Automotive

Rock crawlers: The best trucks of 2016

Rock crawlers: The best trucks...
The best and baddest trucks of 2016
The best and baddest trucks of 2016
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The RAM Rebel TRX is a Fiat Chrysler truck in the mold of the Ford Raptor
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The RAM Rebel TRX is a Fiat Chrysler truck in the mold of the Ford Raptor
The TRX has the same ground clearance as the Ford Raptor
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The TRX has the same ground clearance as the Ford Raptor
Beadlock whees and chunky tires improve the Rebel TRX off-road
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Beadlock whees and chunky tires improve the Rebel TRX off-road
RAM has made the interior look a bit fancier with some red detailing in the TRX
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RAM has made the interior look a bit fancier with some red detailing in the TRX
The Rebel TRX can be configured to run  smoothly on or off-road
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The Rebel TRX can be configured to run  smoothly on or off-road
The Rebel TRX runs with a vented hood 
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The Rebel TRX runs with a vented hood 
Beadlock wheels on the RAM Rebel TRX
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Beadlock wheels on the RAM Rebel TRX
The RAM Rebel TRX  has a bespoke LED light bar on the roof
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The RAM Rebel TRX  has a bespoke LED light bar on the roof
RAM kicks up the dust in the Rebel TRX
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RAM kicks up the dust in the Rebel TRX
The Nissan Titan XD Warrior is ready for action
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The Nissan Titan XD Warrior is ready for action
The steering wheel in the Titan XD Warrior is milled aluminum
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The steering wheel in the Titan XD Warrior is milled aluminum
The Titan XD Warrior sits higher than the regular Titan
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The Titan XD Warrior sits higher than the regular Titan
The Titan Warrior has a chunkier grille and different exterior highlights to the standard car
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The Titan Warrior has a chunkier grille and different exterior highlights to the standard car
The bed in the Titan Warrior is unchanged from standard
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The bed in the Titan Warrior is unchanged from standard
The Titan Warrior was part of a truck armada at the Detroit Auto Show
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The Titan Warrior was part of a truck armada at the Detroit Auto Show
The Titan XD Warrior is ready for the battlefield
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The Titan XD Warrior is ready for the battlefield
Big wheels and tires finish off the Titan Warrior package
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Big wheels and tires finish off the Titan Warrior package
It mightn't be a Raptor, but the Honda Ridgeline is a smart truck
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It mightn't be a Raptor, but the Honda Ridgeline is a smart truck
The Honda Ridgeline uses a unibody construction
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The Honda Ridgeline uses a unibody construction
The real magic happens here in the Honda Ridgeline
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The real magic happens here in the Honda Ridgeline
The tailgate on the Honda Ridgeline can be opened normally
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The tailgate on the Honda Ridgeline can be opened normally
The tailgate on the Ridgeline can also be opened like a barn door
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The tailgate on the Ridgeline can also be opened like a barn door
The new Honda Ridgeline on the floor at the Detroit Auto Show
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The new Honda Ridgeline on the floor at the Detroit Auto Show
The Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 has its eyes on military service
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The Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 has its eyes on military service
The ZH2 is powered by a fuel cell powertrain
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The ZH2 is powered by a fuel cell powertrain
The Colorado ZH2 can also be used as a mobile power station
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The Colorado ZH2 can also be used as a mobile power station
The ZH2 was teased over a few months
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The ZH2 was teased over a few months
The US military will be putting the Colorado ZH2 through field tests next year
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The US military will be putting the Colorado ZH2 through field tests next year
The Colorado ZH2 uses slimline LED headlights 
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The Colorado ZH2 uses slimline LED headlights 
The Colorado ZH2 was shown off in a special shade of camouflage
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The Colorado ZH2 was shown off in a special shade of camouflage
The Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 rides higher than the standard car
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The Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 rides higher than the standard car
Mercedes is going after the truck market with the X-Class
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Mercedes is going after the truck market with the X-Class
The interior of the X-Class hides its Nissan and Renault origins
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The interior of the X-Class hides its Nissan and Renault origins
The X-Class Concept was shown off in two different trims
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The X-Class Concept was shown off in two different trims
The X-Class in Powerful Adventurer trim
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The X-Class in Powerful Adventurer trim
The X-Class Powerful Adventurer comes with new front bumpers and a winch
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The X-Class Powerful Adventurer comes with new front bumpers and a winch
The X-Class is aimed squarely at Australia and Latin America
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The X-Class is aimed squarely at Australia and Latin America
The X-Class is built on the same platform as the Renault Alaskan
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The X-Class is built on the same platform as the Renault Alaskan
The X-Class runs on big wheels in its city-slicking trim
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The X-Class runs on big wheels in its city-slicking trim
More power and more wheels make for a meaner Raptor
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More power and more wheels make for a meaner Raptor
The Hennessey VelociRaptor 6x6
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The Hennessey VelociRaptor 6x6
The RAM Macho Power Wagon borrows its name from the 1970s
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The RAM Macho Power Wagon borrows its name from the 1970s
The RamRack on the rear of the Power Wagon slides back and forth to accomodate sports equipment 
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The RamRack on the rear of the Power Wagon slides back and forth to accomodate sports equipment 
Behind the wheel of the RAM Macho Power Wagon
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Behind the wheel of the RAM Macho Power Wagon
The RAM Macho Power Wagon was launched alongside a set of MOPAR concepts
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The RAM Macho Power Wagon was launched alongside a set of MOPAR concepts
The Macho Power Wagon was launched at SEMA
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The Macho Power Wagon was launched at SEMA
The best and baddest trucks of 2016
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The best and baddest trucks of 2016
View gallery - 47 images

This year has seen an incredible range of trucks announced, from Transformer-like behemoths to old-fashioned American pickups ready to tackle anything. Here are the best examples of we've seen in our travels around the globe during 2016.

RAM Rebel TRX

The RAM Rebel TRX  has a bespoke LED light bar on the roof
The RAM Rebel TRX  has a bespoke LED light bar on the roof

As we were busy covering the rise of electric cars in Paris, RAM was putting the finishing touches on one of the most capable trucks it has ever built. Designed in a similar mould to the Ford Raptor, the Rebel TRX cranks the RAM formula up to the max for flat-out running over any terrain.

Power comes from a detuned version of the supercharged HEMI V8 from the Hellcat. It puts out 575 hp (429 kW), enough to make the Rebel TRX the most powerful midsize truck RAM has ever produced. Top speed is quoted at more than 100 mph (161 km/h), though unlike most cars and trucks, though, the company is adamant it'll do that speed across dirt and rocks, or snow and ice.

Crucial to its off-road ability is an upgraded suspension with 13-inches of travel. That's an increase of 40 percent over stock, and the same amount as the Ford Raptor offers. Bypass shocks at all corners should keep the car flat and composed, and the TRX rides on custom beadlock wheels wrapped in all-terrain tires.

Nissan Titan XD Warrior

The Titan XD Warrior is ready for the battlefield
The Titan XD Warrior is ready for the battlefield

Having filled the space between midsize and full-size trucks with the Titan XD, Nissan used the Detroit Auto Show to demonstrate what a battle-ready version would look like. Beyond the steroidal exterior styling, the Warrior has been treated to a full suspension makeover and durable interior.

Up front, custom upper and lower control arms with performance ball-joints and race-style internal bypass reservoir coilovers have been fitted, and the rear is treated to new shocks and adjusted-length prototype axles. All four corners have also been treated to hydraulic pressurized bump stops, too, and the car sits a full 2.8 inches (7.1 cm) higher than standard.

Inside, the Titan Warrior is fitted with a custom steering wheel milled from aluminum, heated and cooled cupholders and special toggle switches for the off-road gear. Carbon and chrome trim have been used to make the cabin feel more expensive, with orange highlights to complete the look. Unfortunately, Nissan hasn't mentioned any plans to actually put the Warrior into production, but we're still sitting here with fingers and toes crossed.

Honda Ridgeline

It mightn't be a Raptor, but the Honda Ridgeline is a smart truck
It mightn't be a Raptor, but the Honda Ridgeline is a smart truck

What do you need from a truck? No, what do you really need? For most people, the answer isn't 14 inches of suspension travel and lights brighter than the burning Sun. Rather than chasing wild off-road dreams with the Ridgeline, Honda set about making it all the pickup regular drivers could ever need.

Fans of the outgoing Ridgeline will be pleased to know the complex two-way tailgate and hidden in-bed trunk have both made it into the new generation car, and it still runs with a unibody construction. Although that means it won't hold as much cargo as body-on-frame trucks, it makes for a more refined drive.

The in-bed trunk can be drained through an integrated plug, which means it can be used as a mobile cooler, and an in-bed speaker system is optional. With the speakers specced and the trunk filled with ice, this could just be the perfect truck for tailgating. When you're not cooking hot dogs in a parking lot, the bed is wide enough to fit a pallet between the arches – something no other midsize truck can do.

Chevrolet Colorado ZH2

The Colorado ZH2 was shown off in a special shade of camouflage
The Colorado ZH2 was shown off in a special shade of camouflage

Of all the tough-looking trucks on this list, the Chevy Colorado ZH2 is most likely to see real action. Powered by a hydrogen fuel-cell, it will be tested out by the American military next year as a go-anywhere truck that doubles as an electric power station.

Under the domed hood is a transverse mounted fuel-cell stack, feeding an electric motor with 177 hp (132 kW) of power and 320 Nm (236 lb.ft) of torque. It's hooked up to a four-wheel drive system with electric locking differential on both axles. A set of proprietary dampers have been developed to keep the body flat during awkward rock crawls, although Chevrolet hasn't actually announced how they'll work yet.

When it's not crawling across rocks, the ZH2 can also be used as a mobile power station, thanks to the so called Exportable Power Take Off (EPTO) mounted at the rear. It draws high-voltage DC from the fuel cell and converts it into usable 120/240V AC power, which can be used to power everything from small tools to field hospitals.

Mercedes X-Class Concept

The X-Class Powerful Adventurer comes with new front bumpers and a winch
The X-Class Powerful Adventurer comes with new front bumpers and a winch

Mercedes has made some big changes in recent years, growing its range to include the cheaper A-Class and a raft of niche-busting coupes, shooting brakes and off-roaders, but the biggest departure from tradition came in October. After months of speculation, the X-Class Concept was launched at an event in Stockholm, proving Mercedes is serious about taking on the lucrative lifestyle truck market.

Underpinned by a Renault Alaskan/Nissan Navara platform, the X-Class is aimed squarely at markets like Australia, where more than 14 percent of cars sold are pickup trucks. That's a big slice of the sales pie, and Mercedes wants to take a bite.

From the outside, Mercedes has done a good job of hiding the connection with Nissan and Renault. There are two trim levels on offer: Stylish Explorer and Powerful Adventurer. The Stylish Explorer is aimed at the road with a luxurious interior and chrome wheels, and the Powerful Explorer runs with a more practical path with off-road tires and tougher bumpers front and rear.

Hennessey VelociRaptor 6x6

The Hennessey VelociRaptor 6x6
The Hennessey VelociRaptor 6x6

The stock Ford Raptor isn't particularly shy and retiring, but there's always room for more attitude. Hennessey has always been a firm believer in the more is better theory, something on full display with the latest VelociRaptor.

If the standard Raptor isn't powerful enough, a twin-turbo upgrade will boost it to over 600 horsepower (447 kW) with upgraded turbochargers, a stainless steel exhaust, a more efficient front-mounted intercooler and a retuned ECU. The package isn't exclusive to the six-wheel drive VelociRaptor – it can also be added to the regular car for US$22,500 – but those who want to stand out will want the extra wheels as well.

RAM Macho Power Wagon

The Macho Power Wagon was launched at SEMA
The Macho Power Wagon was launched at SEMA

It might share its name with a truck from the 1970s, but the RAM Macho Power Wagon isn't a shameless throwback. Instead, it showcases the RamRack, which slides back and forward along the bed to hold surfboards, snowboards, skis and kayaks of every shape and size.

Beyond the fancy sliding roof-rack, the Macho Power Wagon rides on a 4-in (10-cm) lift kit and beadlock wheels for a tough look. A front winch and integrated tow hooks add to its off-road credibility too, and black plastic fender flares make for an even stronger stance. It's all finished in a unique red and black paintjob, designed to evoke the original RAM Power Wagon.

Check out the best trucks of 2016 in our gallery – and let us know if you think we've missed anything in the comments below!

View gallery - 47 images
1 comment
yawood
"When you're not cooking hot dogs in a parking lot, the bed is wide enough to fit a pallet between the arches – something no other midsize truck can do." The Honda is not the only truck that can do that. The VW Amarok does that in Australia - they use it as a feature in their advertisements. I wish that Nissan or others would release some of the trucks in this article in Oz.