2017 3/4-Ton Premium Truck Challenge: Track Testing

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By Joe Bruzek

Accelerating 8,000 pounds to 60 mph in just more than 7 seconds takes an enormous amount of grunt. The 900-plus pounds-feet of torque that moved two of the trucks in our 2017 3/4-Ton Premium Truck Challenge so quickly would twist any ordinary sedan into a pretzel-shaped hunk of metal. After a day of testing at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Ariz., here's what we discovered about our contestants.

Accelerating/Braking While Empty

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The 2017 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 LTZ Midnight Edition with the 6.6-liter V-8 Duramax diesel making 445 horsepower and 910 pounds-feet of torque crossed the finish line first in our acceleration testing — empty and loaded with 2,200 pounds of payload — during the zero-to-60-mph sprint and in the quarter-mile.

It was a close battle between the Chevrolet and the 2017 Ford Super Duty F-250 King Ranch with the 6.7-liter V-8 Power Stroke diesel, though the Chevrolet edged out the Ford in straight-line acceleration by about a half-second, which is significant. All trucks were equipped with their shortest axle ratios: 3.73 for the Chevrolet, 3.55 for the Ford, 3.92 for the 2017 Nissan XD Platinum Reserve with the 5.0-liter V-8 diesel and 3.42 for the 2017 Ram 2500 Laramie Longhorn with the 6.7-liter inline-six-cylinder diesel.

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The Chevrolet pinned us to the seat during wide-open throttle runs from a stop where it hit 60 mph in 7.28 seconds and did the quarter-mile in 15.34 seconds at 91.2 mph. The Ford trailed at 7.91 seconds to 60 mph and 15.81 seconds at 90.5 mph in the quarter-mile, but that doesn't tell the whole story. On the road, the Ford had a more potent mid-range punch that made it feel faster in everyday driving. The Chevrolet was strong and put more power and torque to the ground, but it needed to be cracked wide open, whereas the Ford's 6.7-liter was punchier around town and quicker to come up on boost and get moving.

You may have read that Ram's heavy-duty Cummins makes 900 pounds-feet of torque. That's only in the 3500, however. The 2500 we tested is only rated at a paltry 800 pounds-feet, which I say somewhat sarcastically because it's still 800 freaking pounds-feet — but that is 110 and 125 pounds-feet of torque less than the Chevrolet and Ford, respectively. The Ram weighed roughly the same as the Chevrolet and the Ford, so it had a noticeable lack of oomph compared with the others, excluding the Nissan, which lacked the oomph of a Toyota Camry. The Ram was pokey off the line before coming on strong and hitting 60 mph in 8.26 seconds and the quarter-mile in 16.11 seconds at 86.4 mph.

Nowhere was the Nissan's straddling of the light- and heavy-duty classes more apparent than in acceleration. Having 370 pounds-feet less torque than the Ford put the Nissan at a significant disadvantage because it weighed 7,680 pounds compared with 8,000 pounds for the Chevrolet, 8,040 pounds for the Ram and 8,100 pounds for the Ford. It wasn't light enough to make up an almost 400 pounds-feet of torque disadvantage. Sixty mph happened in 9.67 seconds and the quarter-mile in 17.11 seconds at 82.1 mph. Not only was the Nissan diesel outright slow, but the engine felt extremely restrained, and it wasn't responsive on the street either.

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When it came time to stopping these beasts, however, the Nissan stepped into the spotlight. It hauled down from 60 mph with quickness and precision while empty, stopping in the shortest distance and with the most control at 143.1 feet. The Ram stopped in the second shortest distance at 146.5 feet, but didn't do so without drama. During our braking tests, which are reflective of emergency braking, the Ram's front axle hopped and sent the steering wheel into a tizzy shaking back and forth. The short distance was there, but it was not comfortable.

Next was the Chevrolet, which stopped smoothly as far as brake pedal linearity goes, although its distance of 148.4 feet was on the long side. We think the knobby off-road tires that came with the Midnight Edition kept it from stopping better. The Ford took the most distance to stop and, like the Ram, exhibited traits of a live front axle. We experienced front axle shake during aggressive braking, though it was far less noticeable than the Ram's.The Ford stopped in 148.7 feet, which is an insignificantly longer distance than the Chevrolet's 148.4 feet.

Acceleration/Braking With Payload

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The Chevrolet, Ford and Ram each had similar calculated payload ratings: 2,000 pounds for the Chevrolet, 1,900 pounds for the Ford and 1,960 pounds for the Ram. The Nissan's payload of 1,270 pounds was significantly less. We loaded 2,200 pounds of payload into each truck (two giant bags of construction sand) and retested acceleration and braking to see how each handled an equal amount of payload.

In acceleration, the order of fastest to slowest didn't change. The Chevrolet came out on top, followed by the Ford, Ram and Nissan. The Chevrolet lost the least amount of time with payload (1.10 seconds) compared with its empty time, while the Nissan struggled the most losing 2.15 seconds from empty to loaded, which isn't surprising considering it was overloaded by more than 900 pounds.

Braking with payload quelled many of the handling problems we experienced with the Ram and Ford as the trucks felt better balanced carrying their load. The Ram and Ford both stopped with less drama, and the Ram's braking distance barely changed. It stopped in 146.8 feet from 60 mph with payload compared to 146.5 feet when empty. That was short enough for it to win the loaded braking test, followed by the Ford at 149.0 feet. The Nissan fell from first to third due to being overloaded, stopping in 154.5 feet, and the Chevrolet with its off-road tires followed at 155.9 feet.

How We Conducted the Tests

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We used a Racelogic Vbox II GPS data logger to record acceleration and braking performance. Quarter-mile acceleration numbers mirrored how a drag strip calculates quarter-mile times, including the 1-foot rollout method accounting for the distance a front wheel moves in the timing beam before rolling out of the beam and triggering the timing system, which is typically a few tenths of a second faster than not including rollout. Zero-to-60-mph times were raw times from a standstill and did not include a 1-foot rollout. All braking tests were performed on the same asphalt surface by accelerating up to a steady 60 mph and applying full braking power.

Cars.com photos by Angela Conners 

Overview | Track Testing | Towing | Daily Driving | Dynamometer Testing | Results

Comments

As I is said, the Silverado would dominate is testing, no suprise there. Too bad PUTC didn't select the top trim level HIGH COUNTRY for this comparison.

Disappointing that you didn't have the same rear ends in the trucks. Or at least put the best rear end available for towing in each truck. It can make a huge difference.

Wow, PUTC sure down played the dominate performance the Silverado just displayed in those tests. If the data collected was reversed between the Chevy and Ford, there would be high fives all around and it would have been sensed in the commentary.

At least PUTC is actually acknowledging the axle shake experienced in the Ford during brake testing. I have to give you guys props for that. Some Pro Ford commenters are eating crow for breakfast this morning.

What was the tire pressure(s)?

@GMSRGREAT I'm with you on this. Complete dominance by the Silverado, but being pro Ford these guys down play the results as much as they can. Ridiculous. They're just sad that their "new" super duty isn't the best. Congrats to GM on the upgraded Duramax, the hard work definitely shows on the track/dyno. Now if they can just offer the 6.2L on lower trim level 1500s....

@GMSRGREAT I'm with you on this. Complete dominance by the Silverado, but being pro Ford these guys down play the results as much as they can. Ridiculous. They're just sad that their "new" super duty isn't the best. Congrats to GM on the upgraded Duramax, the hard work definitely shows on the track/dyno. Now if they can just offer the 6.2L on lower trim level 1500s....

The big 3 are to close to call one a winner. even though with those 3, they are all winners. That's some power right there.

@Trucky048; I'm so appalled at the set up and what went down in this competition that I forgot to congratulate the true winner, the Silverado. Great job GM

Humbling for Ford and Dodge

"On the road, the Ford had a more potent mid-range punch that made it feel faster in everyday driving. The Chevrolet was strong and put more power and torque to the ground, but it needed to be cracked wide open, whereas the Ford's 6.7-liter was punchier around town and quicker to come up on boost and get moving".
What really counts is real world driving dynamics and that boys and girls is one of the reasons FORD dominates HD pickup truck sales.

"On the road, the Ford had a more potent mid-range punch that made it feel faster in everyday driving. The Chevrolet was strong and put more power and torque to the ground, but it needed to be cracked wide open, whereas the Ford's 6.7-liter was punchier around town and quicker to come up on boost and get moving."

That's a very profound statement. I'm biased towards the Duramax but since I need over 23,000# of towing capacity, I'm forced to consider the Super Duty. That remark gives me confidence.

Get the Nissan out of there. It's a teenager playing with adults.



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