Here's the offending piece:
So they take the most off-road oriented trucks in Toyota's/Nissan's lineups. Trucks that are lifted, run on off-road ready tires, sport a bunch of off-road parts. Then they compare that to a Colorado Z71 - which is basically just a regular 4WD truck with some bling, running on regular tires, with a regular suspension tune. Much to their surprise, they find that the Chevy gets higher mileage, is quieter, rides more smoothly and handles more competently on the road. And they ascribe all that to the Chevy's superior (and more modern) engineering.
Because hey, we all know that off-road tires don't cause a lot of road noise. Just like it's a well-known fact that off-road suspensions don't compromise on-road ride and handling. And that none of those things affect gas mileage. Heck, that air splitter/front bumper on the Chevy would have to be removed to ever get it anywhere near the approach angle of the other two - but no, that's not a clue that of these three things, one is not like the other.
The intro takes the cake - there, the author very clearly addresses the fact that they were testing these vehicles for average use profiles - regular people who like driving trucks, who once in a while will carry a load or tow a trailer, but who mostly just commute in these things. Which, of course, the Chevy does better - since it's a volume model aimed at just that use case, being compared to two niche models aimed at actual off-roading (and at people who are willing to compromise the everyday usability for the benefit of capability and/or rugged image).
There is not yet an equivalent Colorado/Canyon that fills the same niche as the TRD PRO and Pro 4X (there's been a concept vehicle). In the Tacoma's case, the Z71 could be more accurately compared to a volume model like the SR5, or the Limited (SR5 plus toys) - regular light truck all season tires, regular suspension. That truck would drive very much like my 2012 SR5 - which is a lot more everyday-ready (smoother, quieter - and I suspect a bit more economical) than the off-road model (back then it was the TRD Baja or some such thing - now it's the TRD PRO). That also would have considerably lowered the price.
I test drove a Canyon and compared it to my Tacoma. Nice truck. I was interested in what the platform felt like. Yes, it's a very nice truck. Yes, it's more modern (nicer materials, more refined, etc.) than the Tacoma and Frontier. But it's not nearly the no-brainer Motortrend makes it out to be. Unless you use no-brainer to refer to the apparent lack of thought that went into doing this "review"...