If you’re a truck lover, the past couple of years have been what dreams are made of, and this year is just as fruitful. We’re not talking about dream concepts or drawing board fantasies, either. Much as the supposed introduction of Jeep’s Wrangler-based pickup later this year and the recently announced return of Ford’s Ranger and Bronco badges in a couple of years are drool-worthy, these are trucks that are available now. These trucks pack plenty of off-road capability into tech-savvy packages and deserve to be on your short list if you’re in the market.
Ram Power Wagon (shown above): Way back in 1946 the Power Wagon was introduced as the first civilian 4×4, and this new incarnation is a true off-road powerhouse. The 2017 Power Wagon starts life as a Ram 2500 Heavy Duty Crew Cab and is enhanced with a long list of off-road hardware and a new grille design. Under the hood is a 6.4-liter HEMI V-8 making 410 hp and 429 lb-ft. of torque mated to a six-speed automatic. The Power Wagon boasts substantial upgrades to its suspension system, including Bilstein shocks and an electronic disconnecting front sway bar.
Ford F-150: Not one to sit on its laurels, Ford continues to make improvements on its already formidable F-150. The 2017 model features safety systems that includes Ford’s Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection that can automatically apply the truck’s brakes to help prevent a collision with another vehicle or pedestrian. New enhanced adaptive cruise control is also available that allows the driver to set a cruising speed and then radar and camera technology monitors the traffic ahead to maintain a set distance between vehicles, even when coming to a complete stop. Engines for 2017 include an all-new 3.0-liter Power Stroke® V6 turbo diesel and enhanced V6 and V8 gas engines.
Toyota Tacoma: Need a slightly smaller truck? Toyota has you covered with the Tacoma. When the new generation of Tacoma hit the streets last year, it included a number of improvements, including the use of high-strength steel to help enhance rigidity and overall strength and a 278-horsepower 3.5-liter Atkinson-cycle V6 with VVT-iW (Variable Valve Timing with Intelligent Wider Intake). This year brings the introduction of the Tacoma TRD Pro that’s available as a Double Cab Off-Road 4×4 model. An extra bonus: it comes with a standard GoPro camera mount for immortalizing all of your off-road rampaging.
Chevrolet Colorado ZR2: Also worth watching in the midsize truck segment is Chevy’s Colorado ZR2. Compared to a standard Colorado, the ZR2 features a much wider track and a lifted suspension. Functional rockers have been added for better performance over rocks and obstacles, and the front and rear bumpers have been modified for better off-road clearance. Also included are front and rear electronic locking differentials, an available diesel engine, and the first off-road application of Dynamic Suspensions Spool Valve (DSSVTM) damper technology. Created by Multimatic Inc. out of Markham, Ontario, high-performance Dynamic Suspensions Spool Valve (DSSV) dampers are used in championship-winning motorsport vehicles (including recent Formula One winners).
Nissan Titan XD PRO-4X: Positioned to duke it out for Ford’s F-150, Nissan’s full-size truck offering features part-time four-wheel drive as standard equipment as well as all-terrain tires, 18-by-8-inch aluminum wheels, Bilstein dampers, a locking rear differential, hill-descent control, and a steel skid plate protecting the radiator and the oil sump. The Titan is powered by a 390-horsepower 5.6-liter Endurance V8 engine, and Nissan plans to bring a V6 option to market as well.