On June 22, 2021, Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama announced the launch of the brand-new 2022 Santa Cruz. It’s being labeled as a Sport Adventure Vehicle, making it completely different from anything else on the market. This vehicle attracts both SUV and compact truck enthusiasts with its open bed space, enjoyable cabin, and hidden bed storage.

While the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz isn’t set to arrive at U.S dealerships until later in the summer, it has people wondering about the sudden popularity of compact trucks. Why are compact trucks becoming so popular and who is buying them?

The Rise of the Compact Truck

It wasn’t that many years ago that Edmunds predicted there would be a return of the compact pickups, and the publication couldn’t have nailed it on the head any better. Not only are trucks continuing to get bigger with every redesign, but there is also a demand for lower-cost options.

According to sales data from 2020, pickup trucks were the most popular vehicle for the year, followed by the compact SUV. If these two segments were combined, one would think it would create a goldmine for manufacturers. Yet, there aren’t that many companies jumping on board quite yet.

Whether it is the new Ford Maverick, the Honda Ridgeline, or another comparable model, drivers are flocking toward compact trucks at record rates. Soon, you will see more automakers re-evaluating their lineup and we bet it will include compact pickups.

Size of Trucks Today

As previously mentioned, the pickup truck continues to get larger. About a decade ago, you would be able to purchase a compact, smaller pickup for your basic job needs. These days, the smallest you can find is actually a midsize truck, despite its name. The Ford Ranger, Toyota Tacoma, and Chevy Colorado have all grown over the years.

In the first year of production, a new Chevy Colorado was 16 feet long with the Regular Cab configuration. Today, not only is there no Regular Cab for the Colorado, but the Extended Cab model measured almost 18 feet long.

The Toyota Tacoma is another great example. While the smallest one available now measures more than 17.5 feet long, you could once get a Regular Cab version measuring just 14.5 feet long in the 1990s. There wasn’t even an option for a Crew Cab model when the Tacoma was first introduced.

So you see, there aren’t true compact trucks available to buy right now. With this wide-open gap, there’s a market to fill and several automakers are happy to oblige.

Who Buys Compact Trucks?

In general, those looking to buy a compact truck are likely in their mid-30s to 50s. These are the same buyers that are looking for something smaller that fits comfortably in a garage. Another driving factor is the price. There are plenty of buyers that want the practicality of a pickup truck but aren’t looking to spend $70k to get everything they want.

Back in the day, the Chevy S10s, Toyota trucks, and Ford Rangers weren’t just small, they were also cheap. Give a driver the chance to buy a car for $20,000 or upgrade a little more with a truck, and they might be more willing to consider the pickup.

It shall be interesting to see what becomes of the compact truck segment over the next few years. While we doubt these trucks will dethrone the F-Series in popularity, there should be a hot market to fill.

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