Rock crawlers: The best trucks of 2016
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
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
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.
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
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
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 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
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!