Big capability with smaller sizing.

7 Best Small Trucks | CarMax

Are you in the market for a truck? Like their bigger cousins, most compact pickup trucks offer interior comfort, driver-assistance features, great audio systems, and updated technology. And small trucks can be easy to navigate on city streets, so you can take your truck from off-road to on-road without any trouble.

To help you on your search, we’ve compiled a list of the six best small trucks for 2021 shoppers, based on CarMax sales data from April 1, 2020 through September 30, 2020.

  1. Ford Ranger
  2. Honda Ridgeline
  3. GMC Canyon
  4. Chevrolet Colorado
  5. Nissan Frontier
  6. Toyota Tacoma

Best Small Trucks: Ford Ranger Lariat | CarMax

After being discontinued in 2011, the Ford Ranger returned for model year 2019. The 2019-2020 Ranger boasts modern styling, a range of versatile trims, and a selection of packages so you can find a Ranger to suit your needs. Choose a SuperCab with seating for four and a six-foot bed, or a SuperCrew with seating for five and a five-foot bed.

The 2019-2020 Ford Ranger is available in XL, XLT, and Lariat trims, with a 2.3L four-cylinder turbocharged engine producing 270 horsepower with 310 lb.-ft. of torque. Off-road capability includes a choice of the FX4 Off-Road Package or the Tremor Off-Road Package (2021 only). There are also a range of appearance packages, including an XL Chrome Package and STX Appearance Package.

The 2019-2020 Ford Ranger has the following standard features:

  • Rear-wheel drive with available four-wheel drive
  • Maximum estimated payload: 1,860 lbs. and maximum estimated towing: 7,500 lbs. — with the 2.3L engine, when properly equipped1
  • Automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection
  • Available Wi-Fi hotspot connectivity for up to 10 devices2

Best Small Trucks: Honda Ridgeline | CarMax

The Honda Ridgeline returned in 2017 after a three-year hiatus. It does a great job combining the capability of a truck with superior ride comfort and a range of standard features. It’s available in up to six trims, with the RT and RTL-T discontinued after 2019, and is powered by a 3.5L V6 engine producing 280 horsepower and 262 lb.-ft. of torque.

There’s a standard in-bed trunk and dual-action tailgate that either flips down or to the side to provide easier bed access. The Honda Ridgeline also has an available truck bed audio system.

The 2020 model year boasts standard features including a nine-speed automatic transmission, eight-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™ capability, automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and adaptive cruise control.

The 2017-2020 Honda Ridgeline has the following standard features:

  • Front-wheel drive with available four-wheel drive
  • Maximum estimated payload: 1,584 lbs. and maximum estimated towing: 5,000 lbs. — with the V6 engine, when properly equipped1
  • Push-button start
  • Multi-angle rearview camera

Best Small Trucks: GMC Canyon | CarMax

The GMC Canyon is available in a range of up to six trims with two cab options, two bed lengths, and seating for up to five. There are also three powertrain options, which include a turbodiesel. This makes it easy to configure the Canyon to fit your needs. The extended cab has a six-foot-two-inch bed, and the crew cab adds the option of a five-foot-two-inch bed.

Every Canyon has a locking tailgate, two-tier loading that makes better use of the bed, and 13 tie-down locations for securing loads. Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability became standard for the 2018 model year. A new infotainment system was added for 2019 with expanded availability of wireless charging, an HD rear vision camera, and available 4G Wi-Fi hotspot capability.2 The 2020 GMC Canyon boasts an available remote-locking tailgate and increased availability of forward collision warning and lane departure warning.

The 2017-2020 GMC Canyon has the following standard features:

  • Rear-wheel drive with available four-wheel drive
  • Maximum estimated payload: 1,620 lbs. and maximum estimated towing: 7,600 lbs. (7,700 lbs. for 2020 only) — with the turbodiesel engine, when properly equipped1
  • CornerStep rear bumper
  • Teen Driver technology

Best Small Trucks: Chevrolet Colorado | CarMax

The Chevrolet Colorado is a performance truck with seating for up to five passengers and a choice of three powertrains, including a turbodiesel. There’s an extended cab with a six-foot-two-inch bed and a crew cab that adds the option of a five-foot-two-inch bed.

For 2017-2020 models, there’s a choice of three trims (WT, LT, and Z71); the Z71 boasts off-road performance styling and features. An available EZ Lift-and-Lower tailgate is designed to make loading cargo easier, and there’s a two-tier loading system with 13 tie-downs (2017 onward).

The 2017-2020 Chevrolet Colorado has the following standard features:

  • Rear-wheel drive with available four-wheel drive
  • Maximum estimated payload: 1,548 lbs. and maximum estimated towing: 7,700 lbs. — both with the turbodiesel engine, when properly equipped1
  • CornerStep rear bumper
  • Available 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot connectivity2

Best Small Trucks: Nissan Frontier | CarMax

The 2017-2019 Nissan Frontier is available in five trims with a choice of two beds and two cabs. The King Cab has room for four with a long bed, and the Crew Cab has room for five with a choice of either a long or short bed.

2017-2019 trims include the PRO-4X and Desert Runner, boasting features designed for those who plan to go off-road. The 2018 Frontier added a rearview camera and Bluetooth® connectivity as standard features, while the 2019 model year made a seven-inch infotainment touchscreen standard.

The 2020 Frontier debuted a 3.8L V6 engine and nine-speed automatic transmission; all other powertrain options were discontinued. The next generation of the Nissan Frontier debuts with the 2021 model year.

The 2017-2020 Nissan Frontier has the following standard features:

  • Rear-wheel drive with available four-wheel drive
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Rear under-seat storage

Best Small Trucks: Toyota Tacoma | CarMax

At the top of our list, the Toyota Tacoma is a versatile compact truck with two cab styles, two bed lengths, multiple powertrain options, and six trims. Standard on every Tacoma is a locking tailgate with tie-down cleats for securing cargo with bold styling.

The 2018 model year added a standard driver-assistance package for your peace of mind. The 2020 Tacoma expands on that with standard infotainment features including Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Amazon Alexa® connectivity. It also adds either a seven-inch or eight-inch touchscreen. The 2021 Tacoma adds Trail and Nightshade special edition packages.

The 2017-2020 Toyota Tacoma has the following standard features:

  • Rear-wheel drive with available four-wheel drive
  • Entune® audio system
  • Hill start assist

Compact trucks offer the versatility to manage cargo with comfortable interiors and a wide range of features. One of these small trucks may be just the right truck for you.

Looking to learn more? Check out these related articles:

1Various factors may impact towing capacity, including weight of passengers, cargo, and options/accessories.
2Wi-Fi hotspots require a data plan to activate and may also require a compatible device. See the owner’s manual or manufacturer website for more information
Unless otherwise noted, information related to these featured vehicles comes from third-party sources, including manufacturer information. Product and company names may be trademarks or registered trademarks of third-party entities. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by these entities.

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