Since the late 1950s, small but mighty vehicles, also known as compact pick-ups or mini trucks, have been introduced to the US market. Despite limited cabin and cargo space, compact pickups are used as workhorses and are gaining popularity for many good reasons. That said, very few automakers are daring enough to focus on compact pickups rather than the market favorites, the medium and large models.
Compact pickup buyers generally need all the power they can get, but don’t want the stress and expense of owning larger vehicles. Some people are uncomfortable with larger trucks because they can create a blind spot for owners of smaller vehicles and pedestrians. Also, parking larger pickups on narrow roads isn’t exactly the best safety decision. But whatever the reason you need compact pickups, here are the ten best available on the used market today.
10 Honda Ridgeline 2020
The Honda Ridgeline is based on the Pilot and looks like a crossover with a bed. For the Ridgeline, Honda sacrifices towing and handling capabilities for on-road comfort, which is kind of what compact pickup buyers are looking for. Power for the 2020 Honda Ridgeline comes from a smooth 3.5-liter V6 engine that delivers 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque.
Hardly any engine and transmission issues filed by Ridgeline owners in 2020, and JD Power regards the compact Ridgeline pickup as very reliable, with a score of 81 out of 100.
9 2020 Chevrolet Colorado
Brilliantly made to work at a fast pace, the Chevrolet Colorado 2020 offers all the comfort and pleasure needed while working. The four-wheel shape-shifter is available in two cab sizes and two load floor lengths. With its three powertrain options – a basic 4-cylinder, fast 308 horsepower V6 and the GM-exclusive Duramax® 2.8L Turbo-Diesel – it won’t be difficult to find one that fits your needs.
The diesel-powered Colorado can tow up to 7,700 pounds, which is pretty good for a compact pickup. To make the Colorado 2020 more reliable, Chevrolet has equipped it with four-wheel disc brakes with Duralife® disc brakes. So it is not surprising that J.D. Power scores the 2020 Colorado high on reliability, with the same score as the Honda Ridgeline. There has also been no recall on the 2020 Colorado.
8 2004 Chevrolet S-10
If you want an old-school truck with a powerful V6 and remarkable off-road capability at an affordable price, the 2004 Chevrolet S-10 is a great option. The 2004 Chevrolet S-10 is only available in double cab form and comes with a 4.5 ft cargo floor. The compact truck can carry a trailer that weighs approximately 5,200 pounds.
Chevrolet has equipped the five-seater 2004 S-10 with front bins and a rear seat. You’ll find a 4.3-liter Vortec V6 engine under the hood of the S-10, and it pumps out 190 horsepower and 250 lb-ft of torque. 57% of S-10 reviewers agree Edmunds gave it a five-star rating, while 32% gave it a four-star rating with no serious complaints.
7 2018 Mitsubishi Triton Surpass
The Mitsubishi Triton is the true definition of small but mighty, and no wonder it has surpassed most of its competitors. The 2018 Mitsubishi Triton Exceed runs on a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder turbo diesel engine that produces 178 horsepower and 317 lb-ft of torque. Although the Mitsubishi Triton is not available in America, it has sold quite well in countries like Australia, Thailand, the Philippines and Mexico.
For a compact pickup smaller than the Ford Ranger, the Mitsubishi Triton, which seats five, offers ample head and legroom for all occupants. The Triton Exceed turns well through tight turns and pulls up to 6,834 pounds.
6 2018 Volkswagen Amarok
The 2018 Volkswagen Amarok comes with huge improvements in the interior and exterior, so it’s not hard to see why the German automaker sold over 88,950 units despite not being available in the North American market. The new 3.0-liter V6 TDI powertrain produces 220 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque, and the truck takes 7.9 seconds to reach 100 km/h.
The Volkswagen Amarok is a practical machine for those looking for a truck for their weekend trip or who want to work during the week. It can tow a braked trailer weighing up to 7,716 pounds.
5 2017 GMC Canyon
The GMC Canyon has many similarities to the Chevrolet Colorado, with some minor packaging differences here and there. With the rugged, burly appearance of the Canyon, you can tell it’s strong and able to take on hilly or mountainous areas. The base 2.5-liter inline-four cranks out 200 horsepower and 191 lb-ft of torque without any effort.
If you want more power, opt for the 308-horsepower V-6 engine, with a 7,700-pound towing capacity. With proper maintenance, your GMC Canyon can shoot past 300,000 miles†
4 2020 Toyota Tacoma
With the large grille, flared fenders and LED daytime running lights, the 2020 Tacoma is unmissable on the road. The Tacoma’s interior is well-appointed, and some new technologies include a 7.0-inch touchscreen and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
The 2020 Tacoma gets its power from a 2.7-liter inline-four with 159 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque. If you need more power, the 3.5-liter V6 that makes 278 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque would be a better fit. With a healthy maintenance culture, your Toyota Tacoma can serve you from 300,000 to 400,000 miles†
3 2016 Ford Ranger
Another pretty good truck that never made it to American shores is the Ford Ranger. This is because Ford has done everything it can to push the F-series in North America. Ford has equipped the 2016 Ranger with a host of advanced technology, including Ford’s voice-activated SYNC 2 connectivity system; Hill Launch Assist and Adaptive Load Control.
The 2016 Ranger offers two turbo diesel engines: the 155 hp/283 lb-ft 2.2-liter 4-cylinder and the larger 194 hp/346 lb-ft five-cylinder. Your Ford Ranger can serve you for more than 20 years or approximately 300,000 miles with regular maintenance.
2 Nissan Frontier 2019
If you need a tough truck with plenty of muscle and hauling capacity to help you get the job done, the 2019 Nissan Frontier is pretty much all you’ll ever need. The 2019 Frontier costs about $27,000 in the used car market and is an inexpensive alternative to GMC Canyon and Toyota Tacoma.
The 2019 Frontier has a base inline-4 engine that produces 152 horsepower and a top-of-the-line 4.0-liter V6 that produces 261 horsepower. There are not so many complaints about the Frontierand owners believe it can get up to 200,000 miles with regular maintenance.
1 2009 Ford Explorer Sport Trac
The first thought that comes to mind when you first hear the name is whether the Ford Explorer Sport Trac is an SUV or a pickup truck. The Sport Trac is a pickup based on the Explorer SUV. Ford simply replaced the Explorer’s rear cargo area with a 4.5-foot bed to introduce the Sport Trac pickup.
The 2009 Explorer Sport Trac’s base 4.0-liter V6 powertrain works with a 5-speed automatic transmission to produce 210 horsepower, while the top-end 4.6-liter V8 makes 292 horsepower and tows up to 7,160 pounds. The 2009 Ford Explorer Sport Trac, which has no recallscan reach 200,000 miles.
The 5 Best Trucks We Saw in 2019 (and the 5 Worst)
About the author