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)



I certainly agree with you. I live in a mountain community where it snows about a half-dozen times a year. It amazes me how so many people in my town do not have four-wheel drive. Many of these people will go out of their way, the night before a predicted snowfall, and park their two-wheel drive vehicles in a parking lot off of the main road a block or more away from their houses. The parking lot is next to a main road that gets plowed. That way they do not have to try to navigate up/down their snow covered roads. These same people are the ones that get stuck in the snow, at the end of the day, driving home from work. Some people are just so stubborn. It is nice to be able to just pull back the MANual transfer case shifter, in my Power Wagon or Rubicon, and go. In my Grand Cherokee, with the Quadra-Trac full-time 4X4 system, I just put the transmission in drive and go. Four-wheel drive was/is made for a reason!

i have an 2006 toyo tacc and i love it than any other truck that i have had. I bout it used with only 30,000 miles on it on march of 2009 and now it has 80,000 miles and no complaints except replacing the gas pedal which i had no problem sticking with. good job Toyota

@oxi you're right, we've gotten by on vehicles without airbags and other safety features, why include them now? because people want them and will pay for them. 4x4 makes my life easier when the snow piles up faster than the plows can move it, and i'm willing to pay for it. just like curtain airbags, a cd player, and a tonneau cover. you're the same truck snob as the guy who accuses YOU of not driving a "truck" because it's not a fullsize.

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