2017 was an amazing year for pickup trucks and big SUVs. We were the first to bring you real-world towing, off-road, and MPG tests on all the brand new trucks. It gives us an opportunity to count down the best full-size SUVs and pickup trucks for 2018.
The Expedition is all-new for 2018. We got to drive several version of the new SUV at a Ford event in California. Ford’s largest SUV now has an aluminum body that sits on top of a frame that is similar to F150’s, but the Expedition chassis is unique to accomodate an independent rear suspension system. Under the hood is a 3.5L EcoBoost twin-turbo V6 engine that has two power ratings, depending on the trim level of the Expedition. The base engine is rated at 375 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque (same as in a Ford F-150). The high-end Platinum model gets a power boost to 400 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque. The 10-speed automatic transmission is the only choice, and it’s operated by a rotary knob on the center console.
We took the long-wheelbase Expedition MAX into the Malibu hills with and without a trailer, and we drove an Expedition FX4 off-road package on a steep trail with loose dirt that Ford setup for the journalists. The new Expedition combines an updated specious exterior, high-tech features, and refined driving characteristics to make our best trucks list. An interesting piece of information is that the Expedition uses the dash and instrument cluster from the new Ford Super Duty.
The Tacoma gets a technology upgrade for the 2018 model year that includes adaptive cruise control pre-collision system, and lane departure alert. It’s still a midsize truck sales leader in the United States. It still offers plenty of choice with SR, SR5, TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road, Limited, and TRD Pro trim levels in extended or crew cab configuration. We spent most of our time this year with the TRD Pro model. We took it to Moab, UT and up the Cliffhanger 2.0 (our toughest off-road test) trail several times.
The Tacoma took all of the off-road abuse we put it through and kept coming back for more.
Ram Power Wagon
The Power Wagon was refreshed for 2017 and continues for 2018 mostly unchanged with the exception of the latest Uconnect 8.4-inch infotainment system that is now optionally available across the 2018 Ram HD truck line. The Power Wagon is on our best trucks list because it is the most off-road worthy heavy duty pickup truck. We ran it up the Cliffhanger 2.0 trail several times this year and Power Wagon’s solid axles, lockers, disconnectable sway bar, and Wrangler Duratrac tires never failed to reach the top, although its heavy weight and relatively small tires (33-inch) slowed it down.
Chevy Tahoe RST
Chevrolet introduces a high performance version of the Tahoe for the 2018 model year by stuffing a 6.2L V8 under the hood that is mated to a new 10-speed automatic transmission. They call it the RST (or Rally Sport Truck). The big V8 is just part of the package. This Tahoe also offers a Magnetic Ride Control suspension, big Brembo brake package, and a performance Borla exhaust system.
The Tahoe RST is on our list because it’s simply a very good all-around package. It may not be the quickest or rated to tow the most, but it does everything so well. It’s a comfortable long distance highway cruiser. It’s quick. The V8 sounds great. It’s a highly competent towing SUV, and it has plenty of interior utility.
GMC Sierra HD All Terrain X
What is the GMC Sierra HD All Terrain X? It’s arguably the most off-road worthy diesel-powered heavy duty truck out there. This 6.6L Duramax V8-powered Sierra 2500 combines GM’s Z71 off-road suspension and shocks with skid plates and Wrangler Duratrac tires for a serious off-road package. The All Terrain X also includes accessories and cosmetic touches such as a body color grille, beefy side steps, sports bar in the back with integrated off-road lights, and special interior trim for a unique package. The All Terrain X Sierra HD can be had in black or white, and with a 6.0L gas V8 or a 6.6L turbo-diesel V8.
It’s a comfortable on-road cruiser as well as an off-road torque monster with a healthy doze of attitude. This is why it’s on out best trucks list.
Chevy Colorado ZR2
Which midsize truck is the most comfortable and most off-road worthy? We argue it’s the Chevy Colorado ZR2. This midsizer has the off-road hardware and prowess to tackle out Cliffhanger 2.0 trail. It has a comfortable interior and a great on-pavement ride. It offers front and rear locking differentials, skid plates, side rock rails, highly advanced DSSV spool-valve off-road shocks, and Wrangler Duratrac tires.
The ZR2 can be configures as an extended or crew cab with a choice of a gas 3.6L V6 or a 2.8L turbo-diesel. It may not be the most fuel efficient midsize truck out there, but it’s all-around handling and utility are hard to match.
The Ford F150 lineup is refreshed for the 2018 model year. If you count the high-output 3.5L EcoBoost V6 in the F150 Raptor, the F150 truck lineup already offers five engine options. In a few months, Ford plans to add a 3.0L turbo-diesel V6 to the mix for a total of six power choices. Consider that competitors offer two or three engine options in their trucks. Ford F-Series is a sales leader because of the wide array of configuration choices and capability.
Ford claims the highest torque rating, highest payload, and highway towing rating in the half-ton truck segment, albeit not all with the same truck configuration. We have tested the 3.5L EcoBoost V6 on the Ike Gauntlet™ – world’s toughest towing test, and the truck towed with authority.
Bonus: 2019 Chevy Silverado 1500 / 2019 Ram 1500
If you thought that 2017 was a great year for truck, you would be right. The future is looking even brighter as GM and Ram are planning to roll-out their all-new 1500 trucks. Chevrolet teased their 2019 Silverado 1500 Z71 Trailboss in Texas this month, while Ram is getting ready to officially unveil its 2019 Ram 1500 lineup at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show (NAIAS) alongside the new Silverado.
There are also strong rumors that the 2019 Ford Ranger will also be unveiled in Detroit next month.
The truck wars are alive and well, and we could not be more excited for it!
Check out all of the discussion in the video below.