One of the more curious developments at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week was the return of the Chevrolet Colorado pickup truck. General Motors ended production of the Colorado and its cousin, the GMC Canyon, early last year. At the time, the decision seemed to be the final curtain for small and midsize domestic pickups, as it followed Ford's decision to kill the Ranger and Chrysler's decision to end production of the Dodge Dakota.

Bigland argues the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is essentially competing for the same buyers as the Colorado.

Does Chevy's revival of the Colorado mean a new dawn for the segment overall? Yes and no. The Colorado's reinvention essentially provides a peek at how automakers tackle the same problem in two different ways. GM's approach is to create a new midsize pickup. Chrysler's approach, on the other hand, would seem to focus more on the prospective buyer than the product itself.

Reid Bigland, head of Ram Truck for Chrysler, argues the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, scheduled to arrive in showrooms in March 2014, is essentially competing for the same buyers as the Colorado.

At first glance, there's not a lot in common. The fullsize Ram 1500's 3.0-liter V6 engine produces 240 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque and can tow 9,200 pounds. The midsize Colorado has a standard 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine that produces 193 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, and can tow 6,700 pounds. The common denominator, Bigland tells Autoblog, is that prospective buyers of both emphasize fuel economy.
2015 Chevrolet Colorado2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel

"The customer who is concerned about fuel economy can now move up," he said. The EcoDiesel is projected to achieve 20 miles per gallon in the city and 27 mpg on the highway, significantly better than the standard Ram 1500, which achieves 16 mpg in the city and 23 on the highway with its standard 3.6-liter gasoline engine. Fuel economy numbers on the '15 Colorado have not yet been released. By comparison, the Toyota Tacoma, the sales leader of the few remaining automakers in the midsize pickup segment, achieves 21 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.

Bigland figures if Ram can offer gas-conscious buyers the fuel economy of a small pickup in a full-size format, that's a winning formula. "These customers want a number of things, and they really want great fuel economy," he said. "They want a relevant pickup ... and in the case of EcoDiesel, we can deliver that fuel economy with, really, no compromises."

There may be one significant fly in Bigland's ointment, however. Pricing has not yet been announced for either truck, but the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is all but certain to be many thousands of dollars more costly than even a well-outfitted Colorado.

"The customer who is concerned about fuel economy can now move up."

Chrysler has placed a big bet on diesel overall over the past year, bringing a diesel Jeep Grand Cherokee to the market amid much fanfare. Pickups, Bigland said, are a natural extension of that, because drivers of heavy-duty pickups are already accustomed to the fuel.

The Colorado has commanded considerable attention at the LA Auto Show. "The new Colorado, with its bold styling, lightweight engineering and lifestyle-friendly equipment should take a bite out of existing Tacoma and Frontier sales," said Karl Brauer, Director of Insights for Kelley Blue Book. It's the truck that "domestic truck fans have been patiently waiting for, a compelling compact from Detroit."

Though its not yet in showrooms, the EcoDiesel has garnered similar early honors, winning Truck of Texas and Canada's Truck King Challenge. That means, among other things, Ram won't be thinking about reviving the Dodge Dakota any time soon.

"Never say never," Bigland said. "I've seen a lot of things in this industry. But we're confident that we're in the right place."


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 115 Comments
      Jack
      • 1 Year Ago
      Yeah, I get what they're saying. If all I want is a smaller, cheaper truck, I'll look at bigger, more expensive truck......dumb. They've been trying to make this Ecodiesel sound like the be-all and end-all for truck buyers. Well, it's not. It isn't even going to abolish the need for Ram gas engines, it's just going to be an addition to give buyers more options at best. People are waiting to get their hands on a small diesel, but don't oversell it. Some people are still going to want powerful, roaring V8 trucks that hog gas. Some still want small, easy to park, handy trucks, even if they're not that much cheaper. And some just want something simple, cheap and stripped down to buzz around in. You know, there are plenty people that actually do not want to spend $4,000-$8,000 more for a complicated diesel.
        rtttack
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Jack
        Yeah, I'm one that likes a small, simple truck. A Ram wouldn't fit in my garage. I also don't want an engine that costs more to maintain, cost more to repair, requires a fuel that costs $0.50 more per gallon, an engine that costs thousands more upfront. I've owned several diesels. Diesels are NOT CHEAP to own. No thanks, Mr. Reid Bigland.
      l5kream
      • 1 Year Ago
      "The customer who is concerned about fuel economy can now move up." Um, I don't know many people that moved down to a Toyota Taco because of fuel economy. (17 / 21 MPG for a V6 PreRunner....really???) Most compact truck buyers like compact trucks because, well...they're compact! It would still be nice to see improved gas mileage for smaller trucks, though.
        jtav2002
        • 1 Year Ago
        @l5kream
        Exactly. My Taco didn't get stellar mileage. But I bought it because at the time I didn't want fullsize. Not because I wanted better fuel economy.
      Sheldon
      • 1 Year Ago
      The SMALL truck buyer really just wants to buy a BIG truck, now they can! Brilliant! /facepalm
      EvilEdHarris
      • 1 Year Ago
      I think that Ram needs to do some more demographic research. I drive a Tacoma and most other Tacoma and Frontier drivers I have talked to chose the truck they did for its size not price. Price plays a big role, but for my needs a 1/2 ton truck can't go up and down a gnarly gravel road on a mountain nearly as well as my Tacoma.
      hedges
      • 1 Year Ago
      Jeep sticks you with a $4500 premium for the diesel. Dodge going to pull the same stunt?
        TahsinZ
        • 1 Year Ago
        @hedges
        They'll probably package the diesel with a bunch of other stuff you don't want and then charge $6000 for it
      omgcool
      • 1 Year Ago
      The Pentastar Ram can get up to 25mpg highway. If 27 really is all they can squeeze out of that diesel, then that's pathetic and maybe it was a waste of time. Marginal fuel economy and towing capacity gains against a higher initial price, higher fuel price, and the risk of buying an Italian engine... can't say that's a choice I'd make. Also, does this guy actually know the market, or is he just making excuses as to why Ram might not build a new Dakota? Many people don't want a full-size because they're hard to fit in some garages. Size is indeed a factor. Price, too. If any Ram is going to be a competitor to the new Colorado, it will be the Pentastar. But I still don't think these markets overlap as much as Bigland expects.
        jtav2002
        • 1 Year Ago
        @omgcool
        Well, it depends on what you consider marginal. 2 mpg better (I've seen some who have gotten 26mpg COMBINED in early testing of the Ecodiesel) plus towing a ton more is pretty substantial IMO. The Pentastar gives you a little more towing capacity than a midsize, vs with the Ecodiesel you're still in the neighborhood of all the V8 full size trucks. Plus the diesel is going to tow more efficiently than the Pentastar. It seems that perhaps you don't necessarily understand the market, either. Granted I do agree that I really don't see this truck taking away sales from the Colorado the way they think.
          omgcool
          • 1 Year Ago
          @jtav2002
          I do expect real-world mileage to be decent, possibly justify the premium over the course of several years; but I don't understand why it can only achieve 27hwy in EPA testing. Not particularly impressive, if you ask me. I was expecting 29-30 if not 31. No doubt, a diesel will tow better than a gas V6, but for the people who actually tow frequently to a point of it mattering will probably step up to a 2500 where the rest of the vehicle is designed to tow every day and not complain. Or just stick with the cheaper and dependable Hemi. Otherwise, a Pentastar should have no problem towing a sizeable boat to the lake and back several weekends in a year. As a consumer, my only insight to the market is myself and peers, and in the future, I would consider a "compact" pickup. I love the Ram line, but I also would want something that can fit in a typical residential garage. I can't imagine that I'm the only one who feels this way. So Ram might not want to make another compact; that's ok, I'm sure it's a questionable financial risk, I won't complain about that. I just don't like that Bigland seems to be making excuses. Maybe he'll prove me wrong, but I struggle to see that happening. Just to be clear, I'm not hating on the diesel. I am proud that Ram was the first to step up and offer one in a 1/2 ton (even if its European); If my next garage is large enough, I'll certainly be looking at the Ram full-size pickups, perhaps even this diesel if they prove reliable and justify the prices. I'm just upset that Bigland claims it to be a competitor to the compacts. And upset that this likely means there won't be a smaller addition to the Ram lineup anytime soon.
      Dave
      • 1 Year Ago
      "The midsize Colorado has a standard 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine that produces 193 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, and can tow 6,700 pounds." I had a full size 1986 GMC with a V8 that couldn't match those specs.
        Dave
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Dave
        And I'll bet the new Colorado will be huge compared to my regular cab Ford Ranger.
          Dave
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dave
          "....Ranger, a vehicle that was last redesigned in 1993" Actually, Ford lengthened the cab in 1998. I test drove a '95 regular cab and the leg room was awful. "In 1998 the Ranger got another redesign, giving it a longer wheelbase and a three-inch (76 mm) longer cab for the regular cab models (part of which provided more room in the interior." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Ranger_(North_America)
          H Town
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dave
          I like the old Ranger too, but I'm getting kinda tired of hearing this. The new Colorado is only 4 inches wider and maybe a foot longer than the Ranger, a vehicle that was last redesigned in 1993. That's 20 years ago. In the past 20 years, the Civic has grown 19 inches and gained 700 pounds. That's a much larger percentage difference than the difference between the Ranger and the Colorado. Vehicles now have to be bigger because of the higher standards they're designed to, but they're also safer, more efficient, and more capable.
          Dark Gnat
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dave
          So what? The Colorado was always a Midsize. The Ranger was a small pickup, about the same size as the Chevy S-10.
        jtav2002
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Dave
        Is that a direct quote copy or did you retype? I think the 6700 rating is for the 3.6 V6. I don't see the four banger towing that. Nor would I want to.
      michael
      • 1 Year Ago
      Well, that would end pretty soon, since GM will add a diesel to the Colorado next year, and it will surely get better gas mileage than the Ram diesel
      turbonium959
      • 1 Year Ago
      Dear, Ram. Small trucks buyers are not only interested in such vehicles for their MPGs, but also for their lower MSRP. EcoDiesel Ram will not be cheap. Take a look at the diesel Grand Cherokee. The diesel option ($4.5K) is only available starting with the Grand Cherokee Limited (almost $40K). That's a lot of money. Small truck buyers starting point will probably be around $20K and probably zero or very small budget for extras. Cheapest full-size Ram truck today starts at $24K and I imagine that full-size Ram diesel truck will be close to or north of $30K.
      Deneway
      • 1 Year Ago
      Rather have the Ram V6 with 8 speed tranny and keep the $4000 Ram is asking for the diesel. Years free driving in gas money. And gas is 60cents a gallon cheaper than diesel
      Making11s
      • 1 Year Ago
      The small truck market is more about dimensions and price than efficiency. In the 80's and 90's when trucks like the Dakota and Ranger sold well, they hit their numbers with really bad fuel economy. In fact, it was when the small trucks got bigger that sales started to really drop. Granted, efficiency is a bigger issue today, but it's still the smaller size that is most appealing about small trucks. I don't see how a full size truck with an optional engine that will probably cost over $4,000 will appeal to people who want smaller, cheaper trucks.
        john96xlt
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Making11s
        "In fact, it was when the small trucks got bigger that sales started to really drop." Um, not "in fact", that's absolutely bogus. The Tacoma started outselling the Ranger when it grew and the Ranger didn't. The Ranger remained a compact up until it was discontinued.
      raughle1
      • 1 Year Ago
      ...says the sales guy with no small trucks to sell.
    • Load More Comments