Ram’s new, Toyota HiLux-sized unibody ute is believed to be hiding under this boxy camouflage.
Development of the new model, codenamed Project 291 and potentially to be badged Ram 1200, is reportedly being led by Stellantis’ Latin American operations.
Brazilian outlet Autos Segredos reports the Ram 1200, set to launch in Brazil in the second half of 2023, will use the unibody Small-Wide 4×4 LWB architecture underpinning the likes of the Jeep Compass and its three-row Commander sibling, as well as the Brazilian Fiat Toro ute.
The Brazilian outlet reports the 1200 will share a great deal with the Jeep Commander, including its front doors, A-pillars and windscreen, but will otherwise draw design inspiration from the larger Ram 1500 and also be offered in familiar Laramie, Rebel and Longhorn trims.
It could also offer a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine with around 149kW of power and 440Nm of torque, plus a 194kW 2.0-litre petrol four-cylinder engine. Both will use a nine-speed automatic transmission.
This prototype spied in Sweden was testing aside a Toro, which in some markets is badged as a Ram 1000. Ram also offers a rebadged version of the Brazilian Fiat Strada ute called the 700.
For reference, the Ram 700 in dual-cab guise measures 4474mm, and the dual-cab-only Ram 1000 measures 4915mm long. The latter is therefore already close to the likes of the also unibody Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz in size (5.07m and 4.97m long, respectively), though these are sold only in North America.
It’s unclear whether the Ram 1200 will be exported beyond Latin America. Since being spun off from the Dodge brand in 2010, Ram has sold only one pickup smaller than the 1500 in North America: the Dakota, a rebadged Dodge Dakota that was only offered until 2011.
Elsewhere, Ram sold a rebadged Fiat Fullback, itself a lightly restyled Mitsubishi Triton, from 2016 to 2019 in the Middle East and Africa.
While we can’t make out much of the vehicle underneath the thick camouflage, we can see distinctive round headlights that give the 1200 a very different look from the 700/Strada and 1000/Toro.
It’s unclear whether there’s any connection between the 1200 and the mooted Dakota replacement for North America.
Automotive News reported last year that Ram CEO Mike Koval Jr. was considering showing its dealers an early concept of a “mid-sized” (aka Ranger-sized) pickup truck in March “to gauge their interest”.
“We’ve always said we know that on a global basis, probably the biggest area, the biggest white space opportunity for our brand to grow, has been the midsize pickup,” Mr Koval told Automotive News.
“We’re looking at it, believe me, I am. We’ll see, but I am thinking about bringing it and giving our dealers a sneak peek.”
Stellantis currently offers only the Jeep Gladiator in this segment, though it’s a more off-road focused vehicle not targeted at the likes of the Ford Ranger, Chevrolet Colorado and Toyota Tacoma – the latter by far the segment’s best-seller in the US.
In 2021, Stellantis also teased in wireframe a new mid-sized electric pickup among a fleet of vehicles on the new STLA Large platform for the Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram brands, though it hasn’t released any more information on this subsequently.
This is separate to a new electric 1500 on the STLA Frame platform, previewed by the 1500 Evolution EV