3 Light Off-Road Kings


A few weeks ago I posted about the new Chevrolet Colorado going diesel. This is a big thing in the industry but it is time to get back to the basics. Small trucks are most comfortable off road, not towing big trailers. Small trucks are the ones who conquer off-roading because their bigger counterparts are too heavy. This segment of the truck industry has many heavy hitters and we are going to take a look at 3 of them. First we will talk about the Tacoma then the Colorado and lastly the Frontier.  

As you know from my previous post, I’m a Tacoma guy. It is what I drive and a vehicle that I know very well. I can personally speak to its performance off road. So lets start with the basics. The Tacoma comes in various models. We are going to talk about the TRD models. These are the 4x4 models that are known for their off road abilities.

Picture Courtesy of Toyota

The 2015 TRD Pro comes with an amazing suspension setup. It has a spring setup that is supported by Bilstein shocks. The engine is its classic 4 liter V6. It puts out 236hp and 266 lb-ft of torque. This is linked to a 5 speed auto or 6 speed manual. It has an electronically controlled transfer case and an automatic limited slip differential. The truck is equipped with an active traction control to help make sure that you feel secure no matter what terrain you are on. You get 9” of ground clearance, which is a solid amount of clearance for a small truck. It is also the lightest truck in the class coming in at just under 4,300 lbs. This truck really starts to shine with its approach and departure angles. Due to its extremely short front the truck is able to have an approach angle of 35 degrees and with the rear axle being so far back the truck is able to depart at 25 degrees. This makes for an amazing off road truck.

Picture Courtesy of Chevrolet

The next truck to talk about is the diesel Chevrolet Colorado. This truck uses a 2.8 liter inline 4 engine that has forced induction. The engine is made by Duramax which has an amazing reputation for strong engines. This engine is the most powerful out of the three, creating 305 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque. It has a 6 speed auto transmission with a 2 speed transfer case. The information about the suspension on this model is difficult to come by, tests say that it has very limited suspension travel. One thing that Chevy did well was give this truck a drastic increase in its approach angles. Before the approach angle for this truck was 17 degrees now it is able to approach at 30 degrees. Its departure angles are not bad either, coming in at about 22 degrees. This vehicle seems like it will be more capable on road than off road. This truck weighs almost 4500 lbs and barely has 8 inches of ground clearance.

Picture Courtesy of Nissan

To conclude we are going to look at the Nissan Frontier. This truck is one that has been around for a while and the biggest complaint about it, which is a good complaint to have as your worst, is that it needs a facelift. The 2016 model looks almost the same as the 2001 model. It comes with a 4 liter naturally aspirated V-6 and puts out 261 hp and 281 lb-ft of torque. The truck is a 4x4 model and has electronic controlled locking rear differential. The truck is also equipped with a mode to help assist with starting on a hill or descending a hill. This is very beneficial when you are off road on uneven terrain. To help with feeling secure, the truck comes with an advanced stability control program. One thing that Nissan does so well is their electronics that control the vehicle. The best example of this is their GTR but it is shown in every model they have. To help with off-roading, the truck has the most ground clearance with more than 9” of clearance. It falls between the Tacoma and the Colorado for its approach and departure angles. The approach angle is 31.5 degrees and it can depart up to 22.6 degrees. Overall this vehicle is very capable off road.