Which One-Ton Truck Will Survive the Heavy-Duty Hurt Locker?

Which One-Ton Truck Will Survive the Heavy-Duty Hurt Locker?

Our latest comparison is under way, and it's brutal. Once again, we've teamed up with our friends at Diesel Power to test three heavy-duty dual-rear-wheel pickup trucks towing gooseneck trailers weighing almost 19,000 pounds, from the Rocky Mountains to Laughlin, Nev., and back. It's a journey of almost 2,000 miles with temperatures expected to top 105 degrees and elevations ranging from 500 feet above sea level to 11,000 feet.

We simply call it the Heavy-Duty Hurt Locker.

The HD pickups we're testing are the 2011 Ford F-350 Super Duty with the 6.7-liter Power Stroke V-8, 2012 GMC Sierra 3500 with the 6.6-liter Duramax V-8 and the updated 2011 Ram 3500 with the new 6.7-liter High Output Cummins inline-six-cylinder and optional Max Tow package.

Which one-ton dually will come out on top? The 400-horsepower, 800 pounds-feet of torque Super Duty? The 397-hp, 765 pounds-feet Sierra 3500, twin to the Chevy Silverado 3500 that won our Rumble in the Rockies? Or the toughened 350-hp, 800 pounds-feet Ram with the Cummins dynamo under its hood?

Stay tuned for updates this week on PUTC, Twitter and Facebook. And special thanks to Titan Trailer and Pioneer Sand for their support.





notice how they hook the trailer to the Ram the chevy but not the ford i bet dodge or the chevy comes out on top

Can't wait to see and hear about who wins. GO RAM!!!!!!

Oh and i also have to say the RAM looks the best.

Can't wait for the result!!! This should be very interesting, I hope all comparisons are apples to apples, to make it all fair as possible. I am sure Mike and the rest of the crew will do there best.

I agree with EP that the Ram looks the best, but I think the GM has the overall best drivetrain... for now. Oh, and I'm more partial to the Ford brand. Unlike most responses that will follow mine, I'm totally unbiased.

The RAM is the best looking truck and the Cummins is a bulletproof engine,it has to be at the top...it wasnt far off the F-350 performance when the Dodge had the lower 650 torque engine,so the 800 torque Dodge RAM at least should be at least knocking on its door,and hopefully blowing past both of them and showing the GM trucks the RAM's sweet looking tail lights ,hopefully the Dodge RAM is the winner !!

Go Ford!

I think the Ford will win the silly headlight competition, but that's all.

I wouldn't be ashamed to hook any of those trucks to my fifth wheel camper. Can't wait to read the comparison. Mike, any projected date for publishing the results?

you know i keep hearing how the dodge and the Cummings is the greatest thing since slice bread and how it is bulletproof so on and so forth, yet what is so funny to me is my neighbor has always driven a dodge Cummings for his construction business he drives about 50k miles a year and once a year he renting our '95 ford power stroke while he works to replace the rears or work on his transmission don't get me wrong the engine is the best hands down but the things surrounding that truck need to be more reliable

Quote "notice how they hook the trailer to the Ram the chevy but not the ford i bet dodge or the chevy comes out on top"

Probably because like every other competition the Chevy and Ford have already completed the race and Dodge is still trying to make it through the challenge.


I hated the Ford front end at first, but I have to admit I do like it best now. The Dodge looks so old, and the GM looks boring and similar to the current F150 front end. The more I see that Ford monster grill the more I like it.

Well I have always said that truck beauty is in the eye of the beholder or should I say beer holder. I think the Chevrolet Silverado HD is the best looking heavy duty truck on the market. In this test they are using the GMC HD and the only thing I don't really care for is the round fog lamps.

Why so many of the posters above think the Dodge is going to run away with this contest is baffeling. One thing I want to get straight right now is the fact that the Dodge in this contest with Dodge's "max towing package" is the only one with a 4.10 rear end and that means it will definitely have a advantage taking off and "should" be able to pull more because of the gearing. GM and ford are using a 3.73 rear end and they should get better gas milage.

I know pickuptrucks.com will do everthing possible to make the shootout as fair as possible but GM and ford are using a higher gear ratio and they will be at a disadvantage for top tow rating. I guess we will have to see how this plays out.

So to sum up, a 4.10 rear axle should be able to pull more than a 3.73. My money is still on the Duramax and Allison transmission but if it doesn't win this shootout I will say it's because you didn't have a Chevy in this shootout.

"Truck beauty is in the eye of the beholder"
Agreed, the Silverado twin is the ugliest of them all. I much prefer the GMC.
As for the test, I think the GMC will take it again - Duramax Isuzu engine with the Allison tranny is very stout. Then Ford and Dodge last.
If I were to buy one tomorrow, Ford would be in my driveway in a second, no matter what the outcome.

Can't wait for the article Mike!

From my standpoint I think the GMC will do well but if you remember the rumble in the rockies the Chevy was going to the top faster but the one thing Mike and crew kept talking about was how the motor was sounding like it was out of breath. I think Ford might have a serious shot this time now that they are maxing these trucks out. No matter who wins this will separate the men from the boys.

I absolutely love this kind of test, you've got the heat the elevation and the distance to get some serious results. I'm a little worried the fords tranny will overheat, my tranny cooler doesn't start cooling till about 190*. Can't Wait!! Be safe Mike and have some serious fun!

Out of breath eh Shawn? now that is some funny stuff. Not only did the Chevy beat the ford in "Rumble in the Rockies" it wasn't even close! The Chevy beat the ford up the hill by 2 minutes! pulling 19,000 pounds up a 7% grade.

The down hill test was just as dominating for the Chevy using the diesel exhaust brake.


So Shawn your post about the ford may do better this time because the Chevy sounded like it was out of breath is very funny! Hay ford lovers, how do you like getting beat by GM'S Duramax? I loved seeing some of you eat humble pie.

Based on the previous tests between Chevy and Ford we have our loser (ford) and Ram was far third, now Ram upgraded their truck it's hard to say where will it land. I think it'll win in couple of categories but not overall.

I agree the gmc probably takes it, but with the crappy interior and sheet metal I'd much rather have the Ford in my driveway. It's not like any of them are lacking power. My old 7.3 has all the power I've ever needed. IMO Ford wins for looks too. Dodge and gm are just boring looking. The thing I'm really interested in on this test is MPG and how much better the new HO dodge performs.

I like to see at pictures, that only truck to pull a heavy load is RAM. GMC is trying to load to see, if he can handle and Ford didn't even try to hook up goose neck trailer. I can see it in his eyes, that he is scared . LOL.

The previous tests weren't near as long so this one is going to tell a better story. The GM will probably come out on top but the fuel economy compared to the Ford might suprise you. My chevy would go through a DPF regen every 320 miles or so and after eight months of frustration I said forget it and traded for a ford. I'm getting great fuel economy towing and unloaded

I think the Ford has the advantage at sea level as well. This will be the first real good test at sea level since ford added more HP and torque

GMC, Dodge than the Super Dooty.

And the Furd will be in a very distant third. All Ford cares about is looking good on paper...and seeing how many useless electronic gimmicks they can stuff into the "truck" (which, because it's a Furd, will eventually break).

Why would ford have an advantage at sea level jessman? Why do you think Chevy has an advantage above sea level?

The fact remains that it's how you put the power to the ground that matters. Ford and Dodge are now both rated at 800 foot pounds of torque and the GMC at 765 but it's how you put that power to the ground. In my opinion, nothing does that better than the Duramax and Allison transmission.

I guess we will have to wait for the results to find out.

GO AMERICAN trucks!!!

I don't know why GM has the advantage at higher altitude. IMO its the turbo and I also think the Allison is the best transmission you can get in a truck, that thing just knows what gear to be in all the time, It's incredible. But you are right we will have to wait

All three major manufacturers make a nice truck...GO USA!!! I have to admit that I'm pulling for the Ram. Just ordered a 2012 Ram 3500 Mega Cab Laramie 4x4 SRW 350/800, 4.10. The choice was VERY clear in my mind after test driving similar Ram, Ford, and GMC heavy duty models in one afternoon.

@Michigan Man

The axle ratio is not that important if the transmission ratios make up the difference. Towing is a function of overall gearing (trans. X axle). So it is possible that the Ford and GM have more gearing than the lower axled Dodge.

I like the ominous clouds pictured over the Ford--is that some foreshadowing?


I agree. At first, the Ford looked hideous. But now, I'd rather have a big nosey front end. The other two look very small from the front. No matter the outcome, I like the Ford.

Good luck to them all!

I know the SuperDuty won't win, but its close with the RAM and Seirra, the Ram doesn't need DEFs and can pull more, but can it stop itand take the heat and elevation like the Seirra. I personaly lioke the Seirra's look the most, and love it's drivetrain.

Where's Toyota in this? Oh that's right! They don't offer anything in this segment. :)

GM trucks have a quality problem. I had all 3 manufacturer's truck and by far the GM was a problem child. Front end, brakes, electronics you name it. The most annoying thing about my Silverado was the squeaks and rattles. My GMC Jimmy was the same. Both had those symptoms within 16 months!! Drove me nuts!! Ford builds a better quality truck IMO.

@Bitchygan Bob - I agree with Ken. Rear end ratio's are no longer as important as they once were. I had read a post from an engineer and he felt that the Ford SD would of done much better in the Rumble in the Rockies with a taller gear ratio.
I do agree that looks are in the eye of the beholder. Strictly by looks I'd rate the Ram #1, Sierra #2, Ford SD #3, and Silverado #4.
I'll leave that one up to Mike and the crew.
Real world?
Sales figures don't lie.

I don't like the fact that these beasts are being tested exclusively on pavement. Run these guys up and down a 7% grade on a gravel road and we'll see how the 4x4, and chassis really holds up. How about 25% grade on a gravel road? The one that pulls the most up the hill wins.


I really don't think PUTC would want to be stuck with huge repair bills, well at least with the weak IFS Chevy!

The comparison will be different this time because in the Rumble in the Rockies was rigged by Chevy. GM would only test on a 7 mile run from 9,000 ft to 11,000 ft.

This test will be in more varied areas and range from 500 ft to 11,000 ft above sea level and over a much longer route - 2000 miles - 285 x's the distance Chevy wanted to run.

Looking at the HD Shootout could give us some clues as to how the trucks will run in altitudes different from the Rumble in the Rockies.

In the 7 percent hill climb, the job 1 Ford F-350 was the fastest up the hill. GM was right behind in 2nd and Ram third.

In the 16 percent hill climb, GM was just a half second faster than Ford and 6 seconds faster than Ram.

In the quarter mile towing, "the best time for the Denali was 22.3 seconds, while the best time for the Ford was 22.4, and we’re guessing if this were a half-mile flat-tow head-to-head test, the Power Stroke would have likely overtaken the Duramax in the next 200 feet."

In fuel economy, Ford had the best overall combined fuel economy and Ford had the best fuel economy while towing. GM was second and Ram third.

Therefore I think it will still be between GM and Ford. Ford could win it. Ram will be better but I don't believe Ram will be good enough. Ford will win on fuel economy.

I agree with Ford850 and Frank on front end styling.

Front end: I like the New Super Duty front end the best when seen in person (pics do no justice to the details.) Ford's front end is the most modern and tough looking, Ram is classic and GM is just too old.

Onto other areas.....

Sides, flares, and door handles: I like the Ram more.

Mirrors: Ford is best. Ram's tow mirrors look terrible.

Tailgate: I like Ford the best with the tailgate step.

Logos and emblem designs: Ford.

Wheels: Tossup.

Interior: Ram has made significant improvements, but Ford still wins with their updated interior and new dash lcd screen. King Ranch interior still cannot be beat by the Denali. '13 Harley interior will be even better.

There you have it. Overall, the Ford Super Duty is the overall best looking heavy duty truck.

Three SOLID COMPETITORS. like people have said, in person that ford is mean looking. I love it, but yeah I'm biased. I know a lot has to do with tourque but I really would be shocked if ram comes out on top due to the lack of horsepower. GO FORD is all I have to say

@Frank - remember GM's slogan - longest lasting trucks on the road.
Funny how they don't mention "offroad" ;)


Based on 1981-July 2009 full size pickup registrations. Now they are junk!

wonder if they will say how much urea fluid is needed in the Chev, Fords vs none for the dodge?

You claim that the only reason the Chevy won the Rumble in the Rockies was because the insufficient 7 mile distance, then point to even shorter test distances as evidence. That makes absolutely no sense.

Given the results of the Rumble in the Rockies, the GMC is the favorite, but given the much longer distance and varying terrain, I'll give any of these excellent trucks a good chance to pull off the win.

Was the Dodge damaged? Looks like the fender on the drivers side is damaged.


I did not say it was the only reason Chevy won. Just pointing out that Chevy for the Rumble in the Rockies only wanted to do one very specific test at one very specific high altitude.

The reason I brought up the HD shootout was because of the difference in altitude, not distance.

@ Ken

The Sierra's tranny gears are the most economical (from top to bottom) of the group while the F-350's gears are by far the most aggressive all the way tru. The Ram's are straight down the middle offering possibly the best compromise (if that's what you're into).

Don't forget to take the dodge in for the recall before you go towing 18,000# with it. ;)


Check out the PUTC Facebook page and you will see the F-350 hooked to a trailer with the Dodge parked on it. Probably excluded from the photos above because of the comments that would be made about it haha.

I wish they would include reports on actual coolant and transmission temperatures, engine rpm at various stages of the test and other factors that affect drivetrain longevity.

I don't know if the Cummins will be the fastest up the hill or in the quarter mile but it will still be running strong long after the others are gone.

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