Ultimate 4x4 Shootout: Price, Payload, Road Performance

Ultimate 4x4 Shootout: Price, Payload, Road Performance

The Value Equation

At a time when some truck makers are looking to keep themselves back in the black with more luxury option packages, appealing to an increasingly smaller demographic, we wanted to reward the competitors in our Shootout for offering an off-road package for the lowest price.

We could have tried to create a horribly complicated mathematical equation or software algorithm to determine who offered the most 4x4 bang for the buck based on what parts are included and at what cost. Instead, we decided simply to reward the least expensive qualifier and let the rest of the off-road packages measure themselves against that truck.

Not surprisingly, the least complicated of the packages was the least expensive player. Coming in at just $31,275, the Nissan Frontier PRO-4X was awarded the full 100 points. At a little over $5,000 more, the Toyota Tacoma Baja scored 86 points; at over $13,000 more, the entry-level Ram Power Wagon ST scored 70 points; and at over $22,000 more expensive, the Ford SVT Raptor scored 58 points.

Ultimate 4x4 Shootout: Price, Payload, Road Performance

For event scoring, we indexed the Frontier at 100 points, Tacoma Baja 86, Power Wagon 70 and Raptor 58.

Ultimate 4x4 Shootout: Price, Payload, Road Performance

How Much Do They Haul?

Since these are pickup trucks, we thought at least one test should reward pickups that best work like a pickup and can carry a hefty load. Conversely, if they can't carry much in their bed — meaning their personalities are too one-dimensional — they don't score well. Yes, we know this is an off-road test and most trucks that do this kind of prioritized dirt duty don't usually carry a full load of cement footings, but if it's going to look like a duck and act like a duck, it dang well better be able to quack like a duck and carry more than just passengers and fishing gear.

We calculated each truck's payload number by subtracting the actual weight (no passengers, full tank of fuel, CAT scales) from the listed gross vehicle weight rating. We believed this was a good test to score because it would clearly call out those specific truck engineers who sacrificed too much or too little to achieve any extreme suspension capabilities. If pickups are anything, even ones biased for serious off-road use, they need to be able to perform many tasks, and that should include carrying a good load.

Again, the results may not surprise you. The Power Wagon, sitting on a stout three-quarter-ton chassis, came in first place with 1,850 pounds of payload. In second place, the Nissan and Toyota tied with 1,120 pounds. And in last place, with a measly 800 pounds of maximum payload, the SVT Raptor.

Ultimate 4x4 Shootout: Price, Payload, Road Performance

For event scoring, we indexed the Power Wagon at 100, Tacoma Baja 61, Frontier 61 and Raptor 43.

Ultimate 4x4 Shootout: Price, Payload, Road Performance /></p>
<h1>How Much Do They Haul?</h1><p>Since these are pickup trucks, we thought at least one test
should reward pickups that best work like a pickup, meaning they carry a hefty load.
Conversely, if they can’t carry much in their bed, meaning their personalities
are too one-dimensional, they don’t score well. Yes, we know this is an
off-road test and most trucks that do this kind of prioritized dirt duty don’t
usually carry a full load of cement footings, but if it’s going to look like a
duck and act like a duck, it dang well better be able to quack like a duck, and
carry more than just passengers and fishing gear.</p>
<p>We calculated each truck’s payload number by subtracting the
actual weight (no passengers, full tank of fuel, CAT scales) from the listed
gross vehicle weight rating. We believed this was a good test to score because
it would clearly call out those specific truck engineers who sacrificed too
much or too little to achieve any extreme suspension capabilities. If pickups
are anything, even ones biased for serious off-road use, they need to be able
to do many tasks, and that should include carrying a hefty load.</p>
<p>Again, the results may not surprise you. The Power Wagon,
sitting on a stout three-quarter-ton chassis, came in first place with 1,850
pounds of payload. In second place, the Nissan and Toyota tied with 1,120
pounds. And in last place, with a measly 800 pounds of maximum payload, the SVT
Raptor.</p>
<p>(graph)</p>
<p>
<img class=

On-the-Road Feel

This test was scored during our fuel-economy run in and around Ann Arbor. Each judge rotated in and out of every truck over the 150-mile loop. At the end of the full day’s rotation, and after making thorough notes regarding each truck, the judges came together to discuss each truck’s assets and liabilities during the various high-speed freeways, city traffic and country two-lane byways we encountered during the route.

Each judge awarded 10 points to the winner, and then we determined how well the other competitors scored in comparison. For many of the categories, the judges kept it simple. If the scoring was close, first through fourth place could be scored 10, 9, 8 and 7. However, if a particular judge believed more separation was needed in a given category, scoring could be 10, 8, 5 and 4.

Ultimate 4x4 Shootout: Price, Payload, Road Performance

For event scoring, we indexed the Raptor at 100, Tacoma Baja 80, Power Wagon 70 and Frontier 57.

As it turned out, scoring was pretty consistent. The winner — the SVT Raptor — got a unanimous score from the judges and collected 100 points.  Each judge named the Raptor the truck with the best on-pavement ride quality and the one they’d most want to drive daily. The responsive throttle, sporty high-lux interior and tight suspension feel were key strengths.

In second place, the Tacoma Baja scored 80 points, with drivers noting some excessive suspension stiffness at slower speeds. Relatively close behind with 70 points, the Power Wagon was a little heavy and plodding compared with the rest of the group, and the heavy-duty chassis didn’t help, either. Finally, the Nissan was the unofficial rough rider of our group, with a numb and wandering steering feel and sometimes-unnerving front-end feel, especially over choppy dirt and broken paved roads.


Ultimate 4x4 Shootout

Overview | Acceleration, Braking, Fuel Economy | Price, Payload, Road Performance | Off-Road Testing | 4WD Parts & Pieces | Results

Comments

price is not correct base power wagon is 44,000 and base raptor is 44,000 you are comparing base truck to fully loaded on.

Big bad Raptor and the little Tacoma can out haul it!

I should bring back my X-Runner, it had a similar payload rating as the Raptor!

@Oxi

It makes up for it with towing though. Maximum towing capacity for the Raptor is 8,000lbs vs. 6,400lbs for the Tacoma Baja.

I'd like to see a Baja tow 6,400lbs.

@JohnO. Keep in mind the maximum towing capacity of 8,000lbs for the Raptor is only on the SuperCrew model. The SuperCab tested is only rated to tow 6,000 lbs.

Max towing for power wagon is 11,500 lbs the raptor is a play truck the power wagon is a work truck the old power wagons was used for everything I seen a guy hook a plow up to his power wagon and plow a field with the PTO on the front and back poor kids on here don't even know what a PTO shaft is power wagon is a work truck with little play the raptor is all play two different trucks built for different jobs the other two are just little kids looking up to the big boys wanting to be them one day

BlackMetallic, my TRD Off Road had no problem pulling a 5400lbs car and trailer from Branson, MO to Houston, TX. 1200 miles, through the Ozark mountains. It even got 12-14 MPG doing it!



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