By on January 31, 2019

Image: Wikimedia Commons

True compact pickups don’t exist in any showroom near you or I, but that doesn’t stop some of us — your author, for example — from eyeballing the black, regular cab Mazda B2600 4×4 that just blasted past on a snowy city street, motoring unimpeded to its destination like a boss that it is. (This recent event may have elicited a lustful “Mmmmm…” from yours truly.)

While we can’t scratch that compact pickup itch at any new car retailer, that won’t be the case forever. In two year’s time, we could have two compacts on the market. The question today is: will there be a receptive audience when they arrive?

Ford confirmed its plans for a sub-Ranger pickup last week, though the 21st century version of the little rigs we loved in the ’80s now boasts unibody architecture. In Ford’s case, a platform likely borrowed from the overseas-market Focus. That means front wheel drive (as a starting point) and an independent rear suspension.

Hyundai’s protracted process of turning the Santa Cruz concept vehicle into a production model should bear fruit before too long, with the four-door (probably clamshell-doored) pickup aimed at the sporty/youth market. Better price it accordingly, guys. The reason Hyundai sat on the fence for so long is that company brass viewed the prospect of carving out a new niche in a big truck-loving America as daunting and risky. No kidding. Still, the Santas Cruz will have company, and it’s possible others may join.

Possible, but, barring two surprise hits, maybe not probable.

Certainly, recent growth in the midsize market shows the desire for something smaller than an F-150 or Silverado, though one wonders at what point the public’s enthusiasm dries up. A modern-day compact pickup must be able to handle a certain amount of abuse while tackling sporadic truck-like duties, even if its day job involves getting a lone occupant to a suburban office park. A Baja-like bed won’t cut it. And if that occupant has kids, their vehicle needs to handle those hauling duties, too.

Pickups are now the family car, and we like our family cars big and non car-like. Ideally, with all-wheel drive, cavernous cabin, and maybe a third row.

Is there hope for the currently nonexistent compact pickup, or have the public’s tastes and expectations strayed too far?

[Image: Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)]

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125 Comments on “QOTD: Are Compact Pickups Worth Pursuing?...”


  • avatar
    raph

    I have no idea? I’d like to say yes since I still see a good number of small pick-ups on the road in my AO, most notably S-10’s and the ubiquitous small Toyota so at least in South Eastern VA there seems to be a market for them.

    It would be nice trend none the less in a sea of brodozers…

    • 0 avatar
      salmonmigration

      Modern crash test standards probably mean we can’t make pickups the same size we used to. Sit in a modern Tacoma and you can tell the interior is just as cramped as it was back in 1980 – even though the pickup itself is gargantuan in comparison.

      Part of that is because Toyota apparently sucks at this sort of thing but big A-pillars, door beams, front crash structures, etc. have a part to play as well.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    If the comments from the B&B on every small pickup article are any indication, then bringing these “trucks” to market is not worth it, considering they won’t have manual windows/locks/transmission, and won’t cost under $15,000 new. Basically unless the companies can put a brand new base model 2wd 1994 Ranger back on sale, no one will buy it. At least that’s what I hear around here…

  • avatar
    jatz

    Yes, but not for real utility like that offered by the capacious bed of that B2600.

    If they ever reappear they’ll of course be FWD compact cars with a tiny bed grafted onto the rear, and likely 4-doors to boot, thus further limiting the capacity of the “boot”.

    Still, swell toys for old boys with middling finances.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Right 4 door FWD with AWD optional and the “long” bed will be if they can give us a 5 ft one.

      Remember when you could buy an S10 with a 7 ft bed?

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Station wagons sound more logical and have a better chance of coming back.

      The key driver of sales today is versatility.

      • 0 avatar
        jatz

        But wouldn’t station wagons have the extra CAFE liability of non-truck status vehicles and necessarily be aerodynamically denuded of carrying capacity and easy access, particularly in the rear?

      • 0 avatar

        Let’s be honest larger CUV’s really are station wagons with 1940’s proportions instead of 1980’s.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          @mopar4wd, you just made me miss the good ol’ IH Travelall (which along with the Suburban were sometimes promoted as “wagons” in vintage advertising.)

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          Preeeetty much.

          Try and tell me an Outback isn’t a station wagon.

          Go on.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            Exactly. We have plenty of station wagons.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @thelaine: “We have plenty of station wagons.”

            — We do? Station wagons used to be sedans where everything behind the back seat was a flat floor and the second row could fold completely flat to offer an 8-foot load floor capable of carrying a full sheet of plywood with the tailgate closed. We haven’t been there for decades! The closest thing we had to a true station wagon since then was the Dodge Magnum, and even then you had to fold the first-row passenger seat down to fit an 8′ stack of boards; forget the plywood sheets.

            Now, I’ll grant that there have been smaller station wagons but today’s round of CUVs simply do not qualify–far too often there’s only about a 24″ load floor behind the second row, if even that much and the second-row seats almost never lie completely flat any more. These things aren’t station wagons.

            I would agree that the Legacy Outback qualifies as a station wagon but most of the rest in that general size qualify more as CUVs than SUVs and lack the seats-up cargo capacity that a typical wagon would.

          • 0 avatar

            Vulpine,
            Seems like the 4×8 is an odd requirement Basically that would only be fullsize wagons from about 1963 to 1993. So were not counting anything other then that?

            Smaller CUV’s are modern hatch backs. Larger one’s are modern station wagons. All the ones with 3 rows are plenty wagon like with the 3rd row dropped and useless with it up same as the rear facing row in the wagon.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Mopar: Dude, I grew up in a ’54 Buick wagon. Even that could handle a sheet of plywood, admittedly with the tailgate down (split tailgate, not these one-piece lift gates we have today.) And that tailgate supported that last two feet of sheet, unlike what we have today in both our wagons AND our typical pickups. With a narrow 4’8¾” track, you could lay that plywood flat between the wheel wells; why does it take a giant pickup to do that today?

            That wagon, by the way, looked like a wagon, not a bloomin’ egg on wheels.

    • 0 avatar
      spookiness

      I had a short bed B2200 like the one shown. ’93, last year of the Japanese design. I miss it dearly. Might be still on the road, but last news was that the idiot friend of my nephew who bought was not taking care of it well.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Aunt Bev’s first vehicle post divorce/bankruptcy was a Mazda B-series extended cab 2wd with manual trans. Crammed her 2 kids in there when they weren’t with their father.

        She must have taken the body up to 300,000 miles. Not sure about the engine because she was one of those people who got a new engine from Jiffy Lube when their idiot tech forgot to put the drain plug back in.

        • 0 avatar
          -Nate

          Chevy & GMC sold boatloads of the long bed single cab S10 & derivatives to fleets, they littered the American land side for decades .

          Some are still in use as Gardener’s / scrap metal collectors daily beaters in Southern California .

          -Nate

  • avatar
    94metro

    When i saw the title I thought it was referring to existing stocks of (out of production) compact pickups. I think it’s completely worth pursuing them. I can’t think of anything more likely to hold of even go up in value than an early 1990s toyota pickup for example, and the late 2000s 4×4 rangers are looking more and more desirable as the last of the compact BOF trucks that will likely ever be made.

    Obviously if someone made a new small BOF pickup with a stick I would buy it, because it would fail and go out of production in 2 years and then I’d have one-owner unobtanium to give to my kids someday.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    there was a time – many moons ago – when compact pickups were just about the cheapest new vehicles around.

    but then again there was a time when McDonalds was cheap too

  • avatar
    gtem

    I find the utility of this style of truck fantastic, but quite frankly my own needs have been served fine by buying actual old trucks like the B series pictured in a fully depreciated state. For the cost of sales tax on a new one, you get a trusty little rig that can handle most home/yard improvement projects and take you to and from work with relative efficiency if you’re so inclined. Twice now I’ve bought in the spring, used it all spring/summer, then sold in the fall so I don’t have to deal with RWD traction issues. With a few hours spent with some touch up paint and a harbor freight polisher and tire gel and a can of R134a, I’ve been able to sell for a bit more than I bought for, covering cost of registration/titling fees.

    A FWD based variant with a 1200lb ish payload capacity like my 4cyl Rangers would be neat in that I could potentially use such a thing year round and not have to sell, but even if it were really cheap (like $11000 Versa cheap), I’d keep going back to the cheapo $2000 25 year old trucks for my needs. Going forward, I’m going even cheaper: I have a friend with an old half ton chevy that I helped resuscitate and now have access to as a favor in return.

    • 0 avatar
      jatz

      Most of us old guys are done with such wrenching and resuscitation, voluntarily or otherwise.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        It’s too hard to hook up a can of R134a to the port and wash a truck?

        If you’re not into DIY, there’s really not much of anything expensive or difficult on one of these that a corner mom and pop shop couldn’t fix. At worst a clutch job or the timing belt? Clutch hydraulics on the older Rangers I suppose? Parts are dirt cheap, not much to break in the first place. About as low risk of a used vehicle purchase as there exists.

        • 0 avatar
          jatz

          I like your posts because they remind me of the ingenuity and doggedness I used to employ on my old vehicles, mostly out of necessity.

          But now I’m content with unscarred knuckles, a warm ass and the lack of crunchy rust sprinkles in my mouth, eyes or even ears.

          Plus, the time involved and and hit & miss nature of finding competent independent mechs is offputting.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            I hear ya, I put my beater-game on pause while we enter our child-raising years and got a minivan with a warranty. But in a few years I might just re-enter by way of another cheap old truck, something my son can watch me tinker with and start learning about.

          • 0 avatar
            jatz

            “something my son can watch me tinker with and start learning about”

            Absolutely priceless for a child’s later analytic and decision-making abilities with any tech. And include any daughters!

            So many young people today are sadly clueless and adrift in a world of deceitful vermin capitalizing on exactly that disability.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            I still confer with my 91 year old father when having issues with my car. That father/son bonding over a open hood has lasted me a lifetime. Cherish it

          • 0 avatar
            CobraJet

            My dad taught me everything about cars and I, in turn, have taught my son and daughter. I still wrench pretty good at age 66 but rely more and more on my son to help. At least once per month we work on one vehicle or the other in our fleets. I am beyond doing the most difficult tasks, like replacing a water pump, on these newer vehicles. Those jobs go to the shop.
            My daughter is not afraid to tackle jobs that we can do together. Recently we replaced an interior door handle and a leaky cam cover on her Mercury Milan. Even headlight bulbs are a major job on these.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            CobraJet, that’s how it used to be.

            But my kids have shown NO INTEREST in tooling or wrenching, not even in oil&filter changes, or tire pressure maintenance, beyond visual checking of fluid levels and tire profiles.

            My 42-yo daughter told me, at one point, “Oh Daddy, people in my generation don’t do all that any more. We let the service people do that.”

          • 0 avatar
            tankinbeans

            The extent of the knowledge I got about cars from my dad was “get a 4 cylinder, it’s better on gas.” Everything else I’ve had to tackle myself with a friend. I’m comfortable enough doing tire changes, oil, brakes and basic suspension, but if it requires tearing down the engine, I’m leery.

            Had an 03 Century that needed new head gasket (it uses the red sludge also known as coolant) and a friend who said he had done them before. Long story short the head gasket got replaced and then the dominoes started falling such that it stopped making sense to throw good money after bad. It barely runs and isn’t worth my time. Got 5 years out of it and am just waiting to unload it as a mechanic’s special.

            I’ll cop to not being as good at dealing with mechanical issues as I’d like. I’ve not really had the opportunity to learn.

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            “I’ll cop to not being as good at dealing with mechanical issues as I’d like. I’ve not really had the opportunity to learn.”

            _This_ is why you have Friends with beaters ; to learn and sharpen your skills upon, non ? =8-) .

            -Nate

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          At 25 years and maybe 300kmi, EVERYTHING is worn out.

          (One reason I dumped my ’94 Toyota pickup after 18 years and 280kmi was that the wheel bearings started to fail … catastrophically.

          Add in “needs a timing chain guide, and that’s $1,800, half of it labor”, and it was “nope”.

          Saving a few bucks isn’t worth the constant “what’s gonna break next?” and the escalating repair cost as *everything* that can wear out, does.)

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Saving a “few” bucks? I’ve over here literally driving these old trucks for free! Just takes some careful shopping. I’m not saying it’s the solution for everyone, but it’s been a perfect arrangement for me to get truck utility without plopping down $30k on something that will get dinged/dented and dirty.

          • 0 avatar
            JD-Shifty

            My S-10 has 478,000. and its not all worn out. I probably pay 500 per year in parts to keep it running. beats a payment.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    As long as I can get AWD/4wd and you give me a turbo 4 (not naturally aspirated – not at 6500 ft plus) and 250 lb ft of torque on a nice flat plateau (say a 2000-3000 rpm spread) let it tow 3500 lbs and I’ll be interested.

    Work it when I need to and easy to drive on the commute.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Steph you are making quite a few statements/assumptions that I would like to see figures supporting. “We like our family cars big and non car-like. Ideally, with all-wheel drive, cavernous cabin, and maybe a third row.” We may ‘like’ these but just what percentage of new vehicle sales have 3rd row seating, or AWD? I am assuming that they are a minority of the market.

    A small, FWD (with an AWD system), 4 seat, short(er) box (6 feet carrying capacity?) pick-up is probably far more suitable for normal ‘urban’ duties. But will also probably sell in numbers comparable to ‘small’ vans.

    • 0 avatar

      According to car and driver 32% of all cars sold are now awd or 4wd.
      In full size pickups it’s over 70% and Over 55% in midsizers. The only vehicles that sell a minority AWD or 4WD are the sedan categories that are dying.
      https://www.caranddriver.com/news/a15366192/differential-distribution-where-rwd-awd-and-fwd-vehicles-are-sold-in-the-u-s-infographic/

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Thanks. I checked that link but for some reason could not see all that information, just a break down by regions.

        And you did not mention CUVs or SUVs. The majority of which when combined are not sold as AWD.

        I did find this from Edmunds but it is about 5 years old.

        “Through October, all-wheel-drive vehicle sales, composed of cars and crossovers combined, accounted for 17.5 percent of light-duty vehicles sold in the United States.
        The take rate on all-wheel-drive cars has increased 2.5 percentage points since 2008, to 8.7 percent.
        when four-wheel-drive, light-duty SUV and pickup truck sales are added to the mix, such as the Chevrolet Tahoe, Toyota Tacoma and Ford F-150, about 32 percent.”

  • avatar
    threeer

    In a country where SUVS and the F-150 rule the roads (and fill the ledger books), doubtful that small trucks stand much of a chance. Double so if they aren’t priced well below the current slate of trucks out there. Where I am currently stationed, I keep lustfully eyeing the white two-wheel drive Hilux running around, wistfully wishing they’d be sold at home. But instead, I find myself searching the interwebs for a potential buy of a (much) older Toyota/Nissan/Mazda standard bed/standard cab truck from days of yore.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    If I’m right that the new Ford will essentially be a Transit Connect Pickup, development costs will be cheap enough to take the risk. You can do all the market research in the world, but the only way to find out if an idea is marketable is to market it.

    Good on Ford for taking the (admittedly small) risk.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    Sedan guy here. I have owned two 4 cylinder Tacos over the years. I don’t care for small trucks. Tinny, bouncy, cramped, slow, and thirsty….not my idea of a good time.

    • 0 avatar
      jatz

      Yep, there’s a lot of rose-colored RVM to this topic.

      Except for the long-beds :-D

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        I’ll be honest even as a younger guy driving my 90s Rangers on the highway every day got a little old, although I go through swings where I get tired of a noisy old stick shift truck and I long for a comfy smooth riding sedan with good traction. Come spring, I’m pining for a fun bouncy old truck to buzz around in.

        • 0 avatar
          R Henry

          Ha. I get it. We enthusiasts never really make up our minds. I find my vehicular infatuations last about as long as a typical lease–32-36 months.

          –golly, that must be why leases are that long!

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Leasing is great! And more and more old people are drawn to it. But in the end you have nothing to show for the money spent.

            The other option is to go back to the way it was during the fifties and sixties: buy a car and trade it every three to five years, depending on mileage and factory warranty.

          • 0 avatar
            jatz

            “in the end you have nothing to show for the money spent”

            Well, for us old people, who cares? I’m seriously considering a lease for my last vehicle. About the same money would be spent on the car loan anyway.

            Leasing would a slightly jarring discontinuity from the entirety of my previous experience, but then so is getting old.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            My vehicular infatuations tend to go on a 3 month cycle, I’m scheming on the next one mid-way into my typical 6 month flip cycle. Buying a newer vehicle and the depreciation inherent in it put a stop to that.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            jatz, that’s exactly right. They don’t care. In many instances the leased vehicle is for long-distance driving, while they often keep one or more old clunkers as grocery-getters and town-mobiles.

            In my case, I keep my 1989 Camry V6. I may Lease a long-distance cruiser if we ever stay at home long enough to do some traveling in the US.

          • 0 avatar
            jh26036

            To say “there is nothing to show for” after a lease is an incorrect way of looking at the situation.

            Let me ask you, if I bought a car, paid $20k for it. Sold it 3 years later for $10k. What do I have to show for spending $10k?

            It’s the same exact scenario.

            The benefit in lease is setting/locking your depreciation. This can actually benefit you if a car has much worse depreciation as expected, you can re-negotiate the buyout of the car from the leasing bank at a much lower price. Try doing that to a car you already paid for years ago.

            I think one of the biggest benefit people don’t see from leasing is if you ever get into a major accident with a leased car, you can turn that car in and never have to worry about the diminished value. Remember kids, you can always buy your leased car at the end of the contract if you really like it.

          • 0 avatar
            R Henry

            I understand your points. As a 25K mile a year driver however, a lease does NOT make sense for me. The “money factor” (interest equivalent) is almost always higher than the purchase finance rate, which means it doesn’t make sense to use a lease as a means to finance a purchase–with a balloon payment at the end.

          • 0 avatar
            jatz

            jh26036, excellent point.

            I’m presently waiting for a tow truck to haul our 10 year-old car to the dealership. It spent the night with its friends in a -25F parking lot.

            Three week old battery, tank sloshing in Heet, two attempts at jumping it, I’m still awaiting a call from the crazy-busy wreckers whom I’ve pestered since yesterday afternoon. Cop calls for towing come first.

            So, what I’d have to show for a lease is us never having to drive a car more than three years-old.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            jh26036, Leasing is not a great option for people who are forced to keep their cars for longer than the warranty period, like more than 5 years. My guess, the vast majority of drivers do not lease.

            It is a handy tool for those who travel a lot, like sales people in the Pharma business, and people who are financially sound enough to drop a wad of money and have no residual at the end of the lease.

            I will consider it, at my advanced age, as an option to drive something new, improved and better than ever, every three years. For me it may not make sense to buy a $70K truck and then have my heirs fight over it after I die.

          • 0 avatar
            R Henry

            I am one of those who “travel a lot.” I am not a good candidate for a lease because I drive about 25K miles annually, which, buy a large margin, exceeds the mileage limitations on almost all leases.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Jatz: <>
            • “Well, for us old people, who cares? I’m seriously considering a lease for my last vehicle. About the same money would be spent on the car loan anyway.•

            — I’m an “old people” myself and I flat refuse to lease for exactly the reason stated–it’s effectively a waste of money.

            First off, when I buy, I intend to keep it longer than a mere three years. Every NEW vehicle I’ve purchased in the last 25 years, I’ve kept for no less than 9 and one of them for over 13 years. Used vehicles last as long as I trust them and maybe a little longer so I could replace it with a new. My wife and I are now 5 months into a new pickup and 28 months into a new compact SUV. I expect she won’t trade her car for at least four more years… maybe much longer… considering how much she enjoys driving it. The truck is mine and may be the last vehicle I ever buy for myself… and it’s paid for–no interest; no lease and no liens on a 5-month-old truck.

            Why should I even consider paying on a vehicle for the rest of my life?

          • 0 avatar
            jatz

            Vulpine, Okee-Dokee.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            @jatz

            I feel for you, man, no matter how hard we try sometimes mother nature is just going to win. I hope your tow finally showed up

          • 0 avatar
            jatz

            Thanks, Lie2me!

            Alles gut… I’m up checking our hot water line in this crazily plumbed house. Had a freezy spot in the water heater feed yesterday, managed to keep enough flow through the taps to prevent disaster till the plumber found and heated the exact spot.

            Car got towed, finally. Hearing from mechs today. Either cheap fix or catalyst for new vehicle. Looking at a Sportage.

            Winter is a beautiful, white wonderland until it tries to destroy you. :-D

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            I lease my toy cars for 24 months, drive em’ like I stole em. Perform the most bare minimum of maintenenance (Oil changes at 5-6k, thats pretty well it), and let that smart guy buy them CPO at lease end. Hope you get the warranty because as I am only keeping them for around 24k I drive them like the 2 year rental they are. I hear you should let a turbo cool down after you have been flogging it. That may be an issue for the next owner.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            BTW, Leased cars are definitely faster than there financed bretheran. And the boost is limited in reverse. Ask the man who DOESN’T own it.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Yuuup. I drove one [’94, pre-Taco] for almost 20 years; outgrew and overloaded it.

      It was good for what it was, but I am *happy* to have moved on.

      (Modern ones would be more powerful and less thirsty in comparison, but … no, no regrets.)

  • avatar
    sirwired

    If they can produce and price these like the cars they are based on, I think they’ll do okay. The mid-size pickups aren’t really appreciably cheaper than their full-size counterparts, which makes sense, as it isn’t really that much cheaper to produce something that’s built the same way, but just a hair smaller.

    One of these, on the other hand? A Focus is a cheap vehicle to build, and there’s no reason to think that it’ll cost a bunch to put a different-shaped chassis on it. The chassis will be a little heavier, but that’ll be offset by the reduced accouterments, like seats and airbags.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    As much as I’d like to see them on the road I can’t make much of a case for the small pick-up. There isn’t a whole lot they can do that can’t be accomplished by a comparable crossover/suv

    • 0 avatar
      jatz

      Yep, and also the commersh micro vans like the TC et al.

    • 0 avatar
      Pete Zaitcev

      The biggest differentiator is bulk and dirty cargo. A year ago I showed up at a material yard with an Wrangler with top off. I popped the top off and lined it with tarp, thinking I’d be all set. Nope, it doesn’t work: the front loader cannot dump into it because of the roll cage. We eventually borrowed shovels and shoveled a cube of bark.

      Next to us, a couple of lesbians in BMW X3 with a trailer got their gravel with no issue.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        Reminds me of the old joke, “What does a lesbian bring on her first date?” Answer: “A U-Haul”… They’re good with trailers ;-)

        A lesbian told me that joke, so don’t anyone get offended

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I may be alone here, but I lament the idea that RWD will not be the choice. I have owned two small 2wd pickups and they are a hoot in the snow. With some decent tires and a bed load of snow you can go just about anywhere. With the added entertainment of never passing an empty snow covered parking lot!

  • avatar
    NG5

    A trucklike vehicle in 4WD as small as a current 2 door Wrangler or smaller would be likely to catch my interest even though I don’t need a truck. Aside from the Audi TT/Golf R, there are no smallish enthusiast cars with AWD. I could see myself getting a Wrangler or competitor if I moved to a place with a more inclement-weather-vulnerable commute.

    I use snow tires on my Fiesta ST, but with no real front locking diff and a lower ride height, it can be hairy to clear piled snow banks and drifts in low speed snow conditions. Laying on the ground to scrape snow from under the car loses its charms, and going offroad (which would make certain work-tasks easier) is not much of an option.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    I know dealerships don’t make a lot of money on new car sales, but these would certainly be loss leaders. Compact anything is where you get your cheapest customers.

  • avatar
    Rnaboz

    It should look like this:
    http://www.2040-cars.com/Mini/Cooper/rare-2006-mini-cooper-red-bull-pickup-conversion-2-door-1-6l-no-reserve–86344/

  • avatar
    thelaine

    I’ll bet they will not be able to price them low enough to sustain sales after the initial interest wanes. Perhaps if they are just selling a version of a truck they are making money on all over the world, they can stick around for a while. I hope so. More pickups good. No pickups bad.

    Stranger things have happened. After all, Mitsubishi still sells cars in the U.S.

  • avatar
    nels0300

    I’d buy one, although my use case is probably pretty rare.

    I just need a place to put a muddy fatbike and room for two kids in the back.

    I don’t need an F150, or even that new Ranger to haul around my bike.

    Something smaller, sportier, but still offering the utility of a bed would be great.

  • avatar

    Parked around the corner from where I lived, there was an oxidized red 1979 Chevy Luv belonging to my neighbor’s wife that I irrationally coveted for years. She only moved it for the street sweepers. One day I drove by and it had been totaled, pushed up on the sidewalk by a drunk driving accident overnight.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    I grew up driving a 2WD 1984 Nissan King Cab. The first vehicle I bought when I got out of college was a 1994 Nissan hardbody king cab. They were great little vehicles that could do the sort of worked I needed them for – hauling home DIY stuff, trips to the dump, lawncare, moving to new apartments/houses. I would love to have one today.

    Sure they were slow… and actually not all that great on gas, but I still miss ’em.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    One look at the last Ranger resale values should be enough to convince anyone that there’s a market out there.

    I’ve been saying since the concept came out that I am a buyer for the Santa Cruz as shown. However I know they are going to make it bigger, worse looking, and they’ll add doors. Really, I just want a 2020 version of the Subaru Brat.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Really, I just want a 2020 version of the Subaru Brat.

      OK everyone raise your hand that wants to help Land Ark bolt lawn chairs into the bed of his Santa Cruz for an authentic BRAT experience.

    • 0 avatar
      jatz

      I’ve heard MORE guys pine for a Brat!

      At the time they just struck me as An El Camino Too Small.

      • 0 avatar
        Land Ark

        When I was a kid, the only memory I have of a Brat was of someone likely named Billy from the local hills driving it around a parking lot in a busy shopping center way too fast and recklessly. For years it put me off of them as redneck cars.

        I guess time heals old wounds.

    • 0 avatar
      jh26036

      The resale values are inflated because of the limited supply thanks to most of them rusting out.

      • 0 avatar
        JD-Shifty

        that’s hardly true. these things were made by the hundreds of thousands, there’s a lifetime supply of them, especially for the age demographics demonstrated here

    • 0 avatar
      pragmatic

      Well my only new vehicle purchase in 40 years of driving is in the driveway now a 2009 Ranger RWD, IL4, 5MT, crank windows, air conditioning, 65,000 miles. I bet I could get better than 1/2 of the $11,000 (including $4500 from Uncle Sam for a 1990 Mustang with structural rust issues) I paid for it, but what could replace it. I use it to haul lumber, 30 feet of scaffolding, cement mixers, and other things needed to get some jobs done. It gets high 20s on the highway (30 once when I kept speeds low). Yes its slow but it gets the job done.

  • avatar

    I have my doubts of how well these will sell. I love small pickups and greatly miss my 87 xtracab toyota. But right now with kids and house needs full size and midsize make more sense.
    Now I think I may see the potential logic. Some of the new car buyers that used to buy sedans and hatchbacks have now switched to used truck buyers. I think the idea is to have a new entry level product much as the auto makers tried to do with the box trend of the early 2000’s (XB element Cube). However I think much like the box trend they may end up with more over 50 then younger buyers.

  • avatar
    EGSE

    I think the demand for these is to a large extent a left brain/right-brain question; the difference between a “want” or a “need”.

    There are valid use-cases for small trucks if you think it through analytically. But when they were popular most were bought as cheap transportation as they were trendy….a right brain “want”, and they sold a lot of them. A similarly cheap sedan would have served the “need” better to haul your butt around which is what most small trucks were bought to do.

    When I saw the teaser for the Hyundai Santa Cruz it reminded me of the Subaru Baja; a lot of utility as it could haul people and also a modest load greater than a sedan could with relatively little compromise of either use. It could fit a “need” well but the “want” wasn’t there anymore; times had changed. In five years they sold ~30k of them.

    If the “want” isn’t there they’ll sell in small numbers; a used full-size truck will substantially capture the left brain “need” market since the acquisition cost will be cheaper than a new mini-truck. My 2002 F-150 was $8500 used bought in 2007 and I still have it.

  • avatar
    don1967

    I wanted to want a compact truck. I really did. But there just wasn’t enough financial inducement to accept the loss of 5-6 passenger comfort, 4×8 cargo handling, etc.

    Only if parking space/maneuverability was a serious issue would I ever consider a compact truck. But even then I’d have to consider a wagon or crossover first.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    There has to be mainstream demand/appeal. Your aunt, my sister, bank tellers, cashiers, bartenders, waitresses, nannies, etc, and consumers willing to hand over car/CUV qualities/comfort for a pickup bed occasionally or rarely used (for stuff that would otherwise be stuffed in a trunk, hatch or strapped to a luggage rack).

    Actual pickup buyers will laugh at the idea, aside from the occasional Vulpii. Except there’s no guarantee they will take the bait (after they test fit, pouring over, taking precise measurements of actual production examples).

    The ’80s were a different time. Compact pickups were the “sporty” trendy choice and Japanese automakers absolutely flooded the US market with cheap/economical/quality/reliable pickups at a time we were fed up with big thirsty US autos of dubious quality. Muscle cars were also history along with custom vans.

    Japanese cars had tight import quotas, yet there were no limits on import pickups. Japanese cars came loaded to the gills, many dealers were gouging, but it was a different story for import pickups, widely available in stripper form, to loaded 4wd extended cabs.

    You could say it was the prefect storm. And I believe you could still have passenger riding in pickup beds no problem.

  • avatar
    jfk-usaf

    It would be nice to get something well thought out and innovative like the Honda Ridgeline but less sleepy and pedestrian. How do you cross a Ridgeline with a gen 1 Toyota pickup and add the DNA and passion of an Austrialian UTE?

  • avatar
    -Nate

    If they could make any $ selling them slowly, like maybe 8,000 per 12 months they’d be a good idea but the reality is ; Americans don’t like little cars/pickups/Motos enough to plunk down the $ new…..

    “If a Smart car can pass a crash test, I think it should be *possible* to build a compact pickup.”

    Look at the specs. or actual side impact results and you’ll avoid a smartcar for free .

    “I like your posts because they remind me of the ingenuity and doggedness I used to employ on my old vehicles, mostly out of necessity.

    But now I’m content with unscarred knuckles, a warm ass and the lack of crunchy rust sprinkles in my mouth, eyes or even ears.

    Plus, the time involved and and hit & miss nature of finding competent independent mechs is offputting.”

    ? Where is the Eden where you live ? =8-) .

    “I still confer with my 91 year old father when having issues with my car. That father/son bonding over a open hood has lasted me a lifetime. Cherish it”

    I wish ~ Pops was a Scientist / Doctor and never had any interest / ability to work with anything mechanical ~ my 40 Y.O. son and I still confer on repairs and modifications and I’m hoping I can spend time wrenching with my recently born grand son, if I live that long .

    Not fully fleshed out is the fact that anywhere but the South West will have these things rusting to junk in three to five years, not good dollar
    investment for most .

    I had and enjoyed Japanese mini trucks, mostly I used them as actual work rigs but these days I doubt the in ability to carry a sheet of plywood flat in the bed would affect new sales .

    It’s a niche market no matter how you look at them .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      jatz

      “? Where is the Eden where you live ? =8-).”

      Childfreedonia

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        ? Is that anywhere near Whogivesadamnistan ? .

        I don’t think I could lay don my wrenches even if I wanted to ~ the ’79 Dodge D200 I’m currently tying to make road worthy and safe has been shredding skin off my hands…..

        I work on vehicles paid for or not, always have .

        The idea of no pain / scars and so on sound nice to me…

        SWMBO just took in another Teenaged Foster boy, I guess betting burned out of her house by one a year ago wasn’t enough punishment .

        Children : can’t live with ’em not allowed to sell ’em…..

        -Nate

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          Your father was a scientist? That’s pretty cool. I picture you having “Doc” Brown from “Back to the Future” pointing out the theoretical possibilities of what you were trying to accomplish with a wrench on an old clunker DeLorean with a bad Flux capacitor

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Great Scott!

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            He was an Oncologist, this means cancer research doctor .

            He did a lot of good works but sadly was a complete asshole to me because I was an “!oops!” baby and I also reminded him of his father who was a hands on kinda guy like me .

            Not nice to punish your children for things they had no sway over .

            I never touch Flux Capacitors ~ they might discharge and then I’d lose my hair…..

            -Nate

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            You’re a slacker, McFly!

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Whooooo! Such a massive response!

    In one word, the answer is: YES!

    Pursuing a true compact pickup truck is practically mandatory; the modern mid-sized truck is gigantic compared to trucks like the one shown above and not everybody, not even myself, needs one that large, though I bought one due to need, not desire. A smaller truck with the power to tow 4000-5000 pounds and carry 750 pounds is much more in line with what small truck buyers want and is one of the reasons why pre-2004 trucks, some of them almost 40 years old, are still being driven by people all over the country. I personally know several people who want something more car-sized than truck-sized but still have that open bed for true utility. Not everybody has a place to park a utility trailer while others may not be allowed to store one where it can be seen outside the home.

    And I don’t care who says otherwise but a compact truck will most certainly get better fuel economy than any current mid-sized or larger pickup with the same powertrain.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      “not everybody, not even myself, needs one that large,”

      Not EVEN yourself? Well jeez, pack in in folks, if Vulpine doesn’t need a bigger truck, then we definitely don’t!

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        I have one, but I don’t NEED it to be so large. I only needed the power to tow a travel trailer while still having an open bed. I’d be MUCH happier with something about 20% smaller in height and width and it really doesn’t need to be as long as it is. But getting it lower and somewhat narrower would make it much more comfortable for me.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      The biggest difference (from the Mazda shown above) is there’s no regular cabs offered. Ask yourself why that is…

      But the drama queens have to compare the “classic” 2wd regular cabs to today’s midsize crew cab 4X4s with 6′ beds.

      Regular cab versions of today’s midsize pickups, even with 7′ beds, would service the whiners to a great degree. But automakers know they’re all full of hot air. Even if all the whiners could agree on the final spec’s/dimensions and automakers built them as requested, wouldn’t most hold off until someone else bought them “new” so they could find a flood of them for cheap on the secondary market?

      The problem is, most Americans are too spoiled now to have a new, 2-seater, compact pickup as their primary vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        “The biggest difference (from the Mazda shown above) is there’s no regular cabs offered. Ask yourself why that is…”
        — Don’t need to ask; the answer is obvious. The average • pickup truck owner • wants their truck as big as possible and able to carry their whole crew along.

        “But the drama queens have to compare the “classic” 2wd regular cabs to today’s midsize crew cab 4X4s with 6′ beds.”
        — Have you ever thought it’s because those you so glibly insult have no NEED to carry a crew? I only have a wife… no kids. Why do I need a full time back seat? And I’m certainly not alone. My step-father’s Ranger was a regular cab because he, too, had no NEED for a full time back seat. It’s as simple as that.

        “Regular cab versions of today’s midsize pickups, even with 7′ beds, would service the whiners to a great degree.”
        — Why do they NEED a 7′ bed?

        “But automakers know they’re all full of hot air.”
        — Automakers have no concept at this time WHO a compact’s customer base would be. As you say, they’re not the type to buy a big truck, so what market would they come out of? One possibility is the sedan market–to which nearly every brand is dropping those very cars without bringing anything else in to replace them. Remember what happened when Ford abandoned its Ranger in 2012? Certainly not what FORD expected. At least half those customers went to Toyota.

        “Even if all the whiners could agree on the final spec’s/dimensions and automakers built them as requested, wouldn’t most hold off until someone else bought them “new” so they could find a flood of them for cheap on the secondary market?”
        — You keep reiterating this senseless argument without realizing the only reason they bought them USED was because they could. no longer buy them NEW.

        “The problem is, most Americans are too spoiled now to have a new, 2-seater, compact pickup as their primary vehicle.”
        — “Most Americans” is not their desired customer base; it’s ANY American that doesn’t want a full-sized pickup truck or a near-full-sized middie truck. In other words, the REST of the people.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          So I’m to believe your extensive market research should overrule automaker’s incompetent, highly paid marketing staff?

          Except midsize pickups aren’t as big as you dramatize, taking away the extra cab, crew cab, plus long bed and 4wd, as in the 2wd reg cab Mazda pictured above, which was the typical layout of “Mini-Trucks”.

          Thing is, classic Mini Trucks haven’t really grown much in width, advancing to “midsize”. Your problem is you want automakers to custom build you a very specific Vulpii Special Edition 2-seater with a small (cab) extension, maybe 8-10 inches with a 5 ft bed.

          You’ve turned it into an internet crusade, when all you really need is a bigger parking spot at your senior living condo, or give up a portion of your enclosed patio. But suit yourself.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            “So I’m to believe your extensive market research should overrule automaker’s incompetent, highly paid marketing staff?”
            — Yes. As a famous entrepreneur once said, ” People don’t know what they want until you show it to them. That’s why I never rely on market research.”

            “Except midsize pickups aren’t as big as you dramatize, taking away the extra cab, crew cab, plus long bed and 4wd, as in the 2wd reg cab Mazda pictured above, which was the typical layout of “Mini-Trucks”.”
            — Bull. Put one beside its 1980 equivalent and you still have a truck taller, wider and longer by a significant margin.

            “Your problem is you want automakers to custom build you a very specific Vulpii Special Edition 2-seater with a small (cab) extension, maybe 8-10 inches with a 5 ft bed.”
            — I’m not the only one. And a 6′ bed is quite okay, thank you. More than that is unnecessary for most DIY owners.

            “You’ve turned it into an internet crusade, when all you really need is a bigger parking spot at your senior living condo, or give up a portion of your enclosed patio. But suit yourself.”
            — Excuse me; I have coffee dribbling out my nose after that one, I snorted so hard.
            Yes, I have made it an internet crusade, because the simple fact is that too many people I KNOW have expressed to me today’s mid-sized trucks are far bigger than they want; they want the trucks sized like the photo above and refuse to buy anything larger. I may be retired but I will note that I took early retirement and could easily still be in the workforce if I wanted to. If I were, odds are I’d be fighting even harder for these truly SMALL pickups, based on the sub-compact SUV/CUV bodies rather than the so-called mid-sized ones. Their fuel economy WOULD be better and their size would let them be parked inside the garage instead of outside, for those who have garages. Only once have I ever NEEDED a full-sized truck and that was when I needed to carry some 25 full-length (8-foot) event tables for a charity yard sale, which happened to fit perfectly in the bed of my 1990 F-150 long-bed with the tailgate closed. I never carried as many since and my wife stopped working with that charity about 3 years later. My ’97 Ranger carried a full load far more frequently and never had any issues doing so; it’s only problem was a lack of horsepower in a part of the country where the vehicle needs to be able to get out of its own way…or get hit by oncoming traffic. 112 horses aren’t enough on today’s American
            highways unless the vehicle is geared just right. The Ranger wasn’t.

  • avatar
    JD-Shifty

    Try picking up a second generation Colorado with the 5.3. Very expensive still.

  • avatar
    JD-Shifty

    spotted in parking lot of about 40 cars. 2 second gen 4wd S-10’s one 2nd gen crew cab Colorado, 1 square body S10 lifted and primered, 4wd. midwest state.


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