By on September 17, 2018

Tacoma TRD Teaser CAS 2018

We’ve known since June that Fiat-Chrysler plans to re-enter a segment it abandoned at the dawn of the decade — in the U.S., anyway. A midsize pickup bearing the Ram logo will appear in 2020, a report claimed earlier today, joining what will by then be a stable made up of six brands. Ford makes a triumphant return to the segment this fall.

Luckily for Ram fans, it appears the forthcoming Ram truck won’t be some wimpy, unibody thing built on a Fiat platform, as Americans would like see such a creature as being worthy of contempt, and perhaps even ritualistic sacrifice. Still, a lot can happen in two years’ time. Analysts expect the auto market to cool off in the coming years, more so than the plateau we’ve been at for the past two.

One thing that’s for sure is American new car buyers increasingly gravitate towards light trucks over cars, and this trend works in any truck builder’s favor. Also, judging by the public’s reaction to the unibody Honda Ridgeline, it seems body-on-frame is the way to go to woo the midsize crowd. Sales back this up. It’s this reality that keeps Volkswagen on the fence, unsure whether to green-light the Atlas-based Tanoak for U.S. customers.

We’ve joked in the past that the Tacoma can only travel in one direction — up. Never mind hybrid technology or lightweighting or any of that stuff; Toyota’s main concern with the Tacoma is building enough of them to satisfy demand. Year-to-date sales rose 25 percent over the first eight months of 2018. Meanwhile, General Motors finds plenty of buyers for its Chevrolet Colorado, with a Ridgeline-sized crowd opting for its ever-so-slightly-tonier GMC Canyon twin.

Even Nissan’s Frontier, a truck that debuted in 2004, managed to secure a 1.5 percent year-to-date volume increase in August.

Looking at the somewhat fledgling segment over the course of this year and last, midsize truck market share continues heading in the right direction. Ford’s Ranger should energize it further. Year to date, new vehicles sales rose 1 percent compared to the same period in 2017. Of that tally, five midsize truck models accounted for approximately 3.1 percent of the total (GM’s quarterly reporting means estimates for July and August give way to hard figures in half a month’s time). This time last year, midsize trucks made up 2.6 percent of the industry’s year-to-date volume.

Unlike in the 1980s and ’90s, the small(er) truck segment suffers from the presence of heavily discounted full-size trucks offered with low, low interest rates. Much to the segment’s relief, it seems we’re incrementally stepping away from that reality. New car interest rates are heading up from rock bottom, albeit gradually. A flat industry means many automakers are having second thoughts about incentivization. GM reportedly took a hit in August after falling retail sales forced it to cut back on discounts, including on full-size trucks.

Still, much anger was vented into TTAC’s Slack chatroom when Ford’s Ranger pricing tool appeared online. Ram needs to keep fiscal distance between its upcoming midsizer and its full-size 1500 line to avoid this scenario and make midsize buyers feel like they’re being thrifty, not stupid.

[Image: Toyota, Ford]

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105 Comments on “In What Kind of Market Will the Baby Ram Find Itself?...”


  • avatar
    R Henry

    So….the Big Three are essentially going back to what Ford did with the first generation Explorer Sport Trac. BOF, solid rear axle, four door, short bed truck.

    Trouble is, the underlying factors that led to the demise of small domestic pickups hasn’t changed. The smaller trucks, compared to full size pickups, return only marginally improved fuel economy and purchase price, yet provide substantially less utility. The value proposition was hazy then, and remains so today.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      “the underlying factors that led to the demise of small domestic pickups hasn’t changed.”

      It’s spelled T-A-C-O-M-A.

      • 0 avatar
        Sals

        My gosh, HDC, where have you been? Or have I just been clicking on the wrong articles?

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          “My gosh, HDC, where have you been? ”

          Ensenada, Baja California, Old Mexico, since the week before Memorial Day. Didn’t get back until after Labor Day.

          And it was GRRRRRANDDD!

      • 0 avatar
        CaddyDaddy

        Tacomas are the most uncomfortable, gas guzzling underpowered status look at me vechicles this side of BMW’s. I refuse to take any long road trips in them as I like to keep my Chiropractor not to busy on my dime.

        Reliability perception is high, Toyota is good about that end of marketing. Moreover, here in Colorado it is the default vechile for snowshoers, river rafter, and cross country skiers. They don’t drive domestics because that would look unbecoming at the trail head and at the brewpub in Boulder.

        In reality, up and in the Mountains, and on the farms and ranches of the valleys and plains, doing the work it’s pretty much Ford Country and my prediction will be the Ranger hitting it out of the Park.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          ” my prediction will be the Ranger hitting it out of the Park.”

          ANY of the new midsize pickups will sell well, especially to those who simply refuse to buy a Tacoma.

          But there is an established history around the previous Ranger, Colorado/Canyon and Dakota. They were discontinued because they could not compete with the previous Tacoma.

          I’m not a Tacoma guy. If I ever need another truck, I’ll buy another Tundra, the finest 1/2-ton pickup truck on the planet.

          The F150-series is the best-seller in NM and the Southwest but I would only buy an F250 if I never needed something a little beefier than the Tundra.

          AFAIAC, I’ve owned both a 2011 and 2016 Tundra and both beat the Silverado and F150 I owned before going full-bore Toyota.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            You’re not a Tacoma guy, yet you sing its praises, giving it far more credit than it deserves.

            Tacoma is not the reason previous compacts were discontinued. The only reason Tacoma is successful is because the Tundra is absolutely not. Ford, GM and Ram make plenty of money from their full-size trucks, so less attention was paid to the smaller trucks. The fact that CAFE rewards vehicles with a larger footprint was a big factor as well.

            However, there is a section of the market that, despite having no real advantage in economy or price, and a distinct disadvantage in capability, prefers a smaller than full-size truck. Ford let GM test the waters (just like what was reported at the time), and seeing that the Colorado and Canyon found plenty of buyers, decided to bring the Ranger here. FCA, seeing that a) GM twins are selling decently, and b) a lot of excitement is being built around the Ranger’s return, decided that they should be in the game as well.

            The world doesn’t revolve around Toyota trucks, contrary to your suppositions. Globally, combined sales of all Toyota trucks still fall behind Ford F-Series (selling almost exclusively in the Americas), let alone those combined with the Ranger, all GM trucks and FCA trucks.

          • 0 avatar
            EBFlex

            “Ford let GM test the waters (just like what was reported at the time), and seeing that the Colorado and Canyon found plenty of buyers, decided to bring the Ranger here. FCA, seeing that a) GM twins are selling decently, and b) a lot of excitement is being built around the Ranger’s return, decided that they should be in the game as well.”

            God you couldn’t be more wrong if you tried.

          • 0 avatar

            Tacoma is like the wrangler. In fact for many people those would be the only two vehicles they might ever consider. It’s a life style vehicle that has some practical aspects. Just like the Wrangler it would take something special (not just better) to knock it off it’s pedestal.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            “You’re not a Tacoma guy, yet you sing its praises, giving it far more credit than it deserves.”

            Yes, I sing the Tacoma praises. My #3 son in Brownsville, TX, has a 2016 and my daughter-in-law in San Diego, CA, bought a 2017. Both of them full-pop.

            It’s not a fluke that the Tacoma drove the Old Ranger, Colorado/Canyon, and Dakota into their respective graves. They couldn’t keep up with Tacoma sales.

            “The world doesn’t revolve around Toyota trucks”

            It does for those of us who had the rest and now want to drive only the best.

            As you may remember from previous discussions, I was a late-comer to Toyota. I had Silverado, F150 and a ’96 RAM Cummins 2500.

            That changed. Bought a 2011 Tundra and later a 2016 Tundra.

            I don’t have ANY truck now because it doesn’t make much sense to park a new truck for the time I am out of the US. Which is at least half of each year, so far.

            But if I ever buy another truck it will be another Tundra.

            You betcha.

            Hell, just that magnificent all-aluminum DOHC 32-valve 5.7L V8 is worth the price of entry.

            Unique in the world of truckdom. Nothing else like it.

            Beats the hell out of any of the dinosaur-era pushrod engines and more respectable than any of the heavy-breathing fully-blown squirrel engines.

            Appearances have a lot to do with what a person chooses to drive. Some people would rather be seen driving a truck powered by the Rolex of pickup truck engines than anything else on the market.

            And so it is with Tacoma. More people preferred to buy a Tacoma than a Ranger, Colorado/Canyon or Dakota.

            That’s why the others died and Tacoma lives on to rule the midsize truck universe.

            At least until something better comes along. And that has not happened yet.

            You know it has when Tacoma buyers start switching brands.

            Let’s see how well Ford, GM and RAM reverse-engineer the current Tacoma into their future offerings.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          @CaddyDaddy: “Reliability perception is high, Toyota is good about that end of marketing. Moreover, here in Colorado it is the default vechile for snowshoers, river rafter, and cross country skiers. They don’t drive domestics because that would look unbecoming at the trail head and at the brewpub in Boulder.”

          — While I don’t intend to argue your view of the comfort of the Tacoma, you’re wrong about the model when it comes to durability and reliability. It’s not a “perception”, it’s a reality. It seems that with limited exceptions, once someone has owned a Toyota truck, whether Tacoma or Tundra, they don’t want to leave it. I know an 80-year-old woman who will drive nothing but the Tacoma, living in Pennsylvania, where winter snow is common and 4×4/AWD are almost mandatory for getting around in hilly country during the winter. The Tacoma proves itself better capable as a ‘foul weather, off-road’ truck than almost every other rig available, including Big Three trucks. It’s not that those people with active lifestyles in Colorado are using them as status symbols, they’re using them because they’re less likely to be stranded by the Tacoma.

          • 0 avatar
            CoastieLenn

            Vulpine- Toyota is a very good choice but people find a niche and stick with it regardless of that niche’s merit. Toyota has continued success based off a reputation that was built in the 80’s/90’s. Now though, they’re not better or worse than any contemporary competitor and the reviews and ownership reports support this.

            Rotting Tacoma frames were the marked beginning, oil sludge in the 3FE V6 was the next biggie, Prius floor mats (debatable but still marked), FJ frames cracking kept the hits coming, new Tacoma (current gen) rear axle stud/bolt fiasco just keeps the proof coming.

            On another front, but still in the realm of “mistakes”, the Tundra is competitive with exactly NOTHTING in the full sized truck segment and exactly zero review publications debate that, yet they sell every one.

            They make mistakes. They sell cars to those who are unwilling to look at anything else. Honda has the same core constituent supporters for the same reasons.

            People are more than permitted to buy what they want for the reasons they deem fit. To say that there’s nothing that compares to them though is blind and naïve.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            “Now though, they’re not better or worse than any contemporary competitor and the reviews and ownership reports support this.”
            — I would beg to differ as they’re still the best 4×4 when it comes to off-road and foul weather driving. Of course, I expect this to change somewhat with the Jeep truck, especially since it will be in direct competition with the Tacoma.

            • Rotting Tacoma frames were the marked beginning,
            –Resolved

            • oil sludge in the 3FE V6 was the next biggie,
            — Never heard about it… and I follow a lot of truck boards.

            • Prius floor mats (debatable but still marked),
            — Never heard about this.

            • FJ frames cracking kept the hits coming,
            — Never heard about this NOR had I heard they even shared a frame! Remarkable!

            • new Tacoma (current gen) rear axle stud/bolt fiasco just keeps the proof coming.
            — Never heard about this and as I’ve said before, I read a lot of truck boards. It seems something like this should have clearly shown up by now.

            So, if the Tacoma is really so bad, why have I never heard about any of these problems but the first one?

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Actual I’m fairly certain the issue with the FJ was the body ripping which could be seen in the engine bay, not the frame (though may be a seperate issue). The body ripping issue is very well documented.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Hummer: Hmmm…. maybe that’s why my neighbor with an FJ crawls so slowly down the street when heading out in that car. I’ve always wondered why such a sporty looking beast was driven so slowly. I’ve never seen anyone else drive theirs that slow.

    • 0 avatar
      MrIcky

      I don’t think the big 3 are following the sport trac formula. The sport trac was the reverse of most old suvs where they took a truck and put a lid on and seats in the back. The sport trac took an suv and cut the roof off the back to make a truck.

      The colorado falls neatly between the 2nd and 3rd gen Dakotas and is much more a traditional truck shape that’s been shrunk like the Dakota was.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        He’s forgetting that the Colorado/Canyon and Ranger also offer extended cabs aside from the crew cab body style. Yes, the crew cab is far more popular, but Sport Trac was only available as a 4 door short bed. None of the current players are only offered that way, and I bet the Ram Dakota won’t be either.

        The Sport Trac was only created because the Ranger crew cab, developed for other markets, wouldn’t pass U.S. crash standards.

        I can understand why the crew cab style is more popular, it makes for a very useful vehicle. That’s why I just bought a 2004 GMC Sonoma crew cab. I would not have bought a regular cab under any circumstances (I had a regular cab Isuzu Hombre which was horrible for my bad back given the limited cab space affecting seat position), and likely wouldn’t have bought a plain old extended cab small truck. I wanted the versatility of a real 5 passenger cabin, more cargo room than my sedan, the ability to so some fairly light towing, and 4wd capability. My first choice was an older Explorer 4 door 4×4 (not a Sport Trac, more like a 95ish with the OHV 4.0L), but the Sonoma crew cab fit the bill and will serve basically the same purpose.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      You need to back-track a little. Chevy introduced the Avalanche before the Sport Trak came out and the Dakota was larger than any existing “mid-sized” truck when it came out. The only real difference today is that the cab design known as “Crew Cab”, which was once a commercial-truck-only configuration, is now the default configuration with the ‘Extended Cab’ essentially replacing the Regular Cab configurations. Pickup trucks have completely replaced the station wagon for almost every brand, especially here in the US while CUVs have replaced the mini-van. Meanwhile, the older full-sized vans like Ford’s Econoline series, GM’s Safari, etc have been replaced by, essentially, imports in much the same way the compact- to mid-sized pickup trucks arrived and introduced America to the concept that Bigger is not always Better.

      Which leads me to a point I will introduce in a comment later.

  • avatar
    salmonmigration

    They are only gambling with part of the production of one of their factories, so we shouldn’t expect a high-stakes massive expenditure of FCA resources. Even so, a reskinned and soft-roaded JL wrangler pickup would blow the competition away on paper.

    Hell, the JL already gets 25mpg highway and it’s literally a box.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Yeah, this seems like a no-brainer, and I always thought they should rebadge the Ram 1500 as a Jeep. If GM can make money off GMC based on little more than branding, FCA should be able to as well. Give it Jeep-like styling (7 slot grill for starters), produce it on the same line as the Ram 1500, I bet it’ll be a money printing machine.

    • 0 avatar

      I think there are tow big reasons to do this. One use the design for the international midsize truck market. And two it opens you up to having a body on a midsize pickup that can be tuned for mileage.

  • avatar
    vehic1

    “some wimpy, unibody thing”; that’s no good, because any Real trucker/slinger needs to haul Boulders, crates of Wildcats, and the Space Shuttle – while spittin’ chaw and tacks. Not no movin’ a sofa, bags of mulch and fertilizer, and shrubs, washing machines, etc. – aw, Hail naw.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      “some wimpy, unibody thing” – that was an obvious troll for a certain woodland canid and 3 others who would want a tiny itty bitty trucklet.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        Little trucklet with big f’ing motor = perfect lifestyle vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        I honestly wish the Ridgeline were more successful, and I’d welcome a smaller truck the size of a Ford Transit Connect (and like it, also unibody, FWD based, 4 cylinder powered, but with an available manual trans). But, I’m not sure of its chances for success.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        I certainly wouldn’t mind the option of a unibody fwd based cheap trucklet on the market, like my bare bones old rangers but with all-weather traction. Then again, I’d never buy a cheap basic truck as a new vehicle anyways, I prefer mine to come pre-dented at a big discount.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        @Lou_BC: ““some wimpy, unibody thing” – that was an obvious troll for a certain woodland canid and 3 others who would want a tiny itty bitty trucklet.

        That “woodland creature” has a Colorado on order, due to arrive next month. Why? Because Hyundai dragged their heels too long and Ford has only JUST suggested they’re considering a true compact pickup again for 2022 or so. Too little too late and I’ve chosen what I consider the best truck for my needs that isn’t full-sized.

        As for the “woodland canid”, the fox is not a canid, though they are perceived as such. They are a separate species between canine and feline, known as vulpine…tagged as genus Vulpes Vulpes, not Canis Vulpes.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          Foxes fall under the broad taxonomy of canidae!

          “Canidae: coyotes, dogs, foxes, jackals, and wolves. This family is represented by 14 genera and 34 species. Canids are widely distributed, occurring on all continents except Antarctica.”
          http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Canidae/

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Hmmmmm…… This requires more study.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            I have to admit I was wrong. They do fall, albeit somewhat distantly, into the canid family.

            Interestingly, though I cannot find it now, it is very low on the evolutionary branch of canids, only slightly above where canids broke off from felinids. The gray fox in particular has semi-retractable claws not fully belonging to either family, which allows it to climb trees similarly to cats (and have been observed raiding bird nests relatively high in said trees.)

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    In What Kind of Market Will the Baby Ram Find Itself?

    It’s like you teed up Peter De Lorenzo’s Rant from last week, “WELCOME TO THE LAND OF SELF-AGGRANDIZEMENT”:

    http://www.autoextremist.com/current/2018/9/11/welcome-to-the-land-of-self-aggrandizement.html

    A quote from it:

    “A sure-fire ‘hit’ can be derailed by a wildly unpredictable market, with consumer tastes shifting dramatically three years into a five-year product cycle. That’s part of the fun of this business, believe it or not. And part of the profound agony too.”

    Read it all.

  • avatar
    MrIcky

    I don’t think it’s the unibody alone that’s leading to the Honda’s lack of sales strength. It doesn’t have a lot of visual character. The front end is weak (I don’t mean not aggressive, I mean it looks like a crosstour). Even the old Subaru Baja had more character and at least looked like it wanted to haul your inflatable toys to the beach. The Honda looks like it wants to fade into the background- and so it has.

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      I agree, even on the Honda website they have a comparo of the Ridgeline and the Tacoma. The Ridgeline looks like a crossover with a bed added. It’s practical but not macho.

    • 0 avatar
      CannonShot

      Exactly. First it needs to look like a truck and the Ridgeline doesn’t. Second, it needs to do truck things. Most of us can’t get past the Ridgline’s mini-van looks. There’s plenty of room in the market for a unibody pickup truck. It just needs to look the part and walk the walk.

    • 0 avatar
      Clueless Economist

      Exactly right. The Ridgeline doesn’t sell because it looks like a van with a truck bed. Butch that bitch up and it might sell.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      That exact front clip doesn’t seem to be holding the Pilot back.

      The Ridgeline IS a crossover with a bed on it. It looks exactly like what it is.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        @JT: “The Ridgeline IS a crossover with a bed on it. It looks exactly like what it is.”

        — And that doesn’t seem to be holding it back one little bit, as it spends less time on the showroom floor and used car lots than any other pickup.

        • 0 avatar
          CoastieLenn

          I love my F150 but I honestly believe that the Ridgeline is all the truck that 80% of the truck buying folks need. Better road manners, better fuel economy, better resale than just about anything else and it’ll still haul your appliances, lumber (mostly), mulch and lawn chemicals home from Home Depot.

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    This is quite brilliant on Chrysler’s part. The vast majority of this vehicle was designed to be a Wrangler with a bed. Living up to the Jeep name will make this an unbeatable contender when it gets the Ram badge.

    I hope the Ranger enjoyed its time in the spotlight. Because this Ram mini will absolutely blow it away.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Exactly, this will be the pickup of pickups, this may possibly be as desirable as the Wrangler, I know I’m interested knowing that it will be coming out of the Wrangler plant.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Frankly, I think the upcoming Jeep Wrangler Pickup Truck will outsell everything but the Tacoma, and that will be a close race with the Tacoma.

        Well, if the Wrangler Pickup Truck ever comes to pass.

        I know several old geezers chomping at the bit to buy one to replace their antique Ranger, Colorado/Canyon or Dakota.

        And that’s the problem with so many Baby Boomers. They have the means to buy toys but not the common sense to see how ridiculous 70 and 80 year-olds look in these vehicles aimed at the young.

        Have you ever seen an 80+ year-old couple tooling around in a Smart For Two?

        It’s nasty!

        Imagine this same 80+ year old couple off-roading in a Jeep Wrangler Pickup truck. Sllllowwwwly I turn, inch-by-inch I crawl.

        Egad!

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          Maybe people should just buy what they want and not give a flying phuck about what strangers think of how they look?

          What a weird concept.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            “Maybe people should just buy what they want and not give a flying phuck about what strangers think of how they look?”

            And they do, even when they shouldn’t.

            You remember me mentioning an old friend who bought a Volt, several years back, as an addition to his F150 and his wife’s Highlander.

            That Volt is baking in the sun, collecting wind-blown NM dirt in his drive way and hasn’t been driven in a long while.

            Just because they can doesn’t mean they should. He regrets buying that Volt.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          “Imagine this same 80+ year old couple off-roading in a Jeep Wrangler Pickup truck. Sllllowwwwly I turn, inch-by-inch I crawl.”

          — Nice Three Stooges reference there, HDC.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Vulpine, you may remember my comment about an octogenarian friend of mine who bought a Raptor, and drives it to our church every Sunday.

            Just getting grandma in/out of that truck is a production… nay, a spectacle, with equally old geezers rushing to assist her before grandpa parks the truck.

            This is the same guy who got a bogus speeding ticket on I-10 supposedly doing 88 in a 70mph stretch near Palm Springs.

            If anything this guy is more likely to drive 55 in 70mph zone than 88.

            Hence, slllowwwwllly…..

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            What I understand of desert drivers, they’re anything BUT slow… Some of them seem to think their age is the speed limit.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            “What I understand of desert drivers, they’re anything BUT slow”

            Yes, you’re right! The wide-open spaces and light traffic lend themselves well to robust driving at a high rate of speed.

            When I traverse these open spaces I set my Cruise Control to the max (85mph), where the speed limit is 75mph (on I-10, US70, US54 and elsewhere).

            But the guy with the Raptor is just a slow driver, everywhere. Maybe it’s caution.

            Fortunately for other drivers, he limits his slow meanderings to the right lane. But that forces everyone behind him to pass him.

        • 0 avatar
          Flipper35

          At least the Wrangler pickup won’t be blowing its side curtain airbags on a slow crawl up a fire road.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      “This is quite brilliant on Chrysler’s part.”

      How so?

      An overpriced Jeep with a box and a re-skinned overpriced Jeep with a box……

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        Anything any one besides Ford does is brilliant, especially if its to compete directly with Ford. If Ford did it, its horribly stupid. Haven’t you figured out his narrative yet?

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          Yes, long time ago.

        • 0 avatar
          EBFlex

          Johnny why are you so bitter? Why the chip on your shoulder?

          Ford THEMSELVES said the ranger was a waste of time. Ford THEMSELVES said ranger sales wouldn’t be missed as people will just buy fiestas instead. And I’m sure when Ford said it, you were completely behind them like the sheep you are. You are incapable of critical thought because you just take the company line. Granted it is easier that way. Whatever Ford says you are fully behind. But try to bring more to the table than press releases and school yard tantrums.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @EBFlex: “Ford THEMSELVES said the ranger was a waste of time. Ford THEMSELVES said ranger sales wouldn’t be missed as people will just buy fiestas instead. ”

            — And almost nobody believed Ford even then. Dropping the Ranger was Ford’s biggest mistake. Going all aluminum on their full-sized trucks was their most costly mistake.

      • 0 avatar
        EBFlex

        Overpriced? How so? Please explain the price points and why they are overpriced.

        • 0 avatar
          CoastieLenn

          EBFlex- I think he was referring to the “overpriced” Wrangler being the potential (not likely) basis of whatever is to come. This, by extension, means that the offspring will be overpriced. Guilt by association.

          My take:

          The Wrangler has a unique way to make people pay stupid sums of money for antiquated technology that no other manufacturer could get away with. If another vehicle were born with the Jeep’s recipe for suspension/technology/sound dampening/ride quality/etc. right now that DIDN’T have a removable top to directly aim at the Wrangler, they’d be lambasted for producing such garish and unrefined junk.

          And yet, here we are. Looking at a vehicle that finds its core components right there in the new and upcoming market of the 1960’s and FCA is charging up to and in some cases OVER $50,000 USD for the “privilege”.

          The Wrangler has (apparently) made a couple strides in the right direction with the new generation, but the price point is about the same as it was at the end of the previous generation… which is the epitome of unrefined junk. IIRC- and I could be wrong, not too long ago (less than 5 years) a major auto rag rated the Wrangler as the most frequently traded in vehicle after less than two years of ownership. I’ll see if I can find the link.

          That’s what I think the intent was there.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Coastie: When’s the last time you drove a Wrangler? They are far, FAR more refined than they used to be, though the many OEMs who have owned the brand have worked hard to retain the visual ‘look’ of its crude predecessors. And remember, there are now several different versions of the Wrangler body, both with removable tops, permanent tops and now even a rather Fiat-specific style of sliding cloth top that is quite appealing to me for its simplicity (a convertible that’s easy to use and keeps the roll cage structure in place.)

            Oh, and the Wrangler retains the highest residual value of ANY modern car. At 9 years old, I received a full 50% of the purchase price of my ’08 JKU on trade. No other car of which I am aware can make that claim.

          • 0 avatar
            CoastieLenn

            I had a brief fling with a 2013 Wrangler Sport hard top for about 2 years. I got it for a steal and traded it in.

            Wind noise was abhorrent, typical solid front axle suspension wobbles over highway imperfections, dismal fuel economy (it was an automatic), and terrible blind spots.

            I knew all of this going in though. Most soccer moms and yuppie wagon elite’s that purchase them don’t expect that and are unpleased by it.

            The countless complaints of road manners up until the current generation are well documented. You can not even almost attempt to say they don’t have those issues, only defend it by citing that people should know these drawbacks before purchase… which most don’t bother to research.

            The JL/JK is lightyears ahead of the TJ/YJ and that’s certain. Overall though, they’re still not what most people want or expect in a normal commuter car, which is what most end up being.

          • 0 avatar
            EBFlex

            So are you purposely being obtuse or is this sheer ignorance genuine?

            Explain to me how you would make the Jeep Wrangler as civilized as a Mercedes S-Class on road and just as capable as a Wrangler off road?

            It’s not a stretch to say that the Jeep Wrangler is the most difficult vehicle to redesign. You need to design a vehicle that meets all applicable federal standards and on top of that, figuring out a way to make the windshield fold down and the doors come off.

            Lastly, overpriced would seem to indicate they are losing sales. In no way is the Wrangler overpriced.

            If you want something with acceptable wind noise and a nice ride go buy a POS EcoSport or Escape.

          • 0 avatar
            CoastieLenn

            EB- your sarcasm is always refreshing.

            Overpriced means the amount of money you pay for a Wrangler vs. the content of other vehicles for similar payments. Has nothing to do with sales numbers, but is also slightly subjective.

            Nobody thinks a Jeep ANYTHING will be even remotely close to mid-segment sedan ride quality. You know as well as I do that if you don’t pick nits with every line people type, you won’t lose sight of their point.

            If you like to climb in the weeds and believe yourself to be a psychology guru, I’m ready to climb down any rabbit hole you’d like along side you so we can figure it out together.

            What I’m saying is that for the overall size, complexity, and (lack of) technology relative to other vehicles in the same realm as it, the Wrangler is an EXTREMELY overpriced, overtly antiquated tool that still finds plenty of homes no matter how much they charge for it.

            There’s nothing revolutionary or even remotely ground breaking about the Wrangler. Everything it possesses, be it tech (nothing new here that wasn’t available somewhere else in 2005), suspension (solid axles and coil springs? Yep. 1960’s) or ergonomics (Peterbuilt dump trucks ride as well when loaded) could not be pulled off by any manufacturer and yet, Jeep sees fit to put an MSRP of ~$40,000 for a mid-level 4 door and sells every one they make.

            Take out the leather seats and Beats audio system, and there’s nothing separating this from a third world desert nation runabout, yet you’re still willing to pay $35-38k for it? That’s the art of benevolent naiveté.

          • 0 avatar
            CoastieLenn

            I should clarify that my statement of benevolent naiveté is directed toward those that purchase a Wrangler thinking they’re getting a cool daily driver, not those that want one to actually use off road… which is likely less than 10% of Wrangler buyers.

            Another point- Did you know that you can spec out a Wrangler 4 door Rubicon to over $53,000?!? It floors me what people are willing to pay for these.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            “I should clarify that my statement of benevolent naiveté is directed toward those that purchase a Wrangler thinking they’re getting a cool daily driver, not those that want one to actually use off road… which is likely less than 10% of Wrangler buyers.”

            — If you leave out the word “cool” you could probably add about 70% more people to that list. They may never take it off road but if you live in an area with severe weather that can make roads impassible to almost everything else, they’re still highly functional. Not everyone buys it for its looks, they buy it for its size and capabilities. Remember, the Wrangler is quite small and agile compared to most other vehicles capable of the same abilities. My ’02 Saturn Vue was actually longer, for not having any off-road abilities.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Coastie: “I had a brief fling with a 2013 Wrangler Sport hard top for about 2 years. I got it for a steal and traded it in….”

            JK or JKU? I had a JKU and it was by no means “squirrelly” until the upper and lower ball joints started wearing; something typical of all solid-front-axle designs. That added wheelbase made it quite acceptable and wind noise was hardly an issue. I will admit you could certainly hear other cars as they approached, which really gave you a much better sense of where people were as you were driving. I got more wind noise with the windows down or even barely cracked open than I ever heard with them up.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @CoastieLenn – you sum up my short and sarcastic comment rather well. The Wrangler in any trim is overpriced for what you get.
            The Jeep Wrangler pickup by FCA’s own admission isn’t going to be sold as a cut rate truck but as a higher end model.

      • 0 avatar

        Well that overpriced part is profit so as long as people buy them it is pretty brilliant.

        • 0 avatar
          CoastieLenn

          @mopar4wd- completely agree. Kudo’s for carving out such a following and able to make so much money. Nobody faults them for that for sure.

          If the people that buy them to stay pavement queens that never see the top removed except for the odd chance at an Instagram selfie with their new car actually took the time to research what they were paying vs. what they’re getting, the recipe for success would crumble.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Disagree, Coastie. The pavement queens are far more likely to have the fixed hard top, not the removable one–whether they have 4×4 ability or not. Sure, there are some who buy it just because it looks ‘cool’, but far more buy it for its abilities, even if they never take it out in the sticks. Not everyone wants a full-sized pickup truck and most of the Wrangler’s competitors simply cannot match the Wrangler’s abilities because of how they’re built.

          • 0 avatar
            CoastieLenn

            Vulpine- Don’t all hard tops have a removable center section? That’s what I usually see removed anyway.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Not any more, Coastie. The welded tops are metal, nose to tail. The fiberglass ones are bolted on and therefore removable and they DO have a pair of panels over the front seats that are removable. The ’19 model fiberglass top has a total of six removable parts… two front panels, a full-width second-row panel and, I believe, both rear quarter windows.

            They also have a roll-back top for the metal ones that are reminiscent of the Fiat 500’s roll-back convertible but I’m not sure if that one lets you drop the upper half of the tailgate to roll it all the way down. I’m intrigued, but not enough so to choose it over the Colorado I ordered instead. I also chose the Colorado because I’m more likely to tow a travel trailer in excess of 5000# (GVWR) and don’t really intend to take that off-road despite the Colorado being a 4×4.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            There were two Wrangler Unlimited Jeeps on my street just two and three houses down from me. Both were owned by 30’ish couples too “adventure hip” to own a minivan or standard SUV. My 20 ft long SuperCrew 4×4 sees more offroad use in a month than those two rigs saw the entire time they were owned by those two couples.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    The Dakota will do great – assuming they bring it with a V8, base it off the Wrangler (i.e. Solid front axle) and most importantly be American designed. Having American design alone will eat GM and Fords offerings. Those trucks look awful and clearly were never meant for American roads.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Don’t get too excited yet.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        It’s hard not to get too excited, the Dakota is known for having a solid selection of Hemi V8s, and the Wrangler is known for having two solid axles. Literally a combination made in heaven, the only way to get that combination now is via 3/4 ton +. Talk about getting me excited, they’ve piqued my interest.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          “the Dakota is known for having a solid selection of Hemi V8s”

          Really? That’s absolutely hilarious, because the Dakota *never* offered *any* Hemi V-8, let alone a “solid selection” of them. All they offered was the old school, pre-modern-Hemi Magnum V-8.

          Besides, I thought the Dakota was known for eating transmissions and other deep bouts with unreliability.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            I remember it for being the “little” truck that offered a 360ci V8, which I find quite endearing, but YMMV.

            But you are correct, there was never a “Hemi” Dakota. The old trucks originally used the LA-based OHV “Magnum” series and then the SOHC “Powertech” family.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            Yes, the Dakota 5.9 R/T was a hot rod truck of its day. Still wasn’t a Hemi as hummer claimed.

            Funny, the new Ranger’s 2.3L EcoBoost will have more HP than the old 5.9L V-8 did (~300 vs 250).

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            That’s why the Dakota revival needs to offer at least 400hp.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Indeed it was the Magnum. Never the less it’s a decent sized engine for a decent sized vehicle meant for Americans. Bring the new Dakota with a V8 or just ignore the segment because that’s where this segment is completely lacking any options. Despite being such an obvious “duh” for truck consumers.

            The bad thing is I was thinking about a Dakota with the V8 badge which clearly says Magnum on it as I was typing my original comment.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            When I was cheap-truck shopping this spring, a few times I came across gen 1/1.5 Dakotas with the 5.2L+stick+4wd. Mighty tempting, but they were pretty ragged out and rotten unfortunately. I really like gen 1 and gen 2 dakotas in terms of style/size/powertrains. Gen 3s fell off of a freaking (ugly) cliff for me.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            You don’t need a V8 these days to get 400 horses under the hood.

          • 0 avatar
            Sub-600

            You don’t need a V8 these days to get 400 horses under the hood.

            True, but it helps if you want appreciable torque.

          • 0 avatar

            I had a 318 (5.2L) Dakota. Great truck. I have a 4.7 in my Durango also good but a different power band then the 318. The fist and 2nd gen Dakotas were really good handlers some of that was lost towards the end.

            On the manual transmission ones, I have only driven one and it was OK but not that fun to drive a little clunky. I have heard the same from other owners.

  • avatar
    I_like_stuff

    Should be a Jeep not a Ram.

  • avatar
    Johnster

    If the vehicle is even halfway decent, it will sell well. There isn’t that much competition. It appears poised to hit the market right about the time the next recession hits. Being a bit lower-priced, and getting a bit better gas mileage, than the Ram 1500, there should be enough customers to make it viable.

  • avatar
    JMII

    I bought my current Dakota due to 2 main factors: V8 power and size.

    Hopefully Dodge… sorry RAM (ugh) keeps the size right. Not too big, and not too small. The current GM twins are touch too big. Primarily the height – you should be able to reach INTO the bed without needing a ladder. Not sure why trucks have gotten so tall over the years but its likely has something to do with them fitting 20″+ wheels on everything.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @JMII – the myths surrounding pickup size persist.
      One reason why ride height has increased *is* tire size but that has ZERO to do with 20 inch wheels. My brotherinlaw had a 2009 F150 with 20’s and my 2010 has 18’s. Both wheels side by side are the same in height. The aspect ratio is smaller with 20’s.

      If you compare my 2010’s 275/65/18’s to that of my brother’s old 1987 F150’s 235/75/15’s, then yes the tires on my truck are huge. They are even bigger than the 7.5″ x 16’s on the 1990 F250 I had. New trucks are vastly more capable than trucks of that era.

  • avatar
    pdog_phatpat

    Better hope they do it right. They have some long standing reliability/durability issues with the old Dakotas that will need to be wiped away. Good luck with that Fiat.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    RAM IS COMING FOR YOU, FORD, AND ESPECIALLY GUANGZHOU-GUADALAJARA MOTORS (*GM).

    The 2019 RAM is going to steal many F-Series, and especially, Chevry Chinerado and GMC-Wuling Chierra sales.

    It looks 10 years newer, inside and out, with better materials in every way, and a far more sophisticated suspension, drivetrain, and better just-about-everything than the F Series, and especially, Mexirado twins.

    The Baby RAM is likely to be a huge stud, also, that will make the Global Ranger and very cheaply built Colorado (with 70% foreign parts content – mostly from China) seem like toy trucks.

    • 0 avatar
      Shawnski

      Hyperbole much? Ram will be an alternative, much like the Ram full-size is to the market leader F150. BTW, Ford drivetrains and construction are more advanced than Ram. Yes, interior is nicer, but really is there a better base truck than an F150 with a EB 2.7 or more desirable truck than Raptor?

    • 0 avatar
      CoastieLenn

      Sometimes I’m convinced that DW shared his login information with BTSR.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Funny thing about that, DW; I just ordered a GM truck, a Chevy Colorado to be specific. And by no means is the interior dated the way some other brands are.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Big mistake, bro.

        You have to promise to do an honest, completely truthful, complete review of that heap at the 1 AND 2 year anniversary of ownership.

        I’m not going to tell people what to buy with their own money, but will rub it in relentlessly when their bad decisions, purchasing vehicles from rolling dumpster fire manufacturers such as Guangzhou-Guadalajara-Gangwon Motors (GM), comes back to bite them in their a$$.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          I’m willing, DW, but you’ll have to remind me.

          And JSYK, despite Fiat’s abysmal reputation, in the ownership of two very different Fiat-built vehicles (one a Fiat 500 itself) I have to say the old reputation is 100% invalid.

          We’ll just have to see how the Colorado does, hmmm?

  • avatar
    CoastieLenn

    Gents- For those of you that believe this will be a Wrangler truck with a different body, you’re mistaken. I’ll cite two nearly concrete reasons:

    1) FCA (Manley specifically) won’t do ANYTHING to cannibalize sales from the upcoming Wrangler truck. Jeep’s Wrangler is one of a very small number of vehicles keeping the entire corporate umbrella afloat. If the new “Dakota” (or whatever it’ll be dubbed) starts picking sales from the Wrangler truck, it’ll result in sales losses for the only marque left under the umbrella that’s actually worth money.

    2) Ram isn’t known for doing anything beyond what the industry recognizes as “standard” unless it wears a Jeep or SRT badge. They don’t have the market share or capitol to hedge too many bets. They have to play it safe and anyone that’s been following their financial woes knows this. They need something that’ll sell well to the masses, not yet another niche market vehicle to satisfy the fringe enthusiast.

    This will follow the same formula as EVERY other midsized truck on the market right now. It’ll be IFS, SRA, small truck based on something from other parts of the world- either in whole or in part.

    Fully expect a reworked ProMaster chassis or something similar.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Half right, Coastie. Both Jeep AND Ram are keeping FCA afloat, as those two marques are bringing in the lions’ share of the profits. Jeep isn’t alone in being profitable for FCA. This suggests there’s room for both brands to have a mid-sized truck, especially since most Jeep models now look like conventional crossovers and the Jeep truck is very obviously based on the Wrangler. Those who don’t want that Wrangler look will be looking for something more conventional in appearance at the same size.

      • 0 avatar
        CoastieLenn

        I see what you’re saying but sales numbers of the Ram don’t support it, especially since they just released a new model. Not too long ago on this very site, an article was written about potential buyers for FCA. One of the sticking points for more than one perspective owner was that they ONLY want Jeep portfolio and the Ram *name*, not the product.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Again, partially right. Yes, there are those who want to buy the brands; that doesn’t mean they intend to keep the vehicles identical to what they are. As far as most are concerned, there is no Jeep but the original Jeep, of which the Wrangler is the most direct descendant here in the US (while Mahindra is the most direct in India and more direct than the American versions.) Those buyers know that the Jeep and Ram NAMES mean more than the vehicles themselves.

          Hell, FCA bought Chrysler Corp for the Jeep and Ram specifically but has at least attempted to integrate the Dodge and Chrysler products into their production as platforms in themselves (the 300) or their models onto Fiat shared platforms. And to some extent it has worked as the Chrysler 300, Charger and Challenger are still doing moderately well for what they are. Their problem is that with the exception of Jeep, nearly everybody is blinded by the fact that Fiat is the core brand of all the Chrysler products and Fiat has not been able to get past its 60-year-old reputation despite massive evidence that the Fiat of today is NOT the Fiat of the ’60s.

        • 0 avatar

          Ram is 50,000 units a month. That’s fairly big number It’s more then Mazda sells in a month and close to what Subaru sells in a month. It looks like in August ram sales finally went up thanks to the 2019. But they are still off for the year.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @mopar: Off for the year, yes. But last year was one of their exceptional years, too. How do this year’s sales compare to 2016 at this time?

      • 0 avatar
        Flipper35

        I don’t think the smaller Ram will have a solid axle up front and there would be no reason for it unless they are selling a 3/4th scale Power Wagon.

        Jeep will have that capability covered, the new Ram will want the better ride and handling of IFS for those that don’t want the entire Jeep experience.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    First off, describing this new Ram as a “Baby Ram” is misleading; this thing isn’t going to be any smaller than the other mid-sized trucks, which are 90% the size of full-sized. There’s nothing truly small about them.

    However, the author, perhaps accidentally, hints at a possible future with the coming Ram filling out the American lineup and how mid-sized truck sales seem to be growing while other types of vehicles are realizing a bit of a slump. It seems to me that with this realization and the fact that Ford has separately suggested the possibility of an even smaller truck on the way that would probably eat into the current Crossover market. Ultimately, trucks may end up being classed based on a combination of size and capacity, with the “mini” trucks taking Class I, mid-sized trucks taking Class II and full-sized Class III. After all, when looking historically, the classes were based on load limits and full-sized trucks now carry and tow loads in excess of their original classifications. With the growth of mid-sized trucks for true light-duty use and load limits of 1500# (tow 7500#), the mid-sized truck fully replaces the old 150/1500-series of trucks with almost no loss of interior room, taking mandatory safety equipment into consideration. The 150/1500-series trucks are all rated at former 250/2500-series levels and those are now rated at the old 350/3500-series capacities. The 3-series trucks are dangerously close to 4-series by weight and typically carry/tow what the old 4-seriess trucks handled. Clearly its time to re-classify our trucks.

    But the point is that we appear to have trucks coming in as many size classes as we have cars and crossovers. Those truly small trucks WILL eat into that crossover market and we may, ultimately, see even sub-compact trucks return… though I doubt I’ll live long enough to see that day, so I won’t get a chance to say, “I told you so!”

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