Best Small Trucks for 2013

By

Automotive Editor

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009, and has seen himself published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also works as editor in chief for a large performance car online publication. His specialty lays in the high-performance realm, but has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Prior to being an automotive writer, he was an automotive technician and manager for six years, but spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

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, Automotive Editor - November 20, 2014

Compact pickup trucks are a rather polarizing segment, as they aren't as rugged and powerful as their Full-Size siblings. However, they are far more fuel-efficient and are easier to drive than their larger siblings, making them perfect for daily driving.

We've researched the the current crop of compact pickup trucks and have come up with our list of the Top 5 Compact Pickup Trucks you can buy right now. When shopping for the best compact pickup trucks, there are three main attributes you should take into consideration: ease of use, fuel economy and utility (towing and payload). The first two are found on every pickup in this segment. Nearly all of these pickups have a smaller and easier-to-handle footprint along with refined four-cylinder engines. The latter, however, is a little tougher to find thanks to the lower horsepower and lighter construction of these smaller trucks.

If towing and hauling is high on your list of priorities, you may want to consider shopping for a Full-Size Truck. Click here to see our 2013 Full-Size Truck Buying Guide.

Toyota Tacoma
Solid, Reliable and Best-In-Class Small Truck
Toyota Tacoma

he Toyota Tacoma has been around longer than nearly every truck on this list, as it actually dates back to the Toyota Hi-Lux pickup, which began in 1969. A name change midway through the 1995 model year turned the Hi-Lux into the Tacoma in the U.S. market. It longevity makes it no surprise that it remains a leader in the compact pickup class. The 2013 Tacoma offers up super-low pricing – starts at just over $17K – a fuel-sipping base four-cylinder engine that delivers 159 horsepower, an optional 236-horsepower V-6 engine and a stout 6,500-pound towing capacity. That all adds up to one of the best compact trucks available today.

EPA-rated fuel economy: Up to 21 city/25 highway.

Nissan Frontier
Timeless Styling and Affordable Pricing Make it an Excellent Value
Nissan Frontier

The 2012 Nissan Frontier sits in that grey area between compact and full-size, but it is still known as a compact truck. The Frontier comes standard with a 152-horsepower, four-cylinder engine, but the real fun comes from its optional 4.0-liter V-6 engine that delivers a solid 261 horsepower and an outstanding 281 foot-pounds of torque. One thing the Frontier has done well over the years is maintain its classic styling, keeping its fans happy and appealing to the masses that like this more rugged appearance. With its 6,500-pound towing capacity, it can handle just about any day-to-to-day towing, much like its Japanese rival, the Tacoma. Where the Nissan really falls on its face is its bland and outdated interior that leaves so much to be desired.

EPA-rated fuel economy: Up to 19 city/23 highway.

Suzuki Equator
Re-Badged Frontier, with Slightly Different Styling
Suzuki Equator

It’s no surprise if the 2012 Equator looks familiar to you, as is a re-badged and slightly revised 2012 Nissan Frontier. Much like the Frontier, the Equator is a stout pickup that features a 2.5-liter four-cylinder base engine with 152 horsepower and a 4.0-liter V-6 with 261 horsepower. Despite it being based on and nearly identical to the Frontier, there is a slightly cleaner look to the Equator, which is likely due to its revised grille and front bumper cover. The Equator comes in slightly lower in the utility department, as its maximum towing capacity is 6,300 pounds.

EPA-rated fuel economy: Up to 19 city/23 highway.

Honda Ridgeline
Most Car-Like Ride and Feel in this Class
Honda Ridgeline Okay, when you think “pickup truck” likely the last automaker to come to mind is Honda. However, Honda managed to take its midsized Accord Chassis and turn it into a rather unique-looking truck: the Honda Ridgeline. With its car base, the Ridgeline is the nicest-riding pickup of the group, and its 250-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine is smooth and reliable. However, its sedan chassis also leaves it with a rather petite bed and a very low 5,000-pound towing capacity. Additionally, its $29K-plus base price puts it out of reach for most compact-truck buyers.

EPA-rated fuel economy: Up to 15 city/21 highway.

GMC Canyon
Tough, No-Nonsense Pickup That Delivers
GMC Canyon

The 2012 Canyon is the final year for this compact pickup, at least for now. Sure, it has a base 2.9-liter four-cylinder engine with 185 horsepower and 190 foot-pounds of torque and an optional V-6 engine like most of the other compact pickups. Where the Canyon sets itself apart is that it is the only one in this group to offer a 300-horsepower, 5.3-liter V-8 option. Despite its monstrous V-8 option, the Canyon still only tows up to 5,000 pounds and it delivers the typical-for-GM 1990s-like interior look and feel.

EPA-rated fuel economy: Up to 18 city/25 highway.

, Automotive Editor

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009, and has seen himself published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also works as editor in chief for a large performance car online publication. His specialty lays in the high-performance realm, but has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Prior to being an automotive writer, he was an automotive technician and manager for six years, but spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

Follow On: Google+ | Website

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