Rumble in the Rockies: Are These the Most Evenly Matched HD Trucks Ever?

Rumble in the Rockies: Are These The Most Evenly Matched Trucks Ever?
Photo: Harry Rawlins

How evenly matched were the 2011 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 and 2011 Ford F-350 Super Duty that faced off in Chevy's Rocky Mountain towing challenge? We'll let you be the judge after you consider the following facts:

2011 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 LT 4WD Crew Cab

Engine: 6.6-liter Duramax V-8
Transmission: 6-speed Allison Automatic
Horsepower: 397
Torque (pounds-feet): 765
Rear Axle Ratio: 3.73
Measured Curb Weight (lbs.): 8,220
Max 5th Wheel Trailering (lbs.): 21,100
Max GCWR (lbs.): 29,200
Wheels/Tires: 235/80-R17 = 31.8 inch overall diameter
Odometer Reading in Denver (miles): 1,731
Price as Tested: $54,740
Place of Purchase: Mike Savoie Chevrolet, Troy, Mich.

Chevrolet Silverado 3500 Price as Tested

Download 2011 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 Window Sticker (Adobe PDF)

2011 Ford F-350 Super Duty XLT 4WD Crew Cab

Engine: 6.7-liter Power Stroke V-8
Transmission: 6-speed 6R140 Automatic
Horsepower: 400
Torque (pounds-feet): 800
Rear Axle Ratio: 3.73
Measured Curb Weight (lbs.): 8,440
Max 5th Wheel Trailering (lbs.): 21,700
Max GCWR (lbs.): 30,000
Wheels/Tires: 245/75-17 = 31.46 inch overall diameter
Odometer Reading in Denver (miles): 1,549
Price as Tested: $54,805
Place of Purchase: Harold Zeigler Ford Lincoln, Elkhart, Ind.

Ford F-350 Price as Tested

Download 2011 Ford F-350 Super Duty Window Sticker (Adobe PDF)

In our opinion, it doesn't get more "apples-to-apples" than these two trucks.

We'll have the full results of the Rumble in the Rockies on Nov. 15.


If someone tells me that the Rockies have collapsed or tipped over, I'll know that you guys hooked both these trucks up to them and pulled them.

It looks pretty spot on to me. The only thing I can think of would be if the gear ratios are completely different, designed to use a totally different axle ratio. But in all honesty, i don't think you could get a fairer test than these two trucks. If one gets eaten alive by the other, there should be no excuses.

@ Alex,

I agree -- but just wait for it... the blue oval boys will stomp their feet in protest and decry the unfairness of the test making all sorts of excuses in the process...

...and I own a Ford with the intention of getting another one.

I kind of want to see 'em do a tug-o-war now too, haha.

Why is not being mentioned that both of these trucks require a CDL to operate? Both are over 26,000lbs GCW. Did the testers have CDL's? I'm sure someone will say its ok as long as you tag it under 26,000, but that isnt true. Its what the manufacturer sticker says. These trucks require more expensive registration, insurance, and a CDL now.

One difference. Ford one tons have traction control. Chevy one tons don't.

Another issue. It's only at high altitude. The only reason Chevy wanted to do this was because of Mike's last high altitude test. Now that they think they know they outcome they only want to do the high altitude testing.

However, in the shootout, the Ford job #1 one ton was faster up the hill on a 7% grade. Chevy was only a half second faster on a 16% grade. That's why Chevy won't ask to redo the shootout with the job 2 trucks.

And the excusses begin, lol

Being a Doge/Cummins fan I will admit the new offerings from Chevy and Ford are hard to beat as far as motor output goes. With that said it will be a interesting fight once the new 8speed tranny shows up for Dodge and if the rumors are true about the new updated Cummins, things will get interesting VERY fast!

I'm a Ford guy, but what's with all the crying about testing in high altitude?! It's the ultimate test for a truck, pulling a lot of weight on steep grades with less oxygen! It's not much of a challange to tow at close to sea level with minimal grades for either of these trucks, some of you are missing the point here. Spot on comparo as far as I'm concerned!

@Sam: Correct. Our GCW for each truck was over 27,000 lbs and you need a CDL to pull more than 26,000 lbs. Our designated driver had a CDL.

@Tim: The entrance to the the Eisenhower Tunnel is the highest point on the U.S. Interstate highway system.

High elevation or not, this is 100% a real world test with recreational and commercial vehicles pulling this grade 24x7x365 as they travel cross country.

We'll be doing more tests in the future on this grade. It's like the Nürburgring for pickup trucks.

Mike, I assume you only need the CDL if and when pulling that kind of load?
@EKU, I have a Ford right now too, it's pretty nice but you really can't beat that new Chevy especially with the warranty they are offering.
@Tim, the GM SRW 3500 has traction control, DRW does not. Wasn't sure if you knew that or just didn't mention it.

@ Mike:
Once the DOT inspectors catch on to this there will be alot of GM and Ford guys getting some very large fines. Nobody expects to need a CDL in a pickup, and Ford and GM are not making this clear. The trucks never should have gotten past 26,000lbs in my opinion. This has trouble written all over it.

It's not excuses. It is the facts. Why not redo the shootout testing before going on to new tests? Because Chevy is scared. Why wait to Mike does a high elevation test and then issue a challenge? If the Rocky Mountains were the end all be all of tests Chevy would have blown the Ford job #1 trucks out of the water in the shootout. It didn't happen. Now they won't do anything non-high elevation against the Job #2 Fords.

@Tim: Maybe Chevy bit off more than they could chew with this test? Maybe not. I think the results of what happened are going to surprise you. The F-350 (8,440 lbs) is lighter than the F-450 (8,760 lbs) and it has a 3.73 rear axle instead of a 4.30.

I don't see the value of this test. 98% of this country is relatively flat. Most trucks won't see a mountain in their lifetime. If they really want to test these things, do a cross country tow and see who burns less fuel.

Tons of trucks in the rockies. This test seems pretty legit! It will be interesting to see what happens. I don't expect to see a huge contrast either way.

@barefoot, that has been done already. The Ford burns less fuel while towing cross country. The Chevy burns less unloaded.

I'm guessing that likely means the Ford is the more fuel efficient engine, but the Chevy is getting better fuel econ unloaded because of an advantage in weight and/or aerodynamics.

One truck is black and the other is white so obviously the results will be skewed by albido. So there is your hater post for the test. Have fun.

You don't necessarily need a CDL. There is an exemption for farmer moving their own products and equipment within 150 miles of their farm.

With that said, if you aren't a farmer and you don't fall under one of the few other very specific exemptions, you are going to need a B-class CDL just to drive this vehicle around unloaded. If you want to pull a trailer over 10,000lbs you will need an A-Class.

Luckily, it doesn't effect me either way as I've had my A-Class for years now.

Edit, whoops, you don't need a CDL to drive it around unloaded. Only if you are towing a trailer over 10,000lbs. Forgot that B-class goes by GVWR and not GCWR.

Can't wait to see how this test goes! Chevy did a daring thing and it will be interesting to see if the Ford can keep up or not. Nice to see that GM pays attention to websites like this. Mike is not only giving us info on how these trucks perform but also giving the automakers a great comparison and showing each vehicles strengths/weaknesses

First I think Chevy will win this test... No big deal there. I don't think this will sway anyone's opinion of what they were going to buy in the first place. IF you like a Chevy you will buy a Chevy and if you like a Ford you will buy a Ford. That simple.

Second you only need the CDL if you pull over 26,001 lbs (total weight, truck and trailer) if you are empty or under that weight then you do not need a CDL. I have my class A's so no problems for me.

This empty weight argument simply isnt true. The truck must be registered at the stated GCW on the sticker. If not anyone could drive a big rig as long as it isnt loaded... If the sticker on the door states 30,000 GCW thats what you have to title it at. The DOT will quickly pick this off as a scam by guys trying to avoid a cdl and higher fees. I have tried to do this in the past and found out it doesnt work. Your papers and stickers must all match up. Not to mention, as someone else pointed out, any trailer over 10,000lbs requires a cdl anyway.

@Sam Yes forgot to add that if you have a trailer loaded over 10,000lbs you must have a Class A. If your truck is tagged for 27,000lbs GVWR and towing a trailer under 10,000lbs must have a class B license.

Ford is only backing thier powertrain for 60,000 miles? Huge failure on their part. I'm sorry, but that's pathetic. If they're supposedly the best trucks like everyone including Ford swears they are, why aren't they backed like they're the best?

No Greg the failure is you trying to make the warrenty numbers relavent. A longer warranty does not make a vehicle any more reliable and Chevy is ranked lower for quality. It also doesnt mean your visit will be hassle free and that all parts or covered. Notice Cheverolets warranty reads "Limited Powertrian Warrenty". So what are they limiting?

By the way, Ford's warranty is 100k. 100k/5y for diesel powertrain. 36k bumper to bumper. Same as GM/Chevy.

Looks like a good match. You still need to put an extra 220lbs in the GM to compansate for the bigger / heavier hardware the Ford is built with. Even just the brand of rubber could make a difference here.

my bad the 6.4 is 100k. the 6.7 is 60k. do a google search on gm warranties if you want to learn more.

your fake gm warranty:

gm con game:

you only need as CDL if the truck has air brakes, and is reg. over 26,000. even if the manufacture GVWR is over 26,000 you can still reg. it for less and drive without a CDL, if it has no air brakes. no pick-ups have air brakes. if you truck has air brakes you need to take another writen test an get the air brake indorsment.

"Maybe Chevy bit off more than they could chew with this test? Maybe not. I think the results of what happened are going to surprise you."

What will the excuses be when Chevy loses at their own game? In 2 weeks, the GM boys will see how it feels when the shoe is on the other foot. Plus Ford gets one more sale added to their tally for the month. I love it.

@ Sandman: I know first hand NJ does not see it your way. You can not derate your own truck in this state to get around a CDL.

@ Mike: Mike this looks like a great topic for a 50 state DOT interview. I would also like to know how Ford and GM view this issue. If I had to guess I would say that GM and Ford will be doing a recall to rerate these trucks in the future.

@Sam: Agree. DOT / CDL requirements for these trucks should be explained in depth. I'm on it for a future story.

@Jack: I still don't see the point of adding 220 lbs to the Chevy if we're testing both trucks as they ship from the factory. That said, I'll share the following. We ran the Ford four times up the grade. The first two times, we had 3 adults in the cab. The last two runs we added one more 200 lb person. The Ford's last run (with 4 people) was its fastest. All of the runs we did in the Chevy were with four people in the cab. Like the Ford, the Chevy's last run was the fastest. So, there's your extra weight for the Chevy.

I can't wait to read the article. That Chevy dually is exactly how I woud want one if I were buying. I'm glad you guys didn't get top of the line loaded out trucks this time.

@Mike, I remember you saying the Sierra Denali HD's braking time also decreased with extra weight. These things are totally opposite of a car. When you add weight to a car, the ride, handling, acceleration and braking weaken. When you do it to a pickup truck, all that seems to improve with better tire contact with the road, and compressing the rear springs.

@Alex: Remember, though, that we're not testing 60 mph to zero stopping distance. We measured exhaust brake effectiveness. With the exhaust brakes on in both trucks, how much did the driver have to also apply the wheel brakes to slow the truck down the hill and keep a steady speed between 55 mph and 60 mph?

The youtube videos were a joke, who would take that guys word as fact, lol.
Fords website says the diesel engine is 100k, but thats the 6.4, not sure if they havent updated it yet or if that is transfered to the 6.7. Notice that its the diesel engine only, not the powertrain i.e. transmission, transfer case and rear ends, those items are only 60K. Ford clearly separates the diesel engine from the powertrain on their website. You can squak about quality all you want, but the facts remain that it doesn't look like Ford is putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to standing behind their so called superior products. Does anyone know for sure what warranty the new 6.7 has?

Hope this clears up some confusion with the CDL flap... these are the basics but can vary from state to state.

I know for a FACT that you can get pulled over by the DOT if you are using a HD pickup for commercial business. My brother got chased down by the Maryland DOT for not taking a dually through a weigh station. It was being used to transport equipment but nothing heavy just a small trencher. I know someone who pulls campers out of Indiana with his and he has to have DOT numbers on his Dually...

Flat land, low elevation testing will never be able to push these amazing trucks to their limit. If you think that this is not a good test, you are just plain ignorant! Like Mike said, this is like the "NURBURG RING" for trucks.

Mike, great job putting these trucks to the test in a place that can give them a good workout! Can't wait to hear the results!!!

@Dan I think this is an excellent test but for most of us we won't be crossing the Rockies anytime soon. The mountains in PA are hills compared to what you can find in the Rockies... lol

Huh, that's funny, Mike pretty much set the record straight about weight difference, it's a moot point unless you are going for empty flat out 1/4 mile times. 220 lbs doesn't mean squat to these trucks when pulling that much weight! I think Mike and his team have made a spot on comparo....ok so the article isn't out yet but thus far it seems about as even a playing field as you can get...Mike was traffic ever an issue??

So as the night went on, the air temp dropped, and the times got faster? Who got to run the first 4 tests or was it alternating between both brands?

I really don't understand the complaints about about a high altitude/steep grade test not being relevant. Sure, most of you flatlanders will never cross the Rockies, but isn't it useful to observe how these trucks perform under the most extreme of circumstances? And for those of us who do go up the hill multiple times a year (or week), this test is extremely relevant.

That's really interesting that the trucks got faster towards the end of the run (and with the addition of more weight). I'm curious as to why that is.

@Ford850, @Paul810: Temperatures ranged from 11 to 18 degrees F, according to both trucks' exterior thermometers. It depended on the altitude. We ran the Ford first, Chevy second.

My guess as to why the trucks got faster with every run -- and we're talking only 5 to 10 seconds faster over approximately 7.6 miles from the first to last run of each truck -- was the powertrain adapting to the operating conditions. These trucks have smart transmissions that adjust to the way they're driven. Drive them at WOT all the time and the truck will change its shift points to adapt to that driving style.

Just curious, but what was the other optional equipment ($300 option, last on the sticker) of the F-350? Was that somekind of dealer installed option like frame undercoating or what?

Thanks Mike. That makes sense as to how they would adapt to the driving conditions.

should be a good test. Remember speed needs to be acceptable but handling, ability to stop, confidence in the ability to handle the load is what is important here.

This is a real world test. Those of us who tow and tow heavy often have towed more hills then flat land.

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