The return of the midsize

By Howard J. Elmer

If there is one overriding theme for the 2019 truck markets, it has to be the return of the midsize pickup.

Five years ago, only Toyota and Nissan still built midsize trucks, but Detroit is back in the game, and sales are brisk. GM is offering the Canyon and Colorado twins, while Ford has brought back its much-missed Ranger. Jeep is also in the mix with its first new truck in 28 years, the Gladiator, and rumours of a pending new Ram Dakota are rampant.

Over in the bigger toys, HD trucks are getting makeovers and reaching ever higher weight and power numbers. Personal driver assistance features are becoming the new standard and there are even electric options on the horizon.

And not to be left out of the news stream, Rivan, a company that is planning to build an electric, five-passenger pickup, is partnering with Ford to bring the 640-km plus platform to market in 2020.


Raptor is truly unique, with its 37” BF Goodrich KO2 tires, the 3.5L V6 H.O. EcoBoost engine and 10-speed automatic transmission. Traction is controlled automatically via a Terrain Management System that includes an electronic shift-on-the-fly system featuring mechanical


Its back!

The Ranger, Ford’s midsize, was a truck mainstay from 1983 to 2011. Ranger trim starts with the entry-level XL package, the XLT and high-level Lariat. Also coming are Chrome, Sport and FX Off-Road packages. The body is available as either a SuperCab or SuperCrew cab. Powered by a 2.3L EcoBoost engine, it has a mated 10-speed transmission. The FX4 option adds skid plates, upgraded tires, tuned shocks, off-road suspension and Ford’s electronic Terrain Management System.


2019 is a carry-over year for Super Duty, however Ford has already announced that 2020 will bring a major update for the line. Ford has information on the upcoming 7.3L gas engine (all-new) and an upgraded 6.7L Power Stroke diesel with a new 10-speed TorqShift automatic transmission. Ford is also promising next level technology in the new truck. More details will be coming late in the year.

2019 FORD F150

Significant changes last year have led the F-150 into a carry-over year for 2019, with the exception of a highoutput 3.5L EcoBoost engine that was previously only available on the Raptor.

2019 RAM TRUCK HD 2500 AND 3500

The HD Ram has upgraded its Cummins 6.7L turbo-diesel to 400 hp and 1,000 lb.-ft of torque – a new high. Along with chassis updates it now also boasts a new weight limit of 35,100 lb.

Also added are supplemental air bags to soften the heavy-load leaf springs when empty, driver-activated bed lowering mode, normal/payload mode and trailer-tow mode, as well as Frequency Response Damping (FRD) shocks, progressive springs and re-engineered bushings.

2019 RAM 1500

The 2019 Ram is all new, but the 2018 is still being built as the Ram Classic, which is a program that will continue until production ends at the old plant. The new truck is lighter, using more aluminum and high-strength steel throughout even though four inches have been added to frame. This results in a huge new Crew Cab backseat – one in which the seatbacks even recline 8 degrees.


So, if you want a Jeep and a truck, well, then the Gladiator is for you. This new midsize pickup has all the ability and attitude you would expect from a Wrangler, but in truck form.

It is worth noting that the five-foot bed was not just welded onto a standard Wrangler frame. The Gladiator’s body-on-frame design offers the same four doors, but on a stretched frame 31 inches longer than the Wrangler.

The wheelbase is also 19.4 inches longer and the rear axle and suspension setup borrows heavily from the Ram 1500. The Gladiator has 11.1-inches of ground clearance and is available with the same trim packages as the Wrangler (Sport S, Overland and Rubicon). It’s also the only truck on the market today that is also a convertible.


This is a carry-over year for Tacoma. New colours are nice, but it remains basically the same with its 3.5L Atkinson cycle V6 available with a five-speed manual (2.7L only), a six-speed manual, or six-speed automatic Super ECT with lockup torque converter. Toyota is promising a significant update for 2020. 


What the Ram HD gets, so too does the 2019 Power Wagon. Based on the 2500HD truck, the Power Wagon features 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tires and a 6.4-L Hemi V8.


The Titan XD is equipped with a half-ton chassis and Cummins 5.L V8 turbo-diesel that is unique in the half-ton market. For 2019, it remains unchanged. 


The basic Tundra is carried-over with a few updated design cues, a new SX package and additional safety technologies. A TRD Pro model joins the TRD Sport, which offers Bilstein shocks, 20” alloy wheels, power sliding rear window, navigation system, back-up sensors and anti-theft system.


Although it made its debut in early 2019, the next-generation Silverado HD is a 2020. The truck’s interior mimics the new 1500 Silverado cabin, with the additional three inches of legroom and taller seating position. The HD offers a choice of two new powertrains: a gasoline engine with direct injection mated to a six-speed transmission, or the Duramax V8 turbo-diesel and Allison 10-speed transmission.


2020 sees an all-new Silverado (and GMC Sierra) the fourth since 1999. The Silverado now offers eight trim levels, six different engine and transmission combinations and, for the first time, a new

Duramax 3.0L turbo-diesel. These trim packages not only offer groups of conveniences, but they also cover the very necessary work truck (WT) market right up to the opulent High Country.


For 2019, this off-road offering remains the same, but it continues to create waves as it pushes Toyota to try harder and Ford to offer an FX4 version of its Ranger. It features front and rear electronic locking differentials; DSSVTM damper technology, a lifted frame and 31” Goodyear Duratrac off-road tires.


These are the twins that started the resurgence of the midsize market. They are in a carry-over year, but continue to sell well.


The Ridgeline has no changes this year – again. Appealing to a select group with its car-like features, it is an all-wheel drive midsize option. It has a unique fold-down and swinging tailgate and a large, lockable trunk.