Mini truck brands are numerous, with each major manufacturer contributing to the market. Located primarily out of Japan, these cars have become synonymous with automotive efficiency. But which brand is the best? Each brand has several generations and variations. You have lifts, dump beds, campers, and vans, just to name a few. Then you have the actual brands to consider. These brands are the Suzuki Carry, Daihatsu Hijet, Mitsubishi Minicab, Honda Acty, Mazda Porter, and the Subaru Sambar.
If you have ever wondered about the different mini truck brands available, this article is for you.
A note about mini trucks
Mini trucks are limited in their size and in their power. They are not the same as the smaller vehicles that you see in today’s market. For that reason, you should know the differences between the brands, as well as weigh the intended use of the vehicle to what is available. Kei trucks offer a diverse range of functions for a fraction of the cost. These brands solve purchasing some of the more modern full-size or small standard-sized vehicles on the market.
The Suzuki Carry
Introduced in the early 60s, the Suzuki Carry is one of the more popular Kei bands in the market. The first-generation model (1961) had the engine under the seat. This engine was a 356cc 21Hp. However, the changes to the model over time have moved the engine to the rear and to the front of the vehicle. When looking at the progress of the Suzuki carry, you see that most of the changes occurred after 1982. The reason for this is that the Carry was renamed in 1982 to the Suzuki Every and underwent a re-visioning. From 1982 to the present, the mini-truck brand has undergone 7 more generations. Currently, in the eleventh generation, the vehicle now houses a 657cc engine and features many modern technologies for safety and driveability.
A year older than the Suzuki Carry, the Daihatsu Hijet is another one of the top mini truck brands on the market. The brand is available in Microvan and a Kei Truck. While the vehicle has some unique features, such as the 356cc engine, there are other qualities that are reminiscent of the Daihatsu Midget. The reason for this is that this Kei truck is the replacement for the Midget. That being stated, the generational changes which this vehicle has seen have taken it a long way from the first generation. Specifically, the later generations have yielded a sleeker, more powerful automobile. The Daihatsu is in its tenth generation and offers an engine in 658, 659, or 998cc.
It should be noted that the Daihatsu vans have had less popularity than the Kei trucks of this brand. The trucks have been highly successful, becoming a standard from which other brands are based.
Sold since ’Sold since 1966, the Mitsubishi Minicab is this company’s Kei option. First-generation vehicle from the mini truck brand was a bit more powerful than some of the other competitors’ first generation. While most engines had a 356, the Mitsubishi Minicab had a slightly higher 359cc engine. This is not to say that the engine has not been improved. Changes in the fourth generation onward have consistently seen engine and transmission upgrades.
The biggest change which has occurred in the Mitsubishi MiniCab solves the demand for greener technology. The latest generation offers an all-electric option known as the Mitsubishi Minicab MiEV. This is one of the few brands to have a fully electric vehicle, making it stand out from other mini truck brands.
One of the most popular Kei mini truck brands on the market, the Subaru Sambar, stands apart from other Kei trucks. Why is this? First, the truck has years of being on the market. The first Subaru Sambars were introduced in 1961. Second, the truck takes the design of the Daihatsu Hijet and has improved upon it. While this is a statement to the Daihatsu, it also shows that the Sambar goes beyond what the other brand offers. Third, from the first generation onwards, the Subaru Sambar has pushed the envelope. First-generation models were the only Kei trucks to have 4-wheel suspension. Engines in the first generation were substantially higher than the 356cc standard. Subaru Sambars started with a 365cc engine and have come up from there.
Adhering to the standards of most full-sized vehicles, the Subaru Sambar has attempted to mimic some features of such automobiles in the Kei trucks and vans they offer. This means that there is side collision assist, LED lighting, back up assist, and front engine placement in the latest generation. Depending upon the year and generation, some of these features may change.
The Honda Acty is the youngest of all the brands mentioned. Introduced in 1977, this Kei was a replacement for the Honda TN360 and the HondaT360. These were older Kei vehicles that did not have the same success as other mini truck brands. The Honda Acty’s first-generation Kei trucks had a 545cc 2-cylinder engine. This engine was the standard in the models until the second generation launched ten years later in 1988. During this time, the engine was updated. Other generations, which occurred about every ten years, have upgraded the aesthetics and the engine as well.
While there is a Kei Van for the Honda Acty, it should be noted that the Honda Acty van has been discontinued for the Honda Street. The Kei truck remains in production with the current generation.
Which mini truck brands should you purchase from?
The above brands are the top on the market. There are other brands available, such as the Mazda Porter and the Nissan Pao. The best brand depends upon the needs and the aesthetics which you wish to have. If you seek to have a more classic look, seek a Kei truck or van that is 25 years old or older. You should keep in mind that when purchasing a Kei Truck, that those are classic can be driven on-road in most instances. Newer mini truck brands may be limited to off-road or agricultural uses. Check the state ordinances.
Check with your local importation, tax, and title authority to find out the regulations regarding the importation and driving of your desired mini truck brands.