Blog / Mean Machines: Four New Midsize Pickups Ready to Conquer Any Terrain

Mean Machines: Four New Midsize Pickups Ready to Conquer Any Terrain

Buyers looking for a rugged truck with serious off-road chops have more desirable options than ever—even in the midsize segment alone. The Jeep Gladiator Rubicon first comes to mind, but a quartet of new models are about to hit the market and vie for the title of king of the mountain.

Let’s take a closer look at this fearsome foursome that won’t hesitate to get dirty to take on every obstacle and challenge everything that stands in their way.

2024 Ford Ranger Raptor

The next-generation Ford Ranger is finally landing on our shores. The first deliveries are planned in late summer. For the first time ever, the mighty Ranger Raptor will be available, starting at $77,805. 

This model rides on a specific chassis. A series of unique frames, mounts and reinforcements at key locations all combine to handle punishing off-road conditions. The suspension is completely redesigned, featuring all-new, tough and lightweight aluminum upper and lower control arms. The long-travel design includes new, Ford Performance-tuned FOX 2.5-inch Live Valve Internal Bypass shock absorbers with position-sensitive damping capability that adapt to the terrain in real time.

Beefier looks are achieved by the flared fenders, aggressive 33-inch BFGoodrich all-terrain KO3 tires on 17-inch wheels, signature F-O-R-D lettering on the grille, all-steel front bumper and integrated, frame-mounted front and rear tow hooks. The front bash plate is almost double the size of the standard Ranger bash plate and made from 2.3mm-thick high-strength steel.

Under the hood is a twin-turbo 3.0-litre EcoBoost V6 that produces 405 horsepower and 430 lb-ft. of torque (premium gas required). Four different modes for the active exhaust system (Baja, Sport, Normal and Quiet) add to a selection of seven drive modes including Normal, Tow/Haul, Sport, Slippery, Off-Road, Rock Crawl and Baja. What’s more, the Ranger Raptor comes with Trail Control, which is like cruise control for off-roading at speeds less than 32 km/h. The driver can focus on steering through difficult terrain while acceleration and braking are taken care of.

2024 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison and GMC Canyon AT4X AEV

The new ZR2 Bison and AT4X AEV are the pinnacle of the third-generation Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon lineups. Developed in a partnership with American Expedition Vehicles (AEV), the pair is described by General Motors as the most off-road-capable midsize trucks ever.

It all starts with 35-inch Mud Terrain tires (including a spare mounted on a rack in the cargo bed), AEV 17-inch beadlock-capable wheels, AEV fender flares and sturdier AEV bumpers. Boron steel skid plates and rocker protectors improve underbody protection, while the ZR2 Bison’s Multimatic DSSV dampers use segment-exclusive Jounce Control technology.

Ground clearance is increased to 12.2 inches. Breakover and departure angles (26.9 degrees and 26 degrees, respectively) are larger, as well, but the approach angle (38.2 degrees) is slightly compromised by the new winch-ready front bumper.

The engine that motivates the two pickups is a turbocharged 2.7-litre four-cylinder paired with an eight-speed autobox and 4WD system featuring a two-speed transfer case. Output is 310 horsepower along with 430 lb-ft. of torque. Since the vehicles are heavier, payload drops from 1,280 lbs to 1,050 lbs, while max towing capacity is down from 6,000 lbs to 5,500 lbs.

2024 Toyota Tacoma Trailhunter and TRD Pro

Emulating the design of its big brother Tundra, the new Tacoma from Toyota innovates in many ways. For one, it marks the debut of the Trailhunter grade, a purpose-built overlanding rig—available right off the dealer lot—that can be specified with a full bed rack to support additional gear like rooftop tents, canopies or a camp shower.

Riding on a new Old Man Emu (OME) 4×4 suspension from renowned Australian company ARB, plus 33-inch Goodyear Territory R/T tires, this Japanese kangaroo boasts rock rails and a multitude of high-strength steel skid plates, as well as integrated bedside scene lights that help illuminate the area surrounding the bed for setting up camp at night.

Of course, when it comes to tackling the worst off-road conditions, the TRD Pro model is still the best. For 2024, it features a new i-Force Max hybrid powertrain and standard electronic locking rear differential. A turbocharged 2.4-litre engine combines with an electric motor to unleash 326 horsepower and an astonishing 465 lb-ft. of torque. The heavy artillery is also deployed on the chassis side with a Fox suspension with three-way adjustable internal bypass valves up front and auxiliary reservoir shocks in the rear. Don’t forget the various skid plates underneath and 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler Territory RT tires.

As we covered in a previous blog, the Tacoma TRD Pro also debuts segment-first IsoDynamic Performance Seats that stabilize the driver and front passenger’s field of vision to improve focus, comfort, and reduce fatigue while on demanding trails. These advanced buckets feature an air-over-oil shock absorber system allowing for vertical and lateral seat movement simultaneously to dampen body movement and stabilize the head and neck to keep alignment with the spine. The dampening effect is tunable based on body mass and occupant preference and can be bypassed if desired via levers on the seatbacks. How incredible is that?