If you're looking for a 4x4 truck, choosing one with V6 power makes sense. A 6-cylinder engine offers a nice balance of power and economy. Here are the top 10 V6-powered 4x4 trucks that you need to know about.
10 Top 4x4 Trucks With V6 Engines
Photo Credit: General Motors
10) 2017 Chevrolet Colorado
The Colorado is among our favorite of the new breed of compact trucks; in our testing, we’ve found it’s better at heavy hauling and towing than its competitors, even those that have a similar payload and trailer ratings. And if it’s a 4x4 you want, Chevrolet has the truck for you: The new Colorado ZR2, which has extra ground clearance and high-tech dampers that make it equally adept at high-speed desert running and low-speed rock crawling. Most versions of the ZR2 are offered with General Motors’ ubiquitous 3.6-liter V6, which puts out a strong 308 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque.
Photo Credit: Chevrolet
9) 2017 Chevrolet Silverado 1500
Chevrolet also offers its full-size half-ton pickup with a V6 engine. But unlike most automakers, which use the same V6 engine from their cars in their V6-powered pickups, General Motors has a dedicated truck engine, a 4.3-liter cam-in-block V6 designed for strong low-end torque. In fact, the engine’s specs—285 hp and 305 lb-ft of torque—are pretty darn similar to small-block V8 truck engines from just a few years ago. Not only does Chevy offer the V6 engine with 4-wheel drive, but they also let buyers combine it with the Z71 off-road package, which includes a beefed-up suspension, a transfer case shield, hill descent control, and an automatic locking rear differential. The GMC Sierra is a slightly more posh version, and it too can be had with the V6 engine and Z71 suspension.
Photo Credit: Ford
8) 2017 Ford F-150
Most of the full-size pickups listed here offer a V6 as the entry-level engine, but that’s not the case for the Ford F-150. Oh, sure, they have a V6 as their base powerplant, a 282-hp 3.5-liter engine that, with a properly-configured truck, can tow 7,600 lbs. But they’ve also embraced turbocharging, and they have two V6s that substitute for V8s: the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6, which makes 325 hp and 375 lb-ft of torque, and the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, which puts out 375 hp and 470 lb-ft. We’ve towed with both EcoBoost engines, and we loved ‘em. All three of these V6 engines are available with 4-wheel drive. And let’s not forget Ford’s ultimate off-road machine, the F-150 Raptor. Yep, it’s got a V6 under the hood—a specially-tuned 450 hp version of the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6.
Photo Credit: GMC
7) 2017 GMC Canyon
The GMC Canyon is a slightly more upscale version of the Chevrolet Colorado, and nearly all of the nice things we’ve said about the Chevy apply to the GMC version of the truck, including the fine 3.6-liter V6 engine. While the all-conquering ZR2 package is exclusive to the Colorado, you can get the ZR2 with an All-Terrain package, which includes 4-wheel drive, a Z71 off-road suspension, locking rear differential, and a skid plate to protect the transfer case. Add a good trail map, and you’re all set to go off-roading in your GMC Canyon.
Photo Credit: Honda
6) 2017 Honda Ridgeline
The freshly redesigned Honda Ridgeline has more in common with an SUV than a pickup truck, with its unit body construction and nifty in-trunk bed. While not really made for the kind of hard-core off-roading that more traditional body-on-frame pickup trucks can handle, it can get fairly far off the beaten path. And, more importantly, its all-wheel drive system is designed for maximum traction in rain and snow—situations where the part-time 4-wheel drive system found in some off-road pickup trucks isn’t at its best. Power for the Ridgeline comes from a compact but powerful 3.5-liter V6, tuned for 280 horsepower. Thanks to the Ridgeline's lightweight construction, it’s able to deliver much better fuel economy than most of the trucks on this list.
Photo Credit: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
5) 2017 Jeep Wrangler
The Wrangler may not be what you were thinking of when you typed the words “4x4 V6 truck” into your favorite search engine, but it deserves a mention, because it is one of the best off-roaders on the market. Few trucks can venture anywhere near as far off road as the Wrangler, especially in stock trim. The Wrangler benefits from a short wheelbase, twin solid axles, and decades of off-roading know-how on behalf of Jeep’s engineers. Jeep makes a variety of models; all are exceptionally talented off road, and all have a V6 engine under the hood—a 285-hp version of Chrysler’s fabulous 3.6-liter Pentastar V6.
Photo Credit: Mercedes-Benz
4) 2017 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 4x4
We can hear the reaction: “Wait, what?” Yep, it’s true—Mercedes makes a 4x4 version of their Sprinter passenger van with up to twelve seats. The Sprinter 4x4 has a body lift that increases ground clearance and a low range for really tough off-roading, plus it can tow up to 5,000 lbs—and its high GCWR (Gross Combined Weight Rating) means that, unlike many of the trucks on this list, it can tow the full 5,000 lbs even with a full load of passengers and cargo on board. Power comes from a 3.0-liter V6 turbodiesel engine that produces 188 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. Why pick and choose which of your friends to take on your next off-road adventure, when the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 4x4 lets you take all of them?
Photo Credit: Nissan
3) 2017 Nissan Frontier
The Frontier is the oldest of the current crop of mid-size pickup trucks, with few changes since the current iteration was introduced for the 2005 model year. But just because it’s old, that doesn’t mean it’s past its sell-by date. The Frontier is a rugged truck and a good off-roader. If you’re serious about your 4x4-ing, you’ll want the Pro-4X model, which gets upgraded off-road shocks, a locking rear differential, and hill descent control. It’s powered by Nissan’s 4.0-liter V6, which produces a modest 261 hp and 281 lb-ft of torque, but delivers lots of pulling power just off idle—exactly what you need for serious 4-wheeling.
Photo Credit: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
2) 2017 Ram 1500
Ram offers two V6 engines for their half-ton RAM 1500. First is the Pentastar V6, a 3.6-liter engine that puts out 305 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque. It’s a smooth performer that we’ve come to respect. Second, and arguably more intriguing, is the EcoDiesel V6, a 3.0-liter turbodiesel designed for maximum fuel economy and quiet operation (as opposed to the big noisy Cummins found in Ram’s heavy-duty 2500 and 3500 pickups). But a diesel is still a diesel, and this 240-hp engine puts out 420 lb-ft of torque, with plenty of low-end power that comes in handy for serious off-roading. The Ram 1500 is also the only half-ton pickup to offer an air-sprung suspension, which has an off-road mode that increases ground clearance—a real boon when the going gets tough.
Photo Credit: Toyota
1) 2017 Toyota Tacoma
The Tacoma has earned a reputation as a great off-road pickup, and it really does live up to the hype—particularly if you opt for the TRD Pro or TRD Off-Road models, the latter of which is available with Toyota’s Crawl Control system (think of it as low-speed cruise control for treacherous terrain). That said, even a fairly basic SR5 model with 4-wheel drive will carry you about as far off the beaten path as any pickup will go. Power for the Tacoma comes from a 3.5-liter V6 that uses the Atkinson cycle (which Toyota makes use of in their Prius hybrid) to trade power for fuel economy. Output is 278 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque, modest compared to some vehicles on this list, but gas mileage is decent for a V6-powered off-road truck.