Ram won’t build a new Dakota, but we’d prefer a Jeep pickup truck anyway

2011 Ram Dakota
After years of neglect, the midsize truck is segment is showing signs of life, largely thanks to the redesigned 2015 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon twins.

Yet the launch of two new trucks from General Motors hasn’t exactly lit a fire under its Detroit rivals.

Ram, for one, has no interest in reviving its midsize Dakota. Originally sold as a Dodge, it went out of production in 2011 after years on the market without significant updates.

A new Ram midsize pickup would be too expensive to develop, brand boss Bob Hegbloom said in a recent interview with Automotive News (subscription required).

He said buyers want a truck that may have less capability than a full-size model, but is also smaller, costs less, and delivers better fuel economy.

With full-size trucks like Ram’s own 1500 EcoDiesel edging closer to 30 mpg highway, Hegbloom said a smaller truck would need to achieve at least 35 mpg, and that will cost money.

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While small trucks of yore achieved great fuel economy because they were, err, small, newer models are actually pretty big vehicles. That means they require more advanced technology to get good fuel economy.

GM will add a four-cylinder diesel engine to the Colorado and Canyon options list this year, and Nissan is mulling something similar for the next-generation Frontier.

However, adding a diesel or incorporating other fuel-saving technologies edges prices too close to full-size rigs for Ram’s taste.

Still, it’s possible Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) will eventually offer a midsize truck, but from another brand.

Earlier this year, Jeep CEO Mike Manly discussed the possibility of a Wrangler pickup, saying it would fit well into the brand’s lineup.

Converting a Wrangler would seem to be less expensive than engineering an all-new vehicle, although Manly said adding a bed would still bring substantial costs.

It’s also unclear whether FCA bosses would tolerate Jeep building a pickup, which is is supposed to be the sole purview of Ram.

Yet a Wrangler pickup could be a real crowd pleaser.

The next-generation Wrangler is expected to feature significant fuel economy improvements, which could make meeting any corporate truck targets easier.

Plus, it’s a cool vehicle that fans have been waiting to see for years, and one that would fit perfectly into the “lifestyle vehicle” image many modern truck buyers have.

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