2017 One-Ton Challenge: What the Judges Said

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As with many of our comparison tests, our recent 2017 One-Ton Heavy-Duty Pickup Challenge gave many readers a reason to voice their concerns, observations, approval and dislike. In it, we pitted the 2017 Ford Super Duty F-350 Lariat against the 2017 GMC Sierra 3500 Denali — and the Ford won.

Quite a few readers commented that that if the test was decided on performance and capability tests, then the outcome would have been different. Others said we weren't specific enough about why the judges were so much more impressed with the Ford than the GMC in some areas and not so in others. And that's why we're offering this final follow-up to the One-Ton Challenge. Here you'll find our judges' opinions along with their scoring in nine subjective categories.

Our three judges for this Challenge were Mark Williams, PickupTrucks.com editor; Aaron Bragman, Detroit bureau chief; and Brian Wong, Los Angeles bureau chief. All our judges have logged many hours behind the wheels of all the major pickup trucks.

2017 GMC Sierra 3500: What We Liked

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Aaron Bragman

  • "The Sierra is definitely the best-handling, best-riding truck, thanks to its independent front suspension and smaller dimensions. It doesn't feel "light" per se, but it does feel more responsive than the Ford.
  • "The interior layout feels top-notch with its high-mounted trailer-brake controller, plenty of cubbies and numerous front power ports.
  • "The seats are big, with long lower leg cushions, plenty of all-day support and lots of adjustability."

Mark Williams

  • "It's much more comfortable over the long haul; I like how it has a half-ton-like feel from the front and rear seats. Gauge layout is simple and clean where the switches are easy to find, and climate controls easy to see.
  • "When driven empty, it has a much more confident and controlled feel driving around town — it ends up being much less fatiguing over time. The rear end feels stiff with the overload leaf springs, but it seems to help the front end track and carve quite predictably.
  • "The engine and transmission combination is amazing; the off-the-line thrust or how it pulls up a steep grade is impressive. I also like the simple solution for getting more air into engine with the new long-route air intake cooling hood."

Brian Wong

  • "In addition to feeling powerful, the GMC's brake feel was a standout. Kudos to GM: The Sierra Denali 3500's brakes offered consistent stopping power with linear delivery. I never had to mash on the pedal.
  • "It has comfortable front seats and backseat as well. There was no fatigue after driving the GMC for long distances, which is not something I could say about the Ford. After driving the Ford for an afternoon, I was ready for a massage and an Advil.
  • "The two cameras mounted on the side mirrors that take over the center display screen when the turn signals are activated proved to be helpful but also distracting. Not being able to access the center screen when signaling when in the left turn lane was exasperating; however, when towing, it saved our butts a few times when we needed to keep an eye on the trailer wheels during turns. Amazing."

2017 GMC Sierra 3500: What We Don't Like

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Bragman

  • "The interior feels cramped, with poor visibility from the smaller windows and a wide center console that seems to intrude into passenger space.
  • "For this kind of money for the Denali top-of-the-line trim, I expect a lot more technology and amenities in my truck — and the Sierra doesn't even have any rear air-conditioning vents.
  • "It's definitely showing its age — no telescoping wheel, no multiview cameras, limited towing information and gauge customization."

Williams

  • "Very little data is offered to the driver when compared to all the info from the Ford. You can't see what gear you're in unless you manually shift. No diesel exhaust fluid gauge unless you're in the danger zone. No tire pressure readouts on duallys. Ugh.
  • "Payload, gross vehicle weight rating and towing numbers are all low when compared to the competition, but from the looks of the rear spring pack, maximum payload barely gets into overload spring.
  • "The entire dash and rear seating area has to be reimagined for more comfort and technology, especially in regard to towing and camera tech."

Wong

  • "This truck was rated to tow less weight than the Ford and after towing our trailer I can see why. It was simply less confident with the gooseneck trailer attached. The GMC felt like the trailer was pushing the pickup a few times — I didn't feel that in the Ford.
  • "The DEF gauge — not really a gauge at all because it only comes on when fluid falls below 25 percent and then goes to an emergency light when almost empty — and the filler position under the hood is just annoying and challenging to fill. Ford and Ram are convenient by contrast.
  • "The GMC has no rear air vents or charging options for the backseat beyond a 12-volt plug. I'm sure the next generation will address this, but why can't GMC just make a few small changes to the back end of the existing center console?"

2017 Ford F-350 Super Duty: What We Liked

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Bragman

  • "All-around visibility out of the spacious, airy cabin is excellent, thanks to low cutouts in the beltline and tall windows.
  • "The technology level is outstanding, with multiple cameras, detailed gauges, quick Sync 3 — you get the sense that Ford truly understands how people interact with their trucks and tailors the tech to serve them better.
  • "Ride quality is massively improved over the last F-350 dually I tested — no longer do I have to pee every time I get out of it after a short drive."

Williams

  • "What Ford has done to the interior of the new Super Duty with the new dash layout and available features is a massive improvement. Sure, it's an easy strategy to take the half-ton cabs and slide them over to heavy-duties, but there's more meat here to give the HD drivers more of what they need.
  • "It provides a hugely solid and firm feel when driven empty or loaded. It feels solid but not really heavy, but still has the heavy-duty mass.
  • "I really like having more engine and vehicle data available to the driver than anything else: transmission data, temperatures, fuel levels, trailer light outages, DEF, turbo, multilevel exhaust brake, trailer data, etc."

Wong

  • "The F-350's camera systems are amazing; having an around-view monitor on a rig this size should be standard for everyone. It made parking much, much easier. The bed camera was also on the money for hooking up the trailer; it gave a really clear view of where you needed to put the truck and what was behind you.
  • "Ford nailed the throttle feel — even with all the torque coming out of the engine, the feel is smooth and progressive. It has good off-the-line acceleration for its size, but what I appreciated was that it was also easy to drive smoothly around town, without any herky-jerkiness.
  • "We found the ability to drop the liftgate from inside the cabin was a huge plus; it made a variety of tasks easier for us, from hooking up trailers to loading items into and out of the bed."

2017 Ford F-350 Super Duty: What We Don't Like

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Bragman

  • "Just like the F-250 in our 2017 3/4-Ton Premium Truck Challenge, the seats are abominably uncomfortable — the bottom cushion is much too short, and there's a lump in the lumbar that can't be deflated sufficiently. Why does a truck this big have seats so small?
  • "The side steps of our test truck, clad in cheap chrome plastic, creaked when even the lightest member of our video crew stepped on them. Combined with the cheap interior plastics, the Super Duty did not convey a feeling of quality.
  • "The lane departure warning is ridiculously sensitive — the truck itself fills the entire lane so it trips the system and vibrates the wheel every time you turn a corner, even if you're staying to your lane just fine. I switched it off every time I got in the truck."

Williams

  • "We had a Lariat — a mid-level trim — that cost $75,000. We'll just let that sink in for a minute. Yes, you get a lot, but this is dang expensive.
  • "We understand that no one buys a truck like this for fuel economy, but this doesn't seem to be particularly good on fuel, and with a big load, the front live axle finds some rough oscillations at times.
  • "The engine compartment looks like an overstuffed junk drawer. You have to make a big reach to check oil, find the oil filter and replace the air filter. "

Wong

  • "With a load in the bed, the Ford's transmission is less sure about what to do. During our loaded runs at the drag strip, when in Tow/Haul mode, the transmission seemed to shift early and took the F-350 out of its power band, which made it feel slower than the GMC with payload in the bed.
  • "The powertrain and technology are definitely worth the premium money, but the interior is not. It baffles me that the Ford cost more than the GMC; there seems to be a gulf there in interior quality. If it were me, I'd go up a trim level and eat some additional cost just to get better seats and make the whole cabin more comfortable. We know Ford can make a great truck interior; it's just not on this truck.
  • "Interior quality was also pretty poor for the price, and I understand that this wasn't Ford's top trim level, but it still felt like a low-rent, plasticky interior."

How We Scored

For final scoring, our expert judges' scores were doubled to provide their impressions a proportionate influence on the final outcome. These scores are the only ones we "weight" (multiplying by two) in our scoring, and they account for around 20 percent of a truck's total score.

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Cars.com photos by Evan Sears, Mark Williams

 

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Comments

Well, they gauged the GMC for all the reasons why I buy a GM full size twin. Best riding, best handling, most interior comfort, most powerful engine and best overall performance. Great job GM!

This article offered some good perspective.

Most of Ford's quality and comfort issues are easily fixable. The transmission calibration / torque management can be better tuned to make optimal use of the engine's power.

Per the handling commentary, the tradeoff in having a live axle versus control arms is certainly worth it if you need the extra heft.

My take away is that both Trucks are great. You cannot go wrong either way. Its a good time if you need a truck.

Most of Ford's quality and comfort issues are easily fixable. The transmission calibration / torque management can be better tuned to make optimal use of the engine's power.

Per the handling commentary, the tradeoff in having a live axle versus control arms is certainly worth it if you need the extra heft.

Posted by: redbloodedxy | Sep 5, 2017 8:00:52 AM

What about FORD's most uncomfortable seats. Why haven''t they fixed that yet. That can become expensive to fix. You may need to have a chiropractor on speed dial.

None of my Ford trucks had comfortable seats.

Two were used trucks and one was new. The seats in my Ranger (bought new) were very flat and very hard. Hard like a concrete block.

All of my GMs had comfy seats. My only Mopar had nice seats.

My Ford Thunderbird had very comfortable seats BTW, but their truck seats need work.

GM has always made a better riding truck than ford. The performance of the Duramax is amazing!

The excuse to re calibrate is acceptable by you ford fanboys, because GM detunes their 5.3L. I should know I have one. I have reprogrammed it with a tuner and it is a whole another animal! I wish they would just have done it this way from the factory! Hopefully the 19's have over 400HP

Both trucks are very nice, but I would take the GM "OF COURSE" because of the ride, comfort, and performance! Because isn't that the main reason why you buy a diesel??

I have a couple things.

My 2015 GMC SLT 1500 has a telescoping wheel. Are you sure you did over look it?

I don't really understand why you need to know what gear you're in unless you're shifting manually?

Man, 20 years of Ford HD junk, and when they finally come out with a new one they still cant leap frog GM? Even RAM is better than the Ford.

I agree with Mark on engine compartment packaging.

How can vehicles this large still have to "shoehorn" the motor in the compartment and leave no room for routine maintenance?

These motors are not any bigger dimension-wise than in years past, but the compartment layouts on some of these trucks look like an afterthought.

'What about FORD's most uncomfortable seats. Why haven''t they fixed that yet[?]"

Posted by: GMSRGREAT

The model year isn't over. How long did it take GM to make a crew cab that grownups could use? And their truck is still small by Ford standards.

PUTC - - - -

Why was the Ram 3500 Dually not included here?

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

Man, 20 years of Ford HD junk, and when they finally come out with a new one they still cant leap frog GM?

Posted by: Jay

Hahaha--you're a genius for sure. Ford is ALWAYS ahead of GM. They've outsold Chevy Shiverado, and they've outsold GMC Sierra for like 40 years now.

Great job Ford again beating out the twin with lackluster technology and outdated pretty much all over.

"This truck was rated to tow less weight than the Ford and after towing our trailer I can see why. It was simply less confident with the gooseneck trailer attached. The GMC felt like the trailer was pushing the pickup a few times — I didn't feel that in the Ford." -
Rich Wong


Well, you get what you pay for, less bling, less tech, and LESS TOWING CAPABILITIES. GMRSJUNK!!

best overall performance. Great job GM!


Posted by: GMSRGREAT | Sep 5, 2017 7:20:04 AM

You blindly overlooked how the Trailer was actually pushing the Truck....but that's none of my business.

the Trailer was actually pushing the Truck

@Frank

Trailers don't push trucks. Trucks tow the trailer; that's why it's in the back.

People who lack experience with towing big loads get nervous sometimes because the load might "feel" like it's pushing the truck, but that's just greenhorns being nervous.

Everybody who drives the GM duramax rigs love the overall feel of comfort and quality. Not so much with the Ford. For those who are looking for the best price, the RAM is still the way to go.

If comfort and great driving dynamics are what you want, the GM won't let you down. Give Ford a few years to sort things out.

The GMC does in fact have a telescoping steering wheel. I have no idea how they could have missed it! Even upon further explanation I see no compelling reason why the Ford should have won. It honestly just builds a further case as to why the GMC is the best choice for the majority of HD buyers.

Excerpt from article above!

Williams dislikes about the Ford.

"The engine compartment looks like an overstuffed junk drawer".

That is the truest words ever spoken, "junk" being the operative word.

How long did it take GM to make a crew cab that grownups could use? And their truck is still small by Ford standards.

Posted by: redbloodedxy | Sep 5, 2017 10:01:11 AM

Doesn't matter how big the Ford is if it's uncomfortable.

@Frank

Trailers don't push trucks. Trucks tow the trailer; that's why it's in the back.

People who lack experience with towing big loads get nervous sometimes because the load might "feel" like it's pushing the truck, but that's just greenhorns being nervous.

Everybody who drives the GM duramax rigs love the overall feel of comfort and quality. Not so much with the Ford. For those who are looking for the best price, the RAM is still the way to go.

If comfort and great driving dynamics are what you want, the GM won't let you down. Give Ford a few years to sort things out.


Posted by: papajim | Sep 5, 2017 11:05:51 AM


@papajim,

You didn't test truck, you weren't there, you don't even own one of these trucks. I am not listening to you.

Have a nice day!

Doesn't matter how big the Ford is if it's uncomfortable.

Posted by: GMSRGREAT | Sep 5, 2017 11:15:07 AM

Trucks are meant for work, not to be comfy so you can fall asleep.

Over all I agree with what GMS said earlier in his post. it makes no sense to have this truck. It doesnt compete with Ford, they should get rid of the twin, and update the Silverado, then it may be able to compete with Ford. right now all it does is confuse people. Its GM or is it a Chevy, looks the same, has lack luster tech and small interior just like the chevy, but its called something different, sounds confusing to me too.

You can re-tune the transmission, truck's are not supposed to be comfortable, boy you dorF fan girls are full of excuses.
Your like the crew that tested these truck's, as long as dorF wins anything goes. LOL

@ugly, sounds like you are describing GM to to a "T" America agrees with you, Ford number 1, great point.

@Nitro, Your right- ford #1 at re-calls.

You got issues Ugly Fords, I mean.....johnny doe...do you not realize your grammar and punctuation is the same.

@Frank, HAHAHA, yeah he is funny, he and GMS, using different names yet we can tell they are all the same....KIDS!

Frank and Nitro, you two are so far off. Guess the two of you are just two fools. Dreamers I guess.

You didn't test truck, you weren't there, you don't even own one of these trucks Have a nice day! Posted by: Frank | Sep 5, 2017

@Frank

How many have YOU tested Frank? do you own one?

Yes its me, Johnny doe and GMS, and sierra....get over it. YIPPEEEEEEEEE!

@Nitro and the other Ford whiners : sorry you have to continually defend your less powerful, slower accelerating, less fuel efficient, poorly handling (compared to the GMC) and uncomfortable Fords.
Sorry you get caught up in the smoke and mirrors of Ford marketing.

@Nitro and the other Ford whiners : sorry you have to continually defend your less powerful, slower accelerating, less fuel efficient, poorly handling (compared to the GMC) and uncomfortable Fords.
Sorry you get caught up in the smoke and mirrors of Ford marketing.


Posted by: GMSRGREAT | Sep 5, 2017 1:24:59 PM

We are never worried, F-Series outsells Silverado and Sierra combined, and the Ford won this test.

This speaks volumes, you? Not so much! HA!

Well, you get what you pay for, less bling, less tech, and LESS TOWING CAPABILITIES. GMRSJUNK!!

Posted by: Frank

Well not really. The GMC handled it's max load better than Ford handles 75% of it's max load. To be honest, given the truck ratings, Ford should have wiped the floor with the GMC but it actually lost the measurable part of the test. Then through in the GMC is $5,000 cheaper (which for some strange reason wasn't a measurable in this test).

Believe what you want but I see an embarrassing performance by the brand new Ford.

GMSRSHAKEY, papajerk, TINYGMC and the rest of the Ford-hater primates:

Can I get a score-check please? Who's truck won this test?

That's what I thought--Thanks!

Wow FORD beat the 💩of it!! No wonder they called them GARBAGE MOTORS COMPANY AKA (GM) FORD FOR LIFE HOMEBOYS.

I really wanted to see a frame flex test

Can I get a score-check please? Who's truck won this test?

That's what I thought--Thanks!

Posted by: redbloodedxy | Sep 5, 2017 2:37:17 PM

The subjective judging was in favor of the Ford. The actual testing was won by the GMC, nuf said.

Well not really. The GMC handled it's max load better than Ford handles 75% of it's max load. To be honest, given the truck ratings, Ford should have wiped the floor with the GMC but it actually lost the measurable part of the test. Then through in the GMC is $5,000 cheaper (which for some strange reason wasn't a measurable in this test).

Believe what you want but I see an embarrassing performance by the brand new Ford.


Posted by: Jack | Sep 5, 2017 2:34:44 PM

Do you think Ford builds trucks to win races, Nope. Do I care they lose all races, NOPE. Only fanbois like you do.

There is nothing embarrassing here, the only embarrassing things I am reading is your typing.

The Ford is limited in Torque within the first gears to insure longevity. The DMAX is fine and all, but I think that rubber band is stretched far too long.

It's not embarrassing, you're clueless and know nothing about cars, trucks, and RACING. You're just a bench racer with anger in front of a keyboard.

Have a nice Day!!

Wow GMC beat the 💩of it!! No wonder they called them GARBAGE MOTORS COMPANY AKA (Ford) GMC FOR LIFE HOMEBOYS.

Hard to take these test seriously when the truck that wins all the things that
Are MOST important for a one ton WORK TRUCK and still looses. Once Again the guys at PICKUP TRUCK NEWS.COM fall head over heels for the latest cheap gadgets from Ford. Shame shame.

This second explanation reaffirms the bias. The Sierra outperformed the Ford and lost because of the judges subjective scoring. Now they list all their reasons and it's petty crap about the Sierra and bigger issues with the Ford. Huge problems are glossed over but you care more about being able to charge your phone? Give me a f-ing break.

More fake tests by the Ford Fellatio Fansite. You wanted the Ford to win ahead of time and made the scoring fit your agenda, for whatever the reasons behind it are whether it is personal or some other ulterior motivation. At least the weirdos at TFL Truck are honest, you aren't.

Now they list all their reasons and it's petty crap about the Sierra and bigger issues with the Ford. Huge problems are glossed over but you care more about being able to charge your phone? Give me a f-ing break.

More fake tests by the Ford Fellatio Fansite. You wanted the Ford to win ahead of time and made the scoring fit your agenda, for whatever the reasons behind it are whether it is personal or some other ulterior motivation. At least the weirdos at TFL Truck are honest, you aren't.


Posted by: BD | Sep 5, 2017 4:55:52 PM

Why are you here, nobody cares....BLACK DYNACRAP!!!

GTFOH.

Great job GM! Most comfortable truck *because GM trucks can go further without a cheap china part breaking unlike Ford* Best performance *running circles around Ford and stop better too* One day Ford will get wise and build a real truck! Till then just more cheap china uncomfortable junk to pawn off the lowest fleet truck bidder for tiny profits

Frank the tank Ford girl sure is taking this hard, yeah because he knows all the important stuff GM smoked his brand new Ford trash in. HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Frank the tank Ford girl sure is taking this hard, yeah because he knows all the important stuff GM smoked his brand new Ford trash in. HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So they gripe about not seeing what gear the truck is in (I would agree with them because this should be extremely easy to display on the screen), but nobody has an issue with the fact that Ford has done away with displaying oil pressure in their trucks.

Oil pressure is a critical thing to monitor. It allows you to catch issues such as a dying oil pump before it's too late. Ford just displays a dummy message letting you know you lost oil pressure and either need a new oil pressure sensor switch or a new engine. Completely idiotic.

"and the filler position under the hood is just annoying and challenging to fill. Ford and Ram are convenient by contrast."

Yeah it's annoying, but considering how many Ford and Ram owners have managed to destroy their fuel system by pumping DEF into the fuel tank, it's a good thing that they're separate.

Bill Hewitt demonstrated the nightmare this can become:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LDZQzfQ31Rc


It s not really important to have a comfortable ride in a Ford truck. The reasoning behind that is because when they break down the owner gets to ride in a comfortable GMC tow truck, a place owners get to visit very often owning Ford trash.

Well other than the strange scores in the end, after reading just the facts i would go with the GM truck if i were buying presently. Not sure how the Ford came out on top when the most important thing to most drivers is being comfortable, and nobody was in the Ford truck. That alone would be a huge deficit for most operators.

Could not agree more about the Ford seats! On my third F150 (2017) since 2005 and the eleventh generation truck. Also been in many F150s and Super Duties and the seats all suck. Best leather, best cloth, console or not, on and on. This is where you live, Ford. This is where you spend all your time - SEAT TIME.
How can you keep making the least comfortable, most painful seats in the business. The press says it, the customers say it and now for 75,000. you get the same crap. I had a guy in a 2017 Silverado the other day say he would trade my dash for his seats till he climbed in my F150 and sit a minute. He backed out of the deal, lol. This may be my last Ford truck. I am not going to be so uncomfortable driving!



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