Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A grey 2023 Ford Maverick Tremor is shown from the side while off-road.

The Large Benefits of Compact Trucks

You want a vehicle that offers flexibility but doesn’t take up a lot of space. We get it. Big vehicles like full-size SUVs and pickup trucks aren’t for everyone. Yet you still need something capable of towing and hauling. Should you consider a compact truck? We think, yes! Not only do compact trucks offer drivers the convenience of a truck thanks to its open bed and performance capabilities, but they often offer better fuel economy than their full-size counterparts.

If you’re on the fence about whether a compact truck is right for you, then the truck experts are here to help. We’ve taken the liberty of looking into compact trucks to examine the benefits that a smaller vehicle can have and whether they might be right for you. So stop stressing and read on to find out if a compact truck is the answer to your problems.

What’s Considered a Compact Truck?

Before we get started, let’s make sure we’re on the same page. What is considered a compact truck? What’s the difference between a full-size, midsize, and compact truck? Don’t worry—we’ll keep it simple.

First, there is the full-size version of a truck. A full-size or standard truck is considerably large and will typically have a bigger engine capable of advanced towing and hauling. When you think of a full-size truck, picture a Ford F-150 or Chevy Silverado 1500.

What about midsize? Midsize trucks are pretty close to full-size trucks but typically have smaller payloads than their big brothers, along with downsized bodies which means smaller cabins with decreased head and legroom. Midsize trucks can normally be found for a lower price than full-size trucks. When picturing a midsize truck, think of the Chevy Colorado or a Nissan Frontier.

A white 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is shown from the rear at an angle.

Okay, so what about compact trucks? Where do they come in? A compact truck is smaller than a midsize truck. They are more consolidated than midsize trucks in both the bed and the cabin. These are ideal trucks for urban dwellers that need a reliable everyday ride yet with healthy towing and hauling capabilities; for those that don’t have a ton of wiggle room in terms of parking space or road width.

Compact trucks drive more like SUVs or cars than their big brothers, the full-size pickup. This means they are easier to control and offer more responsive handling, making them great when tackling heavy traffic or narrow streets. Compact trucks include the Ford Ranger and the Honda Ridgeline.

Don’t let the size fool you. While full-size trucks might dominate the market, there is more than enough room for the compact truck segment. Urban dwellers who need the performance of a truck with the control of a car will find the ideal combination in a compact truck.

What Are Some Benefits of a Compact Truck?

So now that you know the main differences between a full-size, midsize, and compact truck, it’s time to look at some of the benefits that a compact truck can offer drivers. Let’s start with the price. Because compact trucks are smaller than standard-size trucks, this can mean a lower price point, therefore making them more affordable. For the price of an entry-level standard-size truck, drivers can level up to a higher trim option or higher performing compact truck for often around the same amount. If you’re looking to get more for your dollar, the compact truck is the perfect blend of value and performance.

Great Fuel Economy

With prices at the pumps in constant flux these days, having a vehicle that takes your farther for less is at the top of many drivers’ minds. While the auto industry is always working to make more fuel-efficient vehicles, bigger trucks will still typically have a lower fuel economy than smaller vehicles. Compact trucks are naturally smaller and lighter than full-size and midsize trucks, yet they still offer plenty of power for towing and hauling needs. Opting for a compact truck means you won’t just be saving money on the sticker price, but you’ll be saving a few dollars every time you stop to fuel up.

The Ideal Urban Ride

If you need a flexible vehicle for towing or hauling in the city, a compact truck is an ideal vehicle. Because of its smaller stature, the compact truck offers responsive steering and nimble handling, often more like a car or compact SUV than a full-size truck. Compact trucks are the perfect tool for handling paved roads. However, many still have options that allow drivers to upgrade them with more performance to increase off-roading potential if desired.

Since compact trucks take up less space that means tackling narrow streets or navigating through urban traffic will be easier than with a larger vehicle. And when it comes to securing that perfect parking space? A compact truck is more likely to fit than a standard-size truck that might require as much as twice the room to safely parallel park it.

Towing & Hauling

Compact trucks might not have the extreme beastly power of a full-size or even midsize truck or an SUV, but they still have more than enough when it comes to hauling boxes, building materials, or even pulling a small trailer.

Compact trucks offer flexibility that SUVs or sedans don’t. Thanks to its open bed, it’s easy to load and unload furniture, landscaping materials, and moving boxes at a volume that smaller vehicles can’t handle. This means fewer trips across town.

Save money and unlock the power and flexibility of a truck without blowing your budget when you opt for a compact truck over a larger model.

A grey 2023 Ford Maverick Tremor is shown from the rear while loaded with a dirt bike.

Best Compact Trucks

Maybe now that you’ve learned of the benefits of a compact truck, you might be wondering what are some of the best models to look out for. Luckily for you, all the biggest names tend to offer at least one compact truck model. We’ve chosen to highlight just a couple of our favorites.

At the top of many lists is the Honda Ridgeline. Ridgeline drivers get access to Honda’s world-famous engineering, compliments of the truck’s peppy V6 engine. The compact truck’s powertrain plus all-wheel drive gives the truck plenty of power and towing potential.

The Jeep Gladiator is our top pick for an off-roading compact truck. This vehicle has all the good looks of a Jeep, along with all the power you’d expect. The practical design of the truck makes it great for everyday errands or if you’re looking to bring along extra gear to get away for the weekend. The Gladiator works for drivers downtown and out of town.

The Ford Maverick has a reputation for being a long-lasting truck at an affordable price. Drivers looking to get behind the wheel of a truck often turn to the Maverick because of its healthy towing and hauling capabilities and its low maintenance.

Pick Up a Compact Pickup Today

There’s a reason that compact trucks are growing in popularity with drivers. Not only are more and more people moving to cities, but with less space and the need to reduce our carbon footprints, drivers can depend on compact trucks to get the job done without hurting their wallets.

Compact trucks can often be had for a lower price point than full-size trucks. They also offer drivers the benefits of better fuel economy and smoother handling. If you’re stuck deciding whether you want an SUV or a truck, consider a compact truck the perfect solution.