Nissan turned a lot of heads at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit when it introduced the Titan Warrior Concept. Sure, it’s basically a marketing concept to promote the all-new 2016 Nissan Titan XD pickup but what a truck it is.
Its height is 81.5 inches so it can accommodate a quartet of 37-inch-tall off-road tires mounted on custom 18-by-9½-inch aluminum-alloy wheels. The Titan Warrior Concept is covered in a custom matte-gunmetal paint called “Thunder” and accented in special “Magma” orange and black color highlights.
It’s portrayed as a tough, rugged truck ready to handle anything nature throws its way. The only problem is it’s never going to see production. That begs the question: What are the true off-road vehicles you’re going to be able to get dirty? I’ve done my fair share of off-roading, including the Baja 1000 trail in Mexico, but I thought it would be good to ask some other experts.
Tim Esterdahl, a Nebraska-based contributor for Truck Trends magazine, says hands-down his top choice is the Toyota 4Runner Trail Edition. He likes it for both its on-road sophistication and its off-road capabilities.
“You can go trail crawling, go to the beach with the family and go on road trips with it. While there are vehicles which are more capable like the Jeep Wrangler, you can’t drive the Wrangler on long road trips without tearing up your back,” he said.
“The 4Runner can do double-duty of off-roading and a road trip vehicle,” he continued. “This makes a difference since not everyone lives nearby an off-road park. The last thing I want to do is trailer my off-road vehicle to a park just to play with it. Give me a 4Runner Trail Edition and I’ll play in the dirt all day and drive home comfortably.”
Craig Fitzgerald, the Massachusetts-based editorial director for BestRides.com, puts his money on the Land Rover LR4. He says the best choice is going to be one with the 3.0-liter supercharged V-6.
“That engine is awesome,” he said. A single-speed transfer case four-wheel-drive system is standard and a two-speed transfer case four-wheel-drive system is available.
The LR4 also features an integrated body-frame construction with a steel unibody mounted on a rigid boxed full frame. It also comes with a four-wheel independent, height-adjustable air suspension, which can be invaluable off-roading.
Chad Kirchner, who calls Ohio home, is the editor-in-chief of AverageCarGuy.com. He said the choice between any Jeep Wrangler and the Ram Power Wagon was a tough one but he finally came down on the side of the Power Wagon.
“It’s a big truck but has a factory winch and disconnecting axles,” he said
That’s a great choice. The editors of Four Wheeler named the Ram Power Wagon “2015 Pickup Truck of the Year.” It was chosen most off-road-capable pickup truck.
Jaron Davis, sales manager at Las Vegas-based Chapman Chrysler Jeep, said the Jeep Wrangler’s 10-inch ground clearance is the best in its class.
“You can also take the top and doors off,” he said. “Nothing else remotely comes close to it.”
David added that the Wrangler’s coil spring suspension provides a superior ride.
“It has the quality of a pickup truck but rides like a car,” he said. “Looking at it, you’d think the ride would be harsh but it’s absolutely unbelievable.”
Jeffrey Ross, a veteran auto writer, said you want the diesel version of the Chevrolet Colorado Z71 Trail Boss. He said it combines rugged looks and off-road abilities with the torque-y, fuel-efficient Duramax diesel. That engine, by the way, generates 369 pound-feet of torque.
It also features, in addition to Chevy’s proven off-road truck suspension package, Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac all-terrain tires and 17-inch dark argent metallic-painted cast-aluminum wheels; GearOn moveable cargo tie-down rings, load bar and cargo divider; and black fender flares and front and rear black Chevy bowtie logos.
What am I going to recommend? Most of the auto journalists I talked to list the Jeep Wrangler as a strong second choice. So, I’m going with the Jeep Wrangler Willys Wheeler Edition.
Based on the Wrangler Sport model, it features upgraded hardware, including a Dana 44 rear axle with Trac-Lok limited-slip rear differential and 3.73 gears, BF Goodrich KM Mud Terrain tires, rock rails and a Jeep Trail Rated Kit that includes a D-Ring, tow strap and gloves in a Jeep-branded bag. This works with the Jeep Command-Trac 4×4 part-time, two-speed transfer case with a 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio to give the Jeep Wrangler Willys Wheeler Edition its improved off-road chops.
In Las Vegas, two highly recommended off-road destinations are Angels Peak in the Mt. Charleston area of Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, less than 50 miles northwest of Las Vegas, and Rocky Gap Road in Red Rock Canyon.