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Is it Time for Land Rover to Build a Pickup? We Let You Decide
It takes performance and features of a special variety for Americans to consider adding a new pickup truck to their list of every growing options. Who would have ever guessed that $70,000 fully loaded pickups would be the norm instead of the exception, for example?

Is it Time for Land Rover to Build a Pickup? We Let You Decide

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That said, apart from Toyota and Nissan, there aren't too many big names that have challenged domestic manufactured trucks from Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler (now under Stellantis). Ram, F-150, and Silverado trucks account for an astonishing share of the annual vehicles sales in North America year to year for decade after decade. As much as 20% by some recent estimates.

With so many hungry buyers waiting to be satiated, is it possible that one particular plucky, British 4x4 could be more adept at building pickup trucks than we like to admit? Let's take a look at some points to consider that give us reason to think it's not as ludicrous after all.

When European companies try to make pickup trucks, the results can be mixed to very poor depending on the model, lest we forget about the unmitigated Mercedes-Benz X-Class disaster. Even if this Nissan-based Mercedes-Benz truck isn't quite as large as a Ram or F-150, it only goes to show what a miracle it would take for a true competitor to rise to the occasion that isn't called a Titan or a Tundra, of course.

Now, based on all of this, some people would write off the idea of a European equivalent to a fully loaded full-size American pickup. If you subscribe to that line of thinking, allow us to retort with a question. Granted, there are some European automakers, and even some Japanese ones, that shouldn't bother attempting such a feat. But of all the companies you could pick to take on the job, Land Rover may be the very best, wouldn't you agree?

To explain why we aren't just nuts, let's just consider for a moment the path that Land Rover has embarked on since the late 1940s to what the brand is known for today. It's one of the most polarizing transformations of product architecture in auto industry history anywhere in the world.

By the Classic Range Rover's creator's very own decree, the notion of using a big luxury 4x4 off-roader as a daily school run and grocery getter is a pretty silly idea. Check out our in-depth feature on that very matter if you want to learn more. Safe to say, Land Rover does it best when it caters just as much to the needs of North Americans as they do Europeans.

Consider that the very first Range Rovers to arrive in the U.S. outside of the grey market were profoundly different than the rugged, utilitarian 4x4 it normally was in blighty old Britain. Plush leather, AM/FM Radio with a cassette deck, and hand-polished wood replaced the rubber floormats and a plastic dash that it sported overseas. It was enough to make Charles Spencer King, one of Range Rover's principal designers, sick to his stomach. But most aside from him hailed it as a complete success.

In all honesty, the biggest hurdle between us car inclined folks and a Range Rover or new Defender-derived pickup is its newfangled unibody construction. Whether the latest crop of unibody pickup trucks from other manufacturers can keep up with modern workloads, like the Honda Ridgeline and the Hyundai Santa Cruz, remains to be seen.

Of course, there's some precedent for a Land Rover derived pickup, in the form of the 127 or the 130 models with the optional pickup bed. These examples are exceedingly rare and were never sold new in North America. But just look at one for a long enough period of time and try not to fawn over it after just a few seconds. It looks like it wants to work hard for you every single day until its wheels fall off.

With the new Defender filling much the same role as its ancestor, at least in the civilian sector, maybe it would be a better bet to try and turn that into a truck instead. Imagine a product more suited to competing with Rangers and Colorados instead of larger trucks. A scenario not entirely hum-drum in its own right.

Be it the Range Rover or the Defender, the success of trucks like the Jeep Gladiator may prompt Land Rover to take the idea of their own pickup truck more seriously. It would certainly be interesting to see how a new Defender-based truck would fare against the might of the Gladiator. Check back for more from Land Rover month right here on autoevolution.

 
 
 
 
 

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