Compact/Midsize Pickups: Year-to-Date Sales and 2012 Pricing for Import Leaders

By Mark Williams

There’s no arguing the small-pickup segment has taken a beating over the past decade. In fact, the segment is on target to sell fewer than 260,000 units by year's end — about one-quarter of what it once was.

Here's how the numbers break down for sales in the compact/midsize truck market through first eight months of this year. We’ve also included how these numbers compare on a percentage basis with sales numbers from last year at this time:


Jan.-Aug. 2011 sales

August 2011 sales

Ford Ranger

42,634 (up 9% over 2010)


Chevy Colorado

21,814 (up 39%)


GMC Canyon

7,176 (up 47%)


Honda Ridgeline

5,776 (down 95%)


Nissan Frontier

33,114 (up 26%)


Suzuki Equator

1,412 (up 46%)


Dodge Dakota

9,949 (even)


Toyota Tacoma, 70,474 (up 2%), 8,650

(Source: Automotive News)

No wonder vehicles like the Dakota, Mazda B-Series and Ford Explorer Sport Trac have gone away, and companies like Suzuki, Ford and others are seriously considering abandoning the segment. Still, we’re optimistic that someone will find a way to offer an inexpensive pickup truck (maybe as a subcompact) with capability and value and breathe new life into the low-buck end of the spectrum.

Entry-level vehicles are a significant part of every automotive manufacturer's long-term strategy, and with compact and midsize pickup prices climbing each year, there seems to be plenty of room in the marketplace for a new type of vehicle. Whether that vehicle comes from China, India or even the growing world of hybrid technology, we'll have to wait and see. In the meantime, there are still vehicles here and now that offer solid value and deliver strong profits to their parent companies.

The Ford Ranger is looking to sell around 60,000 units by year's end — when was the last time you saw a Ranger commercial on TV? Ford hasn't spent much money advertising the vehicle, and it still has significant volumes. Not bad for a pickup truck that hasn’t had a refresh (in this country) for almost 20 years.

Add to that the fact Nissan and Toyota — two vehicles that make up more than half of the segment — are both up in sales year-over-year, with the former up more than 25 percent and the latter up 3 percent. The Honda Ridgeline is the only vehicle in the segment down in sales this year, entirely due to a supply-chain breakdown after the Japanese earthquake and resulting tsunamai last March.

Nissan and Toyota recently announced their 2012 pricing, so we thought we'd see how they match up on specific models. A lot of thought and strategy goes into packaging and model creation, so it will likely surprise no one that both have created micro-niches where others do not compete.

What follows is not a full list of model configurations, but it will give you a good idea how they compare. We've already written about what’s new for the 2012 Tacoma, and 2012 Frontiers have very few changes but do offer a new Sport Appearance Package for $1,190. The new package includes 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, grille finished in Dark Hyper Silver, body-colored bumpers and bodyside sport graphics. Active Brake Limited Slip and electronic stability control are now standard on all Frontier models. In addition, three new exterior colors are offered: Brilliant Silver, Metallic Blue and Lava Red.

For full pricing information on 2012 Tacomas, click here. For full pricing info on 2012 Frontiers, click here.


Model & Configuration

2012 Nissan Frontier MSRP

2012 Toyota Tacoma MSRP

4x2 regular cab I-4, manual


$16,875 (5-speed)

4x2 regular cab I-4, auto


$17,775 (4-speed)

4x2 Access Cab/King Cab I-4, manual

$18,200 (5-speed)

$19,665 (5-speed)

4x2 Access Cab/King Cab I-4, auto

$19,250 (5-speed)

$20,565 (4-speed)

4x2 Double Cab/Crew Cab I-4, manual

$22,210 (6-speed)


4x2 Double Cab/Crew Cab I-4, auto

$23,260 (5-speed)

$22,825 (4-speed)

4x2 Double Cab/Crew Cab V-6, LWB, auto

$24,690 (5-speed)

$24,760 (PreRunner Package, 5-speed)

4x4 regular cab V-6, manual trans


$20,725 (5-speed)

4x4 regular cab V-6, auto trans


$21,855 (4-speed)

4x4 Access Cab/King Cab V-6, manual

$24,670 (6-speed)

$25,055 (6-speed)

4x4 Access Cab/King V-6, auto

$25,720 (5-speed)

$25,935 (5-speed)

4x4 Double Cab/Crew Cab V-6, manual

$24,910 (6-speed)

$26,455 (6-speed)

4x4 Double Cab/Crew Cab V-6, auto

$25,960 (5-speed)

$27,355 (5-speed)

4x4 Double Cab/Crew Cab V-6, LWB, auto

$27,390 (5-speed)

$27,835 (5-speed)


Come on--put Toyota Tacoma in your sales chart!! As my 5th grade teacher used to say "Don't be in such a hurry and make so many mistakes!!!!

Quite a bit of NA on the Nissan side, no wonder all other makes are lagging behind the Tacoma, they do not offer as many configurations!

When Toyota introduces the 3rd engine next year or the one after that, it will close the theory of compact/mid-sized pickups not being as fuel efficient as their heavy tank counterparts in the full-size category...

The Scion pickup will also help in that matter...

the only thing missing from the frontier is reg cabs, which is not cost effective as most buyers choose kingcab n crewcab.

yah, wheres the tacoma in that chart?

Pretty crazy when almost as many people bought a rebadged Nissan from Suzuki, as people bought Ridgelines. As long as they can sell them to the powersports customers, Suzuki might as well keep selling the Equator. At what point does Honda just say "it's over"?
@Mark Williams- yeah, what Don said. Why are there no Tacoma numbers up there?
@Oxi- well, Nissan doesn't build a regular cab, or a 4cyl Crew, which (even combined) don't nearly make up the difference in sales volume.

The small truck sales have taken a beating because they are not small any more. T he "small" trucks that took the biggest beating are the ones that bloated the most. No one wants to spend money on something that they do not want. I want a US made small truck, but the only small trucks are imports.
Are you listening GM, Ford and Ram?

The reason the Ford Ranger sells so well is its size. It's actually a compact pickup. The rest are nearly full size and get the same mileage as a full size.

If Toyota built a compact pickup with a 4 cyl, like they did in the eighties, I'd buy one tomorrow.

I amazes me that anyone would buy a compact (midsize) pickup, that is rated at the same mileage as a full size? That makes no sense!

I can't believe people are buying the Frontier over the Equator. It's the exact same truck at the same price, but includes a 7 year/100k mile warranty standard.

It's amazing that Ford sells so many of the Rangers since they have not been updated since 1992. It is the smallest of all of them which is an advantage to those who do not need a mid-size truck but gets the same if not worse gas mileage then the rest in 4x4 configuration.
I have a 2001 Taco Double cab 4x4 and I like it's size and will not buy a new Taco as it is just to big for what I need.

I'd buy a new Chevy S-10 in a heartbeat if they ever built one again.

the trouble with these trucks is the mpg is bad and the price is horrible, i bought a 2004 ford ranger 4x4 and it almost as much as a full size, i traded it in on 2006 F150 4x4 and i was paying the same amount at the pump per week and the F150 was only 2 grand more than what i paid in 2004 for the ranger.. The ranger was an awesome truck but for the same money and fuel economy why not get the F150 was my thinking which is what Ford is pushing....If they would only price the trucks properly and get the mpg dialed in! isnt that part of the reason for small trucks???

Sorry about leaving out the highest-selling vehicle in the class. Eight-month sales numbers for Toyota Tacoma for 2011 are 70,474, up 2 percent from 2010. Month of August, 2011 sales were 8,650, up 5 percent from Aug. 2010.

Its alright Mark, nobody is perfect. Doing a good job so far with your articles. Enjoy reading them

Yes Mark, Thanks for your good work,
but it's a tough crowd, would you expect any thing different?

Why is Ford cancelling the Ranger again? They are sitting on a gold mine. Add to the fact that a lot of people really like the more compact size of the Ranger over the larger trucks. I think Ford is missing the boat on this one.

Thanks guys. Appreciate the support. I have to say I've been very impressed with the individual quality and overall depth of the community here. Very impressive. That's probably why the manufacturers are coming here so regularly, wanting to find out what you guys are thinking. Pretty cool. Also, pretty sure we'll have more news coming from all the truck makers as press days from the State Fair of Texas hits next week. Thanks again.

I agree, small trucks are getting to big& mpg sucks.
Why not a diesel and trans. upgrade . Seems Mfgs.
all talk the talk but none will walk the walk.

The ford ranger is still the best looking small truck on the market .Its 4 cylinder has the best mileage of anything in its class and they are tough as hell. The size is just right.

The ranger is still selling great despite how long its been on the market and not updated.There are alot of cars and trucks both that would kill to sell that many units.

ford needs to make a small truck based off the new explorer.I don't know anyone myself included who use a small ranger to haul a trailer or load it to its max. Most are used for everyday trans. to and from work.The may carry a load of dirt or mulch once in a while .

People buy trucks because they like the look over traditional cars.Look at fords best selling records in truck and suv sales.People have said for yrs the suv market is drying up but it isn't it's still growing.

A truck based off the explorer would be all 99% would ever need a truck to do of this size. ecoboost 4 under the hood with the explorer 4 wheel drive system would satisify about any small truck driver. Cheap to drive and the platform is already there with the explorer running gear.No one else is looking at the market of small economical trucks but suv sales and trucks sales prove a positive for this kind of truck.

What alot of you guys are missing is "REAL WORLD" fuel economy. I personally think a lot of you guys owned a ranger v6 at one time and thats why you think they dont get better fuel economy than a full size. no matter how you slice it the ranger gets TERRIBLE mileage for its size.

@ shawn

for the fuel miser, you mention them building a truck like they did in the 80's............... THEY STILL DO, its called the reg. cab. 4 cyl. it has MORE POWER, AND TO BOOT BETTER FUEL MILEAGE than its 80's counterpart. the truck REALLY will get 26 mpg on the highway, folks there's ZERO full size trucks that get near this. they get about 20-25% BETTER fuel economy than the best full size while still being able to tow 3500lbs! thats a big deal if you ask me, and everyone of you know you cant kill that 2.7 in the Tacoma so why all the complaints?

OOOHHHH, your complaining about the 16/20 on the window of the V6 4x4 huh.... They EPA test that on the double cab 4x4, but they post those EPA numbers on the access cab as well, and ask ANYONE who owns one and i bet you'll find they'll tell you they get better mileage than the window sticker. Toyota does a FAR better job than the competition on coefficient of drag, so the REAL driving experience they'll get better than the competition..........

FYI, just for a fun fact for everyone. the new 2012 Toyota camry has a BETTER coefficient of drag than a Corvette! yes thats correct. a new camry LE has a coefficient of drag of .27 and the SE and XLE is .28. the Coefficient of drag on a Vette is .286. To provide a comparison the LOWEST coefficient of drag of ANY car is the prius at .25. NOW, to put in perspective the full size trucks... the Tundra is .37 and the NEXT closest full size is OVER .40!

@Veritas0589- that warranty is only good if you have a dealer anywhere close by AND Suzuki is still in the car business in 5 years (after the Nissan warranty would expire).

The mighty Ford Ranger is still making a killing! Even after all of these neglected years.

Since the F-150 is reasonably priced with great fuel economy, by today's standards, Ford needs to keep the Ranger but drop the V-6.

Offer the (competition killing) Ranger ONLY in; a regular cab 4-cyl configuration with vinyl seats and rubber floor. No need to have any "Premium Equipment" packages in this price sensitive class. Keep the price near $15,000.00 and it would be a sure winner. The F-150 could fill the needs for consumers that need a bigger cab and/or higher payloads & towing.

The Ford Ranger would dominate, once again, the parts runner/delivery/weekend projects market.

we only complain when a foreign make does it, like complain about it being too small or too big, too much pwr so we say we don't need that much, sheet metal too thin, yadi yadi....etc...... we, the americans love to complain until we complain ourselves out of business n everything.

go midsize trucks
die compact trucks

What good is the Suzuki warranty advantage, over the Datsun, when Suzuki finally pulls out of the U.S. market? Will Datsun back-up their product? Suzuki (automobile company) will not be around in the U.S. for very much longer. The same is being said about Mazda and Mitsubishi. I can not wait for this to happen. It will make me feel better since we lost icons like Oldsmobile, Plymouth, and Mercury.

There is still a demand for a small pickup with a direct fuel injected 4 cylinder with no more than an extended cab but offered in a regular cab at a low cost. It could be a front wheel drive with an option of all wheel drive that would be no bigger than the current Ford Ranger. It could share engines and drivetrains with compact car models to keep the price competitive. This would be a weekend hauler that is not designed to haul heavy loads or to tow big trailers. Scion has plans for one of these. GM could make a new S-10/ Sonoma off of an Equinox platform and drivetrain and keep it simple with few options and few colors similiar to the limited colors of the current Ford Ranger. GM could continue to offer the new Colorado/Canyon and Silverado/Sierra for customers that want that. Ford could do the same and use either an Escape or the Explorer. Chrysler could do this with the Compass/Liberty platform. The guidlines would be to keep the compact truck no bigger than the current Ranger and not to offer too many options. In otherwords keep it simple and do not grow it in size and complexity. I myself who currently own a 1999 Chevy S-10 Extended Cab 4 cylinder with 5 speed transmission and a 2008 Isuzu 4x4 Crewcab would be interested in this. I like my Isuzu a lot but I use my S-10 the most because it is smaller and more fuel efficient. People who would buy this compact alternative are for the most part not going to buy full size or intermediate size trucks unless they own a larger size truck and are using the compact truck as a commuter and errand runner. Keep this simple and inexpensive.

I didn't even know Suzuki made the Equator, let alone since 2009...they do a horrible job marketing in the US.

y would consumer buy a small truck when a car/wagon will fill that job just fine. mid n fullsize are the wave of the future.

small truck buyers should just buy a car.

The Camry has the highest drag. As in; It's a drag to own a Camry or It's a drag to drive a Camry. They Camry does not offer any kind of driving or styling excitement. To me, as a bonafide car guy, that is a major drag.

I'll take; a Chevrolet Volt, Chrysler 300 S.R.T.-8, Dodge Charger S.R.T.-8, or Ford Taurus S.H.O. -thank you very much.

If these idiots could make a small truck that people actually WANTED they might sell a few...but instead, small trucks have turned into midsize trucks. I mean, how hard can it be to make a small 4WD truck that gets 25-30 MPG when they're making full-size trucks weighing 6000 pounds that almost get that?

Ford could put the lightweight EcoBoost turbo 4 banger from the Exploder in the existing Ranger and it would likely outsell all of the middle-weight trucks combined.

Toyota could get off its collective ass and throw the dual VVT-i 4.0 in the new Taco and at least we'd have the power to go with our crappy mileage.

Nissan could stand behind their poorly-designed cooling system and replace all the Frontier radiators before more trannies blow instead of pretending there isn't a problem

Dodge could bring back the D50 as a lightweight Pentastar-powered offroad screamer.

This isn't rocket surgery here...

Hyundai/Kia should enter the market and turn it on its ear like toyota did back in the 80s. The 4-banger in the new Hynundai Sonata turbo makes 274 HP while 34 MPG on 87 octane gas. Throw that thing in front of a rear-wheel/4-wheel drive transaxle starting with the old Sorento frame as a base and style it right and they'd sell like hotcakes.

This segments has been basically IGNORED for too long and it's ripe for revolution.

Suzuki the company isn't going anywhere. If their auto division folds, they will simply just pay Nissan to do the warranty work until all the warranties expire. RV's and campers work this way. Not uncommon to get a warranty fixed by a 3rd party so long as the manufacturer buys off on it. Manufacturer then cuts a check for the work that was done to reimburse. FWIW I dont see Mazda leaving the US market anytime soon, nor Mitsubishi. They are small companies. You can't judge them on sales compared to the Big 3, Toyota or Honda. Subaru and Nissan are the same way. I think Ford and GM sell more trucks in a year than Nissan and Subaru sell total vehicles. But both companies manufacture within their means and are successful. That's one reason why the Titan is still around. The didn't expect to compete with the Big 3 and Toyota. They just wanted some of the market share. Much like how the Japanese did real well when the gas prices spiked. THeir main focus was cars and stayed with cars while the Big 3 neglected cars and focused on SUV's and trucks. The Japanese added SUV's to get marketshare of a profitable vehicle type, they didn't drop improving cars to beat the Big 3 at trucks and SUV's.

Not everyone wants a small car and there are few small wagons available. Scion will probably come out with a small front wheel drive vehicle anyway. And no one will be forced to buy a small truck. Uh huh with your kind of thinking we would not have any variety. Ford, GM, and Chrysler would not be making midsize or compact cars and it would be for the customer take it or leave it (One size fits all). From some of the postings there is still a demand for a compact truck. Case in point look at Paul's for example. Uh huh if you want to buy a large truck that is your choice but not everyone wants or needs a large truck or the ever growing midsize trucks. As I said earlier do not do away with large or midsize trucks just offer an affordable option that is right sized for other consumers who do not want or need large. If I wanted a compact car I would buy it but it looks like this could be a good opportunity to meet a market that is largely ignored. If the US manufactures don't then the Chinese will. Back in the 60's and early 70's the only US made pickups available were full size with the exception of Datsun and Toyota which came to the US market in the early 6os. Datsun and Toyota fulfilled a market that was not fulfilled by the big 3. Maybe the Chinese will do the same. If the price of the compact truck were kept at 15k or below and the gas mileage was around 30 mpg you could sell this. If the platform were the same as a small SUV and the components were the same it could be made in the same facility. Sharing platforms, components, and facilities is done by most of the manufacturers now and this would lower the cost and not require as much sales volume as a vehicle that does not share platforms and facilities. If anyone agrees speakup and maybe the manufacturers who read this post will consider a real compact truck.

What Ford doesn't seem to be taking into account with its new "one size fits all" approach is that one size DOESN'T fit all. Trucks redesigned after the year 2000 DON'T FIT IN A GODDAMNED GARAGE.

One other reason why the Ranger sells - it is cheep to buy. If you factor in rebates there isn't much out their that is cheeper to buy whether you look at econobox cars or small trucks.
I had a V6 ranger with the 4.0 V6. If I behave myself - I can get comparable MPG with my 5.4. I would of kept the Ranger if it was a crewcab. The extended cab is useless for anything other than in cab storage.
I looked at the Tacoma doublecab but there are virtually zero rebates and most dealers (in Canada) will not budge from MSRP. Any full sized Ford, GM, or Ram can be purchased for less.
It looks like the only trucks that will remain in the small truck market ate the Tacoma, Frontier, and the soon to be released Colorado in 2013?
That leaves the market to the imports since the Colorado will most likely be a knocked down Taiwanese truck assembled in the USA.

60 to 80,000 sales per year of an OLD OLD Ranger and Ford is telling us they won’t build/sell the new global Ranger in the States? Dumb.

@Lou Thailand is the Asian "Mexico

@Jeff Indian and Chinese makers have a real problem with safety. The Mahindra(If you can find one of the streets) just got a rating of 2 out of 5 for safety by ANCAP. That means the importer has to recall it.

@Everyone. Diesels get much better mileage here than a petrol(gas) pickup.

@Robert Ryan - "Thailand is the Asian "Mexico"" - I'm not surprised. How does their quality rate compared to offerings from other countries?

the only reason people get a ford ranger ,,cheap,cheap.truck.same like the ford god this truck have a trany problem the first day on the market....maybe they use the same trany on ford escape..garbage suv,,full of problem,defect,,,etc etc...

miath is all of the Bobs' little little friend. Always looking to take a shot at Ford.

Ok, ok, Jeff,.I agree, there's peeps who want a small truck. But the demand for a midsized is so much greater, I don't believe the manufactures r willing to risk building a small truck that'll flop in sales, even if its rugged n reliable.

New North American truck strategy...Go Big or Go Home?

@miath - you say your family owns a bunch of Ford Escape's?
Do some research next time instead of bitching and complaining about Ford after the fact.
The Escape is their poorest product.
I wouldn't buy one.
I talked my wife out of buying one.
Caveat emptor.

You say you have "trany problem"
- a few little clues:
An Adams Apple and a bulge in their panties are dead give aways. Also don't date any women that use the mens room.

You have either used a Thai built part or vehicle, Their products are everywhere,
"The Thai auto industry has grown from its infancy with just one automotive assembly plant in 1961 to a mature world- class production center currently ranking 13th globally. Nearly all of the world’s major automakers, assemblers, and parts and components manufacturers have established production operations in the country.
In fact, Thailand produced more than 1.4 million vehicles in 2008, and the lions share came from the local facilities of Ford, General Motors, BMW, Daimler Chrysler, Mitsubishi, Mazda, Toyota, Isuzu, Honda and Nissan.

@Robert Ryan - thanks for the info. I'd say that puts them well above Mexico.


Most Tacoma's are made in the U.S. including my accesscab model...


I have grown out of the compact pickups I used to own like my 86 Toyota, 97 Tacoma...

My wife and I wanted something slightly bigger than a compact but not too big like the tanks or full-size pickups...

I took a cross country trip once with my 1985 2wd Toyota, too small and cramped and we rubbed elbows all the time. When we stepped up to the 2005 Tacoma and now 2010, she has her own bucket seat and can stretch out in comfort, the accesscab has room for plenty of storage behind the front seats for suitcases and essentials for long trips insteade of placing them in the bed...

I get better cargo capacity/payload than those compacts YET it is still not has big as those tanks full-size pickups!

We have room in the garage to comfortably park both our vehicles side by side without getting close to hitting the others doors or strain to park the Tacoma into the garage...

Most in our neighborhood simply park their tank full-size pickups outside and those that do place them in their garages, man barely enough room to walk around, tight garages, etc...

I have no use for the dimensions of a tank full-size, so why should I buy one? I wanted some additional room/capacity from a traditional compact and the Tacoma fit the bill... I can still off-road as I did with my compacts, so I have sacrificed little moving into the mid-sized category!

If your buying a 4x4, you should be doing some sort of off-roading or else why on earth would you buy a 4x4? To carry all of that extra weight around for nothing? And please winter driving? I survived an entire decade with just a low riding 1986 2wd Toyota and 2wd 1997 Tacoma!!!

With that said, if the Ford Ranger is going to get any respect from me in 4x4 category, they need to do something about their front suspension!

I have never seen torsion bars mounted so low with NO protection in my life on a 4x4!!!

If you can see the torsion bars on a 4x4 when you drive up next to one at a stop light, that is not a good sign!

Get rid of the torsion bars and place coils up front!

@oxi - "you should be doing some sort of off-roading or else why on earth would you buy a 4x4? "
Because I can afford it, and I want it.
I've gotten through harsh winters with 4x2 vehicles, and I've gone offroad into some nasty spots with a 4x2,
but why bother if you have the choice?


I was going to say the same thing... Winter. I live in northern Minnesota where the roads ice up in November and don't thaw until March or April. The temperature goes weeks without cracking 0 degrees F and even with all the salt they sling on the roads, all but the main arterial highways generally have an inch or two of hard-pack and ice on them. Plus we regularly get snow storms that dump a foot or more of snow over night. If you don't have 4WD and some decent ground clearance, you don't make it out of the driveway for work in the morning.


I was going to say the same thing... Winter. I live in northern Minnesota where the roads ice up in November and don't thaw until March or April. The temperature goes weeks without cracking 0 degrees F and even with all the salt they sling on the roads, all but the main arterial highways generally have an inch or two of hard-pack and ice on them. Plus we regularly get snow storms that dump a foot or more of snow over night. If you don't have 4WD and some decent ground clearance, you don't make it out of the driveway for work in the morning.

Thanks for the comments. I will just keep what I have. My S-10 will go another 10 years or more with proper maintenance. I have 93,500 miles on it and spend very little on maintenance. It has no rust and looks like new. If the manufacturers make a smaller truck that is fine if not I will get by with what I have.


What is wrong with buying 4x4 for winter driving? I too did survive 4 long winters in a 2wd F150 just fine, but i still cannot count how many times I had to shovel my way out. Now with my 4x4 Tacoma I had to do that once so far in past 2 winters, and that was also only my own fault. Why would I deliberately or anyone as long as they can afford a 4x4 truck buy a 2wd in regions with tons of snow? Don't quite understand that...Btw. 95 out of 100 post 2000 trucks here in Canada are 4x4's, and I doubt that even 5 out of those 100 go off roading.

The comments to this entry are closed.