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. 


In the video a tester quotes, "Once you use the Tacoma as a truck, it begins to fall apart."

This is the most accurate testing ever made on the Tacoma. Thanks for talking the truth!

@Oxi: Does it matter what the new Tacome 2 wd 4 cylinder gets for mileage? My 96 Camry does better around town and highway, and if I need to haul something, I get my truck. Put something in the back of that little truck and your mileage will drop! Bigtime!

The flaw in the Motor Trend piece is that the HiLux has a payload of almost double that of the Tacoma. It's a metric ton, more than 1000 kg, or about 2200 lbs. The HiLux is a workhorse, not a runabout from the 1980s. Trucks like the HiLux offer a direct alternative to the entry level Tundras and F150s.

A 2012 HiLux with diesel engine gets about 30 mpg highway.

@flintstone . I made the 2nd comment on this thread, how clueless some of the statements were on the Motor Trend article, especially the MARKETING head of Lexus US . Why is he talking about global pickup use? If he is their Marketing guru, then he knows something about the US market for Lexus, but his knowledge of pickup use and capabilities globally can be put on a pinhead with space to spare.

It is obvious that everybody, including the manufacturers, have forgotten the Ford Courier, the Chevy Luv, the Dodge D50, Mitusubishi Mighty Max, and so many others. Those were compact trucks and those are what we need to see on the roads again today--not these huge gas-hogs at four times the physical size and less that half the gas mileage.

Don't get me wrong, when it's a real work truck being used for real work, then a big truck may be better; but 90% of the full-sized trucks I see on the road today are luxury vehicles blinged out to a pimp's taste that serves no purpose but to drink gas.

But the problem isn't the manufacturers, it's the people buying them. Why do these people feel they need something so big? Honestly, even Oxi's argument, while out in left field, made a point; today's trucks are simply too big. Just two weeks ago I saw Ford F-2500s used as 18-passenger busses and F-3500s and equivalents used as 24-passenger busses. No, I don't mean American-style fiberglass-sided town busses, I mean open-bed, benches bolted to the deck busses with a body of tube steel and a floor of plain-old wood. Every individually-owned truck I saw in three different countries was no larger than the Ranger and most of them were models we would consider antique at 25 years old. Small trucks that still met the needs of their owners.

And that's my point: people don't need huge trucks, they simply want the status that a huge gas-hog offers in a "my truck is better than your truck" game of one-upmanship. Well guess what? My truck is better than your truck--it even has a removable roof, goes off-loading like you wouldn't believe, and runs on a comparatively simple V-6 engine that gets it everywhere I need to go. It also didn't cost me $45,000 to buy brand new.


I came this close (imagine my hands held as far apart as possible) to buying a Tacoma as opposed to my Colorado, and then I remembered the frame on my '00 Tacoma that I bent damn near in half simply by filling the bed with dirt, and driving over a dirt road at the dump at 30 mph.

Toyota's are nothing but landfill waiting to happen.

@ Vulpine - if you read the MotorTrend story about compact trucks, quote "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."
I would like to see Toyota drop the bigger Tacoma and go back to a Hilux sized truck. Why creep into the full sized 1/2 ton truck domain. Ford says the global Ranger is too close in size to the F150 (I bet you can also add price and performance). I'd say - so is the Tacoma.
Toyota should go with the Hilux in the NA market. Put some modern engines in it, including a diesel and maybe a hybrid.
I bet it would easily outsell the Tacoma.
It would give truck customers a clear choice between a full sized and a compact. With that being said, it would help Tundra sales because the Hilux is small enough not to poach sales.

Why the need to reinvent the wheel?

From the sounds of it, 9 out of 10 of us would be happy with a 1993 nissan hardbody so long as it had a turbo diesel.

And who wouldn't kill for one if it looked like that hilux in the pic with those arctic tires?


You are quick to comment what other folks NEED--it is a free country and people are generally free to be as stupid as other think they may be.

You don't NEED a Jeep and most Wranglers get just as crappy as mileage as a full sized truck--which is sad considering how much smaller they are an how little work then can do, comparatively.

There is no "Smaller" Toyota Pickups. Hilux is the same size as the Tacoma and has twice the payload and GCVWR.
That article got it all wrong. Small Toyota pickups existed in the 1980's.
Hilux's primarily have diesels, the Tacoma does not.

@Lou and @Vulpine.
Hilux Kerb Weight is 4270lbs.
GVWR 6,120lbs
Payload 3058lbs.

Toyota Tacoma
Kerb Weight 3250lbs
GVWR 4,600lbs.
Payload 1350lbs.

I am extremely skeptical regarding US payload ratings for all pickups--a Toyota Sienna minivan has a higher payload capacity than ANY configuration of a Tacoma--I find that hard to believe.

Also, the Tacoma has a 1000lb greater towing capacity than the Hilux... which is odd for a pickup that is rated with the lower payload capacity... .

RR, GVWR-curb weight=payload. 6120-4270=1850

@Dav: "Also, the Tacoma has a 1000lb greater towing capacity than the Hilux... which is odd for a pickup that is rated with the lower payload capacity... ."

I don't see it as odd at all--cars used to do it all the time, towing 5,000 pound plus trailers while only having a 350# to 500# passenger and luggage capacity. It's easy to tow a heavier load than it is to carry it simply because you're not putting all that load on the frame of the rig. Those Mitsubishi, Isuzu and other cab-over trucks are now coming in with better CARRY capability than most of America's pickup trucks, and they're still shorter overall than even the F-350HD and the other HDs.

So really, going back to my original statement, WHY do people feel they need such a huge and expensive piece of junk?

@Tom that was the specification for that model. yet to find the 3000lb payload but this comes close. a 2827lb payload.Heaviest GVWR I can find is 6,230lbs.

@Dav Agree, I find it hard to believe that a pickup with such a low GVWR and the same 4 Litre V6, can tow as much let alone more. Pretty optimistic figures from Toyota and the Tacoma.

@Vulpine you are right YOU do NOT need a something like a F250 to do Landscaping for instance. I very tiny Japanese Truck,( more a glorified mini van as they do not meet the 10,000lb GVWR for a truck Licence) will do the job in a lot of cases. Then again the tools also need to be adequate for the job.

@Robert Ryan - I am surprised that the Hilux weighs more than the Tacoma. That may be why it has a heavier GVW. I assumed that the Hilux would be lighter since it is smaller in dimensions. My bad. I think that it is the liability lawyers in NA that downrate the trucks capacities. It is safer to under rate and have people overload, then to rate at true capacity and have people overload. Just a hunch;)

It has a much more substantial build from the factory i.e. higher GVWR.
Also people have got the dimensions mixed up. The Hilux is longer and has a wider wheelbase. Hilux/Tacoma specs
Length 120"/ 109" length, Wheelbase 121/109" Width 72/72"

I said that it is highly optimistic that the Tacoma is rated at 6,500lb towing if its base weight is 3200lb , GVWR of 4600lb with a tiny GCVWR of 7500lb???

Just checked tow capacity for the Tacoma on the Toyota spec sheet is 3,500lb?? Not the Hilux's mediocre 5,500lb. better but still poor.

@Robert Ryan

I don't think that you are comparing similar configurations of the Hilux and Tacoma.

The Hilux has a maximum towing capacity of 5500lbs; The Tacoma has 6400lbs.

A 4x4 SR5 4.0 DC Hilux weighs 3960lbs; a similar Tacoma weighs 4130lbs. A DC Tacoma also has a longer wheelbase and is an inch longer overall.

Also, the Tacoma has better approach/departure angles.

ok why would you hual a 33 foot trailer with a small truck it ant right and to the guy who brought up why would you want a lowerd 4x4 im with you if you are buying a 4x4 its becouse you need it or want to go off roading in ether case you dont want low ground clearence if yoy do your messed up in the head

The comments to this entry are closed.