QOTD: Would You Buy A Modern Compact Pickup Truck?

Paul’s CC on the Ranchero highlights an interesting hole in the modern American truck market: there are currently no small pickup models available from any manufacturer. Fortunately, customers yearning for something like an old Ranchero or Courier may finally get the product they’ve been looking for: Ford is reportedly developing a Focus-based pickup, slated to arrive in America by 2022. But what would that look like? And would that appeal to customers?

A quick glance at the upcoming 2019 Ranger illustrates why Ford thinks there is room for a smaller truck in its lineup. With a base price of $25, 400, the Ranger SuperCab will be about $2,300 cheaper than a regular cab F-150. Regular cab variants of the Ranger are limited to fleet buyers. That means Ford could plausibly offer a regular cab Focus-based pickup with an extensive options sheet and a starting MSRP of about $23,000.

The majority of Ranger buyers will most likely flock to the SuperCrew configuration. A new Courier would also need two configurations as well. Ford would be kinda crazy to offer a compact pickup with four full doors, which means the hypothetical vehicle would probably be available as a regular cab or a SuperCab.

There is precedent for such a setup. The previous generation Ranger allowed buyers to choose from either configuration. Either way, buyers only had one bed option: a standard 6′ unit. With the new Ranger having a 5′ bed for the SuperCrew variant and a 6′ bed for everything else, the Focus pickup wouldn’t exactly need to match it. I suspect we’ll see a 5′ bed for the SuperCab and a 5.5′ bed for the regular cab.

ModelLengthWidth (incl. mirrors)WheelbaseMaximum Payload/Towing
2011 Ford Ranger (SuperCab) 4X4203.6"81.3"125.9" (4x4)1,500/5,800 Ibs.
2018 Transit Connect Van (extended wheelbase)189.7"84.1"120.6"1,610/2,000 Ibs.
2019 Ford Ranger (SuperCab)*211"73" (excluding mirrors)127"N/A
2019 Ford F-150 (SuperCab) 4X4, 5.5 ft. bed231.9"96.8" (non-towing mirrors)
105.9" (towing mirrors)
145"2.200/11,800 Ibs.

* = preliminary numbers

With a compact, mid size, and full size pickup lineup, Ford has more flexibility to make their smallest offering more appealing to those looking for a vehicle that actually fits the definition of…small. While the extended wheelbase Transit Connect offers very good capability, it still comes up a bit short when compared to the 2011 Ranger. Basically, Ford just needs to offer something a little longer in overall length and with a longer wheelbase. And maybe get the towing numbers up too. Then again, the Connect has a longer length in terms of  the cargo area floor and a wider width between the wheelhouse, so maybe those changes don’t have to be excessive.

In terms of performance and fuel economy, the new truck would also have to be relatively good on gas while offering reasonable performance. The 2019 Transit Connect will offer one gasoline engine: the 2.0 four cylinder offered in the EcoSport and the 2018 Focus. Paired with the new 8 speed automatic transmission, an EPA rating of over 30mpg should be doable. Ford would also have to offer a more powerful engine, and they could do that with the 2.0 turbo, which outputs 245 horsepower and 275 Ib.-ft. of torque in the Fusion and Escape. Obviously both potential powertrain options would need to offer some type of four wheel drive capability as well.

So there you have it. Based on the products Ford currently has, a compact pickup based on the Focus platform seems totally within the realm of possibility. If it started at about $22,500, came in at around 200″ in length, 83″ in width, with a 125″ wheelbase, and was able to achieve a payload capacity of at least 1,600 Ibs. and be able to tow about 3,000 Ibs. while getting at least 30mpg highway, it could attract some buyers.

But would you buy one?