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Canadian Truck King Challenge puts 2020 mid-size pick-ups to the test

Results from the annual Canadian Truck King Challenge

April 16, 2020  By Mario Cywinski

The thirteenth edition of the Canadian Truck King Challenge (CTKC) put 2020 mid-size pick-up trucks through their paces.

“The Canadian Truck King Challenge focused on testing the mid-size truck segment this year. As to the why? Well, we look at what’s happening in the truck world and test what Canadian truck buyers are most interested in as each model year rolls out. And, right now, the mid-size segment is exploding,” said Howard Elmer, founder of the CTKC.

Toyota entered two trucks in the challenge, with a 2020 Tacoma TRD Sport, which is more of a truck designed for street driving, and a 2020 Tacoma TRD Pro, which is the models most off-road capable truck. Both trucks were equipped with a 3.5 litre DOHC V-6 w/VVT-I, with the Sport being a six-speed manual, and the Pro a six-speed automatic.

General Motors entered its Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison, the most off-road capable version of the Colorado. It was equipped with a 3.6L V-6 DOHC engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.


Jeep entered two versions of its all-new Gladiator truck. One was the Overland version, and the other was the Rubicon off-road version. Both were equipped with a 3.6L Pentastar VVT V-6 w/Stop-Start mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

CTKC tests the trucks using real-world situations. Trucks are driven empty, with payload (500-pound barrels), and with trailers (4,000-pounds); the way the trucks would be used in the real world. This year, the challenge incorporated an expanded off-road course to test each truck’s off-roading capabilities.

“This ritual of back-to-back driving over the same 20-kilometre test loop is what makes the Truck King Challenge unique,” Elmer said. “This routine gives each judge a chance to ‘feel’ the differences in each truck as they drive over the same course – again and again. Over two very long days we manage to collectively drive over 2,000 kilometres around this course.”

After two days of testing, who was the winner?

The CTKC winner for 2020 was the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison, and it wasn’t that close, as it won by six points over the runner-up Jeep Gladiator Rubicon. For comparison, the other four trucks were separated by a total of 2.5 points.

CTKC, with the help of third-part company, FleetCarma, used data loggers to get real-world fuel economy for all five trucks. A report was created, which showed each trucks’ fuel economy while empty, with payload, and with a trailer.


  • Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison 78.5
  • Jeep Gladiator Rubicon 72.5
  • Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro 71.3
  • Jeep Gladiator Overland 70.4
  • Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 70.0

The Jeep Gladiator Overland had the best fuel economy for empty test loops, the Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport had the best for loops with payload, and the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro won out for towing loops. (One caveat is the loggers did not pick up any data for the Tacoma TRD Sport for towing.) Overall, the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro had the best fuel economy for the competition.

Mario Cywinski is the editor of Machinery and Equipment MRO magazine, a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada, and a judge for Canadian Truck King Challenge.

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