Rumble in the Rockies: The Toughest Major Climb in the U.S.


We're publishing the results of the Chevrolet versus Ford heavy-duty towing challenge on Nov. 15, but before we do, here's information about the killer climb both trucks tackled.

The eastbound ascent from Dillon, Colo. to the top of Eisenhower Pass on Interstate 70 is perhaps the toughest stretch of road a loaded truck will encounter on a major cross-county highway. The grade starts at approximately 5 percent for 2 miles and then it increases to about 7 percent for the remaining 6 miles, to the entrance of the Eisenhower Tunnel -- the highest vehicular tunnel in the U.S.

Our tow testing with an 18,920 pound gooseneck trailer ran 7.6 miles along I-70. We started at 8,776 feet in Dillon and finished at 11,000 feet above sea level, vertically gaining 2,224 feet over approximately 40,000 feet of travel.

The maps below show the route we drove and a profile of the mountain climb created by our VBOX test gear using GPS satellite signals.

Eisenhower Grade Profile

For a pickup truck loaded to more than 85 percent of its gross combined weight rating, the steep grade up the Eisenhower Pass is like the N├╝rburgring of pickup truck capability.

How long do you think it took the 2011 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 6.6-liter Duramax V-8 and 2011 Ford F-350 6.7-liter Power Stroke V-8 to pull that distance with almost 19,000 pounds in tow?



excited to read the article. That ford really is a good looking truck.

I'm a chevy guy. But this new Ford Super Duty is a beast. I hate to admit it but I'm gonna have to trade my chevy in for a ford.

I am excited to read this!!! Love both trucks and the route is just awe inspiring. Look at that terrain, beautiful, truck driving Valhalla.

This is cool I'm excited to see the results. I bet the chevy outperforms the ford. But if I decide to get a new diesel no doubt it will be a ford or ram.

Oh look I'm a Chevy girl and I'm going to trade it in for a beautiful Ford, look at me.

Nothing but propaganda by Ford guys.

Let see the results, Go Chevy all the way.

Chevy runs deep!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

@ AllAmerican

Maybe he really just wants a new super duty... Im a ford guy, have been my entire life...but if I ever decide to build a diesel for play its going to be a duramax. EFI Live is great for tuning....

when they publish the results i'll bet the chevy is considerable faster. i'll bet 10 mph. i ran this SAME exact stretch of road with an 02 crew cab 2500hd "STOCK" gmc with the dirty max with a total gcvw of just north of 23,500 lbs. i was able to hold 57 mph up the whole pass. i'm REALLY interested to see the published results of this test. with 19k in tow their gcvw should be around 25k and some change.

@mike levine.
you should publish the gcvw for everyone so they get a grip of just how much weight these trucks are really pullin around. to me its absolutely INCREDIBLE that a light duty pickup is cabable of these weights nowadays.

I'm totally looking forward to the test but not so much the inevetable whining and complaing about the result.

Can't wait to hear how the test should've included this, that or the next thing because these things would've made the diffrerence and changed the result...

EG. "It's a mountain grade WHHAAAAAA", "I don't tow on mountain grades WHHHAAAAAA", and my favourite "I tow on a flat surface all the time and this test should be on a flat highway at constant speed WHHHAAAAAA"

Both trucks are beasts and I'd take either. It would be nice to let the results talk this time and to not hear chronic complaining.

I've said it before, if you can throw down a better test, why aren't you doing it???? It's rare to get this kind of article.

I'm looking forward to reading the article and seeing the results!

@hemi lol: GCW for the Chevy was 27,140 lbs., the Ford was 27,360 lbs. Both trucks were measured with a full tank of diesel. No passengers. We ran the hill climb tests with four adult males in the trucks. So, figure another 600 lbs above that for our test results. probably closer to 800 lbs more. :-)

Chevy is praying they win so they can make a commercial off this and bash Ford for having more HP and TQ. I think they will win, but it's sad that they have to result to this kind of stuff. The new Duramax commercials are pretty dumb as well.

@Eddie: I'm curious. Why is it sad if Chevy challenged Ford to a test like this? Ford did similar towing challenges to promote the 2011 Super Duty against the 2010 Ram and 2010 Silverado.

I think you're trying to get me to give away the winner. Y'all are going to be shocked by the end of this test. Chevy and Ford fans alike.

I think Mike may have just told us what happened with all this surprised rusults for both sides stuff. The trucks were dead even, only miliseconds separating the Chevs victory over the Ford. Am I close Mike?

@Greg: Check back Nov. 15. :-)

Didn't the GM already crush the Ford in high altitude testing? If I lived in Colorado or hauled a route that had a drastic change in altitude like this one and time was of the essence. Then I would by the GM. If I lived sea level or was more concerned about looks inside and out I would take the Ford hands down. As far as the test? The only thing that will surprise me is if the Chevy loses. They made the challenge so I would think they were smart enough to do a "dry run"....

The big surprise is a Cummins powered 1 ton joins in and hangs in all the way to the top. Love these new diesel trucks, to own one is awesome, can't get enough of the huge torque my truck puts out, especially after removing the egr/dpf.

@ Mike Levine FORD Retested Those same trucks IN 2011 FORM ReFlash 2011 SD,Chevy HD Diesel and all 3 Gas .... Check the REmatch .... Its a Ford site so what do u expect lol ....

@cory: Thanks! I completely missed the retest footage. Going to check it out now.

@cory: I see the fuel economy test against the Silverado. I'll note that in the 3/4-ton FE test, the Silverado had a 3.73 rear axle and the Ford had a 3.31.

Is there a head-to-head trailer towing test, like Ford did the first time around?

I bet the tests are going to show that they are so close that it doesn't matter if you buy a gm or a ford. the extra power in the ford will probably just off set the fact that the ford is heavier and they will just be 1 tenth of a second different

I can't wait for the test.
I'll be doing the same as everyone else - going straight to the end of the story or data table to see who won.

Fuel Economy. Diesel. 2011 vs 2011. Towing. Both have 3.73

Fuel Economy. Gas. All 2011. All have 3.73

@Jay: Might want to recheck that first link. The diesel 3/4-ton SRWs have different rear axles (3.31 vs 3.73). The 1-ton DRWs in Ford's test have the same 3.73 axles.

That's why the Rocky Mountain test we did is with 1-tons and not lighter HDs. You can't get identical rear axles in the 3/4-ton pickups.

Ford also had better FE ratings when towing during our HD Shootout.

No doubt, these trucks are close to each other.

please tell me why you ford guys ALWAYS post ford propaganda as links to the ford being better. REMOVE THE SHEET FROM YOUR EYES!!! you see ford advertise best towing and best fuel economy, do you SERIOUSLY think this comes from the same truck?? ask someone you know who drives one, if you bought one to tow with it has 3.73, 4.10 or 4.30 gears (tow boss pkg.) these people get 10-12 mpg just ask em. then they build a one percentile truck with pathetic 3.31 gears so they can tune one for fuel economy. really its gettin old explaining this time after time after time.

my 2010 crew max 4x4 tundra with the 5.7 v8 with k&n, and TRD dual exhaust gets 19.5 on the highway with 4.30 gears. my 2002 ext. cab long bed chevy with a duramax and banks six gun k&n and 4" exhaust only gets 18mpg. with 3.73's. i have NEVER seen a ford post numbers this high in real world driving.

@ mike

thanks for the info :) i'm really lookin forward to the results. i'm sure all 4 of you guys had just a rough horrible time with all these exhausting (pardon the pun) tests you had to endure. i wish i had this for a permanent job lol.

The link doesn't bring you directly to the towing part. Use the drop down menu to go to fuel efficiency towing. The Chevy and Ford are both 1 ton with 3.73. I'm not saying it is as good as your tests, just saying that Ford has 2011 3.73 vs 2011 3.73 on their site now. Thanks.

@Jay: I think we're both saying the same thing! :-) Thanks again for posting those links. I appreciate it.

@hemi lol: I'd be lying if I didn't say I love my job. But know that I'll always work 110% to make the tests we do as fair and comprehensive as possible.

@ mike

id also like to mention that its really cool how you charted the ascent grade percentage for the pass. i'll admit when i did my trip up the pass oct.2005 not knowing the duramax very well then the descent back down is unsettling to say the least lol. thats the LAST place i would want a failure, keeping it under control on the way down is much more unsettling than the trip up....... that mountain DEMANDS respect.

"you see ford advertise best towing and best fuel economy, do you SERIOUSLY think this comes from the same truck?? ask someone you know who drives one, if you bought one to tow with it has 3.73, 4.10 or 4.30 gears (tow boss pkg.) these people get 10-12 mpg just ask em. then they build a one percentile truck with pathetic 3.31 gears so they can tune one for fuel economy. really its gettin old explaining this time after time after time." - hemilol

Wouldn't have posted this on here, but Mike brought it up.

For the second time, it 3.73 vs 3.73. 2011's. Check for yourself.

Go to "head to head", then "fuel efficiency towing":

And as Mike said, "Ford also had better FE ratings when towing during our HD Shootout."

@ mike

i DEFINATELY appreciate the effort you guys put into your tests. i dont always agree with your subjective findings (but noone ever agrees 100% of the time) on things drivin by opinions lol. thanks for everything you do, 3rd party testing is a great thing.

@ jay

again this is FORD ADVERTISEMENT! they are KINGS at stretching the truth to their advantage anyway they can. its fine if you want to rely on that but dont expect people who know better to give you credibility from a ford advertisement. and ford DOES do much better than they did in the past with mpg BUT when you buy a truck to tow with it is NOT setup to get max fuel economy. your doing EXACTLY what ford would like you to do, you believe their advertisements.

Lmao I dnt care I can't wait for the cummins to sweep these two off the map, you all could run your mouths but rams never stand down. It's only a matter of that 8spd nd a new engine that might or might nt be a part of the plan.

Anyways the fords front end is hideous the chevy is boring and old and the new ram is ok but needs more of a hardcore redesign

I am a gm guy and that's what i buy, but i do have respect for all the big 3 domestic's. I respect that gm has had the best diesel pickups since the duramax launched but dodge with the Cummins has been the bench mark on durability. I think the duramax has proven to be just as durable. Ford has had too many issues with their 6.0 diesels but their 6.4 diesels were supposed to fix those issues. They did get better but still no real competition for gm or dodge when it came to the diesel themselves but we can say ford had a pretty good platform for their super duty line.

Now we come to 2011 and ford has an all new diesel again trying to unseat the duramax's title of the most capable diesel
drivetrain in hd pickup field even though dodge has basically over the years put in a medium duty designed engine in their pickup. GM and ford has used their diesel's in their medium duty commercial trucks also so they had to be reliable enough.

Gm and also dodge to a lesser degree is basically still on their same diesel foundation with tweaks of different upgrade models from time to time to keep pushing the bar higher while ford has been trying to stay caught on power side while also at the same time dealing with their durability problems. Now ford has an all new from the ground up design that is probably their best engine yet and will probably over time be just as capable as the duramax has been all these years. Time will be the judge on that. Gm does have their next gen. clean sheet diesel coming soon and there rumors of a new Cummins also so we as consumers will be the winners.

Ford might win this tow off and gm might win but no matter the result's can we just be glad that we have these outstanding diesel's to choose from without resorting to child's play bickering back and forth and name calling like 1st graders or bullies on the play ground. Be respectful and use tact while giving your opinion while trying not to start a war of words.

That being said, i still would buy a duramax diesel if i had the need. I would prefer they go ahead with the 4.5 liter baby duramax light duty for my needs along with the rumored 6.9 liter duramax for the hd's.

Buy what you want, it's your money.

my money is on american made go duramax. i cant imagine a better diesel engine being made by ford in MEXICO.

hemi lol,

Why do you laugh at the HEMI ?

GM/FORD/TOYOTA use a Chrysler Hemi in their top fuel cars ...

Dodge Ram's with the Hemi out perform GM and Ford trucks...

Dodge Ram half tons with the Hemi are the quickest excellerating trucks around !! Ram R/T runs mid 13's stock,Quad Cab Hemi 6 sec 0-60 mph !! Spinning their tires !!

That top fuel argument is lame. They don't use a Chrysler engine, not the block, not the heads. I'd guess there is not one piece of Chrysler hardware in the entire engine. I could say it's a Ford design because it has a V-8 based engine. Some of the specs carrying over from the 60's are based on the original Hemi, such as 2 valves per cylinder, hemispherical heads, which by the way were out way before Chrysler's famed engines.

@ GM/Ford lol

Its simple why I do. You'll have to check your facts because the ram DOES NOT outperform anyone but Ford with the 5.7 ram. EVERY CAR AND TRUCK Dodge builds with a 5.7 hemi is SLOWER than a crew Max 5.7 tundra. The only one I haven't confirmed is the Challenger. (I haven't had the chance to run one yet). Comparing the ram R/T is as relevant as me talking about the supercharged 5.7 tundra which by the way BEATS the ram r/t. That's why I say HEMI LOL. I hope that clears it up. Oh and the tundra only needs 8 sparkplugs and Burns cleaner than most cars

That link to the ford site re: gm/ford diesel mpg comparo is a joke. Ford used a 3.31 drivetrain to gm's 3.73. Also appeared gm's side mirrors were extended out sightly more.

How is it a joke if it's comparing what both Chevy and Ford offer as standard equipment?

Chevy offers the 3.73 standard and the 4.10 in a 3/4 ton crewcab standard bed.

Ford offers 3.13 standard and 4.10 optional in a 3/4 ton.

3.13 is what Ford uses and Chevy uses 3.73. If what Ford offers standard is more fuel efficient, advantage Ford.

Check the 1 ton tow test, they are both 3.73, and Ford won.

i,ll stick to GM, the ford is butt ugly like it has been for the last 40 yrs

@hemi lol
Toyota's 5.7L 381 Horsepower and 401 lb-ft
5.7-litre HEMI® V8 with MDS and VVT 390 hp and 407 lb-ft of torque
Nobody beats the HEMI. I don't care about your subjective feeling. But you made my day. LOL.

I've just finished editing the distance / time / speed / elevation comparison graphs. They are some of the most amazing performance charts I've seen.

@zviera GM 6.2L 403 hp, 417 lbs-tq, Ford 6.2L 411 hp, 434 lbs-tq, and Ford's 3.5L EB 365 hp, 420 lbs-tq. There's two that beat it in hp and tq, and one that beats it in tq.

Both of these trucks are more than capable of doing anything a normal person would need them to do. Not many people own 20,000 lbs trailers. So both would be awesome to have. Now I am a GM guy, so I wouldn't even consider the Ford, just like Ford guys wouldn't consider the GM.

So no matter the outcome of the test, the GM and Ford people are going to buy GMs and Fords. And the Ram people are going to cry because their truck couldn't keep up so it wasn't included in the test (just j/k, lol) but they will still buy a Ram.

I'm really looking forward to your test. Your test will have everything equal. Same driver, same everything. I don't put any stock into the Ford comparisons (nor would I a GM one). Differences in the driver can make up the difference in the Ford vs. the Chevy fuel economy testing.

I think its very telling that GM came to you guys asking for this and Ford declined, and then turned around and done their own testing.

@ mike levine

i'm gettin anxious! cant wait to see it.


just because a truck has 9 HP more at peak and 6 lb. ft. of torque more at peak will NOT mean its faster. its DEFINATELY NOT and if you think so go line up next to a guy drivin a 5.7 tundra and watch his taillights as he pulls away from you, trust me he/she will.

Power at the flywheel means squat if it isnt at the pavement. the power curve of an engine is MUCH more important than peak numbers. With Dual Independant Variable Valve Timing (DVVT-i) and an Acoustically Controlled Induction System (ACIS) the Tundra's 5.7 makes more power at the pavement than the Dodge. PERIOD

also important to note, ford and gm's big engine isnt available in anything except the Crew Cab, you can get the 5.7 in the double cab tundra and the chevy 6.2 BARELY edged out a Crew Max tundra which means it would LOSE to a double cab just from weight difference.

Haha WHEN the ram does that you can talk about it. The ecoboost will murder the comp! 2 things however congrats on being quick in your hemi.... For me personally I tow things with my f150 and thats why I own it. I am not however saying its bad to have passing power, but check out the ecoboost. Chevy and ram are cool but I will always run a ford. And my last thing is this is about diesels so lets stick to that. I just had to say my piece on the discussion going on in the comments above.

@hemi lol, GM offers its 6.2l in extended cabs too.

That's a build your own extended cab with the 6.2L.

Anyways, Mike is they're any particular reason why the results can't be published untill the 15? GM put up the money for this test (they provided the trucks correct?) so is that their rules are just yours?

@ matt

that is NEW for 2011. previously you must have a crew cab to opt for the 6.2. I STAND CORRECTED.

STILL YET, you NEVER see a 6.2 on a dealer lot. my point is the 5.7engine for the tundra is the PRIMARY engine and you pay a big premium to opt for their 6.2 engine making the truck much more expensive than it should be which is why noone carries it on their lot for sale.

you can buy a 5.7 on a tundra in ANY configuration except reg. cab short bed 4x2. you DEFINATELY cant get a 6.2 in a regular cab. lol

thanks for teaching me that they changed that for 2011 though.

Don't you know? They both died before reaching the top and had to be pulled the rest of the way by a RAM.

@Matt: Correct. GM purchased both trucks from a Chevy and a Ford dealer in the Midwest and turned the keys over to us.

Let me be 100% clear: We (and Diesel Power Magazine) paid for all of our travel and lodging costs -- as PUTC normally does. We weren't paid to test the trucks either.

We aren't publishing until Nov. 15 because DP and PUTC need time to write the stories for print and online. You'll also be able to read about the test in the February 2011 issue (on sale by December) of Diesel Power.

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