Looking for a new rig and that tax refund money is burning a hole in your pocket? Here’s what to expect in this year’s hunter-grade 4x4s.
by Rob Reaser
They say that taxes and death are the two inescapable facts of life. Well, if you’re a serious hunter, you can add pickup trucks to that list. Most of us have made-do with other vehicle platforms throughout our hunting careers, but when it comes to performance and convenience, the pickup can’t be beat for hauling game, muddy packs and boots, camping gear, recovery equipment, or campers and ATVs.
With spring almost here, many of us are casting our attention toward dealership lots with visions of shiny, new hunting trucks gleaming in our eyes. Although there’s not a lot of headliner news this year in the truck world, there are several upgrades on the styling and technology fronts that you may want to consider before signing on the dotted line.
Nissan is mostly holding pat with its 2020 pickup lineup. Modest appearance enhancements deliver a slight attitude bump, but the breed is anxiously awaiting a next-generation remake. The top-bill change for this year is the introduction of an all-new 9-speed auto tranny for the 3.8L V6 and 5.6L V8 engines.
Titan – Nissan has upped the Titan‘s 5.6L V8 output this year. It’s backed with a new 9-speed automatic to deliver 400 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels. Max towing capacity ranges from 9,210 for the Titan Crew Cab 4×4 to 10,880 for the Titan XD 4×4.
Beyond the drivetrain, the Titan receives a fresh look modeled on the “Powerful Warrior” theme, with distinctive grille designs across all grade levels plus higher-output headlights for improved forward and side illumination. Hunters will appreciate the new LED pickup bed lighting for those early morning gear grabs.
The base model 4×4 is the King Cab S at $39,390.
Frontier – If any truck is begging for an update, it is the Frontier. Just don’t expect that update to be this year. The good news is the 2020 model will be the last of the current and quite long-in-tooth generation Frontier. Next year we’ll have an all-new Frontier to report.
In the meantime, buyers can get a taste of what’s to come since Nissan has gone ahead and put the next generation model’s new 3.8L V6 engine into the 2020 line. The new direct-injection V6 delivers 310 hp (up from the old 4.0L V6’s 261 hp) and 281 lb-ft of torque. The new 9-speed auto tranny also displaces the prior 5-speed auto and manual gear boxes.
Aside from the drivetrain, the current generation Frontier is merely coasting to the finish line with pushbutton start, manual tilt steering, power door locks and windows, and leather shift knob now standard across all grades.
The base model 4×4 is the King Cab SV at $28,810.
This year, Ram merges the all-new, third-gen 3.0L V6 EcoDiesel with the half-ton pickup. With its 480 lb-ft of torque, 260 hp, and 12,560-lb max towing capacity, Ram 1500s equipped with the V6 EcoDiesel is a “light” diesel alternative to the Cummins Turbo.
Elsewhere in the Ram 1500 line, minor changes in the 1500 Night Edition appearance package, Rebel Black Appearance Group, Rebel Safety Group, and Rebel graphics add to three new exterior colors—Hydro Blue, RV Match Walnut Brown, and Olive Green.
Long favored for their top resell value, reliability, and overall performance on the highway and in the dirt, Toyota‘s full-size Tundra and mid-size Tacoma roll into 2020 with only minor changes and option updates.
Tundra – The biggest news on the Tundra front is that the 4.6L V8 is no longer offered. All Tundras now come exclusively with the company’s aluminum block 5.7L DOHC V8. Delivering 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque, this punchy powerplant has no qualms hauling heavy gear into the backcountry. Toyota also grows its TRD (Toyota Racing Development) Pro segment by making the Double Cab (MSRP $48,655) available in this off-road-oriented model, alongside the CrewMax (MSRP $52,930).
The base model for a 4×4 Tundra is the SR5 Double Cab at $38,295.
Tacoma – Known for plying rugged backroads where lesser pickups fear to tread, the Tacoma continues to enjoy an almost cult status for those who favor feisty 4x4s with looks to back up the performance.
This year’s Tacoma is mostly a continuation of the 2019 model offerings, except for a revised taillamp and new front grille design on most models. Otherwise, expect mostly minor convenience and style upgrades across the various Tacoma models
Our coolest pick of the Tacoma litter for 2020 is the Tacoma TRD Pro in Army Green, which is a new exterior color for 2020.
The base model for a 4×4 Tundra is the SR Access Cab at $29,125.
Chevrolet isn’t putting forward any major changes in its Silverado for 2020. Most of what’s new centers on powertrain availability. The 10-speed auto with the 5.3L V8 is now standard on the LT Trail Boss. If you like to run massive displacement engines, the 6.2L V8 is now available on the Custom Trail Boss, LT Trail Boss, and the RST trim models with 4WD.
The 6.2L is a powerhouse V8 with its 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque delivering 13,400 pounds max towing capacity. Those who do a lot of camper and UTV trailering will appreciate some of the expanded towing technologies introduced this year, such as the 15 camera views and the Adaptive Cruise Control – Camera offered on the LT, LTZ, and High Country.
Our top pick from the Silverado camp is, by far, the Silverado Realtree Edition. Although technically a 2021 model to be released to dealers this summer, the Realtree Edition pushes all our buttons. It is derived from the Custom Trail Boss and includes, of course, Realtree graphics on the bedsides, hood, and interior door trim. To ensure off-highway performance, this truck comes with a 2-inch factory lift, the Z71 Off-Road Package, and 20-inch black wheels wrapped with Goodyear’s Wrangler Territory MT ON-Off Road tires. Standard is the 5.3L V8 and 6-speed auto but the 6.2L V8 and 10-speed auto is optional. Pricing will be available later in the year.
As for the more diminutive Chevy Colorado, there’s nothing much going on here. This mid-size gets a key fob-operated tailgate lock control and Tire Fill Alert. The base model 4×4 is the extended cab, long box LT at $31,980.
Didn’t get a chance to check out Ford‘s F-150 last year? Not to worry…it’s all the same this year. Yes, there are three new colors offered, a few package option model expansions, and the Ford Co-Pilot360 driver assist technology becomes standard on the Lariat, King Ranch, Platinum, and Limited models, but that’s about it. You’ll find more excitement over on the Super Duty side of the fence.
The 2020 Super Duty gains muscle with the all-new 7.3L V8. With 430 hp and 475 lb-ft of torque, this is a gas-powered beast that won’t hiccup when hauling the big stuff to camp. Should you prefer the Power Stroke diesel, it gets a slight power massage this year with 475 hp and 1,050 lb-ft of torque. Both engines also come with the all-new 10-speed heavy-duty TorqShift automatic transmission.
What really trips our trigger this year is the new Tremor Off-Road Package offered on the Super Duty. This option brings an updated front-end lift, 35-inch Goodyear rubber, custom 1.7-inch piston twin-tube dampers, progressive rate springs, 18-inch wheels, and Trail Control—and a selectable drive mode that includes a rock-crawl setting. All this combines with 10.4 inches of ground clearance and approach/departure angles to negotiate gnarly terrain.
A base 4×4 F-150 begins at $32,485. A base Super Duty XL 4×4 begins at $38,090.