The beauty of badge engineering.
This is the segment the Japanese literally created decades ago, but sadly it’s nearly gone in the US. Other global markets are still addicted to the compact pickup truck, which Japanese brands such as Datsun made popular in the US back in the 1960s. By the time the 1990s rolled around, these very same automakers were rebadging compact or mid-size pickups from the Big Three. Heck, there was even a case of one Japanese brand rebadging a truck from a fellow domestic. Here are just a few examples of rebadged Japanese trucks.
No, your eyes aren’t fooling you. This isn’t the old Dodge Dakota; it’s the Mitsubishi Raider. It first entered production in 2005 but was gone by 2010. The Raider wasn’t a bad pickup, but it certainly wasn’t a standout. And customers didn’t care much about it either. Mitsubishi dealers supposedly had a six-month supply of Raider pickups just sitting on their lots because the Dakota was more popular. On the bright side, the Raider was offered with an optional V8 (with only 230 hp).
No, this isn’t the Nissan Frontier; it’s the Suzuki Equator. Seriously. Suzuki had been having trouble in the US for some time and needed a decentm competitive pickup in its lineup. Nissan offered a quick and relatively cheap solution by offering to rebadge the Frontier. Obviously it didn’t help much because Suzuki left the US market a couple of years ago.
Back in 1994, Mazda unveiled its latest generation B-Series pickup truck. It looked remarkably like the popular Ford Ranger. That’s because, save for a new grille and Mazda badges, that’s really all it was. The two trucks were identical and offered nearly the same features. Mazda has a proud history of compact pickups but, due to finances, the cheaper option was badge engineering. The B-Series died with the Ranger.
Yep, it’s the old Chevrolet Colorado, only with Isuzu badging. Presenting the Isuzu i-Series, which had a base price of just $16,989. But now it’s gone completely, as is Isuzu from the North American market (well, it does supply engines and commercial vehicles still). Somehow, and we’re not entirely sure who was paid off for this one, the i-Series was nominated as "Truck of the Year" in the US by two magazines, "Truck of Texas" and "Four Wheeler of the Year."