So You Can't Afford: Ford F-150 SVT Raptor
411-hp 6.2-liter V-8
The inexpensive imitator: Nissan Frontier PRO-4X 6MT
Ford's mighty Raptor is the factory-engineered production incarnation of a Baja trophy truck. It's engineered to tackle off-road terrain at speeds far greater than any other vehicle. It wears a long-travel suspension damped by Fox remote reservoir shocks. And under the hood is Ford's potent 411-hp Coyote V-8. But at over $40,000, it's certainly not cheap for a truck.
But Maybe You Can Afford: Nissan Frontier PRO-4X
261-hp, 4.0-liter V-6
Quietly, Nissan has been producing a capable and much less expensive off-road package for its midsize Frontier pickup for years. The Pro-4X comes with larger tires, Bilstein shocks, a locking rear differential, hill-descent control, and more. These are really the tools of slow-speed off-roading. And with only 265 hp under the hood, the Frontier can't even dream of catching the speedy Raptor in the dirt.
When locked in low range, crawling over boulders, they are much more evenly matched. This years' Raptor does come with a new Torsion front differential, so it should be a better slow-speed crawler when traction is limited. But the Frontier is much smaller and nimbler on tight trails, some of which are simply too small for the Raptor to fit. Remember, the Raptor is several inches wider than your neighbor's F-150.
The Frontier certainly won't match the Raptor's thrill ride, but it could be a good pickup for those that need serious off-road capability in a tidier package. Plus, with the extra $15,000 in your pocket, you could buy a Polaris Ranger RZR 900 to supply your four-wheeled adrenaline rush.