Small Trucks: 9 Best Compact Pickups in Canada
Today's small, mid-size trucks offer impressive towing capacity and payload specs, ample power and torque, bold looks, and often premium interiors you probably wouldn't expect:
- Hyundai Santa Cruz
- Jeep Gladiator
- Chevrolet Colorado
- Ford Ranger
- Toyota Tacoma
- Honda Ridgeline
- GMC Canyon
- Nissan Frontier
- Ford Maverick
Canadians shopping for a mid-size truck right now have plenty of great choices. From long-running models like the Tacoma, Ridgeline and completely redesigned Frontier, to newcomers including the Hyundai Santa Cruz and Jeep Gladiator. Plus, the return of a couple American models following a hiatus including the Ford Ranger and Chevrolet Colorado.
Currently, there are 9 compact pickup trucks on the market. Here’s a look at each of them including their engine options, power, torque, towing capacity, and payload.
If you’re shopping for one now, check out our current truck inventory here.
Hyundai Santa Cruz
Hyundai Santa Cruz | Photo: Hyundai
- Available Engines: Standard 2.5-litre four-cylinder or turbocharged upgrade
- Horsepower: 191 (standard) or 281 (turbo)
- Towing Capacity: Up to 5,000 pounds (2,268 kg)
- Payload: Up to 1,748 pounds (792 kg)
Not easily categorized and built on a Tuscon SUV platform, the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is a mid-size, unibody truck with a little bit of everything – SUV, sedan, and conventional pick-up truck. Unlike the highway-hogging F-150s, the Santa Cruz is compact and well-suited for sliding into those urban parking spots.
It also has adventure written into its DNA, with a ground clearance of 8.6 inches that rivals other go-anywhere crossovers like the Subaru Outback. And if you’re looking to do some hauling, the 4-foot truck bed should be enough for those fruitful shopping trips to IKEA or packing gear for a long weekend retreat.
Jeep Gladiator | Photo: Jeep
- Available Engines: 3.6-litre V6 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic transmission; and 3.0L EcoDiesel V6 with 8-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission
- Horsepower: 285 (3.6L/V6 )
- Towing Capacity: Up to 4,500 pounds (2,041 kg)
- Payload: Up to 1,600 pounds (725 kg)
Those who love the Jeep Wrangler but crave a little more cargo space will surely be entertained by the Gladiator. In fact, there isn’t a gaping difference between the two other than the 5-foot cargo bed rather than the traditional Jeep cargo area.
The mid-size Gladiator is a five-passenger, four-door, four-wheel drive vehicle that comes in four trim configurations - Sport, Overland, Rubicon, and Mojave. Those should all be familiar to Wrangler loyalists. What is different for the Gladiator is a diesel engine option for those road-tripping enthusiasts who want to take their Jeep the distance.
2023 Colorado Trail Boss | Photo: Chevrolet
- Available Engines: 2.7L I-4 Turbo DOHC VVT DI with Active Fuel Management and Stop/Start
- Horsepower: Base: 237-hp @ 5600 (standard); Mid & High: 310-hp @ 5600 (available)
- Max. Towing Capacity: Up to 7,700 pounds (3,492 kg)
- Max. Payload: Up to 1,684 pounds (764 kg)
Fans of Chevy trucks who aren’t willing to commit to the size of a Silverado might find what they need with the versatile, mid-size Colorado. Urban cowboys will like its maneuverability in city streets, while its impressive towing (up to 7,700 pounds).
For 2023, and along with its GMC Canyon sibling, the Colorado gains a full redesign, including the first-ever Trail Boss and an even more capable ZR2. The entire lineup now gets one engine only with the 2.7L turbo. Inside, expect four distinct interior trims with a new 11.3-inch-diagonal colour infotainment touchscreen, as standard.
Also new for 2023 is a cargo bed with added functionality compared to the outgoing 2022 Colorado — including an available tailgate storage system, a mid-position tailgate and available 110V power outlet (all mid-size segments firsts, according to Chevrolet).
Ford Ranger | Photo: Ford
- Available Engines: 2.3-litre 4-cylinder or 4.0-litre V6 upgrade
- Horsepower: 143 (standard) and 207 (upgrade)
- Towing Capacity: Up to 7,500 pounds (3,400 kg)
- Payload: Up to 1,650 pounds (748 kg)
While the popular F-150s continue their dominance in the truck market, the Ford Ranger looks to find drivers who aren’t interested in committing to a full-size pick-up. Interestingly, today’s mid-size trucks like the Ranger are similar in size to what the ever-growing full-size pick-ups looked like a decade ago.
The Ranger features an impressive 8.9” clearance that makes weekend, off-road adventuring a confident endeavour. If you opt for the Tremor Off-Road Package you can get even more clearance, plus other all-terrain goodies like magnetic-painted alloy wheels, skid plate, and front and rear tow hooks.
Toyota Tacoma | Photo: Toyota
- Engine options: Standard 2.7-litre 4-cylinder or optional 3.5-litre V6
- Horsepower: 159 (standard) and 278 (upgrade)
- Towing Capacity: Up to 6,500 pounds (2,948 kg)
- Payload: Up to 1,440 pounds (653 kg)
When it comes to discussing the best mid-size truck on the market, the Toyota Tacoma will always be in the conversation. It has gained a loyal following over its 16-plus year existence due to a sterling reputation for off-road capabilities. Affectionately known as “Taco,” you can choose between an Access Cab version or a Double Cab version for 2022 models.
Then decide if you want to trick it out with a slate of packages, including TRD Off Road Premium and TRD Pro, which will boost your suspension – front and rear. There’s a reason the Tacoma is highly regarded for resale value.
Honda Ridgeline | Photo: Honda
- Engine options: 3.5-litre V6 on all trim
- Horsepower: 280
- Towing Capacity: 5,000 pounds (2,267 kg)
- Payload: 1,583 pounds (718 kg)
The 2022 Honda Ridgeline isn’t the flashiest entry in the mid-size truck market, but like many models from the Japanese auto-giant it succeeds on its durability and effectiveness. Some of the features on the 2022 model, besides its self-proclaimed “rugged good looks,” are the innovative storage options like a lockable in-bed trunk and dual-action tailgate; not to mention a power-sliding rear cabin window.
Some might balk at the 5,000-pound towing capacity, which is less than its peers like the Chevy Colorado and Ford Ranger. However, the Ridgeline is certainly built to handle all outings, both work and recreation.
2023 Canyon AT4X | Photo: GMC
- Outgoing model: Standard 2.5L 4-cylinder, 3.6L V6 or Duramax 2.8L Turbo-Diesel
- 2023 model: 2.7L I-4 Turbo DOHC VVT DI with Active Fuel Management and Stop/Start
- Outgoing model: 200 (Elevation), 308 (AT4 and Denali)
- 2023 model: 310-hp @ 5,600
- Outgoing model: Up to 7,700 pounds (3,492kg)
- 2023 models:
- 7,700 – Elevation, AT4, Denali
- 6,000 – AT4X
- 5,500 – AT4X Edition 1 Package
- Outgoing model: 1,605 pounds (728 kg)
- 2023 models:
- 1,640 – Elevation 2WD
- 1,590 – Elevation 4WD
- 1,550 – AT4
- 1,250 – AT4X
- 1,360 – Denali
- 1,010 – AT4X Edition 1 Package
The GMC Canyon is not dissimilar to its mid-size corporate cousin, the Chevrolet Colorado. That may be true structurally-speaking because when it comes to styling and premium touches the Canyon goes all out. Case in point: the Canyon’s Denali Black Edition, which boasts 20” low-gloss black wheels, black chrome assist steps, and a gloss black exhaust tip.
But for 2023, GMC's mid-size pickup enters its next-generation with a complete redesign inside and out. Including the first-ever Canyon AT4X. One of the big changes taking place with the 2023 Canyon, is differentiation between models. While we don’t yet know how these changes will impact the Elevation and AT4, differences between the AT4X and Denali were plainly evident, particularly in the cabin.
Arguably the biggest change for the Canyon is taking place under the hood where, like its 2023 Colorado cousin, the three engines of the current model will be replaced with one. The new engine, a 2.7-litre turbocharged four-cylinder is shared with the Canyon’s corporate cousin, the 2023 Chevy Colorado.
Nissan Frontier | Photo: Nissan
- Engine options: 3.5-litre V6
- Horsepower: 310
- Towing Capacity: Up to 6,490 pounds (2,943 kg)
- Payload: 1,430 pounds (648 kg)
Nissan was on the receiving end of criticism for failing to update its Frontier mid-size truck which debuted all the way back in 2005. The 2022 model, however, should quiet those critics, as it offers a complete interior redesign with features like Zero Gravity Seating, plus heated seats and steering wheel.
Depending on your size needs, you can get it in King Cab with seating for 4- or 5-seat Crew Cab, which can be converted into a large flat surface for cargo. If power is your concern, the 310-horsepower, V6 engine should deliver confidence in any rugged terrain (the most power in the compact truck segment, by the way).
Ford Maverick | Photo: Ford
- Engine options: 2.5-litre 4-cylinder or 2.5-litre with electric engine
- Horsepower: 191
- Towing Capacity: Up to 2,000 pounds (907 kg)
- Payload: 1,500 pounds (680 kg)
Perhaps not exactly the most stylish of trucks, the Ford Maverick excels in at least one department – price. With a starting MSRP of $25,900, the Maverick is far and away the most economical selection in the small market. That has something to do with its size. It’s below its peer, the Ranger, and way below the F-150.
But that compactness will appeal to drivers wanting to easily fit into their parking space. It may also appeal to fuel-conscious drivers. The Maverick comes in a hybrid model, pairing a standard 2.5-litre engine with an electric motor to help you reduce some of those costly trips to the gas station.