Compact pickups offer the capability needed for many hauling and towing duties but are smaller and usually more fuel efficient than their full-size counterparts.
Since the compact pickup segment hasn't changed much over the last several years (automakers focus more resources on their highly-profitable full-sized models) the venerable 2011 Toyota Tacoma (Base MSRP: $16,365 to $27,525) is almost unanimously considered to be the best compact pickup by reviewers.
Reviewers say the Tacoma can be all things to all people, making it an easy winner. A variety of available configurations let shoppers tailor the Toyota's cab style, seating layout, seating load, hauling applications and even off-road capability. Kelley Blue Book concludes, as many do, that the Tacoma "has much to offer those who take their pickup trucks seriously." The Tacoma's Achilles' heel is that when optioned up, it gets pricey, to the point where you could get a well-equipped full-size pickup for the same money.
Our full report on the 2011 Toyota Tacoma (Base MSRP: $16,365 to $27,525) contains additional details.
The 2011 Nissan Frontier (Base MSRP: $18,200 to $32,080) is also well-received and is the strongest runner-up to the Tacoma, based on reviewers' feedback.
The 2011 Ford Ranger (Base MSRP: $18,160 to $26,070) , 2011 Chevrolet Colorado (Base MSRP: $17,145 to $29,075) and 2011 GMC Canyon (Base MSRP: $17,155 to $30,005) are considered inferior by nearly all reviewers. The ancient Ford Ranger will be discontinued after the 2011 model year and not be replaced in North America.