Offroad Test

Offroad Obstacle Course


Similar to our hill-climb testing, we had a choice with our offroad test: run it in on a real-world trail or in a controlled setting. We opted for the offroad obstacle course at GM’s Milford Proving Grounds. The obstacle course had a quicksand-like gravel trap, a steep 75-foot-long, 46.6 percent dirt mound (a gain of 46.6 feet in elevation for every 100 feet traveled), and two telephone poles buried horizontally at progressive heights.

Each truck was driven over the course at least three times. The trucks entered the gravel pit first, in high-range four-wheel drive, where they came to a complete stop to settle down into the loose rocks. Next, the driver accelerated out of the gravel to observe how well the trucks escaped the sticky pit. After the gravel, the trucks used 4-High to climb up the back side of the steep hill to assess power and traction. Then, it was over the pointed apex of the hill to gauge the breakover angle, then down the front side in 4-Low to assess the crawl ratio and hill-descent capabilities without brakes. Last, the trucks climbed over the two buried logs to assess obstacle clearance and fine control.


All the observations in this test were subjective.

The GMC Sierra All Terrain was the first truck driven through the course. It drove through the gravel pit with minimal hop and fuss, then up the steep grade with plenty of power from its 6.2-liter V-8. We had difficulty, though, getting low-range four-wheel drive to engage. It took a few minutes of fussing in neutral and driving the truck a few feet backward and forward before 4-Low locked. The crawl down the hill allowed for adequate control. The Sierra was able to clear both buried poles without striking the frame, rocker panels or front air dam.

The Chevrolet Silverado performed similarly to the Sierra, but with a few key differences. It was quieter through all the obstacles, and it scraped a bit at the top of the hill and, on some runs, over the second log.

Compared to the GM pickups, the Tundra bounced more coming out of the gravel pit – not a negative if you have to rock the truck out of a sticky spot. Power was excellent climbing the hill, but the Tundra’s shallow breakover angle caused it to scrape going over the top. The crawl down the other side didn’t require brakes. We cleared the first log but scraped up the running boards and frame going over the second pole.

The Dodge Ram started the trail by climbing smoothly out of the gravel pit, but when we started to tackle the 46.6 percent grade the engine stalled mysteriously. We weren’t able to repeat the stall with the Ram, nor did it happen with any of the other trucks. The Ram climbed the hill with good power and cleared the top without scraping. It had the lowest numerical crawl ratio of the tested trucks, and it whined the loudest as it descended the front part of the grade. The Ram climbed over both poles without scraping.


The Titan was the best all-around truck through the offroad course. It required the least amount of orientation for the driver to operate the switchgear, which was placed intuitively next to the shifter. It was the easiest truck to get out of the gravel trap, and it made short work of both sides of the hill. It’s high ground clearance also made walking the truck over both buried poles an easy effort.

The F-150 performed similarly to the Silverado. It had little difficulty getting out of the gravel pit, and climbing the hill only required a bit of extra throttle. There was scraping at the top of the mound that was repeated again over the second buried pole. The truck touched both points with the low third cross-member of its frame that hangs just below the bottom of the frame rails. The F-150 had the lowest and best-managed crawl down the steep side of the hill.

Next: Extreme Traction Control Test


Now this is what I'm talking about! Everyone's needs are different. I live in Idaho, in the mountains, 2.5 miles off road, with the last .9 mile a six percent grade with 200' cliffs on one side and a mountain on the other. In the winter it gets snowpacked...and sometimes very icy. The last turn to our house is steep and off-camber. I want the truck that can crawl in 4WD low at less than walking speed. My '98 F150 and '06 Kia Sorento are both winners in this household. Yea, I wouldn't trade my road for the world. It rocks in the winter.

Interesting. You really gunned it over the poles with the Ford. No wonder it banged the boards. Everybody else looked like a real gentle walk over. Still, it was a fairly good test!

The video was just a few of the runs. We did several and each journalist tried a few different speeds and several runs in each truck. It would be a very long video to see all the runs.

this is dumb

I agree with idaho boy your driver pretty much pinned it over the logs. That's why it hit the running boards.

I would have loved to see the complete videos on all the trucks performing.. Plus didn't look like all trucks were driven equally over the poles. Some at an angle and some straight on. Anyway, not a huge deal. I like watching these test.

Although I will be a little more politically correct then Kent I do see his point. I agree being able to navigate up down steep hills and loose sand is a few parts of a truck's off road environment. However I believe there is still a healthy chunk of people who need to use their truck in more meaningful off road environments. Try coming off the road through a ditch, traveling an unmaintained power line trail, or any other natural and unnatural rough terrain that can be encountered by a person going 4 wheeling, hunting, fishing, or using a work truck off the highway. I am not advocating testing these trucks on the Rubicon Trail but something more extreme then a maintained prepped testing ground would be a good test. I live in Alaska and maybe our off roads are rougher then the Lower 48s, but the testing ground looked pretty smooth to me.

Id say a good test except the running boards should have been taken off the trucks to determine what the real amount of ground clearance is. I would have to say it kinda unfair to mark a truck down for its mud flaps hitting thought.

Totally silly to compare ground clearance of trucks with running boards vs. trucks without. Pretty well undermines my view of the objectivity & intelligence of those performing the tests...

One of the big factors everyone is over looking is the tires, yall sould redo the test with every truck having the same tires.

I agree with the running board comments. The Toyota Tundra has the highest ground clearance of all the trucks but actually came in last because of its running boards. Ground clearance should never be tested or compared between trucks with some having running boards and some not. That should be common sense and it was not even mentioned. If Tundra would not have scraped the ground or hit the poles it would have been at the top of the off road test and won the competition hands down.


your dumb

Why do people keep coming back saying all the trucks should have the same tires? The engineers chose the tire make, model, and size, etc. The suspension was tuned for those tires. If you replace the tires with something else, then other systems on the truck are disturbed. As soon as you change to different tires, you are not doing a truck comparison test, but modded truck comparison test.

@Michael, Tire size is what is important to the computer not the tred they are running, and most companys pick whats cost effective. and some companys use AT tires, some use REAL AT tires, and others pick street tires for gas milage. I agree that all the tires should be the same size as factory spec so to keep the ground clearnce fair but run the same tred so you can see how the traction control really performs. and no running boards please, anyone who offroads knows those will get banged up in no time. plus if you take them off it keeps the fat chicks out of the truck :)

Im wanting to buy an 08 F-150 FX4 or an 08 Nissan Pro 4X I live in colorado and like to go to the trails up in the mountains so I need a truck that can go into some mild off roading thats why I was thinking of these two. So I'm wondering how will the FX4 compare to the Pro 4X, would it be the same as this video or would there be a great difference matching the Titan to the FX4. Also which one base more aftermarket support? Cause I would like too, in the future add things to the truck.

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