The Best Off-Road Trucks Straight from the Showroom Floor
‘That guy’ drives down the highway in his jacked-up rig, burping the throttle because his monster four-by sounds so mean. Everyone has a word they mutter under their breath to describe ‘that guy’. However, Skyjacker suspension lift kits and oversized tires a capable 4WD do not make. It’s a pavement princess. Never hitting a dirt road, never mind going off-roading. And who has the time or money to modify their pickup truck to look like a rich hillbilly? Why not just buy one of the best-performing off-road trucks on the market right off the showroom floor? Every truck manufacturer has a trim level that’s suited for the backroads and dunes, and they come with a warranty.
2020 Nissan Titan XD Pro 4X
It’s big, it’s heavy, but it has torque for days. The Nissan Titan XD with the Cummins 5.0L diesel engine has 310 horsepower and 555 lb.-ft. of torque. With the Pro 4X package, a two-speed transfer case and electronic locking rear differential add to its off-road prowess. The Pro 4X Titan XD also includes Bilstein off-road performance shocks, skid plates, and 18-inch LT tires. I won’t lie – this truck is one of my top two favorites in appearance. It does the trick for light off-roading, but there are better options out there.
2020 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro
Old as the hills Toyota Hilux trucks are what you’ll often find booting through mud bogs and trails. The 2020 Tundra TRD Pro doesn’t resemble that truck one bit, yet it’s built with the offroader in mind. Functional dress-up options include LDC fog lights from Rigid Industries, tow hooks, and a TRD front skid plate.
The hardcore mudder might take this truck through its paces with trail-tuned Bilstein shocks, automatic limited-slip differential, and part-time 4WD with electronically-controlled transfer case. The 381-hp 5.7L V8 can handle it, but your heart won’t like getting the Tundra TRD Pro that dirty.
2020 Ram 1500 Rebel
Perhaps the toughest-looking truck that can take as much abuse as you can dish is the 2020 Ram 1500 Rebel. From the textured black plastic reserved for rugged trucks to two-tone aluminum wheels that look all-business, the Ram 1500 Rebel squares off well against the competition. When you’re beating the terrain into submission, its LED headlights, fog lights, and taillights are a welcome addition.
But what makes it one of the best off-road trucks? 33-inch DuraTracs definitely help, as do tow hooks you probably don’t need and performance-tuned shocks. It includes skid plates for the steering gear and as well as the rest of the drivetrain, and the available 5.7L HEMI V8 definitely pulls its weight. While the available 4-corner air suspension may not be more capable than the usual shocks and springs, it does take the bone-jarring feeling away.
2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon
We waited for more than a decade for the Gladiator, and it was worth it. The Rubicon trim especially makes off-road gearheads drool a little extra. It comes standard with 4:1 Rock-Trac Heavy-Duty Part-Time 4WD, electronic sway-bar disconnect, 33-inch off-road tires, and Dana 44 axles. Then there are Tru-Lok electronic front and rear lockers and an LSD diff.
Of course, the purists will want to rip the doors and roof off and drop the windshield, just like the Wrangler. Go ahead, do it. Just be warned that mud will find you in these off-road trucks.
2020 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-road
The midsize truck segment is making a play at top off-road trucks, and the Tacoma has led the charge for a while. The 2020 Tacoma TRD Off-road has the chops to make short work of tough tasks with its comprehensive build-out. 4×4 models with an auto tranny include Multi-terrain Select and Crawl Control while Double Cab trims include an available Multi-terrain Monitor with camera to see what’s going on under the front.
If the Tacoma looks like it has good ground clearance, it’s because it does. A 9.4-inch ground clearance, electronically controlled locking rear diff, and Bilstein shocks mean this best of the off-road trucks is built for bush-road business.
2020 Ford F-150 Raptor
For the small sacrifice of your child’s college education fund, you can snag the 2020 Ford F-150 Raptor. It’s the ultimate off-road truck straight off the assembly line. It’s a Baja ready beast with the teeth to devour the competition. A twin-turbo 450-hp 3.5L EcoBoost V6 and 510 lb.-ft. of torque, Fox live valve monotube shocks for continuously variable damping, two-stage variable-rate rear springs, long-travel suspension, electronic-locking rear differential, TORSEN front diff, Torque-On-Demand transfer case… need I say more?
Yes, there’s more to say. The off-road capabilities go even further with Trail Control to manage low-speed traction on rugged terrain. Ground clearance is an impressive 11.5 inches while the angle of approach is more than 30 degrees. You don’t have to love Ford, but you have to give respect where it’s due.
2020 Chevrolet Silverado LT Trail Boss
The bowtie brand is getting into the game with a 2020 Silverado or two designed for the backcountry. The Trail Boss trim is available for the Silverado Custom and also the LT. The Custom Trail Boss includes a factory 2-inch suspension lift and the notorious Z71 Off-Road package, as well as an Autotrac 2-speed transfer case and 18-inch wheels with Goodyear DuraTrac tires.
The Silverado LT Trail Boss takes all that and gives it more options and more power. A 355-hp 5.3L EcoTec3 V8 and 10-speed tranny along with an Eaton Locker rear diff earns it the name Trail Boss and puts it on the list of best off-road trucks.
2020 Ford Ranger Lariat FX4
A bit of a surprising entry for off-road pickups is the 2020 Ford Ranger. It isn’t exactly the most powerful truck with its 2.3L EcoBoost engine making all of 270 horses, although it is respectable. And the Ranger isn’t the largest pickup nor does it have the best clearances.
What it does have are tech features like Terrain Management System and Trail Control in the FX4 Off-Road Package. And it has an electronic locking rear diff, independent front suspension, and parabolic rear leaf springs. Alright, so it holds its own.
What makes the package even better is a new dealer-installed option: Ford Performance Parts suspension leveling kits. Now the Ford Ranger Lariat can have a beefier look and feel, plus better clearances for just a bit extra off-road truck prowess.