The 2020s sure feels like it’s going to be the decade of the unibody pickup truck. After several false starts, the segment has reached the point where the water’s warm, the margin potential is decent, and people seem to really love these little trucklets. So when will more manufacturers jump in the pool? Well, it looks like another manufacturer is taking up the gauntlet — sort-of. Say hello to a right-sized recreational pickup with a familiar model name: The Ram Rampage.
Powered by Stellantis’ ubiquitous two-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, and shown in the teaser shots above and later in this article, this punchy little pickup is sized similarly to the Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz, but doesn’t compete with either. That’s because it’s not officially slated for America. Sure, some intrepid photographers may have captured shots of it testing in Michigan, but that’s officially due to an engineering partnership between Stellantis’ South American team and its U.S. team. As of right now, there are no publicly-announced official plans to bring the Rampage to North America, and that seems shortsighted.
See, the conceptually-similar Ford Maverick is still one of the hottest cars in America. I say “still” because they first arrived on dealer lots in 2021 and are still a hot commodity. Ford simply can’t build them quickly enough to keep up with demand, and Ford’s not the only one reveling in small pickup truck success.
While there might not seem to be the same fervor for the Hyundai Santa Cruz that there is for the Maverick, it’s still selling well for a niche product. The Santa Cruz had its best sales month ever in May, with 16,423 sold in America so far this year. That doesn’t sound like a huge number, but it’s crushing the desirable Ioniq 5 EV in the sales race, and Hyundai will sell every trucklet it makes. So how could Ram repackage the Rampage to stand out against heavy-hitters in this newly-established segment? Let’s take a closer look at the Ford Maverick and see if it leaves any white space.
The Ford Maverick has several stumbling points for consumers, chief of which is availability. Ford claims it “completely under-called the demand” for the Maverick, to the point where completing all 2023 model year orders is a concern. One relatively simple way to compete with the Maverick is to just have a competing product on dealer lots, which sounds easier than re-engineering a product. However, the Maverick’s packaging of electrification is also a sore spot. If you want a hybrid Maverick, you’ll have to be content with front-wheel-drive and no plug-in option. While the 2.5-liter hybrid powertrain is phenomenally efficient, it’s no PHEV. So how could Ram cram a PHEV powertrain into a competing product?
Well, the Ram Rampage is built on Stellantis’ SUSW platform, which means that the 1.3-liter turbocharged plug-in hybrid powertrain from the Hornet R/T could just maybe, possibly, perhaps be shoehorned into the Rampage. In the Hornet, this powertrain cranks out 288 combined horsepower and 383 combined lb.-ft. of torque, all while offering a claimed 30 miles of all-electric range thanks to a 15.5 kWh battery pack. In the process of verifying these figures, I learned that Dodge has the word “bullshit” on its corporate website in full, uncensored glory, so there’s that.
Anyway, those output figures would be excellent in a small pickup truck, far surpassing what the Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz have to offer.
A possible unique powertrain is all well and good, but Stellantis would also need another place to build the Rampage. See, pickup trucks sold in America need to be built in USMCA countries to not run afoul of the Chicken Tax. Well, how about Toluca Assembly? This Mexican plant already makes the Rampage’s Jeep Compass platform-mate, and it has a nearby stamping plant. Considering how Jeep crossovers aren’t exactly selling quickly enough, re-allocating factory space from Compass production to Rampage production makes a ton of sense.
Of course, this all sounds easy on paper, but it requires hundreds of millions of dollars to make happen. Plus, there’s no guarantee that all hard points of the Rampage are easy to federalize. Just because it’s on a common platform doesn’t mean it necessarily passes all U.S. requirements. Still, we can dream. Stellantis reportedly showed dealers a similar small pickup truck months ago, so there’s a sliver of a chance the Rampage could just possibly make it to American showrooms. It really deserves to, as more small pickup trucks means more fun for everyone.
(Photo credits: Ram, Ford, Hyundai, Dodge)
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