Small pickup trucks are often overlooked as examples of proven, reliable workhorses. Its purpose is not to tow large trailers or carry heavy loads, but a reliable and functional transport. While the revered Toyota Tacoma has gained a dedicated following, there are many more practical four-wheeled examples on offer.
Of 46 small used trucks tested by US Newshere are three to chase and two to pass on.
The 2009 Nissan Frontier is a Reliable Used Small Truck
Utilitarian yet refined, the small pickup truck impressed critics upon its debut and continues to enjoy widespread fanfare. The Frontier’s compact size makes it a great choice for an agile urban hauler, but it’s still capable of off-roading. The most popular and powerful 4.0-liter V6 is available with automatic or manual transmission and rear-wheel drive (RWD) or four-wheel drive (4WD). Plus, the small truck has a towing capacity of 6,500 lbs. when properly equipped.
The Nissan Frontier is available in extended and double cab configurations, with four and five seats, respectively. The Extended Cab’s rear folding child seats and the Crew Cab’s modest rear bench seat leave passengers wanting more. However, the front of the cabin offers comfort in the simple but spartan interior.
2010 Honda Ridgeline
Ridgeline’s one-piece design allows for a comfortable, sedan-like ride. Its 3.5-liter V6 has enough power to run well in most situations, and automatic transmission and AWD are standard. Although it has a lower maximum towing capacity than others in the segment (5,000 pounds), its nifty in-bed trunk makes up for it.
As a double cab configuration, the five-seater offers passengers ample space in the front and rear seats. Some reviewers were unhappy with the excessive use of plastic in the cabin, but that’s par for the segment. Fortunately, the higher-priced trim models offer a bevy of creature comforts. Features like leather upholstery, heated front seats, a power sunroof, and Bluetooth capabilities can be had on the top-spec RTL.
2012 Honda Ridgeline
Not much has changed in two years with the Ridgeline, aside from minor exterior upgrades and the addition of the “Sport” trim level. Honda says the same engine was refined to produce 250 hp and 247 pound-feet of torque, up from 212 hp in the 2010 model. Maximum towing capacity remains the same, though.
Reviewers praised the Ridgeline’s functional tailgate that not only folds, but swings out. Another nice feature is the 8.5-cubic-foot cargo hold in the lockable bed trunk. While the small truck isn’t the first choice for off-road enthusiasts, it works great as an everyday vehicle.
chevrolet colorado 2017
The middle sister of the largest Silverado ranked fourth in the US News 2017 Best Compact Truck for the Money Award. Provided a quieter-than-expected comfortable ride with a maximum towing rating of 7,700 lbs. when equipped with the 2.8L Duramax turbodiesel engine. However, after five years of stardom, it’s relatively low on the list of reliable used small pickup trucks.
consumer reports claims the 2017 Colorado has very low predicted reliability and fuel efficiency, which leaves a lot to be desired. Add in the lower crash safety ratings than its rivals, and it might not be a great used pick. The finicky Duramax motor also went out of production this year, so replacement parts will be hard to come by.
2014 Nissan Frontier
While the 2009 Frontier impresses on the used market, that’s not the case with newer versions. Essentially unchanged from its 2005 redesign, the D40 generation is a lovable mid-size workhorse, but in 2014, it showed its age. Like all Frontiers, drivers boast impressive off-road ability, but it sacrifices in other areas.
The rear seats are terrible for average-sized adults in the extended cab model and only slightly better in the crew cab configuration. consumer reports I also wasn’t impressed with the Frontier’s tough road handling.
2016 Nissan Frontier
If you need to kick a dead horse, the 2016 Nissan Frontier is here to support you. Its 1,400-pound maximum payload capacity will probably be used, though, but it’s the lowest in the segment.
The Frontier’s interior materials are too cheap compared to its rivals. US News says that one can spend up to $28,000 on a used example. Unfortunately, the Frontier doesn’t have the quality to justify the price.
Which Reliable Small Used Pickup Truck Should You Buy?
It’s clear that Japanese small trucks have an edge over the competition. While the Honda Ridgeline may not be the most daring off-road adventure machine, it’s likely to make any commuter happy.
Nissan’s Frontier has been a favorite in the segment since its predecessor D21 Hardbody arrived in the US While most will be a great choice as a used truck, the older one will give buyers the best bang for their buck.
RELATED: The 5 Safest and Most Reliable Midsize Pickup Trucks to Buy Used According to iSeeCars