It's Coming: 2013 Light-Duty Challenge

Pre post group
photo by Evan Sears

If you've been keeping up with our Facebook page lately, you've seen all the competitors from just about every angle and followed along as we published quite a few behind-the-scenes shots. As you can tell, we were busy and did tons of testing (and lets not forget all those sandbags and rubber mats we moved from truck to truck).

Our latest six-truck comparison test will likely go live at noon June 17 Eastern Daylight Time, barring any serious problems. For now, you'll just have to wait, but we do want to let you see how closely all the trucks matched.

We gave each manufacturer just four criteria: Each truck needed to be four-wheel drive, have four full-size doors, be able to carry at least 8,500 pounds and do it all for less than $45,000 (including destination charges).

Click here to see a pdf of a shortened comparison chart (we'll have the more exhaustive charts in the story) of how each truck compares to the others. We have no doubt some will be surprised by what certain truck makers sent. Feel free to make your predictions based on the specs. We'll have all the details from each competition in nine different stories, each focused on a different aspect of the contest. Readers just have to wait a little longer.



Not sure why GM has two identical trucks, but oh well. Should be an interesting test none the less. Hard to predict a winner. Towing, gotta go with the ford. Overall drive maybe the new GM twins. Although the Ram could surprise everyone.

Looking at the spec sheet I think the ram, ecoboost, and tundra will be competing for the performance categories. The 4:30 gears in the tundra will keep it close. I wish the GM trucks had 3:73 gears. The ram and ecoboost better enjoy this shootout because later this year when GM 6.2 comes out it will be a whole new ball game.
P.S. next month heavy duty shootout with the new HO cummins?

Why not get Ford F150 5.0L match Chevy's 5.3L V8 ??

Looking are power to weight of vehicle on the GMs and the Eco boost are a pretty close match.

On paper at least, the Dodge would appear to have an advantage in the performance department.

Somehow I think the Titan is there just to make numbers.

But, I'm hoping the new Titan will be a great leap forward, especially with the new 2.8 Cummins.

There isn't much information on how the new Titan is progressing.

As for any market segment that is competitive, they are almost clones with little differences between them.

Finding the best will require this test. I don't see the quickest or the largest payload (is payload truck and trailer?) will make the best truck. Opinion will play a role to some degree, perception.

Remember, when buying a vehicle, it about living with it and not trying to impress people with it.

Interesting that the hitch height is different between the Chevy and the GMC, considering they're such similar trucks.

On another note, it's nice to see the 36 gallon tank in the F150 vs most of the competitors ~26 gallon tanks. It makes towing a lot less stressful not having to worry about range as much.

I have the Ford 5 cylinder 3.2 Duratorqe in my Mazda BT50.

I would like to see what the US version of my engine is capable of, but I don't think we'll get it here. It will not meet Euro V or VI.

I can buy a chip from Germany for a few hundred and bump my power up to 250hp and 440ftlb of torque. There is supposed to be another chip floating around to give more, but I can't find it.

Just plug the module in, but this will reduce my current fuel economy.

One day you will see even smaller diesels able to be used in your half ton pickups. I can see 2.2 diesels becoming viable within a few years.

Imagine a 2.2 4 cylinder in a full sizer? The world is an amazing place.

Have a look at the figure some of these Euro diesels develop.

They are quite amazing.

Even the VM going into the Ram is quite good. If it was translated in a 6.7 you'd have 530hp and 950ftlb.

My 3.2 Duratorqe is similar to an HD engine (by capacity) and this engine is over a decade old now. Its that old it doesn't meet Euro V.

Porche make a fantastic 4.2 V8 diesel of 288kw and over 800nm of torque. That is comparable to an HD diesel.

That's why I think Toyota will drop their 4.5 into the Tundra and offer an HD alternative. The Toyota V8 will not develop the Porche power, but it could be at least 300hp and 600ftlb of torque.

This Porche V8 is giving the 5 000lb Cayenne over 30mpg on the highway.

This will be the norm in 5-10 years for "budget" economical diesel engines. Something I'm looking forward to.

BMW, VW all make some fanstastic diesels. Kia is making a German designed 2.2 diesel of 140kw and 420nm of torque and that's a cheap Kia.

Don't get me wrong the US diesels are good, but not competitive. CAFE/EPA regulations caused this.

why 3.42's in both GMC and Chevy??? with same motor... Testing the same truck???? and 4:30 in the toyota.. and 3.73 in the Ford... Unless GM has some kick butt programming.. dont really see this test working out in their favor... Guess we'll see...

3.42 is the best Chevy/GM offers in this 5.3L. It is either that or the standard 3.08 rear axle.

I thought that the SLT and Big Horn were totally different trim levels, as in there is an SLT and a Big Horn, not an SLT Big Horn.

Seeing all the numbers like this really shows that Ram needs to find a way to up the GVWR, they are really starting to lag behind. I thought that the 2013s had new stiffer frames? I really thought that the GVWR was going to get upped with the introduction of the air suspension. Do any of the Ram guys on the forum know if there is some sort of frame (or other) limitation holding back the GVWR? Or is the "true" GVWR (at least with the air suspension) already quite a bit higher than listed, and the listed is just underrating the GVWR for now?

Also are those EPA numbers final for the GM twins or is that some odd "projected" number? They seem suspiciously high.

Remember GM is using 3.08 rear axles to get its fuel economy ratings! GM had to go with a 3.08, so they could squeeze out 1 mpg more and claim that their V8 has better fuel economy than "a smaller" V6 Ecoboost. 3.08 is standard including 4x4's.

If RAM doesn't win this shootout " THE FIX IS IN " its obvious what truck Mark Williams is rooting for I don't know something seems a bit biased here...I'm a RAM loyalist myself but, still all the trucks should be glorified just as much as the other to make things fair. Why would Mark Williams want only the Chevy to oust out the rest of the bunch especially, when that wouldn't realistically happen on a drag strip anyhow. Its all in the specs people tend to forget the technical innovative achievements V.S. brand conscience emotions. That certainly won't win this shootout assuming its not a paid off deal from the GM boys to spruce up their gradual declining sales with the pitiful GMT-900 pickups.

'Do any of the Ram guys on the forum know if there is some sort of frame (or other) limitation holding back the GVWR?'

It's the coil springs. Coils are great if you are running a taxi cab, but not if you want to use it like a truck with wide load variables.

The air suspenion does not increase payload. If you go over the payload with air suspenion it will over-heat and enter what is called protection mode.

The spec sheets are interesting. The Ford, GM siblings, and the Ram are running Goodyear SR/A's. The Ram is on 20's which will help on the slalom course. All of the trucks with the exception of the Ram are on 18' rims.
When it comes to power to weight ratio's the Ram has the best numbers. The Tundra is the 2nd heaviest truck but has good hp numbers. The F150 is the heaviest truck and has the 3rd highest hp numbers.
Ram = 1hp/14.2 lb
Tundra = 1 hp/15.2
Sierra = 1hp/15.27
Chevy = 1hp/15.4
Ford = 1 hp/15.9
Titan = 1hp/17.4

If one looks at torque, the Ford has the best numbers but horsepower is an expression of work not torque. The EB3.5 does have the advantage of putting out peak hp and torque lower in the RPM range than all of the other trucks.
The Ram, GMC siblings, and Tundra all put out max hp at 5,600 rpm. That is an interesting point.

It does look like the Ram has a power advantage. 20 inch wheels will help handling and so will the air ride. The eight speed will help too.
I think that Ram will win those categories.

The GMC siblings have a marginal mpg advantage. Interesting how the Ram comes in with identical mpg numbers as the Ford.

Didn't ford use 3.15s to get they're fuel economy ratings?

Sorry, their

@ Ken

So did Ram just put too weak an sir suspension setup on the 1500's then? It seems to me that an air suspension should be easily able to handle thousands of pounds of payload, considering that similar setups are frequently used to assist springs on light duty trucks, and as the entire spring setup on tractor trailers. If its the coil springs keeping the GVWR down I would have thought that Ram would have jumped on the chance to use an appropriately sized air suspension setup to heavily boost those numbers.

@Big Al from Oz
I am not sure where you see a Toyota HD? The 3rd Gen Tundra project I saw Toyota was happy with stamping Tundra in the tailgate, new interior and making it look more "masculine" Ram was happy about FE saving Tech, new interior, crew cab std bed and new chassis and suspension. GM was happy about the new more powerful engines, FE, chassis, crew cab std bed and a bit bigger cabs. I am not sure what about Toyota's body language makes you think they are doing anything meaningful with Toyota trucks in North America.

"THE FIX IS IN"? Come on? Some of you kill me with this nonsense! You all saw the criteria that had to be followed. There's no fix! Having said that, I think the trucks should have been identical, or as close as possible. Is it a fair comparison, no. But the fix isn't in.

if there is professional driver doing this shootout, on a torque drag test the finishing results should be:

1. RAM - 395hp/410tq (5.7 v8 HEMI) -
2. Tundra - 381hp/401tq (5.7 v8) -
3. Ford - 360hp/380tq (5.0 v8 Coyote) -
4. Chevy/GMC - 355hp/383tq (5.3 v8 Eco-tec3) -
5. Titian - 317hp/385tq (5.6 v8) -

Hey Joe, it the Ecoboost, not the Coyote

@Joe - the Ford in the shootout has the EB 3.5. If you are extrapolating drag race wins from torque ratings, that would mean the EB 3.5 Ford will win with 420 lb.ft. of torque at 2,500 rpm.
The Tundra puts out peak torque 350 rpm lower than Ram. The EB 3.5 has a torque peak 1,450 rpm lower than the Ram.

remember, the amount of tq can be greater than the hp but, if for exam: chevy has 355hp vs. ford 360hp still Ford would win because, it has 5hp more allowing the 380 lbs tq to gain more lbs per sqft tq from the added hp increase vs. chevy. people tend to misunderstand that concept.

How did they get a Sierra that cost less than the Silverado for this test? And Ford is doing an all out at every turn to sell Ecoboost. I would just have to look at V8 with all going on there. And Nissan and Toyota looking very long in the tooth and not up to the challenge right now and MPGs just suck. Ram is having a few of their issues. The newest of the bunch GM twins just seem like they have caught up. Interesting. Looks will have to close the deal for those two to some. In a few years maybe JEEP will shake things up with an entry. Looking forward to what seat time proved with all this.

@Lou - ok you got me on that! I totally forgot about the Eco-boost I was so impressed with the 5.0 vs. 5.3 I got confused my bad! ok so ford #1 RAM #2 tundra #3.

@ Jim:) LMFAO

@Joe - it does make you wonder who GMC was benchmarking when they built the new 5.3.

5.3 - hp = 355 at 5,600 torque = 383 at 4,100
5.0 - hp = 360 at 5,500 torque = 380 at 4,250

I'm betting that they built the 5.3 to go after the 5.0 and the 6.2 will be aimed at the 5.7 Ram and Tundra and Ford 6.2.

I never thought I'd see the day where GMC built an engine that has a torque peak lower than a comparable Ford engine ;)

@Joe Good explanation. You proved your point well.

AJ, You'll drive all trucks. Good for you. If they don't agree with you they are blinded by brand loyalty? You are being very passive agressive with your language. Just say what you like and don't attack people.

They're all great doesn't say much and may reveal you to be a person who does not have any opinions of your own. Not everyone wants, needs or desires the same truck and there is not a thing wrong with that.

should be an interesting test...... let the numbers decide and keep the subjective BS out of it. many of shootouts would have been won by the tundra if it were just by the numbers but someones subjective comfort zone decided the fate which is silly. it will be funny how well the tundra will still compete even though its design and engine,trans,rear diff combo has been around for 6 years goin on 7! i cant wait to see how usefull/useless the extra gears are in the hemi. but it doesnt help it as much as everyone thinks.

@Jim & @Lou - I kind of like the 2013 tundra just not the new 2014. I think the new toyota looks watered down I'm disappointed was that suppose to be the redesigned model? or mid-cycle refresh? I'm not a fan of the three piece bumper configuration.

I wish GM would resurrect the old 350ci v8 5.7 they should never have got rid of em' replace the 5.3 with 5.7 and add all the new technology that would be cool maybe hp could range between 375-385hp/390tq-400tq?

If anyone will take? (usually you have to buy it first, of course anyone would "take" one - nobody is even arguing that) any truck, I say put your money where your mouth is. Go down to the dealership tomorrow and spend that $45k on "that old Titan" (AJ's words) when you could spend the same or less on your first choice or second or third. This "buy anything and agree with me if you don't" message simply shows me he has no idea how to respond. It is expressing some kind of anger or unhappiness about something and is not pointed at you guys.

I'm interested in traction, mainly at the boat ramp. I've seen some have limited slip and auto locking differentials.

Turning radius.

Ride comfort.

Bed sides (some aren't strong enough for a bed rack).

And long term reliability (I've owned a few trucks that start to have small parts coming off).

It's not just that it's redundant to run 2 identical trucks, but it's a wasted opportunity not to run one '13 GM vs a '14 GM. Or a 3.42 R&P GM vs a 3.73.

Also, the wide disparity in R&Ps throughout, will affect all outcomes in MPG, capacity and performance, loaded and unloaded. But it's curious how is the Titan's MPG so abysmal with 3.36s?

He said he would drive any truck, not take. Does driving also include buying? I assume not so the statement means little unless the buy buys that old Titan tomorrow. They are all great? Maybe to some, but I am hoping PUTC has a little more analysis than that. This isn't a joke. We're talking 45 G's here and that's for a mid range truck! A decision not to be taken so casually.

That post is a repost by either TRD X4 Tom or DenverDick, sorry. I made that post many months ago.

I do think Toyota will not be able to use the 4.5 diesel now considering how old the engine is. The problem Toyota has globally is they don't have suitable light/medium duty diesels. Toyota is apparently working with BMW on diesel tech and BMW will receive Toyota Hybrid tech.

As for a Tundra HD, I was inferring that Toyota could beef up the Tundra as an intermediate style pickup ie, carry the weight of an HD and tow close to what they can tow.

But the chassis will need to be strengthened.

The Ram brought nearly identical hp/torque numbers to the 2008 shootout and was no match for the Tundra then in any of the power tests. Looking forward to see if the additional 2 gears in the Ram this go around have any affect on the outcome.

Don't know why some of you guys are only looking at rear end ratio, and not overall transmission ratio. The Ram's ZF 8 speed with 3.55s is MORE aggressive than Tundra's 4.30.

Overall 1st gear ratios:

RAM ZF: 4.7 x 3.55 = 16.685
Tundra: 3.33 x 4.30 = 14.32
GM: 4.027 x 3.42 = 13.77
Ford: 4.17 x 3.73 = 15.55

So while the GMs are at a slight disadvantage, it's nowhere near as bad as people think.

Just out of curiosity, I converted all the tire sizes:

Chevy: 31.6"
Ford: 32.1"
GMC: 31.6"
Nissan: 33.2"
Ram: 33"
Toyota: 32.1"

Looks like the GM twins have the smallest factory tires, while the Titan has the largest. Average is 32.3"

It actually amazes me how large of stock tire we get now. I think my first K5 Blazer came with a 28" or 29" tire, I remember having to lift it just to fit 33's.

@Roy The Ford will have a higher final 1st gear ratio than the Tundra as well. Sites like this should really consider posting the combined final ratios to avoid this misconception.

@Paul810 Do you feel like converting the tire widths too? I would but I'm too lazy. The size of the patch obviously play a big part especially in the traction and braking tests.


Tire width is easy. The first number on the tire is the width in mm. GM's are 265's, all the rest are 275's. Converted to inches you get:

265: 10 and 7/16" (Round it up to a 10.5" tire width)
275: 10 and 53/64" (Round it up to a 11" tire width)

I'm curious to see whether GM's comparatively smaller tires and lighter curb weight work in their favor. A smaller overall tire makes for better final gearing, and likely less unsprung weight. All that lightness could really help its performance, despite the gearing and HP disadvantage. I wouldn't count it out just yet.

I'm also curious to see how much of an effect the Ram's 8-speed has on performance. It's geared much better than the past 5/6 speed Rams. Combine that with a good power to weight ratio, lower profile tires, and the coil sprung rear it should be a good performer in all the unloaded tests.

The biggest killer for Ford is that it's a heavy truck. 400lbs more than the Chevy and 200lbs more than the Ram. It's going to have to make good use of that low gearing and Ecoboost low end torque to overcome the weight disadvantage.

Toyota is kinda in the same boat, good HP and TQ, but a heavy truck. Their choice of tires should prove helpful though, the Michelin LTX's are a better all around performing tire.

All in all, it should be interesting. In a drag race I would put my money on the Ram in first and the Titan last. The other four are close enough that I think anything could happen.

@Tyler is a TROLL - Its obvious RAM is a segment leader first in 30,000 lbs + towing capability for HD's. I was very impressed myself not only with their HD's but, also the Pentastar v6, the ZF transmissions were astounding giving a smooth and accurate shift no matter what speed I was driving nor, did it violently shift in and out of gear when pulling a loaded trailer on a generous steep incline. I suspect GM won't be too happy about the competition out smarting them yet again.
Posted by: Mark Williams | Jun 13, 2013 11:57:37 PM

@Paul810 and Brian
I have read that for every pound you remove from the drivetrain is equivalent to removing 10lbs off the vehicles weight.

Throttle response and fuel economy will be better.

I guess Ram truck is a winner

The reason the Tundra is so heavy is because it is a CrewMax.

I much prefer the DoubleCab configuration and am not a fan of the Toyota CrewMax or the Ram MegaCabs--but to each his own... .

@paul810 you make an excellent point about the respective weight of the competing trucks, and variables like the penalty you pay for heavier running gear like wheels and tires. It's like the Ford has a bunch of sandbags in the back.

Also, for all of the fellows who are fretting over the HP and Torque ratings, don't forget that ratings are just that--a scientific guess applied to a group of similarly equipped vehicles. The day of the test, somebody's truck might be a turkey. It happens.

I also wish that the trucks were selected off of dealer lots without the factories knowing about the test in advance.

My predictions:

1. Ford
2. GMC
3. Chevy
4. Ram
5. Tundra
6. Nissan

Since this test is conducted by humans, way too much bias in favor of Ford, for Ford to ever lose a comparison. Hasn't Ford won every comparison here on Ford will win.

If you think Ford won all shootouts, that the site is way too biased to one truck, you haven't been paying attention very well or you have some bias of your own trying to claim that that only one's trucks wins are biased. The site has unbiased content and PUTC's tests are the benchmark in the industry for pickup trucks.

Ultimate 4x4 Shootout
Ford Raptor

2012 Global Pickup Shootout
Ford Ranger

Duel in the Desert Shootout
Ram RamRunner

2012 Midsize Shootout
Toyota Tacoma

2011 $30,000 Shootout
Ram 1500

2010 V-6 Work Truck Shootout
Ford F-150

2011 Heavy-Duty Hurt Locker
2012 GMC Sierra 3500

Rocky Mountain Power Test
GMC Sierra Denali 3500

Rumble in the Rockies
2011 Chevrolet Silverado 3500

2010 Heavy-Duty Shootout
Best Overall 1 ton diesel DRW: GMC Sierra 3500
Best Overall 3/4 ton diesel: Chevy Siverado 2500
Best Overall 3/4 ton gas: Ford F-250

2008 Light-Duty Shootout
Ford F-150

@Jeff - I believe the Superduty usually loses the HD challenge and the F-150 lost the last challenge simply because Ford supplied a reg cab.

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