Let’s be honest, trucks are cool. They feel cool, they look cool, and they’re good utility vehicles. While trucks are cool, some of the larger trucks on the market can be a little intimidating, and that’s okay.
Toyota, Chevrolet, Nissan, GMC, Honda, and Ford make smaller pickup trucks, sometimes called “compact trucks.” Hyundai and Rivian also make smaller trucks. Finding the right small truck will depend on several factors, such as intended use and personal brand preference.
Each of these manufacturers creates their trucks with different purposes in mind. In this article, you will learn about the smaller truck models sold by these manufacturers
Toyota makes some good trucks. They have two compact trucks for you to compare. Both models are a solid pick and are pretty similar as far as purpose and design.
The Toyota Tacoma is one of the most popular trucks from the last several years. It is great on or off-road, family-friendly, and has a comfy cabin. The Toyota Tacoma comes with everything you would expect from a standard truck, but in a smaller size that is easier to park in small or hard-to-get-to places.
The Toyota Tacoma’s design specifically attracts buyers in Mexico, the U.S., and Canada. The Tacoma is about two inches wider and two inches longer than the Toyota Hilux, so it’s bigger, but not by much.
Read more about the value of this truck here: Is Toyota Tacoma Worth the Money?
The Toyota Hilux is a sturdy, reliable truck. It uses a turbocharged common rail. The Hilux gets 110.3 KW, 150 HP, and 148 BHP at 3,400 RPMs. It’s a front-wheel drive and has a six-speed transmission. It is 17.5 feet long, 6 feet wide, and nearly 6 feet tall. At these dimensions, the Hilux barely meets the compact truck requirements. Additionally, the Hilux has a 10.9-inch ground clearance.
The Hilux is the smallest pickup sold by Toyota. The outside aesthetic is smoother and with more distinct body lines. Inside, the Hilux has a bigger entertainment screen than the Tacoma. Altogether, the Hilux has a more practical feel.
Though Chevrolet makes three trucks, it only makes one compact truck: the Colorado. You can purchase the Colorado in two trim packages: LT and Z71. It has some flashy trims but is always ready for a road trip. A big selling point is that the backseat is roomy enough for adults to sit there. The purchase price for Chevy Colorados ranges between $25,000 and $42,000.
When choosing between trim packages, you can decide if you want a diesel or gas engine. You might find the interior a little disappointing, but it drives well and is a perfect truck for daily commutes. Overall, the Colorado is a capable, durable truck that will get the job done.
The Nissan Frontier is great for any time of year. It is a wonderful partner for outdoor activities such as biking, fishing, hunting, or camping. This small truck is ready for any trails, smooth or rough. Looking for a small truck with all the latest tech and safety features? Recently released Frontiers have got it!
That said, the Frontiers of the past have not been very impressive. And even the latest model may not be the best option if you intend to drive your small truck in town a lot. Nissan Frontiers are built for off-road driving and towing, first and foremost.
Looking for something a little more luxurious? A GMC Canyon might be more your style.
The Canyon is a capable competitor for other small-midsize trucks. Depending on the trim package, the GMC Canyon will have either a gas or a diesel engine. It accelerates and tows surprisingly well for its size and is easy to handle.
Surprisingly, the GMC Canyon is a durable little truck that can carry significantly heavy loads in its bed. Read more about the GMC Canyon’s bed capacity here: How Much Weight Can a GMC Canyon Hold in the Bed?
Honda Ridgelines are known for being very comfortable and roomy. This is largely because Honda has included some clever storage solutions into its design. You’ll also notice that the Ridgeline feels like a car in normal road conditions, making for a more comfortable ride.
The Honda Ridgeline is primarily a daily commuter. It doesn’t do so good with hauling; however, it is a favorable choice for casual, daily driving. The Ridgeline includes a solid interior that adds to the comfort of the commute.
A Ford Ranger can get the job done, whatever it is. You can take your Ranger on a date or a hunting trip. Equipped with an excellent automatic 10-speed transmission that responds to the subtlest command, the Ford Ranger will serve you well.
However, rides can seem quite bouncy and cramped. The bounciness can be solved if you load the bed up. This will give it some weight and make the ride smoother.
Find the best Ford Ranger model year here: What Are the Best Years for the Ford Ranger? (A Buyers Guide).
The trucks we’ve listed so far are some of the most popular and most well-known small trucks on the market. Almost every car manufacturer makes at least one truck model, so there are a lot of builds to cover. Other great small truck options include:
- Hyundai Santa Cruz: Some might not consider the Santa Cruz to be a real truck, and indeed the bed is rather small. However, the design is unique and its size makes it easy to maneuver and park, unlike a lot of big trucks.
- Rivian R1T: An electric truck with high ground clearance, off-roading capabilities, and a sports car feel. The Rivian R1T is a versatile vehicle, great for commuting and off-roading.
- Jeep Gladiator: Like most of Jeep’s cars, the Gladiator is built for off-roading. That means it can be loud, unmanageable, or rickety on the road. It also has a small bed, so it’s not ideal for carrying loads. However, it does have an open roof.