The Trucks Tested on’s Mountain Bike Adventure

In this adventure selected an eclectic collection of all-new, recently revised and lightly face-lifted vehicles to evaluate on a mountain-biking trip to Santa Cruz, Calif. Each of the vehicles is, in the largest sense, a truck, but that designation is about all they have in common.

The vehicles chosen had a variety of traits to show the range of possibilities for taking a mountain bike-oriented trip to one of the most scenic mountain bike destinations in the country. They all had to offer capabilities that would make them logical candidates for an adventure like this one. They were: GMC Canyon Denali midsize pickup truck, Range Rover Velar luxury midsize SUV, Subaru Ascent midsize crossover SUV and the venerable Toyota Sequoia conventional full-size SUV.

2018 GMC Canyon Denali

The GMC Canyon Denali is a luxury take on a midsize pickup truck. In the Crew Cab configuration, it accommodates up to five passengers. Along with its sister pickup, the Chevrolet Colorado, the Canyon has become a significant competitor to the segment-leading Toyota Tacoma. Its cabin is cramped for five adults, but it offers plenty of power and cargo space for a bike vacation.

The Canyon was last redesigned for the 2015 model year. Pickup trucks have extremely long model lives, so the Canyon is expected to remain in the current form for several more model years. A few appearance changes are expected for 2020. The Colorado shares its platform and powertrain choices with the Chevrolet Colorado.

Standard infotainment system in the Canyon is a 7-inch diagonal color touchscreen AM/FM stereo with Bluetooth streaming and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability. The available SiriusXM satellite radio requires a subscription while the optional rolling Wi-Fi hotspot requires a data plan.

The Canyon’s standard safety equipment includes six air bags, electronic stability control with rollover mitigation technology, trailer sway control and hill-start assist. Forward-collision alert and lane-departure warning are available on some trim levels. Rear-vision camera is standard across the line, and rear park assist is standard on some trim levels and optional on others.

Pricing for the 2018 GMC Canyon starts at $22,095 including a $995 destination charge. The vehicle tested cost a much steeper $45,935 in Denali trim including the destination charge. estimates a typical transaction price for the vehicle we drove is about $42,000.

As Tested

GMC lent a Canyon Denali with four-wheel drive. It is powered by a 3.6-liter V6 engine with 308 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque. The four-wheel drive powertrain is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

GMC has had significant success with its top-of-the-line Denali trim level. With features like 20-inch chrome wheels, distinctive grille and chrome steps, the Denali offers a distinct look.

The test vehicle had the otherwise optional automated safety features, including forward-collision alert and lane-departure warning.

The Canyon Denali (as tested) is rated by the Environmental Protection Agency at 17 mpg in city driving, 24 mpg on the highway and 19 mpg overall. It has a 21-gallon fuel tank, giving it an EPA-estimated range of about 399 miles.

2019 Subaru Ascent

The Subaru Ascent is the all-new three-row crossover SUV from one of the fastest-growing vehicle brands in America. Given the Ascent’s capabilities, including its trademark Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive, it seems well-suited to a mountain bike-oriented vacation.

The Ascent is the largest Subaru ever with choice of seven- or eight-passenger seating accommodations. It is a conventional crossover based on a car-like chassis. The design goals were excellent interior comfort, easy passenger access and substantial cargo capacity.

All Ascent trim levels have Subaru’s EyeSight Driver Assist Technology, which includes automatic pre-collision braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure and sway warning, and pre-collision throttle management.

The 2018 Subaru Ascent price starts at $32,970 including a $975 destination charge. As configured, the sticker price of the Ascent Limited version we tested is $42,920 including the destination charge. estimates a typical transaction price is about $40,000.

As Tested

Subaru lent the eight-passenger Subaru Ascent Limited. Power comes from a new turbocharged 260-horsepower horizontally opposed 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. It uses a continuously variable transmission (CVT) with a simulated eight-speed manual mode.

The Ascent’s comprehensive suite of electronic driving aids includes active torque vectoring and adaptive cruise control, which allows the vehicle to automatically slow and speed up to keep pace with traffic, along with lane-keeping assist. High-beam assist automatically activates and deactivates the high beams when the system detects a vehicle ahead. The Ascent’s reverse automatic braking applies the vehicle’s brakes if an obstacle is detected while in reverse.

The Subaru Ascent has an 8-inch high-resolution display screen that features full navigation plus smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Aha and Pandora. It has Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity and audio streaming, rear-vision camera and SiriusXM.

The Subaru Ascent Limited is rated by the Environmental Protection Agency at 20 mpg in city driving, 26 mpg on the highway and 22 mpg overall. It has a 19.3-gallon fuel tank, giving it a range of about 425 miles.

2018 Toyota Sequoia

The Toyota Sequoia is a full-size eight-passenger SUV. We selected the Sequoia to complement the other vehicles included in this drive by giving us a traditional SUV perspective. It offers an interesting contrast to crossovers like the Subaru Ascent that also offer eight-passenger seating.

This version of the Sequoia was introduced in 2008 and received a very significant upgrade for the 2018 model year. It is the second generation of the vehicle. Conventional truck-based SUVs like the Sequoia typically have lengthy model cycles. A completely new version won’t be introduced until 2020 or later. The Toyota brand is known for its wide variety of well-built, long-lasting cars, trucks and SUVs. The Sequoia fits into the brand’s overall mission of providing a vehicle in virtually every non-luxury segment.

As Tested

Toyota lent a Toyota Sequoia 4×4 TRD Sport. (TRD stands for Toyota Racing Development, the competition arm of the company responsible for its off-road racing.) It’s powered by a 5.7-liter V8 engine with 361 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque. It is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The four-wheel drive system includes a locking center differential.

Toyota’s advanced safety technology package — Toyota SafetySense — comes standard across the Sequoia line. This advanced active safety suite bundles the pre-collision system with pedestrian detection and automatic braking, lane-departure alert with sway warning system, dynamic radar cruise control with full-stop technology and automatic high beams. The Sequoia also has standard blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert.

Sequoia pricing starts at $49,895 including $1,295 destination charge. As configured, the Toyota Sequoia TRD Sport’s sticker is $55,535 including the destination charge. estimates the average transaction price is $52,000.

The Sequoia TRD Sport is rated by the Environmental Protection Agency at 13 mpg in city driving, 17 mpg on the highway and 14 mpg overall. It has a 26.4-gallon fuel tank and a range of about 370 miles.

2018 Range Rover Velar S

Slotted between the Range Rover Evoque and Range Rover Sport, the five-passenger Range Rover Velar brings all-terrain capability to the premium midsize SUV segment. Land Rover Chief Design Officer Gerry McGovern said, “We call the Velar the avant-garde Range Rover.” selected the Velar for its innovative take on what an off-road truck could be.

The Velar is all new for 2018. It uses Jaguar Land Rover’s Lightweight Aluminum Architecture. Its relatively long 113.15-inch wheelbase, taut 188.9-inch overall length and large alloy wheels (up to 22 inches) contributes significantly to both its forward-looking design and spacious interior. It has a coefficient of drag of 0.32, making it the most aerodynamically efficient Land Rover vehicle.

The Range Rover brand is well-known for its off-road prowess, but the Velar is equally a road vehicle. It has a sophisticated all-wheel drive system, available four-corner air suspension and a maximum ground clearance of 9.9 inches. Traction technologies include terrain response and active rear locking differential.

Three engines are offered: 180-horsepower four-cylinder diesel, 247-horsepower four-cylinder gasoline and a 380-horsepower supercharged gasoline-fueled V6. The two four-cylinder engines are from Jaguar Land Rover’s Ingenium modular engine family.

As Tested

Land Rover lent a Range Rover Velar S. All-wheel drive and terrain response system are standard. The test vehicle is powered by a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 engine with 380 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. It is mated to a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission.

A suite of available driver-assistance systems includes autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control with traffic-jam assist and an adaptive speed limiter that allows the driver to set the maximum speed.

Range Rover Velar pricing starts at $50,895 including a $995 destination charge. As configured for the test, the Velar S has a sticker of $69,461 including the destination charge. estimates the average transaction price for a Velar in this trim is $65,000.

The Range Rover Velar S with the supercharged V6 engine is rated by the Environmental Protection Agency at 18 mpg in city driving, 24 mpg on the highway and 20 mpg overall. It has a 16.6-gallon fuel tank and a range of about 332 miles.