How Chrysler Will Compete With the 2015 Chevy Colorado

The 2015 Chevy Colorado is GM's bid to capture a chunk of the midsize pickup market. Chrysler is taking a different approach. Photo credit: General Motors Co.

General Motors  (NYSE: GM  ) made waves when it showed off its upcoming 2015 Chevrolet Colorado pickup last month. The Colorado is a midsize pickup, once a popular product segment -- but now, a category with relatively modest sales.

The Colorado is expected to compete well with the current segment leader, Toyota's  (NYSE: TM  ) Tacoma -- but even the Tacoma's sales are relatively modest. That's why Ford  (NYSE: F  ) and Chrysler both discontinued their midsize pickups in recent years. But now Chrysler says that it has what midsize pickup buyers really want: A full-sized pickup with great fuel economy -- thanks to a diesel engine.

But are they right? In this video, Fool contributor John Rosevear takes a look at the upcoming pickup from Chrysler -- and offers his take on whether it can really compete with the Tacoma and Colorado.

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An abbreviated transcript of the video: 
Hey Fools, it's John Rosevear. So General Motors showed off its 2015 Chevy Colorado pickup at the Los Angeles Auto Show a couple of weeks ago, and it continues to cause a lot of head-scratching among auto analysts. The Colorado is a mid-sized pickup, and that's a market segment that has really shrunk in the last several years. Toyota's Tacoma sells about 10, 12,000 a month or a bit more, Nissan's (NASDAQOTH: NSANY  ) Frontier sells about half that. Honda's  (NYSE: HMC  ) Ridgeline is kind of part of this market, and kind of its own thing. But that's the whole segment right now, the segment that the Colorado is walking into. It should do quite well for GM, though it might take some sales from GM's full-sized pickups, it'll probably take some from Toyota and Nissan as well, and maybe also get some buyers who have been buying SUVs but really could use a pickup. Ford of course no longer competes in this market. It still sells the Ranger overseas, in fact that version of the Ranger was all new in 2011, it was designed by Ford's Australian division, but it's not sold here and Ford hasn't given any hints that it will be sold here. And Chrysler used to sell the Dodge Dakota midsize pickup but discontinued the last version of that back in 2011. But Chrysler thinks it can compete for that same group of buyers with a new diesel version of its full-sized Ram pickup. Reid Bigland, who is the chief of Chrysler's Ram truck brand, told Autoblog  that the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, a new model that is due out next spring, could appeal to the same buyers looking at trucks like the Colorado and the Tacoma. He thinks that the key is fuel economy, and he notes that the new EcoDiesel Ram is expected to get 20 miles per gallon in the city and 27 on the highway, compared to the regular V6 Ram, which only gets 16 city and 23 highway. GM hasn't released fuel economy figures for the Colorado, but the Tacoma gets 21 city and 25 highway, so the Ram EcoDiesel is pretty competitive. So Bigland thinks that the draw of midsize pickups for a lot of buyers is that they get better fuel economy than the full-sized trucks. But I wonder if he's right. I think there's a group of pickup buyers who like the smaller size because it's easier to park and live with a truck that's more car-sized rather than a big Ram or Silverado or F-150. Do you think Chrysler's on to something, or do you think size matters when it comes to pickups? Leave a comment and let me know. Thanks for watching, and Fool on.

Read/Post Comments (8) | Recommend This Article (1)

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  • Report this Comment On December 08, 2013, at 2:45 PM, SkepikI wrote:

    JR: Many of us out here still have Rangers. My beater with 225,000 mi will never be replaced. Will some people buy in this segment...yeah, but the attraction of a Diesel with bigger payload and virtually the same economy will sink the midsize market IMHO. The mid market satisfied a lot of needs over the last few decades that the SUV category replaced. I really would be more economically advantaged by ditching my beater and owning a good utility trailer, but I am just too lazy to do it. The same thought that many will have when looking at mid size PU. Full size with good towing and payload won't be replaced by mid size compromise, nor by SUV.

    BTW kudos for adopting transcripts with videos.

  • Report this Comment On December 08, 2013, at 3:38 PM, hunter3203 wrote:

    A diesel in the Ram is a great idea but it won't be competitive with a mid-size pickup. The diesel will make the Ram far more expensive and the increase in mileage won't offset even the increased cost of diesel fuel. At the low end diesel is 10% more expensive than gas and it's typically closer to 20%.

    What the automakers should do is create a real size and capability difference between their full size pickups and their mid-size models. Today's midsize pickups are nearly as large as full size pickups from 15-20 years ago. Take a look at the Tacoma from the last generation. It was far smaller than today's behemoth.

  • Report this Comment On December 09, 2013, at 9:50 AM, prorider17 wrote:

    Bigland is correct in is thinking that Miles per gallon matter, but where he fails to recognize another attribute of this market is price point. The Ram 1500 will start in the mid-high $20K price range for a work truck model. You then have to spend another couple thousand dollars to add the "EcoDiesel." Chevrolet will most likely offer the Colorado below $20K and offer a well equipped diesel model in 2016 that's mid-$20Ks.. If they do, no one will consider the Ram EcoDiesel. I am already prepared to trade in my F-150 5.0 for a diesel Colorado. I don't need the "full-size" pickup truck platform, but am more of a weekend warrior where the most use my truck gets is hauling a bay boat, dirt bikes and the trip to home depot..

    Good call on GM to bring the Colorado and Canyon back into the mix. My generation (20 something year olds) have been raised to recycle, think more conservatively and buy vehicles that are both good for the environment and are fuel sippers. I love the V6 Tacoma's size and capability, but for the same price, I have my F-150 that scores same to better MPG.. Once again, price point is key.

  • Report this Comment On December 09, 2013, at 9:59 AM, bornoffire911 wrote:

    Where I think Chrysler will hit it big is when it brings back the Jeep Gladiator which will fill the category nicely and with ease. It kills several birds with one stone, fuel economy, it's a jeep, and a pickup.

  • Report this Comment On December 10, 2013, at 2:01 PM, finn5033 wrote:

    I think its all about price and mpg. It depends on how much the colorado diesel costs. I built and priced one of the Ram Ecodiesel on Ram's website and for the crew cab 4x4 with a few options your in the mid 45k's so I'm not buying one of those regardless especially if 27mpg highway is all your getting from it. The colorado V6 option will be around there. Until I see pricing and MPG numbers on the new I4 diesel for the colorado I can't say if I would be willing to spend the money for it or not.

  • Report this Comment On December 12, 2013, at 6:17 PM, devilmonkey2 wrote:

    My Girlfriend has the Tacoma and I have an old silverado (i'll be in the market to buy a new truck soon)... I do like driving the tacoma more, due to the size (parking handling etc) but it is not powerful enough to haul my ATVs around. I think the new Colorado with a diesel will be fantastic.... and if they fall through on the diesel option, well i guess i'll buy the Ram with the eco diesel.

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2013, at 9:31 PM, masaerati123 wrote:

    I think Dodge will be the winner here.The GM and Dodge will be about the same price.So anyone would love to have the bigger truck and better mileage for the price of a smaller truck.I am sure you can option out a Ram for about the same price of the Chevy.The Dodge will be less to maintain also.

  • Report this Comment On December 31, 2013, at 4:42 PM, StrengthandHonor wrote:

    I think what many of us want is this: we want to see a modern version of the 2000 Tacoma or 2000 Nissan that truly reflects 15 years of development, particularly in the area of full efficiency....A while back the manufacturers -- apparently unable to provide greater fuel efficiency -- offered the trucks in a slightly bigger size as a kind of consolation. Why can't they stick to the smaller sized fuselages of the 2000 era, introduce modern materials, improved engine technologies and basically unleash the same sort of progress they've been able to provide in sedans and cross-over SUVs? The 2015 mid-size truck doesn't have to be as efficient as a Honda civic to be desirable. It simply has to offer the same degree of advancement in fuel economy that the Civic provides over its predecessors. My 2000 Nissan Frontier 4 x 4 crew barely gets 17-18 mph on the highway. The 2013 version gets barely 21. That's just not enough advancement over a 13 year period when gas prices spiked. I'm sorry. Your R&D blows. Give me 26 and I'm starting to get interested. But if you can build a much bigger truck that provides close to that already(F-150, RAM 1500) than get me 28 or 29 with the smaller lighter truck. Also, I'm not paying an extra $15,000 for improvement that should take place over the course of 15 years...And yes, I prefer the smaller size for parking in the city etc. But mostly, smaller size should provide greater fuel efficiency.

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