Trucks & SUVs

The 5 Highest-Rated Compact Pickup Trucks of 2021 According to U.S. News

There are plenty of options to choose from when shopping for a new compact pickup truck. So many choices, in fact, that you might find yourself feeling overwhelmed when trying to choose the best pickup truck for your needs. Fortunately, U.S. News & World Report makes shopping for the highest-rated compact pickup trucks of 2021 a pretty easy feat. 

Pictured is a red 2021 Honda Ridgeline, one of the highest-rated compact pickup trucks of 2021.
2021 Ridgeline Sport with HPD Package. | Honda

The Toyota Tacoma is among the highest-rated compact pickup trucks of 2021

While the Toyota Tacoma may be U.S. News & World Reports’ lowest ranking compact pickup truck of 2021, this year’s model did earn a 7.3 overall score. According to U.S. News & World Report, this year’s Tacoma offers all of the off-road performance features you’ll need for taking on the trails. You can also expect the 2021 Toyota Tacoma to tow up to 6,800-pounds when properly equipped. 

Unfortunately, it’s the 2021 Toyota Tacoma’s underpowered 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine and tight rear seating that kept it from earning a higher score. U.S. News & World Report added that the Toyota Tacoma’s less than smooth ride contributed to its lower score too. 

2021 Toyota Tacoma parked on the trails
2021 Toyota Tacoma | Toyota

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Check out the 2021 GMC Canyon for a capable compact pickup truck 

According to U.S. News & World Report, the 2021 GMC Canyon was able to outrank the 2021 Toyota Tacoma with a 7.7 overall score. Its multiple powertrain options, reasonable fuel economy ratings, and towing and hauling capabilities are what gave it the edge, says U.S. News & World Report. Though, that shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. The Canyon is available with three different engines, delivers an EPA-estimated 21 mpg combined, and can tow up to 7,700-pounds when properly equipped.

Here’s the thing, the GMC Canyon did take a hit for its interior quality. U.S. News & World Report explained, “The Canyon’s interior, though attractive, includes some low-rent materials that feel a bit cheap, and the seats could be more supportive.” Fortunately, this compact pickup truck’s infotainment features are reportedly fairly straightforward, so it’s not all bad news.

2021 GMC Canyon sales have jumped thanks to this AT4 Off-Road- Performance Edition
2021 GMC Canyon AT4 Off-Road performance Edition | GMC

RELATED: The 2021 GMC Canyon Just Got Better for 1 Type of Driver

Consider the Chevy Colorado for one of the highest-rated compact pickup trucks of 2021

U.S. News & World Report gave the 2021 GMC Canyon a 7.7 overall score too. According to U.S. News & World Report, this year’s new Chevy Colorado benefits from multiple powertrain options, a smooth ride and good handling, and easy-to-use infotainment features. Much like the GMC Canyon, this compact pickup truck can also tow an impressive amount. A whopping 7,700-pounds, to be exact.

Unfortunately, similar to the GMC Canyon, the Chevy Colorado’s interior does leave room for improvement. U.S. News & World Report explained, “The Colorado definitely feels like a truck inside. While it looks fairly modern, there are plenty of hard plastics and low-grade materials throughout the cabin.”

An orange 2021 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 driving
2021 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 | Chevy

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The Ford Ranger is the second-highest-rated compact pickup truck of 2021 according to U.S. News

According to U.S. News & World Report, the 2021 Ford Ranger earned a significantly higher score than the 2021 Chevy Colorado. In fact, according to U.S. News & World Report, the 2021 Ford Ranger was able to secure an 8.0 overall score, making it one of the highest-rated compact pickup trucks of 2021. With its composed handling, best-in-class payload capacity, and fuel-efficient engine, that’s not all too surprising.

U.S. News & World Report added that this year’s Ranger comes outfitted with comfortable seats. SuperCrew models provide more rear-seat space than many of the Ford Ranger’s competitors too. Unfortunately, according to U.S. News & World Report, the Ranger’s interior isn’t the most stylish. 

“Materials quality is OK for the class, but you won’t confuse this for a luxury vehicle, as there are plenty of hard plastics sprinkled about,” U.S. News & World Report explained.

A 2021 Ford Ranger Tremor Lariat trim on the trails
2021 Ford Ranger Tremor Lariat | Ford

RELATED: The 2021 Ford Ranger Is an Affordable Pickup Worth Your Attention

The 2021 Honda Ridgeline ranks as U.S. News’ best compact pickup truck of 2021

As for U.S. News & World Reports’ highest-ranking compact pickup truck? Well, that honor goes to the 2021 Honda Ridgeline. U.S. News & World Report gave this year’s model an 8.4 overall score. Its brawny engine, refined ride, and “handsome cabin materials” all contributed to the Honda Ridgeline’s high score. Unlike other compact pickup trucks, this year’s Ridgeline also boasts some pretty impressive safety ratings.  

However, there are some downsides worth considering. While the 2021 Honda Ridgeline may be the highest-rated pickup truck of 2021, according to U.S. News & World Report, its bed is shorter than most pickups. With a maximum towing capacity of 5,000-pounds, the Honda Ridgeline doesn’t provide the most towing power either.

A gray 2021 Honda Ridgeline with bronze HPD wheels and two red dirt bikes in the bed in a mountain forest
2021 Honda Ridgeline with HPD accessories | Honda

RELATED: Honda Ridgeline Owners Are More Satisfied With Their Trucks Than Toyota Owners

Which new compact pickup truck should you buy?

There’s a lot to like about each of these new compact pickup trucks. That’s why, when it comes to choosing the best pickup truck for your needs, we recommend taking each of these options for a test drive.