Ram’s Midsize Pickup Concept Aims At Hot Segment

Stellantis shows its dealers a midsize pickup that is more work-driven than off-roading like the Jeep Gladiator.

David Kiley, Senior Editor

March 28, 2023

4 Min Read
Ram dealers want a midsize pickup truck that is more appropriate for small contractors and other commercial customers than the Jeep Gladiator.

Stellantis has shown its dealers a concept for a new midsize pickup on a separate platform than what the current Jeep Gladiator is based on. The truck, to be sold under the Ram brand, is expected to be offered as a Battery-Electric-Vehicle or a Plug-In Hybrid Electic.

The company made good on comments by Ram CEO Mike Koval Jr. at last fall’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit when he said on the sidelines of the show that the company was working on a concept, and that Ram dealers had been asking for their own midsize truck apart from the Jeep Gladiator.

“We see a lot of growth in that segment, and the Ram dealers say it is an obvious hole in the showroom that should be filled.”

After the midsize-truck segment was abandoned in the 1990s by the Detroit Three, leaving it to Asian brands, the market has seen a resurgence in recent years, with a growing number of models from various manufacturers entering the fray.

Perhaps the biggest reason that the Detroit automakers left the market is that they were all over-producing fullsize pickups and offering massive discounting, thus crushing the value of a midsize truck, which was bumping up against the price of a decently equipped fullsize hauler.

"Fullsize pickups have gotten more and more expensive over the years, with even commercial grade trucks now priced at what was until recently considered luxury price points," says Ed Kim, president and chief analyst at AutoPacific. " The rise in both fullsize pickup MSRPs and transaction prices has left some room for midsize trucks, especially as these midsizers have gotten pretty big and capable themselves," says Kim.

After the exodus of Ford Ranger and Dodge Dakota, the segment was dominated by the Toyota Tacoma and the Nissan Frontier. But with new and successful entries from Ford, Chevrolet and Jeep, there is more competition than ever.

One of the main reasons for the renewed interest in midsize pickups is their versatility and greater maneuverability. As fullsize trucks have gotten larger, a solid audience of buyers has developed that simply doesn’t want a truck as big as a Ford F150 or Ram 1500.

These smaller trucks are easier to maneuver and park in tight spaces, while still offering ample hauling and towing capabilities. They also tend to be more affordable than their larger counterparts, making them an attractive option for consumers looking for a work truck or an off-road adventurer.

The Toyota Tacoma, which had 215, 853 in sales in 2022, has been the king of the midsize- truck market, and for good reason. It is a reliable and durable truck that is perfect for off-roading and hauling. As recently as 2019, Toyota sold 249,000. The Tacoma has a solid reputation for quality and reliability, as well as resale value, which has helped it, along with the absence of offerings from Ford, General Motors and Stellantis for many years, maintain its dominance in the market.

Toyota has also led the way with performance versions of midsize trucks with the Tacoma TRD Pro, which features upgraded suspension, all-terrain tires, and a host of other off-road features. And that move is spawning similar entries from Ford and Chevy.

Nissan has also made some recent upgrades to its Frontier model, which was overdue for a refresh, in order to protect its flanks against Ford Ranger and Chevy Colorado. The ʼ22 Frontier features a new engine, updated styling, and a much-needed interior overhaul.

Ford’s renewed Ranger has been a significant entry. The Ranger is a versatile truck that can be configured for work or play, and it features a turbocharged engine that delivers impressive power and efficiency. The Ranger is also available with Ford's Co-Pilot360 suite of safety features, which includes lane-keeping assist, automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control. And the company has brought out a Ranger Raptor performance model, based on the F-150 Raptor, priced around $45,000.

Until the ʼ23 model year, the Chevy Colorado stood out in the category by offering a diesel version, but that was scrapped after the ʼ22 model year. The diesel was intended to appeal to those who wanted the small truck, but still had towing needs. But it sold in small numbers, and diesel has become a dirty word in the journey toward zero-emission vehicles.

Finally, Stellantis is already in the segment with the Jeep Gladiator, but as this vehicle is little else but a Wrangler with a truck bed, it has a buyer base that is separate from the rest, appealing almost exclusively to recreational owners who want to hit off-road trails and carry bikes and kayaks.

There is plenty of growth left in this segment for new entries. According to Zion Market Research, the global midsize-pickup market was valued at approximately $20.6 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach $33.1 billion by 2026, growing at a compound annual growth rate of around 6.8% between 2020 and 2026.

The growth of the market is attributed to several factors, including increasing demand for midsize pickups for personal and commercial purposes, advancements in automotive technology and the introduction of new models with advanced features.

About the Author(s)

David Kiley

Senior Editor, WardsAuto

David Kiley is an award winning journalist. Prior to joining WardsAuto, Kiley held senior editorial posts at USA Today, Businessweek, AOL Autos/Autoblog and Adweek, as well as being a contributor to Forbes, Fortune, Popular Mechanics and more.

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