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Report: Mid-size Pickup Trucks are Here to Stay, Chrysler Still Mulling Unibody Pickup

If you're still mourning the loss of the Ford Ranger and Dodge/Ram Dakota, you may want to perk your ears up: we hear that the mid-size pickup truck is here to stay, and Chrysler may be working on one.

The mid-size pickup truck has had its ups and downs over the past couple of years. The Ram Dakota (previously known as the Dodge Dakota) and Ford Ranger are both dead after decades of service. Meanwhile, General Motors announced that its new global Colorado pickup will be produced and sold here. Even with two models going out of production last year, 2011 sales of the top six mid-size pickups (Ford Ranger, Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier, Ram Dakota, Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon) were up just over 15 percent in 2011.

Even with the sales boost the whole mid-size pickup market doesn't command the same volumes as full-size pickups. The top six mid-size trucks sold a combined 286,009 units last year and 142,537 units so far this year. During the same time 18-month period, the Ford F-Series pickup sold 886,058 units.

Still, Chrysler is mulling a comeback for a mid-size pickup. Chrysler's VP of product planning Joe Veltri told Detroit News that Chrysler's market research says that young men are looking for pickup-truck conveniences without the big purchase prices and big fuel bills that come with many full-size pickups. Meanwhile, many baby boomers will want to downsize their pickups as they get older. For the younger buyer, a mid-size pickup truck also serves as a sort of gateway vehicle: as a truck owner gets older and more affluent, he or she could move from a mid-size pickup to a larger one.

A possible Chrysler pickup would almost certainly wear the Ram badge, but have a unibody, not a body-on-frame architecture. We've seen Chrysler test the waters before, with the M80 concept in 2002 and the Rampage in 2006, but there's been little since from the automaker, only a mention in their 2009 five-year plan. As we previously reported, the truck may go into production as early as fall 2013 and take a "lifestyle truck" approach, with more focus on creature comforts and style/design, while keeping pickup conveniences. It may also get a diesel engine.

What do you think--should mid-size pickups make a comeback? And what do you think about a Rampage-like lifestyle pickup?