Just like our TV screens and takeout portion sizes, pickup trucks have undeniably grown over the years. While we often sing the praises of half-ton trucks like the Ford F-150 and HD trucks like the RAM 2500, buying a midsize truck can be a smart alternative. These smaller trucks strike the right balance of daily driving convenience, light towing power, and cargo space that easily accommodates that impromptu home improvement project. We've compiled a list of all the midsize trucks on the market today, and a couple more that are in the works for the future.
Toyota's Smallest Truck: 2020 Tacoma
The Toyota Tacoma lacks some of the creature comforts found in competitors and its ride is more harsh than cushy, but it's that utilitarian ruggedness that makes us fond of the Taco. The beauty of the 2020 Toyota Tacoma is in its reliability and adventure-ready features. The Tacoma TRD Pro, for example, offers a tank-like build, and the ability to tackle rugged off-road terrain with ease.
Two engine options are available including a standard 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine good for 159 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. An optional 3.5-liter V6 boosts horsepower to 278 and torque to 265 lb-ft. Despite its midsize stature, the Tacoma offers decent cargo space with a short bed or long bed option and a tailgate that can be removed to accommodate longer cargo.
Max Towing/Payload Capacity (lbs): 6,800/1,620
MPG (City/Highway): 18/22
Starting MSRP: $26,050
Chevrolet's Smallest Truck: 2020 Colorado
Power-packed engines, off-road readiness, and impressive gas mileage are just a few reasons to forgo a half-ton truck in favor of the midsize Chevy Colorado. The 2020 Chevy Colorado will easily navigate tight city streets and, unlike the Tacoma, it offers a smooth ride and composed handling for daily driving. If leaving the paved roads is something you plan to do regularly, the rugged ZR2 model should be at the top of the list. Off-road tuned shocks and front/rear electronic locking differentials along with a factory-installed lift, skid plates, and rock sliders make this small truck ready for big adventures.
The Colorado's long bed option offers a generous 49.9 cubic-feet of cargo space for hauling gear for work or play. Engine options include a 200 horsepower 4-cylinder base engine, a 308 horsepower V6, and a 181 horsepower 2.8-liter Turbo Diesel that offers both towing prowess and fuel efficiency.
Max Towing/Payload Capacity (lbs): 7,700/1,578
MPG (City/Highway): 20/30
Starting MSRP: $21,300
Ford's Smallest Truck: 2020 Ranger
When truck shoppers think of Ford, it's likely that the best-selling F-Series comes to mind. The F-Series is excellent for those who need to do heavy hauling and towing, but the newest member of the Ford truck family, the Ford Ranger, makes a capable (and affordable) alternative. The Ranger comes with one available engine which is a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder with 270 horses and 310 lb-ft. of torque. The engine is powerful, beating both the Colorado's V6 and the Tacoma's V6 for acceleration.
The available AWD, Terrain Management system and Crawl Control help the Ranger take on off-road challenges. Drivers who need more cargo space than passenger space can go with the 6-ft bed in the SuperCab models, while those looking for a roomier cabin can opt for the SuperCrew Ranger with a 5-ft bed. The Ranger's 1,860 lb payload capacity beats all midsize competitors.
Max Towing/Payload Capacity (lbs): 7,500/1,860
MPG (City/Highway): 21/26
Starting MSRP: $24,410
Jeep's Midsize Truck: 2020 Gladiator
Jeep's new Gladiator pickup is built for off-roading adventures, but it is also surprisingly comfortable for everyday driving with a roomy and well-appointed interior. The 2020 Gladiator takes the off-road chops of the Wrangler and marries them with the utility of a midsize pickup truck. The Gladiator also shares a 3.6-liter V6 engine with the Wrangler and gets 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. A towing capacity of up to 7,760 lbs and standard AWD make the midsize Gladiator a fun and practical choice for truck shoppers.
The Jeep Gladiator's 60" bed length is smaller than some midsize competitors including the Colorado and Ranger, but most shoppers will find that it is sufficient for hauling all their outdoor gear. Passenger space is generous in this midsize truck with 38.3" of legroom in the second row. If the Gladiator's lackluster fuel economy and steep pricetag can be overlooked, it does provide the rugged capability and impressive styling that truck buyers look for.
Max Towing/Payload Capacity (lbs): 7,650/1,600
MPG (City/Highway): 17/22
Starting MSRP: $33,545
Nissan's Smallest Truck: 2020 Frontier
With a full redesign coming in 2021, the 2020 Nissan Frontier gets tweaked with an all-new powertrain., making it a strong competitor in the midsize segment. A 3.8-liter V6 engine mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission now offers more power, smoother shifting, and faster acceleration for this midsize truck. The new engine produces a class-leading horsepower of 310, 281 pound-feet of torque, and an improved fuel economy of up to 18 mpg city and 24 highway. The Frontier is easy to navigate around tight streets with its small size and accurate steering.
Although the aging model sports a basic interior without the bells and whistles of some competitors, it offers good passenger and cargo space with the choice of King Cab and Crew Cab configurations. King Cab models have a 6-foot-1-inch bed, while Crew Cab models come with a 5-foot bed or a 6-foot-1-inch bed for hauling supplies.
Max Towing/Payload Capacity (lbs): 6,720/1,460
MPG (City/Highway): 18/24
Starting MSRP: $26,790
Honda's Midsize Truck: 2020 Ridgeline
The 2020 Honda Ridgeline is currently the only unibody pickup truck on the market and it effortlessly blends the convenience of a truck with the ride comfort of a family SUV. While the Ridgeline is less rugged than most other small trucks on this list, it makes up for it in its above-average reliability, comfort, and cabin quality. The Ridgeline handles like a car or crossover and its peppy 3.5-liter V6 engine is good for 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque.
Although it can't match the towing power of its midsize competitors, the Ridgeline's 5,000 -lb towing capacity is ideal for towing a boat or small camper on a weekend getaway. The Ridgeline's sole cabin configuration is a crew cab with seating for 5. Luckily, this cabin is hard to beat thanks to the upscale interior with generous space in both rows of seats. Although the Ridgeline's 5'4 bed is smaller than the other vehicles' on our list, it is also very versatile. The Ridgeline's tailgate opens the traditional way by folding down or it can swing out sideways with the pull of a handle. Under the bed floor is a hidden trunk for secure storage.
Max Towing/Payload Capacity (lbs): 5,000/1,580
MPG (City/Highway): 19/26
Starting MSRP: $33,900
Future Midsize Trucks
In addition to the current mid-size trucks on the market, there are a couple of new small trucks in the works. The first is the Hyundai Santa Cruz, a mid-size unibody truck that will compete with the Honda Ridgeline. So far, Hyundai has revealed the Santa Cruz concept at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show with a 2.0-liter inline-four turbo diesel engine for 190 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque. The automaker has also confirmed that the truck will be built at its Montgomery, Alabama plant.
Hyundai states that the "Santa Cruz is for those who want all the traditional attributes of a compact utility vehicle, but need the day-to-day versatility of an open bed. It’s the crossover that creates a whole new segment that successfully combines capability and utility to meet the unspoken needs of a new generation of buyers."
Another truck rumored to arrive in the midsize segment is the Ram Dakota,a resurrected nameplate of the Dodge Dakota which was discontinued in 2011. Although there has been no official announcement yet, FCA has filed for a trademark of the Dakota name indicating it may bring the truck to market soon. According to Car and Driver, the Dakota will likely be based on the Jeep Gladiator, or share some features with the popular Ram 1500.