Which one of our long-term, $55,000 pickup trucks is best in snowy off-road slop? Which truck can best avoid sliding into the tree?! We headed high up into the Colorado Rockies where it’s still winter to find out. We compare a new 2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon, a new 2020 Ford F-250 FX4, and a 2020 Chevrolet Silverado Trail Boss, each with its own unique approach to 4×4 off-roading prowess and each with different tires.
2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon (baby bear)
There is just one engine currently powering the Gladiator right now. It’s a 3.6-liter gas V6 and an 8-speed automatic transmission. This truck is the most off-road focused in this group with solid axles and locking front and rear differentials. The mid-size truck is purpose built for trails, with the largest and most aggressive tires (Falken Wildpeak All-Terrains) and it has the most ground clearance at around 11 inches.
2020 Ford F-250 FX4 (papa bear)
Our “Super Tremor” project truck packs Ford’s all-new ‘Godzilla’ 7.3-liter V8 married to a 10-speed transmission. The FX4 off-road kit includes 4WD and a selectable locking rear differential, tuned shocks, a ‘snow/sand’ mode, and underbody skid plates. Grip comes courtesy of Goodyear Wrangler All-Terrain Adventure tires with Kevlar. Sounds great, but don’t forget, this is a beastly 7,000-pound Super Duty truck, nearly a ton heavier than the others. Plus it has 8.2-inches of ground clearance, and then Ford added a chin spoiler, which may save some MPGs, but does nothing to boost the truck’s off-road capability.
2020 Chevy Silverado Trail Boss (mama bear)
Chevy took its Z71 off-road package and boosted it to create the Trail Boss. Our iteration of it comes with the 5.3-liter V8 with a 10-speed automatic. At 5,500-pounds the Silverado is noticeably lighter than the Ford when off-road. The Trail Boss version adds a 2-inch lift, Rancho shocks, a rear locker that’s NOT selectable, ‘off-road’ mode, and grip from a set of Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tires. Ground clearance comes in at 10.9 inches and Chevy thoughtfully removed the chin spoiler to boost approach angle (as opposed to having you rip it off on a rock).
And the Winner Is…
- The Jeep Gladiator cleared our Razor Rocks off-camber rock-crawling obstacle and made short work of the deep snow and ice on the hill climb.
- The Chevrolet Trail Boss couldn’t clear the rocks, but had no problem triumphing over the icy hill climb.
- The Ford F-250, despite its rear locker, was too heavy to clear the rocks or make it up the hill.
Check out the rest of our Goldilocks Series:
Episode #2: We attach a 7,000-pound trailer to each truck and tackle the IKE Gauntlet™, the world’s toughest towing test, down and up the Continental Divide.
Episode #1: The three rigs tackle our 60-mile MPG loop on the prairie to determine which one is the fuel-efficiency champ.