By Joe Bruzek, Cars.com
We tested each truck's acceleration when empty and then with 1,500 pounds in the bed. Although testing was primarily about the fuel economy these trucks achieve, the 2015 Ford F-150 with the EcoBoost 2.7-liter was the hot rod among these competitors. It was nearly as fast as its bigger brother, the EcoBoost 3.5-liter we tested in our Texas Truck Showdown 2016: Max Towing competition.
How They Ran Empty
The F-150 with the EcoBoost 2.7-liter posted a zero-to-60-mph of 6.36 seconds, and it did the quarter-mile in 14.9 seconds at 96.5 mph. The "hot rod" label is right, with this little displacement engine making a stout 325 horsepower and 375 pounds-feet of torque in a truck weighing 480 pounds less than the next-lightest truck in the competition (the 2016 Toyota Tundra weighs 5,160 pounds; the F-150 2.7-liter weighs 4,680 pounds). Unlike the EcoBoost 3.5-liter that overpowered its rear tires, the EcoBoost 2.7-liter left the starting line with much less drama. The secret combo was setting the driving mode to Sport, putting the locking differential on and then building engine speed to about 2,000 rpm against the brakes and letting the truck rip off the line.
In second place for the zero-to-60 run was the 2016 Chevrolet Silverado with its 355 hp and 383 pounds-feet of torque created by its 5.3-liter V-8, which was paired with an all-new eight-speed automatic transmission. The Silverado launched off the line with its steep 4.56:1 1st-gear ratio combined with a 3.42 axle ratio, but its 6.96 seconds to 60 mph wasn't enough to catch the F-150; the Silverado crossed the quarter-mile finish line in 15.3 seconds at 93.3 mph. The Silverado's V-8 always seemed to be in a sweet spot of making power with the closely geared eight-speed, and it made up time in the back half of the track finishing 0.4 seconds behind the F-150 in the quarter-mile, versus 0.6 behind in its zero-to-60 time.
The completely stripped 4.6-liter Tundra work truck did zero-to-60 in 7.70 seconds and the quarter-mile in 16.2 seconds at 88 mph with no drama from the tires; I just mashed the accelerator and went. Chugging along in last was the 2016 Ram EcoDiesel with a zero-to-60 time of 8.90 seconds, and a quarter-mile run in 16.9 seconds at 83.9 mph. The biggest issue with the Ram EcoDiesel was that it was not equipped with Ram's limited-slip differential, so the 3.0-liter's 420 pounds-feet of torque went up in smoke, leaving a single 30-foot-long tire patch from the starting line. Unfortunately, the HFE EcoDiesel trim we tested cannot be equipped with Ram's optional limited-slip differential, though other EcoDiesel trim levels can.
How They Ran Loaded
Finish order was unchanged, even with 1,500 pounds of rock salt bags over the rear axle. We kept the weight even from truck to truck to see how well they each carried a heavy load. Again, the F-150's power-to-weight ratio proved unstoppable. It ran the zero-to-60 in 7.80 seconds and the quarter-mile in 16.1 seconds at 89.5 mph. In fact, it set the pace and was faster than many of the trucks tested in our Max Towing Showdown.
The Ram diesel handled the extra weight exceptionally well, with the least falloff in performance from empty to loaded, losing only 1 second in zero-to-60 (8.9 versus 9.9 seconds) and a scant 0.5 seconds in quarter-mile times (16.9 at 83.9 mph to 17.4 at 79.6 mph). The Silverado's eight-speed transmission gave it a wallop of acceleration from a dead stop, even without a pair of turbochargers or a turbocharged diesel engine under the hood. Smack the accelerator and the engine immediately jumped to 2,000 rpm, accelerating to 20 mph faster than the F-150 (1.5 seconds to 1.58 seconds) before the Ford picked up steam and ran off with the win.
Cars.com photos by Evan Sears and Angela Conners