- Photo: Hyundai

Unpopular Carpinions: The compact truck segment is the next best thing

A lot of folk would love the utility of a truck but can't handle the thirstiness or cumbersome dynamics.

6w ago

New niches of cars emerge every other hour to answer questions no one ever thought needed answering. Rarely does a niche emerge that not only serves a proper, meaningful purpose, but makes a case for it being the best new thing on the market. Hatchbacks, the first wave of crossovers, mid-size trucks, and now we have these obscure treats: compact trucks. Come on! Just look how cute they are!

Or, well, nevermind, they're kind of ugly. But that's okay, it's their spirit that counts.

For just a second, put away your dip and Bass Pro Shops trucker hat. Forget about shredding the Baja 1000 or towing that horse trailer to the ranch, and think about the growing market of youthful car buyers in urban and suburban settings. A lot of them don't want or need all that excess that those goliaths pack. These buyers simply need something to haul the kayaks upstream. Maybe, just maybe, they'll have to shuttle some camping gear down the not-so-beaten path to the camp site or ferry one of those tiny moving trailers across downtown Los Angeles.

Photo: Hyundai

Photo: Hyundai

These are "trucks" for those who wouldn't be cross shopping with traditional trucks. Of course a Raptor or Super Duty is a wonderfully-capable thing to have. I've driven all sorts of trucks from work-spec strippers to off-road supercars of the sand with hulking V8s and pussycat diesels. It's just a shame for people to buy one for however much money, usually in the ballpark of luxury sedans, only to never or rarely exploit a fraction of its capability just because they 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘬 they'll need it. Just rent a U-Haul.

For those fortunate enough to not be so strapped for cash, think of it this way. If you don't need an F-150 but need something more utilitarian than a crossover (and you really, really miss your uncle's Subaru Baja), you could score a Santa Cruz and splurge the rest of that budget on a new Toyota GR 86. Now doesn't that sound like a rad garage?

Why subject ourselves to ox-cart ride quality, dismal fuel economy, and oil tanker maneuverability when manufacturers can offer just what most urbanites need in a friendlier, car-like platform? No, it won't satisfy the ranchers the same way a Silverado 2500 would nor would it match a Tacoma on the trail, but it'll sure as hell kick them to the curb commuting on the grid. For young folk that just nailed the job interview at that tech firm and will soon be spending weekends at the trailhead with their shiny new mountain bikes, that's all they'll ever need.

If you need any more convincing to welcome these things to the market, then try this. Get them with their top-tier engines, plug in a tuner, and flash those puppies. Bam! Santa Cruz N and Maverick ST. I have spoken.

Join In

Comments (28)

  • Maverick needs more variants…. Single cab, longbed would be nice.

      1 month ago
  • I don't need seating for six or to tow 80,000 lbs

    I just need something small sporty and can carry over 1100 lbs in the back like this

      1 month ago
  • I really wish utes were a thing in America, they're pretty awesome

      1 month ago
    • There’s a company that apparently imports parts from utes from Australia and converts Chevys into utes. Or something like that, I don’t remember. It’s called Left Hand Utes or something like that.

        1 month ago
  • A truck that’s not a truck for a man that’s not a man. Both have been neutered by today’s societal norms. Pfffft! If you wanna haul your kayaks to the river, that’s where Subaru comes in…If you need/want something to do some serious hauling, get a truck, not an SUV that’s had the back 1/3 hacked off and an idiotic, virtually useless box bolted to the frame. Too many compromises, too little practicality.

      1 month ago
    • I like it. I had many a Subaru and we would say " A Suby will go anywhere a Landrover would go. The Landrover would do it more than once." That was 20 years ago so I can only imagine what they would do now.

      We would also pull the front CV joints out....

      Read more
        1 month ago
    • Pretty concise I would say

        1 month ago
  • Absolutely. It’s a close fight between that and the f 150 lightning for me. I’m looking for something that’s easier to daily

      1 month ago