Volkswagen Has the Perfect Compact Pickup but Won’t Sell It Here
Since 2009, Volkswagen has been making a compact pickup that would be a perfect match for the Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz in many ways. Called the Volkswagen Saveiro, it is based on VW’s Gol (not Golf) sedan, and comes as a regular cab, extended cab, or double cab As the highly successful Maverick and Santa Cruz have caught all automakers flat-footed, importing the Saveiro into the U.S. would make a cool little unibody pickup.
Where is the Volkswagen Saveiro sold?
Made in Brazil since its introduction, the Saveiro sells mostly in the South and Central Americas. It received one facelift in 2012 but has mostly soldiered on the same since then. So time is passing the Saveiro, which has caused VW some problems.
Argentina bans any vehicle importation for cars not equipped with electronic stability control. The Volkswagen Saveiro does not have this basic feature. Until 2022, when the ban began, the Gol line of VWs was the third best-selling vehicle sold in Argentina.
What powers the Volkswagen Saveiro?
Besides the Argentina ban, the 1.6-liter engine, the only one available, does not pass 2023 emissions regulations in Brazil. So, for 2023, a new multi-spark ignition replaces the older ignition to increase combustion, thus running cleaner. The new 1.6-liter four-cylinder cranks out 116 hp, hooked to a five-speed manual transmission.
Sometime this year, VW will discontinue manufacturing the extended-cab Saveiro. With seating for five, it would seem to be more popular than the single-cab version. But there is still the single cab and double cab. As the compact pickup has been in production for so long, this may be a hint that it is nearing the end of production.
Are there other small pickups like the Saveiro?
For it to sell here, it would need several revisions on several levels. Driver assists and safety systems, as well as stability control, are needed. And a longer bed would also help. But at least VW has the bones to make an interesting rival to the Maverick and Santa Cruz, thus decreasing development time. While the pickup is pretty bare-bones, it does feature ABS, four-wheel disc brakes, and airbags.
Ram, Chevrolet, and Fiat all market similar pickups to the Saveiro for the same regions south of the border. The Ram 700 and its Fiat Strada counterpart, and the Chevrolet Montana/S10 Max, share a similar profile. But it needs more modern features to sell here. But they’re not, which could partially be a result of the U.S. chicken tax bonking a 25% surcharge on imported commercial vehicles.
We know that both Chevrolet and Ram are at least looking at the compact unibody truck segment. Whether they pull the trigger remains to be seen. We wish they would.