The midsize pickup truck segment seems to be taking off once again. GM just released its Colorado and Canyon twins, and an optional diesel engine will soon arrive. Toyota just pulled the covers from its redesigned Tacoma, which features a new 3.5-liter V-6. Finally, Nissan is in the process of revamping its Frontier lineup. The only two left out in the cold are Ford and Ram.
There have been rumors of both Ford and Ram relaunching their Ranger and Dakota lineups, respectively, and a few spy shots of FCA employees testing a midsize truck stoked the Dakota rumor a bit. Despite these spy shots, we can now put to bed the rumors of the return of the Dakota, as Ram boss, Bob Hegbloom, told Automotive News that it’s not happening.
Hegbloom points to four key factors that buyers look for in a midsize truck as his reasoning. He claims that midsize truck buyers look for reduced capabilities, a smaller size, a lower price, and “incredible” fuel economy when shopping for a midsize truck. He stated that he can only put together the first three of the four keys, but he cannot find a way to fit the fuel economy requirement without significant price hikes.
Using his brand’s own Ram 1500 Ecodiesel engine as a baseline, he says that since it gets “30 mpg highway” (that’s inaccurate, as the EPA rates the base Ecodiesel at 28 mpg highway), buyers want at least 35 mpg highway from a midsize truck.
In my opinion, he is absolutely on the right path, but he is not thinking on the sliding scale that buyers think on. Buyers will never compare a base model Colorado with the Ram 1500 Ecodiesel. My point is that the Colorado (27 mpg highway) bases at $20,120 and the cheapest you can get the Ram 1500 Ecodiesel (28 mpg highway) is $31,260, which is a too big of a gap for Hegbloom to make a logical comparison. Now, compare the base Ram 1500 (20 mpg combined) at $25,795 to the base Colorado (22 mpg combined) at $20,120, and you can now see exactly how it all makes sense. You’re gaining 2 mpg combined and dropping over $5k from the base price.
Additionally, once the 2.8-liter Duramax diesel engine debuts in the Colorado, it will like hit (maybe exceed) that 35 mpg mark, and it’ll probably only increase the Colorado’s base price to about $25,000. To me it makes perfect business sense once you compare apples to apples instead of apples to kiwis.
My final stance on this is that some people simply prefer the capabilities of a pickup without having to navigate a whale of a full-size rig through a parking lot. That in itself is enough for many buyers to lean toward the midsize.
I think there is a lot more behind Ram’s refusal to build a midsize pickup than what Hegbloom claims. It is way too easy to punch holes all through his reasoning for this to be the real reasoning.