Your guide to off-road midsize pickups


Midsize pickups offer excellent capability in a size more manageable in urban settings and garages. One side benefit to their smaller dimensions relative to huge full-size trucks is improved maneuverability off-road as well.

Not included in our roundup below is the Honda Ridgeline. That’s not because we don’t love the Ridgeline — it really is the perfect pickup for most users — but it’s because Honda
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does not offer an off-road-oriented version of its truck.

Here’s a look at the most off-road-ready packages offered from the factory on every midsize pickup. Prices reflect current manufacturer-suggested retail and do not include destination fee or potential incentives.

1. 2021 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison – $48,950

The Colorado ZR2 Bison does more than just look the part. Sure, it offers a snorkel, beefed-up front and rear bumpers with hefty recovery points, and chunky fender flares, all of which were designed by the four-wheeling pros at American Expedition Vehicles in Montana. It rides nearly 2 inches higher than a standard Colorado, and its rugged suspension features trick Multimatics. Additionally, the ZR2 Bison includes locking front and rear differentials. Beefy AEV skid plates protect all those fancy bits underneath.

Serious off-road ability doesn’t come cheap, though. The Bison package costs nearly $6,000 on top of the Colorado ZR2, adding up to a nearly $50,000 base price. Add the optional turbodiesel, the crew cab, and a few other amenities and Chevy will want $60,000 for one. 

2. 2021 Ford Ranger Tremor – $40,705

The Ford Ranger Tremor


Ford

Ford’s
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new Tremor package doesn’t turn this truck into a Ranger Raptor, but it does include some useful features. Chief among them is a revised suspension with Fox dampers that include remote reservoirs for more travel and faster response at the rear. Upsized all-terrain tires are mounted on unique wheels, and the truck comes with a locking rear differential and various off-road modes for its traction-control system. Additional skid plates are also fitted.

Also see: Review: The 2021 Ford F-150, updated and redesigned

Otherwise, the Tremor is mostly an appearance package. The $4,290 package includes gray exterior trim, unique upholstery, and rubber floor mats. Six auxiliary toggle switches are mounted to the top of the dash to allow drivers to add features such as lights at a later date, too. It’s available on XLT and Lariat trucks. 

3. 2021 GMC Canyon AT4 – $38,800

The GMC Canyon AT4


GMC

The GMC Canyon is closely related to the Chevrolet Colorado, albeit with distinct exterior styling and a significantly different lineup. The AT4 comes in under $40,000, and that money buys Goodyear
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Wrangler Duratrac all-terrain tires, a limited-slip rear differential, and a host of styling features that give it a more rugged look than the standard Canyon Elevation.

More: Here’s a rundown on all 2021 midsize trucks

The Canyon AT4 isn’t as serious an off-roader as the ZR2, but it makes a good choice for a daily driver use thanks in part to its standard AutoTrac transfer case, which features an automatic 4-wheel-drive mode that’s conveniently usable on any sort of pavement. 

4. 2021 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon and Mojave – $43,895

The Jeep Gladiator Rubicon


Jeep

Truth be told, every Gladiator is pretty darn capable right out of the box thanks to solid front and rear axles, standard 4-wheel drive with a 2-speed transfer case, and plenty of ground clearance.

The top of the heap here is, of course, the Rubicon, which adds 33-inch tires, a special transfer case for even slower going, locking front and rear differentials, and sway bars that disconnect at the tap of a button for increased articulation. Moreover, the Rubicon’s special fender flares can accommodate 35-inch tires without a suspension lift, though of course Jeep offers one through its accessories catalog.

More: These midsize trucks get the best mileage

But wait! The new Gladiator Mojave is like a Rubicon, but aimed at higher-speed off-road use. It features revised Fox shocks with external reservoirs, jounce bumpers, and more seat bolstering. The Mojave drops the Rubicon’s front differential lock and its disconnecting sway bars, a fair trade for a suspension that just begs for high-speed abuse. The choice is yours here since both cost the same before options. 

5. 2021 Nissan Frontier Pro-4X – $37,890

The Nissan Frontier Pro-4X


Nissan

Sure, the 2021 Nissan Frontier is a very old truck. This truck arrived for the 2005 model year, and aside from a complete powertrain swap last year (admittedly a big deal), its bones are almost old enough to vote in the U.S. (an all-new version arrives for the 2022 model year). Still, this Nissan
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is the smallest truck on the market, and the new 3.8-liter V6/9-speed automatic transmission combination fitted last year adds worthwhile muscle.

The Frontier Pro-4X is a pretty decent value, too, at less than $38,000. That money buys standard leather seats, navigation, a sunroof, and a roof rack, plus Bilstein shocks and a locking rear differential. 

6. 2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro – $44,175

The Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro


Toyota

For decades the off-road midsize truck of choice has been the Toyota Tacoma. Toyota
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offers two grades of off-road trucks, with the Pro at the top of the heap. Its off-road enhancements include Fox internal-bypass shocks at all four corners, big tires wrapped around 16-inch wheels, a locking rear differential, a host of traction-control modes, and an off-road cruise control-like system called CRAWL control.

Read: See how the 2021 Bronco Sport compares with the 2021 Toyota RAV4

The Tacoma TRD Pro is also the only midsize truck with a manual gearbox, along with an automatic is optional. Sadly, the briefly-offered snorkel (which Toyota called a “desert air intake” so that drivers wouldn’t pull a James Bond in “The Spy Who Loved Me”), has been discontinued. 

This story originally ran on Autotrader.com.



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