New trend in pickup trucks: Smaller, more car-like

Dave Kunz Image
Tuesday, May 4, 2021
New trend in pickup trucks: smaller, more car-like
The pickup market is expanding with new smaller, gentler trucks that are built more like a car.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Lots of people use pickup trucks for work purposes. And, lots of people now use pickups for non-work purposes, maybe occasionally making use of the bed.

For that latter category of buyers, something different may be a more sensible solution: the Honda Ridgeline, which has gotten some updates for 2021. Why is it better in some ways than a conventional truck? It's built on the same chassis as the Honda Pilot crossover SUV. In other words, built more like a car.

The plusses are a quieter cabin, and a better ride, thanks to an independent rear suspension. But it is still a four-door pickup truck, ready for many carrying tasks. Oh, and for tailgating, too. There's a clever under-bed storage area just forward of the tailgate which can double as a beverage cooler. It has a truck look, and truck features, without the harsh truck ride. The 2021 Ridgeline starts at $36,490

But Honda's pickup is hardly what you'd call a lightweight. The surprisingly roomy bed can carry payloads of over 1,500 pounds. And, the vehicle can tow trailers up to 5,000 pounds.

Honda's been going it alone in this category, but not for long. Later this year, Hyundai will begin offering its just-introduced Santa Cruz pickup, built on the same chassis as their Tucson SUV. Not quite as capable for big hauling, as the bed is pretty small. But it does have a locking roll-top cover to keep cargo secure and dry.

The Santa Cruz has been anticipated for some time, and has been generating lots of interest on social media since being revealed. Officially, Hyundai has labeled it a "Sport Adventure Vehicle." The price will be announced closer to the Santa Cruz's late-summer on-sale date.

And Ford may be jumping into this sub-category of pickups, too. There will supposedly be a Ford truck smaller than the mid-size Ranger, possibly called Maverick. No official confirmation from Ford on any of this.

So if you still need a big truck, only a big truck will do. But if you're someone who would only use a big truck for lighter chores, this emerging category of smaller, gentler pickups might literally be a better fit.