Motor Trend Has an Argument About Small Pickups


The debate over the midsize pickup truck segment won't be solved anytime soon, especially with companies like GM preparing to spend millions of dollars to bring in a new Chevy Colorado to the U.S. and Ford suggesting there is no need for a Ranger replacement or added investment.

Our colleagues at Motor Trend have decided to jump headfirst into the debate and discuss each of the existing global segment players, what they have to offer, and essentially why the compact pickup segement should be left to the two major players: Toyota and Nissan. 

The article is worth a read and has many good quotes straight from the manufacturers themselves. Included in the piece are the thoughts and conjectures of Motor Trend's Detroit Editor Todd Lassa (not really a truck guy) as well. The story is called The Future of the Compact Pickup Truck and seems to have a running argument with itself. 

Additionally, Motor Trend will have more truck news as they get ready to announce their 2012 Truck of the Year winner very soon. They've even got this year's competitors listed now. The winner seems pretty obvious to us. 


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From Motor Trend. Does Paul Willemsen have any idea whatsoever what people drive outside the US.??? He is totally clueless. Four cylinder gas engines?? A Half-ton payload with a manual transmission??? and two wheel drive???? People like him should be locked away so they cannot harm anyone.
No wonder their is a heated argument going LOL
""The Hilux is a traditional small Japanese pickup truck. It is built much in the mold of a pre-1990s half-ton pickup [literally a half-ton payload], and reflects how pickups are used in rest of the world. Four-cylinder gas engines suffice for most markets, along with a manual transmission and two-wheel drive. That keeps cost and weight low, and fuel economy as high as possible."

You know it will be the F-150 because this is a magazine and since more folks own F-150's, they will award the one that will sell more magazines or gets more hits on their website...

It's called politics and not reality!

A Tacoma has better approach, breakover and departure angles as well as a better ground clearance to weight number stock and that is why I keep coming back...

I do not have to spend the checkbook to improve those numbers for serious off-roading unlike with the competition in class and those large full-size pickups...

And my Tacoma still fits nicely in the garage with plenty of room to walk around unlike the full-size pickups in our neighborhood. Most just leave them outside, too big to even fit in the garage...

oxi's diaper is to small, all the crap is going every where. guess he should of got a fullsize one to hold it all

So this Motor Trend guy did not mention that the Big 3 has not changed thier old ways when it comes to the small/mid size trucks which is , we will build it and they will buy it. GM hired Isuzu to design the piece of junk Colorado/Canyon and never touched then since enception. Ford has not upgraded the Ranger since 1992. When Dodge redisigned the Dakota with the same old motors and nobody bought them, they did not ask why? Noboy wanted a lowered 4X4 with poor gas mileage. Nissan and Toyota have sort of kept up but I think Toyota could have done better with just updating the smaller Tacoma instead of making a bigger more costlier version.

da fish smells like a dirty jap!


The majority of people dont go off road with their truck,we dont care about the approach angle..Though I have not checked each truck out,I am going by your word that the Tacoma has the best approach angle (though a while back you bragged how the Tacoma was the smallest mid size truck until I pointed out to you,that it actually is the biggest small truck,even bigger than the Dakota,so I know you have alot of mistaken facts that you jot down)

By the way my 2 full size Dodge Ram 1500 Quad Cab's fit in my garage,and I have ample room infront,middle,sides of my garage.Furthermore,alot of sub-divisions are made for peasants in urban areas today ,and a Tacoma cant fit in the garage,its too big !! Heck,when I was house shopping a new sub-division had a Smart car taking up the whole drive way !!! Obviously,I bought a new house in a pricier area with a garage and yard !!

I drove a Tacoma and I felt it was too cramped,as I am over 6 feet tall,it felt like a small clown car and the Tacoma drives like a 1960's solid axle one ton for ride quality,Tacoma is rough and you feel every bump,with zero handling at speed merging the truck leans and has next to no mid range passing power !!

Around here Tacoma's are bought by mostly 50 year old women to go get their hair and nails done !!

I didn't read the article. I will say that for as good as it may be (I've never even ridden in one much less owned one), the Tacoma is not a "compact" pickup. It's nearly half-ton sized. That is definitely not a criticism, just a statement of fact. The frontier is closer, but really something like the Ranger is (was) what I think of as a 'compact' pickup. I think there is a market for things like that, but maybe body-on-frame isn't the way to go for that market. For the payload and the way the vehicles are used it might be better to go with a unit-body construction. Like a transit connect with a bed.

One thing I dislike about smaller pickups is that they don't always get good mileage. My brother's 1995 S10 gets crap mileage no matter what you do. I know of other people who also get poor mileage compared to a similarly equipped half-ton. In that case, to me, why not just get a tacoma, dakota, or a half-ton domestic with a small v8 or ecoboost? The USA has big roads, why not buy something that is more capable?

If fourwheeling is all you care about buy a Rubicon. You can't get a Tacoma with Dana 44 Axles, sway bar disconnects, front and rear lockers, or 33" tires. How hard would you have to hit the checkbook to equal that???

Ford is really making a big mistake of the decade not to produce the Ranger!

It will still outsell most of it compeition...a true testamony of how good it was!

If they had just put the new v6 engine s in the Ranger it would have sold even more!!!!

If Ford wont to elimated models the Navigator and Expedition is where I would start!!! Not the Ranger. plus keeing the St Paul Twin Cities Plant open would have helped there image!

Next time you hear Ford claim it wasnt selling as the reason, check it sales numbers in 2011 verus the others!!!!!!


How much would I have to spend to get a 6 foot bed on a Rubicon again?

@D O D G E R A M,

Your comments show your just one of those haters, heck just look at your user name...

The Tacoma rides good, it's not a car, its a pickup, save the cushy rides for the sedan and old folks!

I have a racing background and unlike most zombies that drive today, I prefer to feel the road below me. This keeps me focused and I learn to adapt to the different road conditions better than the zombies that want to be disconnected from the road thus are the ones causing all of the driver error accidents today!

The guy that helped me install my newest suspension package was amazed when he drove my Tacoma on how smooth it was despite the suspension mods...

Typically an off-road capable vehicle is what it is, choppy and bumpy by nature and mine is but less than anticipated... even the wife comments that she is suprised by the nice road manners, she expected otherwise knowing the type of off-road machines I had built before...

Is it perfect? No, Do I care? No, I want it to perform with the larger tires but ironically it has better raod manners that my old souped up x-runner that was stiff as hell...

for me the smaller pickups are not worth it, they get the same maybe a little better FE vs a full size and they just do not have any room with the options of Ford's new V-6's and the 5.3 from GM i don't see me buying a small pick up to try and save on FE and lose all that room and comfort

@Oxi - If fourwheeling isn't your biggest concern and you need to haul loads or pull trailers then there are also some much better choices out there.

If your concerned about fuel economy, get a sedan!

I do not make my choice of pickup based on fuel economy, I base it on what my needs are at the time and what I am looking for in a pickup...

You guys sound like a bunch of girls talking fuel economy!

And keeping with the girl mentality, I always hear folks say something like "we don't off-road like you do, bla bla bla" then I ask why did you buy the 4wd?

To carry that extra weight around all year long to use it once in a great while? You talk fuel economy yet have this heavier 4wd system just tagging along not being used to its original potential...

Maybe you guys should start to ask the OEM's like what Toyota did with their Tacoma and make a PreRunner option, stripping away the front drive axle, driveshaft, etc... to reduce the weight YET is still has the ride height and look of the 4wd...

Then I may listen to your fuel economy whining...hehehe


Do you really need 4wd to haul loads or pull trailers?

Not really and in the majority of cases, NO!

Wow, this nation is kept supplied and fed by non-4wd semi-tractors hauling incredible amounts of weight through all types of weather and road conditions, shocking isn't it?

UPS trucks and FedEx trucks are just rear-drive, oh the humanity to it all...

We need a small diesel.

Source it from VW if you have to, get it done and you will sell tons of trucks.


You just said it...

If I do not need a full-size pickup and a smaller one can fit the bill, why should I still buy a full-size again?

I see many young kids that do not even own a house yet have a full-size and for what?

I do not have a trailer to pull yet if I did have a smaller aluminum type fishing boat, my Tacoma would do just fine as well as a small trailer to pull a couple of atv's, etc...

I see big full-size pickups pulling small boats and atv or sled trailers that a front-drive little sedan could do just fine...

Their is a guy who pulls his aluminum boat with his Avalon sedan, I've seen Rangers pullling boats, etc...

Yes entiltlement gets you what you want but realistically many full-size pickup owners out there are over-doing it. A smaller car or pickup could get the job done but they want that size to scare the neighborhood with and punch it in a straight line on the freeway, etc...

We all know the truth!

Yet others actually use their for what they were intended and I have no quarrels with them...


You are right, most class 8 trucks arent 4 wheel drive they are 8 wheel drive. The dual tandem axles drive the truck.


That would be 8RD, rear-drive, not front drive capable on the steers...

They seem to do well without front drive!

Why doesnt PUTC have a truck of the year? I know the Toyota won't win ever win it but it would be nice to have one here its something that is missing.

Todd Lassa mentions that "You'd need to buy the 2WD four-cylinder manual Ranger to get more than a 1-mpg highway advantage over the most efficient F-150." That may be true if you factor in the dinosaur engines that are available in the current Ranger, but if Ford gave us the Duratorq diesel and a direct-injected gas engine it would blow away the F-150 in fuel mileage. Not everyone has the need for a full size pick-up. Ford is making a huge mistake.

As far as Toyota you can't even get a manual transmission in their 2WD 4 cyl. Extracab, nor can you get a direct-injected engine. You would think when they redesigned the Tacoma they would have addressed this. Come on Toyota wake-up and get with the times.

@Karl - Toyota doesn't have to get with the times, they win by default as last non-fullsize standing. If GM ever follows through with the Colorado then Toyota may need to up their game, but for now they don't have anything to worry about

@ Oxi
Whats wrong with having 4x4 on my truck even if i dont use it? Because you never know if you need it in a an emergency. I have a F150 Fx4 and i got 4x4 in case the boat luanch ramp is slipper and can't get the boat out. See many 2wd all the time with this problem. Also i take my toyhauler out to the desert, what if i hit a soft sand and cant get out. What if i go up to the mountains and slide into a snow bank. Its the what IF's is why most of us get 4x4.

Bring the global ranger over as an F100, then you don't have to worry about cutting into F series sales. Get it done already Ford. There is a market for smaller trucks with better fuel economy.

@Mike S.,

Semi-tractors get out of some pretty interesting loading areas with more weight to pull out, all types of weather conditions and NO front drive and they seem to do pretty well...

Learn how to take a 2wd up boat ramps, that would require to think out of the box to better setup the rear suspension...

By the way most of the desert trucks are 2wd, that is those that candle handle the speed off-road. You can make it with a 2wd in the desert but you have to pay attention and know what your dealing with otherwise you know what...

By the way my parents survived so many Wisconsin winters with their 1973 Chevy Impala, yup RWD sedan and they lived, shocking!

One of my main winter beaters for so many years was a little 2wd Toyota pickup, shocking that I could survive up here in the brutal winters with just a 2wd low to the ground pickup, shocking!

For now I use my wife's old Ford ZX2 as my official winter beater. Much safer to drive at normal speeds than my semi-lifted Tacoma, shocking!

The reasons for this are so simple folks. As has been written on this site recently, the three most profitable vehicles in the world are the three American fullsize trucks. The big 3 don't want to build and sell compact trucks because they cut into the sales of their most profitable models. Ford wants you to drive an F150, not a ranger because they make more money that way. End of story. The only way it changes is if American truck buyers flock to the compact models still available (Frontier, Tacoma) and cost them sales. Only then will you see meaningful offerings in the compact truck segment again.

@Oxi - Shocking post!

But in regards to 2wd on a boat ramp, a locker helps a lot but there isn't much you can do with your suspension to increase traction if there isn't any weight in the bed of your truck. I usually carry several old batteries on the passenger side of my bed to keep the tire from breaking loose. There really is no replacement for 4wd powering the front tires when you haul a heavy boat up a slippery ramp.

@ johnny doe, watch who you call a "dirty jap", re-read my post and let me know what is NOT true. I have owned Dodge and Jeep trucks from 1972 until 2001. At that time no US branded truck met my needs so I bought the 2001 Tacoma Double Cab 4X4 put a mild lift on it and have driven it ever since just waiting for a US branded truck to come out that would met my needs. THE NEW CHEVY COLORADO MAY DO THAT , JUST WAITING FOR IT TO COME OUT. The newer Taco & Frontier are to large along with the Dakota. I know the guys who built the interior and motor of my union built, built in the USA Taco.

first of all dafish the Dakota didn't have the same old motors when retired they had the 3.7 and new gen 4.7 before that was last gens 3.7 and 4.7 and before that 318 360 for r/t and the 3.9 so shutup if you don't know what your talking about. anyway this formula seems pretty simple people don't want their mid/compact sized trucks to be all fancy and have highend option like the fancier full sizes why do you think the ranger when it was still somewhat modern sold great and before the Dakota got stupidly large for a midsize sold pretty good too? these modern gas motors can ref get 25 or more mpgs in a small truck either old ranger/s10/dakota sized even in a 4x4 make a mini Eco boost like I think the Ford flex had (correct me if I'm wrong) and the new pentastar in a small Dakota should be plenty powerful and give you at least 20 hwy I just don't understand

@oxi - most people could get by with 4x2 but why would we?
Why don't you sell your Taco and get a 4x2 ?
There are plenty of times in the winter where I need 4x4.
Same old Oxi. just because we use our trucks differently does not mean our choices are less valid than yours!

Transport trucks do not have front drive. Yes, that is true. I see you changed your tune when someone pointed out 8 wheel drive. Standard Oxi protocol. Transport trucks can lockout all 4 sets of duals (depending on the rear end setup). In the winter , how many chained up transports do you see chugging up hills? I can't remember the last time I saw a p/u with tire chains. In my neck of the woods, most of the loggers have gone to tri-drives. That would be 3 drive axles. They still spin out, or get stuck on occasion. I see many guys pulling large toy haulers in the winter. I am always amazed by the amount of money guys spend on sleds. (snowmobiles - just in case you don't know about things outside of Toyota's production envelope).

@da fish - ignore johnny doe - he is a stoner cousin of Bob. If it doen't have a bowtie on it, he won't smoke it.

@Mr Kowitall Yes you can make out the Blue Oval in that second set of phots.

@ Luke in CO. I agree why would Ford start copying the Opel/Citroen etc body style?

Vauxhall Vivaro

Peugeot Van

Whoops very Late night. Post for the Transit Vans article.

There were some interesting comments made in the story in question.(The Future of the Compact Pickup Truck)
I'm surprised that they weren't mentioned by anyone.
1. "One analyst requesting anonymity says that because the Tacoma doesn't share its platform with any other high-volume model, Toyota is "questioning" the small pickup's future."
Will Toyota kill the Tacoma in favor of the Hilux?
Does that mean Toyota will not upgrade the engines, and transmissions to make the Tacoma more fuel efficient?
Will they bring in an "A-Bat" rig somewhere along the line as a Scion?
Poor oxi will have to buy a Nissan or a full sized truck. ROTHFLMAO.

2. "If Chevrolet has the strongest case for this segment, Ford has the weakest."
Interesting comment to make considering the global Ranger will also be made in South Africa which is Chicken Tax exempt.
We saw the specs of the global Ranger and performance wise, it falls smack dab in the F150 truck market.
Does that mean the new full sized GMC 1/2ton trucks aren't going to be much better in the MPG department?
Is the Colorado going to be significantly cheeper than full sized GM truck or global Ranger?
Will the Colorado's capabilities minimize overlap with GM's fullsizers? or is GMC going to be content with spreeding its sales demographic over 3 brands instead of 2? (Sierra, Silverado, Colorado).


Why do you have to insult me? I know what sleds are, I live in Wisconsin a very outdoors state where many FIBS or FISH come up from the Chicago burbs with their jacked up 4-door full-sizes (now with larger diamter rims and smaller tires, not much room to air down but then again they do not off-road with them, just want to look kool pulling that small trailer behind them blowing by well over the speed limit), they always seem to give me a thumbs up, some take pics with their cell phones as they pass me, etc...

Semi-tractors still do well without front drive and my parents survived so many years with their rear drive only Impala, shocking!

i am shocked WOW floored

Now onto the "Truck of the Year" awards.
I'm amazed that the Tacoma made the list. A visit to the plastic surgeon, and a Sync like system constitutes a new truck????
Well, maybe.
One must take into account how conservative Toyota is:)
New engines in a previous model chassis count as new? I can buy that, considering that a drivetrain is a critical part of what makes a pickup a pickup.
I'm not sure that Motor Trend will give the Ram or the F150 the award.

My money is on the 2012 Nissan NV.
It is the only one that is really and truly "all new". Nissan took a chance with this van. They deserve some kudo's for a new van in a dinosaur market.


Too much of a following to kill the Tacoma...

Just look at the body on frame 4Runner, still in the lineup should tell you that Toyota will not give up on the Tacoma...

Plus it outsells the Tundra/Sequoia combo!

The Tacoma will be revamped to take advantage of fleet sales since the Ford wants everyone to drive an F-150 and kill the Ranger...

I am seeing more and more 2wd Tacoma's in small fleets of various companies even here in Wisconsin. Only a matter of time before they become the preferred. The 2wd Tacoma is the best in fuel economy for all you gurls out there of ANY pickup sold in the U.S....

This week a Toyota Tacoma souped up will attempt an overland speed record across Antarctica...

I believe 2 Toyota Land Cruisers were the first to cross years ago but they were slow, so the Tacoma will attempt to break the record in honor of the 100th anniversary of the first trek across by humans and dogs I would assume...

@Oxi The 390hp Supercharged Tacoma trying for the record. I do not agree with article in the link, that wheeled vehicles have a big future in the Antarctic. They have some use but are restricted. The Antartic is a land continent. Tasmania the Island State of Australia was part of it.

@Oxi: did it ever occur to you that those drivers of full size trucks you see with light loads might also have a bigger camping trailer at home, or it's a family of 5-6. Sure, you can get 5 people crowded into a Tacoma crew, say you drove half a day to go camping, be kinda stuffy wouldn't it? I know, you have no kids to haul around. Or not many friends? Maybe they have car trailers? Horse trailers? Hay trailers? Maybe they need to put big things in the bed? I'd rather have the space and not need it part of the time as opposed to not having it when I need it. Glad I had a 6'4" full width bed (wider then an F-150) on the last trip I made to Washington/Colorado. Alot of parts would have been left behind if I had a Frontier/Tacoma crew longbed. I would like to see what those little trucks get for mileage towing/hauling 6,000 and up, be pretty squirmy too! I bet most Tacomas that sell are 4x4 crew shortbed, not much room in the back for much. Sure, I had a full size truck and didn't own a house, what in the world does that matter?? Be kinda hard to load all the car/engine parts my full size held in a little truck. Not too sure the little trucks of today would haul that car trailer, they sure wouldn't have done it in the 90s! I like my four wheel drive, yes I carry 225 extra pounds wherever I go, beats the embaressment of getting a tractor or a friend to help get you a 4x2 all unstuck. Oh wait, might not find somebody at sometimes, or might have to wait hours, almost a day...No Oxi, not everybody buys a 4x4 with the sole purpose to play, like you do. My brother in law thought he wanted an F-150 ext cab 4x4, but yeah, it doesn't fit in his garage. The Tacoma Crew longbed does and it FITS HIS NEEDS. However, They won't come down hardly, and he can get an F-150 nicely equiped for cheaper, plus he says he might want to tow 6500 pounds. I gave hime my opinion then, cause now he would be at or beyond max tow for the mid sizes, well discounting the Dakota. So, what do you think he should do, mr. know only offroading?

"Plus it outsells the Tundra/Sequoia combo!"

Wow, what an achievement!

@ oxi -
1. Since you seem to insult everyone else, I thought I'd take a page out of your book. Example - your attempted rebuttal.
2. I'm not talking about pulling some lame assed tiny 2 sled trailer, I'm talking about 40 foot long toy haulers, or 33 foot long cargo trailers and all sorts of smaller cargo trailers. When guys around here talk about "sledding in the mountains" they REALLY are talking about sledding in the mountains. Try getting to the trailhead in a 4x2?
Most guys around here who only haul 2 sleds have sled decks on their trucks. Most need 3/4 ton trucks because 5.5 box 1/2 tons were getting nailed by MOT (Canadian version of DOT). The sled deck hangs too far back behind the back wheels making for extremely poor weight distribution.

You talk nice and I'll talk nice.
My truck rides really, really nice.
Owning a parade float is nice insulation, therefore I'm less likely to get "butt hurt".

F-150 already won and there was a lot more to the 2011 F-150 than just the engines: new select shift tranny, EB, productivity screen, EPASS, and lots of other little things that were new for 2011, etc. It doesn't have to be all new. The award goes to the most significant. F150 was the game changer.

The F150 won MOTOR TREND TOTY Award!

Yes, about truck of the year - F150 won. No big surprise. They trashed the Ram for being big (DUH) and they slammed the Tacoma for not being able to tow or haul well (also DUH). The Nissan was just weird as we mostly agree. That left the F150

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