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.
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