How to Choose a 4x4 Truck

Image Gallery: Off-Roading The Ford F-150 SVT Raptor. See more off-roading pictures.
Courtesy of Ford Motor Company

In the past 15 to 20 years, the number of four-wheel drive trucks on the market has grown like never before. It can be hard to determine which truck is right for you -- especially if you plan on doing a bit of off-road driving. Not all 4x4 trucks are capable of taking on the tough stuff, and the ones that are will still need to be outfitted for your specific terrain, climate and usage.

How you plan on using the truck will make a big difference right off the bat. Off-roading will require a different set-up than towing, ranching or merely commuting from home to work every day. Almost any 4x4 will be able to handle these situations, but if off-roading is what you're after, there are a few extra considerations to make before choosing a truck.

If you're going to use the truck as a dedicated weekend-warrior dirt-mobile, then creature comforts can probably take a back seat to, well, a back seat. But if you're also going to use the truck to take the kids to school on your way to work, then having room in the cab and a few creature comforts will be much more important to you. Wanting to throw a dirt bike or two into the back means making sure the bed is big enough to hold the bikes and all of your other gear, too.

Thinking about the different kinds of activities you'll use the truck for can get you to a starting place, whether that's a Ford F-Series or a Chevy Silverado. Also, don't forget to consider used trucks. New trucks can be ordered exactly to your liking, but they're also more expensive. You may find a used truck with plenty of lift and big, knobby tires already installed, but there's a good chance this truck has been out on some tough runs, too. Each option has its pros and cons.

Next, let's take a look at the terrain and see what a truck needs to conquer it.