Virtually every red-blooded male American retiree or retiree-to-be either vocally or secretly has a deep-held desire for a genuinely small pickup truck to either potter around town with, use to pick up a bag or two of mulch, or just to have something to drop the tailgate and sit on while sipping the morning coffee and adjusting the velcro straps on their shoes for the day. Frequently there is lamenting that Ford no longer offers the Ranger. Or Chevy the S-10. Or Dodge the Dakota. Well, there is a Ford Ranger, but the current one isn’t a real Ranger, it’s far too large and expensive, the “real” Ranger was the 1983-2012 one, you know, the fun-size one.
And the newish, supposedly popular yet rarely seen Ford Maverick is frankly still just too big comparatively, never mind that Ford doesn’t seem to really want to build and sell them for whatever reason. But Chevy’s been offering a genuinely small pickup in other markets for over two decades! Say what?
Yup, the Tornado (as it’s called in Mexico) or the Montana as it’s known in South America and other parts of the world; this competes with the RAM 700 and others of its ilk. Built in Brazil and South Africa, this is a gen-you-wine small trucklet. Unibody sure, but nobody’s bagging on the Maverick or Santa Cruz about that anymore so it’s a non-issue. This truck here though is a full 22″ shorter in length than a Maverick, which frankly isn’t particularly small on the outside, or certainly not as small as people were expecting (hoping?). Scale-wise this didn’t seem out of place next to the Subaru Forester on one side and the Jeep Liberty on the other. This is for the men that are comfortable with their equipment.
Today’s example is a second generation one, our own Dutch1960 caught a first generation version a year or so ago. This version here was sold in Mexico between 2012 and 2020, and in this case is the sporty “RS” trim which is mainly an appearance package, presumably there’s a steel-wheeled one as well. The Tirol sticker represents the dealer group that sold this one if I’m not mistaken, although for all I know this is a top seller in the Austrian Alps region as well. Surely it would outsell the Silverado there, if offered.
The bed looks pretty useful, it’s nice and deep, easy to reach into, and lined from the factory with a black plastic liner so as not to scratch up the paint with the mulch bags. Tiedowns are integrated into the bed rails (something sorely lacking in pretty much every current US-market offering).
There’s even a sidestep for extra convenience although you’d have to be really short to need it to reach into the bed, I’m sure it’s useful if there’s a high load or to tie stuff to the roof rack-ish-looking thingy. Which does beg the question as to why this step is not a thing in any other current truck design beyond HD GM trucks and as of this year the Ford SuperDuty line? The Subaru Brat had this as well, there would seem to be room in the lower bedside of most every truck sold today for one (or one on each side).
I know, I know, don’t remind me, it’s not imported here due to the chicken tax. Well, chicken tax, schmicken tax. If Chevy wanted to, they could easily build this somewhere in the upper 48 or in our proud and historic 51st state of Old Mexico like most everything else they build (GM is Mexico’s largest automaker by volume) or they could just as easily lobby Uncle Sugar to finally do away with the import restrictions altogether. Undoubtedly our friends up in the 52nd state across the river from you will buy an additional 10% of the overall volume as usual, and if they’re in Quebec they’ll unselect the A/C if it saves them another $50 and you a chip or two. Pure profit.
But no, I’m guessing American truck makers are scared of losing the only golden goose they have left. So as a result the American consumer loses out yet again. So much for freedom. Chevy’s scared of some good old-fashioned competition or perhaps buyers choosing something small, efficient, and useful for much of their actual needs instead of something far larger (and let’s be honest, obviously far more profitable IF people were to choose that instead of this as opposed to just doing without altogether and buying a Kia Soul or whatever which likely happens in more cases than one might think). Still, Chevy does build, sell, and update this elsewhere and presumably makes money on them there, otherwise why bother building it, right?
Here’s a crazy idea, the Chevy Bolt EV somehow has gotten super popular all of a sudden and after an announcement that it is being canceled, is now apparently going to continue to be built. Why can’t there be a Bolt pickup built on the same line? How much more could it cost than a Bolt hatchback or the newly added ever-so-slightly-not-that-you’d-notice-unless-they-are-side-by-side larger Bolt EUV hatchback? No way is a plastic-lined bed with a tailgate more costly than two rear doors and hatch. A small EV pickup with 238 miles of range like the Bolt? Maybe add electric AWD to not piss off and lose sales from all the snow-belters that also like good MPG (or MPGe) like Ford did? Here Mary, take my money! Why do I still not work for GM?
Some will invariably scoff and say it’s way too small and can’t carry anything. Well, payload is around 1,600 pounds which is more than many fancy full-size half-ton pickups boast. And the bed has a greater volume than that of the Honda Ridgeline which seems plenty big for suburban use. I’m not hating on those with a real need for lots of cargo volume, I’ve owned full-size trucks and see the point of pickup trucks big, bigger, and enormous; just pointing out that doesn’t automatically mean everyone needs, wants or will automatically buy more than they have a use or garage space for.
No, it isn’t huge on the inside but that’s alright, not everybody is plus-sized no matter what it may look like while you’re waiting to be seated at Cracker Barrel. And some people have an empty nest. Others are literally single. And let’s be real, folks; being in America, everyone has an extra vehicle (or half a dozen) anyway stashed somewhere on their property or parked in front of their neighbor’s house.
Inside it looks like many other smaller Chevys, and lookit, there are large knobs and buttons and even an honest-to-goodness ignition key hole to indulge everyone’s luddite fever dreams. As well as a stick shift to appease the burgeoning (or is it now waning?) “save the manuals” movement.
It even has a hitch! And look at that full-width bumper step to jump up on in order to swing a leg over the tailgate. It may even be that with the tailgate down it might be too low to comfortably load things without straining the back. Ah, a risk worth taking, I say; this is America, we have a domestically invented and produced pill for that potentially debilitating back pain even if it costs three times more here than anywhere else in the world! I for one dig this truck and will have one of our Canadian readers mail me cheaper pills if need be.
GM, I beseech you, stop hating the USA and its peoples. We made you. We can unmake you. Settle your strike, employ a few more union guys and gals, and build a small trucklet for America, preferably in America. Win one for the Gipper! Or just tell your lobbyists that you aren’t afraid of honest competition any longer and ask them to grease a few more palms in order to get the chicken tax removed, that’d frankly impress me even more. I love baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie, I wanna love Chevrolet too!
And before anyone complains that nobody except for pest-control guys and the auto parts store wants or buys regular-cab trucks anymore and that’s why we can’t have nice things, well, Chevy thoughtfully has that covered as well. The current generation of this truck which debuted last year is now available as a crew cab and by all accounts selling like hot tortas.
Does it look too large? It’s still 14″ shorter than that behemoth of a Maverick, so whose ass looks fat in that blue jeans color now, huh? Bring it, Chevy, stop the hate and show us some love! Heck, there’s your cue, call it the LUV and put the savings from the four fewer tailgate letters towards Mary’s pay package. U.S.A! U.S.A! Chevrolet! Chevrolet! Let’s Go Make Some More Mon-ay!