Some trucks are meant for towing and hauling duty, keeping their tires firmly on the pavement. Others, however, are built for adventure. Kitted out with beefy suspension, knobby tires and skid plates straight from the factory, these trucks are meant for adventure.
Of course, we here at Roadshow have our favorites. Click through the gallery to find out which trucks are the key to our desert dreams.
As much as I like the Ford F-150 Raptor, I'd rather have something smaller to thrash around off road with like the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison.
Compared to regular ZR2, the Bison is better equipped to handle punishment with boron steel skid plates, front steel bumper with mounting points for a winch, and rear bumper with integrated recovery points developed by the off-road experts at American Expedition Vehicles. Topping things off is a bolder in-your-face grille.
Bison chassis revisions are shared with the normal ZR2 featuring a standard front and rear electronic locking differentials, 3.42 rear axle, and a 2-inch suspension lift kit, with a wider 3.5-inch wider track, Multimatic spool valve dampers and cast iron control arms.
Base Bison models are powered by a 3.6-liter V6 with 308 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque, which isn't too shabby. But if you want to do more rock crawling, you can spring for the optional 2.7-liter diesel I4 with 186 horses and 369 pound-feet of torque.
Pricing begins at $48,145, including $1,095 for destination. Upgrading to the diesel tacks an additional $3,500 to the bottom line.
You'll find bigger, more capable trucks in this list, so if you're looking to spend more than the $42,960 (plus $1,090 delivery) then feel free to keep on clicking through.
But, for me, I'd feel more comfortable pushing something affordable through the ruts than something spendy and precious, and so the $5,000 savings over even the (relatively) affordable Colorado ZR2 Bison makes the Tacoma TRD Pro my choice.
The TRD Pro offers extra lift over the ZR2, and nobody would question the quality of the Fox suspension that holds it there. 278 horsepower from the tried-and-true, 3.5-liter V6 won't make this the quickest, but neither is it the slowest, and the TRD skidplate should help keep the engine's oily bits oily.
But my favorite part of the Tacoma is the incredibly strong aftermarket support, and the money saved here over some of the others leaves just that much more to spend on the extra underbody protection and the more aggressive tires you'll want if you're really hitting the trails to live out your Ivan "Ironman" Stewart fantasies.
The Gladiator Rubicon is impressively capable. It can ford 30 inches of water, it packs all-terrain tires from the get-go and it has beefy Dana 44 solid axles. There are lockers on the front and rear differentials, a two-speed transfer box and electronic sway bar disconnects. It's the real deal.
Since it's a Wrangler underneath, you can do all sorts of neat things you can't in any other truck. Do you want to remove the windshield? Do it! Feel like taking the doors off? Go ahead! I'd strongly recommend you keep those doors in place during any off-roading, though. Safety first.
I'm always late to the game on these lists, so my midsize pick -- the Chevy Colorado ZR2 -- was already snapped up. So I'm instead going big with the full-size GMC Sierra AT4. The Sierra is bigger, more comfortable and less hardcore, but with an available 6.2-liter V8 engine making 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque, it's certainly no slouch. Plus, it's got red tow hooks, so you know it means business.
The AT4 is unique in the Sierra lineup, featuring a 2-inch lift from the factory for improved ground clearance. Underbody skid plates offer a bit of extra protection for those moments when even 10-inches of clearance isn't quite enough. Meanwhile, four-wheel drive with a two-speed transfer case and locking rear differential help the Sierra dole out traction over rough and uneven terrain.
The 2019 GMC Sierra is a surprisingly comfortable truck and, though off-road capable, the AT4 is no exception with its Rancho shock absorbers doing quite the job soaking up the biggest of bumps.
The AT4 also has excellent tech including the GMC Infotainment in the dashboard, a full and modern suite of driver aid and trailering assistance technologies, and more cameras than you can shake a stick at.
By picking the 2019 Ford F-150 Raptor for yet another best list, I must sound like a broken record. Maybe like I'm in a rut. But let's face it, if you're in a literal rut, there's no better rig to get you out than a Raptor. It has the wheel articulation, ride height and arrival and departure angles to laugh in the face of challenges and obstacles that would fell lesser trucks. (Which, if you really think about it, is most of them).
With 450 horsepower and -- more importantly -- 510 pound-feet of torque, the Raptor can not only crawl over obstacles like a surprisingly large billygoat, it can leave them in the dust, too, thanks to a 60 mph dash in around 5 seconds dead. The 3.5-liter EcoBoost twin-turbo V6 could use a throatier sound, but that's what the aftermarket is for, right?
Sure, you can get an off-road package on the Ram 1500, but why not go whole hog with the Rebel trim? Lifted one inch and riding on available air suspension, the Rebel comes with 18-inch wheels wrapped in 33-inch Goodyear DuraTrac rubber, a locking rear differential and remote reservoir Bilstein shocks on all four corners.
While the 3.6-liter V6 with Ram's eTorque mild hybrid system is standard, I'd opt for the 5.7-liter V8 with eTorque for 395 ponies and 410 pound-feet of torque. The Rebel can tow over 11,000 pounds when properly equipped, which should be enough to haul your trailer of toys out to the desert.
You can even make your Rebel vaguely fancy with optional heated seats and steering wheel and the super-cool 12-inch touchscreen running the excellent uConnect infotainment system. I especially like the available multifunctional tailgate and the RamBox lockable storage system incorporated right into the side rails of the bed. It's a great way to make sure all your tools and such are safe from sticky fingers.
Look, most people don't actually need a ton of off-road capability. For a lot of folks, "off road" simply means a two-track dirt path, or maybe the occasional muddy road. For the majority of drivers who want to venture off the beaten path, the Ford Ranger FX4 will be plenty of truck.
A $1,295 upgrade, the FX4 off-road package gets you unique suspension tuning, better all-terrain tires, an electronic locking differential, front tow hooks, Ford's Terrain Management System and Terrain Control technologies and more. We've tested this package on dusty trails and it's plenty capable.
Plus, the FX4 pack doesn't change any of the things we like about the 2019 Ranger, including its strong 2.3-liter turbocharged engine and excellent towing capability. If you need to haul a pair of jet skis to a remote lake in the woods, this is one of the midsize trucks that'll do it best.
The Ram 2500 PowerWagon is blessed with tons of goodies to help get you out of trouble on the trail. I mean, it comes with a damn winch (by Warn, of course) along with a lockable rear axle, quick disconnect front swaybar, Bilstein shocks and Ram's awesome 6.4-liter Hemi for when it's time to go hammer down.
One of my other favorite things about the Power Wagon is just how mean it looks and how it's able to do that without tons of fakery or nonsense. It's tall, aggressive, and stanced just right on its model-specific wheels. I especially love the Mojave Sand edition which adds totally rad desert beige paint to the mix.