The small pickup truck market has been on rough times. The Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier are venerable trucks, but long in the tooth. The Ford Ranger and Dodge Dakota are long gone. Sure, the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon are back, but they didnt really live up to the billing, and to get one that is even enjoyable to drive, you have to spend full-size-pickup money. How did we get here?
But if “here” for you is just about any other continent, the compact truck rocking. Depending on the market and the currency, these trucks can get pretty pricey, but if you value having capability in a smaller (sometimes more attractive) package, these pickups will make you wish you lived abroad:
Will the Strada tow like an F-150, Ram, or Silverado? No, but on the tight streets of a Tuscan village, the Strada would be able to whisk your heirloom tomatoes to market, and return with a truck load of supplies. This ‘Ute is not big and burly like an American truck, but how many pickups have been penned by Giorgetto Giugiaro? (The same guy who designed the DeLorean DMC-12, BMW M1, Lotus Esprit S1, and too many Alfas and Maseratis to count)
In America, the most rugged vehicle in the VW stable is the Touareg SUV, but elsewhere, the Amarok is a mid-size pickup that actually stands larger than many of its competitors. The word “Amarok” supposedly means “Wolf” in Inuit, and this wolf gets either a 2.-liter turbocharged gas, or 2-liter diesel engine. And unlike many of its American counterparts, this pickup actually has the option of a manual transmission. (Many other international trucks have stick shift options)
A long time ago, the Hilux and the American-sold Toyota Pickup were nearly the same vehicle. This video is not only one of the most iconic Top Gear skits of all time, it is an incredible homage to the indestructibility of the Hilux. Today, the Hilux is a far more sophisticated vehicle, but still maintains its rugged roots. It is actually based on the same chassis as the Toyota 4Runner, and is sold in Australia, Europe, South Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
The U.S. Ranger went largely unchanged for years. To tool up a replacement would have been too expensive. As a result, the American model was long-in-the-tooth, yet cheap, so sales were strong well into its final years. But the international Ranger is an upscale, attractive vehicle, with an interior that looks more attractive than that of any truck available in the States.
Ford Performance Vehicles Cobra Ute
You’ve always wanted a Shelby-branded pickup, right? For a while we had the SVT, and the idle promise that was the Tremor, but in Australia, they have the FPV (Ford Performance Vehicles) Pursuit Cobra. It has a car-like ride, a big pickup bed, that great dual-racing-stripe look…oh and a 5.4-liter V8 that makes 404 horsepower and 398 lb-ft.
Up until 2014, the Navara and the Frontier were closely related. We haven’t heard one word about a new Frontier coming to the U.S. market, but overseas, the new Navara was released last year. It is a much sleeker design, and a competition model is running in a number of races, including the Coupe Ralleye Quebec series and the South African ASBA Off-Road series.
00-chevrolet colorado concept
The U.S.-spec Colorado is finally back, but it feels like a rolling compromise, but the Holden Colorado is made for real work. It features a push bar and something that American buyers are still waiting for…a diesel engine.