from Enterprise. For smaller stuff, two of my cars are hatchbacks and they do the job just fine 98% of the time. I love hatchbacks.

    • 0 avatar

      Back-ho? Is that a prostitute that shovels? That would make my local landscape supply depot a lot more…interesting. I guess it depends on what you like to pick up in your pickup.

      Backhoes or excavators are more common around here. Front end or skid steer loader is another popular option. Much more boring, but arguably less dirty.

    • 0 avatar

      Double cabs are dumb? Now there’s a compelling argument. Congrats, you convinced me. And you called people that shop on Craigslist poor. Really swinging for the fences, Pete.

      Backho, yeah, slip of the tongue, err, finger.

    • 0 avatar

      I have to also say I love having an SUV. Best purchase ever as it just fits everyday life over a sedan or a pickup. MPG isn’t great, but my wife uses it as her daily driver for a short drive to work. We’ll replace it with another SUV when the time comes, even if (or when?) gas prices are higher.

    • 0 avatar

      “Your RAV4 cargo area cannot carry a 4-wheeler, or a motorcycle, or have rocks/mulch loaded into it by a back-ho, or be cleaned by the rain, or be converted into a giant beer cooler or a pool.”

      Who cares – I don’t have a motorcycle or 4-wheeler, I have little use for a vehicle that can have rocks/mulch loaded in via backhoe, and if for some reason I want to use a kiddie pool I’ll just buy one.

      The people who buy a truck that gets used about as often as a trailer are the ones that puzzle me. I don’t need a whole other vehicle just to do that stuff.

    • 0 avatar

      “Double cab is the dumbest idea ever (unless it’s F-250). I laugh at it every time these people drive around with the proverbal plywood sticking out for half of its length.”

      Better yet was the person I saw recently hauling a couch in one of these tiny-bed trucks ON ITS END.  Sticking up in the air.  With ladders and ropes holding it up.  Get real.


  • avatar

    My best friend had a ’95 or so S10 back in… ’95 or so, when we were 16. He beat the ever-loving piss out of that poor thing; it’s a miracle it kept going. At one point we had it up to 120mph on a ratty back road – downhill, of course. By the time it hit 110 the door panels were shaking and the side mirrors had nearly come off. Quite the ‘life before your eyes’ moment…

    Good times, though. I’ll always have a soft spot for S10s thanks to that vehicle.

  • avatar

    In order to be “recommitted” to small trucks, technically speaking shouldn’t GM have been committed at some point in the past? I’ve never seen an S-10 of any vintage that wasn’t an under-engineered, oil-leaking, paint-peeling, 50,000-mile boat anchor.

    • 0 avatar

      Funny, at three times the mileage, mine’s so good I’m actually willing to chance a Colorado.

    • 0 avatar

      Don’t do it, Syke. Everyone I know who “upgraded” from an S10 to a Colorado has been bitterly disappointed. You’d be better off with a low mile used S10 or a Ranger. I’m finding it very hard to kill my 3.0 V6 Ranger w/ manual transmission. It’s required nothing but shocks, tires, ball joints and brakes in 130,000 miles.

  • avatar

    I’ve still got my ’96 S-10 (150k) and it does everything I need: Bi-weekly trash runs, Lowe’s runs, motorcycle hauling (anything from my 150cc scooter to my Evo Springer Softail fits in the back), bicycle hauling . . . . . . lord knows what else. I’m due for something new(er?), keep looking at a Colorado, can’t get excited. Looking at a Ranger, ok a bit more excitement than a Colorado, but I haven’t moved yet. Tacoma? No ‘effing way? Dakota’s too big anymore (I had two of the first gen – liked them).

    Somebody’s got to start making a modern S-10.

  • avatar

    GM still makes compact trucks. They’re called the Colorado and Canyon. For all the love the Ranger gets online GM’s entry is virtually the same as the ancient Ranger, except without the ancient.

    They are modern engineering but just as utilitarian and not supersized like so many other “compact” trucks. Unlike the Ranger they offer modern safety and a full engine range from a four cylinder to a V8.

    In any case it’s good to hear GM won’t be abandoning compact trucks. Hopefully the next one they release remains small and spartan.

    • 0 avatar

      The Colorado is bigger than a ranger, although not so big as a Dakota.

      The biggest benefit the Ranger has over the Colorado is price. You can pick up a new work truck trim Ranger for $13-$14K with fleet incentives, Colorados tend to run at least a couple thousand more. A Ranger with a 4 banger and a stick also has the best fuel economy of any compact pickup on the market, which can add up when you are running a small fleet of them.

      As a daily driver the Colorado is probably the more comfortable truck, but in my experience most compact pickups, at least around here, are purchased for commercial use, so comfort takes second seat to economics.

    • 0 avatar

      A problem with both the Ranger and the Colorado is that the manual transmissions offered in both are either light duty (Ranger) or not available with the larger engines (Colorado) or possibly both. Bottom line is neither can tow much of anything when equipped with a manual.

      The imports have never had a problem with this, getting a Tacoma or Frontier with a stick shift doesn’t neuter the truck.

      If I am going to buy a small truck it better have a stick shift, they are tougher, longer lasting, clutches are cheap, and better suited to truck like activities. And it had better be able to tow something because well, it’s a truck and one of the reasons to buy one.

      The crappy tow rating shows that neither Ford nor GM put much faith in the strength of the manual transmissions/clutches they put on their trucks.

      I think the newest Ranger with a V6 & stick is rated to pull the same weight as my 83 Toyota 4×4 with a 2.4l engine was. The Ranger is only competitive when you get an automatic. The Colorado is even worse but you can only get it with the little 2.9l last I checked.

      Someone build a compact truck that can pull 5000 pounds with a stick and I’ll be climbing all over one at a dealership, right now it isn’t even worth looking. The older compact Taco can though with a V6, maybe I should try and find one again.

    • 0 avatar
      also Tom

      “Small and spartan”. That’s the ticket. Let’s bring back another phrase and make it meaningful: built to last.

  • avatar
    Austin Greene

    Just don’t name the GMC version S15.

  • avatar

    As a fan (and former owner) of a Rabbit pickup and a fan of the old Dodge Rampage, a small pickup with a six-foot bed based on the Cruze might be of interest to more people than you’d think. I wonder if Ford has been pleasantly surprised by the popularity of the Transit Connect. This would essentially be a pickup version of that. AWD in a FWD platform is much more common place than it was in the early 80’s, so offer that as an option. I think they’d have a… what do you call it… segment buster?

  • avatar

    Wow, Bob Lutz has left the building and we’re still fan-baiting?

    What’s next, are we “considering” a Regal wagon with diesel and a stick?

  • avatar

    I would guess that it’s very difficult to build a small truck profitably. GM won’t be able to resist bloating up the design, either, so before you know it, their loaded compact truck will run $30k, with a base price of $20k. That’s Sierra territory, but it can do real work.

    The minivan has helped crush the small truck market. I can carry 4×8 sheets of material with the hatch closed, and then haul the family around afterwards. If I want to haul dirt or mulch, I’d rather pay for delivery rather than be stuck with the empty bed of a 2-seater compact truck most of the time.

    As for Ford, I think the Transit Connect is a great CUT (compact utility truck) already serving this market.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “Someone build a compact truck that can pull 5000 pounds with a stick and I’ll be climbing all over one at a dealership,”

    When Toyota released the Tacoma in 1995(still compact at the time) that was rated to tow 5K. Having had my butt planted in a ’93 Toy PU for 11 years & 197K I can tell you 5K is too much to safely put behind any compact. I know because I tried it. After that nonsense I went out and got myself a fullsize Chevy. Of course I kept the Toy. It’s still going on the original clutch, drive train w/300K on the odometer. Amazing considering I put at least 40K on it towing boats(3K plus) and loaded snowmobile trailers. Sometimes 1 sled in the bed, 2 more on the trailer, 3 adults in the extended cab.

    I also used my Toy PU to basically rebuild my first home. No RAV or any other cute ute could have hauled(weight or size wise) what I regularly put in the bed of that truck. Try to fit a bedroom set or 2500 lbs of river rock in the back of your compact SUV.

    • 0 avatar

      “Having had my butt planted in a ‘93 Toy PU for 11 years & 197K I can tell you 5K is too much to safely put behind any compact.”

      Yeah, its more a case of wondering how weak the drive train is in the stick Ranger that it loses 2000 pounds or so of towing capacity compared to the automatic.

      Ford pulled the same thing with the early 90’s F150 which had a Mazda transmission in it, a full size pickup rated to pull 2000 pounds. Not sure what is up with the Ranger.

      I had a 2001 Tacoma TRD 5 speed for a while but got rid of it because it was too expensive and I was always scared of scratching it, was rated for 5000 iirc. My 83 never complained no matter how much crap I put in the back of it, just rode a bit better but I never attempted towing with it (frame was rusted out).

    • 0 avatar

      Word. I towed and hauled with two 22R Toyotas before I got a Ranger. They were economical empty, but the toys were downright scary in comparison when asked to haul anything much heavier than air.

  • avatar

    My friends dads old Nissan hardbody truck has well over 200K miles and still runs like a champ….those were great trucks.

  • avatar

    My 3.slow stick-shift SC Ranger has the distinction of being the most reliable and economical four-wheeled vehicle I have ever owned, out of the twenty-some I’ve had. That includes four Hondas/Acuras, two Toyotas, and two Nissans. (We won’t even talk about the BMWs, Volkswagens, or the Austin-Healey.) I bought it used six years ago. Since then it’s depreciated about two thousand dollars. Some vehicles I’ve had did that in the first *minute* of ownership.

    I’ve long since given up the conceit that I have any insight into the public’s car-buying habits, but I’d sure like to think I’ll be able to replace this vehicle with something vaguely similar should it ever wear out. Fortunately, it’s given no indications thus far that that’s going to happen any time soon.

  • avatar

    We have 3 S-10s in the family. Two are 4-cylinder 5-speeds that have over 120,000 miles and just keep running (my son has a rebuilt ’87 with a small block in it – hot rodded S-10s are everywhere).

    They are a bit crude by modern standards, but very good on gas and the utility they offer can’t be beat. Cheap to insure, cheap to run, what’s not to like.

    I really hope GM IS going to bring back the S-10.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Bought a GMC Canyon Extended Cab with the six foot bed recently. Just right size and price-wise for our suburban driving and light hauling. The near identical size Tacoma is not worth the price premium, especially with Toyota’s reputation taking a swan dive. Ford Ranger interior too small. Dodge Dakota almost as big and costly as a full size.

    Would not look at a unibody or front wheel drive pickup. Lots of people must feel the same. How many Ridgelines did Honda sell, maybe two?

    Having lived with the Canyon for six weeks, can’t help thinking if GM put a few more dollars into quality improvements it would be a segment killer.

  • avatar

    The current Hilux seems like an old (1988-1998) C/K Pickup in size. The LUV D-Max (cousin of the Colorado) is smaller, similar in size to the Ranger.

    Having seen the 4 of them here in Venezuela (GM brought the Colorado in 2007), I’d take any of the GM offerings. The Ranger is too old. The Hilux too expensive, and since the D-Max is the government favorite, there’s guarantee spare parts will be there when needed. Also I heard from a good source assembly is going to start soon here, so all the better.

    A V8 Colorado should be a proper hoon machine and lots of fun.

  • avatar

    I’d be quite interested if the “plans” evolve to produce an El Camino. Front drive, optional AWD would provide plenty of hauling capacity for suburban cowboys and good enough efficiency to serve as commuter vehicles. There wouldn’t need to be so many huge trucks around.

    In fact, if GM were to make a pickup roughly the size of the ’69 Chevy again, who, other than those using the full capacity of today’s trucks, need anything more than that?

    • 0 avatar
      Anonymous Coward

      They do produce an El Camino, several of them in fact. They just don’t sell them in the states. GM was planning on selling them along with their G8/GTO brethren, but those plans were canceled when Pontiac got the axe*. If you follow the link, the “SS V-series” is shown with the Pontiac trim, albeit without the Pontiac logo.

      *After pontiac was canceled, GM sold limited numbers with full Pontiac trim, badges and all. I was really tempted to investigate buying one and importing it on my own so as to be the only person in the US with a 2010 Pontiac.

  • avatar

    Make a deal with Mahindra, slap a new nose on it, and GM is all set.

  • avatar
    gator marco

    My father-in-law has an 86 Ranger. Probably over 200K; the odometer broke at 160K years ago. Only uses it out on the farm for light hauling. It is too darn small inside for a daily driver for me, and a full size is too thirsty for a commuter. I tend to agree with some of the previous commentators: when you need a real truck, borrow or rent one.

  • avatar

    I feel so un-enthusiast whenever I mention that I don’t like the S-10. It’s V6 is gutless, it’s interior is cheap and plasticky, and the cab is cramped and awkward. I’ve been in a Nissan Frontier, and I really like that. The seats are excellent, it’s quiet and composed (unlike the uninsulated and unrefined S-10), and it’s 4.0 engine is much more powerful and torquey and the S-10’s 4.3. If they made it smaller, made a single cab, and made engines as good as the 4.0, I’d be sold.

  • avatar

    GM has the engines already, the 2.9 I4 and 3.7 I5. The first would be an economical choice and the 3.7 with 242 hp and 242 ib-ft of torque, with a suitable rear axle and manual tranny should be able to haul plenty. If not, I wonder if GM could make a light duty, no frills, Silverado with I5?

  • avatar
    Christy Garwood

    Habla usted Espanol?

    Si, Chevrolet vende camiones pequenas en Mexico.
    Cuanto es el costo de la importacion en la Estados Unidos?

    • 0 avatar

      These trucks are not made in Mexico, but in Brazil, where they’re sold as Chevrolet Montana. It’s due for replacement soon, when a new Agile-based small pickup arrives. In fact small trucks like this are very popular here in Brazil. There are currently five automakers selling them, VW Saveiro, Ford Courier, Fiat Strada, Peugeot Hoggar and the Chevy Montana.

  • avatar

    I wish somebody would hurry up and build some kind of economical, relaible, decent looking small or mid size p/u. I’m stll driving my 01 Dakota around because i can’t find a decent alternative that I’m willing to spend the money on. My choices all have drawbacks…A new (er) Canyanrado which gets lousy gas mpg and gets a poor rating from Consumer reports for relaiblity or an aging, dated looking Ranger which also just gets so-so mpg or the new (er) Dakota which I just don’t like too much and, once again, gets crappy mpg.
    Toyota? Nope – I live in Michigan. Nuff’ said
    GM – If you build it, I will buy it. And by the way, I have owned 3 S-10’s in my 48 years and all were reliable but kind of boring.

  • avatar

    I owned two Nissen and two S10 trucks. very useful super durability. Traded the last S10 for an Escape,
    once in a while I miss the S10 for it’s simplicity and ease of throwing stuff in the back. The trailer is something worth looking into.

    I can imagine it would be hard to make one that has good fuel economy, decent traction in snow,
    toughness and performance and cost.

  • avatar

    Just sold my ’94 Ranger 4WD automatic, 4.0 V-6. Had it since ’96. Will miss it great little truck, but it was nickle and diming us. Just before I sold it had it in for shocks and oil change and A/C recharge, only it needed a new condenser too, total to the tune of $620! Before that it had been another condenser, spring brackets, all the brake lines, master cylinder, three starters, alternator, valve cover, valve cover gaskets (never did solve the oil leaking however) and various and sundry little pieces and parts. I guy in the market for one saw it at the shop, the mechanic knew I was going to sell it, he offered me $3000 cash and I took it. Have an ’05 Silverado 2500HD Crew cab now to tow a livestock trailer and run around town in (In my rural area NO ONE gives you the stink-eye for driving a full size P/U or SUV).

  • avatar
    also Tom

    I’m having a terrible time wrapping my brain around the phrase “built in Thailand.”

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