By on December 14, 2018

We’ve heard rumblings about Ford’s plan to bestow a small, unibody pickup on North American customers before, but now there’s photographic evidence.

Images published by Ford Authority show what appears to be a van tooling around the automaker’s Dearborn campus, but is actually a compact pickup wearing an entire tent of camouflage. A telltale trademark filing and reports over the summer are now starting to bear fruit.

In July, Ford filed a U.S. trademark application for the Courier name, which many will recall as the moniker applied to a number of tiny Ford pickups offered in overseas markets. The most recent Courier, built in Brazil, used the Fiesta as its starting point. Earlier, from 1972 to 1982, Ford sold a rebadged Mazda as the Courier in North America (note the gorgeous example in the lead photo).

At the time of the trademark filing, a Ford spokesperson told Car and Driver that the company would be “significantly expanding our North America lineup with all-new vehicles and entering new segments with fresh designs and white-space silhouettes that will position us for even more growth.”

Entering new segments, eh? Just days earlier, a report cited sources with knowledge of Ford’s product plans. Apparently, they said, the automaker plans to introduce a unibody pickup based on the next-generation Focus line’s C2 platform (which won’t underpin any Focuses anywhere near here). This is the versatile architecture Ford’s European head of engineering, Joe Bakaj, once called the “holy grail.”

In the spy photos, what looks like a van reveals itself as a truck in a number of ways. Mainly, via a failure of camo to convince the viewer of the van pretext. With the long-awaited Ranger appearing on dealer lots within a month, evidence of an America-bound compact truck shows that Ford’s not about to leave a non-car segment untapped, even if its profitability is still a big question mark. How small is too small for the U.S. truck buyer? How low a price would Ford have to slap on it to make the Courier an attractive buy?

With Hyundai almost certainly launching a unibody pickup based on the Santa Cruz concept in the coming years, the Courier wouldn’t be without rivals. It might also prove appealing to small fleet buyers, which already gobble up Ford’s Transit Connect van in considerable numbers.

Based on everything we’re hearing, the little Ford truck will go into production in Mexico to avoid the chicken tax and keep overall costs down. A launch will likely come in 2021.

[Image: Murilee Martin/TTAC]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

67 Comments on “Sub-Ranger Ford Pickup Spotted?...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    A sub Ranger truck? Hallelujah.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Well since they don’t sell cars anymore I guess everything has to be a truck. They already make a mega-size, a full-size and now a mid-size which means a compact is the only thing left. This will complete their all truck line up.

  • avatar
    TwoBelugas

    if the aerodynamics is done properly a compact ute like truck is a good way to deal with CAFE2025 rather than trying to squeeze a stone with the Fiestas and Focus’s

  • avatar
    jack4x

    Can’t wait for all the excuses to come pouring in from the small truck mafia about how even this is too big, too expensive, has too many features, no manual/diesel, etc.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    How is developing an entirely new truck cheaper than just cutting the back off a Transit Connect?

    • 0 avatar
      salmonmigration

      Who said that’s not what they’re doing?

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        Well, it is on the next-gen Focus platform, which is 99% sure to underpin the next Transit Connect. So, in effect, they’re all going to be related one way or another. It wouldn’t surprise me if Transit Connect doesn’t relocate to Mexico when Courier production begins, likely in the Hermosillo plant that currently builds the Fusion.

        Ford just refreshed the current Transit Connect, and is now going to offer a TurboDiesel in North America for the first time. Stands to reason it will be offered in the Courior as well.

        40 MPG pickup with gobs of torque? Yes, please.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          Not the Hermosillo plant, apparently.

          From Ford Authority:
          “Production is expected take place at the Ford Cuautitlan plant in Mexico. The facility, one of several Ford Mexico plants, is currently home to the Ford Fiesta range, including the 4-door, 5-door, and Fiesta ST.”

      • 0 avatar
        scott25

        Haha yeah, it’ll be on the same platform as the next-hen Connect, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they share more than a few components, maybe even a front end or dash.

  • avatar
    d4rksabre

    It’s going to come down to price as to whether this makes any sense. Colorado extended cab long bed WT for ~$23k means the 2 seater version of a small car based pickup needs to be well below that…

    • 0 avatar
      eggsalad

      Not that it’s apples-to-apples, but the base model RAM 700 pickup sells in Mexico for the equivalent of USD11,000.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Would still love to see these come to the States. Even though I don’t need one any more, my original plans were for a lighter trailer than my wife wants to pull.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          But a Ridgeline can pull a 20′ gooseneck trailer loaded down with commercial cargo! What happened to buying the smallest vehicle possible? Why didnt you just get a Chevy Trax?

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          I don’t know what your situation is with respect to towing, but if you are pulling loads consistently near the top of what your vehicle is rated at you arent going to be happy. This is one spot extra capability is nice. My old Frontier was rated to pull my current rig. It would, but it was a white knuckle experience compared to the F150. It isn’t just rated capacity ..things like wheelbase are your friend (short=not fun).

          With respect to a teardrop…my Fiesta would pull one of those. Heck I see Adventure motorcycles towing them.. . You don’t even need a truck.

          But if you get a rig to tow, extra capacity is a luxury to which the cost of admission just isn’t that high and I feel worth every penny.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            My truck’s supposed limit is a hair over 7000#. My intention is to not exceed 6000# but would prefer the 5000# – 5500# range, so I don’t intend to push the limits if I can help it. By the visits and research my wife and I did at the Hershey RV show back in September, we saw a number of quite acceptable 24-foot models that were within my weight limits.

            As for the teardrops, you’re right; there are several sizes of teardrops from about 700# up to about 2000#. My wife’s Renegade could pull one of those easily… but my old Ranger at the time only had 112 horses and it would have struggled with even that small amount of weight. (We looked at those for several years but never bought one because of how tall she is and the fact that none of the teardrops gave her the headroom she wanted if she had to cook inside and she didn’t want to have to cook outside in wet weather or high winds.)

            Essentially, as we got closer to making a decision, she began pushing for comfort rather than roughing it on the ground.

  • avatar
    thalter

    First a suicide door Continental, and now this. Is Ford trolling us?

  • avatar
    DedBull

    This would be absolutely perfect for me, though my wife will complain about the 5% of the time where it would be handy for me to haul the kids.

    If they can keep this sub 20K in FWD guise I think you might be surprised to see how popular it could be.

  • avatar
    RHD

    It would have been nice to have a picture of the camouflaged test mule. A rusty old Courier isn’t illustrative of an upcoming 2020 model.
    A 2020 take on the Courier would be pretty darn sweet, though. If the price is right, they should be quite successful.

  • avatar
    DedBull

    My guess is they cant get permission to use the images

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    These very forums, circa 2021:

    “Yeah I looked at the new Courier but it didn’t come in the right shade of brown and the wheels only had 4 lugs…not like my old Ranger so I had to pass…why won’t they build what I want”

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      If you’re talking about me, Art, it’s too late to consider anything different for at least 8 years, unless I get involved in a crash. I’m driving a brand-new mid-sized truck today and it ain’t a Ford or an import. Doesn’t leave a whole lot of choices, does it?

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        Because you’re the only person on here who makes unreasonable demands, and when by some miraculous turn of events, those demands are met, you find the tiniest fault (based on reality and not fantasy) and refuse to buy what you claimed would be the absolute perfect vehicle?

        Didnt think so.

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          Not you per say @Vulpine, but if the shoe fits…

          Fact is the midsized truck crowd is worse than the wagon crowd in this respect. Without fail, you get the following cycle:

          Where are the wagons?
          Maker x builds wagon
          WTF? This isn’t an e30 chassis BMW touring or a Volvo 240…I’m not buying this. Plus it costs more than 8 grand new…such BS.
          Maker x cancels wagon
          See this is BS …why don’t they build wagons.

          At least midsized trucks are finding homes (though I see them working FAR less than I do the 1/2 ton and up models). I try to vote with my wallet (I went with the Fiesta ST over several more premium models because manual that handles). But the midsized truck crowd on here is notoriously nitpicky.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            That’s your opinion; I’ve seen full-sized owners just as picky. And the bloomin’ flame wars between brands? Ridiculous!

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            Can’t be that picky. If they are actually full sized truck owners that means they at some point purchased one. That is more than the brown diesel manual awd wagon brigade can say. Looks like we will see with small trucks if Ford and/or Hyundai comes through. My prediction…NAPA, Pest Control, and old skinflints will eat em’ up. ..basically the old Ranger crowd towards the end of its run. Hopefully they can make enough to build em for a while.

  • avatar
    jatz

    I guess a Transit Connect that let your load get wet was such an obvious need for so long that we all just assumed it coudn’t be done or someone would already have.

  • avatar
    Steve203

    Thing is, people are using trucks as a replacement for sedans now. I toured the Rouge plant last Saturday. Only saw 1 extended cab and zero standard cab trucks going down the line. All the rest were crew cabs.

    Jeep experimented with taking a Sawzall to the Renegade to create a small ute a few years ago. Even revived the Comanche name for it. But it’s a single seater. Nothing has come of it.

    The original Gladiator concept was an extended cab. What made it to production is a crew cab.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    True, without crew cabs truck sales would probably have decreased. Crew cab pickups have replaced the family sedan for many. I would like to see a true compact pickup but I don’t believe a regular cab would have enough sales.

    • 0 avatar
      JD-Shifty

      I used to prefer single cab, but a small extended cab is really the way to go. The crew cab on a small vehicle like a Baja isn’t for me, but I can see where the it would make more sense for the general market.I would have any problem with a car based ute, but it needs to be over 35mpg

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Take a look at the Ram 700/Fiat Strada. It’s a small truck along the lines of the old Courier/Luv/Mighty Max, though with a modern style. Now, admittedly south of the border isn’t as size-hungry as we in the U.S. are and regular cabs are still fairly common down there, but the model I mentioned does have a second row available, though it also loses a LOT of bed space as a result. Depending on wants and needs, a tiny regular cab could be ideal as a daily driver/weekend DIYer vehicle; obviously never intended for ‘family’ use. The four-seater version would still be useful for certain hobbyists in modeling, photography, etc. while serving as a sub-compact family car. Normally, I don’t need a huge bed so the four-seater would have worked fine for me (was actually planning to buy a Baja when they were out but production stopped before I could buy and I refuse to buy second-hand.)

      So had the Ram700 been available in the US before I bought my Colorado, I’d probably already be driving it, despite the fact the wife now wants to tow something heavier than 4000#

  • avatar
    riggodeezil

    Nice. I just hope they price/spec it right. Fer instance, I like the idea of the Honda Ridgrline but they are just much $ even in their lowest trims. If they get this right, it could be a hit.

  • avatar
    FWD Donuts

    Great idea. In Mexico while on business, I saw some tiny Chevrolet Tornado pickups buzzing around. They’re stylish, hold two people, and have a bed capable of holding most stuff — except big items like a sheet of plywood. With a rack system that covers the bed and cab — that could be handled, though.

    90% of the guys bombing around in full size trucks don’t need them. This would be a great way to move product to consumers who don’t want to break the bank.

    chevrolet.com.mx/pickups/tornado-camioneta-pick-up

    • 0 avatar
      jatz

      “90% of the guys bombing around in full size trucks don’t need them.”

      Interviewing every full-sized pickup driver you encounter must be very arduous not to mention time consuming but I admire your dedication.

      • 0 avatar
        thalter

        No interviews needed. Virtually every pickup I see everywhere is hauling nothing but air in the back.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          Even commercial carriers, semis, Class 8, refers, dump trucks, etc, run “empty” more than half the time, you just don’t see it, notice or care.

          Are they often used to fetch groceries, run errands, etc? You betcha!

          Fullsize pickups wear many hats, especially 1/2 tons, since the early 2000s, or when they started growing 4 real doors, so they’ve likely helped kill sales of (one trick) sedans.

          So yeah I feel fully “justified” owning a 1/2 ton pickup while only using anywhere near its full capacity, around 10% of the time or less. You may disagree, and or feel a midsize pickup (or smaller) would accomplish most tasks just the same.

          But more likely than not, in a pinch, when you absolutely need a pickup, there’s no time to go renting one, borrowing it, or hitching a trailer to your RAV4. Or you just may not want to.

          You could say midsize pickups are inferior products to fullsize, in a multitude of ways, with no appreciable savings at the pump (or the showroom). Well except for proportions, if a slightly smaller size (exterior) is of vital importance to you. I realize many or most of the population can barely tolerate the largeness of midsizers, let alone fullsize.

          But you can always say midsizers see even less “work” than half tons, never mind 3/4 tons. Much less!

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            I don’t know why I even bother to respond to you, DM, but you are just one individual in a world full of individuals. Sure, you feel you have the need but those who do not drive full sized pickups don’t feel the same. I’ve owned three pickup trucks in my driving years; only one of them a full-sized truck. The full-sized truck was gross overkill for my needs; only carrying a full load by volume ONCE in the years I owned it. I averaged only 1200 miles per year on it while I owned it, too.

            My first truck was a true compact. It was small; it was fun and it was useful. It carried many thing but never once carried a full load by weight and rarely carried a full load by volume… except during winter when it was loaded down with snow to help traction. The truck I drive now is notably larger than what I wanted, for being a mid-sized model, but this time need outweighed desire as my wife and I have decided to buy a travel trailer with at least some level of comfort in it vs the teardrop models she’d originally considered.

            The point is that to me it is ridiculous to buy more truck than you need by size/capacity. You may not like the little trucks but there are people right now not driving any truck because they are all too big. Meanwhile, the 20-, 30- and even 40-year-old compacts (by comparison) keep having their lives extended any way possible simply because they are smaller and more convenient than full sized.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            I own and F150 and a Fiesta ST. The F150 sees more work time than the Fiesta sees track time. Furthermore I have seen cars like the Corvette Z06 and other hard edged race cars way more frequently on the street than the track. My neighbor drives a Cross Trek and NOT once have I seen a dog in the back.

            Why is it that truck owners are expected to work their vehicles 100 percent of the time. I mean I probably tow my 30 foot travel trailer about 10 times a year. But those 10 times are really important to my family and I.

            I’m 42 with an Army career behind me. As such, some days my body aches. Do I wish I had a modern “Brougham” of some sort on those days? Oh wait, I do…it just has a bed on the back. When the truck isn’t working it provides comfortable, roomy, and versitile transportation. Know what, that is working too.

            Drive what you want, but don’t kid yourself …if you own anything more than a base versa you have more car than you need.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            And btw @Vulpine…price 7.3 powered Ford trucks. There is nothing having their “life extended” like those to the point they are appreciating in price. Old Ragers, God bless em’ are still throwaway trucks that litter Craigslist for sub 4 figure prices. They are using them up to be sure, but nobody is putting money into saving them.

            I think the small truck is a winner. I like the Ranger, but at the end of the day your dollar goes farther with a full-sized truck still. All things equal the only reason to buy anything not a full-sized is that you for whatever reason don’t want one. That’s cool, but with respect to development costs by the manufacturer, resale, and most other objective statistics you are getting an interior product. That’s why people get half tons.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Mine has it easy, most of the time, but since I’m not rich, I have to justify big expenses, not the least of which is the 15 mpg. I want a boat but…

            I want a vintage muscle car too, and bonus, it satisfies that to a great degree.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Art V: Well, there’s part of your problem; you’re looking on Craigslist, where only the cheapest of the cheap go. I easily got a 4-figure (whole dollars) price for my 21-year-old Ranger, despite the tiny engine. I read of others even older still pulling four-figure prices. I certainly don’t see full-sized trucks that age pulling as much.

            As for where the dollar goes, that really depends on the individual. If a full sized truck is simply too big and too inconvenient, it doesn’t matter how comfortable it might be or that it gets only one or two mpg less than the smaller truck; it’s size makes it impractical for their use.

            Here’s the thing: I ended up buying a Colorado because it best met my needs and wants, after those needs had been upgraded by my wife. Because I ordered some accessories to go with it, after taking delivery I had to take it back on two occasions to have them installed. The dealership in both cases gave me a full-sized Silverado as a loaner for the full day while they installed those options.

            Getting into the Colorado felt huge after driving that Ranger for so long. Despite what some here call only minor differences in physical size over these vehicles 20 years apart in age, the new mid-sized Colorado FELT twice the size and more. A car pulls up behind me now and I’m not looking at the driver in the rear view mirror, I’m looking at his roof; the tailgate is a full windshield higher than the old Ranger. The length is notably longer, the width and the height simply make it feel too large for my taste.

            But then I climbed into that Silverado (a 2019 model) and THAT made the Colorado fell small! Why anyone wants a truck that’s nearly 8′ wide I don’t know! It certainly can’t fit in the average garage and its size makes it difficult to park in most locations, even when you have the help of the rear-view camera for reversing.

            As I said before, were it not for a change in plans for what we wanted to do with the new truck, I would have gone for a lesser model like the Frontier or maybe… just maybe… the new Ranger. What I wanted was something more along the size of the Tornado/Ram 700/”new Courier”.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            I don know where you are looking then. Full-sized trucks always bring more than the Ranger an S-10 types. Mine fits in my garage but I don’t know what to hubbub is about that…it’s a truck. I leave mine outside but it fits fine. You get use to the left. I drive it through an Park I in Atlanta routinely. No drama.

            I don care what others drive, just the whole “they are never working” attitude annoys me. I maintain that it is working exponentially more often than most of these so called enthusiasts ever track their cars. I do that too so I see what at the track.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            Know what I’m gonna do…think I’ll track the F150 just to really cheese folks off. No drag strip BS either. I’ll trailer to Fiesta over to Barber in Birmingham, you know, so as not to offend the internet’s with an unladen half ton, unhook it and see what the 2.7 can do.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            “I don know where you are looking then. Full-sized trucks always bring more than the Ranger an S-10 types.”

            — Who’s “looking”? I’m talking personal experience. In 2014 I sold a 20-year-old F-150 with the 5.0 EFI and 8-foot long bed for $1000… couldn’t get any more. Then just last year I sold a 20-year-old Ranger for several times that much and if I’d asked more, I very probably would have got it. The demand for small trucks is far higher than you think. Full-sized trucks are effectively a dime a dozen simply because they’re common.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Need to correct the Ranger sale. That wasn’t “last year”… at least, not yet. It was only three months ago.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Andrew: Who are you talking to and to which comment are you responding? Cause I don’t remember anyone here saying, “you don’t need a pickup.”

        • 0 avatar

          This business of saying people “don’t need a pickup” unless they’re using it to its fullest abilities 100% of the time is absurd. You don’t tell minivan owners they don’t need a van because they just went down to the store for zucchini and six of the seven seats are empty. You don’t tell Ferrari owners that they shouldn’t own a 488 because they don’t drive it at 190 mph all the time every time. You don’t see transit companies replacing their 40 foot buses with Transit Connects because there’s occasionally only two people on board. My point is: just because you need something sometimes doesn’t mean you can’t drive it all the time.

          And side note, I’m not a full size truck owner. I have a Mazda 3 hatch with a stick shift.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Andrew: Who are you talking to and to which comment are you responding? Cause I don’t remember anyone here saying, “you don’t need a pickup.”

  • avatar
    Pete Zaitcev

    Suddenly, I’m interested in a Ford product. Somewhat unfortunately, I don’t plan on being in the market for another 5 years, but if this thing gets a little delayed, and then lasts a product generation, I’m going to land right at the middle of it. Hmm!

    One thing that concerns me a little is the exceptionally low satisfaction scores that the passenger Transit Connect is getting. The complains center about its lack of quality and the poor durability. Courier is going to be platform-shared with the next TC, so…

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Some people are jumping to conclusions; we honestly don’t know yet on WHAT platform the new “Courier” will ultimately reside. At least for the moment, the odds of riding on a Transit Connect platform seem rather slim. The article suggests an updated Focus platform, which does not include the TC as a product.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Love all of the “You don’t need blah blah blah” comments. Know what, all you NEED is a bus pass comrade.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      That’s the problem with the U.S., Art. Metro buses don’t go everywhere. What good is a bus pass when you have to walk up to fifteen miles just to get to the nearest bus stop? And that’s in the more populated areas. Imagine what it would be where cities and towns are more than 50 miles apart?

      Also… just try carrying DIY building or landscaping supplies on a metro bus… Just try.

  • avatar

    I saw this type of Sub Ranger Pickup in many Hollywood movies and it’s seem very useful. So I also want a truck like this.

  • avatar
    mechimike

    I passed a 1990’s S-10 the other day, and remarked to myself that I really miss true compact pickups. The S-10, Ranger, et al were great little trucks. The key word being “Little”. A modern Colorado is about the same size as a late-60’s full-sizer.

    Even if a modern compact truck were unibody and (gasp) FWD it would probably sell well…heck, possibly even better than if it were full frame and RWD. Offer AWD and it’ll dominate anywhere in the snow belt. I it can get 30 mpg and ring out the door somewhere close to 20k I think they’ll sell in good enough numbers to make it profitable.

    I just bought a new Mazda 3, but I looked a bit at trucks before I did. The smallest and cheapest (A frontier) was still a bit too big for what I wanted, plus, Nissan *shudder*. Sorry, my credit score is above 650.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • nrd515: My ’74 Roadunner with the 360 4 barrel was terrible out of the box, wrong fuel pump, carb linkage...
  • RHD: You could buy a CR-V, switch out the grille and save yourself at least fifteen grand. No one would notice the...
  • RHD: Yup, masks, motorsicle helmets and them there seat belts infringe on our rights as free Americans!
  • RHD: #8 – four 2x4s assembled side to side do not make 16 inches, but 15 inches. The manufacturer is making a...
  • SuperCarEnthusiast: If you can afford $300+K for a Ghost cost gasoline is the least concern. Car insurance premiums...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Matthew Guy
  • Timothy Cain
  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Chris Tonn
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber