PUTC's 2012 Midsize Shootout Is Coming

Midsize Shootout Group II
Whether you call it the compact or midsize pickup truck segment, you have to admit it's not getting much love within the auto industry. If full-size truck makers are not dropping their smaller truck offerings altogether, then they're seriously considering the option.

The only aberation in the segment seems to be General Motors, who recently announced a globally designed new Colorado will be built and sold in the U.S., most likely for the 2013 model year. Ford, on the other hand has just built their last Ranger at the Twin Cities Assembly Plant in St. Paul, Minnesota, without any stated plans on returning to the segment anytime soon.

Still, we believe the segment wil be resurrected. From what we see and what we're hearing people talk about, especially now that fuel pricing issues could become more volitile, there is a need for a smaller-than-fullsize pickup (maybe with a small turbo-diesel) that could service a good chunk of the truck-buying public.

That's why we wanted to do a full segment test of all the compact/midsize trucks sold in the U.S. Simply put, we've taken the seven entries and run them over three straight days of testing in the high and low deserts outside Los Angeles to find out who has the best little truck. The seven trucks and ten tests are below. Look for our full story and a complete description of each test to be published in mid-January.

Any guesses on finishing order? More to come. 


Competitors / Engines / Trans

  • Chevy Colorado / 5.3L V-8 / 4-spd
  • Ford Ranger / 4.0L V-6 / 5-spd 
  • GMC Canyon / 3.7L I-5 / 4-spd
  • Honda Ridgeline / 3.5L V-6 / 5-spd
  • Nissan Frontier / 4.0L V-6 / 5-spd
  • Suzuki Equator / 4.0L V-6 / 5-spd
  • Toyota Tacoma / 4.0L V-6 / 5-spd


Scoring Categories / Percentage Value

  • 0-60 mph empty / 10%
  • 0-60 mph loaded / 10%
  • 60-0 mph empty / 10%
  • 60-0 mph loaded / 10%
  • Dyno run, max. hp / 10%
  • Fuel economy, mpg / 10%
  • Max. payload, lbs / 10%
  • Off road / 10%
  • Value / 10%
  • Expert impressions / 10% 


my moneys is on the Chevy Colorado 5.3L V-8!! for some reason this docent seem fair but f**k it lets to shoot out began!
oh yeah first!!

let the shoot out begin!****

wheres the dakota?

The colorado should do good good in the 0-60 loaded and unloaded but will likely have poor ratings everywhere else, too bad the tacoma is the only toyota not getting the dual vvti 4.0

The Ford Ranger is a compact truck, not a midsize.
Seriously its like comparing a Titan to a Silverado 2500.

If you wanted a midsized Ford truck you should have gotten a Ford Sport Trac, although it would due much for the whole towing/hauling thing with a small bed and rear coils...

damn ford boys already crying its not fair haha i guess should be use to their crying its run what you make if ford makes the smallest and most worthless thats their own fault i put chevy toyota gmc nissan ranger and so on

What a waste of a comparison test, the RAM Dakota would stomp all these junks...

”PUTC's 2012 Midsize Shootout Is Coming “

So is Christmas.

I'm surprised the Ranger was even included, since its officially done. Despite what everyone here thinks about it, I think the Honda will do annoyingly well with this criteria.

I didn't even know there were 7 left.

be really interesting if the ranger wins. I think for once toyota has a chance to win something.

Like anything, the best is relative depending on what you look for. I would pick the Frontier, but I see a compelling case for the Ridgeline for people who want comfort ahead of payload and towing.

I can already see the furd and oximorons lining up rhe excuses. its snot fare that the Chevy has a rottin tootin V8. Boo hoo. GM will prove obce again how geeat the 5.3 is. It is the best engine in full size or compacts. Chevy wins and everyone loozes. let it be written let it be done.

Off-road only 10%?

Then they should only rate 2wd if they are going to rate off-road so low!

Toyota should win off-road with its better approach/departure/breakover numbers and locker availability also front coil springs and not torsion bars that are so ancient...

Toyota should also win value because Toyota is not only the best brand in re-sale value but the Tacoma is the ONLY pickup in the top 10 of Kelley Blue Books just announced results for the new year!

Geez, what a horrible competition. The ranger was just discontinued, the GM twins will be replaced next year with a much better truck, and the ridgeline sells like 5 trucks per year. Why not wait a year until Gm brings out their new trucks, Honda updates/discontinues the refrigerator and give Toyota another year to modernize the Tacobell.

Those who think the Colorado with a V8 will be so good, think again:

Payload is only 1,168 lbs. in crew-cab 4wd...

Towing capacity is only 6,000 lbs. in crew cab 4wd...

My 4-cylinder Tacoma has a higher payload rating and a V6 Tacoma is rated 6,500 lbs. towing...

Th V8 is a gimmick to say the least!

Too bad they will not test the 5-speed manual, I would have loved to see how Toyota's Aisin transmissions will fair in the Colorado/Canyon. They run Aisin's AR-5 transmission...

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.
We had the "Rumble in the Rockies", and now the "Fight of the Forgotten".
The shootout for the most neglected class in North America.

@Mark Williams . Too bad you could not get some of the Global, Pickups to compare. i.e Mitsubishi Triton , Hilux and New Ford Ranger. Maybe just maybe, further down the track.

Looking at the pic above, the Tacoma's nose is higher than the others. This translates into better approach angles, attention to details is why the Tacoma is a better off-roader folks...

This reminds me of the attention to details for older Toyota's back in the day:

Torsion bar placement! Toyota mounted them to the upper a-arms called 'highlander' thus full protection by the frame! The competition to this day mounts them to the lower a-arms! So if you were climbing over rocks or stumps and the pickup slips and rests over a rock lets say, the torsion bars could bear the weight of the pickup on the competition and break yet on a Toyota it would rest on the frame first!

Little details folks...

Clutch Defeat Switch! Such a handy button, not sure if it is offered in the competition? I had one on my 1986 pickup and now with my 2010. Let's say you are climbing a slippery hill and you stall it. On a non-equipped pickup you would slide back down before you could get the power up and running to the wheels...

With this feature if you stall it, no biggie, just keep the left foot on the brake and right foot on the gas, turn the key off and then back to get power, press the button and then turn key to turn motor over...

No need to depress the clutch, the truck will lurch forward without stalling thus much better chance of making it up the slippery obstacle. It is also handy in the garage where you do not need to press the clutch pedal in to start the pickup in neutral!

Little details folks...

E-locker from 1995 on! No need to explain that advantage!

Taller stance! Toyota pickups then and even today rest taller than the competition with better approach/departure/breakover angles as a result and still larger wheel wells, hmmm...

This means you do not have to break the bank account to get larger tires or improve ground clearance numbers! Back in the day I only needed a simple 3-inch bodi-lift to get 35 inch tires on my old 1986, try that with the competition without altering wheel wells!

I even cranked my torsion bars once and got an incredible 17 inches of front clearance with 35's, that was more than the Alpha Hummer. That clearance worked wonders down in Baja! With rear axle at 14 inches above the ground, it was funny that I could just go over 12 inch tall boulders in the middle of the road!

Attention to details folks...

There is no 2012 Dakota. Hopefully they will come out with a new version in the near future. And let's pray it's built on a truck frame not a caravan frame!


Would you please stop talking the Toyota 4cly so high. As a Taco owner, if one is INSANE enough to put the claimed payload limit in a Taco, they will have the joy of seeing thier suspension completely blown as mine was. Not only that, there is no way that plastic bed could take the damage. I've seen it bend the metal bracing with just a custom offroad bumper (we were transporting it to a buddy), lets not even bring the tailgate into the mix.

Now if we are talking about an american truck, they can take the payload limit without even flinching, I have witnessed this with my neighbor's S10. While my Taco got better gas mileage, his could handle a constant payload better. Its just reality with all Toyota trucks. Learn, Accept, Live with it.


You know...I mostly just come to this site to listen to all of idiots bitch and whine now. Its so fucken funnny!

So Oxi thinks the Tacoma is best, and Bob thinks the Colorado is best. Well there's a surprise!


Your not making any sense at all...

The bumper mounts to the frame moron!

My much heavier CBI swing door bumper has 10 mounting points, all of which are to the frame! Do you even know what a bumper is?

I have been off-roading with my pickup and its composite bed with weight inthe rear and heavier rear bumper and guess what? No issues whatsoever!

I also loaded up my x-runner with gear including 4 race tires over the span of 5 years, dozens of trips per year fully loaded and guess what? No problems whatsoever from the bed!

The Tacoma has a higher payload rating than a Colorado which translates into it can handle more weight!

My last 3 Tacoma's were AMERICAN made! Got a problem with that?

This should be an easy win for the Frontier/Equator twins.

... but the Taco will probably take it!

Am I the only one to constantly think oxi is a 12 yr old with no reading comprehension skill. He said he was transporting the bumper, it wasn't installed on the truck. After your constant praise about a mediocre truck I am truly ,as you say, a hater. I wouldn't buy a tacoma over a full size if it were 1/10 the price, because it isn't capable enough for my needs. It's your vehicle of choice, fine, don't have a problem with that. Please stop trying to make it out to be the truck for everyone, by sales it's obviously not. I don't want a crowded cab, small bed, low horsepower, small hauling and towing capacity truck when I can have so much more. Why would anyone for that matter? Also, I'm not fooled by the quality argument, I know a mechanic who's been in business for over 45 years, he thinks Ford trucks are ahead in quality over toyota today. He works on them all. I drive an 11 yr old US made truck with no discernible rust, 225000 miles, original engine, transmission, front end(even shocks,but they are getting tired), exhaust(including muffler). Have replaced water pump and alternator, front brake pads and 1 CPS. Interior still looks good and no squeaks or rattles. Like the vast majority, I don't offroad much, but on road I probably get better mileage than your modded tacoma(23 hwy). So, how did I make the wrong choice?

Scoring Categories / Percentage Value
•0-60 mph empty / 10%
•0-60 mph loaded / 10%
•60-0 mph empty / 10%
•60-0 mph loaded / 10%
•Dyno run, max. hp / 10%
Frontier and Colorado have more hp and torque.

•Fuel economy, mpg / 10%
Ridgeline and Tacoma both 21 mpg hwy

•Max. payload, lbs / 10%
Ridgeline, Frontier and Colorado have more payload than Tacoma.

•Off road / 10%
In the 09 Mid-size off-road shootout, the Frontier felt firmer and sturdier off-road. H3T and Frontier better at climbing rocks on the toughest trails. Tacoma better on the beginner trails.

•Value / 10% ?
•Expert impressions / 10% ?
Maybe Tacoma will win. Maybe Tacoma won't.

Since I just bought the 2012 Tacoma " love it " and since there is no real option other than the Tacoma, thanks again ford oh you lost a long time customer my vote Toyota.

wow ford ranger compact truck not mid-side,,,what is the difference,,,,is funny some ford lover dont cry if they put f150to550 total sale..550 is not medium truck...y like gm stuff but Toyota ..nissan or Suzuki same truck....toyo the winner..ford sport track is only good on pave road...the game beguine loll

I think the 4 spd will hold that 5.3L back in the GM in massive ways. I do think the frontier/equator twins have a good shot, that truck is a decent little guy. tacoma is an easy betting horse, but it could be a fun competition.

•60-0 mph empty / 10%
•60-0 mph loaded / 10%
Spongy brakes on Tacoma.

@tom agree 100%, oxi bashes full size trucks like they're useless, but no midsize truck has the capability I need for travel trailer towing. I like to go on trips in my jayco, and no midsize can move it and STOP it safely like a fullsize can. I even mentioned this in a previous thread where oxi claimed it was almost 'senseless' to buy a fullsize, but he didn't respond. midsize trucks are great for off-roading when properly equipped, getting decent mpg's (i could get my 4.0L V6 frontier to do 19.5 combined in a 6 spd tranny and can't get my f-150 to do the same), and moving reasonable loads for the everyday guy. but not everyone can shoehorn their life into a midsize.

any thoughts oxi?

I agree with oxi....

Why is off-road only 10%?

That makes no sense... If it is only 10%, then they should all be 2wd!

Toyota should win because it is more ground clearance...

I agree that Toyota should also win because it has best KBB resale value!

These are the things I like to see on PUTC, but I must admit, I was a little disappointed in the last 1/2 ton shootout.

It didn't really have that much substance or information. Hopefully this one will live up to some of the great ones from the past--and not be biased... .

If I had to bet (personal preference aside), I'm thinking the Frontier/Equator will take it.


Not everyone wants a big honkin full-size tank!

Tacoma can tow 6,500 pounds!

You have to seriously ask yourself if you need more than 6,500 pounds of towing in a personal truck!

Almost every full-size tank oxi sees on the road is never hauling or towing... posers!

What's the point of testing the Suzuki Equator?
Since it's a rebadged Frontier?

I think that you should take these trucks south of the border and add a few small basic diesel trucks like the Nissan NP300. (looks like the 1st gen Frontier) and just for schlitz and giggles, show us how much better trucks we're getting for all that extra money and all that extra gas.

It's a good thing for Nissan that off-road is only 10%...

The Frontier just does not have the ground clearance that the Tacoma does...

oxi has 12 inches of ground clearance under the lowest point on the front skid plates underneath!

I guess they have to make it fair and only count off-road for 10%...

This is going to be interesting...

Considering I've already written the check, the Colorado won.

LOL at oxi, I knew immediately you'd be spamming these comments when I read the article title. Sure enough, "approach/departure angles...." and "why only 10% off-road?"
Well, let's think about that for a second. Oh, that's right, the MAJORITY of trucks see little to no off road action. But, then again, you are oxi and expect every test to fit YOUR criteria.

Somebody really needs to get over himself, you're not the total bad-azz you think you are.

@team oxi I never implied that everyone or almost everyone needs a full size, that is the difference between our statements. You imply that everyone can live with a midsize, and if they can't, it's ridiculous. My jayco trailer weighs 7800 lbs, reasonably loaded with the stuff we need. So yes, I do need a full size to tow it. Plus, I wouldn't even think of loading my old frontier with a load even close to 6500 lbs (its max rating). And yes, I tow on the weekends and weeks when I take leave from work. Does that mean during the week that I'm a poser? Or how about your off road tacoma? It's your driving it to the gas station to fuel up, does that mean if I see you you're a poser? No, it doesn't. Lots of guys buy full size trucks and don't use them to tow or haul, but that doesn't make them bad guys. You need to broaden your horizons. There isn't a NEED to off-road, but you enjoy it and it's a good time. Does that mean you shouldn't be allowed to off-road because you don't NEED to? No. you can do what you like. I think you need to open your eyes a little bit and see things from all points of view. if EVERYONE opened themselves up to many points of view, don't you think there would be more tacoma fans?

Ground clearance
Nissan Frontier CC 10.1"
Tacoma V6 4.0 DC 9.3"



@oxymoron I agree, most trucks aren't using for off-roading as a majority task. I'd say most midsize trucks aren't even properly equipped stock to go off-roading on more than a beginner level trail anyway. But I can agree for having the off-road portion in the test. Ever driven over a couple of curbs just cause you felt like it? lol I can say that come winter in upstate NY I've tackled a few ups and downs just because I knew the truck could do it.

Take this shootout with a grain of salt. In order for any of it to be relative, all the vehicles must be comparative. We've got crew cabs with extended cabs. Are the suspension packages remotely comparable?

@Oxi, George, Team oxi - PLEASE AT LEAST GET CREATIVE LIKE THE BOB'S! He at least changes his personality somewhat depending on the name he posts under (I realize there are more than one Real Bob's). Simply cutting and pasting your previous post and then reposting under a different name and agreeing with yourself is PATHETIC!

@kemo I think as many are crew cabs as possible. The ranger isn't offered in a crew cab, just a 4 door extended cab.

@Mark Williams are you doing max payload just by ratings, or by actually loading and establishing a maximum 'comfort level' of loading? Perhaps a penalty for a published rating too far from the actual?

Back on topic... I think this is a great shootout! Based on sales numbers Tacoma should be #1 so this shootout is Toyota's to lose...

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