Today’s best used small trucks are generally more economical and easier to drive than their fullsize counterparts, while still offering more than enough capability for most jobs anyone will ever throw at them. The small trucks on our list can be configured with payload capacities from at least 1000 pounds all the way up to 1800 pounds or more and with towing capacities from 5000 pounds all the way up to 7700, making them ideal for hauling the odd load or towing the occasional trailer. If you’re in the market for a used pickup, take a look at our list of the 10 best used small trucks. There likely is a compact truck in this Autobytel list that perfectly suits your needs.
10 Best Used Small Trucks
10) Hummer H3T
The Hummer H3T is a 4-wheel drive pickup version of the H3 that was only available for the 2009 and 2010 model years, making it a relatively rare vehicle. Engine choices include a 239-horsepower inline-5 or a 300-horsepower V8. Though they’re getting older, the H3T is still a unique and aggressive looking machine, with the off-road capability to back up its looks. There are some downsides: The bed is higher than normal and therefore harder to access, and the small side windows impair vision. Payload capacity for the 5-foot bed is a half ton, and towing capacity with the V8 is nearly 6000 pounds. Because of this, and its muscular Hummer styling, the H3T makes our list of the top 10 best used small trucks.
9) Ford Explorer Sport Trac
The Ford Explorer Sport Trac was available in two generations, the second of which ran from the 2007 to 2010 model years. An Explorer with a 4-foot bed instead of a luggage compartment, the Sport Trac could be had with either a 210-horsepower V6 or a 292-horsepower V8, in either rear- or all-wheel-drive forms. Though the interior is a bit dated, it is comfortable, and the ride is decent for a small truck. The Sport Trac features some convincing numbers including a payload capacity of just under 1400 pounds and a towing capacity of over 7000 pounds for properly equipped V8-powered 2-wheel-drive models. Thanks to its combination of practicality and capability, the Sport Trac deserves a spot on our list of the 10 best used small trucks.
8) Mazda B-Series
For its last couple of generations, the Mazda B-Series was essentially a Ford Ranger wearing a slightly different suit. Its last iteration ran from 1998 to 2009, with a few minor updates along the way. Over the years the B-Series has been powered by many different engines, from a 117-horsepower, 4-cylinder in the earliest B2500s, to a 207-horsepower V6 in the latest B4000s. While the B-Series is functional, the interior quality isn’t great, the ride is truck-like, and unlike nearly every other vehicle in the Mazda lineup, this pickup has absolutely no sporting pretensions. The truck is functional however, with newer models having a maximum payload capacity of over 1250 pounds and a towing capacity (with the most powerful V6) of over 5500 pounds.
7) Ford Ranger
The final generation of the Ford Ranger ran from 1998 to 2011 with only a minor refresh here and there. Ride, handling, and interior quality remained truck-like until the end, but despite the lack of attention this compact Ford pickup was a practical and affordable vehicle. By the time it was finally discontinued, the Ranger was available with either a 143-horsepower 4-cylinder or a 207-horsepower V6, in both rear- or 4-wheel-drive form. Properly equipped rear-wheel-drive V6 models have a towing capacity of nearly 6000 pounds and a payload capacity of over 1500 pounds. Because of the sheer number produced over the years, Rangers are often available at a reasonable price and have great aftermarket support, helping this Ford pickup make our list of the 10 best used small trucks.
6) Dodge Dakota
The Dodge Dakota is slightly larger than most small pickups, but it also has more capability than most other trucks in the class. The 2005 to 2011 generation was powered by either a 210-horsepower V6 or a V8 that eventually produced over 300 horsepower by the end of its run. Drivetrain options include rear-wheel drive, part-time 4-wheel drive or full-time all-wheel drive. Ride quality is much improved over the previous generations, though still not as good as the best of its competitors. Some extended cab models with the V6 and 2-wheel drive have a maximum payload capacity of over 1800 pounds, while the same configuration but with a V8 yields a max towing capacity of well over 7000 pounds when properly equipped.
Photo Credit: Nissan
5) Nissan Frontier
The Nissan Frontier has been on the market for a good long time. Despite being long in the tooth, the current Frontier has good ride quality, even if its handling hints at the truck's age. The latest models come with either an underpowered 152-horsepower 4-cylinder or a significantly more suitable 261-horsepower V6 and are available with rear-wheel-drive or 4-wheel-drive. Rear-drive V6 models can tow up to 6500 pounds with a maximum payload capacity of over 1400 pounds. As such, the Nissan Frontier is ready to help you get just about any job done.
4) Honda Ridgeline
The first generation of the 4-door Honda Ridgeline ran from 2006 to 2014, with a minor facelift in 2009. The Ridgeline is unique thanks to its car-like unibody design, transverse-mounted 250-horsepower V6 engine, and front-wheel-drive biased all-wheel-drive system. Other interesting features include a waterproof storage "trunk" in the 5-foot bed and a tailgate that can open in the traditional downward direction or to the side. The unibody design means that ride and handling are great for a truck, though the Ridgeline's fuel economy remains depressingly truck-like. Towing capacity is near the bottom of the pack at only 5000 pounds, but payload capacity is competitive for the class at around 1500 pounds. One last point: The Ridgeline is the most car-like pickup you'll ever purchase.
3) Toyota Tacoma
The second generation of the Toyota Tacoma ran from 2005 to 2015, with a refresh in 2009 and another in 2012. Power comes from either a 159-horsepower 4-cylinder engine or a 236-horsepower V6, with rear-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive. The Tacoma is known for being capable off-road as well as extremely durable, even in the most extreme environments and in the toughest of situations. When properly equipped, the Tacoma has a maximum towing capacity of 6500 pounds. Maximum payload capacity is around 1,500 pounds. If you need a truck that you can rely on, Toyota’s Tacoma is hard to beat, which is why it's near the top of our top 10 best used small pickup trucks.
Photo Credit: General Motors
2) Chevrolet Colorado
Though the second generation of the Chevrolet Colorado was only recently introduced as a 2015 model, a number have already started to appear on the used market. This latest generation of the Colorado is much improved over GM’s previous attempts at a small pickup, and it now ranks near the top of the segment. Engine options include a 200-horsepower 4-cylinder, a 305-horsepower V6, and an 181-horsepower 4-cylinder turbodiesel with an impressive 369 lb.-ft. of torque. When properly equipped, 2-wheel-drive diesel models can tow up to 7700 pounds. All the gasoline-powered V6 models have payload ratings over 1500 pounds. With their great structure and excellent interiors, the latest Colorados deserve a spot on our list, but they haven't had a chance to get very old yet, so you can expect to pay a bit more for a used example of Chevy's compact pickup.
Photo Credit: General Motors
1) GMC Canyon
Though the GMC Canyon is closely related to the Chevrolet Colorado, it is easily distinguished by its more brutish styling. When new, the Canyon was slightly more expensive and also slightly better equipped. Engine options are a 200-horsepower 4-cylinder, a 305-horsepower V6, and an 181-horsepower turbodiesel 4-cylinder, same as the Colorado. Payload and towing ratings also match the Colorado, with the 2-wheel-drive diesel capable of towing 7700 pounds and V6 models having payload ratings of at least 1500 pounds. Whether the GM Canyon or the Chevrolet Colorado tops our list of the 10 best used small trucks is purely subjective, and chances are you already know which of the two you would buy. Either way, it's hard to go wrong.