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When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

A blue 2019 Ford F-150 Raptor is shown from the front while it goes off of a jump.

What Is the Toughest Truck?

To truck-owners, aesthetics and comfort features are just icing on the cake. What’s important is reliability, durability, and power. Since good trucks are built to last, a used truck dealer should have plenty of models on the lot that have years of life left in them. But not all trucks are created equal. So let’s take a look at some of the toughest trucks on the road today and what they have to offer.

Ford F-150

This perennial favorite is popular for a reason. It’s crafted from military-grade materials and can handle towing, hauling, and off-roading with ease. While the latest models have useful features, like the ability to be used as a mobile power generator, even when parked, these durable trucks can last quite some time. You can find F-150s that are ten or even twenty years old at a used car lot that still have a lot of life left in them.

Any F-150 will get the job done in most cases. But since we’re looking for the toughest trucks, we should highlight the F-150 Raptor. It’s bigger than the standard model for one thing, which means more off-road capability and a more imposing profile. A set of 35-inch wheels keep it high off the ground, so it’s not too bothered by obstacles in its path. Different driving modes are designed to handle a wide variety of conditions, from off-roading to driving on slippery roads. And with the Raptor’s 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 engine, this baby gets 450 horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque, so there’s no questioning this truck’s raw power.

Chevrolet Silverado 1500

The Silverado 1500 has plenty of long-time fans among truck enthusiasts, and it’s easy to see why. It’s a versatile model that’s up to the task for everything from long-distance road trips to moving hefty cargo across town. A range of trims and powertrains are available for this model, and with the right specs, it can carry up to 2,280 pounds and tow up to 13,300 pounds. More recent used models may be equipped with the optional Duramax diesel, which is one of the longest-lasting engines available for a half-ton truck.

Rock climbers and back road adventurers should turn to the Silverado Trail Boss or the more recent ZR2, which was introduced in 2022. This rugged variant has added features like underbody skid plates that protect vital parts, off-road cut front bumper that allows drivers to handle steep slopes, and dampers that prevent bumpy roads from bothering passengers or damaging cargo. It comes with 33-inch tires that are designed to get excellent traction, so drivers can explore rocky terrain without spinning out.

A 2021 Ram 1500 TRX is shown from the front while it drives through sand.

Ram 1500

This model has offered a comfortable ride with impressive power for years, with older generations still holding up well today. The latest Ram 1500s can be customized based on your needs, with a variety of different engines available. These engines include a 3.0-liter Ecodiesel V6 that offers up to 260 horsepower and 480 lb-ft of torque and a 5.7-liter HEMI V8 that offers up to 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque. Whichever engine is under the hood, its power will be backed up by a sturdy steel frame that’s built to last.

Available high-tech features make towing easier and safer. A 360° surround-view camera helps keep the driver aware of their surroundings, while trailer reverse steering control gives you an extra tool for maintaining control of your trailer under difficult conditions. Since a properly-equipped Ram 1500 can tow up to 12,750 pounds, these powerful features can quite literally be a lifesaver.

Drivers with a greater need for speed can turn to the Ram 1500 TRX. Available with a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine, it has a mind-blowing 702 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque, and it can go from zero to sixty in less than 5 seconds. The TRX’s Bilstein Black Hawk shock system lets it safely navigate difficult terrain, from rocky mountains to desert dunes.

GMC Sierra 1500

The Sierra has been highly rated for its reliability for years. The 2010 and 2012 models were rated #1 full-size pickup trucks for their respective years by U.S. News & World Report, thanks to their powerful V8 engines and smooth rides. Newer versions pair this classic reliability with a bold new look and state-of-the-art technology.

The Sierra AT4 is available with a 3.0-liter turbo diesel engine or a 6.2-liter V8, so you can get its off-roading capability with your fuel of choice. It comes equipped with off-road tires and a factory-installed two-inch suspension lift. While it’s built for tough conditions, it’s also ready in case it needs a rescue, with vertical recovery hooks that are colored red so that they’re easy to see, even if they’re covered in mud or dirt.

Chevrolet Colorado

This truck is named after a state that has all kinds of terrain, from deserts to mountain ranges, and gets plenty of snow each year. That makes sense as the Chevy Colorado is ready for anything. This midsize truck is available with a 3.6-liter V6 engine and has a towing capacity of up to 7,700 pounds. Even older models with standard 4-cylinder engines are incredibly reliable, though they can’t handle the same tough jobs as their new-and-improved counterparts.

The Colorado ZR2 takes things to the next level with its off-roading capabilities. It features durable rock sliders that protect its rocker panels from rocks and stumps. Plus, its higher suspension keeps it well out of the way of smaller obstacles, and its Multimatic shocks absorb big hits without disrupting passengers.

If that doesn’t impress you, consider a used Colorado ZR2 Bison. Chevy collaborated with American Expedition Vehicles to make a beast that is ready to take on any adventure. Its rugged bumpers are a formidable opponent to any off-road obstacle. Five boron steel skid plates keep important components safe, even on wildly uneven surfaces.

A red 2021 Chevy Colorado ZR2 is shown from the front while parked in the desert after leaving a used truck dealer.

Which Truck Comes out on Top?

When it comes to standard models, the Ford F-150 is tough to beat: recent models can handle a best-in-class 3,325 lb payload and tow up to 14,000 lbs, beating out the Chevy Silverado 1500 and the Ram 1500. It also has 570 lb-ft of torque when equipped with its available 3.5-liter V6 full-hybrid engine. However, even the Raptor twin-turbo V6 engine and its 450 horsepower can’t compete with models that have the option to upgrade to a V8. When it comes to raw horsepower, the Ram 1500 TRX takes the cake with its 702 horsepower.

By these objective measures, the Ford F-150 is certainly a strong contender for the “toughest truck.” But these metrics don’t cover everything that makes a truck tough. If you think a truck should be able to handle rocky, uneven terrain, then it would be easy to argue that some of the models that are built specifically for off-roading come out ahead, even if they can’t carry quite as much weight.

When it comes to off-roading, a used Ram 1500 TRX is tough to beat, even beyond its best-in-class horsepower. Its different drive modes make it ready for anything, it has nearly a foot of ground clearance, and it still boasts a significant amount of horsepower. The Ford F-150 Raptor also has a foreboding presence in the desert, and since it’s been around longer than the TRX, it has had more time to prove its durability.

At the end of the day, all of these trucks deserve respect. Many of them have a long history of reliability and power, and all of their newer models use cutting-edge technology to provide drivers with impressive stats and features. Some are the perfect fit for workers who depend on their trucks to make their living. Others are better suited to those who like to unwind by exploring the great outdoors. Whatever they’re hauling, there’s no denying that these mechanical beasts are tough as nails.


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