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It’s an exciting time for Ford truck fans interested in the best compact pickup trucks. While absent for a time, the Maverick’s emergence and the Ranger’s reintroduction exemplify Ford’s commitment to the segment. But how do the new Fords stack up against the competition and each other? And which models are truly the best compact trucks of 2023?

Front angle view of blue 2023 Ford Maverick, showing how no new American cars cost under $20,000 in 2023
2023 Ford Maverick | Ford

The 2023 Ford Maverick is affordable and exciting

The 2023 Ford Maverick landed fourth out of nine entrants on a recent U.S. News list of “Best Compact Pickup Trucks for 2022 and 2023.” The new Maverick features a low starting price of around $22,000 and delivers decent fuel economy, a comfortable interior, confident handling, and enough power to get around town.

The optional “4K Tow package” allows the EcoBoost, all-wheel drive (AWD) equipped models to tow up to 4,000 pounds, as the name suggests. Other models, including the Hybrid, limit the towing capacity to 2,000 pounds. In addition, the 2023 Maverick offers a choice of two drivetrains, the standard front-wheel drive (FWD) available with both powertrains and AWD on EcoBoost-equipped trucks. 

The base Hybrid powertrain uses a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor to deliver 191 horsepower, 155 lb-ft of torque, and an estimated 42 mpg city and 33 mpg highway.

For more power and the option for AWD, choose the 250-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost with 277 lb-ft of torque and an estimated 23 mpg city and 30 mpg highway with FWD or 22/29 mpg with AWD. The Hybrid drivetrain includes a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), and the EcoBoost uses an eight-speed automatic. 

The 2023 Ford Ranger is a capable little truck

The 2023 Ford Ranger finished eighth on the list as a newly redesigned model. But, with a starting price of $27,400, it can’t compete with the less expensive Maverick’s ride, handling, cabin refinement, or fuel economy. However, the Ranger wins the battle for towing and hauling capacity. 

The Ranger comes in two configurations: the SuperCab with two full-size front doors, two small rear doors, and a six-foot bed, and the SuperCrew with four full-size doors and a five-foot bed. Three trim levels include the basic XL, the well-equipped XLT, and the more expensive Lariat.

All 2023 Ford Rangers come with the same 270-hp turbocharged 2.3-liter with 310 lb-ft of torque, a ten-speed automatic transmission, and standard rear-wheel drive, with the option for four-wheel drive. Fuel economy estimates top out at 21 mpg city and 26 mpg highway, with some package options reducing those estimates. 

While the Ranger rides and handles fine for a pickup truck, the Maverick’s unibody outperforms the Ranger’s body-on-frame construction. Inside the cab, the standard Ranger has a 3.5-inch infotainment touchscreen, but there’s a 4.2-inch screen available along with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, navigation, and a 10-speaker premium audio system.

The near absence of standard modern features and its “cheap and outdated” interior keep it near the bottom of the segment. However, the 2023 Ranger boasts a towing capacity of 7,500 pounds putting it near the top of the compact truck class. 

The best compact pickup trucks

The top three compact pickup trucks on the list include the top-ranked 2023 Honda Ridgeline, the 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz, and the 2023 Jeep Gladiator. With starting prices close to $40,000, the Ridgeline and Gladiator are the two most expensive compact trucks available.

However, the Honda Ridgeline is a good choice if you’re seeking an SUV-like ride and comfort in a compact pickup. Or, if you want legendary off-road capability in a small truck package, it’s hard to argue against the Jeep Gladiator. 


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