Few people, if any, look at a pickup truck as their next drag car. Straight-line speed isn’t their forte. But there’s been a resurgence of new products in the mid-size truck segment – the Ford Ranger has returned, and Jeep has introduced the Gladiator. They join a growing segment – Chevy Colorado, Nissan Frontier, Toyota Tacoma, and others. The Fast Lane Truck pitted the Gladiator and Ford against the Honda Ridgeline to see which is the quickest.
The Jeep Gladiator sports a 3.6-liter V6 engine that makes 285 horsepower (213 kilowatts) and 265 pound-feet (386 Newton-meters) of torque. Power routes through an eight-speed gearbox. The Honda uses a slightly smaller, less powerful 3.5-liter V6 – 280 hp (209 kW) and 262 lb-ft (380 Nm) of torque paired with a nine-speed automatic. The outlier in the group is the Ford with its turbocharged 2.3X-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 270 hp (201 kW) and 310 lb-ft (366 Nm) of torque. The Ford has a 10-speed gearbox.
The first two races pit the Jeep and Honda against one another. In both races, the Jeep gets an early lead with a noticeable delay in Honda’s start. However, the Ridgeline’s new nine-speed gearbox helps keep the engine in the powerband, passing the Jeep both times for two victories. Next, the crew at The Fast Lane Truck lined up the Honda against the Ranger. The Ranger handily swept both races.
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The Fast Lane Truck team also compared the trio’s fuel economy, which should be more important for potential buyers than a drag race. The Jeep fared the worst, returning 20.6 mpg. The Ford did much better, returning 26.7 mpg, though it wasn’t enough to best the Honda that returned 27.5 mpg. While none of the three will be drag racing superstars anytime soon, it’s always fun to watch how automakers approach the same segment with different ideas and results.