Given the typical use case for pickup trucks involving lots of off-road trips, ground clearance is an essential consideration for buyers. This is also true for compact trucks despite being a fairly new car segment. That said, only one compact pickup truck in the form of the 2022 Jeep Gladiator has ground clearance in the double digits.
Compact pickup trucks with the second-highest ground clearance
The two closest alternatives to the Jeep Gladiator where standard ground clearance is concerned are the 2022 Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier. The Toyota compact truck can be had for a $27,150 starting price with a 2.7 L inline-four engine. According to Toyota, buyers can also upgrade to the available V6 engine with better performance.
As for the transmission, Edmunds lists two options, i.e., the six-speed automatic or the six-speed manual. Nevertheless, buyers get RWD and 4WD options with the maximum towing and payload figures at 6,800 lbs and 1,685 lbs, respectively.
The difference in starting price between the Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma is only $1,540, with the Nissan’s MSRP at $28,690. Engine options are limited to a 3.8 L V6 with its 310 hp and 281 lb-ft torque performance figures. There’s only a nine-speed automatic transmission, although drivetrains vary between RWD and 4WD depending on trim.
Both the Tacoma and Frontier are tied in second place with 9.4 inches of standard ground clearance.
The Jeep Gladiator’s specs and features
Admirers of the Jeep Gladiator will have to fork out a lot more money for the base trim than they would for the Toyota Tacoma or Nissan Frontier. After all, its MSRP is $37,565, according to Jeep. The main engine option is a gas-powered 3.6 L V6, although getting the truck with a 3.0 L V6 diesel variant is also possible.
Despite the diesel engine having more torque, the 3.6 L V6 offers better towing capabilities and can pull up to 7,650 lbs. The payload for this option stands at 1,700 lbs. Nevertheless, 4WD is standard, with the six-speed manual being the most common transmission mated to the engine. However, some trim choices allow buyers to pick an eight-speed automatic.
Typical of the Jeep brand, the Gladiator is built for off-roading with optional features like front and rear locking differentials. There’s also the Off-Road+ button that optimizes performance for tasks like rock crawling. This is in addition to the 10-inch ground clearance available with the base model.
The compact truck with the least ground clearance
On the other end of the compact truck spectrum is the 2022 Honda Ridgeline, and surprisingly it’s in the same price range as the Gladiator. Honda‘s MSRP for the truck is $38,140. A singular V6 engine powers all four available trims. Also, the manufacturer kept it simple with the transmission choosing to fit a nine-speed automatic in all trim options.
AWD is standard, and given the similarities in engines, drivetrains, and transmission, all the vehicles in the lineup are capable of towing up to 5,000 lbs. The payload capacity varies slightly depending on the package, although the highest is rated for 1,583 lbs.
Ultimately the 2022 Honda Ridgeline offers only 7.6 inches of ground clearance and is the only compact truck with less than 8.0 inches. The closest alternative is the 2022 Ford Maverick at 8.3 inches.
Is 10 inches the highest lift for compact trucks?
Notably, the ground clearance figures mentioned above are only for the base models, and some truck manufacturers offer better clearance with upgraded trims. The Jeep Gladiator Mojave trim is a great example, and according to Edmunds, its ground clearance is 11.6 inches.