Not even that all-new aluminum alloy construction could sweep some award hardware from Motor Trend into Ford’s trophy case this year, as the company’s cross-town rival was instead able to make a big statement with its redesigned and reloaded smaller pickup truck. That’s right, the Motor Trend Truck of the Year award for 2015 is not going to the Ford F-150 as many may have suspected, but is instead being handed to the Chevy Colorado, a mid-size pickup that is making its grand re-entrance to the market after a brief hiatus.
What helped the Colorado win over Motor Trend’s presiding judges? A lot of things, but two of the biggest factors were definitely the truck’s size and relative value. “I, like many others, was critical of the Colorado initially because of its size and pricing,” Motor Trend judge and associate online editor Christian Seabaugh said, “but it really looks, feels, and drives significantly smaller than the full-size Silverado.”
And that enthusiasm was spread throughout Motor Trend’s editorial staff. Other judges also heaped praise upon the Colorado, which definitely has many people thinking that maybe smaller pickup trucks — not bigger, as traditional thinking goes — are the wave of the future. “The Colorado to me is the perfect-size truck again,” said Motor Trend testing director Kim Reynolds. “Its simplicity and purity are what a truck ought to be about.”
2015 marks the return the of the Chevy Colorado to the U.S. market for the first time since 2012, where it will be joined by its corporate cousin, the GMC Canyon. So, with two redesigned GM small pickup trucks hitting the market this year, is it truly a sign that the times are changing? For many years, the segment has been dominated by foreign auto makers, like Toyota’s Tacoma and Nissan’s Frontier. But the Colorado’s impressive re-entrance may be a sign that the Americans are back — and ready to play hardball.
While those foreign companies may be in for a bit of an uptick in small truck competition, as far as other American automakers go, it may be a signal that it’s time to put some skin back into the game. Chiefly among those American companies is Ford, who has been dominating the truck segment for years, but has been without a small pickup for several years now. Ford’s now-classic Ranger was, at one time, a staple of the segment, until it was mothballed in late 2011.
Motor Trend’s editorial staff even sees an opportunity for Chevy and GMC to pounce on Ford with the new Canyon and Colorado, giving consumers who tend to opt for American-branded vehicles a new alternative. “I can see it being very popular with small businesses that have been running old Rangers and the like,” said Scott Evans, referring to the Chevy Colorado.
So, what does this really mean for Ford, and the rest of Chevy’s competitors? It’s time to capitalize on the opportunity while customer tastes are changing. Neither Ford or Ram offer a small pickup truck, and it’s obvious that not only consumers are starting to crave them, but that critics and the press are jumping on board as well. It’s definitely easy to see how Ford brass, who sell around 700,000 F-series pickup trucks per year, might want to keep hitting the heavy-duty and larger pickup segments hard, but a revamped Ranger may be perfect for the evolving market.
This is an idea that we have recently explored, and though there really hasn’t been much buzz about it yet, Ford is apparently paying attention. There is a redesigned Ranger out there, although it doesn’t appear that there are plans to release it to the U.S. Foreign markets instead get to enjoy the spoils of the new and fairly sexy Ranger. Ford has its reasons, but if it decides to sit on its hands in this case, it could lose big as GM and its Japanese counterparts run away with the competition.
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