On sale in global markets as the Fiat Strada, this small pickup could be an excellent addition to Ram's US lineup.
Unibody pickup trucks aren't a common sight in the US, where traditionally, the word "truck" has implied old-school body-on-frame construction. Even vehicles like the Ford Ranchero and Chevrolet El Camino were never really regarded as trucks, per-se, but something else altogether.
But now, in 2020, the time might be ripe for more automakers to follow in the footsteps of Honda and its mid-size Ridgeline, bringing car-based unibody trucks to the US market. There have been murmurings in recent years that Ford might offer a Courier small pickup here, and rumors of a similar offering from GM. Now, new design registration images from Brazil depict what could become FCA's US-market unibody small truck offering: the Fiat Strada.
The Fiat Strada is not new, having been introduced some twenty odd years ago by Fiat's Brazilian unit. It's already available globally, with the notable exceptions of the US and Canada, and has been sold as the "Ram 700" in Mexico.
Most crucially, the Fiat Strada is slated for a full redesign, and an all-new version of the tiny "coupe utility" had been planned for sale starting this month until the global novel coronavirus outbreak put most of FCA's plans on ice temporarily. The design registration images of the next-generation truck show a sleek, lifted four-door with an open bed, which looks decidedly less car-like - and more "trucky" - than its immediate predecessor.
Why might now be a good time for the Ram 700 in the US? Because even with the Trump administration's recent rollback of some Obama-era corporate average fuel economy regulations, automakers are still trying to maximize their fleet-wide fuel economy numbers in anticipation of the coming tide. Unibody vehicles tend to weigh significantly less than their body-on-frame counterparts, and a small truck like the Strada has a relatively small frontal area, both of which should contribute to excellent efficiency.
What's more, automakers in the US are looking to expand their truck and utility vehicle portfolios as much as they can to take advantage of the surge in consumer interest. While a small unibody truck might have been unthinkable just a few years ago, the sheer number of US customers looking to "step up" into a truck or utility vehicle might make the segment worth filling out.