Big-truck power in a small package.
It used to be that pickup trucks were Spartan, bare-bones vehicles, used only for hauling and towing heavy loads. Today's small trucks are versatile enough for running your daily errands, transporting your family and friends, and occasional adventuring—all while accommodating you and your passengers with the latest in modern convenience and comfort.
If purchasing a small truck is on your horizon, you've probably noticed that there are a lot of great options. To help you find the best small truck for you, here is a list of the 7 best small trucks for 2019, based on CarMax sales data from November 1, 2018 through April 30, 2019.
Kicking off the list of best selling small trucks is the Ford Explorer Sport Trac. Ending production in 2010, the Ford Explorer Sport Trac still remains a favorite among small truck owners. Available in 2WD, 4WD, and all-wheel-drive configurations, the Explorer Sport Trac is a versatile option if you're looking for a rig that can do truck things but without the big truck personality. XLT and Limited trim levels (2007–2010 models) are both available with either a 4.0L V6 or 4.6L V8. V6 models are equipped with a five-speed automatic while the V8s get a six-speed auto—both with overdrive.
Nothing says small truck like the class Ford Ranger. Originally the Ranger was a trim package available on the full-size Ford F-Series trucks but by the early 1980s, the Ford Ranger branched off to become its own model and became known as a rugged and versatile small truck.
The Ford Ranger took a brief hiatus in North America after 2011 but returned for 2019, completely redesigned and packed with the latest in creature comforts and technology. Current-generation (2019 to present) Ford Rangers are powered by a 2.3L Ecoboost four-cylinder engine and are backed by a 10-speed automatic transmission. Trim levels include the base XL, XLT, and trim-topping Lariat.
Opting for the Lariat trim package will get you leather-trimmed seats, LED headlights and taillights, and intelligent access with push-button start—all adding a little luxury to your small pickup.
The Honda Ridgeline is one of the most unique small trucks on the market. The Ridgeline is a great option for those looking for the perfect marriage between the driving habits of a car and the utility advantages of a small truck. The 280-hp V6 and six-speed automatic transmission on 2017 and newer models provide peppy acceleration and its minivan-based roots allow for a luxurious ride.
Trim packages on the second generation (2017 to present) include the RT, Sport, RTL, RTL-T, RTL-E, and the Black Edition. All models come as a crew cab and all-wheel drive is an option for all trims aside from the base RT—AWD comes as standard on the range-topping RTL-E and Black Edition.
The GMC Canyon is the upscale cousin to the Chevrolet Colorado. Both of these small trucks are based on the same platform and share the same powertrain options. Small truck buyers looking for the utility provided by a pickup truck but with luxury features found on more upscale cars should explore the SLT and Denali trim packages of the GMC Canyon.
The Denali trim package (available from 2016 onward) includes heated and ventilated leather seats and extra efforts from GM to make the Canyon extra quiet, such as triple door seals, and liquid-applied sound deadener. The 2018 GMC Canyon is available with three different engine options which include a 2.5L four-cylinder, 3.6L V6, and 2.8L turbo diesel.
Equipped with the V6, the 2018 Canyon can tow an estimated 7000 Ibs. (when properly equipped) while the diesel option bumps that figure up to an estimated 7700 Ibs. when properly equipped.1
The Colorado is one of the most versatile small trucks on the market today with second-generation (2012 to present) trim options that range from the bare-bones work truck like the WT package to the wild off-road-oriented ZR2. The Colorado is best-suited for off-road duties. The Chevy Colorado comes standard with two seats in the base model across all years. Above that trim level, the extended cab models come with two rear seat. The crew cab offers seating for five and more space for adult passengers with 35.8 inches of leg room in the back in the 2018 model. This model offers nine different colors, active tow system, off-road appearance package and optional wireless charging.
The Nissan Frontier will appeal to your practical side. The ruggedly-styled Frontier has carried the same body style since 2004 and while it has received some technology updates over the years, it has essentially soldiered on through to 2019 without any significant changes. The Frontier is available in five trim variations (across all models from 2004), including the S, SV, Desert Runner, Pro-4X, and SL. For those that still like a hands-on approach, the Nissan Pro-4X comes with a six-speed manual transmission and Bilstein off-road performance shocks.
Topping the list of best small trucks is the Toyota Tacoma. Packed with features, the Tacoma offers an adventurous and rugged ride. The third-generation (2016 to present) Tacoma is available with a number of cab, bed length, and powertrain configurations giving you a broad spectrum of choices and styles. 2016 to present models come with one of two engines: a 2.7L inline-four engine or a 3.5L V6 engine for a little more grunt. Third-generation models also offer some great off-road features too. Particularly with the TRD trim, which allows you to choose between different types of terrain—such as loose rock, mud, and sand—designed for better traction.
As you can see, some of these small trucks could rival their bigger stablemates, making them a versatile choice if you're looking for utility without the big footprint. Regardless of your goals with a small truck, there are plenty of options for you.
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1Various factors may impact towing capacity, including weight of passengers, cargo, and options/accessories.
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