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With the Ford Ranger going away and the Mazda B series already off the Mazda web page, I began to wonder what other small trucks were available to fill the void. There are the standards like the Nissan and Toyota offerings, and then there’s mid-size like the Colorado. However, last week one of these (pictured above) pulled up next to me at a light and I had to find out more. For those not familiar with it, it’s called the Chevy Tornado.

Ridiculous name, of course. I picture something called a tornado to look more like a Vette or GT40 — this looks like an updated Subaru Brat, but what’s strange is I kinda like it.

The Tornado’s been out for a while in Mexico and they’re just starting to find their way across the border here in Texas. Here’s why: Nestled in under the hood lives a 1.8-liter hamster with 104 horsepower at its command. The five-speed tranny pushes the MPG to a respectable 23 in town — all of which lands it perfectly in the “awesome small truck” category.

Some won’t like the looks of the Tornado or its lack of bone-crushing power. But for me it looks great, reminds me of an El Camino (which I always wanted), and doesn’t require a lot of gas to run. Not sure why the hell we can’t have this here in the states; thanks GM.

Chevy Tornado [Website]
Subaru Brat [Google Images]


19 Responses to Small Truck Alternative

  1. Tom says:

    Utes are popular down under and in S. Africa. Pontiac was going to bring the Wagon and Ute versions of the G8 to the US before the brand was axed. It would have had a V6 or V8 so not the best mileage.

    I think that small utes/trucks like this are what 90% of truck buyers actually need.

    I saw a S10 and Colorado side by side the other day in a parking lot and was surprised by how similar in size they looked. The Colorado with the I4 gets 18/25mpg. Not too bad with a bit more capacity and HP.

  2. MARK says:

    It’d be great if Ford would import the Falcon Ute:
    Or GM would import the Holden Ute:
    (Both from Australia

  3. Angelbane says:

    but the Colorado is not a small truck :/

    I don’t know if people have really noticed but the “small trucks” are almost the size of the old midsize/large trucks.

    I would dearly love a real small truck like the old Datsun (yes I mean Datsun before nissan) or Toyota or other tiny trucks from the 70’s and early 80’s.
    Or ever a car/truck thing like the brat that is built as a tiny truck and not a car turned into a truck.

  4. ddt says:

    They need to bring back the elcamino, and ranchero. You know how many contractors I see buy an F-150 and the alternative equivalent and only carry 4 2x6s? It’s no wonder a lot of people use Grand Caravans as contractor vehicles, because a lot of contractors don’t need a towing capacity so high, or to be able to carry 4 tons of gravel, especially these days with delivery so readily available. And while they’re at bringing back the camino and ranchero – add a flippin 8′ bed will you?

  5. Old as Dirt says:

    I have a 1993 Ford Ranger with a six cylinder engine.Great truck good mileage.It will be a sad sad day when they are no longer made.It’s sad only rice burners will be around.

  6. Brau says:

    Yikes! It reminds me of the Subaru Brat, only uglier, without 4WD, and (like most American small engines)it’s probably a dog to drive.


  7. rg says:

    Sign me up for a Ford Falcon Ute — especially the FPV version with a 5.0 V8:


    I think the Australian utes are great for a lot of reasons. You can order them with a “tray” — or what we call a flat deck in North America, which I think is more useful than a conventional pickup box with the wheel-wells sticking up in the middle.

    Re: 4WD – My Mazda B4000 has it, and it’s very useful to have … 2% of the time. The other 98%, it’s just making my gas tank empty faster, hauling around the front drive-line as dead weight. And I’d guess the majority of 4WD owners don’t even really need it 2% of the time.

    If Ford and GM made their Australian utes available here, I’m pretty sure there would be a decent market for them.

  8. Flabby Boohoo says:

    I remember a Volkswagen and a Dodge of a similar size (in the 80’s). And let’s not forget the Subaru Brat.

  9. Mr. Mike says:

    Why do the car companies continue to block imports of other styles of small cars and light trucks? There are now fewer choices for economical (4 cylr) trucks and wagons than ever before. European and Japanese companies have many models that would fit the need for flexible trades vehicles and comfortable small family cars. They are every bit as safe and eco-friendly as American brands.

  10. J says:

    When you make money with large trucks with lots of unnecessary power/features, why would you want to introduce something just as effective and undercut yourself? Think EV1, prius, and volt. The electric vehicles been around forever but no one was going to change until the prius forced them to admit change was needed. As always with US carmakers its why change anything that’s making money until you have to?

  11. PutnamEco says:

    Angelbane says:
    I don’t know if people have really noticed but the “small trucks” are almost the size of the old midsize/large trucks.
    I certainly noticed. I really liked the old Datsun longbeds.and the 4×4 Toyotas with out all the frills. Why don’t any of the manufacturers make real work trucks any more? Something that you could wash out the interior with a hose if you had to. Don’t they realize that some people actually get themselves and there vehicles dirty when they work? We don’t even get exposed to the mini trucks that are popular in foreign cities, like the Honda Acty and the Mitsubishi Minicab

  12. Chuck Cage says:

    re: Small trucks not being small trucks any more, totally agree. In fact, this is the primary lament Sean and I have about the passing of the Ranger. Most of the other “small truck” offerings won’t fit in a garage and cost damn near as much to own and operate as a full-sized model. The Ranger, OTOH, is half the price, gets significantly better mileage (at least in the version I own), and parks easily. The other lament is the eternal need for MORE POWER among truck buyers. Sure, you might tow a boat twice a year. But do you really need to feed 300+ HP the other 363 days? Let’s leave the MORE POWER (UHG UHG UHG) to Tim Taylor and offer some vehicles that make sense for everyday drivers. I can’t afford to buy a truck just for hauling things; I have to drive it the rest of the time, too. Why should I feel serious wallet pain just to satisfy the needs of others?

  13. Toolfreak says:

    The compact trucks, and their counterpart SUVs have been getting bigger for a long time now. They passed into the “midsize” segment, really.

    From what I can tell it’s part of Detroit not wanting to let go of the glory days of full size SUVs and pickups when gas was cheap and they made sale after sale and business was booming. Profits on bigger vehicles are still bigger than those on compact cars and smaller trucks, so they want to force the market to buy big.

    Maybe if sales of the new stuff tank like they did back when gas hit $4, we’ll get a more serious effort to have more compact offerings. In the meantime, I think we’re stuck making do with the old models still on the road.

    Oh, and that Chevy Tornado looks like an Aveo with a bed on it.

  14. SCWetherbee says:

    Small trucks are still small, they’re no bigger than they used to be. Two months ago I tried to buy a Colorado/Canyon and it was a comfortable two seater at best. Americans wanting power is true, I wanted one with the 5.3 V8 without 4WD and there were three to be found within 500 miles, all with too many options driving the price way past $33k. Dealers wanting to push the big power motors is untrue, my search proves it. The CAFE standards keep them from building a lot of low mileage vehicles. The only thing that’s changed is cars, they’re all smaller than they used to be. When an Acura Legend and the like are full size cars and are smaller inside and out than my mothers compact ’65 Rambler, that’s a change. A proper full size car was like my in-law’s ’73 Caddy or my grandfathers ’74 Olds Ninety Eight. Overkill, gas hogs, finicky mechanicals, all true, but the same interior room and comfort cannot be found even in the largest Honda, Toyota, Chevy, or GM car. The only resort for anyone is an SUV or minivan (which Chrysler doesn’t make a short one anymore).
    That’s it, inflation makes my two cents now a nickels worth.

  15. Scott says:

    I have a full size Chevy and an ’88 Toyota 2wd. I find myself driving the Toyota most of the time, although it is showing it’s age. I would love to have a small 2wd with a 4 cylinder diesel powerplant. I suppose that I will have to get rid of my Chevy and buy me a newer used Toyota and put a diesel in it. Wish me luck.

  16. Josh says:

    How is 1.8L 104 horsepower even considered awesome small truck catagory ? Granted this thing is a probably a good bit lighter, but my old Ford Rangers with the 2.3L had 88-110 HP in it’s heyday. And Honda S2000 has a 2.0 with 200 horsepower, this thing sounds like it would be a dog and 23 MPG is a joke with it, I got that out of my 89 Ford Ext Cab Ranger with 189K miles.
    And not to metion someon should be punched for designing this, UGLY, and I liked El Caminos, Brats and some Rancheros.

  17. Clinton says:

    Something similar to that with 4drs, 4wd, and a little turbo diesel engine would be pretty awesome.

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