The US market is a huge play field for pickup manufacturers. Many are racing and updating their creations to win the hearts of pickup enthusiasts. When we talk about the small pickup truck category, there simply isn’t much competition. Actually, when you look at it better, there are only two truly small pickups on the US market. We have 2023 Ford Maverick and 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz. While many others would try and put mid-size trucks in this category, we will not.
Those pickups might include the Honda Ridgeline, Toyota Tacoma, Chevy Colorado, GMC Canyon, Jeep Gladiator, Ford Ranger or Nissan Frontier. This is a mistake and we can all agree that they belong in the midsize pickup category. Therefore, we will only focus on the Maverick and Santa Cruz for the moment and discuss what makes them so special. Also, we hope that after reading this review you can decide which one you prefer more and which one caters to your personal needs.
2023 Ford Maverick
What is most impressive about the little Maverick is how much the designers managed to put inside while the cabin isn’t too big. It can properly seat five people without feeling cramped and flaring up your claustrophobia. And all trims will be four full doors, so no smaller cab versions. There is infotainment and a branded surround system. The dashboard is digital and we get chrome accents along the cabin to make it a bit more luxurious. There are rumors about a panoramic roof, but nothing is official yet.
This would be a great addition as you can just enjoy the view on starry nights or during long beach drives. There are still knobs and buttons in the Maverick so not everything is minimalistic in the 2023 Ford Maverick. On the outside we noticed that Ford went with the tried and tested recipe. The Maverick highly resembles its F-150 cousin. We get a big front grille, which is used as a style statement and a great air intake. Keeps the engine department cool and no overheating issues should arise. However, the cargo bed isn’t too big. Well, how big can it actually be on the small pickup truck. Ride height is decent, around 8.6 inches of ground clearance. Wheels are not smaller than on bigger pickups. We still get 18 inches aluminum alloys to shave off some weight.
This improves performance by increasing power to weight ratio. Under the hood things are quite fresh as well. The new 2023 Ford Maverick has a built-in hybrid powertrain as standard. It is a 2.5-liter Atkinson inline 4 with 94 kWh battery pack. This produces 191 horsepower and 155 pound-feet of torque. More than enough for the little Maverick. There is a turbocharged version of the 2.0-liter engine that one gives around 250 horsepower. The starting price for the 2023 Ford Maverick is $19995 which is quite decent for a brand-new pickup that can do a lot.
2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz
Hyundai made some big splashes when they announced their 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz. They also used the winning formula of their own design. Inside the Santa Cruz looks like a spitting image of the Tucson SUV. This ensures that the interior is luxurious, spacious and has that upper class feel. Something that you wouldn’t really expect in a small pickup truck. We have enough space for five people with plenty of legroom and headroom to spare.
The seating is highly improved. We have heated and ventilated seats to make even the longest bumpiest rides as comfortable as possible. We have a huge infotainment system, 10 inches in size which allows the back row of passengers to join the fun. A great addition is the built-in GPS which doesn’t come free with most vehicles. There are few refreshments on the outside when compared to the previous Santa Cruz. Less blocky look and more curves to make it ergonomic and aerodynamic. This in return improves fuel economy and towing capacity. There are aluminum alloys and front grille. This shaves off weight towards the same goal of improving power to weight ratio and making the truck faster and giving you more control.
We also get driver air software to help you get out of difficult situations. Under the hood things are interesting. We know of two possible powertrains so far. The basic 2.5-liter four-cylinder runs on gasoline. This gives around 190 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. Doesn’t sound like a lot but remember, this is a small pickup. There is a turbocharged version that gives around 275 horsepower. Eight-speed automatic transmission is standard and you get all-wheel drive.
2023 Chevy Montana
Another model that will officially happen is the 2023 Chevy Montana. Unfortunately, this small pickup has not been confirmed for the United States, yet. Hopefully, Chevrolet will sell it on American soil in the near future. Right now, Montana is certainly heading to Brazil and probably some other countries in South America. Chevy said the development advances at an accelerated pace, so this pickup is a couple of months away. From what we know, the Montana model will provide a smart interior layout in order to provide more space for the occupants. Chevrolet also promised a bed that will debut some new technologies, so the truck will provide great versatility as well.
So far, we saw one teaser image, so we can say the front fascia looks very distinctive and modern. The Montana model was supposed to go on sale this summer, but this small pickup will most likely hit the roads in Brazil in early 2023. Everything we said so far is official. Now, we are moving to speculations. Of course, it is impossible to predict a vehicle’s design or its interior. However, many reputable sources are already writing about the GEM platform. Thanks to that, Montana could arrive with a small 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine.
This unit is capable of producing 130 horsepower. Of course, this will be the standard engine option, while we hope the hybrid powertrain will come as an option. Again, this is just speculation, so we are waiting for Chevrolet to reveal more details in the following weeks.
2023 Kia Pickup Truck
This is another interesting story, unfortunately, not official. However, we expect the 2023 Kia Pickup Truck in the near future, that’s for sure. Kia is willing to enter the compact pickup segment, which got people excited. Reportedly, Kia Pickup Truck will sit on the same platform as the Hyundai Santa Cruz. Under the hood, a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with 180 horsepower will come as standard. Moreover, Kia plans to reveal the SX Turbo trim level.
It will be a high-performance variant that will use a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. This version will produce almost 250 horsepower. Both engines will be paired with a smooth 6-speed automatic transmission and a standard FWD system. We don’t know if the hybrid powertrain will become available right away. Still, the idea is great and Kia will surely build a small pickup in the future. Surely, borrowing stuff from the Sportage or Telluride model is a must, so it will be an exciting tiny model.
2023 Canoo Pickup Truck
Surely, the most interesting model is the all-electric 2023 Canoo Pickup Truck. It is an adorable small pickup that looks like nothing we have seen before. The styling certainly departs from the rest of the segment, which is a positive thing. Because there is no engine under the hood, this pickup is so innovative and cool. Interestingly, it is much shorter than the Tesla Cybertruck. However, Canoo’s bed is just slightly shorter than the bed on the large Cybertruck model.
If you are not looking for a traditional pickup, this one is the answer. The Canoo model is only 184 inches long, but its cargo area is impressive. It also provides a lot of innovative features, along with a smart interior layout. In terms of performance, this tiny all-electric pickup will reportedly produce 600 hp and 550 lb-ft of torque. Furthermore, it will provide over 200 miles of driving range on a single charge.
Will Ford Introduce All-Electric Small Pickup?
Yes, you read that correctly. Ford basically confirmed the arrival of the compact and fully electric pickup. However, we don’t know if it will be a brand-new model or the all-electric Maverick variant. Anyway, Ford’s Product Manager confirmed that the Blue Oval is about to build a new compact pickup. Moreover, Ford Explorer, Ford Bronco, and Lincoln Aviator are all getting electric versions. The Ranger EV also makes perfect sense, but we are talking about a smaller vehicle here.
There are many possibilities, and each of them is equally positive. We feel the Maverick Lightning model is the most logical outcome. Still, the focus is on the brand-new Ford F-150 Lightning variant at the moment. Interestingly, this model will start at $40,000, so a smaller electric model will be even more affordable, which is simply incredible.
Nissan is Also in the Race?
This is another intriguing rumor. It is a rumor, but it is a perfectly reasonable outcome for the future. Nissan reportedly plans to build a compact pickup truck, and it will be an all-electric model. And while Nissan plans to enter the race, the plan is slightly different than the plan with the Hyundai Santa Cruz. The fully electric model is the right answer.
This model will be sold in the United States, of course. It should fill the gap below the famous Frontier truck. Nissan has a smart strategy when it comes to electrifying the lineup and Nissan also has experience. The Nissan Aryia electric crossover is also on the way, so the new pickup will probably borrow a lot of things from the Ariya model.
2023 Chevy El Camino
The 2023 Chevy El Camino is not so certain to happen anytime soon. However, it would cause the biggest splash if it ever arrives. Despite numerous rumors, Chevrolet did not confirm this model. It is an iconic model that will allegedly make a huge comeback next year. However, we literally have zero details on this model right now. You can find a lot of stories on the internet, from the engine lineup to the launch date. Unfortunately, the El Camino is far from the official model, so we are hoping that the Chevrolet will surprise us in the near future with a positive answer.