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Published: May 01, 2023 7 min read
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A relatively new addition to the market, compact pickup trucks continue to gain popularity. And for good reason: These small pickups pair the utility of a truck with the comforts of an SUV, and their relatively small footprint makes them easy to park and maneuver. They are more fuel efficient than standard-sized pickups. They suit commuters, workers and families alike.

Using a step-by-step methodology, we evaluated the compact pickup trucks on the market for such attributes as value, features, performance, safety and technology. Below are our five top choices, with explanations on how each stands out from the pack. The specs listed below each review are for the trim level we assessed, which is the one we judged to offer the best value for money.

There's a smaller choice in size and alternative powertrains for pickup trucks than for cars or SUVs. Still, you can turn to our picks for the best full-sized pickup trucks or best electric pickup trucks.

Our Picks for the Best Compact Pickup Trucks of 2023

Ford Maverick — Best Overall and Best Value
Honda Ridgeline — Best for Features
GMC Canyon — Best for Handling
Chevrolet Colorado — Best for Safety
Toyota Tacoma — Best for Technology

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Reviews of the Best Compact Pickup Trucks

Best Overall and Best Value: Ford Maverick

Courtesy of Ford
  • Affordable
  • Agile and responsive ride
  • Few standard features

The Ford Maverick is popular with drivers seeking a compact pickup with a budget-friendly price. Upgrade to the XLT trim – one notch above the base model — for heated front seats and a heated steering wheel. Starting just below $25,000, the Maverick XLT – an abbreviation for Extra Luxurious Truck — is several thousand dollars cheaper than any model featured on this list. Plus, the Maverick boasts the best fuel economy ratings on this list due to its hybrid gas/electric powertrain, so you’ll save money at the pump.

We suggest upgrading to the truck’s optional 250-horsepower four-cylinder engine and all-wheel drive to enhance its capability. Inside, the Maverick features comfortable seating and above-average passenger space for the category.

However, lower trim levels come with few standard safety features. Buyers can add a blind-spot information system with cross-traffic alert and lane-keeping system to any trim for $650.

Best for features: Honda Ridgeline

Courtesy of Honda
  • Well-appointed cabin
  • Refined ride
  • Less off-road and towing capability than competitors

The Honda Ridgeline’s mid-grade RTL trim comes with leather upholstery and power-adjustable, heated front seats — features typically reserved for luxury cars. Upper trims feature a truck-bed audio system where you can listen to your favorite music through the truck’s bed walls.

Every trim comes with the Honda Sensing suite of safety equipment, which includes a collision-mitigation braking system, adaptive cruise control and a road-departure mitigation system. The RTL trim adds a blind spot information system with a cross-traffic monitor.

The Ridgeline has more than enough oomph to get around with its 280-horsepower V6 engine. With its unibody frame, the Ridgeline ride feels responsive and comfortable. However, the trade-off for this refined ride is less capability to tow and to go off-road.

Best for Handling: GMC Canyon

Courtesy of GMC
  • Powerful engine
  • Capable for towing and off-roading
  • Limited cab and bed configurations

The GMC Canyon is the most powerful in the bunch, using a robust turbo-four engine to deliver 310 horsepower. This gives the Canyon plenty of muscle for off-roading and towing.

The Elevation base model is well-equipped for just over $38,000. You’ll get wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a Wi-Fi hotspot and a large, 11.3-inch touch screen, when rivals’ screens only measure 7 or 8 inches. Heated front seats and premium black cloth upholstery are optional.

The Canyon has a mix of standard features like adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and lane-keeping assist.

Best for Safety: Chevrolet Colorado

Courtesy of Chevrolet
  • Plenty of safety features
  • Comfortable interior
  • Limited cab and bed choices

The Chevrolet Colorado comes with Chevy Safety Assist, a bundle of driver assistance features including forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking and lane-keep-assist with lane-departure warning. All models also come with Chevy’s Teen Driver system, a customizable feature where you can set speed and sound limits for younger drivers, and Buckle-to-Drive, which prevents the driver from shifting out of from park for 20 seconds if the seatbelt is not fastened.

Buyers can add rear cross-traffic braking, blind-zone steering assist and rear park assist for an additional $505. The $950 technology package adds adaptive cruise control, rear pedestrian alert and an HD surround vision system for $950.

The Colorado’s Trail Boss trim enhances off-road capability with a 2-inch factory suspension lift and wider track, 9.5 inches of ground clearance, larger tires and four drive modes.

Best for Technology: Toyota Tacoma

Courtesy of Toyota
  • Good off-roading ability
  • Optional connected services
  • Interior less comfortable than rivals

The Toyota Tacoma is the bestselling compact pickup truck on this list. The mid-tier TRD Off-Road trim comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless device charging and Toyota’s Entune Infotainment system, with an 8-inch touch screen.

Toyota also offers optional connected services where you can personalize your experience and monitor your vehicle from a smart device. Wi-Fi Connect includes a Wi-Fi hotspot. Drive Connect provides cloud-based navigation. Remote Connect locks and unlocks your doors using a compatible device, like a smartphone or smartwatch.

All models come with rear parking distance sensors and a collision warning system with automatic braking. Rear cross-traffic alert and blind spot warning sensors are available in the TRD Off-Road.

Jaclyn Trop is an award-winning journalist who road-tests and reviews vehicles, in addition to covering automotive news. Her byline has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Fortune, Consumer Reports and U.S. News & World Report, among other publications.

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