Ask Nathan: The Tiny 2021 Ram 700 Pickup, Jeep Renegade PHEV, and Nissan 240 SX (former) Drifter

This is the 2021 Ram 700 – available in South America and Mexico. Not in the USA, as of now. (Image: FCA)

In this week’s Ask Nathan:

  • Will we get the Ram 700 pickup? 
  • Where is my Jeep Renegade PHEV? 
  • Can I drive a Nissan 240 SX drifter daily?

The first question comes from a Ram fan who wants to know about the 2021 Ram 700 pickup.

Q:  Got me a 2016 Ram 2500 Power Wagon. Best truck I’d ever owned. Tell me about this Ram 700 pickup I’d seen in South America.

Can we expect to see a Ram 700 here? Honda, Ford and Hyundai will have a crossover pickup as Nathan puts it. It would be the smartest for Ram and FCA to do the same. If they can make it cheaper and it looks like it is in then the competitors it will be a success here!

Just my two cents.

— Anonymous

A: Hi there and thanks for the text!

The Ram 700 is an updated unit-body/unibody crossover with a pickup bed. It’s more of what a proper ‘ute is over some competitors. Unlike the larger Honda Ridgeline, it offers a two-door and front-wheel drive as a base model. It is basically a Fiat Strada, a pickup we have followed closely since we’ve seen it testing in Detroit, MI back in 2015. Since then, there has been a ton of speculation about the return of the Dodge Dakota, or a spin-off Ram Dakota.

FCA/Ram have been very quiet about this. In the past, they confirmed, then reversed their intention to build a midsize truck of any kind. Recently, they said they still might do it… maybe.

IF our friends at FCA opt to bring the Ram 700 stateside, it would need to make more power, tow more and (most-likely) be directly competitive with the Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz. Currently, it makes a max of 98 horsepower with the 1.3-liter turbo. It’s FWD and connected to a manual transmission. Max payload is over 1,650 lbs, but max towing is just 882 lbs.

FCA has a ton of engine/transmission setups that would be far more effective in a vehicle like this, for our market. It’s possible that the powerplant and all-wheel drive running gear from the Jeep Cherokee might fit. That would make it somewhat competitive out of the box. That is – IF – FCA opts to go forward with this project.

This image of a suspected FCA vehicle testing in Artic conditions may well be the underpinnings that somewhat match the Fiat Strada. If that’s the case, it looks like it will compete against the Ford Maverick directly. They look like the same size to me.

The bottom line is: we very well may see a ute/small pickup come from FCA. It may not be a clone of the small Fiat Strada/ Ram 700, but they may share components. Time will tell.

All in all, I suspect FCA is keeping a very close eye on Ford and Hyundai to see how their tiny, car-platform-derived pickup utility vehicles do. Before they commit.

The next question came from a Twitter (@nathanadlen) question regarding the upcoming Jeep Renegade PHEV.

Q: Do you know anything about the Jeep Renegade PHEV?

Will it come here?

— JNewton

A: Hi!

We published a story about the Jeep Renegade PHEV (now known as the Renegade 4Xe) back in 2018.

“The FCA Melfi Plant in Italy is beginning preparations to produce the Jeep Renegade Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) scheduled for market launch in early 2020. The Renegade PHEV will be produced alongside the Renegade and 500X full combustion engine products that are currently produced at the Melfi vehicle assembly plan.”

That is to say, they are up and running…

Still, the question is: when will they come here? Yep, we expect to see them next year – hopefully.

The whole pandemic has screwed up factories, development and debuts across the board. At this point, we expect to see the Jeep Wrangler 4Xe before the Renegade and Compass.

By the way, the Renegade 4Xe (and Compass 4Xe) does not have a drive-shaft that links the two axles. The rear wheels are powered by an electric motor. It has a 11.4-kWh battery to power the EV motors.

I hope that helps!

— N

The last question comes from a fan who may inherit a former drift car.

1995 240SX Coupe. Image: Nissan

Q: 1995 Nissan 240SX question for Nathan!

So my brother has this old drift car. It’s a 1995 Nissan 240SX and he raced it mostly doing drifting and auto cross stuff.

I’m looking for a car to take me to college next year, and my bro said he can make the 240 ready for the street for a few hundred bucks. I have a budget of $5,000 and bro said he’ll make the car like new for that. He says it’s a great car. But I have never seen it drive on the street.

Is this a good idea? I’m not a huge car nut, but I watch your stuff and I will listen to what you have to say.

Vince. N

Phoenix, AZ

Seven years ago, I made good friends with Jason, a pro drifter in China. – N

A: Interesting question, but my answer is simple: don’t bother.

You can get a much better, less abused vehicle for that kind of money.

Keep in mind: drifting causes all kinds of stress to components that were never meant for that kind of abuse. Your brother was right – the 240SX was a great car; however, that’s not counting the warping, bending, bouncing and vibrating he subjected it to when he raced it. He may very well add the old components, but there can be a ton of problems waiting for you.

It’s like putting toothpaste back in the tube after you squeezed. Sure, you can get a lot of it, but it will be messy and bits will be missed.

I’m sorry, race cars are rarely set back to “normal” after leading a hard life on the track.

Just walk away.

— N

Speaking of “problems,” look what happened to our BRAND NEW Land Rover Defender!!