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While truck purists aren’t too keen on the new SUV-like compact and midsize pickup trucks, the segment continues to grow year over year. Trucks like the Ford Maverick, Hyundai Santa Cruz, and Honda Ridgeline prove there’s room for everyone in the pickup segment. Here’s a look at the growing compact and midsize pickup classes. 

A rise in SUV-styled pickup trucks 

2023 trucks: A 2023 Santa Cruz Night parked in front of a night sky with a city scene
2023 Santa Cruz | Hyundai Motor Company

New truck releases show an influx of SUV-inspired pickup trucks like the Ford Maverick, Hyundai Santa Cruz, and Honda Ridgeline.

According to Kelley Blue Book, the 2023 Ford Maverick is the best compact truck of 2023. The Maverick offers three trim levels, with the base model starting at $22,595. This compact pickup seats five, can tow up to 2,000 pounds, and gets 21 to 37 mpg. 

KBB lists the Hyundai Santa Cruz in the number-six spot in most fuel-efficient trucks. The compact Santa Cruz combines SUV-like comfort with truck-like utility. This 2023 truck offers five trims, with the MSRP on the base model starting at $25,700. The Santa Cruz’s bed is small at just four feet long but has a rollaway locking cover, making this compact pickup an attractive sports adventure vehicle. 

Looking at the 2023 Honda Ridgeline, KBB places the pickup in the number four spot on its list of the best midsize trucks. The Ridgeline makes 280 hp, gets 21 mpg combined, and can tow up to 5,000 pounds. While the Maverick and Santa Cruz slot in the compact truck category, the slightly larger Ridgeline is considered a midsize pickup. With that increased size comes a heftier price tag. The Ridgeline offers four trim options, with the base model retailing for around $38,800. 

Purists are not happy with the small 2023 trucks 

While the Ford Maverick and the Honda Ridgeline maintain a truck-like appearance with subtle SUV features, the Hyundai Santa Cruz looks like an SUV with a truck bed carved into the cargo area. As it turns out, truck purists are not fond of the Santa Cruz design and find the Maverick and Ridgeline barely tolerable. 

These trucks have drawn mixed reviews. However, one thing is clear: These new SUV-styled pickup trucks have taken some heat. Truck purists have made it known they aren’t fans of the new designs. However, the Maverick, Ridgeline, and Santa Cruz were never made for truck enthusiasts. Rather, each was designed to fill a gap in the market for consumers looking for an SUV-like vehicle that could still provide a truck’s utility.  

Moving beyond traditional body-on-frame pickups 

Despite truck enthusiasts’ disdain for the SUV-like compact and midsize pickups, their sales speak volumes. Sales of the Ford Maverick, Hyundai Santa Cruz, and Honda Ridgeline have climbed year over year. Data shows the Maverick is up over 11%, the Santa Cruz is up over 10%, and the Ridgeline is up over 40% in the United States.

So, although there will probably always be a debate about whether these SUV-like pickups should be considered trucks, it doesn’t look like this segment will vanish anytime soon. Instead, smaller pickups that provide an SUV-like feel are filling a gap in the market and generating significant sales for manufacturers like Ford, Honda, and Hyundai. 


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