Why Don't We Have a Choice of Compact Pickups in America Anymore?

January 21, 2010
It took years for the major truck makers to give us a choice of midsize four-door trucks. Now, the American market has only two choices for compact pickups. Ford's Ranger is only available in standard cab and extended cab. Chevy / GMC gives us standard/extended/crew cab, the only maker to do so in this segment. You can't call a Tacoma DoubleCab a small truck! These two choices are still larger than the "compact" pickup we are used to, like the old Chevy LUV or the Ford/Mazda Courier. There are compact pickups out there in the world that we Americans would like to have a chance to buy. Why won't they bring them here? 

I have been watching with particular interest the halting, stuttering machinations of Mahindra. Mahindra should have brought their two trucks, the TR20 (a two door compact) and the TR40 (a four-door crew cab) to America AT LEAST 18 months ago. They have ugly styling, but also have a four cylinder turbodiesel engine with a 6 speed auto. I can overlook the style. After all, when you are driving it, you can't see how ugly it is! I can't remember the last time a compact truck with a diesel engine was offered for sale in the US. Today, in this economy, this is the type of truck America needs! I can see how useful a compact truck with gobs of diesel torque could be. And why do we Americans have to rely on a foreign manufacturer to give us what we want? GM still owns a part of Isuzu, doesn't it? I guarantee you that Isuzu makes a perfectly suitable four cylinder diesel engine that would fit nicely under the hood of a Colorado or Canyon. I also read that Hummer, which GM no longer owns, makes an H3 with a diesel for export only.  Why couldn't we have bought that?! That would have been like having your cake and eating it too! I would have been very happy to drive around the Valley of the Sun thumbing my nose at all of the tree huggers. Hah, an H3 and a diesel too! Now tell me I'm wasting resources! 
 Not all of us city dwellers live in a densely populated metro area, like NYC or Philly. A great majority of us live like I do: in a far-flung suburb, connected to the nearest metro area by a crowded freeway. 60% of my driving is at freeway speeds. That diesel H3 would have been the perfect vehicle for me and my boy. The Mahindra TR40 is another excellent choice. Ford has plenty of four cylinder turbodiesels in just Europe that they could bring to America in a Ranger. BTW, Ford, please replace this aged Ranger you sell here with the Australian one. It already has a diesel engine in it.  While I'm flogging some manufacturers for their shortsightedness, let's not forget Dodge. Cummins makes suitable four cylinder diesel engines, too. No small turbodiesel engines for the Dakota.(I know, Dakota is a midsize, darn near full size)  Now that they are owned by Fiat, perhaps we will get an IVECO diesel engine in a Fiat truck. Now that is a vehicle worth looking forward to. Volkswagen can't make a business case for the Amarok crew cab pickup with a TDI engine. Toyota, Nissan, and Mazda won't sell us any of their compact pickups with diesel engines that they sell everywhere else.  Mahindra is dithering, leaving hundreds of thousands of dollars on the table every day they delay. What do we have to do to convince the bean counters to let us have the truck we want and/or need? 

My desire for the compact truck, especially with a turbodiesel engine, is driven by this: a sneaky, awful feeling that our economy is going to go south sooner than later.  When it does, gas prices will likely skyrocket to levels that are unobtainable by most families. Diesel fuel prices will go up, also, but here is the saving grace: the average Joe can't make gasoline at home, but he CAN make biodiesel relatively easily in his garage. You can find the formula for turning just about any waste oil,or other oils, into biodiesel with a simple Google search. And, if you are smart, you will also look up the ASTM standard to make sure that you cook the fuel correctly,  so you don't clog your delicate fuel injectors.  America was built on the principle of self-reliance. A diesel engined vehicle allows you to stay self-reliant in case of domestic turmoil. Or worse. Just sayin'. Do I have it wrong? I dare you to show me that my bad feelings are unfounded. There is a comment section somewhere on this page; put it to good use.

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