The world of mid-size pickup trucks is now more competitive than ever, as evidenced by this – the refreshed 2021 Chevy Colorado ZR2 off-road truck. It’s coming out in 2020. How does it compare to all the latest updates and news for all midsize trucks for 2020 and beyond? Here are all the details.
Let’s kick off this comparison with the General Motors trucks. The latest Chevy Colorado and (its cousin) the GMC Canyon have been on the market since 2015. Since then, GM has sold over half a million of them in the United States. Since 2015, Chevrolet has expanded the Colorado model range to include three body configurations, four trim levels, and three engine options. In 2019, GM midsize trucks continue to be the only ones in the segment with an available turbo-diesel engine option. This will change in 2020 – more on this later. A two-wheel-drive diesel equipped Colorado is rated at 30 MPG on the highway and 23 MPG combined. 2020 Colorado pricing starts at around $24,000 for an extended cab work truck version with two-wheel-drive. A basic four wheel drive crew cab has a starting price of just under $32,000.
2021 Chevy Colorado
Let’s get back to the 2021 Colorado ZR2. The ZR2 is arguably the most off-road worthy truck that GM currently sells in the U.S. It’s wider and taller than a regular Colorado. It has a robust 4×4 system with front and rear locking differentials for maximum traction. It also has segment exclusive DSSV spool valve off-road shock absorbers that use the technology originally developed for Formula 1 race cars. It takes that suspension technology and applies it to the world of off-roading. This new 2021 model has a new face.
The now familiar grille with its CHEVROLET font is a little larger than before. It transitions into the front skid plate below and is flanked by two red tow hooks. Chevy says it’s meant to make the ZR2 appear even more aggressive than before without losing any of the truck’s off-road capability. This 2021 change is a mild update since Chevy did not change the engines. Those of you who expected a new turbocharged gas engine in the 2021 Colorado may have to wait longer for any further significant upgrades. The truck is still available with a choice of a gas 3.6-liter V6 or a 2.8-liter four cylinder turbo-diesel. The interior for the 2021 Colorado also remains largely the same. While 2021 pricing is not yet available, a fully optioned 2020 Colorado can ratchet the sticker price to over $50,000.
GM is not done yet. They also promised a new 2021 GMC Canyon AT4 off-road truck to debut next year. We got a brief sneak peek at the Canyon AT4 prototype at a recent GC Sierra event. The Canyon was hidden inside a trailer. While many details remain unknown, we anticipate the Canyon AT4 to mimic much of the equipment and overall capability of the Colorado ZR2. It also means that the currently available Canyon All-Terrain edition is likely to be discontinued. The GMC Canyon pricing is very close to that of the Colorado. The main difference is really in the design. The GMC Canyon continues to offer a luxurious Denali model. If you want a leather appointed interior, luxurious amenities, and 20-inch wheels – then the Denali is a very nice option. A Canyon Denali will also set you back $50,000 with a Diesel engine and all the options.
Next up, let’s hit the rest of the trucks in alphabetical order.
The Ford Ranger is back on sale in the United States as a 2019 model. Official information about the 2020 Ranger is not available yet, but we do not expect any significant changes. It will still be available in two body styles: extended cab with a longer 6-foot bed, and a crew cab with a short 5-foot bed. The 2.3-liter turbocharged gas four-cylinder engine is the only engine option. It’s mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission.
The Ranger starts around $26,000 for a base extended cab truck with two-wheel drive. A fully-option Ranger crew-cab with an FX4 off-road package can cost upward of $46,000.
Ford is expending availability of the performance truck accessories. For the 2020 model year, the Ranger will offer a lifted off-road suspension kit with specially tuned FOX shocks. It offers an additional two inches of ground clearance in the front. This is a dealer-installed option that costs just under $1,500 before installation. We do not yet know what’s in store for the Ford Ranger for 2021 and beyond.
The Honda Ridgeline does not sell very many trucks. It’s at the bottom of the midsize truck sales chart in the United States. The current generation has been around since 2017. While the rest of the trucks on this list are pure body of frame construction, the Ridgeline is more of a crossover pickup truck. It does have a subframe in the back to support the bed and allow for trailer towing. It’s still the only pickup currently available that is based on a front-wheel-drive platform and has an independent rear suspension. All the rest are rear wheel drive trucks with solid rear axles.
The Ridgeline still comes in one flavor. It’s a crew cab with a short bed. A two-wheel-drive Honda crew cab starts at just under $30,000. That is with a 3.5-liter gas V6 and a 6-speed automatic transmission. If you are looking for a very comfortable and smooth riding smaller pickup, then the Ridgeline is hard to beat for it’s on-road performance.
There are rumors that Honda will update the Ridgeline for 2020 with a new front-end and a gas/electric powertrain, but at this point Honda has officially denied these rumors.
If you love classic boxy truck style, the removable doors and a removable roof, then the new 2020 Jeep Gladiator truck is it. It went on sale in 2019. It’s offered in just one configuration. It’s a crew cab with a short bed, and it’s only offered with 4-wheel-drive. This is why the starting price is a bit higher than the rest. The Gladiator starts at just under $34,000. However, a fully loaded Rubicon off-road version can be optioned to around $62,000. This is currently the most expensive midsize truck, and a truck that is meant to support an active outdoor lifestyle with superior off-road capability.
If you thought it could not get more expensive, then think again. In 2020, Jeep is adding its new 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 engine to the Gladiator lineup. There is a leaked report out that estimates the cost of the Jeep diesel to be $3,500 on top of the 3.6-liter gas V6 and an 8-speed automatic transmission that are there now. However, official pricing is not yet available. It will join the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon diesels in the fight for maximum driving range and efficiency. Although, the Jeep diesel V6 will have much more power and torque than the GM four-cylinder diesels. The Jeep engine is rated at 260 hp and 442 lb-ft of torque.
There are no significant updates to the 2020 Nissan Frontier. It remains the most affordable new pickup truck in the U.S. with a starting price of under $20,000. It’s still offered in two body configurations, and one engine option. Nissan recently added a blacked out Midnight Edition package to the Frontier at no additional cost on most models.
We have all been waiting for an all-new Frontier to come. It’s rumored to be available for the 2021 model year, but we do not have any official information about it at this time.
The Toyota Tacoma remains the best-selling midsize truck in the United States, even with all the added competition from the Ford Ranger and the Jeep Gladiator. The truck receives a series of meaningful upgrades for 2020. This includes upgraded headlights, upgraded infotainment system, and a driver’s seat that offers more range of motion to accommodate more people with more comfort. The engines remain the same. The starting price for the Tacoma is just over $26,000.
A fully-loaded Tacoma TRD Pro can be optioned to over $47,000.
As we get more news about the 2020 trucks, we will update this post.