This isn't the first time we've seen a camouflaged small Ram pickup truck. However, it is the first time we've seen a prototype in North America. Our spy sources don't have an exact location, but this rig wears a Michigan license plate so it's definitely being tested in the States. And judging from the tattered state of the camouflage, it's being tested pretty hard.
Unfortunately, the ripped-up camo wrap still isn't ripped enough to give us a clear look underneath. At the front, it's very easy to spot headlights that look much like those on the Ram 1500. Rectangular driving lamps at the corners also resemble the full-size truck, and though the grille is covered, bulges and hints of body lines suggest it will have a similar shape to its big brother. Behind the grille could be two engine options: a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder or a 2.2-liter turbodiesel. If this is sold in North America, we suspect the gas motor would be the only option.
Gallery: Ram 1200 Rampage US Spy Photos
Similar to the Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz, this is a unibody truck. It's based on the Fiat Toro, but Ram will take extra steps to carve out its own version of the pickup as opposed to just swapping badges. We get a taste of that with Ram-friendly face visible here, but a recent teaser from Ram Brazil offered glimpses of the side and rear with more distinctive Ram features and branding. Furthermore, the teaser hammered home the point that this truck would be more rugged and have more capability for its category. And it's also being co-developed in South and North America.
Of course, merely seeing a vehicle in the US doesn't mean it will be sold in that market. Automakers regularly test prototypes in all parts of the world, but we've heard multiple reports that Ram has already shown a small truck to dealers. Whether it's a done deal is part of the mystery, but at this point, evidence for a North American debut is adding up.
That brings us to the name. We're told this truck has an internal designation of Project 291. When it goes on sale, both Rampage and Dakota have been mentioned as possible monikers. Dakota was the name for the long-running Dodge mid-size truck back before Ram became its own brand. Going back further, Dodge Rampage was the name given to a compact car-based unibody rig using the old front-wheel-drive L-body platform from the 1980s. If Ram aims this at the smaller segment, Rampage would make sense. If this is destined to be a competitor for the Ford Ranger and Chevrolet Colorado, however, Dakota seems logical.
Either way, we'll hopefully have some answers to this Ram mystery before the end of the year.