Consumer Reports Lists What's New in Small Pickup Trucks
Reasons Why Small Pickup Trucks are So Popular
According to CR analysts, small trucks are trending among consumers who are looking for the most versatility in a small truck at a more-affordable lower price---especially those shoppers looking for outdoor fun and activities. And, as it turns out, the timing could not be better for consumers as Ford, Hyundai, and Nissan have all recently come out with new models in smaller sizes with comparable bigger truck features that fulfill the needs of truck shoppers wanting something smaller and more economical---but can still get the job done and get you there.
Recommended Ford, Hyundai, and Nissan New Pickup Models
The following is a summary of the preview and driving impressions three models have made on CR analysts that provides the basics you need to know including pricing.
2022 Ford Maverick
Base price range: $19,995-$29,880
Destination charge: $1,495
On sale: Fall 2021
The first-ever pickup truck to come standard as a hybrid, the 2022 Ford Maverick has been a hot topic vehicle this year. Advertised as a smart alternative to oversized trucks, the Maverick starts at $19,995 and is a competitor with the Honda Ridgeline and the Hyundai Santa Cruz.
The base model comes with a 191-hp, 2.5-liter hybrid four-cylinder engine matched with a continuously variable transmission that drives the front wheels and delivers a claimed 37 mpg combined and a range of 500 miles per tank. There is also a 250-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder model with an eight-speed automatic transmission, and a choice of either front- or all-wheel drive with a towing rating of up to 4,000 pounds.
The Maverick should be appealing to those looking for a more expressive vehicle than a subcompact car, with greater work and play capabilities, without the added costs of buying and owning a larger, expensive, and less fuel efficient truck.
2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz
Base price range: $23,990-$39,720
Destination charge: $1,185
Price as driven: $37,290
Not your typical block-shaped toy truck you played with as a kid, the Hyundai Santa Cruz has a distinctive body style that will make other car and truck owners scratch their heads over what they are seeing. Some reviews describe it as likened to a small SUV with an open bed in place of a typical hatch.
However, looks can be deceiving until you get behind the wheel and realize the potential for fun and adventure in the more powerful 281-hp, 2.5-liter turbocharged engine model that’s strong and smooth, has all-wheel drive, and can tow up to 5,000 pounds. There is a lower-cost base model with a 191-hp four-cylinder engine, but was not found to be nearly as impressive during road tests.
Because of having a bed size of just 52.1 inches, the Santa Cruz is not ideally suited for transporting multiple bicycles, kayaks and the like for recreation---especially when fitted with a retractable tonneau cover---but it is perfect for transporting yard and garden supplies, hosting a tailgating party, or stowing wet gear while towing a small boat or jet ski.
2022 Nissan Frontier
Base price range: $27,840-$37,240
Destination charge: $1,150
Price as driven: $35,140
Compared to its popular predecessor, this new Frontier model is described as being an upgrade in road manners and a peppy powertrain among many other improvements that are described as likened to, “…giving the old analog truck a makeover for the digital era.”
Possessing a 310-hp, 3.8-liter V6 and nine-speed automatic with a configurable rear- or part-time four-wheel drive, it has good acceleration and more power than its contemporary rivals.
In addition, it is noteworthy with its upgrade in contemporary convenience, connectivity, and critical active safety systems, that includes forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection.
Downsides to this small truck include a tight fit for rear seating and an oversized hood that interferes with forward visibility.
For more details, readers are encouraged to access Consumer Reports membership for complete vehicle previews and/or going to our site’s search engine for other reviews of these vehicles.
For more about current Consumer Reports car news involving many makes and models, be sure to bookmark our site and stay updated on the latest information such as what popular midsized SUVs to avoid and which to buy; as well as info for adventure seekers on how and why bicycles can significantly affect your vehicle’s gas mileage.
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Timothy Boyer is Torque News Tesla and EV reporter based in Cincinnati. Experienced with early car restorations, he regularly restores older vehicles with engine modifications for improved performance. Follow Tim on Twitter at @TimBoyerWrites for daily Tesla and electric vehicle news.