Winner: Toyota Tacoma
Runner-Up: Dodge Dakota

Admittedly, this segment of the auto industry hasn't been getting much love over the last few years. Prices of full-size pickups have been so competitive, salesmen are slotting buyers into bigger, stronger, more capable vehicles, sometimes for the same money. But the Tacoma is still a serious player. Just about the newest (since its redesign) of any compact, the Taco has a strong four-cylinder and a neck-snapping 4.0-liter V6 -- and that doesn't even count the TRD supercharger option (for about $4000) offered at the dealer. It's the sales leader in the segment, and for good reason. However, if you have to have a V8, the only option is the Dakota, so we've slotted that in at number two.


Compact Pickup, 4WD ext cab 4-door
Vehicle Chevy/GMC Colorado/Canyon Dodge Dakota Club Cab Ford Ranger SuperCab Isuzu I-290
Base price $21,160/$20,570 $24,330 $22,870 $18,048 (2WD only)
Wheelbase, in 126 131.3 126 125.9
Base engine 2.9L DOHC I-4 3.7L SOHC V-6 4.0L SOHC V-6 2.9L DOHC I-4
Opt engine 3.7L I-5 $1000 4.7L HO V-8 $1615   3.7L I-5 $4089
Horsepower, SAE 185 (242) 210 (302) 207 185 (242)
Torque, SAE 190 (242) 235 (329) 238 190 (242)
Tires 205/75R15 245/75R16 225/70R15 225/75R15
Fuel cap, gal 19 22 19.5 19.6
EPA fuel econ, city/hwy 16/20 (15/21) 15/19 (14/19) 15/19 16/22 (15/20)
Max pass 5 6 5 5
Base curb weight, lb 3506 4296 3410 3488
GVWR, lb 5300 6010 5060 4600
Max payload, lb 1500 1750 1600 1200
Max towing cap, lb 5500 7100 5800 3500
Vehicle Mazda B-Series Cab Plus Mitsubishi Raider Extended Cab Nissan Frontier King Cab Toyota Tacoma Access Cab
Base price $22,680 $20,535 (4x2 only) $22,495 $22,240
Wheelbase, in 126 131.3 125.9 127.2
Base engine 4.0L SOHC V-6 3.7L SOHC V-6 4.0L DOHC V-6 2.7L DOHC I-4
Opt engine       4.0L V-6 $1555
Horsepower, SAE 207 210 261 159 (236)
Torque, SAE 238 235 281 180 (266)
Tires 225/70R15 245/70R16 225/70R15 205/75R15
Fuel cap, gal 19.5 22 21.1 21
EPA fuel econ, city/hwy 15/19 16/22 15/19 15/19 (15/18)
Max pass 5 6 5 5
Base curb weight, lb 3662 4310 3704 3670
GVWR, lb 5020 6010 5178 5350
Max payload, lb 1400 1700 1300 1600
Max towing cap, lb 5600 4150 6300 6500