One could argue that every new pickup out there - especially full- size models - are tough trucks, but there are special editions of these work-oriented vehicles that offer even more grit and capability than the standard versions. These tough trucks go above and beyond the call of duty when the pavement ends and the adventure begins, and they do so without sacrificing any of the practicality that makes pickups such a versatile choice as both a daily driver and a job site tool.
Let's take a quick look at seven tough trucks and see what they bring to the table.
The 2013 Ford SVT Raptor takes the idea of an off-road ready truck to an entirely new level. The Ford SVT Raptor starts with the same basic platform as the popular F-150 pickup, but it adds long-travel suspension from FOX Racing, a Torsen front differential, hill descent control, the option of a front camera system (to better spot boulders and other obstacles), four-wheel drive, a track that is seven inches wider than the base F-150, and an electronic locking rear differential. Motivating the SVT Raptor is Ford's top-of-the-line 6.2-liter V-8 engine, which produces 411 horsepower and 434 lb-ft of torque, and which is shifted via a six-speed automatic transmission.
The 2013 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X exports the tough truck concept to the mid-size segment. The Nissan Frontier PRO-4X provides Bilstein shock absorbers, a locking rear differential, knobby all-terrain tires, and skid plates to protect the underside of the pickup during off-road excursions. It also features four-wheel drive and more ground clearance than the base Frontier, and serves as a step up over the Desert Runner trim (which offers a more rugged suspension for two-wheel drive models of the Nissan). The PRO-4X is only available with a 4.0-liter V-6 engine that has been rated to produce 261 horses and 281 lb-ft of torque, and buyers have the choice between either a five-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission.
The 2014 RAM 2500 Power Wagon takes the truck brand's heavy-duty, three-quarter ton platform and gives it the gear needed to tackle not just towing and hauling but also grappling with slippery off-road trails. The Ram 2500 Power Wagon comes with 32-inch tires, delivers 14.5 inches of ground clearance, and features a pair of solid axles that give it exceptional strength and articulation when traveling over uneven terrain. Skid plates, a 4.56:1 gear ratio, and a 12,000 lb winch also grace the Power Wagon. Ram gives customers a 6.4-liter V-8 engine under the hood of the pickup that generates 410 horsepower and 429 lb-ft of torque, managed by a part-time four-wheel drive system and a six-speed automatic transmission.
The 2014 Toyota Tundra has been refreshed for the current model year, but it maintains access to the TRD Off-Road package that adds toughness to this full-size truck. What do you get when you order the Toyota Tundra TRD Off-Road package? It installs big tires, a suspension system that is strong enough to withstand a serious pounding, skid plates to protect delicate underbody components, and 18-inch rims. Interestingly, you can find the TRD Off-Road package on both four-wheel and two-wheel drive trucks, but it's clear that for serious mudding you're going to need the additional traction of four-wheel drive. The TRD Off-Road edition of the Toyota Tundra can be bundled with either a 4.6-liter V-8 (310 horsepower, 327 lb-ft of torque) or a 5.7-liter V-8 (381 horsepower, 401 lb-ft of torque), each of which is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.
The 2014 Nissan Titan PRO-4X can be thought of as the bigger brother of the Frontier PRO-4X, given that it takes many of the same tough truck features and paints them over a full-size frame. The Nissan Titan PRO-4X trades the Bilstein shocks of the Frontier for heavy duty Rancho units, and it also adds an electronic locking rear differential, skid plates, off-road tires, and a four-wheel drive system. All versions of the Titan - regardless of what package is specified - come with the same 317 horsepower, 5.6-liter V-8. This engine, which is also capable of producing 385 lb-ft of torque, is delivered standard with a five-speed automatic transmission.
The 2014 Chevrolet Silverado Z71 is all new for the current model year, and although the Z72 moniker is a familiar one, it has been buffed up for the redesigned truck in order to add even greater capability when the roads disappear. The Chevrolet Silverado Z71 provides the kind of skid plate protection that is de rigueur for these types of pickups, but it also tacks on tow hooks to help get the truck out of sticky situations, a hill descent control system, heavy duty shock absorbers, respectable ground clearance, and an air cleaner that won't choke from all of the dust that is kicked up out on the trail. The Silverado Z71 can be had with one of three engine choices: a 285 horsepower, 4.3-liter V-6, a 355 horsepower, 5.3-liter V-8, or a 6.2-liter V-8 that puts out 420 horse and 460 lb-ft of twist. A six-speed automatic transmission is included free of charge with each power plant.
The 2013 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road is a popular truck amongst the adventure set, thanks to its relatively modest dimensions coupled with its strong frame and well-tuned suspension package. The Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road package features flared fenders to accommodate larger tires set on 16-inch rims, a locking rear differential, upgraded shocks and springs, skid plates, and hill descent control and hill start assist for models that are equipped with the Tacoma's five-speed automatic transmission
(five and six-speed manual gearboxes are also available with the Toyota). The Tacoma's entry-level 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine produces 159 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque, but an upgrade is available in the form of a 4.0-liter V-6 that grinds out 236 ponies and 266 lb-ft of twist.