Smaller Pickups Are Ready to Take Spotlight

2015 Chevy Colorado II

By the end of the year, the compact pickup truck segment will be just a tad more than 10 percent the size of the full-size pickup segment. Both Ford and Chrysler have walked away from the compact/midsize pickup truck because of declining sales and the fact they can offer a full-size truck with similar fuel economy at a similar price and make a bigger profit.

According to the Detroit News, much of what happens next in the segment will depend on how the new Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon are received by both car and truck buyers. Much of their success will depend on pricing, but we won't find that out until late in the summer next year. In the meantime, the rest of the potential pickup players will carefully watch. One auto executive has gone on record as saying the magic price is $20,000 and the winning fuel economy number is 30 mpg. We'll see. Here's how things sit right now:

General Motors: Understanding that this is a risk, the company is almost giddy about the potential here with new models likely to follow the introduction of the Colorado and Canyon soon after they go on sale.

Ford: Will not be reevaluating its decision to kill the Ranger and is perfectly comfortable with F-150's ability to compete on price and fuel economy.

Jeep: Would like to get back to making pickup trucks, but needs the right platform, which will have to be quite different from any Ram pickup offered.

Ram: Doesn't see how to make it work but is watching the Colorado and Canyon launches closely. Advances in technology will make it difficult to offer a profitable product.

Toyota: It has the vehicle with a 65 percent market share in the segment; the Tacoma is a perfect combination of what Toyota customers want. Toyota can't see how more attention and competition can hurt.

Wild Cards: The attention this new segment is getting could mean the development of a new product that might make sense for a "non-truck" maker. Subaru and Hyundai could be the favorites here.

2014-toyota-tacoma II



And don't forget VW may be bringing over the Amerak, depending on what the government does with the Chicken Tax.

I wish GM spent this much time and energy when they redesigned the full sized trucks. It sucks to read how giddy they are about a high risk truck that might someday make up only 10% of their truck sales.


VW could have built it a long time ago in one of their 3 plants in Mexico along with all of their other Mexican-made VW's if the chicken tax was the reason. They won't sell it here because it is not wanted or needed.

subaru and kia have the platforms to make it work, but each would be cannibalizing sales from current products.

Subaru also cannot be happy about their adventures with the last compact pickup they built for this market.

Kia has the platform from the Borrego SUV. It had a six standard and an optional V8. Such an approach would mirror what Nissan did with the Frontier/Xterra/Pathfinder. Not sure it's a winning formula for North American buyers.

I think the new GM Mid size trucks will do well and I think there will be an explosion of growth in this segment in the comming years.

Mid sized pick ups do serve their purpose and if the price is lower than a full sized truck, I don't see no problem with them being built. Each manufacturer has to evaluate their options and go from there, if it doen't fit their plans, so be it.

If I were living in a place were the roads are tiny (Europe) I would see my self in a mid sized truck. A new Dakota or a Jeep pickup would be in my plans if they were built.

@Papajim. To be blunt, Subaru made two mistakes with their last "compact pickup" effort. It had two too many doors and not enough bed. You couldn't even carry a washing machine in the back of that thing, much less a 45" flat-screen TV. Even so, it was an attractive concept had they not abandoned it so quickly. I ended up buying a Jeep Wrangler instead. But that's all spilled milk.

Nearly every import brand has a platform that could be used as a compact/mid-sized pickup; simply because they're the truck platforms they're already using in their own region of the world. The biggest drawback on any of these is the cost to upgrade them to mandatory US safety and economy standards which, in the case of the European brands specifically, are roughly equivalent but massively different in almost every aspect. Many of the Euro safety standards, as compared to their US counterparts superior and standard equipment are simply illegal by US legislation. Things that the US has finally adopted were once banned and engendered the death of the Tucker motorcar after only 5 examples were built.

The point is that American legislation is the biggest hindrance to the importation and sale of more compact trucks and, as what happened in the '80s, once those trucks arrive, the American automakers will again built to compete and hopefully drive out those foreign brands again. But just like before, some few of those brands will manage to stick, as have both Toyota and Nissan so far.

Will the smaller-truck market ever be as big as the full-size market? Probably not. On the other hand, the smaller trucks do have an effectively un-tapped market because even the Tacoma is bigger than those '80s models by almost 50%. Chevy's 80%-sized truck is a step in the right direction, but it may not be enough of a step. We'll just have to wait and see.

Well I agree with you Valpine

I for one am wishing Chevy/GMC success with their new mid-sized twins and I’m a Ford truck guy! I currently own a 2002 F-150 Lariat SuperCrew and my next truck purchase will be a mid-size, NOT A FULL SIZE. I think Chevy/GMC’s calculated risk in getting back into the segment with fresh new designs will benefit them tremendously for many reasons. The main reason is the fact that they will only be competing with two brands (Toyota & Nissan), of which neither has had improvement worth mentioning in years. For the brands with nothing in the segment (Ford and Ram/Jeep) they have the most to lose and here is why…. (using Ford as an example) It’s one thing for Ford to lose a F-150 buyer to a less profitable Ranger sale. But when people like me leave the Ford brand for a new loaded GMC Canyon, guess what Ford makes…. Nothing! If the quality and value is there during my ownership of this GMC, this lifelong Ford fan might never own a Ford again.

I think those of you who doubt the potential success that lies in the mid-size market miss time and time again, that it’s not just the price of a truck and it’s fuel efficiency. For many of us it’s the smaller physical size of the truck that is preferred. There is an added value in getting a smaller more efficient truck. BIGGER is not always better. Yes, Chevy, GMC, Toyota, Nissan, Ford and Ram will all lose full-size sales to these new mid-size twins now that there is something truly innovative in the segment, it’s just a matter of how many sales?

I for one am looking forward to what these two new products will do the rest of the midsize market. Time to wake up, you sleeping giants! The way I see it, we should have some exciting choices by the time the new CAFE standards hit in 2017. I’ll be ready with a big fat check to drive a new truck home by then.

Before you complaint about gm new pickup maybe you need to drive one ,,you don't buy a ford because is better because is cheap ,,cheap ,,,,you like or not this is the true.....

gm dealer said to wait after December to get good deal on 2014,,,

This is because ford and dodge have fire sale ,,and for gm people waiting for gm to get a better deal for 2014,,,,,,

Don't forget ford have big December and watch ford the sales by one get on free...


The last commenter under my name, called you Valpine. Not me. Sooner or later everybody has someone shadowing their posts on this site.

Re: platforms. Since Kia sold the Borrego here the NTSA issues should be minor. There's simply a limited market for body/frame SUVs and trucks at this price point and size.

Jeep has the engineering and the smack to do this but they'll be taking to much away from RAM if they bring a Jeep pickup to market.

Loved the old Jeep trucks but they were really t-r-u-c-k

Beam front axle, rattled like the hammers of hell. Very popular in the Northwest though. And Canada.

Am I the only one who thinks that little Chevy looks hot???

It makes that Tacoma look like a cross-eyed fat chick sittin' on a mud fence.


@Pat - instead of opening your mouth and inserting a foot, why don't you look up what VW builds in Mexico.

VW said that to set up shop to build for the USA market they would have to sell 100,000 units per year.
They do not have existing factory capacity to build a truck AND they do not have a platform that is shared with the truck.
They have 3 Mexican factories:
Silao - TFSI engines
Quertaro - HD trucks and buses
Puebla - Jetta, Beetle, engines, components, foundry
USA - Chatanooga - Passat

The CEO of VW said that they would consider importing the Amarok IF the chicken tax was repealed.

@ papa jim

I think Colorado looks great!

@papa jim--No the new Colorado is a great looking truck, much better than I anticipated. It is the nicest looking midsize truck in the field.

@Brian NC--I am with you on that, I don't dislike Ford but I might not ever own another one. I like many of the new GM products such as the new Impala, LaCross, Cruze, Enclave, and even the new full size trucks although I prefer midsize trucks. I have come close to buying a Tacoma and my wife just bought a new CRV after having two Fords for almost 20 years. Both Fords were good cars. I could easily be swayed to buy a Hyundai or Kia especially if they came out with a good competitive midsize truck. I would serious consider this new Colorado.

Lou, You are entitlled to your own opinion, but you don't have to be rude to your fellow bloggers.

If the mid-size market wasn't decling and there was an actual market for Amaroks in the US, they’d already be here, chicken tax or not. Making them in the US, Canada or Mexico plants would get them around the chicken tax.

VW is also hurt by the location of its dealers, many of which are located far from the suburban and rural locations where trucks are popular.

The CEO never said he would import the Amarok. He said they have no plans to sell a pickup in the US but if the Chicken tax was repealed that would be a "good time" to reevaluate.

This PR spin because even without the tax there is no business case to sell Amarok here.

My take:

GM: The Colorado and Canyon are just the beginning. Taking a cue from Captiva and Caprice PPV, the Brazilian-sourced Montana could be shipped over for commercial customers only. Could be sold to the public at the end of fleet life.

Ford: They don't have the guts to sell the Ranger in the US, at least until Alan Mulally leaves the company.

Jeep: Won't happen because Ram won't let them.

Ram: They're planning something, no doubt. This is why Jeep won't be getting a pickup any time soon.

Toyota: The next Hilux could be the replacement for the Tacoma.

Also: Nissan will base the Frontier on the next global Navarra Platform. Hyundai/Kia bears watching at this time. I'm not so sure about Subaru and Mitsubishi. And keep your eye on the Chinese and Indians.

As for VW, consider this: When Toyota first rolled out the Tundra in 1999, Ferdinand Piech was so impressed he actually bought one and shipped it to Germany. Seeing that VW is interested in launching a commercial division in the US, you can bet the Amarok (either a variation of the current model or the next generation) will show up here before Piech retires from the company. I expect a line opening up in Quertaro within the next two years.

There is no real need for the Amorak now with a refreshed Ram, new Colorado, and a new F-150 on the way. VW should maybe get off their fat lazy asses and build a factory here in the US to make that truck if they want to sell it there just like GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota and even Nissan have done.

If the chicken tax disappeared today, we would not see any overseas trucks until the next design iteration. None of them are designed for the US crash standards. The poor crash standards in the EU and Brazil do not meet our strict towing and crash test standards in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

Wow, sounds like Mahindra will be rising from the ashes in no time. Ha!

If GM gets off its duff and introduces an economical diesel option for the new Colorado that gets 30 MPG or better, they will sell all they can make in that segment.

I like the looks of the new mid-sized Chevy. If its priced right and get the MPG's then it very well could be a winner. My next vehicle will be a midsize pickup or SUV as I will still keep my dually but use it more for pulling the camper and weekend warrior stuff. I would love to have a smaller truck to run back and forth to work in and get better fuel economy.

Give me something mid-sized with a peppy 4 banger diesel, that would be a home run in my book!

@ papa jim

Can you get off the hatred for Toyota comments.

Yes the new Colorado looks good but in my opinion, the Tacoma is still a better looking and more capable pickup all around.

I cannot wait for the Colorado to join the competition but I am still loyal to the Tacoma but will not go to your low rank of putting the competition down.

@Papa Jim: That's exactly the argument RAM has been making for over 20 years, when they killed the Commanche and the big full-sizer from Jeep. However; now that RAM has dumped a mid-sizer, Jeep could safely re-introduce a mid-sizer or even go ahead and produce the Gladiator concept as a full-on production vehicle. Let Jeep carry the SUV-grade "mini" trucks and let RAM keep roaring along with their Road Whales™. Meanwhile, Chrysler makes money from both lines.

You can bet that Ford and Chrysler are already putting contingency plans into place in the event the Colorado/Canyon do well. I can't see either company sitting on the sidelines, regardless of what they're saying right now.

You can bet that Chevy and GM are already putting contingency plans into place in the event the 2014 Rams/2015 F-150 do well. I can't see either company sitting on the sidelines, regardless of what they're saying right now.

I'll believe it when I see it.

The first paragraph sums it up. The auto cartels are looking for what makes the most profit, not about making an affordable truck with good gas mileage. Unfortunately the north american market eats it right up as usual even though every other continent on the planet manages to do just fine with compact pickups with 4 and 5 cyl diesels that get closer to 40mpg.

If enough people like me resist and don't take the bait, then maybe, just maybe, they'll do something.

Hyunadai,, VW, Subaru? Keep dreaming.
Nah.. "You'll drive what we give you".

I'm impressed at the new mid sized offerings from GM. I agree with what many are saying in that this team who designed these mid sized should have had a voice in the full sized.

I think the new mid sized GM's will do well and when the diesel arrives I see no reason why it will not get 30MPG. This will be a game changer and huge success.

Half of the half tons on the road are commuters and see no real work. Half the people I know that have 1/2 tons that aren't used for work are always complaining about how hard they are to park in the small stalls and the fuel mileage.

I'm sure if the price point is decent and features are comparable to what we see in the rest of the truck market that the Mid sized truck will come back strong.

I think competition and choice is great for the truck buying community. If the new Mid sized GM's are a success it won't take long for FORD and RAM to follow. I'm sure Toyota is hard at work to update the Tacoma.... It would appear these new GM's are a threat to their profits.... Toyota knows they must offer the diesel option quick or they will really loose numbers.

all of mid sized offerings, diesels in mid sized and rams, 8 speed transmissions, etc are great for us the truck buyers. The truck landscape will really change in the next three years... those not willing to take risks and offer exciting new products and features with decent price points will be left behind.

@ Ken:

Yeah, Mahindra's got something planned for its Genio pickup and XUV500. They're not worried about the taxes; it's their legal issues concerning John Perez and Global Vehicles USA, and the number of potential dealers who fell for Perez's scams (remember Aro/Crosslander and the Romanian government?), and Mahindra took the blame for it. Since it would be hard for Mahindra to import directly to the US, they may have to go through another party, perhaps their domestic partner Navistar.

A Mahindra truck wearing an International (or a newer, unique name) badge and assembled in the US? It's possible.

I know people are going to lash back at me for what I'm about to say, but this is how I feel. GM has made a number of absolutely horrid vehicles in the past. Even as late as '05 they were still making the Aztek. There has been mishaps even recently with the Malibu for example. Lest anyone accuse me of coming here to bash GM, I'm not bringing up any other brands, because this article is primarily focused on the new GM midsized trucks that's the only make I am taking about right now. I could come up with plenty of criticism for other brands.

In light of what I just said, I won't shed a single tear if the new GM midsized trucks fail. I won't even give it a second thought. The only think I will regret is that the American people were naive enough to elect the liar president that we have in office. He was the one who bailed out GM and we are stuck with the results of what he did. We are stuck with a company who can't do anything right. Just like bureaucracies of the different government agencies, GM is a bloated inefficiency company who is behind the times. Time and time again they sell vehicles that look like a few old cronies designed and look nothing like people would want to buy. Their business and marketing people fail to understand the markets they are selling in. Focusing on the midsized market like they are is pure insanity. Both Ford and Ram see no need to enter the midsize market, and Toyota and Nissan are not highly invested in it either. The fact stands four automakers are right. There is no other explanation.

I'M Vulpine and I have no clue what the hell i'm talking about. I'm too stupid to realize that washing machines are generally 27 inches and the Subaru Baja's bed length is 41 inches and extends to 50 inches with the bed down. Even the largest washing machines are 35 inches. DOY... I'M Vulpine I preach my useless opinion, but in reality I don't know anything.

@Pat - my apologies. There are too many fake posters on this site that pretend to be others to make their argument more valid.

As I had said, for VW to build a factory to produce the Amarok for USA/Canada consumption they would have to sell 100,000 units per year to be profitable. The small truck market does not have the capacity.
Building a factory in Mexico, the USA, or Canada to take advantage of NAFTA still requires 100,000 units to turn a profit.

If the chicken tax was no longer an issue VW could import small numbers and be profitable. Ford could do the same with the Ranger if the need arose.

"The biggest drawback on any of these is the cost to upgrade them to mandatory US safety and economy standards which, in the case of the European brands specifically, are roughly equivalent but massively different in almost every aspect. Many of the Euro safety standards, as compared to their US counterparts superior and standard equipment are simply illegal by US legislation.

Again in reverse ,the same applies to US vehicles that cannot be sold outside NA as their safety and economy standards do not match European and others standards.

A Nightmare if you are trying to sell a "standardized" vehicle.

" Ferdinand Piech was so impressed he actually bought one and shipped it to Germany. Seeing that VW is interested in launching a commercial division in the US, "

Yes and I bet they are looking at acquiring Navistar first. Navistar has rid itself of the incompetent management, done a nice redesign of their heavy trucks. Pickups? who knows.

@Tom - many South American countries do not have very good safety standards and companies like Ford, GMC, Toyota et al build to the lowest standard just to save money.
Is it moral or ethical to do so?
Do they care?
The hide behind the letter of the law and walk away smugly counting their profits.

The EU has good standards that focus on slightly different things than in the USA. If one wants to look at things more closely, the USA has a higher fatality rate than that of the EU.
Does that mean the EU standards are better?

U.S. Lost 10 Bill on GM, Ram has a million recalls, Chrysler is not Fiat. Ford is importing Transit Connects.

The U.S. auto industry is a joke now, this is why I bought a Nissan Titan.

Lou, The fact is the two crash standards are not compatible. You don't have to bash the US every time another country is mentioned. Give it a rest.

Lou is posting stupidly again and making anti-American statements. Doesn't matter how good or not good the global standards are. If the tax disappeared today, we would not see any of these trucks until the next design iteration. None of them are designed for the US crash standards. Front impact, side impact, rear impact, interior impact, airbags, ect - all different from EU standards. Part of the reason why the Colorado was completely redone was to pass side crash test ratings and meet our stout towing requirements. Gone are the days where a few tweaks can get you up to standards here. Now Robert Ryand and BAFO will come along with some propoganda to tell us how their standards are so much better. 1, 2, 3....

The same thing applies to US sourced vehicles, they cannot be sold in Europe or elsewhere. There is no real pressure to change on either side(s)

A small pickup is perfect for an old man where his driving ability is fading away cause its easy to drive and fit into a small parking space and low ground clearance so he can get in and out easy.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, Ford executives are stupid businessmen.

The dropping of the Ranger has not increased F-150 sales at all. What it has done is drive people to other brands.

Ford hadn't sunk a ton of R&D money into the Ranger since the early 1990s. The outgoing truck still had the same doors and bedsides and general sheetmetal as the one from 1993. All they did was "freshen it up" a little every so often. Very little money spent. Yet...the Ranger was selling like hotcakes. It was still the #2 truck in it's segment.

It's almost like somebody trying to hand you a winning lottery ticket and you walk away from it. WTH?

Then they kill the #1 work van in the segment and replace it with a glorified mini-van. WTH?

Now they are saying the F-150 is doing a perfect job filling the hole left by the Ranger? Are they blind or just stupid? I'm going with the latter.

@Rich - Chicken tax or not, VW has no intention of bring the Amarok to America. Not in their US game plan, just like their Polo. VW was confronted with the question and had to come up with some kind of response. It doesn’t pass the smell test. And what Chicken tax killed the deal on the VW Polo? Offshore OEMs don’t always bring all their car lines to the US. Hell, some Domestic D3 OEMs don’t always bring all their global car lines to the US. Where’s my Ford Ka, Territory or Falcon? Must be that damn Chicken tax, right? That reminds me, wasn't it Holden’s CEO that claimed the Chicken tax was to blame for the Holden Ute not coming to America? There happens to be a Free Trade Agreement between the US and Australia. You take OEM/CEO’s words as gospel?

But why can’t it simply be ‘market strategy’ when an OEM doesn’t bring all their cars to the US market? Why is it any different for the mid-size trucks that OEMs deny US consumers? Toyota, Honda, VW and Mercedes all have passenger cars they prefer not to offer to US consumers. Oh, well. May be it’s a government plot to deny me my VW Polo too?

When has an OEM openly admitted a car of theirs would fail miserably and sell an embarrassing number of cars? Having to actually pay a 25% Tariff would certainly kill the deal, but clearly they would not be paying it. Stupid excuse and desperately trying to save face. Amaroks would be built in the US or Mexico, like so many other VWs, if not a Complete Knock Down kit. So why are so many offshore brands building their cars in the US, Canada and Mexico? Must be that damn Chicken tax...

If you can’t sell a lot of trucks, you’re best to stay out of the US market. So sad, but that’s true of any market. And the same holds true for niche cars as well. So who’s gonna cry for all the cars we can’t have in America? And with trucks, OEMs have to deal with massive rebates, fleet, bottom feeders and other cheapskates. These are not very compelling reasons for OEMs to take on the US truck market, even for D3, domestic OEMs. After '14, no more regular cab midsizers will be available in America. Thank a cheapskate for that too. They're already gone from Canada.

You covered a lot of ground with that post about the Chicken Tax, but you missed the main reason many global producers are reluctant to bring their whole catalog of products to the US market: the Lousy US Economy. We are more than five years into a relentlessly bad economy.

The central bankers have kept interest rates at historic lows to give automakers and homebuilders some relief, at the expense of almost everybody else.

For the news media and policy makers to admit that the economy sucks would mean they were wrong about the whole adventure with President Obama--not going to happen.

Don't need no pickup to haul Mount Rushmore or pull the Statue of Liberty around. Just need a small pickup to haul a couple of pieces of lumber and pull a small trailer with my lawnmower around. The only reason Ford got rid of the Ranger was so they could gouge the public with their monster trucks. I do not want a mid size truck. No thanks, I'll keep my perfect size Ranger.

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