The Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon gain arguably overdue refreshes for 2021, ensuring continued consumer traction amid boosted competition from rivals. The midsize pickup segment has grown, and not just in volume.
Joining the GM duo and perennially popular Toyota Tacoma last year was the Ford Ranger; meanwhile, Nissan’s long-awaited Frontier revamp lands for ’21.
Word is that the Canyon, which sees a new AT4 trim for the new model year, will don extra goodies by year’s end. Good news for a truck that’s increasingly playing second fiddle to its bowtie-wearing sibling.
As Nissan flings an old truck with a shiny new powertrain at midsize truck buyers, a top-down replacement waits in the wings.
To say a successor for the Frontier has been a long time coming would be the ultimate understatement. The current body has soldiered on since late 2004, when the second-generation truck appeared as a 2005 model. You author has gone through six cars since that long-ago year.
But the wait’s nearly over. And there’s even something to look at.
If you’re in the market for a midsize pickup and possess an irresistible urge to tackle the worst terrain you can find, chances are the most rugged variants of Chevy’s Colorado and Toyota’s Tacoma top your list of maybes. Ford would like a word.
The Ranger didn’t enter the segment with the brawniest hardware in tow, but the passage of time has a way of correcting mistakes (if you want to look at it that way). On Tuesday, the Blue Oval debuted a trio of packages designed to deliver more off-road capability — and even power. Raptor Lite?
The Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon gain visual refreshes for 2021, but the updates foisted upon General Motors’ midsize twins won’t win over those who enjoy keeping their pickup expenditures to a bare minimum.
For the vast majority of the buying public, however, the revamped trucks might be viewed as an improvement over what came before.
You read earlier this week how midsize pickups, despite adding the Ford Ranger and Jeep Gladiator to their ranks, suffered in terms of market share this year. It’s been a wild ride, these past few months, but the biggest strike against the purchase of a midsize truck remains the same as before: the existence of full-size trucks — which automakers seem far more likely to discount, boosting their vehicle-per-dollar proposition.
Especially in these pandemic times.
Detroit moved an unexpectedly large number of half-tons over the past two months, greasing the wheels via a sudden love affair with zero-interest, 84-month financing. Full-size trucks dipped instead of dived, but midsizers have now picked themselves up and dusted themselves off.
Reborn Ford Ranger Closing in on No.2 In Segment, but Overall Midsize Truck Market Share Is Stalling
The 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.
It was one of the more interesting debuts of this year’s pandemic-constrained spring auto show season: The 2020 Nissan Frontier, which heralds the fully revamped 2021 Frontier by donning that yet unseen midsize pickup’s new powertrain. Old truck, new engine and transmission.
Details of the first all-new Frontier in the better part of two decades remain scarce, but a report out Thursday suggests a big price increase is in the works.
File this tidbit under the “no shit” banner. Fiat Chrysler has been without a mainstream midsize pickup since the beginning of the previous decade, and the automaker’s dealer council is sick of waiting.
A our own Tim Cain told you recently, 2019 brought the public’s growing desire for midsize pickups into stark clarity. The segment’s hot and, with the addition of the Ford Ranger, growing. FCA dealers want a slice of that action.
The 2020 Nissan Frontier unveiled ahead of the Chicago Auto Show Wednesday night looks an awful lot like a 2019 model, to say nothing of the fourteen years of Frontiers that came before, but there’s something new lurking under the hood.
In an unusual move, Nissan has decided to debut the powertrain of the Frontier’s long-awaited midsize successor in the newest current-generation model. The last current-gen model, to put it another way.
With the new engine upgrade comes a considerable boost in horsepower and four additional forward gears.
With best-ever sales from the segment-leading Toyota Tacoma, sales of midsize pickup trucks in the United States jumped 22 percent in 2019. That’s nearly nine times the rate of growth experienced by full-size pickup trucks in the U.S. last year, enough to drive market share of the smaller trucks to a 13-year high.
In fact, for the first time since the economic collapse of 2009, more than one-fifth of the pickups sold in America were not full-size trucks.
The Tacoma, which only inched forward in 2019, is not deserving of all the credit. New and reborn pickup truck nameplates contributed 130,000 sales to the midsize ledger over the last 12 months. That was more than enough to dramatically shake up the segment.
The upper tier of GMC’s midsize Canyon line revealed their enlarged faces Monday, heralding a similar treatment on lesser trims. Like the recent Acadia crossover, the mid-cycle refresh arriving for the 2021 model year sees the Canyon grille gain significant height, joining a revamped bumper and headlamps that mimic the larger Sierra.
Canyon also ditches the former All Terrain trim in favor of a sexier off-road-themed moniker: AT4.
With the perennially popular Toyota Tacoma no spring chicken and the Nissan Frontier now older that the Dead Sea Scrolls, General Motors’ Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon gained newfound — and far fresher — competition in 2019 from Ford’s returning Ranger.
There’s still life left in the current-gen models, which gain a (very) mild refresh for the 2021 model year, but GM is making sure the models don’t grow complacent. The automaker has now pledged $1.5 billion for a new generation of its midsize pickups. Good timing, too, as the Tacoma is expected to go all-new for 2023.
And that’s not the only thing GM needs to worry about.
“Change is the only constant in life,” said the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, who probably didn’t envision the remarkable lifespan of the second-generation Nissan Frontier.
Debuting in 2004 as a 2005 model, the second-gen Frontier soldiers on as a rugged and more affordable option in the growing midsize field. But it’s this growing field that belatedly spurred Nissan into action. A new Frontier is on the way, sources claim, bearing improvements demanded of it by a populace that now has access to things like the Ford Ranger.
As Fiat Chrysler prepares the Jeep Gladiator for its highly anticipated dealer debut, consumers are gearing up for the first midsize pickup conceived of outside the boundaries of established industry norms in quite some time. The Gladiator is very different from the competition. It looks like a modified Wrangler, has a removable windshield, soft or hardtop roof, and doors, and even comes with a manual transmission option. It’s also new, which is noteworthy in itself.
Midsize pickups have a tenancy to linger. The second-generation Chevrolet Colorado first appeared in 2012 and Toyota’s Tacoma typically enjoys a ten-year lifespan before the manufacturer feels the itch for a full redesign. Even Ford’s Ranger is a reheated leftover sourced from the global market. While not necessarily a shortcoming in itself, the segment suffers from a distinct lack of innovation — and that’s exactly where the Gladiator could find its place in the sun.
Good news: the Ford F-150 will not be discontinued as a result of the runaway popularity of the 2019 Ford Ranger. Phew.
As the Blue Oval readies its midsize pickup for a winter launch, Joe Hinrichs, head of global operations, claimed Monday that the automaker doesn’t expect much cross shopping among would-be Ford pickup buyers. Frankly, this would have only been a concern if buyers focused on a truck’s tow rating and nothing else. Still, Hinrichs felt it needed to be said.
Ranger folks are not F-150 folks.
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