Texas Truck Showdown 2016: Our Half-Ton Max-Towing Contest

Ford F150 Towing lead II

Not long ago we promised to get all the half-ton pickup trucks together for a max-tow competition, and it's almost here.

For this contest we gathered model-year 2016 4x2 crew-cab half-ton pickups, each equipped with their best maximum towing package, and put them in a towing-biased head-to-head competition just outside of Houston. We pulled trailers, we ran at and above full payload, we did fuel-economy testing with 10,000-pound trailers, and we let our truck-loving judges dig through each pickup with a magnifying glass and micrometer.

We collected as much data as possible and will deliver all the numbers and our impressions on Monday. As you might expect, quite a few unexpected things happened. Here are our Texas Truck Showdown 2016: MaxTowing players:

  • 2016 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LTZ (5.3-liter V-8, eight-speed transmission)
  • 2016 Ford F-150 Lariat (3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost, six-speed transmission)
  • 2016 GMC Sierra 1500 SLT (6.2-liter V-8, eight-speed transmission)
  • 2016 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn (5.7-liter V-8, eight-speed transmission)
  • 2016 Toyota Tundra 1794 Edition (5.7-liter V-8, six-speed transmission)

Cars.com photos by Evan Sears

 

GMC Sierra burnout II

 

Comments

Because its a 4x2 test, I think its worthless

I'm glad its a 4X2 test, more of them sold than 4X4's.

Interesting, I wonder if there is data on that? For this test, I think the difference in weight is around 300 pounds between the 2, that can add alot to the payload in these trucks when speaking towing language, so hopefully this test mentions a thousand times that its is 4x2 only so people dont go out and think they can tow anything......also PUTC it would be nice to see as part of these tests with max tow, to actually tow them for 8-10 hours straight and see how things go, in my experience half tons did fine with 3-5k pound trailers but its a different story when you tow long distance and start looking at tranny temps, oil temps, things like that, then you realize a half ton is not all its cracked up to be....

Getting popcorn for this one...

Very happy to see the GM 5.3 in this test. It seems to be skipped in favor of the 6.2 recently.

@ Nitro my 2010 Dbl cab 5.7L Tundra 4x4 towed about 9000 lbs from denver to phx at 75-90 the whole way and handled it with ease. That is a 13-14 hr drive in the heat of summer, ac blowing snow. The tundra has the best AC ! Only got like 9mpg going those speeds but it towed like a champ with no issues or trailer brakes. Had a controller but didnt work correctly most of the time and the brakes are oversized for the truck, so no issues. that truck had a 4.30 rear end though, but i had 305-70-17 tires, up from the stock 285s so with that larger tire, meant my rear end was now like a 4.10. My opinion is, the Tundra is the heaviest duty half ton truck built for work and the most dependable. THough i just switched to a 2016 F150 to get a supercrew with a 6.5 ft bed, which i cannot get in a tundra. Hopefully this F150 will be as dependable and reliable, loving it so far (1 week) and the better mpgs, got the 3.5 twin turbo, cant stand saying ecobust, reminds me to remove that emblem

X2

I'm also happy to see a 5.3.

And what about the new 2016 Titan XD with the Cummins??

I would like to see how the Ram diesel does in this test. Why was it not included?

FJC the Titan is rated more then a 1/2 ton, less emmisions requirements and they do not have to post the MPG...

should have waited to get the Ram Hellcat,,, 705 hp.....

The Titan XD NP 1500 should be in the test as well.
that 1/2 ton can tow haul 12 ,312 lbs with the ease of a Diesel and the weight of 7,000 lbs to keep it all stable with no fuss.

The eco diesel wasn't in the test because they wanted the heaviest packages available. It doesn't cut it with the bigger gassers unfortunately.

I hope they do another work truck shootout here soon.

@CMON, I understand that, but did you take note to the gauges? Tranny temp, engine and so on? They all seem to tow good, but I always took note of that, in my last truck a Ram 1500 after 6 hours of driving my tranny temp was at 265F, oil breaks down before that mark, so the first 2 years of long distance towing with it no issues then BAM, bye bye tranny....

Tundra's 10 year old drivetrain against the newest offerings. Should be good.

Tundra's 10 year old drivetrain against the newest offerings. Should be good.

Maybe the ecodiesel and 2.7L ecoboost were underrated to tow 10k?

And why not have a real, higher profile trailer that makes engines work at highway speeds? Some bloggers tested the XD with a grossly oversized gooseneck trailer that added so much weight the XD's tow specs were maxed with a couple loaded ATVs. And again, low profile is low aerodynamic drag so the engine isn't working as much freeway speeds.

My guess is the GMC comes out easily on top. I've heard wonderful things about the 6.2, but when I was shopping for trucks I didn't even drive it because it was something like $5,000 more than the other trucks I was looking at. I ended up not buying new anyways, but my dad came to basically the same conclusion when he bought his ecoboost. He didn't even drive the 6.2 when he saw how expensive it was and was totally unimpressed with the 5.3.

I'm very disappointed there's no titan XD. Seems ridiculous to me that they wouldn't include the titan. My guess is nissan strongly discouraged it. And also glad to see the 5.3. No point in testing a chevy and gmc in the same test with the same exact drivetrain.

@beebe - I was looking at a graph of the torque curves of the 6.2 and 5.3 and they were virtually identical until you got into the higher rpm. I was surprised by that.

@ken - The Titan XD comes with a gooseneck/5th wheel option. So it is fair to test it with one. The problem with the Titan XD is poor cargo ratings. 1500-2000 lbs is not enough if one is going to tow around the truck's maximum ratings.

Even if one uses a bumper pull trailer, a 10k trailer will put 1000 lbs on the truck. The full bling XD 4x4 has 1500 lbs of capacity. That leaved 500 lbs. That means a family of 4 can go on board but any odds and ends will have to go in the trailer.
Who buys a plain jane fleet queen stripped out model for family or recreational use?

The Ford 3.5TT will crush it.

nitro - I agree that if one is towing heavy for long periods of time a HD should be the preferred option. I do see some people towing 10k trailers behind 1/2 ton pickups but most are in the 5k range.
Last year I was blown away by seeing a guy with a Harley F150 with 22 inch wheels pulling a 33 ft 10k camper trailer. The box was completely full of gear and a family of 4 in the truck. Sure the 6.2 will pull it but the suspension and the tires aren't up to the task.

That is what scares me about all of this max tow bullsh!t between Ford, GM, and Ram. Non truck guy morons buy into it and assume it applies to every truck in the line. Salesmen on the car lots and RV lots play stupid and sell the buyer what ever they want.

The opposite end of the spectrum is HD pickup buyers towing 5-10 k trailers. These trailers don't put much stress on any current HD diesel so the driver rolls along just like they are empty. I've seen them pass and zip in and out of traffic oblivious to the trailer behind.

Can't wait for XD to be tested against either Half Tons for 3/4 Tons. But this is fun

Can't wait for XD to be tested against either Half Tons for 3/4 Tons. But this is fun

Two of my colleagues bought f-150 eco-boosts with max trailer packages. They were bragging about how great a truck they had until it came to actually pull the 10000 lbs trailers they latter purchased. One of the 2 has since moved on to a Ram 2500 Cummins. The other complains about how he feels he is getting pulled around more by the trailer. Bottom line, these f-150's (half tons in general) are too light to be pulling 10-12000 lbs trailers. Hey, but Ford markets the lighter weight truck as being able to pull 12200 lbs. That is ludicrous!

Now that you have run all the tests, it is the 6.2 8 speed GM for the win!

GMSRGREAT The new Ford is barely lighter than the GM trucks making your point rather moot.

Bottom line, these f-150's (half tons in general) are too light to be pulling 10-12000 lbs trailers. Hey, but Ford markets the lighter weight truck as being able to pull 12200 lbs. That is ludicrous!


Posted by: GMSRGREAT | Jan 22, 2016 11:27:01 AM

What is more ludicrous is some GM fanbot talking garbage about the light F150 pulling this weight when her favorite brand is the same weight and rated for the same towing. Sometimes people are to stupid to figure out their own ignorance.

GMSRGREAT - really? I know a guy with a 10k trailer. He used to tow all of the time but now that his family is grown he goes out occasionally. He downsized from a Ram 3500 to an EB 3.5 Platinum 4x4 with max tow.
He loves it. It is much cheaper to run than his Ram day to day and he says has no problems with a 10 k trailer. He says empty mpg is great but towing mpg is about 1/2 of what the Ram was loaded. i.e. about 6-8 mpg. Empty he drives cautiously and gets 25 mpg highway. His highway mpg is better than mine by 4.6 mpg. (That is if I drive carefully and stick to 60 mph speed limit).

I do think that the Titan XD should have been included.

Why wasn't it?

Maybe that was a surprise bot PUTC and Nissan did not want to talk about!

@Jack - agreed. I've always hated most shootouts because they always feature the top engine which often is not the volume seller.
I rarely ever see GM's with the 6.2. GM's bread and butter is the 5.3.
Ford has a close sales ratio betweeen 5.0 and EB3.5.
Ram is mostly 5.7 but I do see some Ecodiesels and surprisingly quite a few Pentastar V6's.

Shootouts should include all of the engines in a line up. I'd want to know how big an advantage the 6.2 has over the 5.3 or the EB3.5 over the 5.0 not whether or not a Chevy 6.2 or EB3.5 is the top dog (or Ram or Tundra or Titan)

Agreed Lou, would have liked to see the Titan in the mix. A 5.0L for sure and an EcoFiat if it was rated that high. But I'm sure they are at the mercy of the manufactures on what they can get.

I hope that, when we compare we use the same weight trailer for all competitors and not vary the weight we tow, which would make comparisons impossible.

I am very much looking forward to seeing the results.

It's a shame the ford 5.0 V8 isn't in this test. It's just as good of a motor as the Ecoboost and more reliable.

I really like the fact we get to see the GM 5.3 vs 6.2 face off.

Excited!

@ cmon -- my 2010 Dbl cab 5.7L Tundra 4x4 towed about 9000 lbs from denver to phx at 75-90 the whole way and handled it with ease. That is a 13-14 hr drive in the heat of summer, ac blowing snow. The tundra has the best AC ! Only got like 9mpg going those speeds but it towed like a champ with no issues or trailer brakes ----- You drive at 90 mph with 9000 lbs behind and NO TRAILER BRAKES???? WTF Not to bright are you?? Hope I never met you on the road.

@Lou_BC, couldnt agree more on that note, my current TT is 38' long and weighs 9900lbs dry, my diesel has no issues towing for 14 hours straight.....but too many people go by the salesman, or if anyone ever goes to the biggest camper show ever in Harrisburg pa, many large campers had a picture of the new f-150(you know the number 1 selling brand truck for 39 years), on the doors stating that truck can tow that camper, got in a good argument with one of the salesman who has no clue, hahaha

Perhaps the Titan XD wasn't included because it wasn't available.
OOOOR It wasn't included because it has a 9k GVW.
I did a little looking the other day- comparing the Titan XD to an F150 w/ max tow option and GM and Ram 2500s. trim package equal, the HDs cost 6-8 grand more with their diesel options. The F150 is about 2 grand less, or the same of you opt for the 7700# package. The XD weighs as much as a duramax equipped truck (OUF!)
All this is based on 2nd lowest trim- simple, but not sparse.
The Titan XD and a gasser GM2500 cost about the same.

I thought the 5.0 F150 was the max tow option?

Nissan's game plan to build a truck that's as heavy as HD without HD capabilities is puzzling. Trying to keep this truck legal with a gooseneck will be fairly sketchy and TFL proved it with their own test.

There's no way the XD catches on with the masses. The regular Titan will likely have the same payload capabilites and slightly less towing ability. The 5.0 isn't blowing minds either. Drop 500lbs or even better 1000lbs and they have a home run along with a true "in between" truck.

I know what they're trying to do but the XD is simply a barely adequately powered and under capacity HD. Another fellow in a different thread mentioned they should put a full floater under it and call it an HD. Makes sense.

@magnum74- the NV3500 van uses the same rear axle, but in a 8-lug pattern. That van gets a 9900# GVW instead of the 8900# for the Titan XD. I doubt wheel studs are the problem, as Sprinters use only 5 for even higher GVWs.

@Lou_BC: 25 miles per gallon, I'm assuming your using the imperial gallon.

It's good to see all the "tow experts" posting again.

How many people do you think have ever towed 10 000lbs?

At least the test is using the same weight on each vehicle.

I would also like to see a more realistic weight towed of around 5k - 6k.

My view is if you are going to tow 5 tons, yes 5 tons why would you use a 1/2 ton? That's is too much for such a light vehicle.

To the guy that claims to have towed 9 000lbs from Denver to Phoenix at 80 - 90mph.

How stupid are you?

In regards to the XD Titan, I do believe it will be a far better tow vehicle than any current half ton pickup.

I would think the GMC will be the better of the tow vehicles.

It will be quite interesting to see how much fuel the 3.5 EcoThirst uses during testing as well.

The 3.5 EcoThirst was actually a "replacement" for the 6 litre class V8s. One would assume the 2.7 EcoThirst is a 5 litre replacement.

The Coyote is the Modular V8 replacement and was supposed to be able to challenge the 6 litre class V8s as well in the horsepower department.

I thought the 5.0 F150 was the max tow option?


Posted by: Grnzel1 | Jan 22, 2016 12:46:31 PM

No but it is close. The 5.0L is roughly 1000lbs less than the 3.5LGTDI option.

It will be quite interesting to see how much fuel the 3.5 EcoThirst uses during testing as well.

The 3.5 EcoThirst was actually a "replacement" for the 6 litre class V8s. One would assume the 2.7 EcoThirst is a 5 litre replacement.

The Coyote is the Modular V8 replacement and was supposed to be able to challenge the 6 litre class V8s as well in the horsepower department.


Posted by: Big Al from Oz | Jan 22, 2016 1:43:46 PM

We will see but based on past reporting on this site the 3.5L was better than the GM 6.2L towing. But that was a 7500 lb trailer.

Lou, I do believe these max tow figures are inflated by a long margin.

What many of the commenters and judging by their comments tow experts don't realise is the drivetrain on these pickups wouldn't last the warranty if the vehicle is used continuously to move such large loads.

If you require a real truck for work, then buy one.

LAMO,
Again you are thinking bigger numbers equate to best in class.

I'd say the heavier GMC will be a better tow vehicle.

The numbers mean diddly squat. So what if it can accelerate quicker. I doubt it will return the same FE as the 6.2.

@Big Al

You'd be surprised at how well a 1/2 ton will hold up if you use your brain when towing and maintain the vehicle.

Of course, a 1/2 ton towing 8K + isn't going to last as long if you jump on interstate and set the cruise @ 75 mph or slam on the brakes at a red light. However, if you take it easy, use momentum, anticipate red lights and so on, these loads won't really hurt these trucks.

Of course there is the exception for those living in the mountains climbing 10,000 everyday.

It would be interesting to see diesel towing comparatives. The mid-size GM pickups vs EcoDiesel. Another one of the XD and 250/2500's. Finally, a RAM 3500 vs Ford 450.

@Jack you might be missing Al's point. Use the right tool for the job.

Your half ton truck can accelerate to highway speeds pulling a big load--we get that.

How do you make it stop? The OEM tires and brakes are not designed for the circumstances people are discussing here.

You need a dedicated tow rig if you do that much heavy hauling.



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