Chrysler Sees New Hope For Small Pickups

2002_Dodge_M80_Concept II

The thought process was always pretty simple: Younger buyers could purchase smaller, more affordable pickups, and then when they get older and earn more money, they could step up to larger full-size trucks. And that was the template and strategy for decades.

Then full-size trucks prices dropped with strong competition and huge incentives on the hood, with the result being a compact/midsize truck segment squeezed to a fraction of what it once was. Now, conventional wisdom may be shifting, as some see a potential need for small trucks again, but this time to a different kind of buyer. 

The Detroit Free Press is reporting that Chrysler's vice president of product planning, Joe Veltri, is convinced that there's a market for a small, affordable pickup truck, and we agree with him.

Interestingly, Veltri seems to believe the group most likely to want these small pickup trucks will not be young buyers looking for a less expensive, versatile vehicle to fit their varied lifestyles, but more likely to be aging baby boomers looking to downsize in their later stages of life from their full-size truck choices. 

Veltri talks quite a bit in the interview about the possibility of a unibody chassis for such a vehicle but insists the final decision has not been made. Over the last 10 years, there has been plenty of speculation about what Chrysler would do with the next-generation Dodge Dakota, with concepts like the Dodge M80 and Dodge Rampage garnering a lot of excitement for the brand.

Could this finally be the crack in the door many have been waiting for? For the full story, click here

2006-dodge-rampage-concept II


I like the fact their strongly considering bringing back a smaller pick-up. The unibody chassis I'm not to excited about. Maybe time will change my mind on that.
Exciting times folks, exciting times.

see fiat has failed to realize that most americans like power and being bigger than others. Wich is why we are a world giant today and we want to grow. Most pickuptruck drivers I know want more power and capiblity and being the big boss. Fiat comes in the U.S. with smaller less powerful cars and eventually they will change ram and chrysler into makeing smaller trucks and suvs. There products might work and last but they will never sell like crazy like big powerful trucks and sportscars do, AMERICANS LIKE POWER!!!

that M-80 would be a nice replacement for the Dakota, and if it were all one color would look a lot better. Make it! Chrysler, and I would be one of the first to trade my Dakota in on one, without question! build it with 4X4 Pentastar 8spd TQFLT and I would be there with my $$$$ all black with tan, red,blue anything but black or white interior! PLEASEPLEASEPLEASE!!!!!

@ Tyler B, How much power do you need? If you read the article foe the dodge rampage it has room for a 5.7L Hemi.
Is 400 Horse power enough in that little truck? I agree AMERICANS LOVE POWER!!!

Small pickups will sell very well in America, but they do need to be sufficiently powered to interest most people.

If they go Unibody I hope they do it like the Ridgeline so it has a full frame underneath. Jacking up unibody cars on their stupid pinch welds is the biggest pain in the @$$ in the world. Frames rule for having to work on the truck.

@ Tyler B,

Chrysler added a SRT division recently...more high performance American's like power...I sure hope a new RAM SRT-10 is coming.....Their best seller,needs to be in the SRT brand !!

I hope a little diesel hits the roads. Still waiting to hear about that little cummins.

I think Fiat/Chrysler are smart enough to realise what the American consumer wants. Also I think that Fiat/Chrysler are going to be the most innovative manufacturer in NA. These smaller trucks would also give NA an export earner, you guys really need to export to help the NA continent recover.

Stop thinking about what "I want" and look to the world. That how the US achieved its success.

Unibody construction wil help meet CAFE just by weight reduction. Your larger trucks will still have a separate ladder frame chassis.

They would use an existing platform on whatever small pickup/ute they decide to build.

Imagine a stretched Grand Cherokee platform with a V6 diesel turned into a ute. It would have alot of potential for export.

People look to falling sales numbers on the stable of small pickups as proof that the segment is falling without looking at the quality of that segment in the first place.

The NA Ranger sold well for its entire lifespan, despite the fact that it finished off having not seen even a refresh since '06, and no major changes since '98.

The Colorado/Canyon were saddled with one of the worst engines in recent memory.

The Dakota was ugly and bloated, and only slightly less expensive-and no more efficient-than a similarly-equipped Ram 1500.

The Frontier is holding steady, saddled with an aged design and a slightly poor reputation (Mostly due to association with the Titan and a poor ad campaign).

The Tacoma is great, and sells great because of it. Toyota is the only company putting anything even remotely resembling investment into their compact pickups, and it's by far the best-seller in the segment because of it.

NA automakers stopped giving a crap about compact trucks when fuel prices were low, never started giving a crap when they went up again, and the segment suffered because of it. There's exactly one good offering in the segment right now. If someone else can compete, we'll see the segment rise again.

@Don Hornby
Our small pickups are generations ahead of what has been produced in NA. If you had comparable small trucks like we have the NA Ranger, Tacoma etc wouldn't had existed for as long as they had.

The other problem is with what the quality of the vehicles you guys are recieving. NA vehicles are of lower quality than real imports from Europe and Asia (not imports manufactured in the US).

This is caused by the lack of adequate competition and a protected market.

If NA can produce trucks to export the NA consumer will benefit from a better vehicle. Until then what have you got to compare against? But to export you have to get rid of the Chicken Tax.

The NA market is big, but as a percentage it is reducing in size comparative the the global vehicle market, it will be slowly consumed by it. The NA market will have to adjust, like I stated Fiat/Chrysler are better at it at the moment.

The segement will rise again.

I'm not sure a unibody truck would catch on. Too many conservative, "I want frames and big engine" types. A unibody would need to be more like the Rampage and nothing like the Ridgeline. Joe Veltri feels that retired guys and kids with no money are their target sales group. I'd like to see his research. Just because someone tells you what they like doesn't necessarily translate to that is what they will buy.

There obviously is a market for smaller pickups in America and Toyota has it sewed up with the Tacoma variants.

That's what forced Ford, GM and Dodge to drop their smaller pickup trucks. Theirs weren't selling worth a diddly damn and they were losing money on every one they made.

Unless and until Ford, GM and Dodge can produce smaller pickup trucks as good or better than the Tacoma, this is just an exercise in futility.

I love my 1997 Nissan D21 pick-up and may keep it forever. Unless someone offers something similar with a small turbodiesel.

@ Don Hornby

The Tacoma is also woefully outdated. It sells well due to reputation and a complete lack of competition. A new Dakota with a Ram 1500 featureset and the VM 3.0 diesel would destroy most of toyota's market within two years.

The Frontier is also fraught with more problems than just a Titan association. They have had awful coolant/trans fluid mixing issues resulting in blown trannies, axle seals leaking, leaking diffs, as well as a few others. Most of these things have been fixed in recent years, but I am looking for a deal on a used one and these are just some of the issues I have to look out for. The Frontier is also an outdated design with an aging (but very reliable) motor and older transmission.

My personal prediction will be a resurgance of the mid size market within 4 years. Minimally efficient V6's putting out peak HP and Torque figures around 300 ft lbs and horse power, paired with 8 speed transmissions and a host of lighter weight materials, nice interiors, and good aerodynamics.

Whoever puts a smaller diesel into a mid size truck first will conquer this market completely. I also think that unibody architecture could work but only if done properly.

The Taco is old school. And if that is the best then I feel sorry for the choices you are given when buying a truck.

I'd have to agree that the Tacoma is old and outdated. It sells because it is the best in its class. That in itself should show how pathetic the small truck market has become in NA. I hope that the new Colorado kicks Toyota real hard in the balls and wakes them up. There was a rumor that even Toyota would kill the Tacoma. Does that mean the HiLux would come? or would they go the ABat route? or fall into the domestic trap of "big trucks are the only way to go".

It will be interesting to see what occurs when the Colorado is Americanised. What design features that will go to make them cheaper. I truly hope they don't alter its safety rating as it is supposed to have a 5 star ENCAP and ANCAP rating. This is safer than some prestige cars and any pickup currently sold in the NA market.

I read an article on how VW was annoyed at the changes made to the Passat(?) that is made in Pennsylvania. VW was considering closing down the factory because of the changes.

@Big Al from Oz - I suspect that it will look like Equinox and Traverse since they seem to believe in the "corporate snout" design mantra.

Not all unibodies are built the same way. My wifes Patriot doesn't have much of a frame before it turns floorpan. However, look at the old Jeep Libertys or even older Commanches. Much more is there. I agree with Phillyguy, on some unibodies like my wifes Patriot, not many places for a jack. If the Dakota had a decent v-6 (from a power standpoint) it mighta taken a differant path. My 96 LHS 3.5 24 valve woulda made a better v-6 then that 3.7 12 valve, with max torque at 2800 rpm.

@ Mark Williams

Why is the last to receive (or post) this news? PUTC used to be the leader in the industry for pickup truck related news like this, now just a follower.

The small trucks and small diesel mantra of this site gets annoying...

@ highdesertcat

That is not true. Ford certainly made money on the Ranger, and sold a lot of them. I would also be shocked if Dodge and Chevy were not making money on the Dakota and Colorado.

They either killed them for political reasons or due to needing upgrades that were perceived as too expensive to invest in. If just one of these three automakers brought something back into the US market that is a modern light truck, or possibly even if someone like Hyundai jumped into the the Fray with a light truck built on a RWD genesis platform, Toyota will rapidly fall from grace.

@phillyguy--They haven't killed Colorado/Canyon its just not anywhere near being the sales leader that S-10 was. Colorado/Canyon are not bad trucks but they are not near the truck of the S-10/Sonoma. Having a 99 S-10 and a 2008 Isuzu (Colorado) I have some experience with both. The new Colorado/Canyon has to be better than the current offering but I don't think it will match the S-10. The Frontier/Equator is still a good solid truck as the Tacoma is but all the offerings in this field are dated. I like what I am seeing out of Chrysler I just hope that one of these designs whether it is Ram or Jeep or both makes it to production. It would be nice to see Hyandai or Kia jump into this market especially with their record on the new model cars they have. They have really come a long way. Toyota could stand some real competition.

Guys, we've got to go by the facts of automotive history as they are before us. So the Taco is old school? It's still the best selling compact truck in America, effectively displacing ALL other offerings regardless of manufacturer.

Don't misunderstand, I don't own one. I drive a 2011 Tundra 5.7 SR5 DoubleCab, but over the years we've had many Tacoma pickups in our family that were bought by my kids and other relatives.

They did so because the Tacoma presented the BEST VALUE on the market in relation to all others. And they continued to be repeat Tacoma buyers because they never had any problems with them.

That's the reason they switched away from the domestics to begin with. And Tacoma trucks retain resale value better than anything out there in that class. Ask anyone who ever bought a USED Tacoma.

Phillyguy, manufacturers discontinue vehicle lines because it is no longer economically feasible to support them, regardless of reason, be it political or whatever. I know several guys who mourn the loss of the Ranger and the Colorado, but they have moved on. I know no one who mourns the loss of the Dakota.

So what did they buy to replace their much loved Ranger or Colorado? Why, a Tacoma in one of its many variants, of course!

There is a market for a compact truck, and I would challenge Ford and GM to come to market with a full-size truck at compact truck pricing, by putting in normally aspirated I-6 or V6 engines, 5- or 6-speed manual transmissions, maybe offer an automatic transmission, and a diesel I-4 for the foolhardy.

The F150 normally aspirated 3.7 at $25K is such an offering and the EcoBoost V6 at $39K is a wilder version of it at premium pricing.

GM has nothing that comes even close to the same ballpark. Ditto with Dodge, but Dodge is no longer our concern since it is now a foreign controlled company. Whatever the Italians want to do is their business. What will be, will be.

I think this new offering from Dodge will sell if brought to market. After all, there are always some buyers for any new vehicle. But will it sell in numbers that make it break even? I have my doubts.

And Toyota won't be sitting still either. I am certain that development is under way for a diesel/manual version of a future Tacoma, but whether or not Toyota can price it below a V6 Tundra is doubtful.

The Ranger is a compact, their is no truck being sold that can be considered as a replacement. Ford says you could consider the Transit Connect as a replacement.

I would have to add that I know lots of guys with Rangers that all have made it to the 300k plus mark. Ranger was the last of the true compacts left. Sure there are others but they are not true compacts. With that being said I'm not one of the guys on here screaming for a true compact but I would love to have something the size of the F100 proposal that was 8/10ths the size of the F150. Lighter materials used in the frame and aluminum used on the side panels with a small displacement diesel that got high MPGs and Ford could price this as much as the F150 and not worry about the losses that would occur the the F150 sales. And if its an F series it still counts towards the end of the month sales against GM.

They are still thinking about it???? ... in other words for them it's 3+ years away at a minimum. Why even bother reporting this? It's been nothing but teasing for the last 10 years from the big 3.. wasted time and money prototyping really cool CUT/UTEs and going to shows.. but not ne has the balls to proceed.

Take a RWD v6 muscle car that produces 300hp and 26mpg City. Give it a tailgate and slide the rear seats way down and way back. toss the spare. Raise the rear window a bit and hav e it retract electronically forward over the roof exposing an open hard plastic bed wide enough so that you can slide 4x8 sheets when need. Done.

Are you talking about something like this?

Its uni-body constructed with a 6.2 Chev V8.

It quite fast as well but heavy on the fuel.

@Highdesertcat --Colorado/Canyon are still being made and sold. Thay are not dead. Sure their sales are not as big as Tacoma but they are still making them thru 2013 in the GM plant in Lafayette, Louisiana. If you look at the top truck sales Colorado is still listed. Ranger sales are still listed because they are selling the remaining 2011. The remaining midsize trucks in the US are Tacoma, Frontier, Colorado, Canyon, and the Suzuki Equaltor (Frontier's twin). GM is the only domestically based manufacturer still making a midsize truck. If you don't believe me google Colorado or look under midsize truck at Pickup

@Big Al from Oz --they were going to bring this Holden ute over as a Pontiac G8 truck but GM discontinue Pontiac. Maybe there is still hope as a Chevy El Camino.

Personally I agree that unibody on a truck is a mistake. Over time, those welds will crack at which point the thing could become a death trap. Overloading it just one time could be all it takes.

On the other hand, a compact pickup is seriously needed in the States; I didn't need the road whale I bought back in May, but I needed a truck and this road whale was the best-looking rig for the price. I still ended up doubling the sales price in making it road-worthy again. Had a less-expensive pickup been available--say in the 13K-18K range, I could have bought something new and avoided huge repair bills and a pending exhaust gasses inspection.

The M-80 above, with a couple minor mods, would definitely be an option I could go for. Even the wife, on reading this article, says, "I could see trading that long-in-the-tooth, greymuzzled road whale for one of those. Just make the fenders body-colored." Honestly, with only a grill change the thing could be a Jeep and nobody would know the difference.

Fiat/Chrysler could use the Jeep 4 door Renegade and put a pickup on the back of it. They have a full ladder frame chassis.

They already come with a small 4cyl diesel or the Pentastar V6.

They are quite rugged in construction, simple and make an excellent 4x4 with the live axle front end.

After market gear is already available.

This could be a great export vehicle as well as it would be a mid-sizer.

It would cost much either to design and produce either.

The Jeep Comanchee was a uni-body, great ride, easy to lift and was a workhorse. Something like that would be great, maybe even as smal as the old D-50 with a diesel

Jeff S | Jul 8, 2012 5:51:12 PM:

I know, but many people in the market don't want to buy an orphan or a left-over, if they have a choice, and that's why many have already switched to something else.

One guy I know went from a 4dr Colorado 4x4 to a Ridgeline two years ago. And one of my wife's cousins traded her Canyon in on a full-size Avalanche last year.
They were buying orphans but didn't know it.

So there are people who would like a compact truck out there, but with Tacoma well in control of the compact truck market with a variant for just about everyone, I don't know if Fiatsler would sell enough of these trucks to break even.

Affordable? What exactly is affordable? To me, affordable is in the $15K-$20K range. How can Fiatsler possibly offer a small truck in that price range when everything else out there sells at well over $20K?

@Big Al from Oz: I don't think Cyberpine was talking about a impractical toy with very low profile tires that when combined with sitting low can't go offroad, has a 6 foot or less bed, not very wide, has a top that needs removed or limits space, seats only two (anybody remember bench seats in compacts and midsizes?) a has that thirsty engine that needs 91 octane. Put that on Lifestyles for the Rich and Famous!

No, he's expecting something to get 26 MPG city, gotta love these unreal expectations! If he only knew the 305 HP Mustang V-6 weighing 3500 pounds, with it's programing to shift the 6 speed as soon as possible to get max mileage, only gets a rating of 19 MPG city. Now throw some terrain thats not perfect in there (hilly) and a bit more weight to make it truck like, oh, and any real decent payload of over 1000 pounds, good luck on getting 19 MPG city.

I think people on this site will find this very interesting.

@TRX4 Tom
A six cylinder muscle car?

You Toyota guys talk up your trucks like they do not have any faults. Our local dealership had over 300 pickups on their lot that Toyota bought back from owners that had frames rusting out. Now that is a truck I want to rely on.

I'm talking about does not exist. Maybe something like the Mila Coupic or the Open Cargo Coupe. RWD, Light enough and with enough HP to be fun. Enough MPG to be sensible. Wide enough to haul 4x8 sheets. It won't be a truck.. I image something agressive looking like a mustange, challenger or camaro... what this thing won't be able to do is is tow or haul garbage.

** Ford killed the Ranger because they needed to Kill their oldest factory. ** Ranger didn't receive any updates because Ford didn't want to dump any more money into that factory. ** Ford didn't have any other available facilities to shift Ranger production into, and weren't about to invest a gazillion dollars into a new facility to build a single vehicle platform that couldn't sell 100k a year. ** Basically, Ford let the Ranger factory kill the Ranger...

@Highdesert cat--Unless a vehicle is a total piece of junk I tend to keep my cars and trucks at least 10 years. I realize that maybe I am an exception to the rule but usually if there are any real issues with a vehicle they usually happen in the first couple of years and by the time you fix them you might as well keep it. I guess this is the way I was raised having a frugal father who had two Chevys he bought new and kept for over ten years. I and my 2 brothers and one sister have a better appreciation for his frugalness because he put all of us through college. In the long run I would take the college education over not having the newest coolest car or truck.

That is not to say that the Colorado is perfect or that there are not better choices but having owned one of its cousins I can assure you that it is a good solid truck with a few issues. Maybe some of the people you know decided that they did not want to live with any of the issues or maybe the Colorado is less cool than a Tacoma. A lot of people have herd instinct and want to buy whatever their friends buy. I am not one of those. If I ever buy a Tacoma it will not be because of trade in value or because someone tells me they are the best, it will be my decision based on my own research. I guess I am not cool or with the in crowd but I like to make my own decisions.

Before I judge the new Colorado I will see what it is after a couple of years on the market. The first year or two any new model can have problems just like the Chevy Cruze does now and the Colorado/Canyon had when it was released in 2004. That is one reason the Tacoma is so reliable is because it has not had any major changes in 10 years.

And your judgement that no one will buy a left over. Ford has sure sold a lot of left over Rangers at discounts and regardless of what you might think, Highdesert cat, the Ranger was a darn good truck. GM will not have any trouble selling left over Colorados/Canyons because regardless of what you think a bargain is a bargain and they are a solid truck. I happen to own one and any real issues I have had with mine were fixed under warranty. I will not let your opinion change what I have experienced.

I have nothing against Toyota but unlike you, Highdesert cat, I don.t think they are the only game in town. I am not as blinded by brands as ohers and I am of the opinion that all the manufacturers whether they be American, Japanese, Korean, and German do a good job and put out a solid vehicle.

@: toycrusher84 --You are right they did not kill Ranger because of lack of success. Ford is concentrating its resources on the F-150 and yes they did want to close the factory. Unlike what Highdesert cat states the Ranger did well considering no updates in almost 20 years and little or no advertising or promotion. Imagine what Ranger would have been with an update and some advertising. They might have been Number 1 compact truck and not Tacoma. Just speculation but for a discontinued and ignored truck Ranger has done well.

@Bid Al from Oz: He is talking Camaro, Mustang, and Challenger. They actually run the same or faster then most of their small block v-8 originals did in 1970. Of course now they do it with 500 or more pounds over their originals, stop a whole lot better, corner better (the originals could be modified to corner great) and if you wreck one you stand a much better chance ofless injures or living.

Like most people, I don't need and don't want a large truck but I do need and want a small truck. For what I occasionally haul (lumber, furniture, appliances), I only need a small truck. A large truck for me is a waste of space, fuel, and money- although the minor cost difference between the last small trucks in NA and full size trucks explains why most people just buy the large truck. A unibody truck like the A-BAT would be great and still hauls a 4x8 sheet. If you NEED a large truck, then buy one, but don't put down small or unibody trucks because you feel you need a large truck to proclaim your manliness. Get over yourself.

Jeff S | Jul 9, 2012 8:59:11 AM

I think that many people keep their vehicles for more than five years, so you may not be an exception. Often they buy other vehicles as well to use simultaneously.

I kept a 1988 Silverado running until January 2011, while at the same time owning a 2006 F150. You can keep anything running if you replace the worn-out or broken parts in it, and I replaced a bunch of factory-original parts in both of them.

But after I bought my 2011 Tundra 5.7, I sold off all 11 old cars I had parked on my property because that's what my wife wanted me to do if I bought a new Tundra for myself. Well, that, and she wanted a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit. Small price to pay to keep mama happy.

And as far as Tacoma having that segment in the market sewed up? The sales data supports that. It's not something I'm making up.

Unless GM, Dodge and Ford can reverse-engineer and further improve on the current Tacoma, I don't see any of their future offerings as a threat to Tacoma sales.

@Highdesertcat--I don't dispute Tacoma's No. 1 in the Midsize to Compact Truck sales and it is undoubtly deserved. I have no bone to pick with Toyota and where I live in Northern Kentucky they provide jobs with an assembly plant in Georgetown, NA American parts distribution warehouse in Hebron (where I live), and NA headquarters in Erlanger. My only problem is as a consummer I favor competition over a monopoly or near monopoly. Granted this is not entirely Toyota's fault because many manufacturers have given up on the smaller truck segment but I would like to see competition to encourage Toyota to update the Tacoma and make it better. I might some day buy a Toyota.

My turn off to Toyota was not entirely Toyota's fault but an arrogant Sales Manager at a Toyota dealership years ago when my wife and I were looking at a Corolla wagon. After we test drove the car the Sales Manager took the salesperson aside and kept telling her not to sell the car but to make us lease the car. She explained to the Sales Manager that we were only interested in buying and not leasing. This happened before we mentioned any price or before negotiating any deal. At the time we lived in the country and put about 20k a year on a car which would not make sense to lease. Another thing is that I have always paid cash for my vehicles. We finally walked out of the dealership and looked at other brands. We bought a Ford Escort LX Wagon for half the price with much more equipment. The Escort was based on a Mazda 323 and it was one of the most reliable cars we ever had.

I was so turned off to Toyota that when I was looking for a new or slightly used compact truck to replace my aging Mitsubishi with 200k miles I was looking at Rangers because I had friends that had Rangers and loved them and also after owning the Escort I had a favorable impression of Ford products. I got a Chevy S-10 because at the time I had a GM Master Card that earned rebates and GM sent me a brochure saying get an additional $1,500 cash rebate off your best deal. I hadn't even considered a Chevy since it had been years since I owned one but after I got the rebate offer in the mail I decided to take a look. I bought that S-10 in 1999 and still have it. With over $3,000 in MC rebates, $1,500 cash back, $1,700 off sticker, and a $750 Citi Bank cash back rebate as well I drove out an extended cab S-10 LS for under $10,500 tax, title, licensing, and bed liner included. It was less than a lot of used trucks at the time. The S-10 has served me well. I didn't even look at Toyota because I was still angry at the dealership.

Now years later the anger has subsided but I have a friend that went looking for a Corolla 3 years ago and this was at another dealership that told him that you should be willing to pay full price for any Toyota because they are the best on the road. He had owned a Corolla and it was a good car but he had the transmission go out on a trip and he junked it. He ended up buying a Hyundai. Now with Hyundai's new redesigned cars the Elantra puts the Corolla to shame and the Sonota is much nicer than the Camry even though Toyota outsells anything because of customer loyalty (not that either Corolla or Camry are bad cars its just the competition is light years ahead of them). Sorry to be so wordy but that was my issue with Toyota.

i agree with the conclusions you've drawn. i am an aging baby boomer with a '96 dodge 2500 diesel. great truck, plan keeping it but not as a daily driver. fuel economy, fuel economy, fuel economy. i,d like a truck that can tow 7,ooo lb. and get 30mpg highway. give the gas guys their gas engines and the diesel guys their diesel engines in a good qualiy midsize truck. the previous offering from the big three were quite honestly very weak attempts yielding poor sales.

Jeff S | Jul 9, 2012 1:20:21 PM,

your experience was interesting. I had a very bad sales experience with the Tundra in 2009 when I set out to buy a 2010 Tundra.

Those Toyota asshats were smug, condescending, self-rightious and pompous with their take-it-or-leave it attitude. They wouldn't budge on price on the Tundra even though I had bought a 2008 Highlander from them and was already a customer.

A long story short, they came around to my way of thinking a year later when I bought my 2011 Tundra, special order. What a difference a year made.

The biggest problem with Toyota is that they know they have a good product and as long as it sells well, like the Tacoma, Camry and the Corolla do, we'll see very few upgrades. Maybe a tweak here and there, but no major revamps.

If this little RAM comes to pass, that may get Toyota's attention, especially if it is priced in the $15K-$20K range.

And Fiat could do that, if they make only ONE line of this truck, with one engine, one transmission and one trim level, at first.

If it pans out Fiat can always increase the choices of trim, engines and transmissions later, using whatever is already in the parts bin.

I can't see them making one transmission. They will want to use the 8 speed, which is fine, but it will cost more money. How about a 6 or 7 speed manual? Of course, some folks haven't a clue when to shift, or they are so stuck on having and auto so they can keep holding the phone to their ear, or unfortunitly, texting. Say years down the line, like 12-15, (maybe near 200k) and the auto is worn out. You pay a much higher price to rebuild. Manual? Stick a clutch in and get with it again! Keep manual trans available!

TRX4 Tom,

there's a formula that they use to determine how many to make of each variant based on projected sales.

Sometimes those sales exceed or fall short of the projections.

What I am suggesting is that the first introduction run of this little RAM should be kept in the $15K-$20K range, if at all possible, and feature no options.

That could mean a simple combination of an I-4 with an automatic, disc brakes all around, and AC, PS, PW, PL , a Sat/AM/FM/MP3 radio, and cloth seats in black.

Whatever the planners decide but they should keep it simple to the lowest common denominator. If it sells well they can always offer more from the parts bin.

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