We compare the incoming Bremach Brio against its closest competitor to see if it has any chance of succeeding on US soil.
Nissan and Toyota are the only non-American automakers that sell pickup trucks in the United States. There is a very good reason for that: the Chicken Tax. The Chicken Tax is a law that dates back to 1963, applying a 25% markup on imported potato starch, dextrin, brandy, and light-duty pickup trucks. Because of it, the US doesn't receive a variety of cool foreign pickup trucks like the Mercedes-Benz X-Class or Volkswagen Amarok.
That's why we were shocked to hear the news that Russian automaker UAZ planned to import an SUV and a pickup truck into the US market. Both models will be sold under the Bremach name, with the SUV going by Taos and the truck keeping UAZ's Brio name.
We have no idea what to expect from the first and only Russian truck to be sold in the US, but to get some idea, we decided to compare it with a similarly-priced model, the 2021 Ford Ranger.
The current Ranger has only been on sale in the US since 2019, but it was first introduced to other markets back in 2011. It may not be the freshest midsize truck on the market, but the Ranger still holds up well against its competitors from Chevrolet, GMC, Jeep, Nissan, and Toyota. Ford offers the Ranger with styling packages like the STX and off-road trims like the Tremor, which help give it some attitude.
By contrast, the UAZ Patriot SUV (on which the Brio is based), dates all the way back to 2005. And it shows. The Brio has reportedly been upgraded a lot since it was first introduced but there's no getting around the fact that the truck looks like it was designed in the last century (because it probably was). Bremach plans to sell the Brio with off-road goodies like snorkels and winches, though we doubt the company will lure in too many loyal Jeep customers.
By extension of its age, the Ranger does not boast Ford's best interior. But it's not terrible. Material quality feels on par, or better than other trucks in its segment, and Ford offers plenty of modern technology on its Sync3 infotainment system. While we haven't sat in the Brio, the available photos on Bremach's website don't inspire much confidence in the quality. The dashboard looks like it came out of a pre-bankruptcy GM car, and a base one at that. We can't say for certain that the US-spec model will look exactly like these photos, but unless Bremach makes some serious improvements, we can't imagine too many truck buyers will convert.
All trim levels of the Ranger come with a 2.3-liter turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder engine producing 270 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque going out through a 10-speed automatic. These figures make the Ranger one of the gutsiest trucks in the midsize category, especially with its impressive torque figure. With class-leading payload capacity and a 7,500-pound towing capacity, the Ranger is a tough truck to beat.
Bremach hasn't explicitly stated what engine will come in the US-spec Brio, but the Russian model uses a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine with just 150 hp. This lackluster mill can be paired with a GM-sourced six-speed automatic transmission or a manual box, which could be an interesting option for manual diehards. Unlike the Ranger, the Brio comes standard with a low-range four-wheel-drive system packing a two-speed transfer case and an optional electronic locking rear differential.
Even without an estimated on-sale date or production start time, Bremach has quoted a price for the Brio pickup truck. The bare-bones truck starts at $27,882, making it at least $3,000 more expensive than the cheapest Ranger XL model at $24,820. Bremach will include what it calls a "blue chip Tier1 warranty," combining a five-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty with 10-year/120,000-mile powertrain coverage. This easily trumps Ford's three-year/36,000-mile warranty, but the Ranger can still fall back on a proven track record while the Brio boasts unknown Russian quality.