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% 


If you go by the picture they are all the largest size cabs available.

1) Tacoma
2) Frontier
3) Ridgeline
4) Equator
5) Ranger
6) Colorado
7) Canyon

i'm gonna say frontier takes the win

60% of the test is how hard it can work as a truck, which is what they are. That's about as fair as it can be. Plus, i'm sure we are going to get data as to how each ranks in each catagory. Then we can choose which would be OUR best based on the criteria we deem important.

@toycrusher84 +1, completely agree

If Frontier wins it is because of politics and not reality!

A Tacoma has better approach, breakover and departure angles as well as a better ground clearance TO WEIGHT numbers...

A tacoma owner like oxi does not have to break out his checkbook to improve his ground clearance numbers numbers for REAL off-roading unlike with the competition...

A Tacoma has better max towing than Frontier...

A Tacoma has better fuel economy than Frontier...

A Tacoma has better 0-60 times than Frontier...

A Tacoma has a roomier cab and updated interior...

A Tacoma has more payload than a Colorado...

Lastly, oxi's 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...



Ranger should not be included, as there IS no 2012 Ranger. All Rangers buildt were 2011 models. So you can throw out ford, they disqualified themselves.
I liked the Ranger. But since Ford has seen fit to kill it, I see no reason to include it, in anything, ( including any purchase consideration). Who wants to buy a vehicle thats it's own builders see as inferior and/or unfit to sell?

I'd like to see the sales of the Colorado shoot through the roof. Just to poke a finger in Ford's eyes. In truth the fit and finish of the Colorado would have to substantially increase. But I'm ticked at Ford for killing the Ranger.

I'm going to have to go against the grain here and bet that the Ridgeline wins. It will be at the top of the pack in each of those categories except for offroading, and then only do to poor ground clearance (~8" I think). Also expert impressions is subjective and could go to any truck.

I predict the Rump Ranger will finish DEAD LAST, giving FORD ANOTHER LOSS and reducing Fr### to tears.


You have involved yourself in business that does not concern you!

How many Tacomas have you owned? None?

If you have not owned any Toyota, I would not trust anything you have to say about Toyota when all you do is trash talk!

The Tacoma is in a class by itself, the competition sucks in this category!

oxi said it best...

You want a solid off-roader in this group, the Tacoma is the best!

You want a reliable 4x2 for some work, the Tacoma is just as good as the Ranger though the Tacoma has more room and larger payload and so forth!

You want a 4-door, what happened to the Ranger? Toyota has been building 4-door pickups in class for quite some time, travel abroad you will see the older ones!

Toyota's 4.0L is no slouch, 32-valves twin-overhead cam it is a great designed engine!

Only missing thing from Toyota is the V8 option on the Tacoma but trust me the 4.0L V6 Tacoma is faster than the Colorado V8's out there!

Did I forget to mention the 6-speed manual trans.?

The new 4-Runner always gives the clues on the next Tacoma and she will have a frame underneath, about 30 more HP with the current 4.0L V6 and so forth!

Where is the Dakota you ask? The Dakota was cut from U.S. production and moved to Argentina with a uni-bodi frame and the last Ranger was built this month! The new Colorado won't be out for a couple years. The refreshed Tacoma will still be running strong in production and offering more for its customers than the competition!

Um, I've turned wrenches on Toyota's and they are a pain in the hind parts. I absolutely hate the 22RE engine.

and btw, I have issues with your multiple name comments, not the Tacoma. It should win this shootout even though I much prefer the Ranger and others.

Like Oxi, I used to think the world revolved around Toyotas. Then I bought a 2006 Dodge Cummins, 6 sp. manual, 4x4. Guess what! I get way better mileage than my 4 or 6 cylinders ever did. I do a lot of off-road. In fact I have crossed the Sahara twice, 9,000 miles worth. Done many trips from Central America to the Arctic. And now, I finally understand what a real, heavy duty truck means. It means "heavy duty". Infinitely lower gears for real off-roading (not donuts in mud puddles like your average Tacoma driver), durability for long arduous trips, 700 miles of range on one tank, payload to carry my ATC camper and all the tools (I am a professional mechanic).

And as far as all the comments from Oxi about Toyotas being small enough to go places full sized can't? That is total bullshit. What do you think made all those old mining roads and trails, mini-trucks? Nope. In fact the mini trucks are a problem because their axle width is narrow and you can not travel in the tracks resulting in more sidewall damage. And then those wimpy little rice-burner clutches and high gears means burning out clutches when climbing over boulders. My Dodge 80:1 crawl ratio means no slipping clutch off road, my Dodge's full torque at 1200 RPM means idling through the difficult portion of the trail unstoppable at 2 mph. No toyota can do that. I travel a lot of off road. I have friends who come along with their 4 and 6 cylinder Toyotas. They use more fuel, burn clutches and have to take obstacles at speed instead of slow and carefully.

@ Oxi, watch this video and grow up. One day you'll have a full size and you'll be "now I get it!"


For those complaining about the Dakota being MIA: This will be a test of 2012 trucks and there is no 2012 Dakota, at least there's no 2012 model listed on the RAM web site. 2011 yes, 2012, no.

@tom and Zach J.

Your haters!

@Mark Williams,

Can you please look into the ISP of 'team oxi' and 'george', they are using a similar name and commenting in a matter to slam me and even posting pictures without my approval. I had to set my photobucket to private because of these morons!

Mark please look at their ISP and I would suggest you start to monitor more of these posters. These scammers should be banned!

All I am saying is if your going to test a 4x4, you better do MORE for an off-road test and rate it much higher like 30% or higher!

Otherwise just test a basic 2wd!

The problem with tests like this and magazine tests is they just do simple off-road tests to show comfort off-road and not ability up to max ground clearance, weight distribution, off-road angles, traction, etc...

No wonder most 4x4 owners are morons and do not know how to use the front drive properly!

4x4 is not just for snowy roads or boat ramps folks!

If your not using it to go into the deep, your just dragging around all of that extra weight!

How many 4x4 owners actually run their front drive on loose traction at least once a month to keep system properly lubricated if no off-roading?

I say the Tacoma wins the off-road portion hands down!

Then again they will rate things like cushy ride and comfort off-road, etc...

We are not Nancy's, we want a test of crawling over rocks, going through deep ruts, mud and water, hill climbs, hill decends, fast desert wash runs, climbing over logs, high-centering tests, etc...

My brother in law was about to buy a super cab F-150 4.6 3 valve but he choose a Tacoma in part cause it fits in his garage, and it retains value. Yet he also talks about towing a 28 footer. I think that doesn't sound right, and as we know, it's just wrong to tow at your max weight rating. I think 5800 of REAL towing is a challenge to a Tacoma.

@oxi - people use 4x4 on average of 1% of the time. So this test wieghs off roading higher than than the normal person would.

I'm not sure why a dyno run would be of benefit. I don't know anyone who buys a compact/mid sizer for HP bragging rights.

I'm puzzled by the inclusion of the Ranger. It is dead in 2012.
It may turn out to be an interesting footnote in Ranger history.

It would be funny if the Ridgeline won. That would piss off all of the anti-Japan, anti-unibody, pro-traditional truck guys. It might be the only time Oxi and everyone else would agree and unite to bash the same thing. LOL

pickuptrucks.com did an off-road mid size comparison in 2009. The Tacoma was not the top pick. It did ok, but was the worst performer on the most difficult trail.


@max It would be a good idea to do the shootout in Mexico with some diesel midsizers. The only problem is the diesels are NOT sold in the US, so it would be difficult to get manufacturers consent. Like I posted before, in the future it could happen.

@oxi I don't think I am a hater. I really like the Tacoma, my dad has one, and I very nearly bought one but chose the Frontier (back in the day) and now I have a Ford F-150. I just think you don't allow the arguments for a fullsize truck to counterbalance the arguments for a mid-size truck. I don't think it's foolish to buy a mid-size, and I don't think it's foolish to buy a fullsize. I think it's foolish to hate on people for making choices that fit their lifestyle just because they don't match up with yours.

When it's fullsize trucks it's Ford vs. GM, and when it's midsize, it's the Tacoma guys vs. the world. Why do all other trucks have to suck and the tacoma can be the only 'acceptable' truck? I think the category has some great contenders. Sure, the Tacoma is probably the smartest buy and easily is one of the best performers, but it doesn't mean the others are garbage. For usually complaining about how people are 'haters' on Toyota and are biased, this Tacoma crowd can come across a bit hypocritical.

We don't dislike the Ridgeline because it is Japanese. We dislike it is because it is not a good truck. TundraHeadquarters said it should be a thrown into the wood chipper. Are they anti-Japanese? If the Ridgeline does win, great for them but it would show how poor the mid-size truck category has gotten. Finding it funny that a Ridgeline would win just shows your own bias. By the way, the Rigeline is listed as large pickup by the IIHS. It is a mid to full-size sport utility truck. Small pickups include the others.

Edmunds also calls the Ridgeline a large truck...The 2011 Ridgeline is the Edmunds.com "2011 Lowest Annual True Cost to Own® Large Light Duty Truck".

Honda itself even marketed it as a full-size... "Honda decided instead to advertise the Ridgeline as an alternative to traditional 1/2 ton full-size pickups such as the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado, and Toyota Tundra, all of which had standard V8 engines. This likely harmed Ridgeline sales, as some cited its weak V6 engine (Honda has never developed a V8 for passenger vehicles[4]) and lack of ruggedness due to its unibody construction, while its relatively short cargo bed compared to a standard pickup truck made it unsuitable for contractors. Unlike other crew cabs, the Honda Ridgeline lacks the option of six-passenger seating, as it only offers bucket seats and not bench seating in the front.

Sales were initially slow, partly because it was considered over-priced. Consequently, dealers have been discounting the truck, and the average selling price has come down steadily according to J.D. Power."

These are facts why people dislike the Ridgeline.

Judging by Mark Williams comments since he has taken over I will bet everyone a case of Point Pale Ale the Ridgeline doesn't win.

@Zach I think people are pre -judging the "shootout" too much. Best to wait and let Mark publish the results. There should be surprises.

The finishing order will be as follows:

1) Ford Ranger
2) Chevrolet Colorado
3) G.M.C. Canyon
4-7) Who cares?

Americans want America to win!

@Dave - still carrying a grudge about the IIHS thread I see.
It would be funny if the Ridgeline did win, because of all the indignation that it would cause.
How does that show bias?
I looked at the Ridgeline and it did not meet any of my wants, needs or desires.
The Tacoma doublecab was the closest thing on the market, but it fell short on a few things, therefore I have a F150 in my driveway.
I do agree with your comment about how poor the mid-sized category has gotten, but that would be regardless of who wins.
I made the comment that this was the "fight of the forgotten".
In North America, this class has been truly neglected. The Tacoma is probably the most up to date, but when it comes to technology, it is easily outclassed by the full sized trucks. (Que oxi's rebuttal).

"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..." -oxi

This is a handy feature. To accomplish this with my 2003 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, it was just a matter of inserting a fuse in a slot for this purpose. I have never really used it while off-road, though. I use it all the time when I want to warm up the motor and interior (winter) or cool off the interior with the A/C (summer). No need to hop in to push the clutch pedal.

I drive only Chevrolet or Ford trucks. No Dodge, No GMC, No Toyota, No Nissan or anything else. And even I think the Tacoma has this one in the bag. Never in American small truck history has any of the Big 3 built a killer off road small truck. The ZR2 S-10 was about as close as you could get to a decent trail truck but even that wasn't designed like a Tacoma. As much as I HATE to admit this, Japan will win here. The only hope we have for American small trucks is the new Colorado and I'm not impressed with what I've seen.

@Robert Ryan - I'd love to see this shootout held on a country that has the "global" trucks. It would be a great test. The question that I want answered : Is the grass really greener on the other side of the fence? or do they just use a better brand of fertilizer?

the ranger will eat um all for breakfast.

Nobody cares what you think. are a cheerleeder and not a thinker. I am a thinker.

Here is the terms of use you agreed to on Photobucket.

"Public Postings. Photographs and videos which you submit for use on public areas on Photobucket are considered public information and may be copied or further distributed by others in accordance with the Terms of Use...Remember: if you share it from the Site, it's no longer private, even if you marked it "private.""

You shared your pics on pickuptrucks.com and invited us to look at your photos. Here is one example of what YOU did...

@Lou and others,

I am out there testing, are you guys?




Posted by: oxi | Oct 15, 2011 4:38:46 PM

Therefore it's no longer private even if you later marked it private. It is public info and can be shared by others.

Don't want us to look at your photos? Then stop posting the photos or delete them. None of us really care about your photos anyway.

The Tacoma is a good all around little truck but is not the best truck for real off-roading in the hard stuff. Leave that for the F-150, Raptor, Hummer, Jeeps and Ram Power Wagon.

@tom and Zach J.

Your haters!

Posted by: oxi | Dec 17, 2011 12:38:44 PM

Nobody cares what you think. You are a cheerleeder and not a thinker. I am a thinker. Not a hater.

Here is the terms of use you agreed to on Photobucket.

"Public Postings. Photographs and videos which you submit for use on public areas on Photobucket are considered public information and may be copied or further distributed by others in accordance with the Terms of Use...Remember: if you share it from the Site, it's no longer private, even if you marked it "private.""

You shared your pics on pickuptrucks.com and invited us to look at your photos. Here is one example of what YOU did...

@Lou and others,

I am out there testing, are you guys?




Posted by: oxi | Oct 15, 2011 4:38:46 PM

Therefore it's no longer private even if you later marked it private. It is public info and can be shared by others.

Don't want us to look at your photos? Then stop posting the photos or delete them. None of us really care about your photos anyway.

The Tacoma is a good all around little truck but is not the best truck for real off-roading in the hard stuff. Leave that for the F-150, Raptor, Hummer, Jeeps and Ram Power Wagon.

After 3 days of thrashing, Edmund's picked the Frontier over the Tacoma. The Tacoma is great truck but the Nissan ruled. Video from youtube, you might want to check out, oxi!

Nissan Frontier vs. Toyota Tacoma by Edmunds' Inside Line

If promoted by Cars. com it would a"standing room only event" You would have posters on this site , that you have never seen before. Yes it would give the site , considerable global coverage.

They will never test vehicles that are sold outside of the United States and they don't care about brining in people from outside of the United States because they don't post vehicles for sale that are sold outside of the United States (and Canada).

From an buyer's rearch standpoint, if they provide the test of a vehicle sold outside of the United States, then the buyer can't buy from cars.com what they are testing. From a revenue standpoint, they would have to take ads on 1) a vehicle that they are not selling and 2) buyers are not looking for. Makes no sense at all for their highly successul business to include vehicles outside of the US in the testing.

if they did a toughness test the ranger would stomp everything its the best built one even if it doesnt have the best towing or horsepower rating

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!

Posted by: oxi | Dec 16, 2011 11:42:00 PM


I agree. Off-road should be more like 25 to 60% or just shut this contest down. The Tacoma is the resale value leader so there is no question there. Tacoma is also the fuel economy leader and has the best 0-60.

I am also sick and tire of everyone jumping down your throat every time you say something. You have a right to share your thoughts like everyone else!

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...

Posted by: oxi | Dec 17, 2011 12:36:53 AM

I agree. The 5.3 is gimicky gar bage. Less payload, less max towing, less fuel economy, higher 0-60 times than the Tacoma V6 4.0. I wish more people would do their research before they post! Bigger is not always better.

Basically the point I was making. If they started selling small diesel pickups in the US/Canada, then Cars.com would test the Global ones availalble. Otherwise it is a non-event. IF it ever happened a "Global Shootout" would be a "standing room only event" for the website,. Nonetheless articles about Global Pickups done by Car Advice here are pisted on Pickups.com.

Oxi has a new cheer leader named jay you wear out the george and team oxi crap
the 5.3 is not a gimmick you unamerican twerps the 5.3 is king ask any idiot who owns a furd

@ bob- 5.3 king? bwawawa, just be happy Ford never wedged a 5.4 or 5.0 into the ranger. Provided this test had a towing segment with any significant weight behind it, you would be crying yourself to sleep... Whenever the 5.3 would go to sleep at night it would check under the bed for a 5.4...

Some great comments and suggestions. Even saw a few very good guesses who will feel vindicated when they see the full test. As to scoring, we tried to be as simple as possible with the designated tests and their relative values to allow anyone wanting to score their own test to select their own winner by weighting those categories they think more or most important. If payload, fuel mileage, off road, or value is at the top of their list, they'll be able to recalculate the scoring to weight those categories heavier and possibly get a different lead truck or finishing order. As to the Ridgeline being a full-size or mid-size, there seem to be plenty of arguments on both sides but we think it fits pretty well in this test.

@Mark Williams - I agree with you in that scoring should be clearly and simply explained. A person can then look at the final scoring based on their own personal criteria.
The only negative with any short term test is assessing durability and quality. The only 2 sources I see published are JD Power and Consumer Reports. Would it be possible to have a listing of those rankings as a sidebar to the test parameters? Other than running these trucks 24/7 for months at time, how else can anyone prove those parameters?

Have a look at the "cars" lineup for the up coming Dakar Rally in Argentina/Chile a lot of midsize (Tacoma, Ridgeline) and a few full size (Dodge 2500, Ford Raptor) entered.

fuel economy should be like 25% percent because it biggest reason why people midside light duty trucks. the ranger is made side because turning usv it same size as the explorer or quite close and price as mid sizer. the midsize turck semi need to mpg of full size car which is 30 mpg. the frontier lose big very bad 23 mpg 7 short. Honda Ridgeline lose even worst with 20. the Tacoma and Colorado tired in high but tacoma had better city. the range win with only being 3 short. I just mad how small truck had like development. I just do did how engineers at Nissan think it o.k. for frontier to get 23 mpg. ether it is heavy or it has inefficient drive train. it longer wheel base than the others does not help because father mechanical power is transferred the more losses.

I am very much looking forward to this test. Yes, the compact/midsize segment has been pretty neglected lately, but thanks to rising oil prices and future government MPG standards, it seems to be poised for a bit of a resurgence. This test will give us all an idea of the state of midsizers "pre-revolution."

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