What's the Best 3/4-Ton Premium Truck for 2017?

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By Mark Williams

Surprisingly, the three-quarter-ton pickup truck segment doesn't get a lot of respect. Half tons are the biggest-selling truck segment in the industry, and one-ton pickups are depicted as the strongest work beasts on the planet. However, the three-quarter-ton pickup is often the ignored player on the dealer lot. That's what prompted us to shine the spotlight on this segment to see which one has the best combination of brains and brawn.

For our 2017 3/4-Ton Premium Truck Challenge, we assembled four top-end crew-cab pickups equipped with four-wheel drive, as many towing features as possible and their torque-biased turbo-diesel engine option.

For this Challenge, we put the competitors through 21 empirical tests (many of which were conducted empty, loaded or towing a gooseneck trailer) and awarded unweighted points, with the winner in each category getting a score of 100, while the others received the appropriate portion of that score based on their performance. The rest of the points were distributed by our five expert judges, each of whom awarded 1 to 10 points in 10 subjective categories. A total of 3,100 points were possible; however, no truck achieved that score.

Here's how they finished:

No. 4: 2017 Nissan Titan XD Platinum Reserve, 2,428 points

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First-place finishes: Least expensive, best empty braking from 60 mph, lightest truck, best empty-bed fuel economy, quietest at 60 mph

If there was a wildcard in this competition, the fully loaded, Cummins-diesel Titan XD was it. We were all quite curious to see how well it performed against the more traditional and weighty competition, and we can say — despite the XD's fourth-place finish in empirical and subjective testing — there was plenty to like about this truck.

The Titan XD won five scored empirical categories, ranging from the lowest as-tested price to being the most fuel efficient without a payload; it also proved to have the quietest interior when cruising the highway at 60 mph. The XD also impressed the judges with its comfortable interior seating and driving dynamics without a payload.

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However, in just about every loaded or work-oriented category, the Titan XD could not keep pace with the more traditional, heavier, stronger players. Our XD had the lowest gross vehicle weight rating, which gave it the lowest calculated payload of the competition by more than 700 pounds. Additionally, when towing our loaded gooseneck trailer, the Titan XD needed a perfectly balanced load and tongue weight or the brakes and steering quickly let us know something was amiss. No doubt some of those weaknesses were a result of the Titan XD having the smallest and least powerful engine of the group.

Bottom line: There is value here, but you need to be clear about the trade-offs. If you need a stronger half ton, this is a great truck, but it shouldn't be playing in the same sandbox as the big boys.

2017 Nissan Titan XD Platinum Reserve Photo Gallery

No. 3: 2017 Ram 2500 Laramie Longhorn, 2,777 points

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First-place finishes: Best loaded braking from 60 mph, tied for highest GVWR, best bumper towing capacity, tied for Davis Dam downhill braking run, best fuel economy with trailer

The fact that the Ram 2500 finished within a few percentage points of winning this contest tells you how tight the top three finishers were. Our Ram was traditionally tall and the most rock-solid feeling truck of the Challenge. Even though it was the only competitor with coil rear springs, the ride quality and handling characteristics — empty or loaded — were quite harsh, causing us to brace for impact when driving over expansion joints or broken pavement.

So, while the bones of this truck are solid and meant to carry heavy loads, all of the judges believed the trade-off was overly biased in the wrong direction. This meant that no other competitor had a higher GVWR or bumper tow rating, and it came close to winning the gross combined weight rating category.

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Unfortunately, the categories in which the Ram lost the most ground to the competition were track performance, where the more modern, freer-breathing V-8 turbo-diesels had a big advantage over the just-as-large inline-six-cylinder Cummins. We should note that the Ram's loaded braking feel was spectacular; it only lost 4 inches of length when panic braking from 60 mph with 2,200 pounds in the bed. Another standout feature was that the Cummins exhaust brake offers two distinctly different and aggressive settings; it did an amazing job of keeping big loads under control during our downhill grade testing near Davis Dam in Arizona.

Four out of five judges gave the Ram a solid second-place finish in subjective testing, with the fifth judge scoring the Ram at a close third place. The Western-style, fully leather interior was impressive with soft-touch, high-quality materials; big-screen readouts; mountains of information in the gauge cluster; and tight seams all around the dash, center console and seats. It also offered under-seat rear storage and in-floor bins in the backseat.

Bottom line: The Ram is a gorilla in a leather tuxedo; it's the most "trucky" of the contenders and the one we'd want most when the zombie apocalypse goes down.

2017 Ram 2500 Laramie Longhorn Photo Gallery

No. 2: 2017 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 LTZ Midnight Edition, 2,780 points

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First-place finishes: Fastest zero-to-60-mph times empty and loaded, fastest quarter-mile empty and loaded, tied for highest GVWR, highest payload capacity, highest gooseneck towing capacity, fastest in Davis Dam hill-climb acceleration test, tied for Davis Dam downhill braking run, most horsepower and torque on the dyno

From the second we stepped inside this Chevrolet to run empty and loaded quarter-mile acceleration and brake testing, we knew the upgraded Duramax diesel was something special. This pickup did smoky burnouts with ease. When it comes to putting power to the rear wheels, this redesigned 32-valve 6.6-liter V-8 and upgraded six-speed automatic transmission is at the top of the heap.

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We thought the new Chevrolet diesel engine was going to be a strong contender after we saw its class-leading results during our dyno testing, but we weren't prepared for just how strong it turned out to be. At the track, the Chevy was at least a half a second faster than the second-place finisher in both empty and loaded zero-to-60-mph runs as well as in the quarter-mile runs. It also beat the Ram up the Davis Dam grade by more than 6 seconds, topping out several mph faster as well.

Other areas where the Chevy stood out included best payload capacity (beating the Ram by 40 pounds and the 2017 Ford Super Duty F-250 by 100 pounds), the most aggressive look of the bunch (thank you, Midnight Edition) and a reasonable price for its content and capability. When looking at scoring in empirical testing, the Chevy took first place by almost 30 points. Unfortunately, its interior looks and feels like the oldest of the group, which cost it significant points in subjective judges' scoring.

Bottom line: The Chevy was our value-packed rocket ship of the Challenge and the one that did the best burnouts. It was fun and smooth when running empty, and a powerhouse when loaded, but the interior was not where it needs to be.

2017 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 LTZ Midnight Edition Photo Gallery

No. 1: 2017 Ford Super Duty F-250 King Ranch, 2,854 points

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First-place finishes: Tied for highest GVWR, highest GCWR, tied for Davis Dam downhill braking run, quietest interior at idle

The Super Duty F-250 is newly redesigned and upgraded, and our test truck was the most expensive player we've ever tested in this three-quarter-ton segment at close to $77,000. Some of the more important upgrades include aluminum body panels and bed, heavier-duty axles and frame, improved powertrains and entirely new (larger) cabs and interior layouts.

Not so coincidently, it was the changes to the interior that most impressed our judges. They unanimously scored the interior as the best of the Challenge in just about every category. Of the 1,000 points our judges could distribute, they awarded the Ford 51 more points than the Ram, 102 points more than the Chevy and 204 points more than the Nissan. Interestingly, our F-250 won the fewest number of empirical categories; however, like a world-class decathlete, the Ford finished in first or second place in 14 out of 21 tests. Of note: The Ford had the highest gross combined weight rating and was the quietest truck at idle.

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To be fair, we should point out we had issues with the F-250, not the least of which was the price. Add to that the still-rough empty-bed driving dynamics, poor seat comfort and a questionable paint job (a truck this expensive should not have ripples), and you see that this is not a perfect pickup truck. Still, in the context of the three-quarter-ton segment and how well the Ford can haul a load, it took the crown.

Bottom line: Like a great all-around athlete, the new Ford F-250 has the powertrain of a bulldozer, and the interior features and technology of a luxury hotel room. If we had to tow our monster trailer around the country, we'd want to call this Super Duty home.

2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty King Ranch Photo Gallery

Cars.com photos by Angela Conners

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

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Comments

1st place High Country/Denali,
if the Ford had poor seat comfort, why choose it as a better interior then chev, and why pay $10,000 more to sit in sattle seats,

Great Test, looks like all the Judges shared the exact same sentiment on each truck.

Good test guys!!

After the smack down the Silverado just put on the competition in your testing data results, your decision came down to a subjective evaluation based on trim level. Seriously, I called that back on April 27 in the Long Horn Gallery when it was clear a set up was occurring by not choosing the Chevy premium High Country trim level to bring to the fight.

Well I'm not going to beat you guys up over this any longer. I just hope the Ford Fan girls know how to interpret the actual testing data points from a F-series commercial.

The Denali high country would have smoked them all.I will take one of each please

What? The Silverado wins every major test and yet the Ford wins first place??? This place really is a pro-Ford site.

All the GCWR ratings are wrong.
Titan XD should be 19,717 Lbs
Chevy 2500 should be 22,800 Lbs
Ford 250 should be 23,100 Lbs
Ram 2500 should be 25,290 Lbs
According to the scale weights of the truck + max tow ratings given for trucks in the test

@gms, nobody disputes, or at least shouldnt dispute the duramax is a great engine, but when a great engine sits in a lack luster truck, that is a serious issue. Hey, I often look at how these trucks perfom, but even though the durmax outpaced the powerstorke, its not by much, and nobody will ever say, hey I can go almost a second quicker up hills....it comes down how comfortable are you when towing a heavy load across country. Based on these tests, it furthers my thought on why I own a Ford, and based on that, I have no reason to look at the twins, in other words, good thing Chevy has loyalty or they'd be in big trouble....

As usual and as expected, FORD enters, FORD win !!

@ GMSRGREAT,you do know the manufacture decided which truck to send,this is a line from the overview. Like Chevy, Ford did not send us its ultimate luxury truck but the one a step below it.
Also in testing score the Silverado was ahead of the Ford by 28 points only,so stop acting like the chevy was so far ahead

Have not posted in a bit. I think the truck market needs to read https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-05-01/a-50-000-chrysler-van-explains-why-u-s-auto-sales-are-slowing
I know several of the regular posters have been harping on this ... nice to see it in writing from a "financial" source.
Problem is, used is JUST as expensive now!

The Chevy handily won this comparison test and you guys give the win to Ford because the interior of the Chevy "looks and feels like the oldest of the group?" I wonder how much Ford is paying for you to say that line. Pathetic.

The Ford and Chevy are head and shoulders above the other contestants in this competition, so it is actually pretty fair that the one with a better interior/trim won out given that this is a "premium" truck shootout.

In all honesty, if Chevy had sent a High Country it still probably wouldnt have changed much. The seats are nicer, sure, but the whole driver interface still looks and feel chintzy and cobbled together. Take the seats out and you couldnt tell if the dash came out of an LS/LT/LTZ unless you browse through the apps on the infotainment system.

Ford does a masterclass job distinguishing the interior layout between their lower and upper trims, as they should be expected to do given they have at least a 10 year head start in the interior department compared to the others. It looks like their powertrains are finally catching up so this is a very deserved win.

Chevy is still chasing the flat brim hat bro's with all these paint and sticker packages while Ford offers a meaningful upgrade over a base Lariat with their Platinum and King Ranch offerings. The same is true to a lesser degree for Dodge, that Longhorn looks like the inside of my 2010 King Ranch, it's nice but dated.

If I am paying a premium over a standard LTZ I dont want plasti-dipped wheels and chrome delete or a Mossy Oak/Bone Collector stickers all over the place. Ford has moved away from the true saddle leather for years now in the KR, but it still feels special when you get inside of one.

It's not all about ACCELERATION and Zero-60 Times. It's about the ENTIRE PACKAGE OF THE TRUCK.

Clearly, they gave 100 pt Scores for the Chevy in Acceleration, but it fell short in other departments. It's clearly written in nice colors for you guys to compare and contrast.

But again, a Pickup is more then ACCELERATION, been saying this for the Last 20 years.

I've always favored Ford even when they had gutless motors and sometimes the slower Fords still won the Comparison.

It just goes to show.

Good job FORD!

So the Chevy pretty much wins everything that matters the Ford had all kinds of issues and cost way more yet still wins... Think I'm done monitoring this site... What a joke...

I don't know about any of the judges, but I have a 2015 GMC 2500HD SLT Duramax and I can tell you it is a wonderful place to spend time in. It just as nice as either the Ford or the Ram and it is a wonderful package with everything a person needs/wants.

I own a 2015 Denali Duramax and will be getting a new one when it's time to trade. The final rankings of this test done absolutely nothing to sway me since the Duramax was the clearly the winner.

So the Chevy pretty much wins everything that matters the Ford had all kinds of issues and cost way more yet still wins... Think I'm done monitoring this site... What a joke...


Posted by: jason | May 1, 2017 12:57:41 PM

The Chevy won everything but it's far from being anything PREMIUM.

GM's a failure here.

why would you want to call the super duty home if the seat is uncomfortable? the Chev won most catergories, including most truck for your dollar, who cares if the interior is nicer to look at, if the seat isn't comfortable, who wants to sit in it

It would really be cool to rate the subjective issues separately from the number-crunching stuff. Hat's off to RAM for its trailer pulling FE.

Can't understand GM not sending its sweetest package to the dance. Goofy.

This is a disappointing test guys. The Chevy won the empirical test but lost on because in subjective scoring. However, the subjective scoring is just a bunch of useless numbers with no perceptible reasoning behind them.

What does a score of 149 vs 178 mean? Does that mean i like this color better than that color? Or does that mean the door fell off when I opened it?

Are you guys dinging the truck for not have the right box checked? Did you acknowledge it if an option is available and just not present?

End the end all you guys are really telling us is Chevy did better but Ford wins because 861 is bigger than 759.

So, if i'm scoring this test I'd have to give it a 23.

What the GM Team of people are missing is that the Chevy is far from PREMIUM.

Read the article.

So if somebody spends this kind of money on a truck, drag racing is tested, and very important, but not even turning circumference is tested?

Last I knew the Ram had the tighter turning truck, which is important to some people, at least those that don't want to take half an acre to turn around.

Surprised you didn't do the slalom test so the independent suspension trucks could go out there being the pavement trucks they are.

The one that wins has a seat that's uncomfortable? But you're willing to put up with it, because it's Ford, and its aluminum?

Well good job on the mileage, Ram. If they could work a little bit on making the truck quieter that would be cool.

@Frank

That's my point, quantify it. Why is it not 'premium'? Is it really down to exhaust button location and four decibels? I'll tell you neither one of those is worth an $8600 premium.

Let's see:
Chevy wins 9 and ties on top in 2 of the categories.
Ford wins 2 and ties on top in 2 of the categories.
Yet Ford wins ? What a joke.
The interior makes that much of a difference, there is definitely somthing wrong with the scoring. These are HD trucks not Cadilacs.

What the GM Team of people are missing is that the Chevy is far from PREMIUM.

Read the article.

Posted by: Frank | May 1, 2017 2:56:16 PM

I guess the GM team thought premium as in performance. In that case it could have sent any trim level, the performance dominance would have been the same.

Dear GM,

Please send us your Premium Truck 2500 HD Class.

Thanks, PUTC.

------------------------------------------

Dear PUTC,

This is our Premium Truck. Chevy HD2500 LTZ Midnight Edition

Thanks, GM

-----------------------------------------

P.S. GM sent PUTC this Premium and everyone is crying foul, blame GM, not PUTC.

Ya know, if you guys used GIFs or PNGs instead of JPGs, the colors and text on the graphs would be clear and legible.

Again, Ford could have sent a dune buggy and they would have won. This website is such a joke. FAKE NEWS!

"The Ford and Chevy are head and shoulders above the other contestants..."

Even though it feels truckiest, I'd put the Ram in that company too. The Nissan is the odd man out because it has 2500-class features, but only 1500-level towing and payload.

"These are HD trucks not Cadilacs."

Correction: They are HD trucks outfitted like Cadillacs.

Putc just took the Pepsi challenge and picked jiffy peanut butter.

WTH just happened ?

I will gladly swap my Duramax for the new Super Duty!

"To be fair, we should point out we had issues with the F-250."

You don't own a Ford without issues. Check their recalls.

FORD KING OF RECALLS!

Ford’s Third Recall In A Week Affects 2017 Ford F-250s. Only 29 FIRES so far. lol

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ei1WdHXvOsM

The fords can't do much work. But there very comfortable to sit in while waiting for a tow truck to fix the next recall. LOL

Nice test aside from wasting time with the Nissan. The old Cummins V8 sure got thirsty when it was loaded down.

The Ford needs a better interior as its driver will be spending more time towing the same load as the Duramax. Ford drivers needs to be as comfortable as possible in their pickup while Duramax drivers finish the job quicker and enjoy the comfort of their home.

Seriously though, I'd proudly drive any of the big three's diesels. They are all impressive.

Dodge long horn it's hard to beat I drive a gmc and dodge do the nicest interior king ranch maybe second,,

The tests proved that ford likes to over rate there trucks. So I guess we learned something from the test..
Now we know that the Duramax not only has more HP, it also has more Torque than the ford. So sad!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOL

Great job GM! You stomped everyone even with a lower trim level!

why would you want to call the super duty home if the seat is uncomfortable? the Chev won most catergories, including most truck for your dollar, who cares if the interior is nicer to look at, if the seat isn't comfortable, who wants to sit in it

Posted by: water | May 1, 2017 2:46:33 PM

Because as they said " Ford has the quietest interior at idle"

Ford wins again

The Nissan is an HD halfton, or is it a LT version of a 3/4 ton? It succeeds as a tweener.

Question---How many folks are ready to buy a tweener? So far the answer is Not Many

The only truck that was completely out classed here was the Nissan. It's also just slightly uglier than the Chevy. The Chevy gets bragging rights for an awesome powertrain combo, but the Dodge and Ford are impressive performers as well. 0-60 in these big trucks in under 8 seconds is impressive, but certainly doesn't make a truck. To the kids crying foul that the Chevy sent there Midnight edition, what did you want? The Daylight version, the 15 minutes after lunch edition? I mean, we've seen the commercials. They got all hours of the day editions available. That's Chevy ingenuity! And people wonder why they are about to be over taken by Ram despite leading the industry in rebates (Fact, and it's not even close) or why they went bankrupt to begin with. Listen to that heartbeat!! That's today's, all hours of the clock edition, Chevy truck!!

Also wondering do the Chevy HD truck's have the cute led daytime running lamps like the 1500's do? Those scream $15,000 compact car right there!! I guess when your a Chevy "designer" or "engineer" and you see something your kids think looks cool, you do the only thing you've been taught......Copy it!!

Listen to that heartbeat!!
Posted by: holycamoly | May 2, 2017 6:34:45 AM

I sure do listen to the heartbeat of America, that's why you find more GM trucks in drive ways or on the job site all cross this great country then any other truck the last 2 years!

Did anyone notice the Ram was quicker over the 1.25 mile Davis Dam course than the Ford? Less hp and torque than the Ford, but towed 10,000 lbs. in less time and better fuel mileage too.

Well the order went about as I expected. And the whining bitching is going about as expected.

Interior and consistent high placement in testing allowed the all new Ford to win. Anything but 1st place was a complete loss for the Ford. That being said im still a bit disappointed in targeted performance measures. For the newest, most advanced, most expensive player in this test I expected more 1place wins in targeted marketable brag stats.

I have no doubt the Ford is "better" than its competitors in this test with these measures... but is it better enough, especially for the price?

A lot of questionable decisions when it came to the subjective scores. Also, the empirical scores come across as more arbitrary than calculated. The point numbers don't seem to have any connection to times, distance or speed on any of them.

So when those driving a 2017 DMAX GM twin encounter a Ford 2500 King Recall , the GM owner can feel proud knowing he/she is operating the superior performance truck. If that GM truck is of the High Country or Denali trim level, then that King Recall will just look like another Ford.

Any driver with years in diesels like myself realize how totally inaccurate your test are. You spend more time on acceleration that tells me exactly what? It is not fast enough, it rides rough, your testing echo's todays truck buyers and horsepower wars who want a car not a truck or worse yet manufacturers like GM and Ford try to make a sports with their diesels. I own none of these trucks but I applaud Ram for staying true to the inline motor. Why would any tester give first place to Ford with wrinkled body panels, rattles, paint issue seat issues. Maybe you all have listened to numerous Ford commercials to really see the forest through the trees. Weak test, data collected proves nothing to me about theses trucks that is useful for a trucker.

so Chevy loses to Ford because you don't like the interior. Kings Ranch interior compared to midnight edition. Apples to oranges.Where it counts capability Chevy beats Ford handily. Stupid end result



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