An Open Letter: Four Facts and Frustration

LE Ford_Ranger II

By Larry Edsall

Allow me to begin by pointing out four things:

1. Last fall there was not one but two Volkswagen Amarok pickup trucks at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show.

2. A couple of weeks ago, I was driving on a highway north of Detroit and was passed by a fast-moving Ford flotilla: A new Fusion, a new F-150 and a new Ranger.

3. A few days ago, I drove back to Michigan (where I’m spending much of this summer) from New York (where I attended another trade show) in my 2000 Nissan Frontier.

4. Today I received a newsletter from SEMA informing its members of three upcoming “measuring sessions” involving the Toyota Hilux. At a measuring session, aftermarket product producers get to examine new vehicles to assure that products they hope to develop will fit right and perform properly.

The SEMA newsletter noted that the Hilux is “a vehicle widely sold overseas but not available in the United States.” The same could be said of the Amarok and the Ranger.

Which brings me back to my Frontier, which, like the aforementioned models, is a compact pickup truck.

Back in Arizona, where most of my driving involves testing new vehicles, my Frontier spends much of its time inside my garage. And despite many excursions into the dusty desert and onto rocky mountain trails, the truck’s paint remains in excellent condition for a vehicle of its age and mileage. I’ve also tried to keep the interior relatively clean. In a nutshell, my truck looks so good that people often are surprised when they learn how old it is.

My Frontier has remained mechanically sound, too. Arizona’s hot weather is hard on batteries and air-conditioning components, but other than the typical brake job and such, the truck has spent little time in mechanics’ care.

Nonetheless, I have a decision to make: At 200,000 miles, my Frontier will need a new timing belt, which will cost, as I recall, between $1,200 and $1,800.  Do I make that investment in my truck and its aging technology and components, or should I consider replacing it with something newer and more up to date? And if I choose the latter, what vehicle should I pick?

LE Toyota HiLux Flex II
Here’s the real problem: I like my truck, but I see no logical replacement available in this country.

Nissan still makes the Frontier, but it’s a larger vehicle than mine. The Frontier, just like the Amarok, Ranger and Hilux, is a compact pickup truck. But the new Frontier, just like the new Toyota Tacoma, Chevrolet Colorado and recently departed Dodge Dakota, has become a so-called intermediate-size vehicle — longer, wider and taller, and nearly as long, wide and tall as their full-sized siblings. But if I wanted a truck that’s longer, wider and taller than mine, I’d buy an F-150, Silverado, Ram, Titan or Tundra. Why did automakers turn their backs on the compact-pickup buyer, at least in this country?

What I want -- and what I need -- is a compact pickup truck, albeit like my Frontier, with room for five people.

Sure, I’d appreciate a little more interior space than what my 13-year-old crew cab affords. However, my truck’s overall dimensions are just the right size for me, and if I need more room in the bed, I simply flip down the tailgate and flop over the bed extender. And since I’m 5-foot-8, I can easily reach into my truck’s bed. On the other hand, I need a step stool or even a stepladder to access the bed of the intermediate or full-size pickups I’ve test-driven, and some of those are so long they won’t fit into my garage.

You might have noticed I haven’t mentioned anything about the Frontier’s powertrain. My truck has a 3.3-liter V-6 that, when new, made 170 horsepower and 200 pounds-feet of torque. It’s equipped with a four-speed automatic transmission and available four-wheel drive. In typical driving, I average between 19 and 21 mpg.

In the years since I bought my truck, Nissan has updated the Frontier’s V-6 engine to 4.0 liters, 261 hp and 281 pounds-feet of torque. It’s larger and more powerful, and the newer engine and updated transmission make the Frontier cleaner and more fuel efficient. I’d like more power -- for climbing mountain highways out West and for the times I need to attach something to my truck’s trailer hitch receiver -- and another gear or two would mean even better fuel economy. So where does all of this leave me? (And please don’t make me wait for an answer from a Chinese automaker.)

Frustrated. That’s where this all leaves me, and I doubt I’m alone.

My guess is that there are a lot of folks out there who, like me, want or need a compact pickup. And they see all of these wonderfully designed new compacts being developed overseas that aren’t available in the U.S.

LE VW Amarok SEMA II

Comments

@Big Al from OZ OEMs have been getting around the chicken tax from day one. Mahindras would've got around it by shipping final assembly pieces separate from the trucks. Mexico assembly plants would've followed. "Big 3" full-size trucks have not truely been protected or become "inefficient" as you say. What do you mean by inefficient?

If OEMs are investing way more in global trucks than their full-size, that's fine. The global market is it's own separate entity. Full-size trucks by far, generate the most profits for "Big 3" OEMs. How they mismanage that is a different story.

I'm sure global mid-sizer trucks are great, but they won't gain any traction in North America for one reason. Full-size trucks. They are on their game and without dramatically undercutting their price and with much better MPG, it'll never happen. Deminished payload and towing is another nail in their coffin.

North American buyers that want the 1/10 smaller scale are a niche segment and won't buy enough trucks to make them worthwhile. Get used to full-size and you'll feel terribly cramped in anything less.

Now fleet buyers would love a global mid-size, but they're exactly the buyers that OEMs don't want. They only buy stripped out base models. Yes it's the hard loaded 4X4 crew cabs that subsidize their existence. When OEMs fail to sell just as many of these, they take a loss on the entire line. Mid-size and compact trucks have been disappearing from North America for a reason.

High fuel prices haven't slowed down "Big 3" full-size sales much to speak of. Mid-sizers only offered maginally better MPG. Diesel MPG may be better than gas, but when you add up all the added costs that diesels entail, you end up losing.

If there was a market for global mid-sizers in North America, they'd already be here. OEMs are up all night studying market trends and they've already made their ruling.

This maybe a little off topic, but here goes. I have often thought you could take a late 90's Dakota, install a 2012 Charger v-6 with 8 speed auto, add a tonneau cover, install low rolling resistance narrow tires (225's maybe), and drop the axle ratio down to 3.00 to 1 and get close to 30 mpg. The Charger setup gets 31 mpg and weighs 4'000 lbs. I think a 2 wheel drive Dakota would weigh 4300-4400 lbs. You could also add a CAI and dual exhaust. You would still have great acceleration because of the 4.71 first gear and close ratios. Anybody out there think this is possible? This would make a great project for pickup trucks to try.

@Mark Williams

I swear I read somewhere on this site awhile back that the redesigned Nissan Frontier (whenever that thing comes out, 2020 maybe) was going to be downsized. Some big wig in Nissan spoke about how the Frontier was too big and the motor was too powerful and that it competed too closely with the Titan. He said they were going to return it to the compact segment. Is this true?

Sandman4x4: So all the car thief needs to do to be homefree is pull the fuse? U fail to grasp the complexity of the unit. It controls most of the computer functions. Bluetooth to power mirrors. More importantly, emissions.
And then there is this:

WARNING: Federal law makes it illegal for ANYONE to tamper with, disconnect, remove or otherwise render inoperative ANY emissions-related control device.

So just let On-Star collect info about you and without compensation sell that info to whomever they please?
I don't have anything to hide. That doesn't mean I want to give up my right to privacy.
Don't think that by discontinuing the service they can't monitor everything the service does when you were subscribed. Including conversations! Push the button on an unsubscribed vehicle and see if they answer.
It is nothing but a concierge service you don't need unless you have to drive deserted roads and have a disabling accident where there is no cel signal. If you need to cover those bases, the service was made for you.
Get a Navi unit and it will tell you where the nearest bathroom/gas/resturant is.

@DenverMike: Compared to my '08 Wrangler Unlimited, the cab of my '90 F-150 is huge. I actually have to lean WAY forward and to the side to reach my radio/AC controls (have remote for radio) and quite honestly even with the bench seat I can't just lean over to reach the opposite door to pop it open for my wife who is currently on crutches (glad the electric lock on her side still works.) Now, if that extra 12" or so is behind the seat, I will agree that it's a big improvement; but honestly I personally don't have any need for rear seats as long as I have the wide bench and no console in the middle so I can occasionally carry the dog along with us.

@Lou: Perhaps you're right that the newer models aren't *that* much bigger than mine, but they appear significantly larger even when I'm inside mine driving down the highway. I'll grant that the majority of them used in my area are 4x4 so they sit even higher. When you're used to the relatively short wheelbase of a Wrangler Unlimited where the truck is so much longer of nose and tail than the Jeep, the thing simply feels HUGE to me. Yes, I do like the less crowded feel of the cockpit (the Jeep does feel cramped but controls are much more easily accessed) but even if I did have all those airbags you guys tout, I feel like I would just flop around in the cab if I weren't wearing seat belts. Keep in mind that I started driving before seat belts were mandatory.

Personally, I'd love a UTE, but I'd expect them to be as grossly overpriced as any other performance-oriented car here in the States. I was barely willing to spend $30US on my Wrangler brand-new with almost all the options (Sahara) and really can't see the need or the desire to spend that much on a pickup that won't even be used as much as the Jeep. Honestly, the wife and I are looking at a Fiat 500 as our likely "second car" and almost definitely if Jeep does come out with a Gladiator/Commanche/whatever pickup I would almost happily swap this F-150 in for one or maybe both the Wrangler and the truck if we had the 500 already. I expect a Wrangler-based truck would still be narrower but for me more functional than this huge road whale I currently own--despite the fact that I do enjoy driving and working on it.

stevadore: stick with unloading the ships ok? becuase you have no idea what you are talking about! if you do not own OnStar, and have tried to and have pulled the fuse, that, well to be polite, there you have it. You haven't even tried to do it yet or you would know! and just what are you doing to be so paraniod? I have nothing to hide, drive the speedlimits when alone on the road, or drive over the limit when running with the pack, and mine and my wifes livs were saved by OnStar, just like in the commercial, out in the middle of nowhere, with no-one going by for hours, or days? even the Sheriff that came out on the auto call said so, I thnk you have many more to worry about than you privacy, I will always own a car with OnStar in it, or I will now be able to add it! Yes some durt bag can now just pull the fuse, thanks for giving them the idea, (they are realy stupid to begin with) but oh well, you can drive whatever you like, I won't say anyting about it, but would hope it is made by an American Co., if not I hope you don't know of anyone that is laid off at the moment, I do believe that when I go and buy an American car truck motorcyle I am helping the cause, (it realy can't hurt) and for all those of you out there that say" they took the taxpayer bailout, I'm not buying anything from them" well that if the real problem right there, to many folks running aroud with no nose on the face, I know I can sleep at night knowing I did my little bit.

I think the question that should be asked is what will happen to the mid-size trucks here in the U.S.? Sales haven't been what they were in the 90s and early 2000s. It seems like every year there is a competition to add more width and length and keeping borderline to a full size. I prefer mid-size, but the ones today are priced so that I might as well just buy the full.

@Vulpine The seating position in your '90 regular cab is almost straight up and the steering wheel is uncomfortably close to my chest (with the seat all the way back).

I'm 5'9" and never felt comfortable in your generation of truck . I'd go to put my arm behind the seat and smack my elbow on the glass. I dealt with it fine, but the current reg cabs with molded and reclining split bench seats are very comfortable for long trips or even sleeping in, as I've done.

I'm not knocking your truck, you do what you can, but trucks have grown for the better (and really only in cab length). In my normal seating position, I can easily put two standard ice chests behind the seat of my reg cab and can reach the radio and AC controls without having to lean forward.

@Vulpine-I had a 1985 Mitsubishi Mighty Max. Great little truck that I had for 14 years and 200k miles. I agree with Lou that full size will shrink in size. If they do shrink they should keep the same bed sizes as Lou pointed out and not make them too narrow. I think there is still a market for an inexpensive compact truck with not too many options. Yes consumers still need an expensive truck. Not everyone needs or wants a Platinum Edition or King Ranch. Some of us want to live within our means. Not everyone wants or needs a McMansion home. That is part of the problem with the USA is that we think bigger is better and that we can only be happy if we have something bigger and fancier than our neighbors. For those that truely want big trucks with premium packages and that will use them that is great but don't tell me that if I don't want these that I should stop driving a truck. As a consumer I want more choices and whoever provides me with the closest to my needs is who gets my dollars. If Ford only provides F-150s and larger then I will vote with my pocketbook to go elsewhere,. Just as I don't want to be told what to buy I do not choose to tell those who want bigger trucks what to buy.

Toyota, Nissan, and GM are at least still making midsize. It is possible that one of them will make a smaller truck in the future and if not then the Chinese will come into the NA market with an affordable option.

Correction-consumers still need an inexpensive truck not an expensive truck. Some of you might think that people who hold onto their vehicles are cheap but what you fail to see is that while some of you have spent all you hard earned money on new trucks and cars we cheapskates will have enough money to retire. I do not have to keep up with the "Jones" to have a meaningful and fulfilling life. I would rather save my money for when I really need itl

@DenverMike I think he means, if the OEM's are making a product that is making a huge profit on. Why change it?
Why is their a "Chicken Tax" at all ? If the midesize market is dying?
In the US/Canada from my experience many Fullsize Pickups are being used as "SUV's with beds". In Australia , SUV's (mainly diesels)are used as a family cars, but they also tow a lot of things. Asian sourced Pickups :as "tradies" vehicles ,tow vehicles and the personal "car" of an owner, but NOT A SUV carrying a family. That is the difference.

@Larry Edsall,

Why are you not considering the Tacoma? It is it the size? I don't know why that would be an issues because the Tacoma has the proper size to weight ratio unlike the full sizes!

There are some cool Tacomas out there. Just ask the Libyans...

oxi says a Toyota pickup armed with the latest Russian/U.S. anti-tank weapons is very lethal... more manevarable, faster, more efficient and can blend in as opposed to a M113......

http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f36/oxi3/Libyan_rebel_fighter_in_a_vehicle_rigged_with_armour_plates_27_May_2011_near_Misrata_001.jpg

http://www.ttora.com/forum/showthread.php?t=188532

"But the new Frontier, just like the new Toyota Tacoma, Chevrolet Colorado and recently departed Dodge Dakota, has become a so-called intermediate-size vehicle — longer, wider and taller, and nearly as long, wide and tall as their full-sized siblings."

@Larry,

But Tacoma has the proper size the weight ratio unlike those full size tanks!

Tacoma also has better approach/departure/breakover numbers...

Tacoma is the ONLY pickup in the top 10 of Kelley Blue Book resale values! Ya can't say that about Nissan!

Is this oxi's truck? oxi has been gone because he has been getting some work done on his truck...

http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f36/oxi3/Libyan_rebel_fighter_in_a_vehicle_rigged_with_armour_plates_27_May_2011_near_Misrata_001.jpg

Pretty cool truck you got there. oxi will be back soon!

@Robert Ryan- Good point about the Chicken Tax. If the market is dying for small and midsize trucks in the USA then this tax has outlived its purpose. If the purpose is to eliminate competition then let's be honest and admit that. Let the Big 3 build whatever they want and not allow any competition is not the same as saying that there is no market for something. If this tax were eliminated and the market for smaller trucks was still declining then that would be one thing but to deliberately use a tax to eliminate competition by allowing domestic producers to produce whatever they want with little or no competition then that is not a free market that is protectionism. A 25 % tariff only serves to inhibit competition by keeping prices to the consumer higher. The domestic producers can charge whatever they want and make whatever they want since their market is protected.

There is also the argument for protecting domestic jobs but for those who are arguing that the market should be free and that there should be no government bailouts or loans then you cannot single out any product for protective tariffs.

oxi is on vacation and will be back later this week!

the chicken tax was and still is a bone thrown to the UAW, to help get there votes, and for sympathy votes from other (brotherhood) unions public and private, don't let them fool you and tell you otherwize, hell, big O, threw the shareholders from GM and Chrys. under the bus, and gave the biggest piece of the pie to the union, after screwing the shareholders, and in doing so made the taxpayer foot the bill. Even though these things are true, I will still buy and do own a Chevy, expecialy now that I have a finacial interest in GM, all the more reason to buy GM, we need to get our $$$ back!

@RobertRyan: You pretty much answered your own question. "Why is there a 'chicken tax' at all?" Simply because the US companies would lose money to the smaller, less-expensive trucks others would bring in to compete. The US companies don't want to believe people want compact trucks, but if those trucks got car-like gas mileage and offered that part-time load carrying capability that is all most people need, both US auto sales and truck sales would fall through the floor for those more compact trucks.

@Robert Ryan

Chicken tax or not, foriegn mid-size trucks would be here in North America if there was a market for them. OK, a strong enough market. The chicken tax is easy enough to get get around (loopholes) and the HiLux and global Ranger could be made in NA in a snap. Or imported with in 'knock down kit' form like many have done in the past (and the Mahindra was about to), but that doesn't mean mid-size global trucks would sell here.

First, at least half of them need to be loaded 4X4 crew cabs, (sold to retail consumers) for the line of trucks to be profitable . 2nd, they have to sell massive amounts of them.

They couldn't give the Honda Ridgeline away and they never made a regular cab stripper. Nissan Frontiers only come in extended cab or crew and nobody wants them. Actually, the Ford Raptor outsells them.

What's missing from full-size trucks? I mean other than a smaller cab? I sure don't want or need a smaller cab. Beds need to be what they are, but we've seen how older, shorter cab (length) full-size trucks sucked.

How has the 'alleged' lack of competition been a bad deal for NA truck buyers?

vulpine--Good points. I agree.

sandman4X4-I don't disagree with you either. I have all American vehicles except the 2008 I-370 Isuzu which is made in Lafayett, LA by UAW workers on the same assemby plant as the Colorado and Canyon. Since Robert Ryan brought up the Chicken Tax which was a valid point this is a form of government control. Some of the Ford guys bring up Gov Motors for GM. If you are going to be a proponent of free markets and no government bailouts or intevention then you need to be honest about the Chicken Tax. Let's just have an honest discussion about US owned vehicle manufacturers and Gov. role. Ford benefits from government protection as well.,

@Vulpine That's just it. Mid-size trucks don't ride like cars at all. They also don't share their MPG. You've heard of the Honda Ridgeline, right? It was pretty expensive and yeah, it was a pig at the gas pump too.

And now I have to tell you something really interesting: The Nissan Frontier is called in Europe Nissan Navara. It his here available with a 2.5 4Zyl. Diesel with 190HP and with a 3.0 V6 Diesel with 232HP. Such a truck we are driving in our company, and it uses around 8.5 Liters Diesel on 100km, that makes 26.7 miles per gallon Diesel. Why such truck is not available in the US?

Regards,

Jens
Wohnkabinencenter Germany

@Denvermike.The thing you refer too is what are the larger size pickups used for?. Primarily a family " SUV with a bed". Smaller pickups cannot do this. So by their usage they define a market.
Here the distinction is much more marked. No-one would use them as a SUV, they are not Family vehicles. Maybe a a extra passenger that is all. I see Crewcab F350's with only one occupant. Here pickups are used for Off Road, Towing, personalized transport.
The "Chicken Tax" does keep out competition and some innovation. The positive aspect, it keeps Ford, GM, and Chrysler afloat as those massive profits these companies would be floundering.

@Denvermike. That distinction hit me when I was in Cody, Wyoming(need an oxygen bottle and mask to walk around there, 8000ft up) . Saw a whole family climbing into a F250. Thought to my self " That is odd they would be climbing into a Landcruiser, Patrol, Ford Territory etc in Australia"

Sandman4x4: Your syntax is improving but you need to work on comprehension.
I never said pulling the fuse would'nt work. I meant it affects the operations of the computer. If you have done this, you know what I'm talking about.

Unless you have some magical keyboard that thieves can't read, you are the one who brought it to their attention. Don't feel guilty though, they know stuff honest people would never dream of.

As to the privacy issue; I guard my Bill of Rights closely so I must have something to hide? You're the one promoting disabling Fed. mandated devices intigrated into the vehicle's OS.

I live and work in town, but as I stated in the post:
" unless you have to drive deserted roads and have a disabling accident where there is no cel signal"
You are the person who needs this product. I'm glad you and your wife are here to tell about it.

For the record, I drive a 2 yr old Sierra w/o On*star. Yes , It came that way from the factory and is still warrented by GM.
GM hired back all their laid off workers a month after my purchase. I have a since of pride knowing I had a small stake in that.

Another thing; I don't unload ships. It's just a moniker.

@Robert Ryan What innovation is missing from NA full-size? You do know that Nothing is keeping the HiLux and global Ranger from showing up in NA. Final assembly could be done when they land. The Ford Transit is imported with rear seats then gutted on arrival. Not to hard to do, but the difference is there are plenty of buyers waiting for it to get off the ship.

Don't blame the chicken tax if NA uses their truck as SUVs and family 'trucksters'. It's called efficiency. Why own, insure, license and maintain two vehicles when one can perform multiple tasks?

NA is a unique market party because we have full-size trucks to spoil the fun for global mid-size trucks and trucklets, chicken tax or not.

@Denvermike.
" What innovation is missing from NA full-size? You do know that Nothing is keeping the HiLux and global Ranger from showing up in NA"
Both are small diesels not generally a market for such in the US. Both do not meet the SUV criteria.Innovation comes from allowing others to compete in the market, they can bring in very differerent ideas.. The extra cost of the "Chicken Tax" would apply to them anyway.
Using a Pickup as a SUV has nothing to do with "efficiency".Trying to meet CAFE targets is.
It is a "Unique " market .. In fact most markets around the world are unique, part of the problem of trying to sell the same vehicle in many different markets.

Just noticed this on another website. I found aspects incredible.
This is part of the SMA Measuring Program, explained fully in the article
Not just Chicken Tax. So no limited import schemes in the US????

http://www.trucktrend.com/features/consumer/163_1206_toyota_hilux_in_the_us/index.html
""A vehicle brought to the U.S. that is not sold in the U.S. is considered a 'temporary' import, which can be in the country for up to a year," she said. "You need waivers from NHTSA and the EPA. The vehicle will be transported to different venues by flatbed, since it's for measuring purposes."

Well, I'm a homeowner in the US. I don't tow, I don't haul heavy loads all too often, I just want a family-mover with a truck bed for camping gear, fishing gear, kayaking gear, and the occasional home improvement store run/furniture purchase.

My NEEDS dictate a mid sized truck, and that's what I'm in the market for. I'm perfectly fine with the Tacoma's size, but it just seems like I'll be buying a truck with outdated design, and underwhelming fuel economy (for the 4x4 crew).

I honestly believe that there would be more smaller truck buyers if auto makers actually invested something into their midsize trucks. The Ranger is dead- what does Nissan do? Leave the old crummy interior alone and make a couple commercials. Toyota gives the Tacoma a facelift, but not the improved V6 that vehicles that share it's platform have.

It's just frustrating from a consumer's standpoint.

@moparmechanic, Glad you are one because they need plenty of them. Guts Glory 3rd place again. you will NOT take out chevy because that is just common sense. FORD is way,WAY out of touch for you so just sit back and shine FORDS shoes as you have always done. Keep on dreaming because thats all it is, a dream!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

@Robert Ryan By "efficiency", I meant not having to own a sedan in addition to your work truck or RV/caravan hauler, not "efficiency" as in MPG. Maybe it's inexpensive to own, insure, license and maintain an extra car in OZ, but not here.

I'm pretty sure Ford and Toyota can each find a gas engine or 3 to put in their Ranger and HiLux before putting them on a boat. Install the engines in NA and what chicken tax???

Mahindra was all set to ship over a CARB compliant diesels AND without paying a chicken tax. It's not exactly rocket science. Mahindra can do it and some how Ford and Toyota can't?

@Robert Ryan In theory, I guess, but we're talking trucks here. I don't see anything new or innovative that global mid-sizers can bring to the table. A great new gadget here or there?

Your talking about trucks shipped to the US for the sole reason of letting the US aftermarket design and test fit push bumpers (for example) on foriegn truck for those foriegn markets. This has nothing to do with embargos, taxation or anything along those lines. These trucks probably came over without a drivetrain or flammable liquids.

@DenverMike
They can bring more advanced engine technology. Better build quality. Even better off-road ability for 4x4s.

@Big Al from OZ I agree. Competition breeds innovation, no matter how marginal, but NA full-size trucks are already highly evolved and quality/reliability as good any trucks from any market.

It's not just the Big 3 competing against each other, but any truck marque, big and small, that's ever been here. NA trucks also compete with cars for supremacy. The line became blurred a long time ago. Yourself and Robert Ryan have pointed that out on numerous ocassions.

Great conversation on this thread.
VW had said that they would bring over the Amarok if they thought they could sell 100,000 units a year. Tacoma sold 110,705 trucks in 2011. There was slightly more than 233,000 small trucks sold in the USA in 2011. There may be some truth to the argument that sales are too poor to be saved by repealing the chicken tax. I think that if the chicken tax were removed cheeper compacts would enter the market and the market would grow. As I pointed out earlier, A tacoma Doublecab 4x4 with the trim level I wanted was comparable to the price of the F150 I bought. MPG was also close. The compact market will continue to implode as long as price and fuel economy are similar. If some 30 mpg compacts costing 10,000 less than a comparable full sizer were to slowly creep into the market, yes, that market would grow. Most say it would be at the expense of the full sized market. I do agree with that fact. Manufacturers could get around that fact by building trucks with minimal overlap. Compacts would have their performance and trim perameters (example:6,500 towing up to 8 ft box)), slot in the full sized 1/2 tons above the compacts in towing and hauling (example:minimum 6.5 box - 8ft, and 10,000 towing), and 3/4 ton HDs (example:6.5 to 8 ft box and 14,000 towing) 1 ton (example:8 ft box only and towing up to CDL ratings). That would give room for all 3 truck ranges with minimal cross-competition.

"A tacoma Doublecab 4x4 with the trim level I wanted was comparable to the price of the F150 I bought. MPG was also close"

@Lou,
But what was the size to weight ratio?
Shock mount position?
Was it on Kelly Blue Book's top 10 list?
And finally did you even look at the approach/departure/breakover numbers?

Tacoma is the better buy unlike those full-size tanks!

@Big Al from OZ Anyways, it's NA consumers that have voted out mid-size trucks. Global mid-sizers may better than NA mid-sizers, but there's no demand for either. Full-sizers may be unique to NA, but likely anyplace that consumers could test drive and compare features, cost, MPG, comfort and payload/towing... may vote the same way as NA.

"A tacoma Doublecab 4x4 with the trim level I wanted was comparable to the price of the F150 I bought. MPG was also close. The compact market will continue to implode as long as price and fuel economy are similar."

Comparable? Close? Close only counts in horseshoes and handgrenades...

oxi can buy two Tacomas for the price of one of those loaded full-size tanks!

oxi is rated at 22 mpg compared to 18 mpg in your full-size tank!

Thanks for your daily dose of stupidity, Lou.

@DenverMike

There are a few reasons why you don't have a reasonable small pickup market. The customer base is there. Just stiffled by big business, UAW and government policies.

1. Cheap fuel. But this will change soon.

2. The Big 3 underselling the true value of their products to compete with the locally produced "imported small pickups" to the consumer ie bailouts are required etc.

3. Chicken Tax. This doesn't allow better built and competitive pickups into your market.

All is required is one or two of the above mentioned points to change and you will see a change in pickup truck buying habits.

I agree with Team Oxi and george...

@Big Al from Oz - you do raise some valid points.
1.Agree. Cheep fuel allows people to afford what we currently drive. We therefore buy the "big" pickups. Those sales allow the NA companies to maintain the status que, and get by with small changes and continue to rake in huge profits from pickups.
2. Pickups from the domestcs have seen huge discounts. That is why my F150 was cheeper than a mid-size. They are still making profits and undermine the competition. Bailouts allow companies to continue with their poor practices because they do not need to fear the consequences of poor management and complacent products.
3. The chicken tax kills competition therefore they can get away with selling North America only products. There is no chicken tax on cars and most of the NA cars are European and Asian based platforms and are superior to their NA only sisters.

@Big Al from OZ

In regards to cheap fuel, I started driving in '85 and full-size trucks sales were strong at $1.00/gallon of regular unleaded. Full-size truck sales were strong up till '08 when fuel reached $5.00/gallon.

Globally that's still cheap, but for us, it was 2.5 times the rate of inflation. Full-size truck sales did take a slight dip, but people quickly adjusted and truck sales bounced back. Today, full-size truck sales are a million+ strong annually, just from the Big 3.

The thing is, mid-sizers drink almost as much fuel as full-size when empty. Then load them both with equal pallets of concrete mix and watch mid-sizers get worse, yes worse MPG than full-size with an equal load.

In the end, it doesn't matter how ridiculous fuel prices get. North Americans will keep buying full-size trucks in almost equally ridiculous sales figures. They, we will just adjust other expenses/luxuries until it all balances out. Mid-sizers will also cost big bucks to fuel, at that point. Just slightly less.

In regards to the bailouts and underpricing, full-sizers peg out at over $55K and have historically been the most profitable in the line-up by a treMENDous margin. If anything, they subsidize the low volume and less profitable cars on the lot. Like their mid-size trucks, for example.

If full-size truck divisons were their own entity/OEM, they would have defiinity not needed any kind of bailout, bankruptly protection or DOE loans of any kind what so ever. Absolutely not.

In regards to the "chicken tax", you are completely ignoring the fact that foriegn truck brands alway been able to comply with that little regulation, Not by paying but by circumventing it and shipping over incomplete trucks and installing missing trim and hardware after disembarking, or simply shipping the bed separate, or installing rear facing seats (Subaru Brat), or two rows of passenger seats (Ford Transit) then stripping them out on arrival... to name a few loopholes.

The bottom line is, if there is any kind of market/demand for a truck, it will be here and the "chicken tax" won't stand in it's way on bit, what so ever. Hey it's alreadly hella expensive to sail them to NA in the 1st place, with or without having to jump through loopholes.

The second bottom line is, mid-sizers, global and otherwise, offer little incentive for folks to get out of their full-size trucks and into mid-size. Weak argument at best. Mid-sizers are too expensive for what you get and only offer marginal MPG improvement.

Never mind comfort, safety, payload/towing and some would say, style.

The third bottom line is, they could just build them in NA like Toyota, Honda and Nissan are currently doing.

@Denvermike . Agree they will keep buying large pickups as they can quite easily take an entire family.

(1) My Comment about the Hilux Link, was not that. In Australia we allow a small quota of non-compliant vehicles to be imported for purchase. Like the US, they have to meet general safety and traffic regulations.
What is different in the US, they do not allow limited importation of vehicles for purchase unless they are on sale in the US.
If we did the same here ALL the Grey Nomads would not be getting their F250's etc. as these vehicles are not SOLD by Ford, Chrysler or GM.

(2) Same as in US, Pickups/Utes are "Jack of all trades" and double as daily drivers i.e Big Al's Mazda Pickup. No it is certainly not a necessity, more a choice.
On the other hand if that TV becomes too big, then like someone in the US with a F350 Dually might do ,is run a smaller vehicle for smaller jobs.
(3) Circumventing , costs money and is part of a "hidden tax" on an imported vehicle. It would be a lot easier and cheaper for the manufacturer to bring the vehicle in whole and make adjustments for traffic regulations etc.
(4) Hilux's /Navaras with Petrol engines, defeat the purpose of why people want a small diesel pickup with a 3000lb payload.
(5) Denvermike, once you think you have done everything possible for your product, then you automatically behind the eight ball.You are going to see some radical changes in the "Big 3"'offerings in the future.

@Lou,
When the Chicken tax is non-existent, then the Asian importers shine. That is WHY the Chicken Tax will STAY. GM, Ford and Chrysler DO NOT WANT their profitable cash cows, eaten away by non NA competition. On the other hand, SUV's and the new VANS have proven to be internal competition for the "Big 3" pickups.


Close only counts in horseshoes and handgrenades...

oxi can buy two Tacomas for the price of one of those loaded full-size tanks!
oxi is rated at 22 mpg compared to 18 mpg in your full-size tank!

Thanks for your daily dose of stupidity, Lou.

Posted by: george

Well said! Lou is stupid when it comes to Tacomas...

@oxi,

Should I buy a next gen (2016?) Tacoma or next gen 2015 F150?

When is the next gen Tacoma coming?

Will be it be all new or just a refresh? The F150 will be all new.

Any thoughts on this?

@oxi,

Do you think Toyota will ever update the Tacoma or does Toyota not care?

Another reason why I think global trucks have been designed with the NA market in mind is they come as 2WD High Riders, this is not a global truck feature I have seen before.

If you guys look at the top photo you'll see a Wildtrak as we call them. Like my BT50 they sit on 17" rims. This gives you an indication of the size of the truck. And the 2WD High Riders sit roughly the same height.

I think your HDs will not change as they are trucks with truck engines and drivetrains with great looking bodies. But your light trucks will change, as they are made up of alot of interchangable, highly mass produced "car" bits, like a global truck for a large audience.

I know how iconic pickups are in NA, we have the same ideals.

@DenverMike

On fuel economy, the basic 2WD truck with a 150hp and nearly 300ftlb of torque turbo diesel is getting 34mpg. It can carry nearly 3 000lbs and tow 6 600lbs.

@Lou,

You know nothing about Tacomas!

The problem is that the manufacturers have tried to increase the sizes of the small trucks to keep people from defecting to full-sized trucks due to their owners increasing waistlines. They do this all the time with the car offerings..... remember when a civic was as small or smaller than the new mini?
People loved these small trucks, but now have children and their gear to lug around which requires more space. But what about those of us who don't have kids and their stuff but still want a more practical pick-up?

They seem to forget that what made them as popular as they were was their lower price, increased economy, and small package. For those of us who haven't forgotten this, we're left with no real choices for a replacement vehicle..... This is the very reason why I miss my Rangers.



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