By on October 9, 2020

Americans love their pickups but the segment’s sizing has adopted the same methodologies favored by the McNugget industry. Medium-sized trucks are now supersized, leaving full-sized pickups in danger of developing their own gravitational fields. However, it wasn’t all that long ago when the North American market was awash with compact pickups like the original Ford Ranger, Chevrolet S-10, and numerous Japanese alternatives  including the legendary Toyota Hilux (which we just called “the Pickup”). Dodge even had the Dakota for customers who liked D.I.Y. projects but wanted something a little larger and more capable of hauling the necessary materials in a single trip.

Back then, the competition was incredibly fierce. But club cabs gradually evolved into crew cabs and, before anybody knew what happened, every single pickup left on the market had become monstrously large. Though it wasn’t like that everywhere in the world. Plenty of markets still appreciate the handyman’s pickup and Latin America is about to receive an updated one from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. It’s called the 2021 Ram 700 and serves as the spiritual successor of the Ram 50/Mitsubishi Mighty Maxx.

While Jeep’s Gladiator does battle on what remains of the midsize pickup segment until the real Dakota returns, the Ram 700 carries on Chrysler’s legacy of badge engineered micro trucks. It’s based on the (updated for 2020) Fiat Strada and looks decidedly better in its new duds.

On Wednesday, the automaker revealed the 700 for 14 Latin American markets (including Mexico). While FCA expanding its availability south of the border means little for us right now, rumors have been swirling that Ram has been considering getting a small truck onto the North American market for some time. That may end with the assumed 2022 Ram Dakota being slotted in as a middleweight. But the compact pickup segment is basically wide open and ready to serve the automaker that gets there first.

The Ram 700 would likely need to undergo a few changes were it to be exported here from Brazil, however. Most trims utilize a 1.4-liter inline-four engine that makes a rather sad 84 horsepower and 87 pound-feet of torque. But a 1.3-liter turbo (98 hp/94 lb-ft) is available on the Laramie trim, though it’s likewise front-wheel drive and comes standard with a manual transmission.

None of those should be deal-breakers for someone seeking a budget-conscious work vehicle designed to be used and abused for small-to-medium duty projects. Payloads of “up to” 1,600 lbs are more than enough to haul some lumber, auto parts, or that new dishwasher. But we know some people will be looking at those specs and decide nothing less than 290 hp with 3,000 lbs of payload will suffice  thus forcing themselves into a full-sized truck.

Of course, anyone interested in towing something larger than a bunch of balloons probably should consider the upgrade. The Ram 700 can only pull about 900 pounds of mass behind itself.

That taken into account, our only serious concern is the size of the bed. While Ram automatically provides the bedliner, it has decided to make all upper-level trims crew cabs by default. That leaves customers with 24.4 cubic feet of cargo volume, whereas the base cabin offers 40.3 cubic feet, and places them into an unwinnable decision. Do they halve their bed size to accommodate five passengers or stick or get the regular cab and hope they get more business than new friends?

[Images: FCA]

 

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43 Comments on “Could the Ram 700 Foreshadow Something Smaller for North America?...”


  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    That looks interesting.

  • avatar
    MBWagen

    Slightlty better looking than the Strada. 1.3 is not turbo though.

  • avatar
    ajla

    *Heart-eyes emoji*

    Give that thing the Renegade’s engine, start it at $20K and bring it over as the Rampage.

  • avatar
    TimK

    Oh look, it’s a Dodge Ridgeline.

    And hey TTAC, when are you going to get control of the damn web site? The scammer pop-overs and redirects are getting to the point where I may just delete TTAC from my bookmarks.

    • 0 avatar
      teddyc73

      So anytime an automaker makes a unibody truck it’s going to be the “fill in the black” Ridgeline to you? So if Dodge comes out with a mid-size sedan will you call that the Dodge Accord? This has very little in common with the Ridgeline.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      @TimK: Considering the Honda Ridgeline is very nearly as wide as a full-sized pickup (within 2 inches) it is notably wider than any currently available “mid-sized” pickup, which is nearly 10 inches narrower than full-sized. Granted, the Ridgeline has a lower roofline than the typical full-sized truck and its overall length is shorter, it still cannot be called “mid-sized.” Rather, its height, width and length are more like those of a prior-generation full-sized 2WD short-bed pickup prior to the cab being mounted on top of the frame rather than fitting like a saddle over the frame rails as the ’60s and early ’70s models did.

      Modern mid-sized trucks are about 10% smaller than full-sized but the old-school compacts were more than 25% smaller, and that’s the size many people really want–including myself. This Ram 700 is supposedly more like 20% smaller than full-sized but may still be larger than the Maverick.

    • 0 avatar
      ect

      TimK, you don’t need to suffer. I’ve had Ghostery and AdBlock Plus installed as extensions to Firefox for many years, I never see a pop-up. Both are free, btw.

  • avatar
    NoID

    I’d buy one in a heartbeat. Even with the asthmatic engine.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    While this rig appears attractive from the pictures, I am fairly certain the cabin will be far too cramped for “generously proportioned” American truck buyers. Americans don’t like to hit our heads on the headliner, nor do we like to stuff our butts between a console on the inside and the too-close door on the outside…we like our elbow room.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I assume it is Renegade-sized? Is it much smaller than that?

      • 0 avatar
        R Henry

        Cabin size does appear comparable to Renegade. I believe Renegade buyers are not the same as trucklet buyers. Renegade sales likely skew to the 18-30 year old female…whose bodies are better suited to smaller cabins. I assume trucklet buyers are about 97% male. (as politically incorrect as it may be, I believe males and females ARE different)

        • 0 avatar
          Old_WRX

          “I believe males and females ARE different”

          Maybe that has something to do with why there are two different words for them, even in newspeak. Except to the sjw’s they are just “social constructs” (cue the twilight zone theme music).

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          @R Henry: I strongly recommend against stereotyping. My wife is well above the age range you mention and is certainly not on the “better suited to smaller cabins” type, yet she absolutely loves tiny cabins and was completely enjoying her Fiat 500 while she had it… but needed something large enough to carry four people plus packages, which is why she traded it for her Renegade. She would have kept the Fiat if we’d had space available to park four vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      Oberkanone

      For those buyers there are larger vehicles available.

      Increase the engine size and power and offer the RAM 700 in the USA.
      Sell it at FIAT dealership if you can’t stomach this tiny unibody vehicle being a RAM.

    • 0 avatar
      jh26036

      This truck isn’t replacing anything else in the current lineup. Not everybody is American sized and wants a 1/2 ton truck. For those that want an “American” size truck, one can easily walk over to the 1500 section of the dealership lot.

  • avatar
    teddyc73

    I guess big “cabinas” crew with small beds are just as popular in other countries at they are in the U.S. You’ll notice the “Cabina regular” is only shown in SLT trim and the upper trim levels are only available in “Cabina doble” I was lucky to find my Ram like I wanted it in the color I wanted in “Cabina” quad.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    If the rumor mill is correct, Ford is going to beat FCA to the punch on this. Car websites are full of spy shots of what might be called the Ford Courier, or possibly the Maverick. I think it was originally due in 2022, but in current conditions, hard to say when it will actually exist.

    From what I can gather, the new pickup (as well as the next generation Transit Connect) will be largely or loosely based on the new Bronco Sport platform, and built in Mexico to avoid the Chicken Tax.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      I believe it’s going to be called the Maverick. Someone snagged a trademark application pic of a Maverick tailgate. Unless Ford goes current Ranger, next size down Maverick, next size down Courier (Ram 700 sized).

  • avatar
    MKizzy

    The European Ranchero look of the extended cap is really awkward while the crew cab versions look pretty sharp.

    In any case 90 some-odd horsepower is way too low for the U.S. Market. Make the 700 available with the base and turbo engines from the Jeep Cherokee, give it a few minor styling tweaks to make it look a little less like a Promaster City and more more like a baby 1500 and Ram might be on to something.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Pass – I still need a real truck for towing.

    By the time they get a replacement Dakota in place I will have already gotten a Ranger. My current V8 Dakota has served me well for 18 years but its days are numbered as rust, squeaks and creaks are making it unsatisfying to drive. There is nothing mechanically wrong with it, but I just know a new truck will be more pleasant to spend time in, along with hopefully get better mileage towing.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “My current V8 Dakota has served me well for 18 years”

      We’ve been on TTAC a long time. I remember you commenting about that Dakota when it was practically new.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    “Do they halve their bed size to accommodate five passengers or stick or get the regular cab and hope they get more business than new friends?”

    Unfortunately if this Ram 700 comes to the US it will be in a crew cab only with a turbo I4 and an automatic which is what the new Ford Maverick and the Hyundai Santa Fe will be. Wouldn’t mind this truck in a regular cab or extended cab with a manual but I doubt that will happen.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    The compact pickup or mini-truck “craze” was prompted by the import embargo against Japanese all cars. Japan automakers had no choice but to jack up the prices of the cars they could ship, and naturally loading them up with options.

    Japan pickups were exempted from the limit/embargo so they wisely flooded the US market with them. It was perfect timing too, since we were looking for a new trend, coming off custom vans, brougham coupes, and muscle cars.

    The it didn’t hurt that they were cheap, reliable and had great MPG. Some of those things we weren’t much used to. Plus throw in sporty, youth oriented with decent utility as a bonus prize.

    All the stars lined up, so it’s a long shot that compact pickups could ever be more than a tiny niche segment.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “All the stars lined up, so it’s a long shot that compact pickups could ever be more than a tiny niche segment.”

      We’ve already got a lot of miniCUVs. I don’t know if it is that big of leap for some mini trucks based off them to start existing.

      It looks like Ford and Hyundai are going to give it a shot. If they move enough volume, this will be a segment.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        CUVs are fairly different animals, at least to buyers/users. To consider it, or switch over, buyers would be leaping to a brand they’re not used to, and let’s hope they don’t find out it’s a Fiat (before they buy).

        The Baja at least had Subaru loyalist to feed off of, and from traditional wagon buyers, it’s much less of a leap.

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    “compact pickups”? Come on. Compare a 1979 F150 to the F150 of today. The full size pickup that we all knew and loved could still be useful, but Ford insists on building something the size of a small moon instead.

    Even what you would call a “compact” pickup today is no doubt bigger than the full size pickup of yesteryear.

    Give me an old F150 any day.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “Even what you would call a “compact” pickup today is no doubt bigger than the full size pickup of yesteryear.”

      I’m pretty sure a Strada is much smaller than this.
      bringatrailer.com/listing/1979-ford-f-100-6/

      • 0 avatar
        Victor

        It is. The new Strada is loosely based on the Fiat Argo, with bits here and there from the lesser Fiat Mobi. So think of it as a Ford Fiesta with a bed in terms of size.

        It sells really well down here in Brazil, and it is capable of getting a lot of abuse.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Don’t need full-time second row. DO need full-time inside storage. An extended bed version with jump seats (a drop-down shelf is more than good enough) would be the perfect offering and only take about one linear foot off the bed length.

  • avatar
    Old_WRX

    Looks like something sorely missing on the US market. But, it’s really hard to figure whether it would sell or not. Though, from some of the comments on here, it sounds like it could serve as great bait for bait ‘n switch.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    This is an area Subaru should be exploring with the Legacy and Impreza platforms. And design them less hideously than the Baja.

  • avatar
    Add Lightness

    So if it is FWD, does that mean the bed will be at a nice low height?
    I see FWD for pickup as both great for compact drivetrain packaging as well as being able to provide a low low bed.
    The 4 door pickups I see everywhere are used as huge stationwagons with an open back. 80% car, 20% truck with the disadvantage of having to load things into a chest height bed.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    If the Ford Maverick and the Hyundai Santa Fe sell then you will see a Ram 700. Too early to tell if this is a niche product since there presently no compact pickups on the market. Both the Maverick and Santa Fe will be unibody based on cuvs. These trucks might be enough for many especially suburbanites who will use these trucks as a second or third vehicle. The compact Japanese pickups were more than a niche vehicles at the time, they were an affordable alternative for many who wanted a vehicle with more utility at an affordable price. Having an affordable vehicle with more utility is not a niche it is meeting a segment of the market that many manufacturers have ignored. Too me a niche market would be another sports car.

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      I think it depends on the usability. I think a large part of why people are buying CUVs instead of sedans or sports cars is just that vehicles cost so much, they need to have one versatile vehicle. If these new compact pick ups are just “lifestyle” vehicles – essentially pick up versions of what a coupe used to be, then I think they’ll fail. If they have real utility, and possible fleet use, then they could succeed.

  • avatar
    dwford

    This should’ve been here already. Shades of the extended wait for the Ford Ranger.

  • avatar
    Victor

    The answer is NO. The Strada/Ram 700 will never get to the US, not on its current form, which is nothing more than a tarted-up poormobile. The next-gen Toro in another hand would be great for you guys.

  • avatar
    Victor

    The answer is NO. The Strada/Ram 700 will never get to the US, not on its current form, which is nothing more than a tarted-up poormobile. The next-gen Toro in another hand would be great for you guys.

  • avatar
    JLGOLDEN

    Nobody has played in this section of the market (here in the US) for a long time. I believe there is demand for this “trucklet utility image” at a bargain price point. After a few model years, it can creep upmarket in price/features/power…just like every other car.

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