By: Brendan Soriano / May 8, 2023 in Guides
Recent years have shown a massive increase in the off-road performance pickup class, consisting of half-ton chassis stuffed to the gills with beefy forced-induction power plants, off-road tuned suspension, and luxurious amenities previously only available on full-size SUVs and swanky sedans. Models like the RAM TRX, Ford Raptor, and the newly announced Chevrolet ZR2 dominate the high-end half-ton lineup; however, not every consumer needs such an outlandishly impractical (and pricey) pickup.
For most truck owners, adequate power, moderate off-road performance, decent fuel economy, and solid cargo, payload, and towing capacities are more than enough, though rugged aesthetics don’t hurt. That’s where the big three’s mid-tier off-road packages–the Chevy Trail Boss, RAM Rebel, and Ford Tremor–come into play. These models feature aesthetic, suspension, and amenity upgrades that stand out from entry-level 4x4s, filling the void between generic packages and high-end, off-road performance pickups. The results are stylish and capable rides that balance practicality and off-road performance, but which does it best?
In this article, the experts at RealTruck compare the big three’s mid-tier, half-ton off-road packages, contrasting specifications, style, and overall performance. So, which model will come out on top? Read on to find out!
To kick off our comparison, let’s take a look at some side-by-side numbers. While specifications on paper don’t always add up to real-world experiences, they’re a useful jumping-off point.
Check out the table below for some general specifications of the three models!
2023 RAM 1500 Rebel
2023 Chevy Silverado 1500 Trail Boss
2023 Ford F-150 Tremor
Independent Short-Long Arm
5-Link Solid Axle
Leaf-Sprung Solid Axle
Leaf-Sprung Solid Axle
1,579 to 1,798 lbs
1,930 to 1,990 Lbs.
Up to 1,885 Lbs.
7,210 to 7,430 lbs
Up to 9,000 Lbs.
Up to 10,900 Lbs.
Now that we’ve covered which models excel on paper, what about real-world experiences? Let’s take a closer look at how each pickup stacks up.
Credit: Ram Trucks
The RAM 1500 Rebel is a relatively simple package based primarily on aesthetics. The RAM’s trademark chrome grille, bumpers, and fascia are replaced with sleek, matte-black variants. An integrated alloy skid plate provides style and functionality when navigating dense brush, while low-profile flares provide additional tire coverage and a rugged aesthetic.
Underneath the Rebel, a 1-inch factory lift provides clearance for 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac M/T tires wrapped around 18-inch black/milled 6-spoke aluminum wheels. The combo not only looks excellent but drastically improves traction in slippery conditions.
The interior of the Rebel is far sportier than other packages, featuring red trimming and piping throughout in base configurations. The optional leather interior eliminates the red accents for a sleek, monotone black appearance. All basic amenities come factory on the Rebel, including:
Power windows and locks
Manual-adjustable cloth front seats
Dual-zone climate control
Steering wheel controls
Full center console
Leather-wrapped steering wheel
Vinyl/rubber floor mats
Integrated navigation system
Infotainment system with a 6-speaker audio
The Rebel is offered with two different powertrains: the 5.7L HEMI V8 and the 3.6L Pentastar V6, both with E-Torque. While the base V6 produces enough power to get the truck moving, the HEMI’s additional 100+ horsepower and lb/ft of torque make for a far more enjoyable driving experience. Both powerplants are bolted to 8-speed automatic transmissions.
The Trail Boss is Chevy’s answer to the Rebel and Tremor packages, taking a well-spec’d Z71 and adding several stand-out aesthetic and performance features.
Beginning in the looks department, the Trail Boss ditches chrome cladding for stealthy gloss-black bumpers, mirror caps, and grille. Underneath the trail boss, a factory 2-inch suspension lift provides a rugged stance and clearance for LT275/65R18C Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac M/T tires wrapped around glossy-black 18-inch aluminum wheels, similar to the Rebel. Rancho shocks provide solid dampening performance to absorb bumps and dips on highways and rutted fire roads.
The interior of the trail boss is relatively well spec’d in base form; far better than WT trimmings, though generally basic compared to high-end LTZ or High Country models.
Standard equipment includes:
Chevrolet Infotainment 3 system with a 6-speaker audio
10-way power-adjustable cloth driver's seat
Power windows and locks
Keyless entry with remote start
Rubberized vinyl floor mats
Wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto
Under the hood, the base Trail Boss packs GM’s 2.7L Turbo-charged inline 4-cylinder, pumping out a respectable 310 horsepower and 430 lb/ft of torque (more torque than any model’s V8 option). Other available powertrains include the venerable 5.3L EcoTec3 V8 and 3.0L Duramax Inline 6-cylinder Turbo Diesel, both mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission compared to the 4-cylinder’s 8-speed.
The Ford F-150 Tremor is a well-balanced competitor, sporting an upgraded suspension, Tremor-specific exterior trimmings, and performance-oriented powertrains to match!
While less aggressive aesthetically than the other two entries on the list, that’s not inherently bad. Body-matched bumpers and flares bring a sense of class to the model that both the Chevy and RAM lack, while gold accents and “TREMOR” bedside decals set the model apart from other F-150 trims.
Underneath the Tremor are package-specific knuckles, upper control arms, and custom-valved dampers, providing excellent ride quality on and off-road. 18-inch split-spoke aluminum wheels in a sleek, graphite finish are wrapped in 33-inch General Grabber A/T tires, rounding out the package’s exterior.
The interior of the Tremor is loaded with standard features, including:
Color-Coordinated Carpet with Carpeted Floor Mats
Flow-Through Center Console with Stowable Floor Shifter
Dual-Zone Electronic Automatic Temperature Control
8-Inch Productivity Screen
Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking
Intelligent Access with Push-Button Start
Power Door Locks with Flip Key and Keyless Entry
Trailer Reverse Guidance
Auto-dimming rearview mirror
Reverse Sensing System
Six upfitter switches
Sync 4 entertainment system
Under the hood, the Tremor comes standard with Ford’s 5.0L Coyote V8, putting down an impressive 400 horsepower and 410 lb/ft of torque. The 3.5L twin-turbo EcoBoost is optional, and both powerplants are mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission.
So, which model reigns supreme in the mid-tier off-road pickup grudge match?
Beginning with the RAM, the 5-link rear suspension is difficult to beat when it comes to comfort and handling on and off-road. The coil-sprung rear soaks up bumps with ease, making for a comfortable experience whether on the trail or the highway. However, the Rebel does feature limited powertrain options (only naturally-aspirated gas-powered) and the lowest payload and towing capacity of the bunch.
The Silverado is an extremely well-sorted package, offering a 2-inch lift from the factory, rugged aesthetics, and the most expansive powertrain package of the lot with a conventional pushrod V8, turbo-charged 4-cylinder, and inline 6-cylinder turbo diesel. This being said, the leaf-sprung rear will have a hard time keeping up with the Rebel in both comfort and articulation.
Lastly, the F-150 Tremor is a slick, well-rounded package that celebrates sleek styling over rugged attributes. The model’s paint-matched bumpers, grille, and flares make for the sleekest, most luxurious-looking pickup of the three. Custom-tuned Tremor suspension is capable, but like the Silverado, has a tough time staking up to the Rebel’s 5-link rear setup. However, if power is your primary concern, the F-150’s optional 3.5L twin-turbocharged V6 produces a whopping 400 horsepower and 510 lb/ft of torque, significantly outperforming the competition.
When it comes down to it, none of the three models drastically pulls away from the others. All three mid-tier off-road packages are well-equipped and balanced, filling a previously empty hole in the market. While each comes with its unique ups and downs, most consumers will be more than happy to sit behind the wheel of each pickup.
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