Jul
13
VW Amarok

2015 Volkswagen Amarok

Now that most casual-dining establishments feature at least one Nutella-based desert item, it seems crazy that there was ever a time when Americans didn’t have ready access to this delightful Italian-born hazelnut-based cocoa spread. Yet, before 1990, Nutella was rarely seen on American grocery-store shelves. Though European expatriates spoke lovingly of the magic stuff, it was rarely seen outside of small ethnic delis, or in the suitcases of Americans just returning from the Continent.

Yet, not all formerly forbidden fruits enjoy Nutella-like popularity after becoming more broadly available. Folks east of the Mississippi may remember a time when Coors beer was rumored to be the finest brew since Olympian ambrosia. Such was the Coors legend that the beer was featured in “Smokey and the Bandit” as contraband.

Yet, following national distribution that began in the mid-Eighties, Coors failed to register meaningful market share in the new markets where it had once been the stuff of gray-market legend. Seems that once Coors could be had, it was no longer all that special.

Auto enthusiasts, too, are given to clamoring for things they cannot have. One segment rife with apparently desirable products unavailable in the U.S. is the small-pickup class. Currently Americans have but four options to choose from in the category:

It’s worth noting that Honda will be reentering the small pickup fray soon with an all-new Ridgeline, and Hyundai is seriously considering a production version of its 2015 Santa Cruz pickup concept first seen at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show.

Below we present five small pickups that American fan-boy types have been clamoring for on message boards and other outlets. The big question is: Would these forbidden trucklets be received as well as Nutella and enjoy massive public support, or would they end up mostly forgotten and heavily discounted, as Coors often is?

The Small Pickups of 1989

 

Ford Ranger

2015 Ford Ranger

2015 Ford Ranger

Produced In: Argentina, Buenos Aires, South Africa, Thailand

Base Engines: 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, 2.2-liter 4-cylinder turbodiesel

Jiangling JMC Yuhu

Jiangling JMC Yuhu

Though Americans lost the long-running U.S-market Ranger after the 2012 year, most of the rest of the planet still enjoys the service of a compact Ford pickup. This Ford Australia-developed small truck was completely redesigned for 2015, and is unrelated to the same-name truck Americans knew. A retrimmed Ranger is sold in a number of markets as the Mazda BT-50. Also, Chinese company Jiangling builds a licensed version of the Ranger dubbed JMC Yuhu.

 

 

Mazda BT-50

Mazda BT-50

2015 Mazda BT-50

Produced In: South Africa, Thailand

Base Engine: 2.2-liter 4-cylinder turbodiesel

Much like the American-market Mazda B-Series pickups sold between 1994 and 2009, the BT-50 is assembled for Mazda by Ford. The BT-50 shares its basic design with the Ford Ranger, but isn’t available with the latter’s gasoline-powered engine.

 

Mitsubishi Triton

2015 Mitsubishi Triton

2015 Mitsubishi Triton

Produced In: Thailand

Base Engine: 2.2-liter 4-cylinder turbodiesel

The Thailand-built Triton is assembled in the same factory that builds Mitsubishi’s Mirage subcompact cars. Known as Triton in Japan, this compact pickup is badged L200 in most of the other markets in which it is available. Assuming things move beyond the planning phase, Fiat will sell a version of the Triton in South America sometime soon.

 

Toyota Hilux

2015 Toyota Hilux

2015 Toyota Hilux

Produced In: Argentina, Malaysia, Pakistan, South Africa, Thailand, Venezuela

Base Engines: 2.4-liter 4-cylinder, 2.7-liter 4-cylinder turbodiesel

The Toyota Hilux differs significantly from the U.S.-market Tacoma, though the two are dimensionally similar. Toyota has been building Hilux pickups for more than 50 years.

 

Volkswagen Amorak

2015 Volkswagen Amarok

2015 Volkswagen Amarok

Produced In: Argentina, Germany

Base Engines: 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbodiesel

A manual-transmission Volkswagen small pickup powered by the maker’s beloved 2.0T engine may sound like a dream come true, until you take notice of the Amarok’s 4000-pound base curb weight. Still, published test drives suggest this German pickup is among the best-handling vehicles in its class.

Puzzling Pickups: 5 Unloved Pickups from Unlikely Brands

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