Boy would I like to bash this thing in the Rocky Mountain snow!
Recently, Sergio Marchionne (CEO of FIAT S.p.A., FIAT Group Automobiles S.p.A and Chairman and CEO of Chrysler Group LLC – AND lord of all he surveys) indicated that the replacement for the defunct Dodge Dakota could be car-based. Add to that the possibility that the car-based pickup could have a small diesel and you have an interesting proposition.
I miss small, economical pickup trucks that once filled double duty as commuters. They are all but gone. Tiny, mighty trucks that got great mileage and were cheap to own vanished with the passing of the Mitsubishi Mighty Max, Isuzu P’Up and others. “Small” pickup trucks today are anything but.
We need a new type of pickup truck that’s small, cheap, capable and fun to drive.
That’s why I followed this story for a while and came up with a press release regarding the car-based FIAT that’s built in Brazil. It’s called the FIAT Strada Pickup and it has a nifty 95 horsepower, 1.3-liter turbo-diesel that makes 148 lbs-feet of torque. It’s much smaller than a Honda Ridgeline, but it appears to have regular, extra and a five-passenger crew-cab configuration available. There is a long and short bed option too.
The FIAT Strada, which is to be sold overseas only, has a base price that’s about $17,000.
Naturally, a small-ish vehicle in this class will have less capacity than, say, a Toyota Tacoma or Honda Ridgeline. Given our larger body mass (we are chunky consumers – you know) and desire to haul heavy items; I would imagine a Dodge/Ram version of the FIAT Strada could be beefier. As such, I suspect the load capacity for a North American version may be over 1,000 lbs and towing capacity should exceed 2.500 lbs. A turbocharged, 255 hp 2.4-liter “Tigershark” engine that makes 260 lbs-ft of torque may be an optional power-plant too. Keep in mind: these are (barely) educated guesses folks.
Some may argue that nontraditional pickups like the Honda Ridgeline sell poorly here and that it diminishes the need for a similar vehicle like this in our market. I say, “NO!” That may be true in terms of price, as the Ridgeline is expensive, but the idea of a thrifty, torque-happy diesel may win the hearts and minds of some U.S. consumers. I know that I like the idea. The rest of the world seems to like vehicles like this too. Hell, with a front-drive-biased platform sporting all-wheel drive in Colorado AND turbocharged engines at our high altitude… I bet it will kick ass in the Rocky Mountain snow.
Gas aint getting cheaper folks. Small diesels like this on our shores could open the floodgates for vastly more efficient pickups in the immediate future. Personally, I like the idea.