A look back at the compact pickup’s heyday

The 80s is strong in this 28-miniute comparison review from MotorWeek as the “TV Magazine” judges the four main competitors in the compact pickup segment for the 1986 model year. It was the 1980s that truly solidified the compact pickup as an everyday workhorse and a time in truck history we love remembering. The field includes the Ford Ranger, Chevrolet S-10, Nissan Hard Body, Isuzu P’UP, and Mazda B-2000. Which one comes out on top? Keep reading to find out.

Don’t think I’m going to spoil the answer off the bat, though. This competition is worth the watch. MotorWeek runs the trucks through a battery of criteria that includes sporty appearance, utility, performance, drivability, and affordability. Despite most of them being subjective, these points show the differences between the trucks – two of which are “domestic” and the others being “imports.” Interestingly enough, the Nissan Hard Body was already being built in Tennessee in the mid-1980s.

The comparison test shows just how small these compact these trucks really were. Nothing on the market short of a Smart FourTwo comes close to how tight these trucks’ interiors really were. Modern day mid-size pickup would utterly dwarf these five contenders – not only in shear size, but also in functionality, safety, power, and “sporty styling.”

In the end, it came down to picking winners and losers. Isuzu brought up the rear with a fifth place finish, while Chevy brought in a surprising fourth place. It was Nissan and its Hard Body pickup that landed third place, while the Mazda shockingly came in second. Ford, however, took the top spot thanks to its wins in utility, performance, and drivability, the 1986 Ford Ranger took home MotorWeek’s top honors in this battle of the tiny trucks.

Watch the video and let us know what you think in the comments below. This blast-from-the-past is definitely worth the watch.


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