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The Axles Of Pickup Truck Of The Year 2017

Posted in Features on December 8, 2016
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Photographers: Harry Wagner

If you’re into 4x4s and knowing what’s what and what’s where you’ve probably geeked out at least a little on knowing what drivetrain parts are tough and what drivetrain parts are weak. If you know your Dana 25s from your AAM 11.5s, and everything in between, this article is for you. We like drivetrain parts…nay, we obsess over them, and when it comes to axles, the beefier the better. So what would a group of truck enthusiasts do if given the chance to play with the best and brightest of 2017’s 4x4 pickup trucks? Well you can bet it includes more than one of us sticking our heads and cameras underneath these trucks to see what axles keep those tires turning on the road and on the trail.

Ford sent us a fresh off the griddle 2017 F-150 Ford Raptor 4x4. Up front we believe resides a high-pinion Corporate Ford 8.8. Whatever it is, it turns a tight Torsen Differential with 4.10:1 gears.
Out back, the Raptor, like the previous generation has 4.10 gears and an electric manual locker in a Corporate Ford 9.75 axle. These differentials keep those BFG tires turning in sand and in the rocks even if you can get the truck flexed out enough to lift a tire.

Ford Raptor

Axle ratio: 4.10:1
Front: Corporate Ford 8.8 with Torsen Differential
Rear: Corporate Ford 9.75 axle with electronic locking differential

Ford’s 2017 Super Duty is hot, fast, and torquey. Our F-250 4x4 Crew Cab King Ranch FX4 has a Dana 60 front axle with an open diff and 3.55 gears.
The rear of the Super Duty is a Sterling 10.5 with 3.55 gears and because of the FX4 package, an electric manual locker.

Ford Super Duty

Axle ratio: 3.55:1
Front: Dana 60 with open differential
Rear: Sterling 10.5 rear axle with an electronic rear locking differential

We have two gas-powered Nissan Titan trucks, the 5/8-ton Titan XD, and the 1/2-ton Titan. Both trucks seem to have similar front axles and if they share parts with the diesel XD that axle is the AAM 235 mm (9.25-inch) with an open differential. We’re more confident about calling the rear axle in both trucks an AAM 250 mm (9.8-inch), which is also what is in the XD Cummins trucks. And since both our test Titans are PRO-4X trucks they both have a GKN manual locking differential. The 1/2-ton Titan (shown) has a 2.937:1 ring-and-pinion in its AAM 250mm…unless it’s something a little smaller?

Nissan Titan Pro-4X

Axle ratio: 2.937:1
Front: AAM 235 mm (9.25-inch) open front axle
Rear: AAM 250 mm (9.8-inch) with GKN manual locking differential (PRO-4X)

The Nissan Titan XD gas truck has a 5.6L V-8 and turns 3.357:1 gears in both its front and rear axles. We’re making an educated guess that the front axle is an AAM 235 mm (9.25-inch) with an AAM 250 mm (9.8-inch) with GKN manual locking differential in the rear. If we are correct, this truck shares axles (but not gear ratios) with its XD Cummins stablemate.

Nissan Titan XD Gas Pro-4X

Axle ratio: 3.357:1
Front: AAM 235 mm (9.25-inch) open front axle
Rear: AAM 250 mm (9.8-inch) with GKN manual locking differential (PRO-4X)

This year we have two Ford pickups, two Nissan pickups, and two Rams. Both of the Rams are 2500 4x4 crew cab trucks. The first one in our list is a Power Wagon, which has 4.10 gears in a solid AAM 9.25-inch with an AAM-sourced electromagnetic manual locking differential.
The Power Wagon’s rear axle is the huge AAM 11.5-inch, also with an AAM-sourced electromagnetically-actuated locker and 4.10 gears. This thing is a 3/4-ton factory available rockcrawler.

Ram Power Wagon

Axle Ratio: 4.10:1
Front: AAM 9.25-inch with a manual locking differential
Rear: AAM 11.5-inch and a manual Locking differential

The second Ram in our test is a 2017 Ram 2500 Laramie Longhorn crew cab 4x4 with the Off-Road Package. Out front, this truck runs the AAM 9.25 with 3.42 gears and an open differential.
Like the Power Wagon the Laramie Longhorn crew cab comes with an AAM 11.5 rear axle, but this big AAM runs an Anti-Spin differential and a 3.42:1 gears.

Ram 2500 Off-Road Package

Axle Ratio: 3.42:1
Front: AAM 9.25-inch open differential
Rear: AAM 11.5-inch with an Anti-Spin Differential

According to our research the 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro 4x4 Double Cab truck that we are testing has the same 8-inch Toyota IFS with a clamshell housing as the earlier generation Tacomas. The TRD Pro package nets you a very functional and “Automatic Limited Slip” differential that works with well calibrated traction control to give this truck the feel of dual lockers. Gearing is 3.909:1 for the trucks with the 3.5L V-6 and six-speed auto transmission.
Out back, the Toyota TRD Pro is propelled by a Corporate Toyota 8.75-inch axle with Toyota’s venerable electronic manual locking differential that has made many of the past Toyota Tacomas potent off-roaders.

Toyota Tacoma

Axle Ratio: 3.909:1
Front: 8-inch Toyota IFS with a clamshell housing and an “Automatic Limited-Slip” differential
Rear: Toyota BD22AN 8.75-inch axle with manual locking differential

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