2017 Monster Factory Off-Road Challenge: Results

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By Joe Bruzek

Flogging these pickup trucks off-road wasn't our only consideration when picking the 2017 Monster Factory Off-Road Challenge winner. Each truck racked up points through rigorous evaluations in a number of subjective categories that included judges' scores in interior quality, versatility, value and more. Points also were awarded for measured testing of acceleration and braking and various truck-centric capabilities, including payload and gross vehicle weight ratings.

The winner was perhaps a bit lopsided in off-road chops and leaned so far in that direction that its shortcomings in other areas weren't serious enough to keep it off the top of the podium. Here's how they finished:

No. 6: 2017 Ram 2500 Power Wagon, 1,879 points

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Equipped with the heaviest duty of heavy-duty parts, we were a bit surprised to see the 2500 Power Wagon come up last. It wasn't due to a lack of enthusiasm from the judges; we scored the Power Wagon our second favorite in subjective categories.

"If any vehicle looked and felt at home on the trail, it was the Power Wagon. There's so much to love here: live axles, softened coil springs, dual-pivot lower control arms, a sway-bar disconnect, front and rear locking differentials, and gobs of ground clearance," said PickupTrucks.com Editor Mark Williams.

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No, it was the fuel economy of the heavy-duty gasser, pokey acceleration numbers and mid-pack payload that bit away at the Power Wagon's chances of placing better among lighter, more fuel-efficient and quicker, yet mostly less off-road-capable, trucks.

No. 5: 2017 Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X, 1,899 points

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The Titan XD Pro-4X diesel may be a partial-heavy-duty pickup, but it's more similar to the Power Wagon than the other trucks and the two battled head-to-head for the best of the heaviest. Test judge and automotive freelance journalist Greg Whale commented that the XD is "a very good truck for working at, or towing things to, off-highway locations," and that's how the XD beat the Power Wagon, by eking 20 more points from categories including gross vehicle weight rating, payload and towing.

The XD's diesel engine also returned better fuel economy than the gas Power Wagon and ranked second on our fuel-economy loop. For some judges, the diesel engine was notable on the trail for low-end torque that was able to impressively pull the 7,400-pound truck through ruts and over rocks.

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Not all judges were thrilled with the diesel engine, however, on- or off-road.

"I haven't liked this engine," said Cars.com Los Angeles Bureau Chief Brian Wong. "It's not responsive in either environment and it has a weird exhaust note I didn't enjoy."

No. 4: 2016 Toyota Toyota Tundra TRD Pro, 1,915 points

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The Tundra TRD Pro elicited the most "What if?" comments. What if it had more aggressive tires? What if it had a locking differential? What if it had fewer miles? The Tundra, with 15,000 miles on its odometer, was a rattle trap compared with the other trucks. It was also the least expensive of the group with few convenience options (the TRD Pro has no optional equipment). But to some, the Tundra's basicness was a plus.

"Simplicity is always a bonus β€” see the shifter and climate controls β€” but it feels a generation old, maybe because, for most intents and purposes, it is," Whale said.

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The Tundra TRD Pro overcame the same trail obstacles as the other trucks, but it always seemed to struggle just a little bit more, needing awareness in throttle application and patience to tackle similar obstacles. Throttle control helped the Tundra in these tough situations. "I still really enjoy the engine/throttle combination. On the street it makes the Toyota feel a bit spritelier, and off-road it's the one I preferred for crawling obstacles," Wong said.

The TRD Pro's standard Michelin tires were far less aggressive than other trucks' rubber, though they had a deceiving amount of grip on the rocky trail. The factory tires are nothing like the aggressive optional BFGoodrich tires we've previously tested on a Tundra TRD Pro, however.

No. 3: 2017 Nissan Titan Pro-4X, 1,949 points

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Mid-pack was an appropriate finish for the half-ton Titan Pro-4X with the gas V-8. It was the truck judges proclaimed did everything acceptably but didn't stand out in any particular way. It struck a balance between street driving, hauling ability and off-road capability. The Titan struggled off-road with a weak approach angle and a front skid plate that seemingly had a death wish. Williams explained:

"It doesn't take too long on a rough-and-tumble trail to find the limits of the suspension, finding out how soft the front end, with its long nose, can be. It's not right when you have to get used to hearing your front skid plate work so hard with off-roading."

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The Titan's street ride quality was superb and very much like other modern half-ton trucks, though clearly more street oriented than off-road focused, but still capable of light-duty off-road work. "A worthy choice for a second car that pulls quads, snowmobiles or a moderate camping trailer occasionally," Whale said.

No. 2: 2016 Ram 1500 Mopar Rebel, 1,952 points

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Ram didn't need to throw much at the Ram 1500 Rebel for it to be a capable off-road package. The air suspension and eight-speed automatic transmission are such big strengths of other Ram 1500s and are aided by grippy 32-inch-tall (as measured by PickupTrucks.com) all-terrain tires and a 3.92 axle ratio for a package that's surprisingly balanced. The air suspension proved a popular feature among judges.

"What's not to like about a suspension that allows the driver to decided how high or low they want to go when driving different terrain?" Williams asked. "The airbags clearly help with on-road comfort and driver feel, but it's odd that when in 'Off-Road' mode it delivers the stiffest, most punishing ride."

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The whole package was tied together with supple ride quality, smart engine and transmission tuning, and creature comforts including remote start, a heated steering wheel and a Mopar special edition package on this particular truck. One feature we'd ditch are the tubular side steps, which took a beating on the trail.

"I get that Mopar offers quite a few customizing choices to their buyers, but the side steps took considerable work to protect. I would not recommend it for anyone thinking about venturing off-road, especially with a truck that can lower you to the ground with an air suspension," Williams said.

No. 1: 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor, 2,087 points

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To put it simply, the F-150 Raptor dominated. Sure, its trailering capabilities are a class below the other trucks in this Challenge, but this menacing pickup is the sports car of off-roading. It dominated low-speed trails and higher-speed loose dirt roads, plus it exhibited surprising civility on the road and had a long list of creature comforts.

"This is the new kind of sports truck," Williams remarked. "One that can do many things in several types of environments. My only complaint is that when it comes to being a bed-cargo-carrying pickup, it falters."

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Williams wasn't alone in his criticism of the Raptor's truck capabilities. "As a desert speedster or mountain goat, it's state of the art; as a second car, it's space inefficient and not particularly economical, and as a pickup, it barely edges out the average garden tractor or side-by-side," Whale said.

The Raptor didn't just perform well off-road. Its zero-to-60-mph and quarter-mile acceleration were more Mustang-like than trucklike and absolutely embarrassed the other trucks. Being well-rounded and a blast to drive on- and off-road echoed in the minds of the judges.

"I did not think it was possible to engineer such a specialized truck to be good at so many things," Wong said, "but it was."

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Overview | Track Testing | Off-Road Performance | Daily Driving | Dynamometer Testing | Results

Cars.com photos by Evan Sears

 

 

 

PUTCChallenge_results

 

 

Comments

How about some angles and articulation in scoring?

So is a winch and that wasn't even a scored category


Posted by: Mike | Jan 23, 2017 4:15:18 PM

Not really, if you're with a few friends off-roading you can have another person pull you out.

P.S. I never go off-roading alone. You'd be dumb if you did.

I go off-roading with my ATV alone 10 times per season. I have winch, 200' extra cable, 4 tow straps Japanese chain hoist , saw and axe. I made it by myself all the time in any situation. Impossible without a winch or hoist.

They are paramount when off-roading.

Posted by: Frank | Jan 23, 2017 4:03:24 PM

Sure are when you offroad in a Ford wussy truck need all the tow hooks you can get.

Not really, if you're with a few friends off-roading you can have another person pull you out.Posted by: Frank | Jan 23, 2017 4:34:28 PM

Yeah need 50 wussy Ford trucks to pull one wussy craptor out with one the 4 tow hooks.

P.S. I never go off-roading alone. You'd be dumb if you did.
Posted by: Frank | Jan 23, 2017 4:34:28 PM

Yeah if your a wussy man and own a Ford best not to leave the pavement with that nonstop breaking junk.

Payload on a supercrew raptor is over a 1000lbs and has 8000 lbs tow capacity. Fords super cab isnt made for the family. Its not big enoughfor adults in the back. Supercrew raptor is the family offroad rig as it has plenty of capacity cause it equals or exceeds the ram 3/4 ton capacities that was in this test.

I dont think anybody was suprised by the rebel harsh ride of road as theram airbag suspension isnt an offroad suspension. A regularram truxk with air suspension as the same suspension as a rebel. Nothing is different in them

@Boosted
Yes, but the supercrew wouldn't have that MPG, 0 to 60 , braking distance....offroad feeling, like the model tested in here. Would be ? It's still less than RAM Power Wagon in capacities.

Being a pilot, the biggest misnomer is that a 4 seat airplane can carry 4 people in it. The well known Cessna 172 has four seats, but can not accommodate 4x 200lb passengers without being certifiably over weight, and risk getting your hard earned license repealed. So the fact that some of these full size trucks can almost not accommodate any extra stuff, really strikes a chord with me even though I have no real need for hard core 4 wheeler. But I do have a need to carry passengers and dirt bikes or mountain bikes to destinations for my kind of fun. So hearing the opinions is interesting when their is some "meat" in them, and when their is not too much brand bashing. Raptor, I always thought was a bit overkill, but obviously they sell, and some just have to have one. So to each their own, but obviously some of the subjective things here are subjective, but when I initially heard the Raptor was to be part of this comparison, I thought it didn't belong!? So if Raptor qualifies as a competitor, why not a Hummer, if they are still being sold. Maybe that's what Raptor has taped into, the Hummer stand out crowd.

So if Raptor qualifies as a competitor, why not a Hummer, if they are still being sold. Maybe that's what Raptor has taped into, the Hummer stand out crowd.


Posted by: Angelo Pietroforte | Jan 23, 2017 6:02:10 PM

The Raptor is more popular than the Hummer 1,2,3.

Hummer H1 was cancelled in 2006 and the H2 and H3/H3T both finished out 2010 model years.

100 point to the raptor for tow hooksπŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ™ƒπŸ€£πŸ˜‚
Also tire size? Really!! That is the first thing to to changed on any of these trucks maintenance or otherwise

100 point to the raptor for tow hooksπŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ™ƒπŸ€£πŸ˜‚
Also tire size? Really!! That is the first thing to to changed on any of these trucks maintenance or otherwise


Posted by: Ridefoxone | Jan 23, 2017 7:02:28 PM

They need those for Power Wagon recovery.

Hemi lol is correct, The Tundra TRD Pro rear ground clearance is 10.4-10.6" depending on what site you view it from, not 8.75"

See you on the trail, Or not!. lol

Another thing I noticed, Why is the Raptor always in the front of all the group pictures, even when the rest of the vehicles in the test are out of order according to this tests finishing order??? Suggestive, biased , advertising? Someone's getting πŸ’΅ To stack the deck here!

The Raptor didn't just perform well off-road. Its zero-to-60-mph and quarter-mile acceleration were more Mustang-like than trucklike and absolutely embarrassed the other trucks. Being well-rounded and a blast to drive on- and off-road echoed in the minds of the judges.
"I did not think it was possible to engineer such a specialized truck to be good at so many things," Wong said, "but it was."

Said it all...RAM cry babies

Another thing I noticed, Why is the Raptor always in the front of all the group pictures, even when the rest of the vehicles in the test are out of order according to this tests finishing order??? Suggestive, biased , advertising? Someone's getting πŸ’΅ To stack the deck here!

Posted by: Ridefoxone | Jan 23, 2017 7:41:46 PM

Ah duh?! it's normal, Raptor was No.1 and whoever is the King is in the front of the pic...geeez.

700 lbs. payload for the Raptor?

I am sorry but that is WEAK, not much of an off-roader when you can only carry the humans and no gear!

I will stick with 2,200 lbs. payload on my 2010 Tacoma and carry more off-road and go more places with my reliable Tacoma!

And really making up categories to make sure the Raptor wins?

Tire size and two hooks? Favoring the Raptor are we?

I will stick with 2,200 lbs. payload on my 2010 Tacoma and carry more off-road and go more places with my reliable Tacoma!

Posted by: oxi | Jan 23, 2017 8:39:21 PM

Haha you're always talking about this magical Tacoma with a 2200 lb payload rating. Let's see some pics of your Tacoma with 2200 lbs in the bed. Go ahead, we'll wait.

Surprising the XD diesel gets marginally better fuel economy vs the competition. And the comment about the XD diesel not feeling responsive on road or off road isn't a feather in the cap.

The wrangler sport has a 1,123 lbs payload.

Bradley it has to do with the tall tires and the high lift on the trucks that's why none of them have a particularly High tow rating.
They also have soft spring rates, like the Raptor. They rely on a lot of wheel travel for speed.
I would never be able to use these as a toy because I am cheap. I would need a true purpose built vehicle for beating around.
And none of these would haul a toy hauler with my toys in it.

The raptor only had a total 740 lbs payload. For 5 passengers that's less than 150 lbs each.
That can't possibly meet SAE standards can it?

@ Rammins,

I have a 9-pack Deaver springs in the rear, 700 lbs. over stock and 200 lbs. coils in the front, do he math ignorant one!

9-pack Deaver springs in the rear, 700 lbs. over stock and 200 lbs. coils in the front

@Oxi

Maybe I missed it: Do you also have the lame Toyota-factory front disc/rear drum brakes?

These tests are always a joke. When they do street tests they use a Tundra with off-road tires. When they do an offf-road test they use a Tundra with street tires. Get apples-to-apples and the Tundra ties or wins with 10 r old tech!

"These tests are always a joke. When they do street tests they use a Tundra with off-road tires. When they do an offf-road test they use a Tundra with street tires. Get apples-to-apples and the Tundra ties or wins with 10 r old tech!


Posted by: Ford Sucks | Jan 24, 2017 8:33:49 AM"

Ummm... that seems like an issue with Toyota, perhaps they shouldn't put "street" tires on their TRD Pro offroad package?

Its a FACTORY offroad test, ie Mark and the gang solicit from the manufacturers and say "send us your best offroad package guys!", its Toyota's fault if they sent something with street rubber on it.

Two categories that don't mean a hill a beans are the GVWR and GVWR.

Because they are all different trucks, it really matters none that one has a higher GVWR, because it is no measure of capability. Just because the Nissan is a heavy diesel, equals nothing as far as performance (just due to it being heavier all by it self.)

Payload, trailer towing, those belong.

Couldn't compare a Raptor crew cab? Well since that is the lightest combination, that sure would help in any task where weight works against it, acceleration, gas mileage, plus it gives it a shorter wheelbase.

The payloads of the Raptor and Rebel are a joke. Tow what? The 9 to 15% tongue weight would push both over the Payload. Wow, 700 pounds, Ford doesn't even need a diesel to bring down their Payload, (you know how the Ford fan boys talk about the Ecodiesel payload - that can't be sold yet-).

I seen a 4x4 Titan gas burner, with less equipment than the Pro 4 X, or whatever, it only holds 1267 pounds.

Did I miss where they analyzed cost?

Not much of an apples to apples.

Two categories that don't mean a hill a beans are the GVWR and GVWR.

Because they are all different trucks, it really matters none that one has a higher GVWR, because it is no measure of capability. Just because the Nissan is a heavy diesel, equals nothing as far as performance (just due to it being heavier all by it self.)

Payload, trailer towing, those belong.

Couldn't compare a Raptor crew cab? Well since that is the lightest combination, that sure would help in any task where weight works against it, acceleration, gas mileage, plus it gives it a shorter wheelbase.

The payloads of the Raptor and Rebel are a joke. Tow what? The 9 to 15% tongue weight would push both over the Payload. Wow, 700 pounds, Ford doesn't even need a diesel to bring down their Payload, (you know how the Ford fan boys talk about the Ecodiesel payload - that can't be sold yet-).

I seen a 4x4 Titan gas burner, with less equipment than the Pro 4 X, or whatever, it only holds 1267 pounds.

Did I miss where they analyzed cost?

Not much of an apples to apples.

This was a pretty lame test, 0 -60, 1/4, braking, number of tow hooks, and towing capacities..... they seriously put those in on an off road truck shoot out?

the Power Wagon our second favorite in subjective categories.

"If any vehicle looked and felt at home on the trail, it was the Power Wagon. There's so much to love here: live axles, softened coil springs, dual-pivot lower control arms, a sway-bar disconnect, front and rear locking differentials, and gobs of ground clearance," said PickupTrucks.com Editor Mark Williams.

These guys lose quite a bit of credibility with the above statement of the last place finisher of their "offroad test". Maybe they need a different title for the test.

To add injury to insult, I believe Raptor has the biggest Tire at 35 inch and still smoked them all.

Awesome truck, BTW, I don't need anymore than 700 LBS Payload, who the hell will go off-roading with 700 plus LBS in their truck bed other than OXI, what a dolt.

To answer my own question, OXI trucks will never off-road like a Raptor period. He probably did the Baja 500 at 20 mph. LMFAO

@frank

bring the Raptor with oversized tires to my neighborhood. I have oversized tires too..... and in 4x4 I went 13.50 in the quarter rockin at 1.90 60 foot on 33 inch BFG KO2s.... and my truck is a crew max.. that raptor was brake torqued at launch, the only extended cab at the test so its lighter, with the power the bigger tires help with traction off the line etc..... put it up against a real tundra and see what happens.

While all the competition is either in the scrap yard or very least, in the shop for recalls, the Tundra is still out running around puling the rest out of the mud and sand.

Ford needs 4 tow hooks to be towed back to the repair shop by the Tundra.

Mark Williams forgets to remind us of his 'bias' against Tundras.

It's to bad Toyota doesn't offer the TRD supercharger for the Tundra anymore. The last year it was offered was 2015 and I had one installed on my 15 Pro Crew Max.
Completely different truck with it. In my opinion, it should have been standard equipment on the Tundra Pro.
Who doesn't want 500hp/550tq in a 4 wheel drive😎

Yeah if your a wussy man and own a Ford best not to leave the pavement with that nonstop breaking junk.

Posted by: johnny doe | Jan 23, 2017 5:44:43 PM

Once again team no show,empty stable spewing nonsense
You are like someone who doesn't vote then complains about the outcome. Now hush until your Masters bring thier tin to the game.

Power Wagon with the only front and rear locking differentials (no, a Torsen isn't a locking diff on the Raptor), a factory winch and disconnecting sway-bar comes in last in an "OFF-ROAD" comparison? Because of fuel economy and slower acceleration?

What a complete joke of an article. A Power Wagon would go much further into difficult terrain than any of these other trucks could dream.

"Also tire size? Really!! That is the first thing to to changed on any of these trucks maintenance or otherwise


Posted by: Ridefoxone | Jan 23, 2017 7:02:28 PM"

Ha... looked at the title again to check, yep, still says FACTORY Offroad challenge... not 15 year old kid got a hold of dad's credit card and went nuts with the 4wheelparts catalog challenge

@Hemi (lol) : have you ever measured the GROUND CLEARANCE to the rear axle? I have! It's low, as are many things on a Tundra. (I brought this to your attention, but in all your years of selling, so far you can'take climb under one and look around and measure!

I see you protesting though, not your off-road challenge, right?

Mustang-like than trucklike and absolutely embarrassed the other trucks."

I don't want my trucks body made of tin can, or my flaming mustang i had.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fVSdA1rYKE

I thought this was an Off road Challenge so why does interior matter. And didn't the tundra beat the ram rebel on their 4X4 challenge?

im surprised to see a ford without fuel saver tires on it in one of your tests..

Anything in a half ton that can't carry 1/2 ton is eliminated in my opinion. That's not a 1/2 ton truck. Just based on the seats alone with people's weight you need a minimum 1200-lb capacity even then I wouldn't want it unless it was the perfect truck in all other categories. The only truck I would consider here is the XD or the Pro or regular Titan which stopped the fastest to avoid an accident. The payload for the others are just too low to be practical for my use.

There is so much more criteria than what puts listed. Actually in reality no judge there would actually buy the Raptor for various personal reasons over another truck in this segment. It's just a shot in the dark and really as stated everyone waits the categories differently. Like number of tow hooks to give the Raptor a 50 point advantage and so on are just silly criteria. I wouldn't care. Like that is going to make my decision change. Jeeses. I care more that my payload is exceeded when my family gets in the truck and that I had to remortgage my house. Man



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