By on May 12, 2020

Image: FordThe arrival of a reincarnated Ford Ranger in 2019, along with the debut of the Jeep Gladiator, caused midsize truck market share to climb to a 13-year high in America’s pickup category. In fact, over the span of six years, midsize trucks nearly doubled their share of America’s truck market.

The primary cause of those market share gains, the new Ranger, ended its abbreviated first sales year on the midsize podium roughly 33,000 sales back of the Chevrolet Colorado.

In the early days of 2020, however, the Ford Ranger is running nearly dead even with the Colorado. But no longer is the Ranger driving the midsize pickup truck market forward. The segment’s share of the truck market is backsliding. 

To be fair, coming out of a first-quarter that concluded with collapse, the ability to spot trends, commonalities, or differentiators in the U.S. auto market is weakened. Overall, 2020’s Q1 sales were down 13 percent, but March sales plunged at a far more vicious rate largely due to a second-half of the month in which auto sales all but dried up. Yet out of these circumstances, unparalleled by any challenge faced in generations, there are bits and pieces of reliable information that can be gleaned.

Year-over-year, as full-size pickup trucks reported a 3-percent uptick in volume – yes, even as the rest of the industry shed more than half a million sales – midsize pickups actually lost more than half a point of market share. In total, midsize pickup sales fell 1 percent to 134,193 units.

It’s not a massive swing, mind you. Full-size trucks added 16,529 sales; midsize trucks lost 1,155 sales. But it clarifies what we all always new: even with new product and even with more products, midsize pickups operate at the mercy of full-size pickups.

And what do truck manufacturers want to sell? Full-size pickups.

Midsize Truck 2020 Q1 2019 Q1 YOY % Change
Toyota Tacoma 53,636 58,183 -7.8%
Chevrolet Colorado 21,430 33,494 -36.0%
Ford Ranger 20,980 9,421 123%
Jeep Gladiator 15,259 123 12,306%
Nissan Frontier 10,280 20,221 -49.2%
Honda Ridgeline 8,125 6,952 16.9%
GMC Canyon 4,483 6,954 -35.5%
Midsize Trucks 134,193 135,348 -0.9%
Full-Size Trucks 541,367 524,838 3.1%
TOTAL 675,560 660,186 2.3%

Unlike post-9/11 incentives that saw truck buyers turned on by interest-free financing with terms of up to five years, General Motors, for example, upped the ante with interest-free financing for up to seven years. Add in a dollop of payment deferrals for good measure.

(For the record, Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra sales grew 7 percent in September 2001 and then shot up 90 percent in October 2001. A 55-percent jump produced more than 100,000 Ford F-Series sales in October 2001. By year’s end, small truck sales had fallen 14 percent; full-size trucks finished the year up 5 percent.)

Strong incentives allowed the Silverado and Sierra to post huge Q1 gains (27 percent and 31 percent, respectively) that clearly would have been even more prodigious were it not for COVID-19. That’s an extra 43,192 sales for GM by way of full-size trucks.Image: FCAThose 43,192 extra truck sales occurred at the same time GM saw Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon sales plunge 36 percent, a loss of nearly 15,000 sales. And there’s the rub. While the Ford Ranger and Jeep Gladiator are adding thousands of sales to the midsize mix compared with the first-quarter of 2019, they’re doing so at the expense – or at least in conjunction – with sharp declines from virtually all competitors.

Toyota Tacoma volume was down 8 percent in Q1. Nissan Frontier sales tumbled 49 percent, a loss of around 10,000 units.

The result is a 2020 Q1 pickup share of 19.9 percent produced by midsize trucks, down from 20.2 percent in 2019’s final quarter, 21.2 percent in 2019 Q3, 20.1 percent in Q2, and 20.5 percent one year ago.

Can midsize trucks escape this stability to make more meaningful gains? Not if full-size trucks continue to stand in the way.

[Images: Ford, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Driving.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.

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60 Comments on “Reborn Ford Ranger Closing in on No.2 In Segment, but Overall Midsize Truck Market Share Is Stalling...”


  • avatar
    thelaine

    Sweet, sweet Gladiator. I just read a typically lame article from a popular car magazine on the newly-available diesel Wrangler. I can’t wait to read a real review, with B&B comments.

    • 0 avatar
      IHateCars

      I took a Gladiator for a test drive, I really wanted to like it, because they look great on a set of 35s. But instead, I felt it was cramped, underpowered, wandered like a mofo….and generally just not fun to drive. And before I get lynched by the Jeep crowd…yes, I’ve owned CJs ( a sweet black ‘i86 Laredo that I regret trading in to this day), YJs and a Cherokee….so I’m more than familiar with the Jeep cachet. But the Gladiator just didn’t do it for me….I guess I’m getting old!

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        I tried out a Wrangler, and it wandered a bit too. Endemic to the breed, apparently. But it was suprisingly pleasant to drive, to the point that I might be kind of tempted to do a 3-year lease on one

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          The Wrangler and the Gladiator wander because they do not use Rack & Pinion steering. Rather, they use the old school, tough as nails Knuckle steering box which has always had a small amount of play in it.

          Seems some people have gotten soft in their old age…

        • 0 avatar
          randyinrocklin

          I rented one a while back on a trip to Haleakala mountain in Maui. It wasn’t really all the bad around the curves. But it’s not a daily driver for me.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            A JKU was my daily driver for 9 years and also served as my long-trip driver because it could carry more than my other vehicle and handle ‘unusual’ road conditions better than that other vehicle.

            And that was with the “minivan motor” under the hood and not the Pentastar pushing 300 horses.

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        IHC,

        “Underpowered” is the fatal flaw for me. They are hideously expensive, but it would just be a toy, not a practical purchase, so I am considering it. But, if I’m gonna throw down that kind of money, I am going to wait for them to put a proper engine in it. That is why I am curious about the diesel version. The Pentastar is a good, reliable, fairly efficient engine, but not adequate for the premium priced versions of this heavy off-road beast.

        • 0 avatar
          IHateCars

          Yeah, purely for a toy it might make sense, but that’s a hella expensive toy! I guess I’ve been spoiled by the power, space and comfort of driving Raptors for the last nine years or so. But my ‘12 is starting to age and I’m thinking of replacing it while it’s resale is still up there. So looking at a similar unique off road truck with some utility put the Gladiator on my list but after driving it, and for the money that they want for it….no go for me. New Raptors are just hideously expensive (start at just under $80K up here for a SCrew) and I’m not sold on the longevity of the TT 3.5/10 speed set up. So back to perhaps looking at a more mainstream spec truck and modding it to my tastes….

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            IHC,

            I have had a similar thought process, and LOVE the Raptor. I am currently navigating mountain trails in a long bed, crew cab Ram 1500. It is great for the “overlanding” function, but something smaller for the trails would be awfully useful.

            Otherwise, I think a “bargain” full-sized very capable off-roader is the Ram Rebel.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          @IHC: 300 horses and roughly 300 torque is hardly “underpowered”, and that’s what the Pentastar engine delivers. That’s more horsepower than any previous FACTORY release ever, IIRC. You want more than that, do what the rest of the modders do, pay for it either at the dealership or do it yourself.

          • 0 avatar
            blppt

            Its not about the 300/300, its about where and how much power you can get out of the engine without wringing it out every gear, in a heavy vehicle.

            FWIR, the 3.6 Pentastar is not particularly known for low-end flexibility like the 3.6 GM or 3.5 Honda.

            Haven’t see many reviews on the 2.0T, but i’d imagine it should be better in that regard.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @bippt: My Wrangler had the 200hp “Caravan” engine and had no trouble with torque and low-end operations in 4-hi or 4-lo. I’m quite sure the Pentastar wasn’t going to be hurt by working around the low end.

            To me, the 2.0T is going to have to work harder and at higher revs for the same power.

          • 0 avatar
            blppt

            @Vulpine

            The 3.8 i assume you are referring to, was a bit of an outlier amongst large displacement pushrod V-6s, in that its torque peak was relatively high, like the Pentastar. I wouldn’t be shocked to see that it makes a very high percentage of that peak at a lower rpm than the PS if we had a dyno run.

            Asf or the 2.0T– it makes similar horsepower and slightly more torque at a much lower rpm than than the Pentastar, so it would likely feel more powerful than the V6 in every day driving, if probably not as durable a powerplant, and probably doesn’t sound as good.

            Turbo engines have one great benefit over NA engines—they generally give you a lot of torque at low rpms. Well, that and if you go climbing mountains, they don’t lose power at as great a rate as NA engines.

            I’d say for any situation other than matting the throttle, the 2.0T probably feels more powerful than the PS.

          • 0 avatar

            Modern Turbos have been tuned to hit power sooner then later. For normal driving they do tend to fell better (versus earlier turbos where it hit later for a bigger HP boost)

            The 3.6 actually has the torque advanatge until about 2800 rpm then the 2.0 takes over untial about 4800 where they line up again. After that the Penta star keeps making power until 6800 and the 2.0 falls flat after 5000. In genral the 2.0 makes power in the right places for most everyday driving. That said offroad in deep mud the high end HP advatage of the penta star would probably work better. It would also help in sand and on really technical trail where your just off idle in low range.

        • 0 avatar
          SSJeep

          The Pentastar with the new 8 speed transmission is good. You would be surprised, take one for a spin. I do agree that the Gladiators are a bit expensive for what you get though.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I consider the Gladiator being a convertible a huge plus, but its two engine offerings don’t do much for me.
    However, if physical dimensions aren’t a major constraint (and you’re towing under 15K) I really think the sweet spot right now is in 3/4 ton gassers.

    • 0 avatar
      jack4x

      Couldn’t agree more.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      @ajla: What’s wrong with having 300 horses under the hood? That’s a full 50% more horsepower than my JKU had and I never had any issues with being underpowered, even in an off-road park that included mud, rocks and climbs.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “What’s wrong with having 300 horses under the hood?”

        It isn’t the spec number that matters, it is what the stopwatch says. For a 2020 vehicle the Gladiator’s acceleration times are too slow for me. I don’t think it is dangerously underpowered or anything, but it’s a deal killer if I’m spending my own money. I’d want something quicker.

        However, if it works for you, then you’re good to go.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          @ajia: If you’re concerned about acceleration times, you shouldn’t even consider a Jeep; a Jeep is for rough country where torque is more important than speed. Your specific argument is irrelevant as a result. I would note that the Gladiator’s tow rating is almost identical to both the Ford and the GM mid-sized trucks while still capable of going more places than either of the others, bone stock, even without the Rubicon, Bison or whatever special off-road buildouts. Diesel versions might add even more torque but their acceleration times will certainly be worse.

          And believe me, I’ve had a 101hp Fiat 500 that was far, FAR quicker than even the turbo F-150 with 450 horses. You certainly don’t need size to be quick–in fact, size quite obviously slows you down.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “If you’re concerned about acceleration times, you shouldn’t even consider a Jeep”

            What about the SRT versions?

            I am not an off-road enthusiast and I will *never* be going to the “rough country” with a Gladiator or anything else I buy. I’ll be on pavement 99.99% of the time. I just like the idea of a convertible truck that can haul around debris and wood and other stuff. But, I’d like it to be closer in speed to a Charger RT than a Camry LE.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @ajia: Jeep don’t have an SRT Wrangler or SRT Gladiator. Since this discussion is about pickup trucks, your question is irrelevant.

            Again, if you want it to go faster, then mod it yourself like everybody else does.

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      Physical dimensions of a 3/4 ton are a major constraint 90% of the time. Its not just the driveway and garage. Its parking anywhere in general, getting a car wash, going to the ATM, loading groceries, etc. Id love to have one, but I know from experience how much of a PITA it is in the end.

      • 0 avatar
        jack4x

        It all depends where you live.

        The places I take my crew cab 8 foot bed truck are usually plenty big enough. And most 3/4 tons are smaller than mine. Maybe 10% of the time its an issue. Nothing like 90%.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    I continue to be impressed by the Gladiator sales numbers, highly specialized vehicles that appeals to a limited number of typical midsize customers but it sells quite well. They could easily push several thousand more if they would get off their high horse and offer a V8.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    If you’ve actually shopped for one of these, you know why sales are off – they’re STUPID expensive. This is particularly true of the Tacoma – at least you know Ford and GM are going to discount their stuff heavily.

    In either case, for a few grand more, you can get something that’s full sized.

    • 0 avatar
      redapple

      FREED……

      That has always been the problem. For a few more nickels, you coulda gotten a jumbo. Then when you only look at the size of the monthly note, go with the jumbo.

      ADJUSTED FOR INFLATION, GAS IS HISTORICALLY CHEAP. Dirt Cheap.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        @redapple – agreed, we’re talking about trucks here. Go big or go home.

        I suspect part of the rationale behind the Colorado/Ranger was that GM and Ford took a look at Tacoma sales, had nothing to sell against it. At that point, some bright guy in marketing said, “hey, check out our website from Thailand – couldn’t we adapt *that* pickup for our market?” And, voila!

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          @FreedMike: I’d rather go home… and I did, rather than buy a full-sized pickup when I needed one. I was able to snag my step-father’s ’97 Ranger, which was a near-ideal size for my needs, lacking only enough space behind the seats to properly store my cargo-management tools. I truly wished he’d chosen the extended cab model but he was truly, as Denver Mike used to say, a Cheapskate. Even so, it was an XLT with AM/FM Tape in the dash and a carpeted floor (and even cup holders abeam the manual shifter!) For its day, it was a remarkable little truck–if underpowered. And that was its drawback. At 112 horses, I couldn’t tow the size trailer I needed when it came time to close out my mother’s house after she passed, three years later. While I didn’t bring home the entire contents of the house, I did bring home more than that little truck could carry OR tow… and I certainly wasn’t going to buy a full-sized truck just to carry things 700 miles (and lose the use of the small truck as well.) I ended up renting far more high-cube than I needed because the rental agencies didn’t let their smallest models take road trips. It was a double no-no if I also wanted it to tow a car trailer to haul my personal vehicle along. I ended up renting a 25-foot box and trailer to haul about 1000# of keeper items and tow the smaller truck. No, no means to try parking the small truck inside the large, either… or I would have done so and saved on the trailer rental.

          As such, about a year later I sold the Ranger to a guy who absolutely loved it as it sat–paid my full asking price without question. I used that and part of my inheritance to buy the best available mid-sizer at the time… the 2019 Colorado Z-71. Definitely a lot bigger than I wanted but I’ve been happy with the choice… never having a complaint about its performance or its capacities. (And yes, it has already towed a rental trailer in helping Mother-in-Law move from old house to newer.)

      • 0 avatar
        Ol Shel

        If one were to calculate the cost of materials in a full-size vs these mid-sizers, it would be minimal. The cost to develop them isn’t any less, either. If the manufacturers are going to price them to encourage sales, they’ll have to lower their margins, something they have little reason to do. I’m not surprised that the costs are so similar, and that mid-size sales suffer.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      A full size truck doesn’t fit in my garage. So even if a full sizer was cheaper I don’t want one. I’ve got friends with Rams and F150s, they are huge beasts that I have zero desire to own. I currently drive an 02′ Dakota Quad Cab V8 which is “right sized”. Of course that’s just me and clearly doesn’t speak for the entire market.

      So what makes others purchase a mid-sizer? I assume the OEMs have done their homework and know what consumers want.

      All these trucks are massively overpriced. I buy used vehicles so it stings less but OEMs are using trucks to print money.

      • 0 avatar
        SSJeep

        Yeah, totally agreed on this one. Im looking at both a midsize and a full size truck, but the full size half tons are too tall for many municipal parking garages. Most around here are 76-78″ high, and often times they are the only available place to park. Well, at least pre-COVID anyway.

        Whereas all of the midsize trucks fit without issue.

      • 0 avatar
        SSJeep

        Yeah, totally agreed on this one. Im looking at both a midsize and a full size truck, but the full size half tons are too tall for many municipal parking garages. Most around here are 76-78″ high, and often times they are the only available place to park. Well, at least pre-COVID anyway.

        Whereas all of the midsize trucks fit without issue.

    • 0 avatar

      The Tacoma has it’s own fan base who really don’t even consider full sizers. In the current market there are lifestyle buyers (this includes people who won’t but a big truck due to size) and economics buyers for midsizers. The economics buyers are easy to transfer to another group. The lifestle bunch is harder. I’m sure the auto companies decided the same which is why they brought out new midsizers. Now Ford and GM seem to have decided that they augment lifestly buyers with economic buyers to keep volume where it needs to be. I stopped at a local Ford dealer the other day to look at a used Durango, but was shocked by the sale prices on the windows of new Rangers. XL 4×4 crew cabs for 26K

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    I can give you two good reasons why mid-sized sales are falling off… and it has nothing to do with Covid-19.

    1). The move to make them nearly full-sized was a mistake in the first place. Granted, once buyers got used to the idea that truly compact pickups weren’t coming back, sales rose simply because these people simply didn’t want full-sized trucks (myself included.)

    2). Ford made a definite announcement almost immediately after the release of the new Ranger that they were working on a true, SMALL pickup truck for release by 2023. This is inspiring those who CAN wait for a truly small truck to put off their truck purchase for three more years while those who can’t still have a smaller-than-full-sized option to cover their needs while they wait (myself included.)

    Small trucks weren’t dying due to lack of interest by the customers, they were dying due to lack of interest by the OEMs, who fully expected all those small-truck customers to pay out for full sized… or as Ford once said, “They’ll either buy an F-150 or a Focus.” Fully half of their customers did neither, choosing instead to buy the then-smaller Toyota pickup.

    As long as the OEMs kept updating and upgrading their small trucks, they held a reasonable market share, even if it wasn’t equal to full-sized trucks. When they simply didn’t bother to make their small trucks appealing, they committed suicide… and that included Ford.

    We now have two KNOWN brands working on the next generation of truly small pickups; Ford being one of them. It’s no wonder the current mid-sized market is slipping.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I think this is spot on, and price is the other big issue.

      • 0 avatar
        randyinrocklin

        I agree with both of you. I owned a few Toyota trucks, my first one was 78 Hilux 5 speed. Then I got one with a flat bed with duallies in 1988. They are the most reliable handy trucks I ever owned.

    • 0 avatar
      CannonShot

      This makes a lot of sense. I felt that Nissan should have exploited this by making the upcoming Nissan Frontier just a bit bigger than the other mid-sizers . . . something like the 1/2 tons from 25 years ago. Then they should have gone back and designed an actual compact body-on-frame pickup, possibly based on the Xterra or old Frontier. The Frontier’s sales numbers over the last several years prove that there is still a market for a smaller truck. These are the kinds of niches Nissan needs to exploit in the truck world.

    • 0 avatar
      Rick Astley

      Well put. For Ford there was already a chassis available in the other-market Ranger which only need a slight re-design. So that saved about a billion dollars.

      From my limited understanding, CAFE was also partially to blame for the manufacturers constantly increasing the footprint of the vehicle as at that time they had to hit the footprint size to achieve the true emissions exemptions (passenger trucks are essentially emissions exempt with any good-faith estimate to curtail tailpipe emissions without having to actually do much). This also would seem to support the “buy a F150 or a focus” argument. The Focus sales were required to hit fleet sales.

      And now we have CUV/SUV’s which fall into a different CAFE tier than cars because they are “off-road” insert-name-of-car-they-are-based-on-here.

      I have not looked up the intricacies of CAFE in some time now, but that was my take-away a decade ago. CAFE had a hand in manipulating what OEM’s would make.

  • avatar
    Imagefont

    I’ve driven a couple of Rangers, couple of Tacoma’s and two Gladiators as rentals. All driven between 500-1000 miles.
    Hated to the Tacoma – truly horrible truck.
    The Ford was better but terrible transmission calibration that would prevent me from owning it.
    But I really liked the Gladiator. Plane Jane Avis rental. Surprisingly quiet inside for what it is and a surprisingly good ride. Feels narrow but I got used to it. Outstanding engine and transmission combo with well calibrated shifts. I thought it was a pleasure to drive, even on a long highway trip. I might pay 30K for a Sport S, which is what I drove, but not more. They’re overpriced.

  • avatar
    AVT

    The issue with these is price. In order to be worth what you pay for on a midsize truck which from a capabilities perspective is a roughly 2/3rds of a regular size box extended/crew cab silverado/F150/Ram 1500 capabilities. Unless your only paying 2/3rds the cost on midsize truck optioned up the same way you would option a full size truck, it’s hard to justify economically. Fuel economy isn’t far enough off a full size truck to get the cost on gas back in return. The only reason to buy is if you need a smaller truck due to the region you drive in (inner metropolitan city for example or trail access which a full sizer can’t fit down). Buying the base trucks for these is honestly the best option economically but my issue is the 4 cylinder entry models (except ford who doesn’t offer any such option) really don’t tow much (many midsize unibody vehicles can out tow a base 4 cylinder truck at a less expensive price) which then makes me wonder why buy that truck in the first place. When you get these midsizers optioned up, the value proposition substantially drops relative to a full sizer.

  • avatar
    bkojote

    Honestly now that the Frontier is no longer available in stick and combines the worst of both worlds (unproven mechanicals on an incredibly dated platform), I can’t imagine getting anything other than the Tacoma (reliability) or Gladiator (capability) in this segment.

    The Ranger just simply isn’t a good vehicle- it’s likely selling to the people buying Ford’s other bad efforts from the F150 halo, but it’s assembled bad by 3rd world standards. The Canyon/Colorado are nice but it should be common knowledge now that GM just makes total garbage top to bottom. GM is what you buy when you can’t afford a Mitsubishi at this point.

    Also again, keep dreaming if you think anyone wants a smaller truck. Sit inside any current mid-sizer and tell me “oh, I want -less- space!”

    • 0 avatar
      Rick Astley

      Guessing you haven’t test driven the current-year Tacoma or priced one out. If “less for more” and painful driving experiences are your thing, then Tacoma is the truck for you!

      Double that for the Gladiator.

      Full disclosure: having driven the gf’s Ranger for a few thousand miles over the past 1.5 years, the only thing that would get me considering buying a truck is if they made a proper small-sized truck. My ego can survive driving a truck that has the size and capacity that I need, not what country music says I need.

      • 0 avatar
        tankinbeans

        “…what country music says I need…”

        To commit suicide in a truck with your dog at the wheel while chugging a beer after getting barbecue stains on your white t-shirt because your sister left you for your father?

      • 0 avatar
        bkojote

        I’ve driven the SR5 and TRD Off Road and Sport models . It’s a great truck and equipped out you can get it mid-30’s (low 30’s with a dealer discounts) with a locking rear differential to boot. Only knock I ever had was the lack of seat adjustability but they fixed that for 2020, along with adding in CarPlay.

        Everything mechanical is better than the Ranger from ride to powertrain, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out long term reliability.

  • avatar
    Rick Astley

    There is a steady stream of new users on the Ranger forum (Ranger5g.com) posting their new rangers who came from car ownership and did not want or could not fit a F150 into their life and/or parking situation.

    The F150 is about the size that a F250/350 was a decade ago. This may come as a surprise to those with nuts the size of watermelons, but not everybody wants a truck so large it physically cannot fit in a modern garage, or office park parking lot, or city.

    Anecdotal evidence is seldom the least accurate across a broad spectrum, however, seeing people (the girlfriend included) go from Jettas, GTI’s, Focus’, A6’s, Civic’s, Yaris and the like into Ranger gives a clearer picture that plenty of people are interested in the “truck life” without requiring a wheel barrel to carry your nuts and ego around with you into the office.

    Those in construction who need a full-sized truck will continue to get full sized trucks. Weekend warriors and those who doubt the practicality of land-yacht sized full-sized trucks are enjoying the mid-sized trucks and it has enough of a population to fulfill it’s roll as high-margin sales-grabber under the F150.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I think most everyone recognizes that the smaller dimensions are the #1 reason to get into a mid-size truck.

      However, I do agree with Vulpine’s comment above that the mid-size class isn’t exactly *compact* either. A 2020 full-size truck might be the size of a ’74 Electra but a 2020 Ranger is still something like 6 inches longer than a Genesis G90 and anywhere from 8 to 22(!) inches longer than a 2000 Ranger.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    On the very few occasions when I need a truck, I rent. Sometimes one of my friends allows me to borrow theirs. I’ve had experience driving a manual 2.3 1996 Ranger which must have had issues; if you so much as looked at a moderately steep hill in 5th gear it whimpered requiring a downshift into 3rd to maintain any sort of speed. With that said, it was amusing. My mom had a 4 litre extended cap in 1999 which she liked, but for fuel mileage.

    The other two trucks I’ve driven are the current generation F150 with either the 2.7eb or the 5.0. They’re fine, but the noise out of the 5.0 is much better.

    For most of my bulky, but light, hauling needs my compact crossover works just fine. Even managed to stuff a 75 inch tele in the back. Years ago I had a 1998 T10 Blazer for the same purpose. The only real demerit aside from eating bearings was its microscopic footwells.

  • avatar
    Johnster

    Aside from the advantages of a smaller size, the entire field of mid-sized pickups available in the U.S. is kind of disappointing. I can understand people paying a few dollars more a month to get a better (full-sized) ride. I had high hopes for the Ranger, but it is kind of disappointing. Maybe if Honda made a Ridgeline with a merely extended cab instead of a crew cab? Maybe the redesigned Nissan Frontier or Toyota Tacoma will get it together when they finally come out in the next couple of years? Maybe Hyundai and/or Kia will reconsider and come out with a good mid-sized truck.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I would buy a true compact truck if it were priced in the low 20’s, was available with an expended cab, and had a big enough bed to put a small rear engine riding mower in, was not so tall that I needed steps to get into the bed, and was offered in 2 wheel drive base trim with very few electronic nannies. I realize most of today’s vehicles will never be as simple as those 20 or more years ago but aside from air conditioning and a radio with blue tooth connectivity I don’t need anything additional except a decent bed liner. I would prefer a manual and crank windows but in I realize for most manufacturers its just as cheap to put in power windows and locks. Manufacturers could even base it on one of their crossovers and even if it is not body on frame as long as it is inexpensive and relatively simple. I would even settle for a 3 cylinder as long as the truck is light. I will never tow but I need an open bed for hauling.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    When selection went away, buyers went away. It’s a crazy concept, I know, but you’ll ask which went away first?

    Except they didn’t retreat to fullsize necessarily. Mostly the two segment
    run off their own ecosystems.

    The market for midsize pickups is mostly untested, since there’s more to keep buyers away than attract. Perhaps untapped potential?

    Yes fullsize pickups are the default go to, but if you take the F-150, subtract the high luxury editions, the base regular cab “strippers”, and fleet/rentals, Tacoma sales are very close behind.

    And this despite all the things Tacoma owners dislike or hate about their purchase and the truck itself.

    The biggest difference is selection. Consumers just want options/choices, except just like millions of Americans, I’m not remotely bothered by the size, height and girth of fullsize pickups, but it’s clear the majority of US consumers are bothered to a great degree and would never own anything that big.

    It’s as if midsize pickups suck on purpose (like the Tundra and Titan), but to do full scale versions of the best fullsize pickups, 7/8ths the size, 7/8ths the power, 7/8ths everything, (even if 100% the price) would be cost prohibitive to automakers.

    It took several decades for the best selling fullsize pickups to ramp up to what they are.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    If I needed a full size pickup I would buy a base short bed full size but my needs have changed. Not really interested in a crew cab with a short bed but I am interested in a single cab or extended cab compact pickup with few electronics. A wish for a single cab compact is most likely not realistic but I would like at most an extended cab with something more than a 4 foot bed. I would even settle for a 5 foot bed. I was hoping that the Hyundai Santa Cruze would be more like the concept but I would have to look at it and test drive it before I would make a judgement. If Ford does come out with a compact Courier I would definitely be interested in it. Till then I will keep my low mileage 4×4 Isuzu I-370 which is 12 years old and still like new. I might eventually give it to my nephew’s wife who has been eyeing it. My nephew has my 99 S-10 which he is keeping in his car barn along with my granddad’s old 63 IH 1000 step-side which he is restoring. My nephew has a 4×4 dually Cummins 2014 Ram Longhorn which he uses for towing and his camping trailer and his wife has a 2009 Honda Accord. He has a hydraulic lift for working on his vehicles.

    I don’t need or want a 7/8 size pickup and if it were that then I would go full size. A compact pickup based on an existing cuv platform would be fine with me if it is affordable and this would reduce costs to the manufacturer. Keep it simple and share parts and body panels anything to keep the costs down and give an incentive for the manufacturers to make one especially if sharing parts and platform with an existing model.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    For many U-Haul & Enterprise take care of their needs to rent a truck for the day. The big box home improvement stores take care of that delivery/rent by the hour needs. Oh, they’re actually using trucks as intended.

  • avatar
    Dan

    I’m on my third half-ton in a row and I’ve sworn while parking all of them but none of this field seems even marginally attractive as a stand in. Blah powertrains and the only one that’s roomy inside is the Ridgeline.

    The Gladiator is only like the rest of this list in that it has a bed, the $15,000 premium makes it an awfully unlikely cross shop. Take that out and this segment is fading.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    No a Ridgeline is not that small and comes only as a crew cab. Something along the lines of the prior Ranger. The Frontier was close but upgrading it to a V6 only with automatic only it is not so base and I do not trust Jatco automatic transmissions. The original concept Santa Cruz was what would be perfect. Since I have a perfectly good low mileage midsize truck I can wait a few years to see if a smaller compact pickup is available from either Hyundai or Ford.

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