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% 


All these trucks are good. Let the shootout begin and see where the chips fall. Since there are so few midsize trucks it is a good idea to test them all, even the discontinued Ranger. Even if a truck comes in dead last it does not mean it is not a good truck. As Lou said you might off road 1% of the time the rest of the time you are running errands, commuting to work, and hauling things in the bed. Most people are not off roaders.

This shootout should also include some winter weather driving. That's one of the reasons people buy these trucks, and I know it played a role in my decision to buy a Ridgeline (automatic 4x4).

Too bad they couldn’t have tossed the new global Ranger into this mix. Might encourage Ford to get off its a** and build it in the USA.


Why don't you work your magic and get a Global Ranger over here "for testing purposes only". It being imported is inevitable.

I would love the see the subjective portion based on activities that (I would think) are most asked of a little CC truck:
*Load a lawn tractor- this will tell about things like height, bed space, tiedowns, and spring capacity.
*Haul 1000# of pavers on a skid- evaluate handling near payload rating.
*Pull a ski boat- reasonable towing task. Back the empty boat trailer down a ramp- visibility, etc
*Install rear-facing infant carriers behind the drivers seat.
*Ask your wife (or daughter, mom, grandmother) to fill washer fluid. Timed event.
*Leave a husky or 3 jack russel terriers in the vehicle for 45min. Clean the dog hair.
*Turn the radio up loud enough for outside listening. Evaluate performance. Monitor until voltage drops to 11V.
*Test the provided inverters for current capacity.

@Mrknowitall - +1000000000000

I would have made the price of entry a modern transmission; a 6 speed automatic.
Seeing as the compact/mid-size pickup truck segment is moribund, there would be no entries.

@Mrknowitall - good comments.
Another test would be to get a bunch of people who have never been in a pickup and see how long it takes them to figure out every feature and adjustment on the truck without the owner's manual.
I'd say, throw in the dogs when they are wet and muddy. Have a cat walk up and down the hood, windhshield, cab and box a few times.
Have your kids sit in the back seats while eating a triple scoup icecream cone.
Measure how long it takes for those kids to start messing around and/or fighting.
The Ranger's face to face jump seats would cause the poorest results;)

Why is the Suzuki Equator in this challenge? It is basically the same truck as the Nissan Frontier.

@Mark Williams,

A version of a Tacoma just set a world record for the fastest overland journey to the South Pole!

They did it in 1 day, 15 hours and 54 minutes!


Now that's a story to publish of not only mods for deep snow travel but the use of the bio-fuel/oils in the engine to survive those cold conditions...

I'd be more interested in an international "best of" shoot out. Put the UK Mitsubishi Truck, Austrailias winner (Hilux?), vs. US winner ( this could get messy with F150 and Ram winnning different magazine top scores), vs ... Make sure they are all either the base model or the uber equipt crew cabs for a fair comparison.

On a side note, I would be more interested in a quality mid-sized truck for my use. A couple of dirt bikes, maybe jet skis, so minimal towing. I work construction and don't load my bed that much, that's what the flat beds are for. Personally, I would look at comfort as I tend to drive with either my crew to work or my family. Ideally, Mid-size or smaller crew cab with 4x4, and a small diesel is about right for my needs. I've had my current vehicle for 11 yrs and going strong, so re-sale is not as much an issue as reliability. Through the yrs, I've owned Nissan/Datsun, Toyota, and Ford trucks (even a Mitsubishi Montero 2-door). All were incredibly reliable and functional for my needs when they came out. Got excited at the global ranger, only to be disappointed to hear it was not coming stateside. Excited to see what the new GM will do and if a diesel will be an option. NOT in a rush to buy, so if the Auto Industry wants to push their cr@p, I wont buy. I'll look at a decent used vehicle that meets most of my requirements and be done with it. To me, it is obvious that the industry does not care about customers, just their bottom line. When they build something to get excited about (think the new body style mustang a few years ago, the Camaro, or the Charger), they add a premium to a car (sometimes it's the dealerships). This is exactly why the new generation is NOT excited about vehicles and where companies like Apple have excelled. They listen to their base, keep thinks fresh, and find a way of adding converts to their brand. BTW, Ford has done horribly wrong to their customer base in stringing people along lately. As an example, we were lookking at the Ford C-Max (sliding doors) for the wife and kids and at the last moment they pulled it from US production.

@oxi - it is a highly modified truck. I don't brag about Ford trophy trucks winning Baja because they have little in common with the product I drive.

I do agree that it would be a newsworthy story.
This site should cover Dakar as well.
The problem is that most people do not know or care about a truck running the south pole or Dakar.

As far as running specialized fuels to survive the cold - that isn't newsworthy for anyone who already lives in a cold climate. Many will run "lighter" heating oil. I've heard of people running a blend of kerosene type fuels, including jet fuel.
It has been a real long time since I've heard of diesel jellling. -40/-45 Celcius is the number I recall that jelling occurs.

@ El Sid
This is a 2009 review, other magazines have done similar comparisons, they have now added the Amarok and New Ford Ranger. The Triton did best in this GFC review. Since the comparison many of the Utes have considerably upgraded their safety ratings.

I own an 07 Chevy Colorado z71 with a couple of mods. When I shopped around, I hated the Tacoma steering and bloated price ($27k for a 2wd prerunner?!) Nissans were really nice if not bland on the outside, and noone in my area would find me a 2wd Nismo. For the most part the trucks have not changed alot, and I still stand by my little chevy. Anyone ever seen 6900 @ WOT in a truck? It's fantastic! I will admit the interior is pretty spartan, but I wasn't looking for luxury I wanted a truck.
DEAR GM: Sell me a 6l80e swap and I will buy it!

Finishing Order:

I just purchased a 2012 Ridgeline so I am interested to see how well it does. I doubt it will do overly well, but it meets my needs perfectly. I know there is a lot of hate towards it, but it is a comfortable vehicle and I enjoy owning something that can't be seen too much on the highways and city streets. Most-likely the Tacoma will be number 1 or 2 on the comparison. I am guessing the Ridgeline will be near the middle or lower, but oh well, I am happy and that is what matters.

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