By Joe Bruzek, Cars.com
We observed a sizable spread in the 60-to-zero-mph braking test between the shortest and longest distances for these competitors, which is what we expected given the wide disparity in scaled truck weights. More than 16 feet separated the best from the worst when empty, and almost 18 feet when loaded with 1,500 pounds of rock salt. For this test, rather than using the same percentage of max payload for each truck, we used a standardized amount of weight, and 1,500 pounds seemed like a reasonable amount of weight for a half-ton full-size pickup to carry.
To "whoa" the trucks to a stop, we used the "dynamite" method of emergency braking, where the trucks were brought to a steady 60 mph before stomping on the brake pedal to simulate an emergency braking situation.
How They Stopped Empty
The 2016 Chevrolet Silverado took the least amount of distance to stop, coming down controlled and poised in 136.8 feet from 60 mph. This particular Silverado didn't undulate as aggressively during braking as the Silverado we tested in our Max Towing Showdown; that Chevy sported heavy-duty rear springs and revised shock tuning. Stopping close behind the Silverado was the 2015 Ford F-150 at 140.2 feet, but what was more important was the carlike feel from the Ford's brake pedal. It stopped the half-ton with a confident, linear motion and a refined antilock braking system.
At 5,460 pounds, the 2016 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel took a big leap in braking distances to 147.3 feet, but in the most graceful way possible as the heaviest competitor. The Ram had a firm, responsive brake pedal while the body settled quickly at the end of its emergency stop. Throwing out the hooks on the 2016 Toyota Tundra was really just ugly all around. Its braking distance was the longest at 153.4 feet, and the pedal had a disconnected, play-pedal response while its antilock braking system pulsated through the pedal like one of the early antilock braking systems.
How They Stopped Loaded
The Ram was the only truck above its calculated payload with 1,500 pounds of rock salt bags over the rear axle, and that was by only 15 pounds. The Ford beat the distance set at its empty weight by stopping in 140.1 feet. It's not unusual to observe shorter stopping distances with payload onboard as the payload helps distribute weight more evenly over the rear tires. What did bother us was how the Ford and Ram seemed to have more trouble comfortably carrying the load; they exhibited an unnerving amount of rear sag. Thankfully, the extra rear sag didn't seem to negatively affect our straight-line braking performance. The runner-up to the Ford was the Chevrolet, stopping in 142.9 feet, followed by the Toyota in 153.3 feet (as short as its unloaded braking distance) and then the Ram's 157.7-foot stop.
Cars.com photos by Evan Sears and Angela Conners