New trucks are so expensive, but there used to be a way to get into a new truck on the cheap buying a mini-truck. With everything being truck-crazy these days doesn’t it make sense to bring back the mini-truck? Especially since some manufacturers already make them for other parts of the world. This is the Ram 700 which is sold in Mexico and the Caribbean. It is built in Brazil.
While the traditional mini-truck sold in America was rear-wheel-drive, this is front-wheel-drive. Yes, that does limit its appeal somewhat. But there’s no denying it’s a good looking little rig and at around $15,000 for a stripper version it’s inexpensive as new trucks go.
The 700 Is Based On the Fiat Strada
It is based on the Fiat Strada platform and can handle a 1,500 lb payload, or 700 kilograms-hence the name “700”. The Strada is not sold in the countries you can purchase a Ram 700 in.
There are both a single-cab and an extended-cab version. The extended-cab comes with a more aggressive fascia which can be added to the regular cab as an option. Upgrades include the “Adventure” package which comes in at under $20,000. It includes an optional locking differential and even an inclinometer to prove to your passengers you take it off-roading all of the time. However, we don’t recommend you do that.
Power comes from a 1.6-liter four-cylinder with 115 hp, which is a tweaked version of the engine Fiat-Chrysler used in the Dodge Neon.
If Fiat-Chrysler were to build it in the US we would expect there are other powertrains that could be adapted from Fiat-Chrysler’s portfolio. Today every manufacturer needs to give its customers engine options for varying tastes and needs including some extra grunt.
The 700’s Specs
The front and rear suspension are independent. Disc brakes are up front, but the rears are drums. A five-speed manual transmission is available. Standard wheels are 14-inch with a 15-inch wheel available.
Hyundai and Kia Are Developing A Car/Truck
Hyundai and Kia are co-developing the Santa Cruz which is a similar vehicle to the 700, but with more aggressive styling. Hyundai and Kia see a niche worth developing. While the Santa Cruz and Ram 700 are less like the traditional mini-truck front-engine, rear-drive layout we know and love, it’s a segment that is untouched at present.
Variety in the marketplace is a good thing, and a strong indicator is a healthy truck market. As you know there was a time when the car/truck was a popular segment with brands like the Ford Ranchero and Chevy El Camino. Today, with the pickup being so popular, we expect the manufacturers would try to satisfy every niche within the truck segment. Will this one be the next niche for manufacturers to conquer?