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Confirmed? Compact Ram pickup coming to the U.S.

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We’ve been speculating for years about a midsize or compact Ram pickup. (Years!) Now, out of the blue, we appear to have confirmation a smaller Ram pickup (aka Dakota or 1200) is, in fact, coming to the U.S. Here’s what we know.

The news out of South America seems to confirm the pickup according to the news source Auto Segredos and covered by CarBuzz. The news comes from a statement made by Stellantis South America President Antonio Filosa.

Specifically, he said: “The pickup will also be sold in the American market to face the Ford Maverick.”

This statement would really seem to suggest a compact Ram is coming to the U.S. since the Ford Maverick is only sold in the U.S. And it would be an addition dealers have been demanding for some time.

Why bring back a compact Ram pickup?

Back in the 1990s, the midsize truck market was a battle with the Ford Ranger, Chevy S-10, GMC Sonoma, Dodge Dakota and Toyota Tacoma leading the top contenders. These midsize trucks were right sized for most people, and the popularity of the full-size truck hadn’t caught on yet.

Flash forward a few years and midsize trucks are making a comeback, especially with the introduction of a couple of compact trucks. The new Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz, for example, have reignited the compact truck market and have a lot of consumers wondering when more competitors from General Motors, Ram, Toyota and Nissan are going to be offered.

What would it be like?

When talking about a more compact Ram pickup, one naturally wonders what it would be like and if Ram would reuse the Dakota name badge.

It is a safe assumption the Ram 1200 would be a logical fit for the U.S. market with some modifications to pass the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. These modifications often include small things like windshield thickness, headlight design and the location of the hazard lights button as well as styling of that button. Again small stuff.

There is some confusion on if Ram would just bring the South American 1200 here since the media reports’ translation isn’t quite clear.

Auto Segredos said: “In the U.S., there are plans for the Ram 1200 to have a chassis-mounted version.”

This means the Ram 1200 would be body-on-frame, whereas the Maverick and Santa Cruz are both unibody pickups. There are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches, but if the 1200 is body-on-frame, it might be more midsize than compact.

For powertrain, we would expect it to be have some sort of either turbocharged engine or a mild-hybrid option, like a 4xe setup. This class is about size, price and fuel economy.

Styling wise, Ram will surely knock it out of the park like it does on its other products. Expect a similar style to the 2019 Fiat Fullback or 2016 Ram 1200 that was sold in the Middle East, with some influences of North American design.

There will likely be just a few trim levels, including a Rebel version with more off-road styling cues and features.

The bottom line on a compact Ram pickup

No matter what frame it sits on or whether its compact or midsize, adding another pickup below the full-size 1500 is badly needed for the brand. Ram is missing out on whole new market and losing sales to competitors who offer more variety.

We hope to hear more by the end of the year, and maybe we can see a new compact Ram pickup next year.

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Tim Esterdahl

Automotive Journalist Tim Esterdahl has been a lover of trucks and SUVs for years. He has covered the industry since 2011 and has pieces in many national magazines and newspapers. In his spare time, he is often found tinkering on his '62 C10 pickup, playing golf, going hunting and hanging out with his wife and kids in Nebraska.

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