Europe has always been a bit of a puzzle for me, being born and living in the United States all my life. The biggest thing was always their disdain for Pickup Trucks. But a funny thing is happening there now. Pickups are increasing in poplularity. One recent reader/commentor here, Philip from Belgium wrote me recently that he is waiting for delivery of his new Ford Ranger. Like the one pictured above, it's a 4 door, what we in the US call a Crew Cab. From his notes and what I've read recently on Wikipedia, I've learned that 4 door pickups are more popular world wide, than our traditional 2 door pickups. And Pickups are replacing SUVs in Europe, because of fiscal advantages, based on the exposed cargo box. These advantages are do to with registration fees, which can be quite high.
Philip asked me about the Explorer Sport Trac, which is based on the last generation Explorer and has a more sedan like interior and shorter cargo box. I've never been a fan of the Sport Trac, instead wanting a crew cab Ranger like the rest of the world gets (including Mexico.) But in parts of Europe, the Ranger Crew Cab is a better choice, because it's longer cargo box ( 5 ft as opposed to 4 ft) meets requirements for these fee loopholes. The rule that Philip pointed out, is that to qualify for the advantage, the cargo bed must be at least 50% of the wheelbase. So the Sport Trac is not a benefit overseas.
In the US, we're seeing more crew cabs being offered in "compact" and "midsize" trucks, yet Ford and Mazda twins do not offer crew cabs. Hopefully the new redesigned Thailand Ranger will extend into the US market with it's crew cab. Instead Ford offers, this "Super Cab" extended cab with half doors and jump seats. No wonder the Ranger is languishing in the US sales.
Philip wanted to see a picture of my truck, so here it is. A 1999 Ford Ranger XLT with the OffRoad package, in standard cab with short bed (6 ft) in dark green with the 4.0L petrol V6 and 5 spd manual and electronic 2 spd transfer case for the 4 wheel drive. It's my third truck, and one of the best vehicles I've ever owned, reliability has been very good, with 3 recalls handled easilly by my local dealer in the 7 years I've owned it and only 54,000 miles on the odometer. I've used this as my primary transportation for several years, taking it on vacations and using it for all sorts of work. I have a bed extender bar, that allows me to lower the tailgate and haul long loads. I've taken it offroad for work and fun, and although the ground clearance isn't huge at roughly 9 inches, it's been adequate, and the optional skid/scuff plates have probably saved me major repairs several times. It can cruies on the highway at 85 mph with ease, and gas milage is only moderate at 20 mpg on the highway and 13 mpg city. Top speed, or at least as brave as I've come is 100 mph. It's unstoppable in snow, and the anti lock brakes have helped keep me on the pavement quite often.