Best Off-Road Trucks for 2023
These are the best off-road trucks based on iSeeCars' analysis of their off-road specs and capabilities.
The best off-road midsize truck is the Jeep Gladiator (11.6 inches of ground clearance) and the best off-road full-size truck is the Ford F-150 (12 inches of ground clearance). Topping the list for the best off-road small and compact trucks is the Ford Maverick (8.6 inches of ground clearance), while the GMC Sierra 3500HD ranks first for the best off-road heavy duty trucks (11.1 inches of ground clearance).
Trucks have long served hauling and towing duty, with a base level of off-road capability included in every model. But rising interest in aggressive off-roading has encouraged pickup truck brands to up their off-road game. That means going beyond a four-wheel-drive system and all-terrain tires, as today’s most capable off roaders include a wide spectrum of manufacturer upgrades.
To identify the best off-road pickups we started with a required ground clearance of 6.5 inches or better, then used the following 10 off-road features as a secondary ranking factor. The features were weighted in the following order:
- Two-Speed Transfer Case: Also known as a two-speed gearbox, this allows the vehicle to switch into a lower (or low-range) gear set for improved torque and pulling power, which can be extremely helpful when scaling or descending steep inclines
- Locking Differential: Unlike a limited slip differential, which tries to keep the wheels on each side of an axle from spinning on low-traction surfaces, a locking differential will lock both sides together, removing any possibility of one side spinning freely; most vehicles have a locking rear differential, though some, like the Mercedes G-Wagen, can also have a central and front locking differential that lock all four wheels together
- Skid Plates: Skid plates protect the underside of a vehicle by forming a shield between outside terrain and critical drivetrain components like the cooling system, oil pan, and transmission to greatly improve the durability of serious off-road vehicles
- Disconnecting Sway Bars: The most capable off-road vehicles, including the Ford Bronco Raptor and Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, can disconnect their front sway bars to allow additional suspension articulation under extreme off-roading conditions
- Winch: A winch can be mounted on a vehicle’s front or rear bumper, allowing an extended cable to be attached to a fixed location (like a tree) and then retracted to free an otherwise stranded vehicle; winches are common in the off-road aftermarket, but a few vehicles, including the Chevy Colorado, offer them as factory equipment
- Hill Descent Control: Hill descent control is a driving mode that controls a vehicle's speed while descending a sharp incline, ensuring it doesn’t begin traveling so fast the driver loses control or risks damaging the vehicle
- Multiple Driving Modes: In recent model years it’s become more common for off-road vehicles to include specific off-road driving modes; these driving modes coordinate everything from throttle response to transmission shifting to the suspension dampers to maximize a vehicle’s off-road capabilities
- Hill Hold Technology: Similar to hill descent control, this technology keeps a vehicle from rolling backwards when climbing up a steep incline; it lets a driver carefully release the brake and apply throttle versus feeling rushed in this process to avoid rolling back
- Full-size Spare Tire: Getting a flat tire is never fun, but it can be life threatening when traveling off-road where a tow truck or Triple A might never arrive; a full-size spare allows the driver to change a damaged tire and continue on without any outside aid
- Roof Rack Crossbars: Safely traveling off road can involve a lot of extra equipment, and having a roof rack with crossbars increases a vehicle’s storage capacity to carry this equipment
Off-road-oriented rucks in the full-size segment, like the Ford F-150 Raptor R, GMC Sierra 1500 AT4X, and Ram 1500 TRX, offer many of these items, while midsize models like the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 and Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro also include the bulk of these features with their off-road packages. Some full-size models, including the Nissan Titan Pro-4X and Toyota Tundra TRD Pro, rank lower because they have fewer off-road features and lower ground clearance.
Keep in mind that while a supercharged or twin-turbo V8 engine can provide impressive horsepower and lb-ft of torque figures, power alone does not contribute to off-road prowess. A smaller truck with a V6 engine, dedicated off-road suspension, and aggressive off-road tires can offer just as much rock-crawling capability, along with superior on-road mpg, potentially making it the smarter all-around choice.
Below you’ll find the best trucks for off-roading in the midsize and fullsize truck categories, ranked by their off-road ability.
How We Rank These Cars
The Best Off-road Vehicles lists rank vehicles by their ground clearance and off-road features.
The best off-road vehicle is specific to one or more trim levels for a given vehicle model, and has the highest ground clearance and the most important off-road features.. In the event there is a tie, we use iSeeCars proprietary rating of the overall quality of the car (iSeeCars Score) to break the tie.
The overall iSeeCars Score is an analysis of three factors: reliability, resale value and safety. It is calculated based on the latest research and analysis by our data science team. The data analysis comes from over 12 million new and used vehicles in our Longest-Lasting Cars and 5-Year Depreciation Studies, combined with NHTSA and IIHS Safety Ratings.
Vehicles are scored in three categories:
Reliability | 33.3%
The reliability score represents an analysis of iSeeCars' proprietary research on the longest-lasting vehicles.
Value Retention | 33.3%
The value retention score is based on our data science team's statistical analysis and prediction of 5-year depreciation from MSRP to determine which cars hold their value best, using US Bureau of Labor Statistics data to adjust for inflation.
Safety | 33.3%
The safety score is calculated based on the last five years of crash test ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and incorporates the latest Top Safety Pick information from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).