Thursday, August 23, 2018

The seven coolest new off-road trucks

Here’s a truckload of your favorite pickups....

The art of off-roading has been gaining popularity since the 1960s, but it has erupted in the last decade. With more and more people going out on the trail, and sales of pickup trucks and SUVs climbing at an ever-growing clip, automakers have answered the call. Off-road units are more wisely comprehended and better engineered than ever, with individual suspensions, increased ground clearance, protective skid plates, locking differentials, and beefy bodywork.

Factory off-road packages are not new, dating back to the 1970s with vehicles like the Stroppe Baja Edition Ford Bronco and the Dodge Power Wagon with the Macho Package.

But the modern era of truly dangerous factory-built off-road machines began with the popularity of the Ford Raptor pickup, which first hit the roads and off-road lots of U.S in 2010. That model’s direct profit has fueled Ford to not only mastermind a Raptor version of the 2019 Ford Ranger pickup but also to re-introduce the Bronco for the 2020 model year. The Raptor also lit a fuse under the rest of the manufacturing, and today there are several off-road-ready severe, highly capable pickups and SUVs available to enthusiasts of all types and budgets. Here are our picks for the top seven.

2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class in the mountains
2018 Mercedes-Benz G 550 4x42 (Squared)

2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class in the mountains
2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class
It’s the devil love child of a Mercedes-Benz G-Class and the monster truck Grave Digger. Considering it costs $227,300 before options or delivery, the 2018 Mercedes-Benz G 550 4x4 Squared will be a rare sight at a State Vehicular Recreation Area near you. That’s unfortunate because despite looking like a circus adjunct, it’s one of the most severe off-road machines ever to hit the showroom floor.

Mercedes starts with a G 550, which already offers extreme approach and departure angles as well as three locking differentials, and cranks up the volume with portal axles, adjustable dual coil over suspension, and larger diameter tires which increase its ground clearance to 17.2 inches. The G 550 4x4 Squared also gets stainless steel under armor and a full track. Mercedes says the 416-hp SUV, which weighs an incredible 6694 pounds, can ford a stream up to 39.4 inches and climb an 80-percent grade.

2018 Ram Power Wagon
2018 Ram Power Wagon

The rock crawler and climber of this bunch. Based on the Ram 2500, the 2018 Power Wagon is the only pickup ready with front and solid rear axles each with an electric locking differential. To improve articulation, Ram also equips the Power Wagon with an electronically disconnecting front stabilizer bar and an extra joint at the upper axle mount called Ram Articulink. Bilstein shocks are standard, and taller springs and larger 33-inch tires add about two inches of extra ground clearance.

Every Power Wagon is powered by a 6.4-liter V-8 cranking out 410 horsepower and 429 lb-ft of torque, which lets it tow nearly 10,000 lbs. The Hemi works with a transfer case with a steep 2.64:1 low range for crawling and steep grades, and every Power Wagon gets a conventional 12,000-pound Warn winch mounted behind its front bumper, which is useful, but also just cool. Prices start at $53,690 including destination fees.

2019 Toyota TRD Pro Tacoma

2019 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro
TRD stands for Toyota Racing Development. It’s the manufacturer’s organization of in-house hot-rodders responsible for the brand’s motorsports operations including NASCAR, drag racing, drifting, and, of course, off-road track (think Baja 1000, which TRD won twice outright). On the street, TRD is best known for its off-road-ready suspensions on the Tacoma pickup, which is now available in TRD Sport, TRD Off Road, and the ultimate TRD Pro trim levels.

Opting for the TRD Pro package takes the price north of $41,500, but it radically increases the pickup’s off-road capability with a substantial upgrade in hardware. Fox Racing Shox, a hugely respected company in the off-road society, supplies Coilover front dampers with thick 2.5-inch diameter aluminum housings for additional strength, as well as remote reservoir shocks in the rear. There is also an aluminum skid plate, extra ground clearance, more suspension travel, and a locking rear differential.

The TRD Pro rolls on 16-inch wheels wrapped in knobby Goodyear Wrangler rubber. It features Toyota’s Multi-Terrain Select system and its unique Crawl Control, which is low-speed off-road cruise control. And get this—for 2019 Toyota has declared an optional snorkel on the Tacoma TRD Pro which moves the engine’s air intake high above the roof. Toyota calls it the TRD Desert Air Intake and says it allows the engine to breathe cleaner air during dusty off-road driving.

2019 Toyota TRD Pro 4Runner

2019 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro

2019 Toyota TRD Pro 4Runner
For off-road enthusiasts looking for a family-friendly SUV, Toyota also offers the 4Runner TRD Pro. Although its off-road hardware and performance are similar to the Tacoma TRD Pro, there are some significant differences beyond the body styles. In any trim, the Toyota 4Runner, which still features body-on-frame construction and a solid rear axle, is among the most capable off-road SUVs available. With the TRD Pro package, it’s maybe the best. Plus it costs about $185,000 less than the Mercedes-Benz G 550 4x4 Squared.

Unlike the Tacoma TRD Pro, the 2019 4Runner TRD Pro uses rear coil springs instead of leaf springs, which give it better ride both on- and off-road. It also uses Bilstein shocks with remote reservoirs on the following units (although it will switch to Fox units in 2019) and Nitto All-Terrain Terra Grappler tires. The 4Runner TRD Pro sits about an inch taller than a standard 4Runner, but its front springs are tuned softer, and its dampers offer more droop for additional junction. Front-wheel travel is increased about an inch, and rear travel is up about 1.5 inches for a total of 10. A thick quarter-inch aluminum front skid plate and locking rear differential are standard, and like the Tacoma version, the 4Runner TRD Pro gets Toyota’s Multi-Terrain Select and Crawl Control systems.

A white 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 on a dirt trail

2018 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2

A white 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 on a dirt trail
Legendary Chevys often start with a Z. There’s Z2/8, Z11, ZR1, Z16, and many others. Well, add ZR2 to that list. One step up and over the already capable Colorado Z71, the ZR2 adds front and rear electronic locking differentials, two inches of additional ground clearance and skid plates and rock sliders to protect is mechanical bits and body. The ZR2 also looks tougher with 3.5 inches of extra width, flared fenders, and 31-inch Goodyears on 17-inch wheels, and Chevy’s engineers fitted a new front bumper for more clearance and a fittingly aggressive bulge to its hood.

But the Colorado ZR2’s real magic is in its suspension. The midsize truck is equipped with Multimatic shocks, the same company that produced the spool-valve dampers on the Z/28 Camaro. And they allow the ZR2 to jump over rutted terrain like it’s freshly laid pavement. Prices start at $40,995 for an extended cab model, which also makes the ZR2 a heck of a value. A crew cab is also accessible, and Chevy offers the ZR2 with a 3.6-liter gas V-6 or a 2.8-liter Duramax turbodiesel four-cylinder.

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor

2018 Ford F-150 Raptor

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor
In the realm of full-size pickups, the ultimate off-road machine is the new Ford Raptor. Now in its second generation, the Raptor has become an off-road icon, and Ford’s SVT engineers have taken the truck to new heights of capability, adding suspension travel and power to the unit.

More or less a desert race truck you can drive comfortably to work every day, the new Raptor now has an aluminum body to save weight, a fully boxed steel frame for strength and three-inch width Fox Racing shocks. The Raptor possesses an industry-leading 13 inches of front and 14 inches of rear suspension travel. Other hardware includes an electronic locking rear differential, a terrain management system with six drive modes, and huge BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/A K02 tires measuring 315/70R17.

Super Cab and Crew Cab models are available, and every new Raptor is powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 making 450 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque. It’s backed by Ford’s new 10-speed automatic transmission, co-developed with General Motors. Prices start at $51,415.

2018 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
2018 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon (JL)

2018 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
The civilian Jeep, or CJ, basically launched Americans to the idea of off-road entertainment when it debuted for noncombatants in 1945. Now, 73 years later, the completely redesigned 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL is the most off-road competent new vehicle money can get.

Four trim levels are offered, but the most serious is the Wrangler Rubicon. It gets 33-Inch BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 Tires, locking front and rear Dana 44 Heavy Duty Axles, which are symbols of indestructibility, steel rock bars and skid plates, and an anodic disconnect for the front sway bar that radically enhances suspension junction. The Rubicon is also the only Wrangler model with a shorter 4.10 rear axle gear and Jeep’s Rock-Trac 4x4 System with a lower 4:1 4LO gear ratio for ultimate torque augmentation. Models with the standard transmission pack an 84.1:1 Crawl Ratio, which makes the Jeep all-but unstoppable on rigorous trails.

Jeep says the two-door Wrangler Rubicon (a four-door is also available) offers an industry-leading 44-degree passageway aspect, 27.8-degree breakover angle, 37 degrees of embarkation angle, and 10.8 inches of ground allowance. Prices start at $36,995 for the two-door Wrangler Rubicon with a 3.6-liter V-6. A turbocharged four-cylinder is also available.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Built Ford Tough? Nah, Built ArmorThane Tough

Built Ford Tough is a good slogan but when it's not as tough as I need it to be then I gotta make it tougher. That's why I spend about as much time working on my truck as I do driving it. For example three weeks ago I went offroading with some buddies. It had just rained, and it was pretty slippery out there. Luckily I had a brand new set of mud crawlers on which got me through most of it, but my truck just wasn't lifted enough to get me through the deep stuff.

 I ended up hitting a hidden pothole of the muddiest kind; this led to three hours of troubleshooting a whole lot of elbow grease and a broken axle. After getting the truck towed back to my house, I took a shower and got cleaned up. Then I got online and ordered a new replacement axle along with some new shocks and a six-inch lift kit. Three days later my truck was up on jack stands, and I was on my mechanic's creeper wrenching away.

First things first I had to repair the broken axle. Off came the tires then I started removing the arms and axle assembly. This was not easy since the shaft had snapped and bent upwards into the vehicle. I actually had to get an acetylene torch and cut it out! After much work and a few beers, I had the new axle in. Then I went to work on the suspension; since the tires were already off and the arms were loosened, it was pretty easy to get in there and swap the shocks.

After I was done with that, I put everything else back together and boy she was good as new no better than new. My truck could now get through the thick stuff more comfortable, but it wasn't necessarily any tougher. So to avoid snapping another axle during my weekend wheelie sessions I cut and welded a diamond plated skid shield to the bottom of my truck. My cherry on top was the ArmorThane bedliner I had installed. This was a nice break, as I was able to relax, open a beer and sit back in the lawn chair I brought along with me to the ArmorThane installer's shop with me. You talk about good-looking, this bedliner really made the difference, and I get more compliments on it than anything else I have on my truck. That's why I say Ford tough? Nah, this truck is ArmorThane tough!

Friday, May 11, 2018

A Look At Bed Liners and Bed Covers

Custom Truck Bed Covers
What Is A Custom Truck Bed Liner? Custom truck bed Liners and covers (also known as custom tonneau covers) are created and designed to preserve and enhance the display of your truck. Truck bed covers are one of today's most fashionable truck accessories available on the market.

Why Should You Get A Truck Bed Liner?

You should get a custom truck bed cover for the following reasons:  It reduces drag
Improves gas mileage from 5 to 10mpg
Produces extra storage space
Protects your load

What Are The Different Kinds of Custom Truck Bed Covers?

The complete selection of pickup truck bed covers include:
Soft rollup tonneau covers
Folding tonneau covers
Retractable tonneau covers
Hard tonneau covers
Hinged tonneau covers
Tool box tonneau covers
Tonneau accessories.

The kind of truck bed liners are outlined as follows:

Spray On Bed Liners are the fastest easiest and the most convenient way to top your truck bed. Made with a durable Polyurea spray and must be sprayed on by a professional. The best brand by far is ArmorThane. With 30 years in the industry, you know you will be receiving both good customer service and that professional sprayed on look as well.

 Folding Tonneau Covers:
Folding tonneau covers provide the smooth look of a hardcover with the convenience of a soft cover. In just a few seconds folding tonneau covers effortlessly reveal your entire bed for big loads. Plus hard folding tonneau covers install fastest and most comfortable.

Retractable Tonneau Covers:
In seconds retractable tonneau covers roll away for full bed access. These hightech retractable tonneau covers do the job right. Retractable tonneau covers showcase the ultimate combination of hard tonneau security and soft tonneau convenience.


Hard Tonneau Covers:
Hard tonneau covers offer the best in protected bed coverage smooth looks and complete durability. Aerodynamic design improves gas mileage. Easy to install and remove.


Hinged Tonneau Covers:
Hinged tonneau covers unlatch and lift for full bed access. Features a smooth aerodynamic design to improve gas mileage. This tonneau cover mounts easily fast and latches instantly. Tool Box Tonneau Covers: Tool tonneau covers secure whatever you need to carry to do the job.

Crossbed Truck Bed Tool Boxes

Crossbed is the most common style of truck bed tool boxes on the road today. I see more of these boxes on the road, in magazines, at car shows and being sold than any other. Crossbed boxes have more storage space than most other pickup truck tool boxes. They also come in a diversity of styles and designs to fit nearly anyone's needs.

The most popular truck bed box is the single lid box. This crossbed design has one unique lid with two latches to open the lid from either side of your vehicle. These boxes can vary in price from under 200 to around 600. The two lid cross bed truck tool box is another favorite style. These boxes open from both sides of your vehicle. They are priced about the same as the single lid. Remember there are many producers of all these crossbed boxes so take your time and look around. Many companies are producing these boxes. Some of the most popular companies are Dee Zee Delta and DeflectaSheld. Crossbed boxes are available in aluminum steel and plastic. They can also be purchased as a low profile box which is not as tall as a standard crossbed box. The low profile box provides better visibility through the rear window and a less prominent look to your truck bed. If you'd like your crossbed box to be easily removable, some new products can make that happen. Some new manufacturers make truck boxes on a rail system so you can slide your crossbed box from the front to the rear of your bed.

There are also installation systems that allow you to quickly fasten your box to the truck bed so you won't need a single tool to remove it. Whatever style you choose make sure to look for the best deal. Don't forget the shipping costs either. Some online retailers have free shipping for any of their truck boxes. Freight charges will apply to any truck box purchase without free shipping so look for free shipping before you order.

Don't Let The Bed Rugs Bite

The other day when I went out to see a movie, it cost an arm and a leg! I bought two tickets a jumbo tub of gummy popcorn bears and 2 sodas. It cost nearly 40! And for what? Two hours of bad acting and a few cavities closer to dentures. Now I don't want to sound like a cheapskate, but I think I didn't get much bang for my buck. On top of that I work all week and would like to spend some quality time with my friends; we barely talked. I think we spent more time waiting in line and dealing with the mob of people than actually having joy. Personally I would have preferred hanging around a campfire. Growing up in rural Missouri I have learned to appreciate the outdoors and the serenity of nature.

I currently live in Springfield but we have started taking weekend camping trips to various campgrounds out in the country and have had a lot of great times until we tried sleeping in the bed of my pick up. It was dusk. The sounds of insects in the summertime filled the chilly night's air. It was perfect up until the clouds rolled in. A group of rain clouds quickly passed over us drenching the grounds but didn't scare us away. We took shelter in my truck until the rain passed. Unfortunately, we were left standing in the mud soaking wet and shivering. We had driven a few hours so going home was out of the question and pitching a tent on the ground would have meant sleeping in a puddle, so we decided to sleep in the truck bed. I had an old ratty bed liner in there which provided our backs with minimal comfort, but at least it kept us dry. I think I would have preferred the mud because when we woke up, it looked as if we had the chickenpox. Apparently, the liner was infested with some sort of bed bug. What a nightmare!

Any way to make a long story short I ripped out the old liner and ended up getting a new ArmorThane truck bed liner. I used their SureGrip formula and found that truck bed liner makes an exceptional place to sleep while camping. The SureGrip does not slip or slide and was still soft enough to sleep on. I have had several different bed liners over the years but never have i come across anything like this. I highly recommend going with ArmorThane if you are looking for a new bedliner. Oh and if you do decide to use your bedliner to sleep on, just make sure it's clean.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Which Bedliner Is Best?

Spray-in bed liners are permanent coatings which are sprayed on to maintain and protect your truck bed. Spray-in liners do not drop out or slide as your automobile moves.  They block dirt, water and other elements once installed correctly.  Most bed liners have a consistency that is gritty to hinder things from sliding around in your truck bed or displacing. If it comes to deciding on the spray in bed liner for your automobile, there are bed liner companies.  On the other hand, the manufacturer Armorthane generally comes to mind for many people. Even in weather, motion inside the truck bed using an ArmorThane spray-in liner is nonexistent.  Tests reveal that after spilling materials like lacquer and petroleum thinner with this bed liner, no harm was visible. Reviews online assert that in the event that you would like to opt for a spray in bed liner which will last your entire lifetime, ArmorThane is your ideal option.  Clients of this liner state that nothing has through this liner without any scrapes are observed after several decades.


Lift Kits vs. Leveling Kits: What’s the Difference?

Whether it’s for function or appearance, lifting a vehicle is a rite of passage in any owner’s life. Just like a Ferrari is supposed to be low to the ground— a truck is supposed to be high to the sky. It’s built into their DNA if you will.
So you decide to lift your truck and so you begin to do some investigating. Before long, your head is twirling from all the options — lift kits, leveling kits, load levelers,  and air suspension  — what the smack is the difference? Let’s explore two of the most popular options possible, whether for serious off-roading or just to provide a meaner posture: lift kits vs. leveling kits.
A meaner stance: lift kits vs. leveling kits.

Lift Kits
A lift kit boosts your entire truck, front and rear, anywhere from a single inch to high enough where you sweat going under bridges. Lift kits come in two classes: body and suspension lift kits.

A body lift employs blocks and spacers to lift the body above onto the frame of the truck without altering any of the suspension geometry. With a body lift kit, your ground allowance remains unchanged, but the extra elevation allows you to run bigger wheels and tires.

The steering geometry endures unaltered as well, so your rig holds most of its initial driving and handling characteristics. Stability can be negatively affected, though, due to the increased ride height. Body lifts often are more affordable and simpler to install than their counterparts, suspension lift kits.

While the cost may be greater and the installation considerably more complicated with a suspension lift, the results are unquestionably worth it. Suspension lifts will involve replacing everything from the shocks/struts and leaf springs to the control arms, trailing arms and many times even the driveshafts and steering components.

Reconstructing and enhancing these components provides for more suspension articulation, more ground allowance, the ability to run even bigger tires, and an all-around more proficient off-road truck. Security and driving dynamics can be modified, but, as your rig will now have a higher center of gravity as well as modified steering and suspension geometry.

Leveling Kits
From the factory, most trucks ship with a certain degree of “rake” developed into their suspension, meaning the rear end sits up higher than the front. The reason for this is that trucks were created to haul heavy payloads in the bed. With an additional thousand pounds in the rear, the rear springs tighten and prompt the rear end to lower a few inches to accommodate the added burden. But since the rear started out higher than the front, this won’t produce such a dramatic “sag” in the back.

This is done for two purposes: first, if the front and rear were level and you then put 1,000 pounds in the rear end, it would bottom out the suspension and cause the shocks, bushings, etc. to waste out prematurely. Second, running with the suspension fully compressed is not only difficult for the vehicle’s occupants but also threatening because it rigorously and negatively affects your truck’s styling.

A leveling kit does precisely what it sounds like — it levels the vehicle. By raising the front up a few inches, you can reduce the industry rake in your vehicle and bring the front end and rear level. This is primarily done for looks, but it can also add a small quantity of ground clearance to the front end of your vehicle and give you the ability to run bigger tires.

Another advantage of leveling kits is that since they only support the front of your truck instead of lowering the back, your payload limit remains constant. You can still put just as much mass in the back without worry that the suspension will bottom out. Leveling kits are a very simplistic design, employing coil spacers, strut extensions or torsion keys and many can be fitted without having to jack up your truck. If your goal isn’t to turn your vehicle into an all-out off-road combatant, and just want an aggressive stance and look from your rig, a leveling kit is the way to go.

Which One is Right?
A lift kit can truly change your truck from a city cruiser to the off-road beast you’ve always fantasized about, but there are many determinants to consider before deciding as to which type of kit is best for you. Be sure your aims are clear and know what you’re getting yourself into before deciding on a particular type of lift kit. And luckily, ArmorThane has a myriad of customer reviews from people just like you that can help you in your choice, as well as knowledgeable team just a click or a phone call away, ready to answer any of your lift kit problems!