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A New Chrysler Compact Truck – Diesel Too?

Rumors are swirling since Chrysler’s VP of product planning Joe Veltri told the Detroit News that they were looking into building a truck in the compact truck category. The thought is that there are younger and older buyers who want a compact, high MPGs truck, not a full-size version. Will this news rock the compact truck market?

New Chrysler Compact Truck

Could Chrysler be planning on building a new compact, diesel-powered truck? Rumors are swirling.

When Chrysler canned the Dakota in late 2011, it told a similar tale among automakers that full-size trucks were the future with their comparable purchase costs and MPGs to their smaller versions. In fact, of the so-called Big 3, only GM has a compact truck in that marketplace with their GMC Canyon and Chevy Colorado which have sold poorly. The Ram Dakota also sold poorly until its demise. Automakers have be saying for years that the compact truck market is dead and that it makes more sense economically for consumers to buy full-size trucks. Chrysler seems to be changing its tune with the thought that young buyers don’t need a full-size truck and that older buyers are looking to down-size from their full-size. They see these two groups as needing a compact truck then to meet their needs.

A new Chrysler compact truck would immediately face stiff competition with the dominance of the Toyota Tacoma and the reemergence of the Chevy Colorado. Chrysler is thinking that a “have a unibody, not a body-on-frame architecture” is the future according to a Automobile Magazine story. The story also says that the new truck could come with a diesel engine as well. A compact, unibody, diesel-powered truck would be about the only way to effectively challenge the Toyota Tacoma as a “different” type of truck.

While it is still speculation at this point and that any new Chrysler compact truck is surely years away, these type of rumors will hopefully get Toyota’s attention. Toyota Tacoma owners and fans have been asking for a diesel-powered version for years and Toyota doesn’t seem to be anywhere near offering one. The new diesel engines idle at lower RPMs and could offer substantial MPG savings over the full-size truck.

Who isn’t excited by the idea of a diesel-powered, compact truck with high MPGs? What’s your guess, how much MPGs could a diesel-powered Toyota Tacoma have?

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  • DrLou

    The Tacoma is a pretty big truck so I thinking it would be doing good to get 40 mpg – highway. I’m hoping that the mpg could be higher but I think they would have to really consider making a compact pickup to do better.

  • forkkiller

    As the owner of a Jeep Comanche, and past owner of a Toyota Truck… the little one… I have a fondness for smaller trucks. The gas mileage would definitely be an added benefit, even though my Jeep only gets about 15 MPG. Obviously, the Tacoma does better, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still enjoy my Comanche. So a compact chassis, lighter weight, and good gas mileage… if this thing has a decent motor and offers a manual transmission I’ll have to keep it on my radar.

  • cuenne

    This looks good even if its fairly the same as the Dodge ram but more compact. I am still not sure If I would be interested in this truck because it looks a bit too small.

  • DrLou

    If Dodge (or any OEM) is really serious about wanting to sell a lot of compact pickup trucks here the formula – have some configuration that drives the rear wheels (RWD/AWD/4WD), forget dedicated FWD, be able to haul 4 x 8 sheets, get 35+ mpg (small diesel or GDI w/ good torque), achieve good crash test ratings, base price ~$17K. I thinks it’s doable and winning formula that would fit the needs of younger and older drivers with light duty needs that could be used for an everyday vehicle. Mid-gate designs are a plus.

    • Tim Esterdahl


      Like what you are thinking about a compact truck that gets 35+ mpg. Not sure about $17k though, however, that would be really, really nice.


    • Jason

      DrLou – I’m with you on all points, except I don’t see how the base price is lower than $23k, and that’s the rub…

  • I love trucks and think I understand why some guys who don’t really need a truck buy a truck. Lots of guys paying an extra $200+ a month in fuel just to drive a around a in pickup truck.

    IMHO, the answer to the challenge is in the modern day v6 RWD muscle cars – especially the ones with useless back seats. Create a new muscle car model with these features.

    – 2 door, low muscle car looks
    – Bench front seating for 3
    – truck like flip down tailgate
    – high, wide, hard plastic cargo area that you can slide a 4×8 sheet into. Is watertight and has drainage.
    – High rear roof line with a rear window that retracts forward into roof expsing the cargo bed.
    – Big under bed storage

    When all closed up it’s a muscle car that looks like a 70s nova mabey. With open cargo, you can haul all kinds of stuff.

    250hp, 25mpg city/ 33mpg highway v6
    170hp, 32mpg city/40mpg highway i4

    google “open cargo coupe” for an idea of what I’m talking about

    • Tim Esterdahl


      Sounds like an El Camino to me. 🙂

      Personally, I like a truck because I like to sit up higher and “step into” my vehicle. What can I say, my knees are getting old. Bending down to get into a car isn’t something I want to do.


      • DrLou

        Unfortunately, I agree with you for the same reason. I’m getting old too.

  • Somebody

    A compact truck must remain a TRUCK, not a unibody CAR that only looks like a truck.

    In other words, it must have a frame. If it doesn’t have a proper frame, I’m not even slightly interested in it.


      Yeah, a unibody just seems like a expendable frame where as the truck frames can just keep rebending and using forever, or until California mechanics tear it up.

  • unclearn

    what do you need a large pickup to go to the store and get a gallon of milk intown that gets 8 to 10 miles per gallon? when doge comes out with the dakota with diesel and gets 35 to 40 mpg thats for me. i have a dakota. i bought new in 92 and it has almost 200,000 miles on it and it gets 20 mpg on the highway, and it’s 4 wheel drive.

  • Michael S

    I sent this link to GM about Achates Power 2 cycle opposed piston diesel and I’ve heard crickets. It’s cheaper to manufacture than a 4 cycle V8 with cam shafts, push rods, lifters and valves. Has better fuel economy than any diesel on the market and meets or exceeds EPA pollution requirements. Check out the video link.