Drafting the Best Off-road Midsize Truck: TFL Fantasy Truck League 2018 is Here! (Video)

Which is the best off-road worthy midsize truck? Find out in our TFL Fantasy Truck League Mashup!

It’s a question that gets tossed around all the time in the TFL office: What is the best of a particular segment? When it comes to trucks, the question of which of four off-road worthy midsized trucks is the best. In light of the booming midsize market – including the newly revealed Ranger Raptor – it’s certainly worth finding the answer. However, since all of these trucks (with the exception of the Chevy Colorado ZR2) aren’t quite out yet – the new Tacoma TRD Pro just emerged in Chicago – we can’t do our normal comparison review.

What to do? Rather than just sit around a table arguing over which truck is best, TFLtruck’s going a different way. Welcome to the inaugural TFL Fantasy Truck League 2018! We’re taking four contenders – the Ford Ranger Raptor, Chevy Colorado ZR2, Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro, and the Jeep JT – and pitching them against each other in a draft-style, fantasy sports kind of way to see which is best. Check out the video below to see how that turns out! But first, meet the contenders:

TFL Fantasy Truck League: Ford Ranger Raptor
Ford Ranger Raptor [Photo: Ford]

Ford Ranger Raptor

The U.S. market has gone eight years without the Ranger. Back in 2011, Ford decided to drop their smaller truck offering in favor of nudging customers toward the larger F-150. Now that the F-150 has grown in its own right, a gap has opened up for folks who either want a smaller truck. Or, if you’re looking for a more expensive truck – let’s face it, even the base XL F-150 costs nearly $30,000 with a few options – the Ranger makes an for an appealing option.

What’s more, while the 2.3-liter EcoBoost in the ordinary Ranger may pass muster for most customers, some out there will want more. That’s where the Ranger Raptor steps in. Now, it’s not officially coming to the U.S. (yet), but if it does, it will follow in the footsteps of its big brother, the F-150 Raptor.

In current (global) spec, the impending Ranger Raptor packs a 2.0-liter twin-turbo diesel pushing out 210 horsepower and roughly 368 lb-ft of torque. As with the F-150 Raptor, it’s mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. What really makes the Ranger Raptor off-road capable, however, is its Fox racing shocks and coilover rear suspension with Watt’s linkage. Complemented by a whooping 11.15 inches of ground clearance, this truck should be quite the machine. Watch the video to see how it fares in our Fantasy Truck League matchup!


TFL Fantasy Truck League: 2019 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro
Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro with a Desert Air Intake. [Photo: Toyota]

Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro

Toyota just debuted their refreshed TRD Pro models – including the Tacoma, Tundra, and 4Runner – at this year’s Chicago Auto Show. On the surface, the Tacoma TRD Pro looks the same as the previous model. However, there are some new factory accessories you can install, including a Desert Air Intake. The 2019 TRD Pro also uses 2.5″ Fox shocks with more bypass zones, for better on-road and off-road damping.

Mechanically, the Tacoma TRD Pro still uses a 3.5-liter V6 engine, making 278 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque. To hack it off road, Toyota’s most off-road focused truck also packs a locking rear differential and Crawl Control. With 9.4 inches of ground clearance, the Tacoma should be able to tackle most obstacles it encounters when heading off the beaten path. But can it win in our midsize Fantasy Truck League?


TFL Fantasy Truck League: 2018 chevy colorado zr2 dusk midnight edition sema show performance parts
Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Dusk Edition [Photo: Chevrolet]

Chevy Colorado ZR2

Unlike the Tacoma TRD Pro and the Ranger (at least for now), the Chevy Colorado ZR2 has two engine options. You can get it with either a 3.6-liter V6 gasoline engine, or you can choose the engine we did in our Fantasy Truck League – a 2.8-liter turbodiesel. Since two of the three other trucks have diesel powerplants, it makes sense to pitch those against each other.

Making 186 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, the ZR2 in diesel guise isn’t the most powerful. However, it does have a nice heap of torque for better low-down grunt. Off-road, this version of the Chevy Colorado sports DSSV Multimatic “spool-valve” dampers. It’s technology derived from Formula 1 and used on high-performance cars that uses spool valves in place of traditional pistons and shims to better control big hits to the suspension and generally make for a better ride. The ZR2 also features front and rear locking differentials as well as 8.9 inches of ground clearance. Will its suspension setup and torquey engine win it some points? Watch the video to find out!


2019 jeep scrambler wrangler prototype midsize pickup truck
Jeep Wrangler pickup prototype [Photo: Real Fast Photography]

Jeep JT

The Jeep Truck, known better as the “Scrambler”, is the truck we probably know the least about in official capacity at this point. However, our friends over at Jeep Scramber Forum posted some useful information about Jeep’s impending truck based on dealer documentation. With that, we know the JT will house the upcoming 3.0-liter EcoDiesel, making 260 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque. That makes it the torquiest and nearly the most powerful engine of the lot. But will that be enough to win TFL Fantasy Truck League glory?

As far as off-road gadgetry or other specs, we’re basing our information off the recently revealed Wrangler JL Rubicon. Underneath, these vehicles will likely be similar. On that basis, it’s not too huge a stretch to imagine FCA using the same platform in their truck. If our educated guesses end up being accurate, the JT should have an eight-speed automatic transmission, front and rear locking differentials, and an electronic sway bar disconnect. It should also have the best approach and departure angles, but it will likely be the most expensive truck here.

What do you think of our TFL Fantasy Truck League? Let us know in the comments on TFLtruck.com or on our YouTube channel. Subscribe and let us know if you’d like us to do a half-ton version down the road!

Zach Butler is the Managing Editor for TFLcar.