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

Haha brand new F-350 and it's already starting to develop death wobble!

I like the look of the GMC better, the new superduties just look weird. They ride nice and high but it's like the sheet metal needs to come down another two inches all the way around the truck, a by product of sharing the cab with the F150.

HAHAHAHA!!!..enjoying watching all the sissy jealous Ford haters crying foul LOL...
Hey better luck next time but for now, just accept Ford still holds the crown, for 41 yrs & counting :-))

Hahahahahahahahahah this garbage motors fan girlys are so dumb and soooooo stupid.

YEP THEY NEVER LEARN I'M BEEN DEALING WITH THIS GOVERNMENT MOTORS FAN GIRLIS. I HATE GOVERNMENT PRODUCTS THEY ARE JUNK PURE JUNK. THAT'S WHY I LOVE TO DRIVE MY 00 FORD F150 AND I HATE GM BECAUSE I HAD A VERY BAD EXPERIENCE WITH GARBAGE MOTORS PRODUCTS. MY FORD HAS BEEN A BULLET PROOF OF TRUCK TO ME WITH OVER 288,*** PLUS MILES AND STILL COUNTING.

OH WAIT I JUST REALIZE GARBAGE MOTORS ARE JUNK. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHSHAHAHA.

Worth the money?t
Ford got 9-9-6
Chevy got 7-8-6

Sorry Chevy boys you lose again.lol

Why am I here? To read the articles of course, biased or not I want to know what's going on with new trucks. I have no idea what you do here but it apparently it isn't to add anything of value to the conversation. If you did everyone here might get something out of that, but instead you type nasty comments with no filter or substance. Good luck getting me to leave, you never gave me a reason to stay.

The most important aspects are loaded and unloaded towing. These are dually 1 tons. I see excavators behind srw trucks daily. Most contractors don't go with a dually for a main use truck. Its a dually that is secondary buy for straight work. Yeah they do actually get high trim levels for long term value, comfort when towing, fact that getting a low trim level might cost you similar money since you need to order it and a truck sitting on the lot can be negotiated cheaper.
So if your towing with srw trucks most of the time. Any dually is better equipped for weight and sway. Two rating is far less important to the buyer of this type of truck than what is let on when you read. God is way behind in rating but it will do just about the same. Rear a/c vents is a very needed option for roofing crews. They don't need anything but for the price paid should be there. When I get in older Ford pariahs f150 etc. The seat are better than new e class Mercedes when comparin material used and wear and rare. I'm surpsed almost a decade later they cheaped out. Maybe moved that material up the scale of option list? One thing my back needs is a seat it agrees with over a few years time. I can't have a seat that isn't comfortable to me, same as seating position. To me 9be might be better than the other but that's going to be the opinion of who is sitting in the seat. Position wise, I like the gm offset wheel, and arm rest on console. Those are personal and to me it's up to the buyer to really figure out what will work for them over a few years. That should be a very important thing to research for anyone that works hard. I thought the seats in the Chevy I have now would suck at first but they broke in and now to me most comfortable seats I've experienced. But materials are crap for wear. One thing I don't like for sure. In the end most guys will buy the truck they think is better off brand loyalty. All things mentioned here will be third thoughts and regrets long after purchase. You can tell from comments made here that most don't buy new trucks that often and actually work them. Not taking anything away, most guys aremt manual labor types that make enough to buy these every few years. Most don't follow that business style either. Hire a guy instead of do the job yourself. Which is smart, just not going to know first hand like someone that does work the vehicles they buy.
12k avg off ram! Right now in north east I'd buy that anyway! Tow with a cummins a few times and they are great too!

Looks like Ford wins again

Its funny how all the ford fanboys cry " its not about how fast you go to 60 or 1/4 mile" yet when there little "ecobusts"beats a 5.3L or a 6.2L, that's all they talk about?? You guys are clueless!

GM makes a way better OVERALL PERFORMING truck.

The only reason ford one is because of tech?? REALLY!! I want a truck that is comfortable and performs and that's what GM does!!

Very sad that the ford claims to make more TQ but it fails to on dyno...more ford lies...you fanboys just can't see it because your IQ is so low from huffing GM exhaust when the Duramax smokes by you!!

Its funny how all the ford fanboys cry " its not about how fast you go to 60 or 1/4 mile" yet when there little "ecobusts"beats a 5.3L or a 6.2L, that's all they talk about?? You guys are clueless!

GM makes a way better OVERALL PERFORMING truck.

The only reason ford one is because of tech?? REALLY!! I want a truck that is comfortable and performs and that's what GM does!!

Very sad that the ford claims to make more TQ but it fails to on dyno...more ford lies...you fanboys just can't see it because your IQ is so low from huffing GM exhaust when the Duramax smokes by you!!

Posted by: TNTGMC | Sep 6, 2017 8:19:18 AM

Nobody cares, get over it, it's just a truck. Please DO NOT kill/hang yourself.

Thanks.

@ Frank

Obviously you do!!

I wouldn't dare do such a thing I drive a GM product.

If I drove a ford with its uncomfortable ride and crappy performance..I would load the gun and pull trigger myself!!

Have great day

Bragman "It's definitely showing its age — no telescoping wheel"

http://cars.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83451b3c669e201bb09b381b2970d-pi

I would like a response to this. Aaron Bragman says in this article that the GMC has 'no telescoping wheel'. However, on the window sticker for the GMC in this test under standard equipment, interior, it shows steering column tilt and telescoping.

Makes me wonder what else did you guys overlooked.

Links is from the window sticker in the overview article.

http://news.pickuptrucks.com/2017/08/2017-one-ton-heavy-duty-pickup-challenge-overview.html

If I drove a ford with its uncomfortable ride and crappy performance..I would load the gun and pull trigger myself!!

Have great day


Posted by: TNTGMC | Sep 7, 2017 8:06:01 AM

Damn! You're crazy and ignorant.

And you still respond!! I thought you didn't care??

Says a lot about the person you are!

Of course we all knew that because you drive a Ford!

Take care

Take care


Posted by: TNTGMC | Sep 7, 2017 11:51:04 AM

Take care of yourself, I got me. PEACE!!

Bragman says that the Sierra does not have vent for air conditioning in the center console.

However, just like the 1500s, if you look under the seats you will see the vents there.

Sometimes you gotta look around.

Another test in which fastest wins, while not telling the public how these trucks are the worst at making tight turns.

Also getting to be more about like Car and Driver, most things being dependent on speed.

This is hilarious....as per the other review of glitzy 3/4 tons....

GM is the better truck everywhere it counts:

Better engine/transmission , power , acceleration and even mileage.

Better handling, braking, comfort and price.

The Ford won because of TECH. Yes , read it again....you choose the winner because it has more neato burrito techy features and rear air vents.....wow.

Its a brand new design VS an older design , is all aluminum YET .....its HEAVIER , SLOWER, brakes worse, rides worse , has bad front seats in a $70K vehicle, yikes....but hey , those rear air vents are schweeet and the low DEF fluid light RULES!

Really guys....you did READ the comments from the judges right?



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