Let's face it: the Gladiator isn't for everyone.
There was a time, not so long ago, when two of Detroit’s three automakers wrote off midsize pickup trucks as has-beens. Americans, at least according to them, wanted only full-size pickups. GM didn’t buy into this thinking and the sales success of the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon are proof. Ford’s eventual response was the reborn Ranger, but what about Ram? As we previously reported, Dodge has confirmed it is working on a new mid-size pickup truck and Car and Driver recently received some interesting updates. Now, many might be wondering why Jeep and Ram’s parent company, FCA, wants to sell two midsize pickups.
The simple reason is this: the Gladiator isn’t for everyone. It’s expensive (starting price: $35,000) and its rugged exterior design may not be appealing to more traditional truck buyers.
Therefore, FCA is taking the Gladiator’s platform and changing it accordingly. For starters, it’ll drop the live front axle in favor of an independent suspension. That right there alone saves lots of money. The Pentastar 3.6-liter V6 is also slated to be, at least initially, the only engine available. Again, this V6 has long been proven to be reliable and powerful enough with around 300 hp. It’ll do the job. An eight-speed automatic transmission will send power to the rear or all four wheels.
What about a diesel, say FCA’s highly regarded 3.0-liter V6? Not likely. That would pit the new Ram truck against its bigger and more expensive brother, the Ram 1500 diesel, thus creating internal competition. Ram will tell customers if they want a diesel pickup, they’ll have to pay up. If anything, the smaller Ram could later be offered with a turbo four-cylinder.
As for its official name? There’s no reason why it wouldn’t be called Dakota. The Dodge Dakota, sold from 1986 until 2011, still retains a sizable fan base and it’d make sense for FCA/Ram to capitalize on that. Also like the Gladiator, sources believe the reborn Dakota will be built at the Toledo Assembly Complex in Toledo, Ohio. Basically, FCA has everything it needs to get a more traditional and less expensive midsize truck to market rather quickly. Expect the Ram Dakota to premiere later this year or early next year and arrive in dealerships by late 2020 as a 2021 model.