Chevy and Ford Diesels Get Ready to Rumble in Colorado

Chevy and Ford Diesels Ready to Rumble in Colorado
Photo by Harry Rawlins/Mike McGlothlin

Remember the heavy-duty high altitude towing and exhaust brake challenge that Chevrolet issued to Ford a month ago? It's so on. We've got two one-ton dually diesel pickups ready to rumble in the Colorado Rockies in the next few days.

The first truck is a 2011 Chevy Silverado 3500 LT crew cab with a 3.73 rear axle and 397 horsepower, 765 pounds-feet of torque 6.6-liter Duramax V-8. The second rig is a 2011 Ford F-350 XLT crew cab with a 3.73 rear axle and a 400 hp, 800 pounds-feet 6.7-liter Power Stroke V-8.

Chevrolet is moving forward with the showdown after being turned down by Ford. They've asked us and our friends at Diesel Power Magazine to drive the trucks and act as impartial judges to verify the configurations and measure truck performance up and down the grades towing an 18,500 pound gooseneck trailer.

Where did the trucks come from? Chevrolet paid for both trucks brand new from Chevy and Ford dealers in Michigan and Indiana.

The Chevy Silverado had 8 miles on its odometer, .9 hours on its engine meter and plastic on the steering wheel when we picked it up last week in Detroit. The Ford Super Duty was delivered to Detroit by a third party fleet company with 323 miles on its odometer. We've had both trucks in our possession since late last week and we drove them to Denver over the weekend.

Yesterday was the weigh-in for both contenders. The Chevy tipped the scales at 8,220 pounds and the Ford checked in at 8,440 pounds. Check out Diesel Power for the observed fuel economy during the drive from Michigan to Colorado.

What happens next? Stay tuned for updates.


Are they both DRW as shown in the pic?

@Alex: Yes. The DRW trucks in the picture are the trucks we're testing.

I don't trust chevy, lied too many times lately!

@Ty: That's why we're there. I can tell you, we've been over the Silverado front to back. It came straight from a dealer lot without any prep.

Mike, i believe u mistyped the duramax's horspower at 365. If im correct isnt it 397?


@Tucker: Doh! Thanks for keeping me honest. :-)

Mike, will mpg be given at the end of the competition? i am aware that mpg are not part of the scoring of the competition but i am just wondering if mpg from each truck will be given after the competition is over, thanks.

Ford has been so good about providing 2011 pickups for testing that it's telling that they declined this test. Maybe they know their tune/design ain't quite up to the challenge?

I can already hear the the ford girls making excuses

@ alex
You ever wonder why chevy asked them to do an "elevated" towing test with the job 2 super duty? because they know they have the advantage at higher elevation. bring that down to sea level and do the test. also, maybe u want to read this article about brand reliability

Yes ford is in 10th, but gm best performing brand (chevy) is in 17th

Why are chevy fans calling themselves "ford girls"? Makes since I guess.


Sounds like this test might be the best comparison so far as far as apples to apples go with the trucks. I feel that since alot of these boys question the high altitude test that you might as well bring those rigs down to texas closer to sea level just for curiosity sake and see what differences there really are. Heck I think you need to put a dodge in there too. All those boys say there the best pulling king out there, so lets just it get all out there and let facts be facts so all this can be laid to rest till the next new models come out.

ford probably win even though crapvy has the weight advantage and the aerodynamics. Plus no man axle in the front

The Silverado will take this easy, hands down. Duramax will out tow the Powerstroke! Chevy all the way!

The Duramax will dominate without question. The truck is proven more reliable, obviously better tuned and more efficient at getting power to the pavement. I like that you guys are finally putting a load behind these beasts (20K). After this blowout we'll probably see a job 3 PowerStroke,lol.

Yes, i have driven both these trucks. The Duramax is a better truck for sure, frame, steering, ride, and power.

Fuel miles per gallon is no longer the sole question. We also need to know the amount of urea used.
The urea consumption is based largely on fuel demand. Give us a reading on amount of urea burned pulling at high altitude.
I need to know what to expect if I am traveling for the summer in the back country.
How available is urea in the back country. Is it of concern? Will I have to make trips out of the way just to stock up on the urea?

I want to know if in the long run will the V-10 be cheaper and less of a hassle to operate.

I'm skeptical of this whole thing. I feel like GM must know they have some kind of (High Altitude) Advantage. Because if they were truly wanting a fair comparison they would want testing to be done under all circumstance's. High Altitude,Low Altitude. And so what IF GM wins this comparison its not going to change my mind. And I'm sure not going to change any of the other Ford guys minds. Ford wins some GM wins some and Dodge wins some, As long as these three company's have existed that's the way it has been and always will be.

Ford is making the better quality vehicle now though, Don't beleive me?

Doesn't matter who wins to me, I have the Super Duty in my sights and its just a matter of time. No Government Durajunk or Ram HeavyDoodoo for me. Goernment Motors bought both trucks with tax payers money and if (IF) they win they think its going to increase sales and help restore their greedy image. Once again Goernment Motors has shown that they can still waste money, talk sh@t about everyboby else and rely on all the brand loyal suckers to keep buying their junk. Nothing has changed and its still the old GM, they just use tax payers money to waste now. Ford doesn't have to prove anything and their products sell, so why lose money.


Have You Used A Ford Lately?

I hope the roads clear up for you guys - Vail Pass was a mess today from what I hear. Over 2 feet of snow in a lot of areas the last few days.

And for those of you saying the Duramax has proven to be more reliable than the Powerstroke. Well that's only when compared to the 6.0L and 6.4L BOTH International engines. So far the new 6.7L hasn't had any of the problems those one's had. And also the 7.3L was a more reliable than any Duramax ever was.

What is wrong with the 6.4? The 6.0 was terrible but whats been a problem mechanically with the 6.4? Btw im going for the powerstroke because ford has proven to me over the years to be a superior product

I wonder if GM also performed some kind of software upgrade to increase power and torque, but hasn't made mention of it.

It might be a good idea to dyno test both trucks as well.

Just added a link at the bottom to Diesel Power. They have the fuel economy figures for the drive out from Michigan to Colorado.

man trolls suck. ahhhhhh yes, what a stupid idea for a company put thier reputation on the line to try to prove their better. too bad no one can be civil and realize both trucks are very capable and it basically comes down to the average buyer"what looks better"

and for gms interiors, i drive in my 06 chevy, i could care less about the interior, it works and its simple....ITS A TRUCK.or am i one of the last few people who buy a truck to use it.
pulling stumps, hauling wood, pulling logs out the woods, plowin snow, haulin dirt and gravel

i wouldnt want a fancy interior cuz its just gunna get ruined, same reason i dont have a smart phone

in my opinion, dodge and gmc have the best body style right now, ill trust the dmax and cummins before the powerstroke, ill give that a couple of years to prove itself

FordGuy1988 - the only thing that needs to be said about reliability is that the Duramax has over 1.4M engines out there. Ford, as you helped point out, is now on their 4th Diesel in that same time period, each time the story is the same - just trust us this time!

One design, or Ford's 4 different designs. No contest on reliability, GM wins hands down.

On a grade at speed, I'm predicting Gm's truck will be the leader, as it has the better power to weight ratio by about a half pound per HP.

On lever ground from a dig, I could see the Ford being faster, as it has significantly lower gearing and more torque per pound.

(Hopefully the trucks will be tested both ways, and not just an altitude test.)

Mike, out of curiosity, are the tire sizes the same?

@paul810: I'll let you know by tomorrow. They should be very close, like we had for the Shootout.

@ Mike Levine

Could you possibly put a fat guy in the back of the Chev just to quiet all this non-sense weight advantage talk. The whole whopping 220 lb. difference. Realistically maybe just put about 500lbs in the bed of the Chevy just to give the Ford the weight advantage, please, so that the majority of the readers being Ford fans can't complain.

@Ankeny, as has been pointed out, there is one Ford design, and the other 3 were International designs. The 7.3 was around when GM had the 6.5 (that GM fans are reluctant to remember), so the 7.3 was not a Duramax competitor. The Duramax competitors were the 6.0 and 6.4. The new Ford engine will compete with GM's 6.6 Duramax replacement engine. Ford got theirs out first. GM had to wait because of the bankruptcy. It's not really as bad for Ford as the haters like to make it out to be.


Couldn't have said it better.

Why tow 18,500 pounds when most who own these trucks can not legaly tow that much because the weight goes over the mystical 26,000 pound mark. I agree with the above statement of its all about what the individual wants, needs, and can afford. I am not loyal to any one of the big three , just the big three themselves. I buy what truck suits my needs best and what I like the design of at the time of purchase. That being said can't wait to see the results and wish the Dodge would have been there to for a complete test of the BIG THREE.


I have a suggestion for your website. Most manufactures are (at least the ones that are still in business) care deeply about what their customers want.

You have a great reputation for bringing us the news we want to hear first so a lot of people are watching your page.

Obviously GM, Ford, Dodge and Toyota know this with the demo's you have received.

So would it be possible to be the customers voice to the manufactures? Meaning having a segment, poll or whatever in what the major of readers want, will pay for and what they need.

Most companies spend a ton of cash gather this data. Can you provide our voice as well?

I for one would love to see a rig like the power wagon that gave me some decent range. Something that I could drive to MOAB and not break the bank at 6 mpg.

Posting choices like lockers, are they important? Horse Power, TQ, front spring rate (snowplows), ability to haul a decent trailer (IE the Raptors terrible ability to pull my sled trailer)


From Diesel Power:

Here are our rough results, which were spread out over 1,250 highway miles (empty).

Fuel Economy:
Chevy: 16.18 mpg
Ford: 15.51 mpg

Power to weight with trailers...
Chev: 8,220+18,500=26,720 /397=67.3047858942...
Ford: 8,440+18500=26,940 /400=67.35
So Chev has a 0.0452(...) pound/horsepower advantage... That's less than 0.1% difference.

With torque and weight comparison, Ford has the advantage.
Chev: 8,220+18,500=26,720 /765=34.92810...
Ford: 8,440+18500=26,940 /800=33.675
This difference is a little more substantial, a little over 1.25 pounds/lb-ft of torque, or a little more than 3.5%.

However, these numbers are still really, really close. It's been said before, and I'll state it again, that the real difference will be how efficiently the power is but to the ground. This includes power management - how well the engine fuel management is calibrated for varying conditions, how well the engine & transmission work together, traction control management (if required). Also, torque converter, transmission, & differential friction losses will play a factor. Tires may even prove to make a minute difference as well.

Now here's one thing to consider: The Chev has one ace up it's sleeve - the Allison transmission gearing. If my information is correct, the Allison has a 1:1 4th gear, which allows more power to the ground (in 4th) due to less friction loss. If test speeds are in the range that 4th gear is used a lot of the time, Chev will have the advantage here due to only one set of gearing friction loss - the differential.
Ford's transmission gearing, however, is lower (numerically higher), which, combined with identical rear axle ratios (3.73) should put a lot more torque to the wheel in each gear... This *should* result in swifter acceleration.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. Thanks to GM,, and Diesel Power, we have this great apples-to-apples comparison - a high five to all involved.

I'd love to see test results from doing both a "high altitude" & "sea level". Same trucks no changes.
That would be interesting.

Regarding observed fuel economy, it's interesting to note that Diesel Power's rough results are within 4%. Now, assuming that tire diameter is identical, the Ford was running 9% higher engine RPM's due to 0.67 6th gear vs. Chev's 0.61 6th gear. Would the Fords empty fuel economy equal the Chev's if all gearing was identical? Possibly, but this is not a real issue to truck owners that do a lot of towing. It's more important to know overall operating costs including original cost, depreciation, repairs & maintenance costs, overall fuel costs, etc. The bottom line is this: Will the truck perform as required, keeping within operating budget?

Voicing one other question already touched on - How does the DEF usage compare? This would seem to be the ideal time to compare real-life usage, apples-to-apples. Will we see this at the end of the challenge?

For DEF usage and fuel economy, also see the results of the 2010 HD Shootout:

Any chance they'll let you keep the trucks a while? The high altitude doesn't interest me, but one thing I've always noticed with the Diesel trucks is the difference in performance new vs the performance on one with miles.

It would be interesting to see the results of these two new non-broken in trucks compared to the same truck months later with 8,000 miles to see what differences break in makes. My guess is both will gain greatly, but I'd like to see it confirmed.

The Duramax is also new this year. It was upgraded several times previously as well hence the different letter designations. Stop being ignorant GM boys. Saying the Duramax is the same engine since it debuted is like saying the same thing for the Powerstoke. Just a name.

I'm not betting that the ford will win, as the previous towing comparison in the mountains showed the Duramax was defenitely tuned better for high altitude. Although I wish the ford would win, these types of tests are great for us consumers....hopefully each manufacturer will pay attention to the results. I drive a ford, my dad drives a dodge, and my in-laws drive chevy's...all are good trucks we all just have different wants and likes.

This will be the kind of test we want, both with same gearing in the rear, a true load.

I don't think ford will win as far as speed is concerned, and truely when I tow at that kind of wieght I am not in it for speed.

So handling and the confidence you feel and have in the handling of the load is what matters, along with a dash of confort.

Oh also, last nite we had to rescue yet another Chevy 2500 with the IFS..wheel was down on the ground with a broken suspension.

Mike, did chev demand that the test only be done at high altitude? Why wouldn't you also test them at lower altitude where 95% of the population lives?

Which truck doesnt need DEF and has an integrated turbo brake? Neither. That would be a Cummins

A gasser will tow that weight at sea level. high altitude will make both of these trucks work. I agree get a Ram 3500 into this test scene.

And just to make it clear, I drive a 7.3 Powerstroke.

I do like the new ford but them balking at this competition likely points to chevy's advantage at high altitudes. i wouldn't mind seeing some of the test being broken up by altitude, maybe some at low altitudes while you have the trucks in hand? and can people keep the comments constructive? i hate, hate, hate sifting through the ford vs GM garbage just to find interesting thoughts on the test and trucks.

I live in Wyoming and have seen both Trucks pull gooseneck trailers loaded with Backhoes and I know that the 6.4L has out pulled them. By the way I drive a 7.3 L Powerstroke which is the bet engine that Ford has ever come out with.

@Jason - agreed. They are all good HD trucks. It boils down more to one's desires.

I do find some irony in the fact that GM challenged Ford to a high altitude test only after the results of this site's test.

It does show that the auto giants do pay attention to 3rd party testers like the media.

Kudos to Mike and the gang at PUTC.

I wonder how much the altitude will really affect these trucks. After all, they are both force-inducted, which should keep both engines producing about 95% of the power they produce at sea level.

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