What We Learned From Our Work Trucks

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Anytime you put together a pickup truck comparison test, there are always things you can't predict. In the case of our 2017 3/4-Ton Work Truck Challenge, we did a lot of learning on the fly.

As you saw from the overview, the pickups in our Challenge were each a little different. One was a 4x4, one had crank windows, two came without a trailer brake controller, while another lacked a bedliner. That's not so surprising since we rely on the manufacturers to send us what they think will work best for our needs.

We also discovered some interesting details about each player during our track testing day. We know zero-to-60-mph times for these vehicles is not critical. However, the numbers tell us how well the engineers have worked out the gearing, power and transmission shifting — empty and loaded. Loaded braking runs on the track with the 2017 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 led to the discovery that the front of the pickup's bed folded in a way that the others' did not.

Bed-Bending Woes

In the name of full disclosure, we should note that the sand bags we loaded into each truck — each bag weighing about 1,100 pounds — were lifted into and out of the beds with a forklift provided by the track. That allowed us to gently load each massive bag behind the cab, placing it at the front of the bed, literally wedging the bags into the front corners.

Our brake testing procedures are simple. We run a truck up to 60 mph quickly on a closed track, cruise long enough to get to the top gear (in Tow/Haul when loaded) and when our test equipment tells us we've reached 60 mph, our driver stomps on the brakes as you would in a panic-brake situation.

Although we did not strap down the bags of sand in any of the beds, we can say that at no time during this brake test did we experience any of the bags sliding or moving in any of the pickups. We should also note that when we did the preliminary loaded testing with the Chevrolet, we used only two bags of sand rather than three like we used in the other trucks (meaning 2,200 pounds, not 3,300 pounds). That's because we discovered a faulty sensor that prevented the Chevy from being tested for loaded acceleration and braking on the same day as the other trucks. By the time we were able to swap the sensor and test the Silverado HD, we did not have as many sand bags available. Still, after we finished our first brake tests, we noticed the front of the Chevy's bed wall had bent slightly toward the cab — we're guessing it was due to the pressure exerted from the bags of sand during our panic stop.

Additionally, a glitch with our data-logging equipment caused the Chevy's data to be erased before we could download it. As a result, loaded acceleration and braking results were not included in our scoring computations — although we did provide the results in the name of transparency. 

Trailers, But No Towing

Astute readers also might have noticed that we had several photographs (like the one above) of a pair of bumper-pull, dump bed Load Trail trailers in the 2017 3/4-Ton Work Truck Challenge, but we did not do any tow testing. We intended to, but two of the manufacturers provided us with pickups lacking trailer brake controllers. Rather than sending the trucks back or using our limited test time to find compatible aftermarket controllers and wiring, and do the installation, we simply used the trailers as photo props and saved the towing testing for our upcoming 2017 3/4-Ton Premium Truck Challenge.

It's our guess that Ford was worried about losing points on pricing of the 2017 Super Duty F-250 because its brake controller is packaged with several other optional pieces of equipment. Meanwhile, Nissan was unable to send us exactly what we requested, so the 2017 Titan XD we received also lacked a trailer brake controller. It's also interesting to note that, according to their owner's manuals, the Ford and the Chevy do not need a weight-distributing hitch when pulling trailers weighing more than 5,000 pounds, but the 2017 Ram 2500 and Nissan do.

Inviting the New Guy

Finally, for those who couldn't understand why we put something like the Nissan Titan XD into the mix with heavier, stronger and rougher heavy-duty pickups, we thought it made sense to answer the question, "How does it compare?"

We put a Titan XD with a 5.0-liter V-8 Cummins against the V-8 half ton in our Texas Truck Showdown 2016: Max Towing contest, so we thought this was the logical conclusion to that discussion. Love it or hate it, it looks like Nissan has found a way to get into the game, but it does not suffer as many trade-offs as many thought. Unfortunately, in this contest, that did not translate into many category wins for the Titan XD, but it did tell us a lot about how capable and livable the truck can be.

Cars.com photos by Angela Conners

 

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Comments

Love the post writeup. Thanks!

Chevy with their bendy bed due to a bag of sand. You can't make this stuff up!

It's interesting that Chevy had conquered the frame-flex issue in torsion vs the Ford, but the simple back wall of the bed is too weak? Im sure they can fix that quickly, just like the Ford used a higher gauge Aluminum for the bed floor after punctures from the sharp-edged drop test.

===================

BTW Mark - - -

Good article. I appreciate the self-disclosing nature. It honestly shows that not everything always goes just right when doing experimental comparisons like this. A lot of things are "out of your control", but you really must just go on with it anyway to get some good information. Been there....

==================

The irony after GMs marketing campaign to demonstrate the weakness of the aluminum bed. It's not the metal, it's the design.

@PUTC,
I mentioned in the comments on another article, you guys should pick up a Tekonsha Prodigy RF brake controller. It plugs in to the 12v outlet on the truck, and wirelessly controls the brake controller which is mounted on the trailer.

As long as you have a certain trailer that you keep on hand, you can pull it with any truck that has a 12v outlet, no wired-in brake controller is necessary. They are very popular with fleet managers.

So Ram sent what was requested, one with a trailer brake controller, but got ripped for not offering power windows and locks (in a regular cab....)

Not quite sure what you wanted?

Next time you only haul 3300 pounds in Arizona, try without tow haul on.

Did the others lose points for no trailer brake controller?

Oh, but the Ford had low-rolling-resistance tires that get you stuck in the gravel, and the gear ratio that's better for gas mileage.....

Sounds like they didn't intend on it towing anything in the first place....

Priorities, priorities, priorities!

The only thing that Ford did better was a slightly better ride, realistically, after you even everything out.

And we still really don't know how much the Ford would have squatted in a number at 3300 pounds, let alone, 3800.

@NMGOM... It's simple physics.. the other trucks had 3 bags thus not allowing them to move Inside the bed... , The Chevy was lacking that 3rd bag..Allowing the other two bags to slam forward Into the bed...This is extremely simple to figure out... Props to PUTC for disclosing it...

Excuses. Excuses. The Chevy "Superman" steel bed still shouldn't have bended if it was up to snuff and as advertised. Bad job, GM.

@Jason, in case you missed. Each mag was wedged into each front corner of the bed and at no time was there any sliding during the braking test.

Would love to see pics of the bent/warped truck bed.

I was very disappointed in the lack of tow testing. The Nissan and Ford certainly are wired for brake controllers and it wouldn't have seemed too time consuming to connect a couple of aftermarket units. Are you saying that after a decade of truck testing you don't have two brake controllers lying around?

I'm also uncomfortable with the conclusion that the Chevrolet's front bed wall was bent in the braking test. It seems much more probable to me that the fork lift driver got sloppy loading the sand. Alternatively, the bag of sand in the Chevrolet slid into the front bed wall, whether anyone noticed it or not.

The theory that a bag of sand resting against the perfectly straight bedwall caused the steel to bend just from slamming on the brakes is preposterous. It defies logic and physics.

What we learned is Ford still builds junk girly trucks!

Factors contributing the Chevy bed becoming damaged:

1.The smooth finish of the Chevy bed - no friction to hold load in place.
2. Excellent acceleration causing the sand bags to slide rear ward, creating a space between the front bed panel and load.
3. Exceptional brakes creating forces that trust the sand forward into the bed panel and damaging it.

It's the Chevy's ability to create great acceleration, braking and turning forces is why chevy owners always tie down what ever is being hauled.

Who's the real loser in this competition? Toyota.

So maybe the Nissan XD falls a bit short of the Chevy, Ford and Ram HDs. At least they're making an effort. In fact, looking at the NV van series, Nissan is serious about serving the commercial/contractor/ fleet segment. Toyota won't even do that with the Tundra, and it's been on the market long than the Titan. Heck, they won't even bring over the HiAce van stateside.

I don't think Toyota is even trying. Sorry, Toyota fanboys, but Toyota is finished.

So, Chevy, the king of negative advertisement and the producer of ads saying Ford's aluminum beds dent and bend.... well, those Ford beds did not bend but the Chevy's bed did!

Anyone think we'll see this advertised out there? Nah, only GM falls that low to go negative. But you have to understand that when your truck doesn't have anything better than the opposition you have to try talk negative about your superiors. That's also known as an "inferiority complex" and for good reason. I've owned a number of GM trucks but have learned my lesson. Never again. Never.

GM is such a joke. I can't wait for them to go bankrupt again. Never mind, after careful consideration, I don't want my tax dollars going to another bailout.

Lets do 0 60 loaded and trailer. Its a good measure for merging onto busy highways.

Auto cross works good for loaded handling.

Being level when loaded or unloaded affects handling especially when towing.

Can we test 4x4's towing soft dirt when loaded or towing?

@David, unless your a Toyota fan becareful what you ask for. FORD testified if G.M fails so do they.

Seems like none of them, even mid-size offer a tow package as a stand alone option, have to get all the needless junk(at least to me) to get it...

Seems like none of them, even mid-size offer a tow package as a stand alone option, have to get all the needless junk(at least to me) to get it...

I look forward to the 3/4-Ton Premium Truck Challenge and I hope that it includes gas engines so that some of the areas that were missed in this test can be re-done.

This test did NOT seem complete with brands missing. No towing. I do like the fact that RAM came ready to roll out of the box with brute and great value.

2017 Ram 2500 Tradesman 4x2,

" Ram performed the best in our measured testing, taking first place."

"That makes it hard to argue with the Ram's work truck cred."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAp2XF6J6K8

P.S. RAM needs to build my Macho Power Wagon.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXPqUkIgrSE

Might trade my 15 A.E.V. Prospector in on it. lol

Add this one too. RAM Rebel TRX. 100MPH off road.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TEXXWpyI9w

Stop spamming.

What we learned is Ford still builds junk girly trucks!

Posted by: johnny doe | Mar 27, 2017 11:15:51 AM

@GMSUCKS; LOL...nice try, the most important point learnt was shaky GOVT motor's steel beds are weak & bend with only 2 sand bags...talking about karma & a bitch slap in the face....HAHAHAHAH!!!!

GM has always had junk, I remember when tool boxes were cracking the top rail of their trucks. Now acorns are denting the hoods. I imagine that's why their wheelwells are square, trying to get extra strength from the thin sheetmetal. All they can do is try to belittle better built trucks to make their junk seem acceptable. Only works for their fanbois, and they are shrinking.

What was learned is that Ford Enters, Ford Wins! RAM builds a solid truck and that GM can't wait for 2019 to get here quick enough. Of course 2019 is purely speculative, after the current shaking fiasco this should be pretty clear.

Oh I almost forgot about the bending bed issue, ouch that has got to hurt.

@jason - they said that the bags were placed at the front of the box.

"Would love to see pics of the bent/warped truck bed."
---- Posted by: Red | Mar 27, 2017 10:52:34 AM

Go review the acceleration and braking article. A good photo there.

@gms, sorry you have to yet again defend the crappy chevy/gmc twins, not good marketing for them.....

@FXDX: "What was learned is that Ford Enters, Ford Wins!"

Personal opinions will differ. The ONLY thing I like about the Ford is the reverse-opening doors on the extended cab. Through the whole article, I saw nothing that came close to making me want anything to do with it.

In fact, the only one I like of the bunch is the one most here hate (and the fans of it drive me nuts with their memes.) That's the Ram. It, too, has its issues but the one I dislike the most is the conventionally hung half-doors for the extended cab. I simply don't need and don't want a full crew cab version.

Factors contributing the Chevy bed becoming damaged:

1.The smooth finish of the Chevy bed - no friction to hold load in place.
2. Excellent acceleration causing the sand bags to slide rear ward, creating a space between the front bed panel and load.
3. Exceptional brakes creating forces that trust the sand forward into the bed panel and damaging it.

It's the Chevy's ability to create great acceleration, braking and turning forces is why chevy owners always tie down what ever is being hauled.


Posted by: GMSRGREAT | Mar 27, 2017 11:16:04 AM

Oh yea this is a great comment. The chevy had the slowest acceleration empty by a large margin and the worst brakes by a large margin. What do we learn boys and girls. The super slow chevy with the I hope I can stop brakes has the weakest bed and bends during the slowest stops out of all trucks. Way to go chevy, is that going to be in the real
People not actors commercials?


" Ram performed the best in our measured testing, taking first place."

"That makes it hard to argue with the Ram's work truck cred."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAp2XF6J6K8


Posted by: HEMI V8 | Mar 27, 2017 3:26:42 PM

And for the real translation, ram looks great on paper but when it comes to actual testing it can't compete with Ford. Even though the ram had the optional drivetrain and Ford did not send their truck with the same payload spec that is available. Good thing for ram that Ford did not send that truck or else it would really been embarrassing.

@doe's daddy

RAM is the leader here. Best gasoline engine in the class; great torque and towing capacities.

Go to your local RAM dealer and test drive one. More importantly take a long look at the terrific offers they have for leasing a truck.

You might go home with a new one. My neighbor owns a construction company and he just bought a 2017 2500 Crew with the Cummins. He used to be a Ford guy but the F250 Powerstroke 6.0 cured him of that.



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