Does Size Matter? The Case for Buying a Small Truck

Recently, there has been an uptick in compact trucks entering the market. With models like the 2022 Ford Maverick and 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz, shoppers can get a small pickup that still has some legitimate utility. Better yet, these small trucks are actually affordable. And in a world where trucks are getting more and more expensive, that is something to be appreciated. But, is it worth it to buy a small pickup, or should you get something larger?

Does anyone make a small truck anymore?

Just a short year ago, the answer to that question would be no, but now, brands like Ford and Hyundai are bringing back small pickup trucks. While models like the Toyota Tacoma, Ford Ranger, and Nissan Frontier continue to grow in size, it appeared getting a truck with compact sizing would forever be impossible. Thankfully, that is no longer the case, and hopefully, more auto manufacturers choose to enter this pickup market segment. 

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz compact pickup truck/sport adventure vehicle parked near a lighthouse
2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz | Hyundai Motor America

That said, these trucks do have some trade-offs. Because both the Maverick and Santa Cruz are unibody trucks, they do not have the same capability as a vehicle that is body-on-frame. But unless you actually plan to haul or tow heavy items, you likely do not need the level of power. 

Should you buy a small truck?

 It’s easy to think you need a full-size truck, but according to The Drive, most truck owners do not actually use their trucks. But, in America, where bigger is typically seen as better, getting an oversized pickup is an attractive option.

With a small pickup, buyers can still get the truck ownership experience without some of the trade-offs. In the case of the Ford Maverick, this vehicle comes standard with a hybrid powertrain. And that means more efficiency in a time where gas prices only seem to be going up. 

Better yet, these trucks are cheaper than their larger counterparts. Instead of paying over $50,000 for a pickup, you can get a compact truck for under $30,000, which is something that is sure to be appreciated.

Who is making small pickups?

Currently, Ford and Hyundai are two manufacturers that build new compact trucks. In the future, it will be interesting who else joins the small truck market. Toyota could very well turn the RAV4 platform into a compact truck, which may have a hybrid engine and all-wheel drive.

A blue 2022 Ford Maverick compact pickup truck is towing a small trailer.
The 2022 Ford Maverick | Ford

Honda does have the Ridgeline truck, which does use unibody construction. But with its size, it is more of a mid-size model than a compact. Still, the Ridgeline has long been popular with critics due to its features and standard V6 engine. 

Perhaps what would be especially interesting is if an automotive brand introduced a true ute in the United States. Other countries like Australia have long had utes, which are essentially cars with truck beds. But in a place like America where the F-150 is one of the most popular vehicles, it’s not clear if even smaller pickups could win. Only the future will tell though, as gas prices continue to climb, maybe more shoppers will be ditching their large trucks.      

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