Small Pickup Trucks – 7 Best – U.S. Market

What are the best small pickup trucks? With so many pickup trucks available, it can be a challenge to find the right one for you. In this article, I’ll describe the best-selling small pickup trucks (compact to midsize), including their features and specs.

The following are the best of the compact to midsize pickup trucks based on U.S. sales statistics on the second quarter of 2020:

  1. Toyota Tacoma, 51,062 units sold
  2. Ford Ranger, 25,007 units sold
  3. Chevrolet Colorado, 19,843 units sold
  4. Jeep Gladiator, 19,568 units sold
  5. Nissan Frontier, 8,794 units sold
  6. Honda Ridgeline, 6,380 units sold
  7. GMC Canyon, 5,226 units sold

These small size pickup trucks have developed a faithful following among U.S. consumers and truck buyers. They have dominated the small pickup truck sales in the country because of their long service lives, dependability, and performance.

Read on to learn more about the best small pickup trucks including their features and specs.

small pickup trucks

Small Pickup Trucks – Best in the U.S. Market

In 2017, sales analysts were harping about the return of the compact pickup truck. Little did they know that this truck category would really take off several years later. These trucks are now part and parcel of the truck landscape in the U.S. and other countries abroad.

Pickup trucks are light-duty trucks with an enclosed cab and an open cargo bed with low sides and a tailgate. But today, these small pickups are not really small at all. They are actually on the mid-size level, dimension-wise.

Some trucks in this class have nearly full-size truck proportions. This matter has led some truck buyers wishing for truck manufacturers to build more powerful and more efficient trucks that can easily fit their garage. It is probably the reason why Toyota, Ford, Nissan, GM, and other truck manufacturers are beefing up their compact to midsize truck lineups.

As mentioned earlier, the following are the best of the compact to midsize pickup trucks based on U.S. sales statistics in the second quarter of 2020:

  1. Toyota Tacoma, 51,062 units sold
  2. Ford Ranger, 25,007 units sold
  3. Chevrolet Colorado, 19,843 units sold
  4. Jeep Gladiator, 19,568 units sold
  5. Nissan Frontier, 8,794 units sold
  6. Honda Ridgeline, 6,380 units sold
  7. GMC Canyon, 5,226 units sold

We will now individually discuss the features and merits of each of these small pickup trucks.

1. Toyota Tacoma

The Toyota Tacoma SR (and SR5) is powered by a four-cylinder engine that delivers 159 horsepower. But there is a stronger engine option in the variant with a V6 engine. It can produce 278 hp and mated with a six-speed automatic transmission. There are some TRD variants of the Tacoma that have a six-speed manual transmission too.

According to EPA estimates, the base Tacoma SR model achieves 20 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. Variants with the V6 engine can get 19 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway.

The Tacoma can sit 4 to 5 persons. It has two drivetrain options: rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive. The payload capacity of this compact pickup is 1,155 pounds, and its towing capacity is 6,400 lbs.

Here are the dimensions of the 2020 Toyota Tacoma:

  • Overall Height – 70.6 in.
  • Width – 74.4 in.
  • Length – 212.3 in.
  • Wheelbase Length – 127.4 in.

There are nine (9) available color options for the Tacoma. These colors are Army Green, VooDoo Blue, Cement, Super White, Quicksand, Silver Sky Metallic, Magnetic Gray Metallic, Barcelona Red Metallic, and Midnight Black Metallic.

2. Ford Ranger

Next on our list of the best small pickup trucks is the Ford Ranger. The Ford Ranger has a 2.3-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine. This engine can deliver 270 hp and a torque of 310 lb-ft. It is mated with a 10-speed automatic transmission that provides smooth gear shifts. Going from zero to 60 mph is generally fast.

This compact truck is generally stable when turning, and its body roll control is good. It is very easy to maneuver, and the steering is very responsive. Plus, it rides smoothly and is more solid than its rivals.

A Ford Ranger with rear-wheel drive can achieve 21 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. But with four-wheel drive, fuel efficiency suffers a bit. The 4WD achieves 20 mpg in the city, and it can get 24 mpg on the highway.

Off-road, the Ford Ranger is capable. It has an off-road package, which includes the following:

  • A locking rear differential
  • An off-road-tuned suspension
  • Crawl control
  • Special off-road tires
  • A terrain management system
  • Skid plates

The Ranger’s payload capacity ranges from 1,560 to 1,860 pounds. It has a maximum towing capacity of 7,500 pounds. The SuperCrew crew-cab variant has a bed that measures 5 feet. On the other hand, the bed of the SuperCab Ranger is one foot longer.

The external dimensions of the Ford Ranger are as follows:

  • Overall Height – 71.5 in.
  • Width – 73.3 in.
  • Length – 210.8 in.
  • Wheelbase Length – 126.8 in.

3. Chevrolet Colorado

small size pickup trucks

Chevrolet Colorado has three available engine options. The best in mileage is the model equipped with a 181 hp turbo-diesel engine. It is among the best small diesel pickup trucks in the market. With its available 369 lb-ft. of torque, it offers the best towing capacity of the three options.

The base model has a 200 hp four-cylinder engine. It is enough for daily driving, but it also offers lots of power for many occasions. The heaviest of the three options is the one equipped with a 308 hp V6 engine. It’s quicker than the other two variants and offers double the base model’s towing capacity.

The base model gets the best in fuel efficiency. It can achieve 20 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. The heavier model with the V6 engine only gets 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. Chevrolet Colorado trucks with turbo-diesel engines get the best in mileage. They can achieve 20 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.

When it comes to handling, the Colorado is very composed and provides smooth rides. It’s relatively easy to maneuver in tight spaces and parking lots – almost like driving a normal car. Off-road, it is very capable of handling challenging trails and difficult terrains.

The towing capacity of the Colorado varies with the drivetrain installed. Turbo-diesels have the highest towing capacity at 7,700 pounds. The V6 models can tow 7,000 pounds. Those equipped with the base engine can only tow 3,500 pounds maximum. Colorado’s payload capacity is 1,578 pounds.

Here are the external dimensions of the Chevrolet Colorado:

  • Overall Height – 70.7 in.
  • Width – 74.3 in.
  • Length – 212.7 in.
  • Wheelbase Length – 128.3 in.

4. Jeep Gladiator

Among the most popular new small pickup trucks is the Jeep Gladiator. But there’s only one engine option for the Jeep Gladiator, and it is the V6 engine that can deliver 285 hp. This power rating is adequate not only for daily driving conditions but also for hauling and towing. But it seems sluggish when it comes to acceleration. Jeep is planning to introduce a turbocharged V6 EcoDiesel powertrain later this year.

The Gladiator handles like most other pickups in its class. It rides smoothly in most driving situations and can handle turns quite well. The ride appears to be more even, especially if there are some loads at the bed.

The fuel efficiency of the Gladiator is 17 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway. According to industry standards, these are some of the worst fuel efficiency ratings in this class and engine type.

The external dimensions of the Jeep Gladiator are as follows:

  • Overall Height – 75.0 in.
  • Width – 73.8 in.
  • Length – 218.0 in.
  • Wheelbase Length – 137.3 in.

5. Nissan Frontier

The current Nissan Frontier model has received a completely new powertrain consisting of a 310 hp engine mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. Its overall power and rate of acceleration are enough for most driving needs. The engine of these small pickup trucks is noticeably quiet as well.

This small pickup truck has sharp steering and can sustain its poise during turns. Maneuvering in tight places is not that great because of its size. But its suspension easily absorbs road imperfections, making its ride very supple.

pickup trucks small size

If this small truck has the right setup, it can be a good off-roader. The 4WD variant gets one-inch extra ground clearance, along with hill descent control and a transfer case. Other options are available, such as a limited-slip system and a locking rear differential to improve the truck’s traction.

The maximum payload of the Nissan Frontier is 1,460 pounds. This is true in all variants of the Frontier. The Crew Cab Frontier’s maximum towing capacity is 6,500 pounds and 6,720 pounds for the King Cab Frontier.

The Nissan Frontier’s fuel ratings are 18 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway for two-wheel drives. For the 4WDs, they are 17 mpg in the city and 23 mpg. on the highway.

Here are the external dimensions of the Nissan Frontier:

  • Overall Height – 70.1 in.
  • Width – 72.8 in.
  • Length – 205.5 in.
  • Wheelbase Length – 125.9 in.

6. Honda Ridgeline

Next on our list of the best small size pickup trucks is the Honda Ridgeline. The Honda Ridgeline has only one engine option. It is the 3.5-liter V6 engine that can deliver 280 hp and 262 lb-ft. of torque. This engine can provide the muscle you will need in all kinds of driving, whether in the city or on the highway. The engine is mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission.

The ride quality and handling of the Honda Ridgeline is one of the best in its class. It drives just like a car and is very well-mannered. Plus, it feels very composed on winding roads. On rough pavements, this truck rides smoothly.

The Honda Ridgeline can tackle difficult terrains like snow and mud because it is equipped with an all-wheel-drive plus a traction management system. With the right setup, it can tow a maximum of 5,000 pounds. This small truck has a maximum towing capacity of 1,580 pounds. As you can see, this is among the lowest payload and towing capacities in this class.

This small truck can get 19 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway with a front-wheel drive. If it has an all-wheel drive, this truck can achieve 19 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway.

The external dimensions of the Honda Ridgeline are the following:

  • Overall Height – 70.2 in.
  • Width – 78.6 in.
  • Length – 210.0 in.
  • Wheelbase Length – 125.2 in.

7. GMC Canyon

The GMC Canyon is available in three engine options. The four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine with 181 hp, the V6 engine that can produce 308 hp, and the four-cylinder engine that delivers 200 hp.

The base model is adequate for most driving requirements, and the diesel model unleashes its power. These trucks achieve the best in fuel ratings. The best option is the V6 model because it offers almost the same towing capability as the diesel model with relatively good fuel efficiency.

Driving this truck can be described as composed and comfortable. Its steering is accurate, and driving it is like driving an SUV, not a truck. On rough pavement, the ride is still smooth. But just like other small trucks, drive quality is smooth if the bed is loaded and not quite good if there’s none.

Every variant of the GMC Canyon has a 4WD trim. They are quite capable of negotiating difficult terrains, including mud. The AT4 trim has many off-road features, making it the best off-roader in its class.

The towing capacity of 7,700 pounds at maximum is among the highest in the class. Its payload capacity is a decent 1,605 pounds.

The Canyon fuel efficiency ratings are 19 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway for the base model. The V7 engine model gets 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. Diesel powertrain models get the best fuel ratings at 19 (city) and 28 (highway).

Here the external dimensions of the GMC Canyon:

  • Overall Height – 70.6 in.
  • Width – 74.3 in.
  • Length – 212.4 in.
  • Wheelbase Length – 128.3 in.

Conclusion – Best Small Pickup Trucks

So, what are the best small pickup trucks? The best small size pickup trucks available in the U.S. market, according to sales statistics for Q2 2020, are the following:

  1. Toyota Tacoma, 51,062 units sold
  2. Ford Ranger, 25,007 units sold
  3. Chevrolet Colorado, 19,843 units sold
  4. Jeep Gladiator, 19,568 units sold
  5. Nissan Frontier, 8,794 units sold
  6. Honda Ridgeline, 6,380 units sold
  7. GMC Canyon, 5,226 units sold

These compact to midsize pickup trucks have been topping the U.S. market year after year. They have built a faithful following among U.S. truck buyers because of their performance, reliability, and longevity. You won’t be disappointed choosing any of them as your daily driver.