Ultimate 4x4 Shootout: Acceleration, Braking, Fuel Economy

0-60 Acceleration

Ultimate 4x4 Shootout: Acceleration, Braking, Fuel Economy

As we started our test runs at the Chrysler Proving Grounds, temperatures were heading to 90 degrees, and humidity was about 70 percent. We took at least three runs with each truck, giving them a chance to cool down with an extended coast-down and casual drive back to the start line after each run.

Our long half-mile straightaway gave us plenty of room to capture our zero-to-60-mph data. Each truck was tested with two adult males inside — one driver and one passenger recording the VBOX data through a laptop. For the sake of full disclosure, our driver added about 190 pounds and the passenger added about 175 pounds. We took the best (lowest) time for each truck.

We weren’t looking to set the fastest time ever recorded for each truck; we’ll leave that to the professional hot-shoes at the major magazines. Instead, our main objective on every run was to be as consistent as possible with our technique and process to minimize any extraneous variables. That meant making sure the windows were always rolled up, the air conditioning always off and the vehicle in Drive with the Overdrive off. At each launch, we brake-torqued the automatic transmissions to 2,000 rpm before takeoff.

How did the trucks do? As you might have guessed, the fastest truck was the one with the best power-to-weight ratio: The SVT Raptor, with its 411-horsepower, 6.2-liter V-8. It ran the fastest test time at 7.71 seconds, which is more than a full second faster than the heaviest contender, the Ram Power Wagon, at 8.73 seconds. The two smaller players, the Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma Baja (each with very similar power-to-weight ratios), ran very close, at 8.46 and 8.40 seconds, respectively.

Ultimate 4x4 Shootout: Acceleration, Braking, Fuel Economy

For event scoring, we indexed the Raptor at 100, Tacoma Baja 92, Frontier 91 and Power Wagon 88.

For old-school enthusiasts who have to know the quarter-mile times, we have that, too. It might surprise you to see how close they all are:

  • SVT Raptor, 16.07 seconds at 88.96 mph
  • Tacoma Baja, 16.60 seconds at 83.87 mph
  • Frontier, 16.69 seconds at 84.86 mph
  • Power Wagon, 16.89 seconds at 83.85 mph

60-0 Braking

Ultimate 4x4 Shootout: Acceleration, Braking, Fuel Economy

For our brake tests, we drove the same stretch of road we used for our acceleration tests. The procedure was simple: get to 60 mph as comfortably as possible, and then slam our foot into the brake pedal once our digital readout from our VBOX computer hit the designated speed.

We ran each truck through four separate trials, each time getting as close to 60 mph as possible. To score the test, we threw out the high and low times and averaged the remaining two. This allows us, again, to eliminate as many variables as possible and keep the playing field even. All our competitors had BFGoodrich tires, with the Frontier being the only one with Rugged Trail T/As; the rest were shod with All Terrain T/As.

The results were a little surprising. The Frontier bested the rest of the group by a pretty good margin, stopping from 60 mph at an average of 141.1 feet. The Tacoma Baja came in second at 149.7 feet; the Raptor came in third at 151.6 feet; and the heaviest of the group, the Ram Power Wagon, stopped in a respectable 157.5 feet.

Ultimate 4x4 Shootout: Acceleration, Braking, Fuel Economy

For event scoring, we indexed the Frontier at 100, Tacoma Baja at 94, Raptor at 93 and Power Wagon at 90.

Fuel-Economy Run

Ultimate 4x4 Shootout: Acceleration, Braking, Fuel Economy

For the fuel-economy test, we started the day by checking all the vehicles’ factory-listed tire pressures before filling each fuel tank to full followed by two clicks, just to make sure.

The Ram 2500 Power Wagon came with a dual tire-pressure-setting selector that allowed us to change the parameters for the tire pressure warning light by 20 pounds of inflation pressure. This option gives Ram owners a better “bandwidth” of abilities for a truck that is running around town with an empty payload or a truck at or near maximum payload. Since we were not doing any payload runs for our mileage loop, we chose to use the lighter of the two settings and were able to lower the rear tire pressures to 60 pounds instead of 80. This would make for a much more comfortable ride, and it better duplicates how most owners would likely drive their truck around town.

Our driving loop took us in and around the Ann Arbor area, getting us as far east as Romulus, as far north as Holly and as far west as Howell. We asked all the drivers to keep the air-conditioning fan and temperature level consistent and try to stay within visual range of each other, adhering to all speed limits. The total loop, including fill-ups at our start and finish fuel station (we even filled up before and after the run at the same pump), took about six hours.

Winning the mileage competition was the Tacoma Baja, with 20.7 mpg. The Frontier PRO-4X was right behind with 20.2 mpg, and the big-motored SVT Raptor delivered 16.4 mpg. As you might have guessed, the heaviest pickup (6,660 pounds) with the tallest rear-end gears (4.56:1) had the worst fuel economy at 11.9 mpg.

Ultimate 4x4 Shootout: Acceleration, Braking, Fuel Economy

For event scoring, we indexed the Tacoma Baja at 100, Frontier at 98, Raptor at 79 and Power Wagon at 58.

Ultimate 4x4 Shootout

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


So did the Ram get 11.6mpg or 11.9? Graph says one thing, article says another.

So this kinda disproves HEMI's arguments that RAMS get better fuel efficeincy when the Raptor, FOrds worse offender gets much better MPGs and more power. Which engine is more out dated HEMI?


The Ram's poor mpg here has nothing to do with the engine, it has to do with the power wagons rear end gear ration and overall weight. There are versions of the 5.7 Ram that get in the 20's, just a matter of how they are set up.

the power wagon is the slowest gets worst fuel economy and cant stop. it does not even have the largest tires
the only reason ford did poorly in stop bec of its weight and large tires its running.

I agree the Ram has 4.56 Gears I believe.
What do the rest of the trucks run?

@ John. Good catch. Sorry for the mix up. Chart is correct; actually, the number was 11.92 mpg.

@ Bru. Check the chart for ring-and-pinion ratios of other trucks. Believe Raptor was 4.10:1, Baja 3.73:1, and Frontier 3.36:1.

@ John. Good catch. Sorry for the mix up. Chart is correct; actually, the number was 11.92 mpg.

@ Bru. Check the chart for ring-and-pinion ratios of other trucks. Believe Raptor was 4.10:1, Baja 3.73:1, and Frontier 3.36:1.

@ John
Just saw that thanks.
3.36.. wow highway gears.

@Carilloskis: In the case of the Power Wagon, the Hemi does not have MDS. It also sits higher up, weighs more do to the fact it can actually do some work where a Raptor is overloaded with 3 big dudes. The one in the back seat doesn't hardly have much room, and it's a good thing there is only a 5'6" bed, cause it would be overweight anyway to put something in it. They might as well SUV the Raptor. The Ram can actually hold something big in the bed, of course the people with 6'6" beds will start screaming the Ram bed is ONLY 6'4" and that 2 inchs makes all the differance. Oh well, 6'4 vs. 5'6 is a no brainer.

Anybody else noticed the Ram 2500 has a much shorter turning circle then the Raptor and all the 2500/250s and up?


Just imagine if the Toyota Tacoma had the updated 1gr-fe V6 engine & the 6 speed automatic version of the 5 speed auto.
Nissan updated their VQ40 V6 & used the 7 speed automatic replacement of the JATCO 5 speed automatic.
Dodge Ram needs the ZF 8hp70
Raptor needs a supercharged 5.0 V8.

@ thasdjlk2

The power wagon is the biggest, heaviest, and can hold the most. Are you that stupid that you can't deduce that it will also be the slowest and have the longest stopping distance? I don't even know why those comparisons were done in this test since a mid size vs a half ton vs a 3/4 ton are very different animals when it comes to size/weight/acceleration/hauling/towing.

Actually wish they did brake test them at Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. Yeah, maybe if they compared the Power Wagon to a Crew Raptor.

@TRX4 Tom - I do agree. If you are going to do drag race testing and brake testing with trucks in an "ultimate offroad test" on pavement why not do max haul and tow testing?
Makes no sense other than to show buyers that the majority of these trucks regardless of brand will be used as mall queens or to pull the 4x6 garden trailer to Home Depot.
Test them loaded offroad.
Put trailers on them and have them drive accross a muddy field pulling the trailer, have them unload a jet boat off a muddy river bank. Do stuff like that.
Fishers and hunters would love to see that kind of information.
1/4 mile?
Don't care.
Braking -
Makes sense but how do they stop on a washboard gravel road?
I'd want to know that stuff if I were to cross shop any of these trucks.
A 3/4 ton crawler, a 1/2 ton toy, a small truck toy, and a low buck 4x4.
At the end of the day - the buyers test criteria matter more.

Not surprising at all about the braking- the truck with highway tires stops shortest. Order of weight after that. Years ago Four Wheeler mounted up all the competitors in BFG ATs. Really worked well to keep from just comparing tires.

MrKnowitall - motorcycle magazines have tested with the same tires for decades. Makes the most sense.
Why didn't they do these tests on gravel?
and why didn't they post mpg while offroading?

If you buy one of these for offroading that mpg figure is more important thasn street mpg

Spot on. These tests have no relevance here. I wonder how many of these will be entered in the Dakar Rally at the end of the year? So far we have had the Sue Meads slightly modified Raptor finishing 40th in 2010 and a equally slightly modified . PowerWagon finishing 53rd last year. There was a Tacoma entered as well last year.



ONe thing that was surprising to me is that the Tacoma returned better fuel economy than the Frontier, despite more agressive, heavier tires, more ground clearance (air underneather) and deeper gears.

Seems like an apple & orange test to me.
Doesn't make much sense to me.

@JOHN (OWNER OF A 2009 Ford 250 )
The tires were overinflated, and have less traction
Empty they should be 40psi, not 60-80 psi

Toyota tacoma wins this round cause it either came out 1st or 2nd .

looking to buy a used 3/4 ton 4x4 '04-'09ish....need to pull a 14' roofing trailer almost daily across Calgary, AB...dodge or chev/gm. need some help deciding which would be my better choice...i am thinking gas, mainly because i am buying used and am worried about replacing costly parts...would greatly appreciate some feedback...


The comments to this entry are closed.