By on September 21, 2010

With Ford’s Ranger scheduled to expire sometime in 2011, Ford’s Derrick Kuzak spends most of a recent interview with proclaiming the death of the American compact pickup market. But after trotting out the numbers, and talking up the F-150 Ecoboost, Kuzak finally gets to the real reason Ford won’t be selling the new Ranger in the US market.

The new Ranger is 90 percent of the size of an F-150. In the rest of the world, compact trucks have grown over time. They’ve become dual-use [vehicles for work and family] and they’ve increased cab size, payload and towing.


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57 Comments on “Quote Of The Day: Death Of The Compact Pickup Edition...”

  • avatar

    With every ounce of my intuition I believe the market is ready for a small, car-based pickup truck. Even the half-ton pickups available today have become too big and too thirsty for non-contractor types who would drive one to work during the week and to the home improvement center on the weekend.

    • 0 avatar

      Honda executives likely thought something similar before they released the Ridgeline.

    • 0 avatar

      The Ridgeline is not exactly what I had in mind. The only thing small about the Ridgeline was the bed. A two-seat car based pickup with a six foot bed (so you can carry a 4 x 8′ sheet of plywood or some sheetrock in the back with the tailgate down) is what I have in mind. The me the Ridgeline is nothing more than Honda’s version of the Explorer Sport Trac or the Subaru Baja.

    • 0 avatar
      M 1

      Smaller yes. Car-based, no. Mid-size is where it was at. A recent TTAC article mentioned “premium” creep or something like that — growing popular models into segments and price ranges where they didn’t belong. That’s what happened to the mid-size truck market. The truly small trucks were flukes. But the mid-sizes could get sh*t done without the hassle of full-size trucks.
      But given that 99.9% of all cars today suck, badly, car-based = fail.

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      Turn the Transit Connect into a pickup truck by converting the back section from a box into a bed and you are there.

    • 0 avatar

      The honda ridgeline also starts at $29,000 while a ford ranger starts at $18.

    • 0 avatar

      Wait, I know, we’ll call it El Camino!

  • avatar

    I still feel the US market is ripe for utes…maybe a RWD four-door version with a 5′ bed, NOT UGLY (nodding towards Subaru), and priced in the mid $20s to start. Sell them with a body-matched cap to avoid most of the visual objections.
    That is the only configuration I can safely say I’d buy new if it were offered.

  • avatar

    Why did they even bother making a another truck that’s 90% of the size of the F150? If you really needed a truck that big, wouldn’t you already be buying a full size truck? If the new Ranger sells at all it has to be at the expense of the F150.
    I’m guessing that the bottom line is that they don’t want to sell you a sub-20 grand mini pickup. They want to sell you a near 30 grand full size pickup. Both cost about the same to make, but the one has a built in 10 grand profit margin.

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    My wife and I loved my ’06 Ranger so much that after it was destroyed, I promptly went out and purchased another.  Toyotas/Nissans were just too big.  This was the first time we’ve purchased essentially the same thing a second time.   The ’10 Ranger last three tankfuls averaged over 22 mpg..and it’s never done less than 18 (city with A/C).  Thankfully, it’ll last a long time (unless some one else runs into it) so I’ll not have to deal with oversized trucks in my garage.  We love our truck…and Ford might think again of making an F 149.

  • avatar

    1st – If Derrick Kuzak is telling us that the new overseas single cab is 90% of the bulk – width, height and length – of a single cab, short bed, F150 – he is lying through his teeth.  The more popular quad cab overseas maybe larger interior wise, but it too isn’t 90% of the bulk of a full size, North American crew cab and its cargo bed is woefully short.
    I suspect that Ford North America doesn’t want to continue power train development for a vehicle that currently sells as a sole platform for 75,000 units with no additional units for a small van or Ford Explorer.
    2nd – The reason the Ranger only sells 75,000 units annually and the Tacoma owns the market is because except for a couple of refreshes in 1998 and 2003 – the Ranger hasn’t had a total ground up redesign since 1992.
    Power train offerings include the Mazda 2.3L and German engineered 4.0. The latter is offered with only an automatic.  The Ford/Mazda collaboration may be on its last gasp in North America.
    Furthermore, in the past couple of years – you haven’t seen that many of them sitting on dealer lots – unlike the acre of F150 and F250’s.   In Texas, at least Ford doesn’t advertise the Ranger to the degree it does the F series.
    Be honest Derrick Kuzak: It’s a crime scene, a murder by neglect. There are a lot small businesses that aren’t going to overpay for an imported Transit Connect and will instead be purchasing a San Antonio, TX built Tacoma.

    • 0 avatar

      “Power train offerings include the Mazda 2.3L and German engineered 4.0. The latter is offered with only an automatic.  The Ford/Mazda collaboration may be on its last gasp in North America.”

      Believe it or not, you can still get 4.0 Rangers with stick shifts, just not in the lowest trim level. My local dealer carries no more than four Rangers at any time, usually three loaded V6s with automatics and one stripper with a four banger and stick. But every so often they get a stick shifted 4.0. My dad keeps debating about buying one to replace his old ’89 S10 with the 4.3 that I’m driving.

    • 0 avatar

      Another  quibble I have with the article is rather quote the mileage figures – 22 city/ 27 highway – for the 2.3L with a manual, they use the mileage figures for an auto transmission. Is buying into the Ford Motor company’s spin? Why?

    • 0 avatar

      My sense is that a Ford Focus based “Ute” would probably be sufficient for most small businesses that currently use Rangers.  The small trucks I see used by businesses here in Canada predominantly perform light duty tasks (ie, well under the Ranger’s payload rating).  Most of these little trucks are used as delivery vehicles by auto parts places, pharmacies, garden centers, etc… or to haul equipment for things like outdoor maintenance type work (ex, lawn care).
      Aside from its manageable size the Ranger’s biggest selling point is price.  The Ranger is cheap to buy and cheap to maintain.  This makes it ideal for small businesses.  Buying a Transit Connect to replace a Ranger is a lot more money for added capabilities (ex, larger enclosed cargo area) that may be of little practical gain to end users.  When it comes time to retire their Rangers I think most small business will do as you suggest and jump ship to another brand of small trucks.

    • 0 avatar

      The 4.0 on a stripped ranger is fast, even with an automatic.  I drove one at work a few years back- 0 options, so very light weight.  by my stopwatch, 0-60 was in the low to mid 6 second range!
      Big engine, short bed, short cab, no amenities.  Power to weight was awesome.

    • 0 avatar

      2nd – The reason the Ranger only sells 75,000 units annually and the Tacoma owns the market is because except for a couple of refreshes in 1998 and 2003 – the Ranger hasn’t had a total ground up redesign since 1992.
      I’m not going to argue that the Ranger is not due due for a redesign but you can’t make an honest comparison between the 2010 Ranger and the 1993 (I’m assuming you meant 1993 since ’92 was the last of the previous generation).  Since 1993 the Ranger has a new front suspension (double wishbone vs twin i-beam), new steering, new interior, new frame, new engines, new transmissions, and new brakes.
      I’m not trying to make excuses for Ford  The last substantial improvement was made in 1998 so it is fair to point out that the current Ranger is at least 12 years old (although Ford did add standard traction control, roll stability control and side airbags this year).  My only point is that Ford did continue to invest in the Ranger through the late 90’s and that’s it is not a fair argument to say the current Ranger is an 18 year old truck.

  • avatar

    Dismissing the global Ranger as 90% of the size of a F-150 is very disingenuous.
    Run the numbers and an Edge is more than 90% of an Expedition.  A Focus is more than 90% of a Fusion.

  • avatar

    “Compact Pickups are dead!” – Nonsense, there’s still plenty of people wanting one.
    “The Crown Vic is dead!” – Nonsense, Police departments still want rugged, reliable & RWD cruisers.

    Has Ford managed to get it’s head wedged in it’s posterior again?

    • 0 avatar

      It seems the major auto companies don’t think it is worth it…or can’t make money, on vehicles with volume under 100K.  They need a new model.  Heck, there are companies specifically targeting the cab and police cruiser markets with one off vehicles.  Ford needs to figure out how to make money on the smaller pickup volume and the smaller cab and LEO market, if they want to survive.  The days of making cars that sell in the millions is over.

  • avatar

    Ford has made the F-150 too damn big and heavy as it is…there is plenty of room for a compact.
    They COULD make a new Ranger on the D3 platform (of course…then it would be destined to fail) it would get relatively good economy and be able to tow 5K pounds.
    Ford is just lazy…..they always take the cheap and easy way out.

    This was good too:
    The new Ranger is 90 percent of the size of an F-150.

    And that folks, is why this “One Ford” pipe dream won’t work.

  • avatar

    I can see somebody making money converting 2-door Focus hatches into Rancheritos.

  • avatar

    Yes, here again is another case of the American automakers NOT giving the buying public what they want.  There has been talk of VW bringing back a car-based unibody pickup with a diesel powerplant and a manual transmission, but that doesn’t appear to be happening.

    Small pickups are excellent choices esp. for those in urban areas with tight parking and defacto 1-way neighborhood streets (I’m looking at you, Seattle).  There will always be a demand for them, and it took the American automakers decades (from the 60s to the 80s) to finally figure this out before they started building their own (Ford and GM, anyways, Mopar just kept rebadging Mitsus).

  • avatar

    Getting rid of the Ranger will free up showroom space for another much-needed Ford CUV.

  • avatar

    I like Ford but I can’t stand the BS that they have been spewing lately.  If you don’t sell enough Rangers or think you can sell enough Rangers to justify a redesign, then just say so.  The compact pickups havn’t been compact for some time.  I bet just about anyone who went looking for a small pickup looked at the 1/2 tons and couldn’t justify buying the smaller truck because the size and mileage were pretty close in comparison.  FWIW, my parents had a compact Toyota and a couple of Mazdas in the late 80s early 90s.  Those were compact. 

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    We have a GMC Canyon. It’s ideal for suburban commuting, weekend shopping runs and hauling stuff from the building store, garden center and to the dump. Unlike full size pickups it’s easy to drive, maneuver and park, doesn’t cost a king’s ransom to gas up and maintain, and fits in our garage.

    We can’t imagine life without a small pickup. It doesn’t have to be cutting edge, just reasonably sturdy, reliable and durable. The Chevy 1500, Ford F150, Dodge Ram, even the Dodge Dakota, are all too big, too costly to buy and run, and a PIA to drive in the city. With GM discontinuing the Colorado/Canyon twins and Ford killing the Ranger our next one will have to be a Toyota Tacoma or Nissan Frontier.

    It’s hard to support the domestic automakers when they don’t support customers.

  • avatar

    Why not base a new Ranger on the Transit Connect? Just cut off the back and extend the wheelbase.

  • avatar

    Compact pickups ARE dead. The reason is that in the US pickups are not sold for genuine use. I drove 5 hours today, and never saw a pickup with anything in the back the whole trip. They serve only as a way for guys to show how masculine they are – implying that nobody wants to have the smallest thingie. Of course *we* all know that a stickshift is the true sign of a real man; but many people are misguided.

  • avatar

    Why are we even comparing the new 90% sized ranger with the F150?  The F150 isn’t even sold down there.  Just wait, the Ranger will be back when the price of gas goes up.  I want a new Ranger now.

  • avatar

    I think this is a serious misread of the market there really are no compact pickups in the us besides the ancient ranger. the dakota, tacoma, frontier, canyon and colorado. if they either a produced a modern bof chassis. or b. stick the 2.5 liter with a 5 speed automatic in there it would be great. the other “crazy” option would be the euro-focus  diesal but that would be a substantial investment in a “dead” concept. I think many people who live in the city could use one and you could haul a family in a 4 door cab and a boat to the lake.

  • avatar

    Like someone else already said, it costs pretty much the same to build a Ranger as an F150, or a Colorado as a Silverado.  Which is hurting people like me who actually like a small pickup.  My S-10 happily hauls the garbage every two weeks, lumber whenever I get in the mood to build something (which is often), and any of my motorcycles (from at ’69 Triumph Bonneville to my ’98 Springer Softail – they all fit with the tailgate down).
    I don’t want an F150 or Silverado, especially in the current sizes.  Every generation gets bigger, and I’m only looking for something relatively small.  I’ve had two first generation Dakotas, now the S-10, and have been very happy with all of them.  I’m currently stuffing cash into the savings account to pick up something either new or almost new this coming winter/spring.  I figure I better move now while they’re still available.

    • 0 avatar

      You know I need a small pickup but I also need a backseat for the kids. I used to wait for a fourdoor small truck but then even the small trucks were oversized. The S-10 four door was about right but the MPG was pretty sorry.
      So I went trailer shopping. I know trailers aren’t cool and in some places a pain in the backside but I found exactly what I was looking for and bought the generic American steel “L” channel welded trailer with an expanded steel mesh floor. It did all the chores we wanted to and the investment was minimal. Pulled it with a four cylinder CUV.
      Later the problem became how to hauls tuff occasionally to Grandma’s house and have it arrive dry and safe. Too many trips back and forth racing the weather or dealing with tarps. Still driving that four cylinder CUV. Don’t want a V-6.
      Remembered that when I lived in Italy for several years (Navy) I saw families traveling in small sedans and hatchbacks towing a small trailer with their luggage and toys in it. Covered. Lockable. Lightweight. I started searching.
      Well in America you get several varieties of trailers: heavy duty work trailers that requires a heavy duty tow vehicle. Skip it. Custom trailers for touring motorcycles to pull. $3K-$5K. Uh – no. Custom trailers to tow behind hotrods. Expensive again. And that’s about it for enclosed trailers.
      Kept searching the European web and found Brenderup trailers. And they sold them here are Thule trailers. Now Brenderup is selling them b/c Thule switched to heavy duty trailers. I bought a 1205S with a locking top.
      Plenty strong and big for weekend projects. I’ve carried boxes of tile, my fullsized tablesaw, bikes, bags of cement, camping gear and firewood (enough for several nights anyhow), etc. Weights about 400 lbs. Can carry about 1200 lbs which is about what my car is rated for. Has a suspension that actually absorbs bumps unlike the leaf sprung basic utility trailer I had before which just pounded through bumps and had a nasty habit of breaking my cargo until I removed a leaf. Big enough to carry a four wheeler.
      Looks tiny until I load it with my tools for a family project weekend at Grandma’s house. We added an extra set of accessory sides to make it taller. Weathertight so my tools return home dry despite the rain. The top is plastic so it isn’t theft-proof but it locks and keeps prying eyes out. Has 13″ tires instead of the 10″-12″ tires I see on some small utility trailers.
      Can stand it on the tailgate in the barn when not in use. Buy the 2205S if you want to haul plywood. Mine is 46″ width. I can leave the lip at home and strap the plywood to the top of the trailer. The hardware store is only 3 miles from home. Big deal.
      I still want that four door truck but not until somebody starts selling something like a Toyota Hi-Lux (which is really, really basic but I want one with a small turbo diesel, manual tranny, 4WD and a/c). I expect Mahindra will do it first.

  • avatar

    Yes, there are people who still want compact pickups.  But there are more people around who’d rather have a full-size pickup for just a few grand more, and even more people who’ll opt for the highest trim levels possible.  Those people are what drive the profit margins.  Just introducing the non-U.S. market Ranger to our shores would be a fiscal drain on Ford.  Besides, people who are looking for compact pickups are assumed to eventually settle for a used full-size pickup or a new Tacoma anyways.  Ford’s not really worried about people lusting for compact pickups.  Neither is GM, for that matter.

    Ford and GM aren’t catering to compact pickup lovers because it does nothing for their bottom line.  Both companies would rather spend their time grooming their full-size pickup and CUV customers because…….that’s where the money is.  End of story.

  • avatar

    I guess the segment is dying! The choices just aren’t there. The big three are constantly improving thier full size line ups to stay competitive, while the smaller trucks languish. The Tacoma is bigger now than F150s used to be, so I don’t consider that a small truck. It’s also expensive. The Canyon never really won anyone over. All Ford had to do was offer a modern version of the Ranger, around the same size with some of the technology that all other vehicles now have. The 4 litre engine is a pig on gas and does worse than some of the Ford V8s currently offered mileage wise, while putting out way less power. It’s a boat anchor. I still see alot of them out there, so imagine how well they would have done with an updated version.

  • avatar

    Boo! I WANT a compact pickup. I current have a Dodge Dakota, the #1 reason I bought it: V8 towing power in a smaller size. The F150 is too damn big. I had an older Ranger, but the 4.0 V6 was a slug when towing I think mostly due to the gearing and it got the same mileage as a V8 (13city/19hwy). I would love the Ranger as is (size wise) with the deisel they get overseas.
    Based on my Dakota experience 200HP/300TQ is about right. Heck even an EcoBoost Ranger might work. My Dakota is over 8 years old and to date NOTHING has come out that can replace it, everything else is too BIG! My Dakota fits in my garage, yet my wife complains that its difficult to park, my brother had an F150, its just too big. Is anyone out there listening?
    A car based trucklet scares me since I don’t think FWD would cut it for towing, but an AWD CUV with rear end converted to a bed might work. I had an SUV, there is actually very little useable space in the back since your limited on height. Today’s CUVs are limited due to the tiny oval-shaped hatch openings they have.
    I don’t want a CUV/SUV I want a torque-y Ranger sized truck that gets 18city/24hwy miles. Paddle shifters would be a nice touch too. Someone built in already!

  • avatar

    I miss my teal green ’91 Ranger. I never really liked the curvy redesign after that, though they were pretty popular in the nineties.

  • avatar

    The basicness of those various 1970s model mini pick-ups from the LUV to Isuzu and Toyota, Datsun etc warmed the cockles of my heart (idiomatically speaking, of course) and enervated me while driving them.
    So basic yet manly. After hopping out of the “large car” the 40-ton capable behemoth that was so nerve-wracking to hang on for dear life with, it was enjoyable to plop within the little truck and merrily cavort through the hamlets and burghs with that buzzy little 4-cylinder and slick shifting 4 or 5 speed tranny while obtaining 20 and more mpg inside town and even more upon the super slab.
    Never needed an air horn, either.
    Basic transpo at an affordable price. What a bizarre concept. And the long-bed Toyota even offered enough room for a decent night’s sleep in the bed though when I owned it I wasn’t forced to dwell within it as I did when I owned the short-bed Toyota….. that was on the crampier side and did not allow nearly as much storage space.

  • avatar

    I miss my 88 Ranger.  With zero options 4cyl/5speed it was the same concept as the Ford F1 from the 50’s.
    My Father in law who works at a Ford dealer tells me the Ranger is being killed because it won’t meet upcoming crash standards.  Again sometimes I wonder how safe is safe enough?
    If not for having a family now I’d probably still be driving a Ranger.  F150 is just silly big.

  • avatar

    Ford is smart for not building a vehicle that’s going to cannibalize sales from their biggest money maker. The Ranger may be a decent little truck considering how old it is, but Ford would have to dump a lot of money into a truck that they probably wouldn’t sell a lot of, and the ones they would sell could potentially be an F-150 sale.

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    There are fewer and fewer small pickups being made because the days of daily commuting in a pickup or SUV, small or not, are over. Up until about three or four years ago, I would hazard to guess that most full-size pickups and SUVs were being used as daily commuters. With the price of gas, people are looking critically at even a Ford Ranger and wondering “Isn’t there something a lot more fun to drive that gets even better gas mileage?” The Answer is obviously “Yes.”
    I often perform impromptu surveys of newish full-size pickups at the local Walmart. Invariably the beds on them are absolutely pristine and unscratched, suggesting that they have never hauled anything more traumatic than down comforters.
    Furthermore, people who have been converted away from doing the daily commute in pickups or SUVs and STILL haul huge loads on a weekly basis cannot use a small pickup for that purpose. My immaculate 1997 Suburban with new rebuilt everything that I bought for $4,000 and my battered, rusting hulk of a 1984 Ford 150 with the storied 300 six fits the bill perfectly. (I am resigned to the fact that I cannot be trusted with a nice new pickup. They stay that way on average about two days once they get into my hands). They just sit there when not being used, but holy crap, when I use them I really do. The Suburban has hauled 8 people, four ice chests AND pulled a boat trailer too many times to count this summer and just last week hauled three tons of concrete TWICE on 300 mile round trips, pulling a car back on the same trailer on the return trip. However, it would be an unmitigated disaster as a daily driver. especially to park. At best, it gets about 17 mpg empty. Yet, you couldn’t do any of what either of these rigs do with a small pickup.

  • avatar

    As someone who has owned a 92 Ranger, 2x 93 Rangers, 96 S-10, 86 B2000, 2x S-Blazers, 02 Frontier, 88 Toy P/U, and yes a 93 Geo Tracker, it is needless to say I am sad to see this segment disappear. Only roomers of a new Mazda P/U and Chevy returning to a true compact S-10 like truck keep my hopes up.
    But if it is not profitable enough for Ford, or Chevy to sell the Ranger anymore, that’s OK, I’m sure there is a Korean or Chinese, or… Indian company that is more than willing to cash in on this new void in the market.

  • avatar

    Long live my ’82 SR5 4×4 with the 7′ bed………

  • avatar

    This is why I still have my 1993 GMC Sonoma and am currently rebuilding a slightly larger V6 to drop in it and keep it running for several more years.  It’s large enough for just about anything I want to do and more (I’ve hauled a 2000 Grand Cherokee on an 8×16 trailer), is easy to park and the tailgate is low enough that I’ve loaded and unloaded washers, dryer and refrigerators by myself.  I also have a bit of attachment to my truck, which is why I haven’t bought anything newer that is available in that size (Ranger, 2nd gen S10/Sonoma or Colorado/Canyon).

  • avatar

    I agree, there needs to be a real compact pickup. Toyota should take the Scion XB and turn the back end into a pickup bed.

  • avatar
    7th Frog

    I don’t think I saw it on here but Left Lane reported that a Jeep Pick-Up based on the Wrangler Unlimited has been green lighted.

    • 0 avatar

      A return of the Comanche? If they make it a true utilitarian compact pickup it might fill the bill. If they make it a blinged-out egomobile it’ll be priced too high to serve the needs being described.

    • 0 avatar
      I’ll believe it when I see it. And judging from the comments on that linked site they agree with me – if it ain’t a diesel then why bother. Maybe Dodge’s new V6 (with turbo/direct injection) will make a decent gas offering? Still rather have the diesel for the torque and mpg.
      Personally I’m not sure, Jeeps have always rode too harsh and have been too expensive for my blood. The Wrangler in particular is not the kind of vehicle I want to drive for long distances on the highway.

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