Remember the truly compact pickup? Those halcyon days of college or high school when your buddy bought that new Nissan hardbody? You could barely fit inside the thing, but could haul furniture-if milk-crates and a sheet of plywood count as furniture-or a carsick buddy in the bed, no problem. And it was cheap! Nowadays, you have midsized pickups that fewer people are buying. Apparently, sales in the midsized segment have dropped off a cliff over the last 5 years. It's become so bad, rumors abound that cash-strapped Ford is considering pulling out of the market completely, so it can plough its precious resources into something people will buy a lot of. Part of the problem is that midsized trucks have become bigger and pricier, to the point that you might as well lay down a few grand more for an even larger, more capable fullsize pickup.
I say, bring back the compact truck. Give people a small utility hauler that can carry a loveseat and three of your five roommates. Something like ... the Jeep JT Concept pictured on this page. You have probably seen pictures of this truck flying around the Internet, already. Chrysler's MOPAR Underground dreamt up this concept overnight. Really, the team came up with it in a 24-hour period. They took a new Wrangler Unlimited, fabricated a one-off roof, and bolted on an open bed that the company sells to the Egyptian Army. (Yeah, Jeep supplies truck versions of its Wranglers overseas.)
I always thought, the first generation of the Wrangler Unlimited was a great idea, although timidly executed. All Jeep did was extend the storage space behind the rear seat by the width of a few rolled-up T-shirts. The latest version of the Unlimited, the one with the four doors-the cool one-that's where they needed to be from the start. And, the idea of hanging a truck bed to the back of that? Genius. I think it would be awesome to be able to drive this, and I'll tell you why:
First, it radiates rugged, iconic styling that grants the big-city desk-bound the faintest aura of daring-do. Second, the V-6 tows 3,500 pounds, which is good enough for moving a small dining room table-that's for sure-or an unstable stack of wheels. Third, you may see a fuel-efficient diesel in it some day, or maybe throw the four-cylinder world engine under the hood. And finally, it's unlike anything else out there.
Yeah, Dodge won't like its sister brand horning in on its territory, but who cares? Imagine French Legionnaires trundling across the sweeping dunes of the great Sahara Desert in a pickup, then turning up the dusty streets of Cairo, and stopping in front of a the local mini mart to pick up 30 cases of Rockstar to take back to the rest of the guys at the outpost. Insert the image of a Dakota, and it just doesn't work. But put them in a Jeep JT