Four Wheeler of the Year is by no means a pavement princess pageant—we get stuck. Part of our evaluation process of the vehicles in our annual competition is how well equipped they are when it comes to getting out of a mudhole, snowdrift, or whatever compromising off-road situation you might encounter. We also look at how well protected the oil-containing parts of the vehicle are from pokes and prods from the local geology. Take a look at how well protected the rigs are this year, and how easy it is to drag them out of a hole.
The Chevy Colorado ZR2 comes fairly well-equipped for off-road forays. For forward extractions, two towhooks allow for easy attachment of straps or any other recovery equipment.
If pulling from the rear, Chevy offers a receiver hitch, which accepts most standard recovery gear.
The ZR2’s transfer case is shielded from rocks by a steel skidplate, arguably the best material for the job.
Much like a Baja rig, the ZR2 has an aluminum skidplate up front protecting the truck from unexpected contact with whoops and rocks.
The first thing we noticed about the Compass is the towhooks. Not only are they red, but they are grippy! All the better for keeping the towstraps where they need to be. No need to see a separate image of the rear towhook, it looks just like the front.
If you take a bump a bit too quickly or find an unruly rock on the trail, this burly Compass skidplate has you covered in the front.
Even in the back, the Compass’s vital organs are protected.
Both the diesel and gas Discovery rigs had the same underpinnings, meaning both the front towhooks were equally hard to find—the single front recovery point is hidden behind the plastic front fascia.
The oil pan and squishable parts in the front of the Discoverys are protected by a stout aluminum skidplate.
Discovery recovery from the rear is made simple by the modified rear hitch—just attach your gear and yank.
The hook on the front of the Ram 3500 was unique, but fully capable of getting the big truck unstuck.
Though not as heavily armored as the other vehicles, the Ram 3500 has enough skids to keep you safe.
The Harvest Edition had protection under the front at the crossmember, along with a sturdy front towhook.
Skidplates and recovery gear was only one area of testing in this year's Four Wheeler of the Year, so make sure to follow the hashtag #FWOTY18 on the Four Wheeler Network website and social media outlets to see how our vehicles performed. Other areas of testing for the week were track measurements such as acceleration and braking, hill climbing, sand driving, and overall highway performance. Over 5 days we traveled over many miles of highway and off-road trails to properly evaluate the performance of the vehicles in all areas of the test. Surfaces ranging from sand to slush were tested for all vehicles.