We think that the Jeep brand has room for two awesome trucks.
The midsize pickup truck market hasn't changed much in the US over the past few years. There are only a few fresh models out, such as the GMC Canyon, Chevy Colorado and Honda Ridgeline. There are also the well-established models like the Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma that are still out. These trucks are all well and good, but we think that the market is missing out on a huge potential player. Jeep builds tough, off-road capable vehicles, but for some reason does not build the toughest type of vehicle, the pickup truck.
Jeep has built quite a few pickups before, including the Gladiator, CJ-8 (Scrambler), and the Comanche. The Comanche was the last production pickup truck that was officially built by Jeep and you haven't been able to buy a new one since 1992. You could get a Comanche with several engines, but all were based on the Cherokee XJ SUV. We think that the Gladiator and Scrambler names are really cool, but the Comanche name is the one that Jeep should use for a new pickup truck model. People have been clamoring for Jeep to build a Wrangler-based pickup truck, and while our spy photographers proved that such a truck is on the way remember that the automaker also recently released a concept Comanche based on the Renegade.
You may not think that the Fiat 500L-based Renegade would be the best platform for a pickup truck, but in our experience the Renegade is actually a capable off-roader. The Comanche concept made great use of its Renegade underpinnings and there could well be demand for it from people who want a compact pickup truck with a price tag lower than what's currently available in the mid-size segment. If Jeep could keep the price low on the Comanche, like it does on the Renegade, we could see it being a sales success. Not only would a Renegade-based pickup truck be able to go off-road, it would hopefully integrate some kind of removable roof.
We think that a Wrangler-based pickup truck would be great, but using the Renegade would allow Jeep to offer another pickup that's more affordable. The Wrangler is actually quite expensive for what you get, whereas the Renegade gives you the removable-roof experience for a lot less. The Comanche Concept came with a 2.0-liter diesel engine, which we think would be perfect for a production model. Jeep could also offer the 2.4-liter four-cylinder from the Renegade, but we might opt for something a little more powerful. As long as Jeep offers an optional manual transmission and a good 4WD system, we bet this pickup truck would be a hit with buyers. There really is not anything on the market like what we are proposing here.