It’s that time of year again: time to crown our 2020 Pickup Truck of the Year. The journey that embarks on the following pages is the culmination of hundreds of hours of hard work that encompasses several months. The days spent testing are long and nights often seem longer. We are up before sunrise and work until the last light leaves us and sometimes into the dark. Our crew is forced to work tirelessly in the harshest conditions Mother Nature can dish out. Nothing can weaken our resolve.
When the name of your vehicle starts with the word “Alpha”, you better have something unique that helps creates a trend or at least something better than most. Josh Burnett succeeded with his 2017 Ford F-450 Platinum dually in both of those categories. Josh grew up in East Texas and custom trucks were just a way of life. The first time he remembers seeing a custom truck was at the age of ten, “I remember my family friend Shawn Hickey coming by my house with his custom Ford truck,” Josh tells Truckin, “I don’t even know why, I just know he stopped by, and I was mesmerized.”
Growing up in a very low-income area, Josh couldn’t afford a truck to drive and call his own, so he learned what he could about trucks and began building them for other people to earn money. At fifteen, Josh purchased his first truck, a DodgeRam that was a “piece of junk.” He continued learning more about custom trucks and building them for all his friends. Josh eventually went through about sixty different vehicles before walking into the dealership in Decatur, Texas, and purchasing his 2017 Ford F-450.
In the past, Josh had been commissioned to build trucks for the SEMA show, but as luck would have it, the trucks weren’t able to make it. Once he got his new Ford Platinum home, he decided to guarantee this build would make that long trip. Josh started to search around for companies to help with the build or add him to their booth. The first company to take interest was American Force Wheels out of Miami, Florida. A set of 28-inch American Force Fury were chosen out of their newest catalog by Josh to outfit the rig.
He enlisted Stephen Bayles from B&C Off-Road in Pasadena, Texas, to handle all the heavy work of lifting the brand-new F-450. Fury Off-Road Tires got on board and the tires were sent to Josh, but they didn’t work on the wheels he had purchased. This was the very first Ford F-450 that was lifted with 28-inch wheels and it came with quite a bit of trial and error. Josh used B&C Off-Road as a hub for all the parts to arrive. The hard-working crew there added every piece that arrived including the Fusion Bumpers and the Gravel Empire Grille. The process took five grueling weeks of nonstop work to get the brand-new Ford Platinum where he felt it should be. The crew turned over a finished product to Josh just hours before the transport was set to pick it up.
Much will be written about the Tesla Cybertruck, but we wanted to focus like a laser here, specifically regarding its off-roading credibility. Much of what we know so far is admittedly superficial, and plenty of time will be needed behind the wheel to really know how this truck performs.
With that said, at first glance, we’re optimistic.
First off, we like that Musk has gone on record stating base price Cybertrucks will cost around $50,000. Certainly, that’s not cheap, but it could be much worse (it’s also bang-on the median transaction price for a full-size pickup). Our first look at the truck spotted there are appropriately sized 35×12.50 all-terrain tires under the fenderwells—certainly a good first step toward solid off-road capability. That puts the new truck in the same ballpark as Ford Raptor, Ram Power Wagon, and Jeep Gladiator Rubicon—all good and credible rivals.
Although we don’t know all the details and capabilities of the four-corner air suspension, we do know it has massive amounts of tire travel (possibly as much as 14 inches from full droop to full compression), with up to 6 inches of air-ride adjustability—from kneel to full 4×4 extension. Depending on how well the engine and traction control software is tuned, this could be more impressive than anything we’ve seen in a long time. In many ways, we’re reminded of the long-gone military-styled Hummer H1, with its impressive wide-body stance, heavy-duty construction, and form-over-function styling. (Still, we’d love to see the Cybertruck get a central tire inflation system.)