Truck YeahThe trucks are good!

Look, your $70,000 Big Horn Lone Star King Ranch ‘Merica-edition pickup might be the biggest, worst, coal-rolling-est thing on the road, but when it comes to off-roading, it will get embarrassed by little baby Suzuki Samurais. Don’t believe me? Just watch this Ram try to get up this grade.


Heavy duty diesel trucks are some highly compromised vehicles. They don’t handle well, they get terrible fuel economy, they can’t carry many people, and most are not great off-road (I’ve found this out the hard way when I got stuck in a Ram 2500). Really, they only excel at two things: towing and carrying lots of stuff. Which is fine, because that’s what they’re built for.

Still, some folks don’t recognize the limitations of a wheelbase as long as an entire two-door Jeep Wrangler. Listen to this carnage:

The thing about heavy duty trucks, bless their hearts, is that they lack the number one ingredient needed for true off-road capability: favorable geometry.


They have everything else going for them, though. They’ve got solid axles, body-on-frame construction and torquey diesel engines. Plus, their huge gas tanks would make them great for overlanding.

But off-road, geometry is king. Approach, departure and breakover angles physically constrain where your vehicle can go— and these are three things that large pickup trucks, with their huge wheelbases and big overhangs (especially in the rear) lack (The Ram Power Wagon is sort of an exception, though its butt does tend to drag). Plus heavy duty trucks are just so big, they’re hard to navigate through tight spots.

AEV Prospector— A Ram 2500 on 40s. A thing of beauty.
AEV Prospector— A Ram 2500 on 40s. A thing of beauty.

Still, I’m just talking about stock heavy-duty trucks. Throw some big meats on that thing to crank up those angles and put some more distance between the rock and the belly (and I don’t mean Jeep-big, I mean Truck-big— we’re talking at least 37s), and it will conquer the world.

Sr. Technical Editor, Jalopnik. Always interested in hearing from auto engineers—email me. Cars: Willys CJ-2A ('48), Jeep J10 ('85), Jeep Cherokee ('79, '91, '92, '00), Jeep Grand Cherokee 5spd ('94).

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