GM To Offer Not One, But Two, Smaller Pickups: El Camino Too?

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2011 Holden Commodore Ute

2011 Holden Commodore Ute

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Usually Ford and GM follow the same playbook for their pickup trucks.

But in pursuit of higher fuel economy goals, the two may diverge in years to come.

While Ford is fitting more fuel-efficient EcoBoost turbocharged V-6 engines to its pickup trucks, it has no plans to offer any pickup smaller than the full-sized F-150 line.

Chevrolet, on the other hand, has already said it will offer a new version of the mid-size Colorado pickup along with its full-size Silverado line.

(Its counterpart GMC will do the same as well, with a Canyon to complement its Sierra.)

Now, it appears there may even be a third Chevy pickup joining the lineup in future years.

Are you ready for a return of the car-based El Camino?

A report on GM Authority (via Motor Authority) notes that GM renewed its registration for the El Camino model name with the U.S. Patents and Trademarks Office on August 9.

That squares with earlier reports that GM will import and sell the Australian-built Holden Commodore "ute" (or car-based pickup) here in the States.

GM also filed to renew the Nomad name earlier in the year, perhaps indicating that it will sell the rear-wheel drive Commodore wagon.

That would make three Holden models, with the supposed El Camino and Nomad joining the Chevrolet SS sedan that it will unveil next year.

Whether U.S. pickup buyers would willingly downsize from today's full-size pickups to the mid-size models whose sales have declined greatly remains an open question.

And it's even less clear that buyers would downsize even further, to a car-based pickup with perhaps half the bed volume or less.

2010 Pontiac G8 sport truck

2010 Pontiac G8 sport truck

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GM had planned several years ago to bring the Holden ute into the U.S. as a Pontiac, with rapper 50 Cent unveiling it at the 2008 New York Auto Show as the Pontiac G8 Sport Truck.

Those plans died with GM's bankruptcy and restructuring that year, which killed off Pontiac altogether.

The Holden ute can be ordered in its home market with a range of engines, from a 3.0-liter V-6 up through a 6.0-liter V-8.

So it may be best to view any upcoming Chevy El Camino as more of a niche vehicle--or fashion statement--than a serious effort to downsize U.S. pickup truck offerings.

That role will like fall to the Chevy Colorado, which is almost sure to be offered at some point with a fuel-efficient four-cylinder engine.

As for Ford? Down the road, look for a greater array of EcoBoost offerings in the next generation of its F-150 pickups.


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Comments (12)
  1. As I recall, there is some relationship between "foot-print" and MPG in the new CAFE standards. I have never really fully understood that. Does a shifting customers to smaller trucks help meet CAFE? Does that make GM's approach better than Fords?

  2. I've been trying to decide whether my next vehicle would be a car or a pickup. This could be an attractive option if they get decent gas mileage, and don't price it too high, and give it either 4 wheel drive or front wheel drive.

  3. They only sell it in Australia as a rear wheel drive that uses 9.9 l\100km = 23.75 US Mpg.

  4. FWD is great for driving around without a load but I'm not a fan of FWD pickups because the front wheel traction decreases as the load in the bed increases. A good choice would be a pickup that was a switchable FWD/RWD or a RWD/AWD drivetrain like the VW Amorak

  5. Front wheel drive on a pick-up - very bad idea if you are going to put any weight in the BED.....

  6. Is it time to bring back the old compact pickup like the small Toyota, Mazda and Datsuns that were popular before all trucks went on steroids?

  7. Considering only about 24,000 Chevy SSR's were sold over a 4 year run this seems to be a very small possiblity.
    Chevy is dropping the Avalanche because low sales volume.

  8. I wonder about the tow ratings of these new smaller pickups. However, I still doubt they will produce something that can tow 5000 pounds and still do 26+ mpg. It would be nice if it happens, though.

  9. I bet that if GM put a small diesel or direct injection engine in an El Camino that achieves good torque and great MPG it would sell well.

  10. Remember: modt "Small pickups" do not get any better fuel economy than a GOOD full size....Still BEST little p/u I ever owned was a 4x4 Turbo Diesel Isuzu......but NOW there are TOO many diesel trucks driving the price of fuel up...

  11. It's about time. The Colorado is the smallest truck available in the USA and MANY want a high MPG truck. I have little need for a full size truck. Almost all mid sized trucks today are just too close to full sized trucks in size, weight and mpg. Ford does make a truck smaller than the F-150, it's just not available in North America!

  12. Sorry all, but I want to see one based on the camero, a full sized car, like they were in the old days 68'-72', and fuel mileage is a secondary consideration. As in the old days they would be available in multiple engine and Trans configurations so you could order one with as much or as little muscle as suits your style or budget, or a standard and an SS version

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