Big Fun in a Small Package: Everything You Need to Know About the Current Mid-Size Trucks
Here’s a little secret. Pickup trucks are pretty popular in America. Ok, you probably knew that. The Ford F-Series is regularly at the top of all vehicles sold in America, with its half-ton rivals from GM and RAM not far behind. But what about the smaller midsize pickups? While not quite as dominant as their half-ton counterparts, this segment is every bit as competitive for both domestic and Japanese automakers.
With that in mind, here’s a roundup of some our most important mid-size pickup content with a focus on off-road capability.
The Major Players
When it comes to mid-size trucks that are currently available there are five major players:
Ford Ranger: which was re-introduced to the market in 2019 after a long hiatus. In that short time it's already grown a sizable following.
Toyota Tacoma: A proven and highly popular entry with a loyal fanbase, even if it's getting old in the tooth. Toyota has also done a good job of trying to keep it fresh.
Nissan Frontier: The oldest pickup on the market by far, although a new version is just around the corner.
Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon: Now in their second generation, these General Motors twins have been proven quite stout with both turbodiesel and V6 engine options.
Jeep Gladiator: While perhaps not a traditional midsize truck, the pickup version of the Jeep Wrangler is very much a player in the segment with all the same appeal of its cousin.
Each of these trucks is offered in variety of trims, with some having a lot more options available than others. For those interested in off-roading, each also offers at least one factory variant aimed at off-pavement adventuring.
For the Ranger this would be the recently-introduced Tremor model, as we sadly do not (yet) get the full-fledged Ranger Raptor in this market.
For the Toyota Tacoma, the TRD Pro model is going to be the best out-fitted off the showroom floor, with the TRD Off-Road version not far behind.
As with its counterpart the Wrangler, the Jeep Gladiator offers the Rubicon trim which has long been considered the way to go for off-the-shelf off-roading.
For the Colorado, the most enthusiast-oriented factory model is the ZR2, which is universally appreciated and known as one of the best factory off-road pickups ever.
Last but not least is the Nissan Frontier, which offers 4x4 enthusiasts the Pro-4X model as its most trail-ready trim.
And of course if the factory offerings aren’t enough, no matter which of these trucks you choose, you’ll get the benefit of plentiful aftermarket support.
So what’s next for the midsize truck segment? Here’s what we know about the future of some of these pickups.
Toyota Tacoma: The current generation Tacoma has been around since the 2016 model year, and like most of Toyota’s trucks and SUVs has fallen behind the competition in terms of powertrains. Rumor has it the next gen model will share a platform with the larger Tundra and will likely introduce turbocharged and possible hybrid powertrains.
Nissan Frontier: Having been around since 2004 without major changes, the current generation Frontier is one of the oldest vehicles on sale in the country. A new model is imminent though, having already been teased by Nissan and should be revealed in the coming months.
Ford Ranger: While it just arrived in the US for the 2019 model year, the Ford Ranger had already been available overseas for several years. An all new model should arrive within the next year or two, and it may be joined in the Ford lineup by a pickup version of the new Bronco (which shares its platform with the Ranger).
Chevy Colorado: Likewise, the Colorado and Canyon will get a new generation by 2023. The current model has both a Turbodiesel and a V6 engine option and we expect the powertrain options to grow with the next generation.
Jeep Gladiator: Finally, while the Gladiator hasn’t been around for long, Jeep is likely going to keep updating it. As with the Wrangler, we wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a 392 V8 Hemi version as well as a hybrid 4xE model to join the lineup.
And speaking of electrification, this is all before we get to the promised all electric pickups which could have this segment looking quite different several years from now.
Whether its big or small(er), there's never been a better time to be a truck buyer