By on November 8, 2018

Image: Pinterest

Yesterday’s peek at the can’t-get-it-here Volkswagen Tarok got me thinking about the little trucks we’re not allowed to have anymore. You people buy too many F-150s, etc, you see, for domestic automakers to consider building wee pickups again, though we’ve been rewarded with a growing field of not-so-tiny midsizers, complete with upper midsize pricing. Pull up to a new Colorado in an old S-10 and be awed (and emasculated) by the difference in size.

Though capable and roomy enough for a young family, for some these new offerings might still represent too much truck. And, unlike in some markets, we can’t move down a rung on the ladder to find a snugger fitting pair of work boots. Nor can we bring those vehicles here. It’s entirely debatable whether American consumers — who’ve become used to having it all — would want to in this day and age, but we’re not here to talk about the average consumer. We’re talking about you, fella.

(Woman are encouraged to respond. Don’t send angry letters, please.)

Once upon a time, car-based alternatives existed to boxy, BOF trucks bearing big beds, and they came with front ends looking like your mom’s Malibu. If you were willing to give up a backseat, you — yes, you — could slide into a pickup capable of hauling a modest 800 pounds in its six-foot bed. Try stuffing the weight of four large men in the trunk of a downsized Malibu!

It’s easy to see why this concept, which thrilled buyers in the Sixties through Eighties, would fall flat today. The Chevy El Camino (as well as the Ford Ranchero) was often not enough car, nor enough truck, but to the single guy with a few minor projects on the go, it might have been perfect. However, a handful of single guys does not a greenlit development project make. OEMs want volume, and you get volume from families. Thus, four doors, seating for at least four, and serious cargo capacity seems to be the answer to everything today.

Image: VW

It’s no wonder, then, that the Tarok, which shares its basic architecture with everything from the Golf to the Atlas, has a payload of 2,205 pounds, more than a quarter ton more than a base S-10 from the mid 1990s. Hell, that’s more than a current-generation Colorado. The Tarok’s bed, measuring less than four feet before any magic happens, expands to over nine if you’re willing to risk tearing your front seatbacks while investing in a cargo-corralling bed extender. Once that rare trip to Lowe’s or Home Depot is over, the truck goes back into family hauler mode. Maybe you’ll shove your mountain bike back there one day.

While not destined for our shores (thank you, Lyndon Baines Johnson, among others), Hyundai’s exploring a similar vehicle for U.S. use, though its dimensions remain a mystery. The Korean automaker believes there’s buyers to be found in the sub-midsize segment (a segment which doesn’t currently exist), and it would like to be the one to break it open. You’ll just have to let them know you’ll drop everything to buy one. Hyundai doesn’t want a money-losing turkey on its hands, and as a result, it’s dragging its feet.

So, B&B, does the Tarok or the Santa Cruz concept appeal to you in any meaningful way? Is a crossover/pickup hybrid just too cute an idea, or is it something you’d actually consider for your driveway? On the same note, do you think this type of hybrid, small-ish pickup/ute is a valid proposition for the brash, high-riding US of A?

[Image: Pinterest, Volkswagen]

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66 Comments on “QOTD: How Little Truck Is Enough?...”


  • avatar
    dividebytube

    My little 1994 Nissan 2WD truck – king cab – was more than enough for me and my wife. But once the first kid came along, and making the adult sit in the jump seat, the truck had to go; replaced with a 1997 Mountaineer.

    I still miss that truck – it did a lot of work for me, hauling junk and furniture, sod, lawn care stuff, moving, etc. Not fast by any means, but still a fun little vehicle.

    These little weird “trucklets”, however, look rather worthless for hauling any kind of large cargo – like a sofa – while having much better interior space than my Nissan. But I would rather have a full-sized or mid-sized that had at least a (easy to use) 6′ bed.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    I’ve long thought we needed a return to the smaller car/truck form factor. Something akin to an early 1960’s Ford Ranchero (based on the Falcon chassis), or the early 80’s Dodge Rampage/Plymouth Scamp. In fact, the 2.5 domestic US automakers have vehicles that fit these descriptions, only in South American markets. But, market trends have buried those vehicles, so no go.

    Chevy had the Avalanche for a number of years, I knew several people who had them and liked them greatly. They seemed quite adaptable to almost any set of circumstances you might encounter in a regular life. I’d wished for a smaller version of it, as a 1500 series truck is far more than I need. I had a first gen Dodge Dakota, if you could have morphed one of those into a smaller Avalanche clone, *that* would have been near perfect. I guess GM *could* do that with the current Colorado, so there’s a thought.

    To answer the question posed, yes, I could see me buying something like this, but I don’t know if orthodoxy would take over on the market meaning that US buyers can be very odd in their choices. If it doesn’t fit into a well defined niche, folks won’t touch it.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    We had a succession of Rangers in our family, my Dad had a 78 Toyota truck which was traded on the 88 Ranger. I’ve always thought that the Toyota truck from 89-97 was the perfect size, along with the Nissans of the same era. Ranger too, but Ford put very little into Ranger after the big redo in 93.

    A regular cab 2wd Toyota or Nissan from that time would be nice as a occasional use truck, but for me, I’ll just rent one when I need it. That said, the Tacoma X-Runner seemed pretty awesome

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Weimer

      You would be surprised how much the Ranger changed from ’93-11, and not just cosmetically. ’95 changed the interior completely, and ’04 updated the gauge cluster. They dropped the “Twin I-Beam” front suspension for conventional A-arm coil and torsion-bar suspensions , updated the front end and introduced the “4-door” (1/2 door extended cab) in ’98, increased the 2.3 to 2.5 *then* swapped it out for the DOHC 2.3 and moved from OHV to SOHC 4.0 in 2001 along with another front end update, in addition to upgrading the auto transmissions from 4 to 5-speed, although that was a software update to create a new 2nd gear between the old 1st and second (basically engaged the OD band in 1st).

      Now, after ’04, they didn’t do much of anything, but the previous 10 years there were a lot of updates almost every year.

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        Thanks for the update. I knew about those changes, but I didn’t know the timeframe. They were decent *little* trucks and I have lots of fond memories of the 88 especially.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        Well explained Jeff. The switch to the SLA front end improved ride immensely as I understand. But I will say I enjoyed the absolutely bomb-proof nature of the ancient twin-I-beam. Curb hopper’s delight. My first ’97 Ranger had the updated interior, and then I “downgraded” to a ’94 with the older style (no airbags either). I will say I prefer the ’94: simple cable actuated HVAC sliders rather than the vacuum manifold system which introduces an element that can fail (mine did, but easily fixed). I liked the old school feel of the steering wheel and shifter on the ’94 as well: heavier/denser material, and thinner.

        • 0 avatar
          gearhead77

          I remember my Dad trading the 78 Toyota (with 80k on it, but LOTS of rust) on the 88 Ranger. It was 2wd extended cab, dark brown with the two-tone beige and what Ford called “Ralleye” wheels. I still remember it sitting outside Woltz and Wind Ford in Heidelberg PA, looking smart with the OWL Tiger Paws ( I was 10, my folks didn’t buy new cars often. At the time).

          Back when XLT was top trim and you still had to opt for power windows, power locks and air (it had none of those)

          2.9 V6,5 speed and 3.73 rear end. It was the truck I learned to drive a stick on and it felt like a rocket compared to my 3.8 81 Regal.

          The next one was a 93 but used with 100k on it when we bought it as a fourth vehicle. Regular cab with the 3.0 V6, it was not nearly as much fun as the 88 was.

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    I owned two of the mentioned vehicles many years ago – a ’61 Falcon Ranchero and a ’71 El Camino. I was a young, single guy living in Idaho at the time. The El Camino (350ci, Quadrajet 4bbl, auto) was a good ride (except for eating plugs and burning points). Useful for helping guys move in and out of budding and failing relationships throughout Southeast Idaho. Three adults fit well in it fairly comfortably and could transport them easily on long trips (our adventure from Blackfoot to the Holy Grail of the Olympia Brewery in Tumwater comes to mind). The air shocks helped level it well when loaded. The Ranchero (tiny 6cyl, three-on-the-tree) was nothing more than a commuter to work out on the desert – couldn’t haul anything with a footprint smaller than two square feet or it would fall through the rust holes in the load bed. Very thrifty – I could get close to 30mpg out of it and in better shape would have been useful for Home Depot runs had Home Depot existed in those days. Were they as capable as the 1/2 to 3/4 ton trucks my friends had? No but they were very good for 90% of what I needed to haul around and easy to live with. Using those two vehicles of yesteryear for hauling stuff taught me how, years later, to better utilize the 6 1/2′ bed on my F350 and to not “have a sad” about not purchasing an 8′ bed pickup. The proposed Santa Cruz or the extant Tarok would work for anyone who liked the concept and the vehicle and could “make it work” around the limitations of their size.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I would buy a compact truck that had an extended cab even if it were front wheel drive based on an existing compact car or crossover. Offer a 4 cylinder turbo or non-turbo and offer a manual transmission base model similarly equipped to a base Colorado. Air, power steering, power brakes, and power windows are fine if offering those lower the cost of production for the manufacturer by standardization of the equipment. I would like something slightly smaller and not as tall as the current midsize pickups.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      So many compact CUVs have optional AWD and beefier engines that a compact pickup is possible. What’s needed is a sliding/removable roof section/rear-panel and fold-down rear seats to provide additional hauling capacity when needed. A stripped minivan would be a workable alternative.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Of course, I meand donor cars for conversion to pickups, the way the Falcon and Malibu wagons became Rancheros and El Caminos. If FWD is acceptable, maybe the Ford Transit or Nissan NV200 would work as donors for conversion. I’d still rather have AWD than FWD alone, though.

  • avatar
    cammark

    a large part of the appeal of a ’90s S-10 to me (I own a very junky-looking but mechanically sound 1992 S-10 4.3L 2WD) is the simplicity and the narrowness of it’s purpose. For me it’s a tool. It doesn’t need to be particularly comfortable or “well-appointed” though i do like the bucket seats in mine. It can’t haul a fully loaded 5th wheel camper up a mountain pass at highway speeds, but the bed-sides are about at my elbow (rather than eye level…) which makes it pleasant to load and unload.

    of course i’m a minority in the truck market. the thing that sells most new vehicles; new, shiny bits and gadgets and clearcoat and stat sheets are all a liability for my intended use.

    Simplicity has been made illegal by modern new-vehicle regulations. I heard it said this way the other day- you can hardly work on a new vehicle without a degree in computer science.

    and of course, it’s been said many places by many people- a small trailer and a hitch on your non-truck family vehicle will do what most claim they bought their truck for.

    but more to the point and question at hand, an early S-10 is big enough to be useful but small enough to maneuver easily.

    • 0 avatar
      cammark

      Approx. S-10 dimensions for reference:

      width- 65″
      length- 193″
      wheelbase- 118″ or 123″
      height- 63″

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Yep I’m the same way. I’ve owned two Rangers, a ’97 and ’94 for one summer each, both with the same limited scope of 1)hauling home improvement and landscaping supplies and b)carry me to and from work. Both were regular cab XLTs (power steering and A/C) with the twin-plug 2.3L Lima and 5spd stick, my ’97 was a regular bed, the ’94 a 7 foot bed. They performed admirably, hauling up-to and slightly over their 1200lb payload capacity, while getting about 24-26mpg and never giving me a bit of trouble. Absolutely minimal running costs and zero depreciation, I actually sold the ’94 for $200 more than I bought it for.

      The biggest factor here is that I didn’t need them to double as a family hauler or only vehicle, they’re pretty wretched in just the rain, let alone winter conditions. And I’ll be honest commuting every day in an old Ranger ended up wearing on me a bit.

      Having said that, if I had more driveway space and lived in a more secure neighborhood, I would absolutely just have a cheap 5×8 trailer instead to haul with my 4Runner.

      • 0 avatar
        cimarron typeR

        I agree, my Disco Sport can tow over 4k, I’d eventually like to get a couple of Go-Karts when my kids get older. I just need a place to put a small aluminum trailer

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    Of the pickups currently on the market in the U.S., the Nissan Frontier (2-door, smallest cab, base trim) is the only one I would consider. I don’t mind if it’s old – that doesn’t mean bad. It’s just the most truckish, which is fine with me. I admit that Hyundai’s Santa Cruz concept intrigues me.

    But I’d love a pickup more like my 2003 Ranger: standard cab, standard bed, 2WD, updated 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine and manual transmission. My only concession to civility was the XLT package, which gave me nicer seats, carpeting, power windows, sliding rear window and air conditioning. The perfect truck for me.

    Meanwhile, I await more information about Ford’s rmored unibody-based smaller pickup.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    I already don’t understand the appeal of midsizers, so anything smaller makes no sense to me at all. The things I need from a truck aren’t even close to being met by these things.

    That said, I know at least on this site I’m in the minority, so I’m all for giving people more choices to buy what they want.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    The idea of these light duty truckettes is far more appealing then the actual vehicle. If I needed a truck I’d go out and get a truck, not one of these, but if one of these appeals to you then by all means have at it

  • avatar
    BunkerMan

    Nope, I need more than what these vehicles can offer. For me, it needs to tow 6000 lbs and hold a full sized ATV in the bed. 6.5′ beds are ideal.

    Neither of my trailers weigh 6000lbs, but if the truck’s brakes and frame can handle it, I feel more secure than in a vehicle that’s at its bleeding edge of capacity.

    My current F-150 is rated to tow 11,000 lbs+ and only has a 5.5′ bed. It made sense when our kids were younger and we had a larger trailer. Now, I’m thinking a new Ranger will do the job just as well, since our newer trailer is only 3500 lbs.

  • avatar
    W.Minter

    Transit Connect. Add AWD & ground clearance. Add Plastic cladding. Add more power. Make it *really* 4×8 ready. Call it Bronco Cargo or Bronco Handyman.
    More utility most people will ever need.

  • avatar
    TheDutchGun

    I have a 5.0L 2015 F150 now, living in the country. I do 35-40000 km per year at average 13.5L/100 km. This is not a work truck but very useful.

    That said, in a few years time, the very handsome looking new Ranger will likely do just fine for me. I would imagine the smaller size and Ecoboost will be a fuel economy improvement and my current 132L tank makes me shed a tear at every fill-up.

  • avatar
    gasser

    Why these idealized vehicles aren’t around now: too much safety equipment and crash resistance needed; no market for stick shifts and a rising CAFE; we are each about 30 lbs. heavier than 30 years ago; with giant trucks and SUVs, these vehicles look tiny, too low to the ground, and unsafe; smaller trucklets will not add to the ATP of the automakers; there is an Enterprise or Hertz on every corner and Home Depot rents trucks; automakers would need to offer a 700 hp model to satisfy most TTAC readers.

  • avatar
    Pianoboy57

    I’ve only owned two trucks, a 1986 Mitsubishi Might Max base (known as the Zero because of it’s silver color) and my current 2000 Ranger XLT. These trucks seemed perfect for what I needed most of the time. The Ranger has been a far better truck than the Mitsu.

    My son has a 2013 Ram Laramie Crew Cab 4WD but it has a minuscule five foot bed. Why build such a huge truck as that with a little bed? I don’t get it.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Truckletts are like compact roadsters. You want (access to) one, but since they’re too impractical for everyday use, you’d have a car payment for something you’d use, what, a couple times a month?

    Your friends, neighbors and brother in-law would be lined up on the weekend though. So you hope to find a used one cheap. But new??

    Little truckletts exist in other markets, but most everything is scaled-down there. Houses to refridgerators. Aren’t their biggest sellers, compact cars?

    We’ve had truckletts before, but it was a different time. And LBJ never stopped them from happening.

    Also, in a pinch, you could have riders in the bed of the pickup, which I believe you can do in places that still sell trucketts.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Weimer

      In the 70s/80s, all the “truckletts” were imports, captured or otherwise (Ford/Mazda, Chevrolet/Isuzu, Dodge/Mitsubishi). That switched in the ’90s so that the “import” pickups other than Toyota and Nissan were all domestics in drag, and those two built theirs here in the states.

      The LBJ-era “chicken tax”, plus changing currency exchange rates, was the reason.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Consumer tastes changed. Everything else can be worked around. The Rabbit trucklett was US built, so it had everything going for it, but died early on, regardless.

        Beating all obstacles, the Mitsu Mighty Max/D50 was imported its whole life, never built in the US, and pushed through til ’96.

        Demand is everything, the rest is just hot air.

        • 0 avatar
          Jeff Weimer

          Replaced by the Mitsubishi Raider, a thinly-disguised Dakota. By 2000 there were no foreign-sourced pickups – compact or full-size – in the USA at all.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Assembling in the US is advantageous, regardless, for import brand cars too.

            Real (not internet type) “demand” will push true “import” trucks past anything the US throws at them, like the foreign built Sprinter or Transit Connect.

          • 0 avatar
            Jeff Weimer

            They got past the Chicken Tax by shipping with back seats that were removed at port of entry (Not A Truck, srsly). They wouldn’t have been viable otherwise.

          • 0 avatar
            Jeff Weimer

            Assembling? These were domestic designed and manufactured, almost exactly the opposite of 20 years prior. Only Nissan and Toyota built factories to assemble their designs, the others rebadged their big-3 partners’ small pickups.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            …”They got past the Chicken…”

            Don’t confuse what they do and what they HAVE to do. And that was then. Today, Ford simply pays the Children tax, has been doing so for years on the Connect now.

            Foreign brand cars assembled in the US are more the rule than exception, no Chicken tax necessary, makes sense anyway.

            There’s a lot of hype surrounding the Chicken tax, funny name, 1st time hearing about for many, sells articles, creates “clicks”, but again nothing beats *demand* or influences what’s in showrooms more.

  • avatar
    northshoreman1

    Where’s Honda’s Ridgeline in this discussion? Is it too small? Not enough trucklet? Too … ?
    And is the older Ford Explorer SportTrack not something in the same concept? AS I recalll, it wasn’t a great seller, either.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    I have a huge soft spot for that gen. El Camino, and for that matter the Malibu it was based on. I remember in HS a friendly car audio installer ( this was early 90s- remember competition car audio?) had a built Light blue metallic street rod . He was a former body man had done all of the bodywork/paintwork himself. Sweet tub with massive Mickeys Drag Radials in the rear and a sweet 350 CI that could rev to almost 7k. The cammed out idle was perfect.
    Incidentally, I don’t see the utility of a pickup smaller than the current offerings like the Colorado, as there are so many FWD/RWD Transit type vans already of all sizes.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Weimer

      In the 70s/80s, all the “truckletts” were imports, captured or otherwise (Ford/Mazda, Chevrolet/Isuzu, Dodge/Mitsubishi). That switched in the ’90s so that the “import” pickups other than Toyota and Nissan were all domestics in drag, and those two built theirs here in the states.

      The LBJ-era “chicken tax”, plus changing currency exchange rates, was the reason.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Weimer

      My dad always loved El Caminos (and VWs for some reason), owned a ’70 once and now a last-year loaded ’87. It will be mine one day, and I already have plans for upgrading it.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      My 15 year old is working diligently for a malaise era el camino for his first car. I am inclined to think a 305 cid is the perfect starting point for him. We can make it sound fast…

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    With kids moving back and forth, weekend home maintenance, etc I am now renting a pick-up, mini-van or cargo van on average about once per month.

    One side effect of the move to on-line shopping and home delivery of these goods is that at least in the GTA it has become very hard to rent a regular sized ‘cargo van’. Most are out on monthly or weekly contracts to courier/delivery drivers.

    And the few U-Haul outlets in our area are ‘rather sketchy’.

    A mini-van would probably be the best overall vehicle for my ‘wants’, but 80% of the time, it would just be used for my commute.

    In theory then I would really like a small pick-up, with good road clearance and a fairly high roof (for ease of entry). With ‘full size’ seating for 4 (or 5). A bed able to handle objects at least 6 feet long. With FWD! Why FWD? Because we have little need for 4WD, although living in Canada. And a FWD vehicle is much easier/safer to handle in the winter than a RWD truck with an empty bed. I don’t tow, so towing capacity would be a non-factor. And the most that I haul is some household furniture, sod, some shrubs/trees, bags of mulch or top soil, golf equipment, and what the ‘kids’ need when they ‘move away’ to school for a semester/year.

    And I want this small pick-up priced around $23k. Comparable to compact/mid-sized sedans or a Dodge Caravan.

    If such an animal existed, there would eventually be one in my driveway.

    • 0 avatar
      TwoBelugas

      Sounds like you need a minivan.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Arthur, growing up my dad had a Chevrolet Suburban that was the same length as a short bed regular cab pickup truck. The interior was all painted sheet metal with removable 2nd and 3rd row seats. Basically a panel truck with windows that he used to haul a wide variety of stuff. The equivalent today would be a cross between a minivan and a work truck made so you could almost clean the interior with a garden hose. Rugged hard plastic interior trim and a rubber/plastic floor instead of carpet. Dodge made a commercial vehicle based on the Caravan very close to this.

  • avatar
    Jeff Weimer

    I recently bought a ’96 Ranger extended cab XLT 3.0 V6, which is exactly the pickup I needed and wanted. Big enough for the suburban hauling I need to do, and small enough to be easy to deal with on the road. Would’ve rather had a Toyota or Nissan of the same vintage, but the prices were relatively outrageous in comparison, and parts for the Ford are insanely inexpensive ($10 per corner for shocks!). GM of the same years were trash new, so no.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Yep I’ve found Rangers to be the small truck sweet spot for price/durability, no real Achilles heels per se (just inspect for rust and the basics), and a variety of drivetrain/powertrain combos to get what you’re looking for in terms of power or fuel economy.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff Weimer

        the 4/5R44/55E automatic transmissions, like all Fords past and present, are problematic. This one has the 2-3 “flare” that needs close monitoring and careful driving to keep the tranmission from destroying itself.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          Can’t that just be fixed with a few solenoids swapped out? We had a USDA Explorer with that issue that happened at really low mileage (less thank 60k). I’ve stuck with the stick shifts and been fine, although if they lose a slave cylinder that’s a transmission-out job to fix.

          • 0 avatar
            Jeff Weimer

            There’s a band (hydraulic) servo issue that’s a design flaw – the steel servo shaft tends to oval out the hole in the aluminum case, causing a loss of pressure that screws with the timing between the 2-3 shift from intermediate band to the direct drive clutches. It can be fixed with a brass sleeve, but that’s a complete rebuild just to get that done. $$$

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Ah, good to learn what all that was about.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Currently own a 99 S-10 which I have had since new. It is far from being trash. Very reliable truck with low maintenance and inexpensive. Mine is an extended cab with a 2.2 I-4 and a manual transmission. I see a number of old S-10s, Rangers, Toyotas, and Nissans still on the road.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      I think it was more that if you are buying today, the GM units are ussually pretty clapped out by now. Obviously i would wager, if you are the original owner, that yours does not fall into the clapped out category. Most by now are with the 3rd or 4th owner…we know how this goes.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        In the salt belt, the S10s have MUCH more rust-prone bodies, and generally look substantially worse for the wear. IMO just driving one around, S10s ride softer and just feel more car-like. That’s a plus to some, to me it just felt flimsier and less “truck-like” than a Ranger of the same era, which feels more like a shrunk-down half ton. I test drove S10s both times I was truck shopping, an Hombre with the 2.2 and a stick, and then 2 S10s: a rare base trim reg-cab long bed 4.3L/auto 4wd (special order truck by a guy that owned a dealership), and a reg-cab standard bed RWD 4.3L+stick truck (also somewhat rare). The 4wd was super low mileage but overpriced and I think had a few issues just from not being used enough. The 4.3L+stick had the beginnings of clutch issues. Ultimately the older rangers just felt more “right” to me. YMMV!

  • avatar
    Pete Zaitcev

    A truck does not appeal to me. It always has to be much longer than a comparable SUV.

  • avatar
    George B

    Steph, I think you’re asking the wrong question. The correct question is if there is a size below current full-size that offers an advantage. What I see in my neighborhood is that full-size pickup trucks don’t fit in the garages, but the shorter wheelbase Tahoe does. There’s probably a slightly smaller form factor similar to the early Toyota Tundra that fits more garages and parking spaces without giving up >48 inches between the wheel wells to haul 4ft x 8 ft sheets of drywall and plywood. The current Ridgeline might fit that role, but the front half looks too much like Mom’s CUV and relative proportions of cab length to bed length are off.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      The old T100 Toyota is my perfect truck-size sweet spot. Fits 4 foot wide items in between the wheel wells, but otherwise is rather compact and light and simple. A T100 with a 2UZ (4.7L) swap is a dream truck of mine. If not that, I’d settle for a pre-refresh 1st gen Tundra with the same powertrain.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    I’d say something the size of a 1989 Silverado. If you see one of these next to a 2018 version, it looks half the size.

  • avatar
    don1967

    A truck that can’t carry 4×8 sheets, accommodate six passengers, or tow a 7,000 pound trailer is basically a rough-riding, gas-guzzling CUV with no weather protection.

    Go big or go home.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Any vehicle can become a clapped out hoop tie if the price is cheap. I see lots of clapped out Crown Victorias and Tauruses because they have become cheap enough that anyone can afford them. I don’t consider either car to be a bad car especially having owned a Taurus for 13 years but if a vehicle is not taken care of it will become a pile of junk regardless of what brand it is. You can even destroy an old Toyota or Honda if you don’t keep up the maintenance and let the exterior go. Unless a vehicle is an absolute piece of junk when new it will run for many years with relatively low maintenance if take care of. I would put most vehicles for the past 20 or more years in the category of being good.

  • avatar
    Dan

    Anyone remember that a la carte phone plan commercial from the late 90s with the vagrant looking man waltzing through the grocery store taking one slice out of a bag of bread, pouring one cup of milk into his canteen, etc? There’s your small truck market. Creepy skinflints and even creepier fursuits. This isn’t hypothetical. We had a bunch of small, cheap trucks – the Ranger, the first gen Colorado, the single cab Tacoma – on the market just one model generation back and nobody bought them.

    For that matter, nobody except Advance Auto Parts and Orkin buy less than the double cab version of the midsize trucks that we have now.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    There is a world out there full of different pickups, small ones, mid size, etc.

    The chicken tax is the only reason the US doesn’t have these.

    Here in Australia we can lay our hands on no fewer than 14 different mid sizers, this doesn’t include ALL the US full pickups.

    Its a shame the US doesn’t have these. Let the consumer decide, like they did prior to the chicken tax.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      @BAFO – What are we missing? Seriously now, what, couple trucks from China and India? Yeah it’d be nice to also have cars from those places as well as from Russia, Turkey too!

      I don’t care how dangerous they are, no doubt many regulations are fairly lax in your part of the world, but after the Ranger, we wont need much.

      Yeah you’ve got a “selection” of US fullsize pickups, if you don’t mind spending 150 to $180,000!

      Otherwise you’ve got a great selection of midsize pickups, even though the overwhelmingly majority of Australians wisely avoid the crappy brands and stick to mainstream Hilux, Ford/Mazda and Holden pickups anyway.

      To your 14 “choices” in OZ, the US market offers pickup consumers 20 choices of pickups from several brands, several classes, midsize to Class 4, not counting Class 4 and 5 (F-550, Ram 4500/5500 and GM medium dutys), custom/aftermarket pickups on factory Cab-N-Chassis’.

      If you do it right, you don’t need 14 “choices” in a single class. Like if you need a 3/4 ton, 3 choices covers all the bases.

      Except we have something called “US Lemon Laws” you’re obviously hearing about for the 1st time, and unheard of in your Australian region/market including SE Asia and Africa, plus other US Consumer Protections, including US emissions/safety.

      So in your words, and as tragic as it may be, what exactly are we missing out on?

  • avatar
    Mike-NB2

    I have a lot of respect for our American neighbours, but one thing I’m still pissed at you about is that you killed the Ranger for us Canadians. We bought them in droves. At the time it wouldn’t have worked, but if the Ranger still existed I could see a base model RWD with a regular cab and a manual transmission (presuming those would still exist) as a a third vehicle in the family fleet.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I seriously don’t get why anyone would want something like this. The mini trucklets are too small to be useful.

    I generally don’t get pickups of any size. If you have a need to move some bulky/dirty/whatever cargo that you don’t want IN your vehicle, put a $150 trailer hitch on and spend $14.95/day to rent a utility trailer from U-Haul. I have renovated two houses that way with two different VW Golfs (TDI and GTI). What won’t go in the Golf or on a roof rack just gets towed on a trailer. Just took a 5×9 trailer of renovation debris and other crap to the county dump a week ago. You can load the crap in and out without having to worry about scratching the paint on your truck. And it’s a heck of a lot easier to load and unload than a full-size truck, and can carry a lot more weight than most of them can. Cargo capacity in the bed of most of the 4dr Cowboy Cadillacs is actually quite pathetic, not that anybody really pays attention to that other than on forums like this one.

  • avatar
    JD-Shifty

    I still drive my 96 S-10 100 miles per day. Up to 475,000 miles now. many of you people have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on vehicles in the meantime. All in the name of worrying over a breakdown? silly.

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