Every 2021 Mid-Size Truck Ranked from Best to Worst

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After being overlooked for some time by consumers, the mid-size truck segment is heating up!

Trucks have been getting bigger and bigger over the years. Mid-size (or sometimes “compact”) trucks of yesteryear were truly compact. Think of the Chevy S-10, a low-slung light-duty affair. The largest S-10 was still smaller than the smallest Chevy Colorado of today. Today’s mid-size trucks are slightly smaller and cheaper than their full-size counterparts (and offer better gas mileage), but they are just as rugged and off-road capable.

They are becoming more popular for city and suburban dwellers who crave the flexibility trucks offer (for home improvement and yard projects) but in a smaller city-friendly package than full-size offerings. Just look at the Toyota Tacoma of recent years. It’s been on a sales tear!

We rank 7 mid-size trucks from worst to best by combining their ratings on driving performance, standard features, design, and value.

7. 2021 Nissan Frontier

2019 nissan frontier

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The 2021 Nissan Frontier ranks lowest on our mid-size truck ranking for a variety of reasons. Right out the gate, it’s working off a dated design. The current third generation of the Frontier goes back to 2004, and it’s time for a refresh. It’s especially needed as many other competitors have announced redesigns. Not only is the exterior outdated, but the interior also utilizes cheap materials with a behind-the-times design. Seating is cramped, and safety scores are below average for the vehicles in this class. If you’re going to be rough on your mid-size truck, maybe opt for this cheaper option. You won’t feel as bad getting the Frontier dirty compared to the more expensive trucks on this list.

6. 2021 Toyota Tacoma

2021 toyota tacoma

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The 2021 Toyota Tacoma is middle-of-the-pack on our list, but you wouldn’t know it from its sales numbers. In fact, the Tacoma is one of the most popular vehicles on the entire market. However, we feel the current Tacoma has overstayed its welcome. The minor cosmetic refreshes last year were welcoming. However, other competitors have nicer, more upscale cabins. Plus, the Tacoma has a lower towing capacity than other trucks on this list. That’s what you get a truck for! To tow things! That being said, plenty of people seem to like the Tacoma’s design, and they also appreciate the good off-roading capabilities and low ownership costs. These models last for years and years according to many studies of used cars.

5. 2021 Ford Ranger

2019 ford ranger

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The Ford Ranger arose from the dead in 2019! The last time Ford’s mid-size truck was around, Obama was about to run for reelection. Hoping to recreate the sales success of the best-selling F-150, Ford has created a perfectly reasonable mid-size offering. The 2021 Ranger has adequate handling and sufficient engine. Drivers will appreciate capable payload and towing capacities, and it even has decent fuel economy. Will the exterior or interior design turn heads? Not really. Overall, however, this new Ranger is a success.

4. 2021 GMC Canyon

2019 gmc canyon

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The 2021 GMC Canyon and the Chevrolet Colorado are mechanically identical, but the packaging is what sets them apart. We prefer the stylings of the GMC, but higher costs are the price for the better looks. That’s a worthy deal for some, but it’s why we placed it at #4 behind the Colorado. When it boils down to it, you’re essentially paying more for the same vehicle. That being said, the Canyon is no slouch. It has a high-class cabin finish and the best-in-class towing numbers. It even has an available diesel engine, something more common for full-size trucks. The only downside is that the GMCs have some lower reliability ratings than competitors.

3. 2021 Chevrolet Colorado

2019 chevrolet colorado

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As we said before, the 2021 Chevrolet Colorado and the GMC Canyon are mechanically similar. However, the starting MSRP for the Colorado is a few thousand dollars cheaper than the Canyon. Those monetary savings are why we rank it higher on our list. Because of their similarities, the same pros and cons of the Canyon also apply to the Colorado. There’s a strong array of powerful engine options, towing capacity is top of the class, and the driving experience is capable and comfortable. The interior quality is lower than that of the GMC, but it is still straightforward and uncomplicated. The only con is somewhat subpar reliability ratings.

2. 2021 Jeep Gladiator

a brand-nrew 2020 jeep gladiato

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Jeep’s newest offering is the mid-size truck Gladiator. The Gladiator is just at home off the beaten path as it is on the pavement. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise considering Jeep’s storied history. Like the Wrangler, the Gladiator features removable hardtop roofs and removable doors. Plus, the two rows are plenty comfortable for adults. The engine could use some more oomph, but the real drawback that kept it from reaching the top spot is a high price tag. You could outfit competitors with more for cheaper and still get the job done.

1. 2021 Honda Ridgeline

2019 honda ridgeline

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The Honda Ridgeline is sometimes a forgotten option for buyers looking for a mid-size truck. General Motors and Ford often come to mind first because of the storied truck histories of those manufacturers. But those who do find the Ridgeline often fall in love. Essentially, the 2021 Honda Ridgeline is a two-row Honda Pilot with the addition of a bed. If you’re familiar with the layout and design of the Pilot, you’ll be right at home in the Ridgeline.

The interior is well-laid out and spacious, and Honda is known for its nifty storage features. Those are here, too, in the Ridgeline by way of a storage area (trunk) under the bed and a unique side-hinged tailgate opening. Because of its unibody design, the Ridgeline drives more like a mid-size SUV than a body-on-frame truck, which means a surefooted and cushy ride. It does have a lower towing capacity than some rivals, however. But a well-appointed Ridgeline is hard to beat!