2012 Ultimate 4x4 Shootout Preview No. 2

Ultimate 4x4 Group 5 II

You've seen the first video from our Ultimate 4x4 Shootout highlighting the various attributes of the Ford SVT Raptor. Now it's the Nissan Frontier PRO-4X's turn. You can expect another tomorrow, then another on Friday, with the full story coming next week. 

As we noted, this all started when we heard from you after we published the controversial Duel In The Desert (Raptor vs. RamRunner) story. More than a few readers noted the competition could be considered unfair because the Raptor was a factory-built supermodel and the RamRunner was basically an aftermarket Frankenstein.

Fine, we said, so we've set out to test our way to the champion of all factory-offered four-wheel drive packages: We asked the manufacturers to send us their best so we could compete them in head-to-head competition, culminating in ou first-ever Ultimate 4x4 Shootout. The four trucks we have for this contest, in alphabetical order by brand, are the Ford SVT Raptor, Nissan Frontier PRO-4X (below), Ram Power Wagon and Toyota Tacoma Baja. We should note, with a new truck on the horizon, GM declined to participate.




I like that the frontier can come with a crew cab and long bed, it is the only mid size truck that does that I believe. Does anyone know if you can get a crew cab and long bed with the pro4x package? I'd guess not because it should negatively affect the breakover angle. Still sometimes its nice to have the extra bed space if you're heading out camping somewhere more remote.

The POWER WAGON is a MACHINE. The same formula that it started with in 1946. The rest are toy's.

I sort of have a soft spot for Nissan and our Navara's (Frontier) seemed to have negative comments on their off road ability.

Their approach, departure and ramp over are viewed by many motoring journalists as to low. So you would hope a lot of bash plates are underneath it.

GM declined to participate. What were they going to compete with?

I really like the frontier. Buying them used results in a great truck to start as a project truck. They don't have nearly the aftermarket of the taco, but you can have a lifted, heavily skidded truck on 35's for probably $14K. If you want to replace the diff with a titan diff, or add in an ARB rear locker (if you don't have a pro4x or nismo) its probably ~another grand for each of those options, I haven't priced them recently so don't know the exact prices. Tacos are nice trucks too, but they hold their resale value too well for me to ever consider buying a used taco. It just makes no sense.

no trolling, but i read that the new ram 1500 with the 8 speed will chirp all four tires in four wheel drive with a hemi. in other words, the hemi has power and the 8 speed puts it to the pavement. not many four wheel drives can spin all four wheels at one time, with exception to rally cars like subarus and mitsubishis.



GM declined to participate. What were they going to compete with?

-LOLOL!!! Amen to That! This isn't a truck's Road Race.


"The stoutest 4x4's that the OE's offer". Amen to that Mark. And That folks is why Chevy is nowhere to be found. Those tinfoil bodies they got would shimmy to the point of breakage with off road vibrations. You don't take a Chevy post 1987 off the beaten path. Everyone knows that. Maybe the ZR2 S-10. Maybe..

Howie: It's the legend off-roading!

Howi: Z71. Tell me about it!

Gary White: Z71. That is THE toughest truck!

Gary: It's the best truck and it gets the best equipment.

Howie: Wow. It's the total package and you can take it through the woods.


Chevy's don't go offroad. Everyone knows that. They don't even build a daily driver road truck worth owning. You're looking at the top two of the new Big 3 up top. Ford and Dodge. Toyota and Nissan have a serious fight on their hands for third place in the new Big 3 line up. Toyota better get their act together though because Nissan seems serious about business now.

@Ken, Howie is a joke. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8W85WjayKQ

ROFLMAO - "BFG Rugged Trail T/A Tires. Good grip. Very aggressive in the mud..."

The Rugged Trail is a highway tire that performs poorly off road. The tires are nicknamed Rugged Fails for a reason.

AAArrgghhh!!! Come on GM the only thing worse than going home beat up and last from a fight is not showing up at all. We are big boys here and understand how old of a design the current truck is. You wouldn't have lost a single sale if you gave it your best shot.

Toyota...no Tundra? I'm going to fly a flag of shame on mine till you guys get with it.

I feel better now...

@phillyguy - I thought that the Tacoma was the only small truck with a double cab and 6.5 box option. You can get the TRD OffRoad package with that configuration as well.

@HemiV8 - they are all toys.
I've only seen 1 PowerWagon used as a work truck and 2 that looked like they had been used offroad. 1 of those 2 had a decent lift kit and some real offroad tires on it.
I've seen 2 Raptors that looked like they had seen serious offroading. I don't see too many Frontiers but I see lots of Tacomas. Many of those Tacomas have seen serious offroad use. Way more than the Power Wagon or Raptor.

@ Lou

Does Toyota offer a 6.5ft bed with a full cab? Is that a new option? I did not realize that was available and thought it was only an option on the frontier. That is good to know. I do not think that the long bed is an option on the pro4x, not that I can see anyway.

All of these trucks sacrifice some work capacity to obtain better offroad capability.
PowerWagon........................................... Ram 2500 4x4
towing - 10,200 ...................................... 13,450
hauling - 1,800 ....................................... 2,400

Tacoma Baja ..........................................Tacoma 4x4
Towing - 3,500 ....................................... 6,300
hauling (PUTC) 800,or 1,125 (Toy).............. 1,260

Raptor SC.............................................. 6.2 SuperCrew
towing - 8,000 ....................................... 11,100
hauling - 1,020 ...................................... 1,790

Frontier Pro4x.......................................... Frontier Crew
towing - 6,100 ........................................ 6,100
hauling - 1,029 ....................................... 1,250

The 2 trucks bragging the best high speed offroad capability have the poorest "work" capacity. That stems from the fact that you cannot have a suspension that allows rapid wheel travel with a large amount of cargo capacity. Stiff springs equal stiff ride equals high speed disaster.

The Power Wagon does take a hit in both cargo and towing. Rapid wheel travel isn't a concern for the PW but articualtion is. Stiffer springs will work better with a truck designed for slow wheel travel i.e. crawling over logs and rocks but a softer spring will flex better than a stiff one. That probably plays a bigger role in why we won't see a Cummins PW. The whole winch infront of the intercooler excuse is just that, an excuse.
I'm not surprised that the Frontier takes the smallest hit in "work" capacity. It looks closest to stock out of all 4.

"The competition is tough, but the power of our Mopar engines keeps our drivers up front. The 2012 season is shaping up to be another memorable one for Mopar and Ram in the TORC Series."

Just two-and-a-half weeks after Mopar introduced the new 800-horsepower V-10 Competition Race Engine at the 2011 SEMA show, the off-road racing derivative of the crate engine made its debut in last weekend’s 44th Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, powering a Ram 1500 driven by Kent Kroeker and Alan Roach to the Class 8 win .

If it is plausible, try and fit one of the 3.0 litre V6 diesels into your Frontier. I don't know if the drivetrain would need to be replaced. You can source engine mounts and stuff from the LH drive Euro Navaras

If you can chip the engine it should be good for 300hp and 450ftlb easily and give you at least 25mpg. You can have an economical powerhouse of a pickup.

Because of their popularity their is plenty of off road gear in Australia for them. Even put a decent suspension to carry a load.

Frontier only has a 5' bed you're not going to do much "work" in that. 5.5' beds are small enough. The bed on the Nissan is almost as useless as the bed that was tacked onto the Explorer Sport Trac.

@phillyguy - I' not 100% sure how the options are combined in the USA. In Canada you can get the double cab with the long bed only in the V6 Auto packaged trucks. I thought it was a 6.5 box but according to the spec sheet I just looked at - it is 73.5 inches or 6ft 1.5 inches long.
I had looked at buying a Tacoma but my wife and I wanted a camper trailer that was in the 6,500 lb range. I'd rather overbuy than overload.

2012 Ram Power Wagon

Payload 1.905lbs

Towing 10,250lbs

2012 Ford Raptor

Payload 980lbs

Towing 6,000lbs



This is not a towing shootout.







@Leader Rambo Motard Goat Herder's Tribe
- Learn to read a spec sheet.
Page 5 clearly shows towing of 10,200 lb and cargo capacity of 1,860 lb. Typo on my part earlier on with the 1,800 lb capacity.


Since you think the Rambox is the greatest invention south of the hemi - here are some more interesting facts:
Power Wagon cargo capacity with RamBox:
1,700 lb.
Towing capacity with RamBox:
10,050 lb.

@HEMI V8 - Are you really comparing a Ram 2500 Power Wagon's towing and payload to an F-150 Raptor?

Then an aftermarket Ram Runner to a bone stock Raptor? A Raptor that you can be driving around by lunch time for 10s of 1000s less?

Aside from factory Ram 1500 frame rails, SCORE Baja 1000, class 8 Rams are 100% custom fab'd and aftermarket race trucks.

If the Power Wagon had a Cummins, it would be perfect!

The Power Wagon will steam roll over everything in this test including the Raptor.


Hold on, let me check something out! Yup, still can't get a locker on a 1500 Dodge Ram. How are you going to go way off the beaten path with your right rear and left front powering the truck? I am shaking my head at how car like those trucks are. Way to go Dodge, you built one heck of a descent mpg people carrier!

@ Tyler. The Power Wagon is built off of a 2500, not a 1500. It has front and rear lockers as well as an integrated winch from the factory. Although I have never driven or ridden in one, by its specs it seems to be a great work truck for work in tough terrain. I would think that oil guys who have to drive through all kinds of crap to get to tar sands and stuff up in Alberta may appreciate the combination of workload and durability that the the Power Wagon provides.

This test is going to be interesting, but unfortunately its only apples to apples in the sense that each manufacturer sent what they thought was their "best". Two mid sized trucks, one half ton, and one three quarter ton truck are going to result in very different work, speed, and tracking capabilities.

As an aside, while I really like the power wagon, I am really not liking Ram's website. I have seen two different payload numbers from them, and am not able to see all of the features and configuration options I would like to. Hopefully they update it for 2013. I would have to say that on a 3/4 ton truck I would think that the Rambox would come in pretty handy. That is a wide bed already, so having some built in lockable toolbox or whatever storage could be pretty useful.

@ Big Al, that is actually a great idea. I had never thought about attempting to source parts from another continent. If that turns out to not be crazy expensive I will begin identifying and acquiring tools and parts after I move out of here in 6-9 months. Way too much work trying to get something like that up and running before a move. Moving is the worst.

@phillyguy Does Toyota offer a 6.5ft bed with a full cab? Is that a new option? I did not realize that was available and thought it was only an option on the frontier. That is good to know. I do not think that the long bed is an option on the pro4x, not that I can see anyway.

Tacoma has only 6' or 5 foot bed options. In US, you can get the TRD Off Road package (the one with rear locker, hill descent, TRAC and ATRAC etc) only in Access Cab with 6 foot bed or in Double Cab with 5 foot bed in both 4x4 or PreRunner. You can get a Double Cab 4x4 Tacoma with a 6 foot bed, automatic only in Base, SR5 or Sport packages only (and maybe now Limited in US?), not TRD Off Road. In Canada you can get TRD Off Road only in Access Cab 4x4 only, no double cabs. There is also a TX and TX Pro packages which is a TRD Off Road with fake beadlock wheels, step bar, TRD exhaust. But again no DC, 6' bed. In Canada its called Trail Teams Edition.

I don't know about the Frontier, but because its and offroad biased truck I would think its the same and they would not offer the longest wheelbase with Pro 4x. Haven't looked however so I may be wrong.

And of course the TRD Baja, which is Access Cab 6' bed or Double Cab 5' bed only.

@ Ken Lyns
I completly agree on the BFGs the set that came with my raptor sucked it rained while i was parked in a dirt parking lot had to lock the rear diff and uses 4x4 to get out. they also wore out extremly fast, its a shame all these trucks come with that tire OEM there are so many better AT tries out there BFGs dont impress me.

On the Howei long Gm commercials those are suck a joke, my GM service manager flat out told me after going through shocks and differentials that a z71 should only be used on low speed graded dirt roads and anything more than you should look at Fords new Raptor or Dodges Power Wagon. Which is what I did. It a shame that dealer doesnt have a Ford location b/c they have the best service department anywhere.

@Carilloskis I completly agree on the BFGs the set that came with my raptor sucked it rained while i was parked in a dirt parking lot had to lock the rear diff and uses 4x4 to get out. they also wore out extremly fast, its a shame all these trucks come with that tire OEM there are so many better AT tries out there BFGs dont impress me.

Hmm...interesting. Btw your Raptor should have come with BFG AT KO's, not Rugged Trails TA's that the Tacoma TRD Off Road and Frontier Pro 4x come with. They are quite popular all terrain tire with good reviews for years unlike the Rugged Fails.

HEMI lets be honest here this is not about towing and payload but about off road preformance. If i wanted high towing and payload i would have bout a 3/4 ton bashing the raptors Payload is ignorant yes if you have some heavier people in the truck you will max it out , the only times im worried is when its snowing i put 400 lbs of ballast in the bed by by half my payoad but for nearly everywhere i drive it im fine. the PWs disconecting sway bars seam like they could get damaged and might not want to reconect, they just don't seem like they would hold up long term. Addtionaly most recreation pickup buyer in NA buy half tons dodge is treating its hald ton like chevy and making it a mall assult vehicle the outdoorsman is a joke f150 has the SVT Raptor , Fx4 , trim levals and 4x4 Off road avalible on Xlt Lariat and King Ranch all includes rear elocker that can be used in wd aand 4wd modes (raptor will hold if in off roadmode to top speed) and hill decent control they also have the drivers screen that can even show the angle the vehicle is sitting on. Nissan Titian Pro 4x has elocker, Gm even has the G80 in their trucks why did RAM make the 2013 the least off road capable of all the OEM 1/2 ton off road pkgs, can you answer that? and the air suspessnion idea is bad too, so dont bring it up, the fact that you can not achive maximum hight in 2wd or 4hi is asinine not every off road situation the requires ground clearnce requires 4 low.

@some one the raptor did come with the KO's and i didn't like them at all got stuck 2ice with them on the truckthe cunked out even though i rotated them religiously and the first 18000 i only drove the truck off road twice (i bought used with 10k on it from a guy i know never wheeled it) than tookit on a 3 month bussiness trip and put 8k on it when i took the tires off at 28000 for some studded duratracks for the winter when i went to put the BFGs back on found out they would not pass safety. im sorry i just think you should be able to get more than 28000 mile out of tires. Also to give you an idea of how bad the rubber compound is with the traction contorl off in the Raptor and you floored it witht the BFGS i could get wheel spin even in the 5.4l maybe mine where defective but i have not had that problem with other tires which are wearing alot better the truck now has 44000 miles and only driver caused problems.

I'm not going to take sides on which brand is better, but I'm going to ask that all these "RAM is BEST" or other obviously trolling comments be deleted simply because they are off-topic. Each of these previews is about one specific truck and I want to read comments ONLY about that truck.

That said, the Nissan does obviously have a disadvantage on ride height due to smaller tires than the Ford Raptor. On the other hand, being somewhat smaller means the wheelbase is shorter by several inches, making up for some of that difference. The monotube shocks may be a disadvantage compared to the Raptor's package, but the overall price at $22,000 less expensive shows this is a work truck that's upgraded rather than a purpose-built sport truck. Is the Raptor really going to be so much superior that it's worth the $22K difference?

I have BFG's All terrains on my truck. They work great. Take them in snow sand. I adjust the air pressure when off road. I am on my second set. Got 45 to 50,000 miles on them. I have them rotated. They are non directional. The best part is they are quiet on the road and handle good in the wet.

@tyler, I can get what ever I want on my Ram truck. Just not from the factory. I have an Auburn pro limited slip rear with 4.56 gears from 4 wheel parts. In soft sand my Ram digs all 4 tires from the factory. I have seen Chevy and Fords dig one left tire and one right rear. I know Chrysler has patients on their diffs.

@ Carilloskis I have no use for a Raptor at 54,000 dollars that cant tow my 8,000lbs trailer with fire wood and three quads. My next truck will be The original 4x4. The Mighty Power Wagon. The Power Wagon is a Machine. The rest are toy's.

Here is a quote from 4 wheel magazine. the Power Wagon can simply go places, and do things, that no other fullsize truck on the planet can. Locking differentials, a disconnecting front swaybar, and a 12,000-pound winch---delivered straight from the factory---will do that for you. All in all, the Power Wagon is a very worthy winner of our Pickup Truck of the Year competition.”

@DW fields my Raptor was only 6k more expensive 2010 5.4l base MSRP was 38 and that included leather seats. Ford says that their best off road features includes the front camera $500, but to get that you need nav $2500, to get nav you need luxury pkg $2900, it also has 2k worth of stickers and the one mark williams has has the $750 seats get blue stiching plastic is painted blue instead of grey option you can see where im going with this http://news.pickuptrucks.com/2012/09/2013-ford-f-150-pricing-released.html#more say that a raptor is $43000 yes thats still more but ford likes sending loaded raptors with luxury features instead of the affordable but well equiped base modle that still has leather seats and all the off road functionality for $200 you can buy an afftermarket reaview camera and attach it to the front if thats a feature you need and save $5800 and you could turn it on at high speeds too. The Pro 4x is a great little pick up i drove a freinds that was from when they where badged NISMO and i love the responsive ness of the steering and throtal. but decided to shell out a few grand more for a raptor.

HEMI i asked about RAM 1500s we have already discused the PW and it does not work as well for me as a Raptor second you can get a raptor at 40k if you order it and don't want all the Luxary stuff. see above post. and every magazine has a different opiniion and tests, PUTC said the ram runner was better bc their test was speed in the desert Motor trend did a wider comparison and liked the raptor better. Before you say anything i bouth the raptor to be all around not any one trick race truck. i like to do out doors stuff but have a limited amount of time so the speed the raptor gives me off road allows me more time to do my hobbies , it cut travel time down to a fraction of what it was to get to camping and shooting spots = more time to do what i love. it still has the ability to go almost any where, it is a happy medium between the capabilities of the 2 RAMS (PW and Ram runner) that balnces the strenghts of both those trucks.

Your ram can do everything you want it to do why not get another RAM 1500 if they are so great? is it because they will not be asoff road capable that you have to switch to the PW ? Youdon't want the 8 speed that you keep talking about or the air susspenssion that somebody like me who keeps a vehicle for a while would see fail? Has MOPAR ever taken the PW somewhere a raptor couldn't never seen the picture. but I know that the raptor can jump the PW cannot. And is 2012 the last year for the Ramm Runner? they would have to design a new kit for th new truck and then you have the airbags ILMFAO RAM has killed off road capable 1500s and you just will not admit it, I addmited it and left Chevy and their joke of Z71 behind Its time to move on HEMI , Move on to Fords, Nissan and Toyota.


I love reading the comments on this website.

It's a relief to see that the country is finally figuring out what I've been preaching for 20 years. GM engineering is a joke. GM ideas are pathetic. GM builds junk. The "Heartbeat of America" went into cardiac arrest 35 years ago.

The government should have let them die.

HEMI can i take your Ram and do that? those peole where stupid jerks (you happy filters) buy their fliping people off the entire trip there was no air bag deployment and the truck still drove despite the owner's lack of mental accuity. The raptors are extremly durable and can get you home after an accident. I wrecked mine a month ago duing an auto cross event with some other raptors, made a new guy mistake and slid it sideways into a earthen burm at 65, is it the trucks fualt? nope its mine and my inexpernce esp since the other raptors didn't have the same problem, its costing alot of money to fix and is getting a frame swap and a new front left susspenssion, but it still drove out of the remote dessert (there was no way to get cell reception let alone a tow truck) 87 miles back to town.

I can guess what will win; the Raptor. I hope it's the Power Wagon, but everyone loves the Ford...

Actually HEMI that part of my Frame is still fine. the front end got damaged in a collission when the truck slid into a ditch and hit a earthen burm at a high rate of speed on the face of the front left wheel which was hard turned to the right. this foced the lower control arm to hit into the frame of the truck causing a bend where the susspension mounts. the upper contol arm and its mounting points to the frame also bent. It was the equivilent of a collision at the drivers 10:30 position the lower bal joint shattered and the spindel and hub warped the finish was ripped off the wheel and rocks got impeded in the bead of the tire fortunatly the angle that the truck hit at the only cosmetic damge to the body was the front bumper. You got any more whise cracks HEMI my accident is the result of my driving not of a design flaw in my vehicle which preformed as advertised. Since one of the parts is backordered till February do you want to loan me your indistructable Ram i promise I will not jump it more than a few feet off the ground. JK

I still think this a a silly comparison. they should have either used the mid sized trucks or full size, not a mix.

Btw, the pro4x is not available in a long bed unfortunately

Wxman, It's a relief to see that the country is finally figuring out what I've been preaching for 20 years. GM engineering is a joke. GM ideas are pathetic. GM builds junk. The "Heartbeat of America" went into cardiac arrest 35 years ago.Posted by: WXman | Sep 13, 2012 1:50:51 PM

So just because they sell more then Ram doesn't mean they are a better truck?

Does that mean the best selling car the CAMRY is not the best?

BFG All Terrain comes in LT load ranges only, so each tire is 12-15 lb heavier than a Rugged Trail of the same size. Carmakers are increasingly *requiring* 0W20 synthetic oil in new models to eck out an extra 1-2 mpg, so it isn't surprising they are not equipping trucks with BFG AT as OEM tires.

Both the FJ Crusier and Tacoma Baja come with BFG AT as OEM tires. Guess their lower volumes don't have an impact on CAFE.

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