The Best Midsize Pickup | The Autoblog Show Ep 01

Episode one is all about trucks. First up is our mid-size truck comparison. The world of mid-size pickup trucks looks vastly different than it did just five short years ago. On the first episode of "The Autoblog Show," we drive four of the most popular, the Toyota Tacoma, the Ford Ranger, the Jeep Gladiator, and the Chevrolet Colorado, on the twisty roads and dusty trails of northern Michigan to decide which deserves the crown. Join editors Alex Kierstein, Reese Counts, John Snyder and Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore as they spend a week behind the wheel to decide which pickup deserves the crown.

Afterwards, Senior Producer Christopher McGraw travels down under to show off an off-road pickup that hasn’t (yet) reached our shores, the diesel-powered Ford Ranger Raptor.

Video Transcript

- This is Autoblog. For over 15 years, our team has covered the auto industry. You can find more of our content at Autoblog.com. But here on "The Autoblog Show," each episode features our favorite videos of the hottest new cars from all over the world. This is what moves us.

[ENGINE REVVING]

- Oh, that's good.

- We're drivers, off roaders, journalists, tech geeks, gamers, film makers, and adventurers. This is Autoblog.

[ROCK MUSIC]

Up next, the crew test for likable pickups. It's been years since more than a few mid-sized truck options have been available. Now the Chevrolet Colorado and the Toyota Tacoma have two more contenders to compete with.

- I think this is one of the more well-rounded trucks in the segment.

- I'm a first generation Tacoma owner. I love it.

- Entering the ring, we have the Ford Ranger and the Jeep Gladiator, two highly anticipated trucks in the North American market.

- That was my first time driving the Ranger and also my first driving the Ranger off road. This is-- this to med this is outdoors right here.

- Anything with the Jeep badge. It's a true Jeep, it should be good off road.

- How close was Ranger and Gladiator?

- This is the Autoblog mid-size truck comparison.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

GREG MIGLIORE: We did it, guys. Mid-size truck comparison is done. We're off the road, we're off the trails. I had a ton of fun. I think we've well earned these-- these cold ones. Biggest surprise of the day, what do you guys think? John, what do you think?

JOHN SNYDER: Biggest surprise of the day for me was how much the Ranger sort of turned around on me.

GREG MIGLIORE: Reese, which one were you surprised by?

REESE COUNTS: Actually, the Colorado. I kind of forgot how good it is on the road.

ALEX KIERSTEIN: I came into this-- you know, I went to the Ranger launch and I really expected the Ranger just to-- just to decimate. I don't know if you guys all felt like that, but it was just surprising to me to see how having these other ones around changed, you know, what my perception was coming into it.

GREG MIGLIORE: I'm going to echo Reese here. My biggest surprise was how good the Colorado still is. You know, this is-- if you can rewind back to, like, 2014, 2015, there weren't that many things like this out there. And that for me was like, I'd say, the biggest kind of revelation, biggest surprise. Was like, oh wow, Colorado-- still really good.

Hey, guys, we're up here at the Twisted Trails Off Road Park here in northern Michigan. Beautiful spring day, a little bit chilly. We drove up these trucks, pretty psyched about it. So we've had a lot of time on the road. Now we're going to take them off road. We're going to spend a lot of time arguing which one's the best, which one's the worst. So we should probably stop talking and let's-- let's go drive them.

REESE COUNTS: To keep parity with everything in this comparison test, we tried to spec everything out pretty evenly.

ALEX KIERSTEIN: We're running stuff that is representative, I like to think, the most extreme stuff you're going to hit trying to get to a campsite or a hunting ground or a fishing spot.

REESE COUNTS: All the trucks are crew cab, short bed. And three of the four are within $1,000 of each other. The Gladiator is a little bit more expensive, even base price. But our base sport model is loaded up with quite a few options.

GREG MIGLIORE: The Colorado can trace its roots back to the early '70s with the Chevy LUV-- a badge-engineered Isuzu Faster. The Love was replaced with the slightly larger S10 in the early '80s. For decades, the S10 competed against trucks like the Ford Ranger and Toyota Tacoma.

About 15 years ago, the S10 was phased out in favor of the original mid-sized Colorado. Sales of the first gen Colorado were strong, outselling the Ranger for most of its lifespan, but it could never touch the sales of the Tacoma. The Colorado returned to the market in 2015, reinvigorating the [INAUDIBLE]. Its successes led to the reintroduction of the Ranger as well as the new Jeep Gladiator.

So as I ascend up this hill here, a little bit of an incline. A little gentle here as we level off, but, you know, enough to kind of stretch its legs a little bit. I think this is one of the more well-rounded trucks in the segment. It looks pretty good. It's got broad appeal. I think it's a very universal sort of character. Definitely the stereotypical, like, Chevy truck look, which is good.

Some of the other competitors like the Toyota Tacoma, the Jeep Gladiator-- they have a more polarizing style. This one, which I think it's a reason that it sells so well has definitely universal styling. The one we're testing out has 3.6 liter V6. This is the engine I would get in Colorado. You could also get a diesel, which is intriguing. I like the 308 horsepower that the V6 offers. The fuel economy is actually pretty good.

I also want to point out that Colorado is good on road. It's pretty quiet at speed. You can get the Multimatic suspension on one of the more specced out off road trims. And it's a really good daily driver. I think it might be the best daily driver of the trucks we're testing out today.

You know, this is definitely, I think, one of my favorites in the segment. I'm not sure that means I would vote for it to win, because this is a very competitive place in the market with a lot of vehicles that evoke a lot of different kinds of passion. But I like what this thing does.

The Ford Ranger began life here in America in 1982 as a replacement for the Courier pickup based on the Mazda B series. It was the culmination of a $700 million project called Project Yuma that began in 1976 to create a domestically-produced, efficient, compact pickup. Ford took the Ranger name from the premium trim of the F Series and Bronco, and applied it to the new pickup as a 1983 model.

REESE COUNTS: The 2012 model year marked the end of the Ranger in the US for the foreseeable future. Now the version sold abroad returns as a fourth gen Ranger. So far we like what we see, but let's get inside and see what it's got.

[ROCK MUSIC]

I am in the new 2019 Ford Ranger. I spent some time in it driving up here for this test. This is my first time in it off road.

We've got a XLT, which is like a mid-grade trim. It's got the FX4 package. It's not a very super robust off road package like you would expect with the, like, Ranger Raptor, or the Colorado ZR2 or even the Tacoma TRD Pro. It's a package that's popular with a lot of customers, but it's still pretty robust. You've got skid plates, you've got the locking differential, different wheels and tires. Just stuff to make it a little more capable for most people.

I was pretty excited to try the Ranger. It's the only truck in the class with a four cylinder. There's only one powertrain on the Ranger. It's 2.3 liter EcoBoost turbo 4 mated to a 10-speed automatic. The 10-speed is pretty good. I've noticed some low speed hesitation and busyness to it, but it's nothing too bad. And off road in four wheel drive, I haven't minded anything.

And I was really kind of curious how it was going to handle on the highway, handle on the streets, and handle off road. For the most part, I've been pretty pleased with the powertrain. It's got 270 horsepower and 310 pound feet of torque, which is, I think, more torque than anything else in the class. But right around the same horsepower as everybody else.

Overall, I'm pretty pleased with the Ranger. I think it's still going to be the one to beat, though I am curious about how the other ones are going to come out and score. I think the Gladiator is by far the coolest. But I think the Rangers are the most well-rounded package.

[ROCK MUSIC]

ALEX KIERSTEIN: Have fun. All right.

[FOLK MUSIC]

This is a 2019 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport, and it comes from a long line of Toyota pickups. Toyota started selling a larger pickup called the Stout in this country, and it was a little more commercial-oriented, a little less comfortable. It was replaced by a truck called the Hilux. That truck over many years and many generations evolved into the immediate predecessor of the Tacoma.

In 1995, the Tacoma did to the Hilux what the Hilux did to the Stout. It introduced a more civilized truck that was better suited to the everyday use that most Tacoma owners were actually using their trucks for it.

Since 1995, the Tacoma has continued to become more civilized. It's evolved into a more comfortable vehicle. And yet it's still a formidable offroad truck.

I don't have a bias for the Tacoma, this particular Tacoma. I have a bias for first generation Tacomas. I'm a first generation Tacoma owner. I love it. So that's not coloring my opinion of this truck.

It's kind of a compromised truck. It's-- it's got some interesting issues. One you might see-- oh, yeah there we go. It's got a low roof. So I'm not that tall of a guy. I'm slouching in my seat a little bit, and my head's bounced off the roof a few times.

I think I might give the interior design a little more credit than some of the other people. I kind of like it. It's a little-- it's a little plasticky, but I sort of like the aesthetic here. It's kind of truckish without being cartoonish. And especially compared to the Colorado. I mean, the Colorado is just Fisher Price inside. And I like that this doesn't feel like that.

I'm basically going to give the Tacoma marks for ride. I think the ride is really good, especially compared to the Gladiator. I think the Gladiator rides well for what it is, but it's got a solid front axle, it's pretty soft. It's got a really long wheelbase. And those are advantages on the highway, but it doesn't feel as nimble as this truck. Of all the trucks here, there's definitely some issues inside, but it's comfortable and car-like in a way that none of the other trucks except maybe the Ranger is.

GREG MIGLIORE: The Gladiator name dates to 1963 and was used on trucks through 1987. The original Gladiator had the same engine and front end as the Jeep Wagoneer, but with a bedded back. The Gladiator and the J series where Jeep's longest running names for trucks. Jeep has a long history with pickups and names like the Scrambler were also considered for its reentry into the segment. Jeep hasn't sold the pickups since 1992, and the return of the Gladiator marks Jeep's returned to this critical segment.

[ROCK MUSIC]

JOHN SNYDER: All right, I'm in the 2020 Jeep Gladiator. I had some time on the road with this yesterday and found it to be pretty good on the highway. And I'm excited to see what it's like off road, which I feel like is where this thing belongs. Anything with the Jeep badge, you know-- if it's a true Jeep, it should be good off road. And this is just a stock Gladiator.

I like the feel through the suspension. You can feel more of the trail, which I think is a good thing. It might not be quite as comfortable, but you want to know what's going on between your chassis and the trail. This thing has a pretty long wheelbase, so the breakover angle is the one thing that concerns me. Take the things you like about the Wrangler, take doors off, take the roof off, fold down the windshield, and add the utility of a pickup truck bed.

It's not quite the pinnacle of offroad machines that the Wrangler is but, pretty damn good.

The long wheelbase in this isn't quite the disadvantage as I thought it would be. Definitely would be a hindrance on more harrier trails than this. You want to get something underneath some rock rails or something, because you're just going to be dragging. The benefits pay off on the highway in terms of stability.

What I really like about this is its size. You know, from here forward, it feels like a Wrangler, it looks like a Wrangler. I can see pretty near in front of me and not having to guess at what's at the top of the hill, if the trail is going to turn on me or something, because I can just see it. I can just peek out the window, peek at the corners, and see it all. In some of the other trucks, especially the Tacoma, you can't. There's so much hood there, so much bodywork.

GREG MIGLIORE: So this is the moment we've all been waiting for. We've done a lot of work for this, developing the score. There is objective and subjective components to it. So there's our opinions, but also, where these vehicles, like, metrically rank. So I'm really excited, really proud of what we've done with this.

It's the end of the day. The sun is basically almost out last first. Let's hear it.

REESE COUNTS: So I've been sitting here knowing the scores and not being able to reveal them the entire time.

JOHN SNYDER: I'm dreading this.

GREG MIGLIORE: I am so excited.

REESE COUNTS: So in fourth place, the Tacoma with 225 points. In third place, the Chevy Colorado with 239 points. In second place, Jeep Gladiator with 243 points. And in first, the Ranger with 244 points.

JOHN SNYDER: Woo.

ALEX KIERSTEIN: Waits, how close was Ranger and Gladiator?

REESE COUNTS: They were a point and a half off before rounding.

- Wow.

REESE COUNTS: Yeah.

[ROCK MUSIC]

Before all the static objective metrics, subjectively, the Gladiator was [INAUDIBLE]. But, like, you start comparing fuel economy, price really hit it hard, like, bed size is really shallow compared to, like, the Ranger and the Colorado. You start doing all the objective stuff, and that really put the Ranger like, back.

GREG MIGLIORE: So I'll say this-- I think the system worked. I think in this case, we had objective and subjective-- two components here. We definitely graded these things against each other, and based on our knowledge of what's good in the industry and what matters to consumers, I think even though it's close, I mean, we do have a clear winner. It was the Ranger. And I think that's exciting. I think the fact that it was close does speak to the fact that, like, this segment and this industry is so hyper competitive.

[ROCK MUSIC]

JOHN SNYDER: I've got road rage.

You wanna take off the roof and fold down the windshield?

CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: Yes.

ALEXANDER MALBURG: It is the mid-size truck comparison week.

We're gonna be a testing these things out and checking out what they can do and what they cannot do, compare them, and we're gonna tell you which one we like the best.

REESE COUNTS: It was fun. It was are really, like, nice, but it was just very tight right in that kick.

ALEXANDER MALBURG: John, what are you eating?

JOHN SNYDER: Garden Salsa Sun Chips. Got them at Subway. Eat fresh.

GREG MIGLIORE: Thought I was going to make it. I thought I had the best shot of anybody, because why not? And then when you get to that like really moundy part that digs you in, it's just, like, the widow maker.

Also, we should stop talking. Let's go drive these things!

ALEX KIERSTEIN: Trucks!

REESE COUNTS: Trucks!

- All right.

REESE COUNTS: All right, cool.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

GREG MIGLIORE: Autoblog is the complete source of breaking car news, in-depth reviews, exciting videos on all the hottest cars. If you're in the market for a new ride, shop our thousands of listings. Or use our Car Finder to discover your perfect match. Visit Autoblog today.

- You're watching "The Autoblog Show."

CHRISTOPHER MCGRAW: So We just found out that Ford is not bringing the Ranger Raptor to the United stach-- stach?

Car is a general term that we use for anything.

2019-- there is a huge fly in my face.

Senior producer, Chris McGraw, here for Autoblog. Yeah.

So we just found out that the Ford Ranger Raptor is not coming to the United States, which is a real shame, because it is really [BLEEP] awesome.

Audio for engine.

[ROCK MUSIC]

So as you can see here, we have a 2 liter four cylinder biturbo diesel engine. Now that engine makes roughly 211 horsepower and 369 pound feet of torque. And as far as gas mileage, it makes roughly the equivalent of 28 miles per gallon. And much like the F-150 Raptor, it has a completely different grill with Ford in the front.

The lower bumper is exclusive to the Ranger Raptor. And as you probably have noticed, it's a super wide truck. In fact, this truck has almost six inches wider than the regular Ranger. Listen to this--

[METAL DINGING]

Yeah, that's high strength aluminum alloy.

It is covered with two coats of paint. The final coat, of course, is this tough scratch-resistant paint here. These 17 inch wheels are wrapped in BF Goodrich KO2s. So they're specifically made for this truck and they are 285, 70R, 17s.

So the engineers said that they built this truck to be able to do over 100 miles per hour off road, which is an insane speed to think about. Regardless of the speed, though, this wouldn't be an off road truck if it didn't have a skid plate. This one specifically is 2.3 millimeters thick and is made--

[METAL DINGING]

--of steel.

This thing's got Fox shocks. Ford went through 42 prototypes of the front and 74 of the rear before deciding on the shocks that you see here, and it does show. There is a ton of badging on this car.

First one that stands out is this Raptor badge on the step there. Moving back, you have this huge Raptor decal. You have another Raptor badge right here. Matching Raptor decals on the side and another Raptor stamped in this step.

Oddly enough, there isn't anything that says Ford Raptor on the front of the truck, other than the fact that this is a grill that no other Rangers have.

Now if you look around this interior, you may think to yourself, this looks pretty familiar to me, and that's because a lot of it is the same as the regular Ford Ranger with some key differences. If you look, we have contrast stitching on the steering wheel and on the leather of the seats. Speaking of the seats, they are super comfortable. They have a great balance between both support and comfort.

You can see there's Ford performance and Raptor on the floor. There's Raptor on the steering wheel. And then, of course, there's Raptor on the seats.

Let's talk about these paddle shifters. They're made out of magnesium, not plastic, so they feel really good in the hand. Though they are pretty close to both the turn signal and the windshield wipers.

There are two on road modes. There's normal mode, which emphasizes comfort and fuel economy, and then there's sport mode, which is for more spirited on road driving, which maps had the transmission to hold onto gears longer and downshift more aggressively. The four off road modes are grass, gravel, and snow for off road slippery conditions. You have mud and sand mode for conditions that have less traction. Rock mode for rock crawling when you want really low speed stuff. And finally, Baja mode, which is like an off road sport mode, which pairs back traction control, and holds onto gears longer and downshifts more aggressively.

This tailgate opens relatively easily and closes relatively easily thanks to this spring in here. But it's lacking a lot of the bells and whistles that are out with a lot of tailgates right now. Those bells and whistles really, though, are not used by most people, and just add weight. So I kind of like that this is super simple.

Inevitably, when you go off roading, you'll get stuck. And that's why we have these here-- we got tow and recovery hooks. They're rated over four tons. There's two in the back in two in the front.

[ROCK MUSIC]

- Thanks for watching. And we hope you enjoyed this episode of "The Autoblog Show." For a lot more of our content, check us out at Autoblog.com, where you can find the latest reviews and news on all of your favorite cars. On the next episode--

GREG MIGLIORE: Crossovers are red hot. They come in all shapes and sizes. Americans can't get enough of them. Today, we're going to put a spotlight on subcompact crossovers. Those are the small ones, but they offer big personality, plenty of style, and of course, utility and fuel efficiency.

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