What Is A Mini Truck? Quick Explanation (For Newbies)

If you’re an auto dealer, enthusiast, or perhaps you’ve been following auto trends, you probably must’ve heard about mini trucks. Customized or not, they have a good reputation and people, especially in the U.S. love them.

Given the kind and amount of attention that a mini truck attracts, it’s no surprise.

Since the ‘80s to recent times, mini trucks have been and are still popular. And why not? They are cheap to build and parts are affordable.

What Is A Mini Truck?
Mini trucks are small cargo trucks from Japan and China also known as “Kei Trucks”. They only weigh around 1,500 lb and can carry up to  1760 lb. They are a lot cheaper than pickup trucks which is part of the reason why they have gained popularity.

Here are some things you should know about these tiny trucks!

What Exactly Is A Mini Truck?

Originating from Japan, a mini- or micro-truck is a very practical tiny and light truck, which fall under the category of sub-1000cc engines.

Here are few examples on our article on Mini Trucks Weight & Dimensions

Mini trucks are generally available in 4WD or RWD versions. They are typically used on farms or by smaller business to transport light cargo.

Some mini truck services include:

  • Courier services,
  • postal services,
  • and certain home appliances delivery.

However, over the years, mini trucks have evolved.

Nowadays, mini truck wheels are 14-15-inch. Many mini-truck owners still prefer smaller wheels. Newer body modifications include tail lights, corner turn signals, shaving door handles, gas doors, mirrors – the list extends to your creativity limit. You can even upgrade your lights.

You may also find some examples on our article about How Fast are Mini Trucks?

Mini Trucks Weight, Speed, And Dimensions

The average Japanese mini trucks, also known as Kei trucks, have an approximate standard trim weight of 2,000 lbs. While the rear bed options weigh slightly more.

The law (1998) sets a maximum displacement of 660 ccs, with a maximum width of 1.48 m (58 in), a maximum length of 3.4 m (134 in), and a maximum height of 2.0 m (79 in).

On average, they weigh about 900 kg (1980 lb), with a bed load capacity of close to 800 kg (1760 lb). They can also reach up to 120 km/h (75 mph) when ungoverned.

Because of the truck length limits, most modern Kei trucks are built to include a cab over the top to maximize the truck’s ability to carry more load.

Dimensions and weight for mini trucks:

Mini Trucks Length  Width  Height  Curb Weight Max Load
Honda Acty 10.6 ft 4.9 ft 5.8 ft 1476 lb 770 lb
Suzuki carry 10.6 ft 4.9 ft 6 ft 1490 lb 770 lb
Subaru Sambar 10.9 ft 4.6 ft 6.3 ft 1628 lb 710 lb
Mitsubishi Minicab 11.2 ft 4.9 ft 6.3 ft 1630 lb 772 lb
Mahindra Supro 12.4 ft 5.1 ft 6.2 ft 2667 lb 850 lb
Tata Ace Mega  12.5 ft 5 ft 6.2 ft 4321 lb 850 lb


Check out our article over here for details about these truck brands. It’s a great read if you consider buying a mini truck!

Do Mini Trucks Come With RWD (Rear-Wheel-Drive) Or 4WD (Four-Wheel-Drive)?

Mini trucks do come in RWD (Rear-Wheel-Drive) and 4WD (Four-Wheel-Drive) versions.

Whereas, they’re called RWD when only the rear tires spin. Front or rear, the difference is rarely felt. For this section, 2WD will be the term used to describe RWD truck versions. Now back to answering the question;

2WD Trucks

General wisdom would be to avoid 2WD’s in general if you live in remote off-road areas. Or areas where it almost constantly snows or rains heavily.

But we also think that mini trucks are more suitable for mild climates anyway. You wouldn’t trust a mini truck to start every time if you live in the cold north!

When To Get A 4WD Mini Truck

4WD’s are high performing beasts for all weathers, roads, and loads.

Generally, I don’t think there’s a need for a 4WD mini truck. That is unless you intend to load it up heavily on slippery roads.

You should never drive your mini trucks too far from the main roads. They are not meant for off-road driving. In that case, you are much better suited with a UTV with a trailer!

Check out this article where we line UTVs up against mini trucks!

Bear in mind that 4WD’s are not as economic due to their high performance.

Who Are The Makers Of Mini Trucks?

Mini trucks were originally sold as stock brands like:

  • Mitsubishi,
  • Nissan,
  • Toyota,
  • Mazda
  • Honda,
  • Suzuki,
  • Daihatsu,
  • Hyundai,
  • and Subaru.

You can read a guide we have done to the most-popular mini truck brands here.

Over the past decades, these major Japanese auto manufacturers have constantly increased the safety, utility, and performance of mini trucks.

Be informed that Ford, GM, and Chrysler are not makers of mini trucks.

How Durable Are Mini Trucks Compared To Small Pickup Trucks?

Those with the need to haul cargo are always comparing different load vehicles.

We already know what a mini truck is, so before we compare, let’s briefly learn about the small pick-up truck.

Differences Between Pickup Trucks And Japanese Mini Trucks

Here’s a comparison of their good and bad qualities to help your decision making, as follows;

The performance level of pick-up trucks varies depending on the make and model. However, their overall performance is quite exceptional. Pick-up trucks can be relied on for deliveries in almost every service field, provided the cargo is within the weight capacity.

They are much stronger and durable than mini trucks.

Are Mini Trucks Worth It?

We’ve already established that mini trucks are functional, useful, and popular around the world for being a cheap alternative to pick-up trucks.

But, are they worth it?

Especially since pick-up trucks have more horsepower. How do you know whether or not you’re getting the worth of every buck you’re spending on it?

When you consider the low cost of mini trucks they are definitely a viable option if you don’t need the muscle of a real pickup truck.

Depending on the automaker, mini trucks vary in design. However, they are all similar in the design model. Top sellers like Daihatsu Hijet, Subaru Sambar, Mazda, and Hyundai make the most promising, powerful, and reliable versions of mini trucks.

Some of the most popular models are the flat-bed mini trucks, dump bed mini trucks, scissor lift trucks, etc.

The great thing about mini trucks is – if you’re not satisfied with the stock model, you can just get the mini truck and customize to your preferences. Most times, customizations vary depending on your intended purpose for the truck. And depending on the level of personalization, it could rack up high expenses for you.

For instance; if you intend to use your truck for carrying gravel and sand, the dump bed functionality may be more suited. But, if you’re just going hunting, skip all that customization and get yourself a normal mini truck.

Questions to ask before deciding if mini trucks are worth it

Before you read any further, you need to check out our buyers guide for mini trucks here.

Once you’ve decided on purchasing a mini truck, regardless of the model, before you do, check out some of the following factors;

  • How reliable is it?

The truck’s reliability will be affected by how the previous users maintained it. So it also makes sense to find out how many different users were involved and how many different occasions for which the truck was used.

Lastly, examine the vehicle – every part and every detail – to ensure that the truck is in good condition. It may be better if your mechanic takes a look and approves it.

Here’s a thorough guide we’ve made for you on buying a used mini truck.

  • How is the performance?

To check the performance, some of the factors to consider are speed and mileage – depending on whether the mini truck is new or used.

Make sure to test-drive it at different speeds.

You need to know how a mini truck feels in order to check if it’s in good condition!

  • How much does it cost?

We’ve also made a great guide to exactly how much you should expect to pay for a mini truck.

  • Is it easy to maintain and repair?

Unless you are a very patient man/woman, you should check for spare parts’ availability as well as how easy maintenance or repair would be.

Thankfully, the maintenance of Japanese mini trucks is easy and affordable. Their fuel consumption is great and spare parts are readily available. You can find them almost everywhere.

  • Is it street legal?

Some states have different street restrictions for different kinds of vehicles.

It would be a wise thing to learn the restrictions and laws of your state so that you can enjoy your drive without problems from the law.

Here’s an extensive guide we’ve made that tells you all you need to know about where mini trucks are street legal (and where they are not!)

People’s Experiences With Mini Trucks

Some people love the mini truck for being fun to drive, easy to climb in and out of, and their ability to easily fit into weird places. For instance; down narrow pasture lanes on farms, sheds, stalls, barns, the woods, as well as through every gate.

People also enjoy the closed cab convenience as well as the bed.

Where Can I Buy A Mini Truck?

The following companies are some of the dealers in new and/or used mini trucks;

  • Substar Inc.

Substar Inc is a premier exporter of second hand Japanese mini trucks and spare parts. Including Honda Acty, Suzuki Carry, Mitsubishi Minicab, Subaru Sambar, Daihatsu Hijet, etc.

They also deal in the following types of mini trucks; dump bed, scissor lift, skylift, jumbo cab, and other custom-made types.

All their mini trucks can be driven as an on-road vehicle.

  • U.S. Mini Trucks

In the United States, you can buy mini trucks on US Mini Trucks.com. They are dealers on Honda and Subaru mini truck, servicing and parts. Including importation, collection, and sale of Japanese Kei and off-road mini trucks

  • Duncan Imports and Classic Cars

Duncan Imports and Classic Cars are one of the largest dealers on minitrucks in the United States and Canada.

  • Mitsui Company Ltd

Mitsui Company Ltd deals in used mini trucks.

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