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Car News:  Oversteer

I Might Have to Own an Off-Road Pickup Someday

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author photo by Chris O'Neill June 2017

On a Sunday afternoon in the days leading up to a weekend camping trip in Moab, my friend Patrick called me and announced he was coming over. He's from Texas. Like me, he had moved to Utah owning a front-wheel-drive German car. Also like me, he saw this as a bit of an issue. A few months ago, to rectify the problem, he went out and bought a black diesel 2008 Ford F-350 Crew Cab FX4 Off-Road -- an already insane pickup truck made even more insane by a 6-inch lift, dark-tinted windows and 'Rolling Big Power'-brand wheels wrapped in mud-terrain tires. We counted, and it has *seven* radiators (that we could see). I will add, though, because Patrick is a tasteful, intelligent and polished human being, that the truck possesses neither truck nuts nor the ability to "roll coal."

Anyway, he showed up a few minutes later with a truck bed full of PVC. From it, we proceeded to build a tent frame into the bed. On top of that, the truck proved to be an absolute workhorse on the trip deep into Southwestern Utah, hauling four big coolers, a half cord of firewood and about 200 pounds of water -- all while keeping up with three nimble Toyota 4x4s on the trails. Now, prior to this, I had never seen myself owning a pickup truck. But after seeing firsthand the versatility they provide, and coming to grips with the fact that I'd be sleeping on the ground like a dog on this trip while Patrick slept in his cozy, elevated mini home, it got me thinking ... pickups are cool and insanely functional. And so here are three used models I might consider buying for future outdoor endeavors:

First-Generation Ford Raptor (2010-2014)

First-Generation Ford Raptor (2010-2014)

The first-generation Raptor is good enough at a wide variety of things, just not great at any of them. Its reputation precedes it: Built for attacking washboard dirt roads and desert trails at high speeds, the first-gen Raptor was an engineering marvel, and even today it's a bit of a unicorn in the V8 truck landscape. On the other hand, at 1,184lbs and 6,000 lbs, its max payload capacity and towing capacity are a little light compared to what one would expect from a full-size truck -- and its wide front track means it isn't the nimblest of vehicles when it comes to navigating tricky, low-speed obstacles. Altogether, though, the Raptor is a capable off-roader that will get you through 90 percent of the obstacles out there -- and it's a package that's made even more enticing by its impressively high resale value.

Second-Generation Toyota Tacoma (2005-2015)

Second-Generation Toyota Tacoma (2005-2015)

It's hard to go wrong with a Toyota. It's even harder to go wrong with a Toyota Tacoma. I can't think of anyone who buys a Tacoma without some kind of outdoor activity in mind. There are a number of compelling reasons to dive into Tacoma ownership -- renowned Toyota reliability, the massive aftermarket parts catalog and the truck's strategically smaller size, just to name a few. Like the Raptor, Tacomas also hold their value extremely well. While any 4-wheel-drive example is a safe bet, I'd look for an already-modded double cab with the TRD Off-Road package, because everything's better with friends (and a locking rear differential).

Fourth-Generation Dodge/RAM 2500 "Power Wagon" (2010-Present)

Fourth-Generation Dodge/RAM 2500 "Power Wagon" (2010-Present)

For those who might want something a little closer to what Stone Cold Steve Austin would drive, there's the Dodge/RAM Power Wagon. Based on the RAM 2500, the heavy-duty Power Wagon trumps the other trucks on this list in max payload and towing capacity, with limits of 1,466 lbs and 9,910 lbs, respectively. On top of the basic Ram 2500, the Power Wagon adds locking front and rear differentials, a disconnecting front sway bar, Bilstein shocks, an integrated 12,000-pound Warn winch and several skid plates -- among a few other off-road bits. I encountered one at the D.C. Auto Show a few years ago, and all I remember was the effort it took to climb into the cab because it was so high off the ground. I've loved them ever since. The best part? There's a bare-bones, stripped-down version of the Power Wagon known as the Power Wagon Tradesman that lacks many of the extra luxury features of the standard Power Wagon trim levels, leaving only the crucial off-road bits -- a rare blank canvas for anyone planning an overland build.

 Chris O'Neill grew up in the rust belt and now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. He managed to work in the auto industry for a while without once crashing a corporate fleet vehicle. On Instagram, he is the @MountainWestCarSpotter.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
I Might Have to Own an Off-Road Pickup Someday - Autotrader