Many consumers whose everyday transportation needs require something more substantial and capable than sedans and SUVs are good candidates for the best compact pickup trucks. Priced between $15,000 and $25,000, compact pickup trucks can either be wholly truck-like – rugged and capable – or car-like with hauling capabilities. The very best may be a combination of both. It really depends on consumer wants and needs. Of course, it’s easy to ratchet up the price by going for the pricier model or adding a slew of options, so take care when outfitting your compact pickup of choice.

Keeping in mind the low starting manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP), check out this trio of Best Compact Pickup Trucks:

  • Toyota TacomaYes, it’s a Toyota. And, no, Tacoma is not involved in the sticking throttle recall (although it was involved in the floor mat recall). Many reviewers consider the car-like Tacoma compact pickup the best product in the class for its combination of comfort and utility. Available in regular, access, and double-cab (which seats five with a full-sized back seat), Tacoma offers polished engines, including a strong V6 option, smooth transmissions, and hauling and towing capability enough to satisfy most compact pickup buyers. MSRPs for 2010 models start at $15,345 to $25,460. Consumer Guide comments: “Tacoma leads its class in refinement, and is more than competitive in performance, utility, and off-road prowess. The X-Runner handles like a sports car while sacrificing little utility. Overall, these are excellent compact trucks and strong Best Buy picks.”
  • Nissan FrontierThis compact-class Nissan Frontier pickup is offered in King Cab (extended cab) and Crew Cab (4-door) – but no regular cab model available – and features a choice of two engines, including strong V6, sturdy chassis, a slew of new standard safety features, and attractive 2010 model starting MSRPs of $17,540 to $29,820. Edmunds remarks: “Pitted against the Chevy Colorado, Dodge Dakota and Ford Ranger (and their respective twin trucks), the 2010 Nissan Frontier emerges the clear victor despite its package-heavy options structure and cramped Crew Cab backseat. The only rival that should really give you pause would be the highly desirable Toyota Tacoma, which offers a bigger cabin with nicer materials, at the expense of some drivability.”
  • Dodge DakotaDepending on configuration, the 2010 Dodge Dakota pickup can carry six passengers. It also has a V8 engine option, something only competitors GMC Canyon and Chevrolet Colorado offer.  Its starting base price is higher than some competitors, however, at $23,495 to $28,620, but Dakota may be a great choice for buyers who don’t need a full-size pickup – but want nearly the capabilities. Dakota, some reviewers say, straddles the line between compact and full-size rigs, since it’s actually a midsize truck – but included in compact truck class comparisons. Kelley Blue Book says, “Of less-than-full-size pickups the 2010 Dodge Dakota offers the most power and the largest interior. Real truck folks will love the removable storage bins that stow under the Crew Cab’s rear seat.”

Other choices for Best Compact Pickup Trucks include Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, Ford Ranger, and Suzuki Equator.

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