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Best Off Road Trucks - Off Road Notes

Phil Howell
Phil Howell | Writer
Posted December 1, 2007

People ask us all the time what the best truck is. Since I get the chance to drive the new trucks and have time to really evaluate them, I think it's time that I tell you what Off-Road magazine's Editor's Picks for best truck are.

The mini or compact truck category is easy. There's only one truck left in this market that's going to be making an explosive comeback. That truck is the Ford Ranger and, of course, it's identical sibling, the Mazda B-series pickup. Even if these trucks weren't the only compact trucks left, they'd be candidates for best truck. Proven engineering, smooth, powerful yet economical engines, suspensions that work pretty well stock and can be modified to prerun, race, and trail-ride make the Ford Ranger the best compact pickup available today.

It's harder to pick the best midsize truck. There are many quality contenders here. The Dodge Dakota and its Mitsubishi counterpart are the most powerful trucks in this segment, but their styling is controversial or, in other words, sales-proof. GM's midsize trucks, the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, are very nice trucks with mills that are economical and fairly powerful. GM powertrains are always superb. Nissan's Frontier is a nice truck that does everything pretty well. The best midsize truck, though, is the Toyota Tacoma. Even though it's heftier than Tacomas of a few years back, the Toyota has a very powerful V6, strong transmissions, a suspension that's good in stock form, and since there's lots of aftermarket support, Tacomas can be built into world-beaters. Toyota's legendary quality is an added plus for Tacoma owners.

Half-ton pickups include the best-selling vehicles in the world. GM's half-tons look great with their new styling and, once again, have the best powertrains. The first GM half-ton we drove had no uptravel with its new front coilovers. Since then, I've driven an off-the-lot truck and the front suspension is very nice. So, I take back all that I've said about GM's new front coilover suspension not working well.

The Dodge half-ton is a nice truck that's a jack-of-all-trades and master of none. The Nissan Titan has a very strong V8 and a strong frame, but the rearend has had some problems and people either love or hate the styling.

That brings us to the Toyota Tundra and the Ford F-150. This is a hard choice, as Toyota's redesigned Tundra is quite a truck. The Tundra has the most horsepower of any half-ton pickup when it's equipped with the available V8, the frame is very strong, and its rearend has the biggest ring gear of the bunch. The aftermarket is scrambling to build products for the new Tundra, but there isn't much available yet. What makes the Tundra come in second is its styling, which is certainly innovative, but many, especially ranchers and farmers, think it's just plain weird.

My choice for best half-ton is the Ford F-150. Others agree, as it's the best-selling vehicle on the planet. The Ford has a very strong frame, strong rearend, coilover front suspension that actually works pretty well in stock form, and engines that, while they aren't the most powerful (Toyota and Nissan beat the Ford), are reliable and economical. The F-150 is arguably the best-looking truck available today. With all the swoopy styling cues and strange looking grille and light designs on other trucks, the F-150 looks strong, modern, and normal.

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