Midsize pickups have been making a huge comeback in recent years, driven in part by the creation of a new segment: the performance-oriented off-road trim level. Every automaker building a midsize truck either has one of these in their lineup, or has one in development. Here, we’ll give a rundown of the off-roadiest trim levels offered by each of the midsize trucks on sale today.
Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro
The Tacoma TRD Pro starts at $43,900 and reaches $47,335 once you add an automatic transmission and the accessory desert air intake, which are the only two options. One engine is offered: a 3.5-liter V6 putting out 278 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque, paired with either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic transmission. There’s just one body style to pick from as well: a 4-door crew cab paired with a 5-foot "short" bed. The Tacoma TRD Pro is based on the Tacoma TRD Off-Road trim, which means it comes with a locking rear differential, Multi-Terrain Select and Crawl Control modes. The TRD Pro trim adds Fox internal bypass shock absorbers that result in a one-inch lift and offer improved off-road performance, a front skid plate, a TRD cat-back exhaust, unique wheels with a slightly wider offset that serve to give the vehicle a wider stance, fog lights from Rigid Industries, and a number of stylistic elements like a "TOYOTA" wordmark grille, headlights and taillights with black accents, and the TRD Pro logo in a variety of places on both the inside and outside of the vehicle. The Tacoma stands out in part for its offering of great active safety features as standard, and every 2019 Tacoma comes with pre-collision braking with pedestrian detection, lane-departure alert, automatic high beams, dynamic radar cruise control, and blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. An updated infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility along with a 360-degree camera system will join the lineup for 2020. Find a Toyota Tacoma for sale
Jeep Gladiator Rubicon
All-new for the 2020 model year, the Wrangler-derived Gladiator is the newest midsize pickup on this list. Unlike all the other trucks in the midsize segment that come with independent front suspensions, the Gladiator has solid axles both front and rear, giving it a leg up on the competition, before even factoring in all of the great off-road features offered on the Rubicon. One body style is offered: a crew-cab with a 5-foot bed. Powering the Gladiator is a 3.6-liter V6 making 285 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, paired with either an 8-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual. A 3.0-liter V6 turbodiesel making 260 hp and 442 lb-ft of torque is supposed to join the lineup next year.
Like the Wrangler, the Gladiator’s off-road variant is dubbed the Rubicon, and it offers locking front and rear differentials, an electronically disconnecting front sway bar, Fox shock absorbers, an off-road oriented four-wheel drive system, skid plates, steel bumpers, rock rails, and among other things, taller fenders that allow for the fitting of larger 35-in tires without the need for a lift. Available safety systems consist of forward-collision warning and advanced brake assist, adaptive cruise control with low-speed functionality, which is fully capable of stopping the vehicle in traffic and getting it going again, blind spot monitoring and rear parking sensors. Just like the Wrangler, the Gladiator also has a removable roof and doors, along with a windshield that folds down. In other words, this is one cool truck. Pricing for a Gladiator starts at about $35,000 for a base model and $45,000 for a Rubicon. A loaded Gladiator Rubicon will set you back close to $60,000. Find a Jeep Gladiator for sale
Chevrolet Colorado ZR2
The ZR2 is one of two off-road-oriented Colorados. Buyers have their choice of two powertrains: a 3.6-liter V6 making 308 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission or a 2.8-liter 4-cylinder turbodiesel making 181 hp and 369 lb-ft, mated to a 6-speed automatic. The ZR2’s most notable off-road features are unique spool-valve shock absorbers developed by Multimatic, locking front and rear differentials, and rock rails, which are often one of the first modifications made by anyone looking to go off-road. The ZR2 is lacking when it comes to active safety systems, offering only forward-collision warning and lane-departure warning. The ZR2 starts at $40,995 and exceeds $50,000 once you add options like the diesel engine, sport bar, and additional lighting. Find a Chevrolet Colorado for sale
Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison
For $5,000 on top of the price of a standard Colorado ZR2, buyers can opt for the even heavier-duty ZR2 Bison, which adds body armor and a few other bits from 4×4 upfitter American Expedition Vehicles, better known as AEV. The Bison package includes five Boron steel skid plates covering the vehicle’s front and rear differentials, transfer case, oil pan and gas tank. Rock rails are also included, as are thicker plastic fender flares, winch-ready steel bumpers, a unique grille and unique AEV wheels. A fender-mounted snorkel is also available as an accessory, although this item is compatible with any Colorado. The Bison offers the same engine and cab options, suspension setup, front and rear locking diffs, and hill descent control offered on the ZR2. A ZR2 with the Bison package starts at around $48,000 and can exceed $55,000 with options. Find a Chevrolet Colorado for sale
Ford Ranger FX4
The Ford Ranger returns to the U.S. for the 2019 model year. Power comes from a 2.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder making 270 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. Instead of offering one specific off-road trim level, Ford offers the off-road-oriented FX4 package on any of the Ranger’s three trims, from the base XL model to the Lariat. The $1,295 FX4 package comes with an off-road suspension, all-terrain tires, a locking rear differential, a terrain management system with off-road cruise control, skid plates over the fuel tank, transfer case and front differential, and other aesthetic touches like exposed front tow hooks and an FX4 sticker on the bedside. The FX4 package can theoretically be had on a Ranger costing as little as $33,000 and as much as $47,000 — expect most you encounter to be priced above $40k. Altogether, while the most off-roady Ranger you can get still doesn’t look quite as aggressive and toy-like as the competition, the Ranger offers a great powertrain, an impressive array of driver safety features, and a good infotainment system, all of which serve to make it highly competitive in the segment. Find a Ford Ranger for sale
Nissan Frontier PRO-4X
On sale virtually unchanged since the 2005 model year, the Frontier is the bargain of the midsize truck segment, but don’t say we didn’t warn you — this old-school pickup is extremely low on tech. The Frontier has zero driver-assistance safety features, a weak infotainment system and an interior straight out of the mid 2000s. Still, if it’s cheap, analog off-road fun you’re after, a Frontier PRO-4X might be the truck for you. The PRO-4X trim comes with a Bilstein suspension, a locking rear differential, skid plates over the oil pan, fuel tank and transfer case, hill-descent control, all-terrain tires, and a Dana 44 rear axle. Powering the Frontier PRO-4X will be a 4.0-liter V6 making 261 hp and 281 lb-ft of torque, routed through an ancient 5-speed automatic transmission. The cheapest new Frontier PRO-4X you can buy comes in at just $33,530, while the nicest one is still only about $38,000, making the Frontier PRO-4X the least expensive option out of all of the available off-road-oriented midsize pickups on sale today by a wide margin. Find a Nissan Frontier for sale