Which unibody pickup truck is the off-road ruler?

When it comes to off-roading, there’s no surprise that pickup trucks are popular. But when we think of an off-road pickup truck, body-on-frame beasts like the Toyota Tacoma or the Jeep Gladiator come to mind. So what about the more car-like options such as the Ford Maverick, Hyundai Santa Cruz, or Honda Ridgeline? Which unibody pickup truck is the off-road ruler?

The 2021 Honda Ridgeline in a field driving off-road
Consumer Reports: 2021 Honda Ridgeline | Honda

The Honda Ridgeline and the Ford Maverick both have off-road packages with upgrades

The 2022 Ford Maverick family parked near an off-road trail
The 2022 Ford Maverick | Ford

The 2022 Ford Maverick offers a designated off-road package called the FX4. This adds protective skid plates, tow hooks for recovery, and all-terrain tires. This is model also has a higher ground clearance than the base model, which we’ll get into below.

Honda’s all-new 2021 Ridgeline offers the HPD package, but this adds stylistic elements like fender flares, decals, and upgraded wheels for $2,800. It’s not an off-road package. That said, the Honda Ridgeline is intended to act as a toy hauler. Bring your Honda CRF dirtbike, or Falcon UTV along and you probably won’t need a gnarly off-road pickup. 

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz has the option for all-wheel drive. It also had good ground clearance. However, there isn’t a designated off-road package for this truck 

Off-road pickup truck specs reveal some interesting conclusions

A silver 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz parked on asphalt in a desert with mountains in the distance
2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz | Hyundai Motor America

The Hyundai Santa Cruise looks like it’s ready for adventure from its cactus gray color option to its utilitarian design. But what are the off-road pickup truck specs for this unibody truck? According to MotorTrend, the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz gives drivers 8.6 inches of ground clearance. It also offers the option for all-wheel drive. 

According to TheCarConnection, the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz has a “breakover angle of 18.6 degrees and approach and departure angles of 17.5 and 23.2 degrees, respectively.” This unibody pickup  truck will be able to handle some off-road travel. But nothing too gnarly without some modification.

Is the 2022 Ford Maverick a better off-roader?   

When we look at the numbers, the Ford Maverick appears to be the better option for off-roading. The Maverick in its front-wheel drive version has 8.3 inches of ground clearance. Equipped with all-wheel drive, that number grows to 8.6 inches.

In terms of the approach, breakover, and departure angles, a front-wheel-drive Maverick offers 20.6 degrees, 16.6 degrees, and 21.9 degrees, respectively. With all-wheel drive, Ford’s unibody pickup raises those to 21.6, 18.1, and 21.2 degrees.

The 2021 Honda Ridgeline is pretty tame on paper

The 2021 Honda Ridgeline, on the other hand, has 7.6 inches of ground clearance. The approach, breakover, and departure angles are 20.4, 19.6, and 19.6 degrees respectively. On paper, this truck comes in behind both of the other unibody options.

That said, this truck has a bed that’s a foot longer when dropped down. In addition, the 2021 Honda Ridgeline comes standard with all-wheel drive. 

Which unibody truck is the off-road ruler? 

2022 Ford Maverick Hybrid XLT and 2L-EcoBoost AWD Lariat pickup truck pair parked with a skyline view.
The 2022 Ford Maverick lineup | Ford

The 2022 Ford Maverick, by the numbers, is better equipped for off-road romping. Especially if the FX4 package is included. But all of these trucks serve the purpose they are meant to serve. 

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is an urban ute that’s ready for some weekend adventure. Then there’s the Honda Ridgeline that gives you comfortable all-wheel drive capability to get to basecamp and then take your real off-roading toys out on the trails. The 2022 Ford Maverick is poised to dominate other vehicles in terms of sheer versatility. So it’s not exactly shocking that the off-road pickup truck specs favor the Ford.

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