2014 Canadian Truck King Challenge: How We Test



By Howard J Elmer

My private Iron Wood site in Kawartha Lakes, Ontario, is home to the annual Canadian Truck King Challenge, but most of the testing takes place on Canadian regional roads. We use a public 12-mile test loop that consists of a hilly gravel road, broken twisting asphalt and a smooth highway section. All the vehicles were 2014s except the Fords, which were 2013s. We take trucks out in groups of five and drive them round and round, switching drivers on each circuit until all five judges have driven all five vehicles. The trucks are always driven in the same condition: all empty, all towing or all with payload. We believe there is no better way to compare vehicles.

How They Pull

Payload this year was 1,000 pounds of patio stones on pallets. The trailers we used were twin-axle dumps and car carriers. Most of our trailers weighed in at 6,000 pounds, with one at 6,100 and another at 6,900. The smallest truck, the 2014 Toyota Tacoma, hauled 3,500 pounds. All the trucks hauled well, but the torque of the 2014 Ram 3.0-liter V-6 diesel with an eight-speed transmission stood out from the rest; also, its air suspension held the load level and firm on the road. The 2014 Toyota Tundra, while new this year and still powerful, feels like it suffers from a lack of chassis rigidity. The 2013 Ford F-150 generally felt good, with the biggest surprise to our judges being how well the base 3.7-liter V-6 handled payload and towing. The new GMs are clearly strong and their transmissions smooth, but we found the ride slightly twitchy under load, and several judges had steering complaints. On the fuel side, though, we thought it impressive how close the results were between the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado's 5.3-liter V-8 and the newer, bigger 6.2-liter V-8 — much more power but very little extra fuel consumption.

Going Off-Road

The off-road portion of our test has the shortest course. It's done on a half-mile-long trail I built myself. It offers muddy hills, rock-strewn fields, a water-filled trench and an off-camber test, which gets a few wheels in the air. It's about as tough as any real-world situation in which truck owners might find themselves, probably worse than 99 percent of most.

Three things stood out to us this year. First, as truck makers look for more aerodynamic advantages they keep adding length to the front air dams; we had several trucks scraping repeatedly throughout the course. Second, we really liked the mechanical locking rear differentials on the GM trucks; they worked quite well. During the off-camber portion of the course, the GM rear differentials were the only ones that locked up to prevent the airborne tire from freely spinning. Third, and this is a gripe that we've had for several years, the Fords still have the electrical trailer hookups below the bumper where they collect a lot mud, dirt and grime.


One technical addition we made this year was to install a data reader to each truck that allowed us to record actual, directly comparable fuel mileage during testing. We made a point of recording each truck in each of the different testing conditions — empty, loaded and towing. The resulting figures are as real world as they get.

The Heavy Duties

The HD trucks were tested outside London, Ontario. We towed 14,000-pound fifth-wheel recreational vehicle trailers over a 200-mile route and then stripped the fifth wheels off and loaded up 3,000 pounds of shingles, then set off on a 120-mile route. Each judge drove the three trucks back-to-back, rotating regularly. Last year's winner, the Silverado HD, did just as well this year; however, it suffers from an aging interior, small info screens and clunky software. (Mind you, we've already seen the 2015s, and they look to be a huge improvement — but we can only grade what we get.) Ram was in the same boat last year; we knew a new 2013 HD was coming but we had to test the 2012 truck that we had. This year, the 2014 Ram 2500 squeaked past the 2013 Ford F-350 Super Duty, which always has been a strong hauler.

Strangely three of the four Fords in our test had electrical gremlins when hooked to trailers. In fact, one had no power at the plug and then halfway through our towing loop, it simply came on. Another worked only on the emergency light circuit. A third kept telling judges the trailer was unhooked, though it wasn't, yet the lights and brakes worked fine. Weird.

In the end, we tested all the trucks in three different categories as thoroughly as we could. And the 2014 Rams did well, with the Ram 1500 4x4 Outdoorsman Quad Cab Pentastar V-6 and eight-speed automatic transmission winning the Under $45,000 category; the Ram 1500 4x4 Laramie Crew Cab EcoDiesel V-6 with an eight-speed winning the Over $45,000 category; and the Ram 2500 4x4 Laramie Limited Crew Cab Cummins inline six-cylinder winning the Heavy Duty award.

2014 Truck King HD 036[5] II

CanadaUnder45K MPG Chart Final (3)


CanadaOver45 MPG Chart Final (3)

2014 Truck King HD 012[5] II

CanadaHD MPG Chart Final (3)




How would have the 9,200llb spec RAM Diesel gone? Interesting to see how the heavier spec engines results.

@ Jordan.

Yes, I know what diesel torque is. I used to work for Cummins and we have a 99 2500 Cummins farm truck. Transmission gearing played a big role in the towing ability of you truck as well. The Cummins with the G360 5-Speed had a 5.53:1 first gear and 3.02:1 second gear which multiplied torque output immensely. The Durango only had a 3.00:1 first gear if you had a 5 Speed or a 2.80:1 if you had the four speed, and the rest of the gears were crap for towing in either transmission since there were made for fuel mileage. You were putting considerably more power to the ground in your Cummins. It's not about how much power is under the hood, but rather in how well you get it two the ground. The new 8-speed in the Ram has better gearing than the competition simply because it has more gears available, but their is not enough of a difference to overcome the power difference that the other engines have. As far as the Ecodiesel and Ecoboost go just off of engine power output, the Ecodiesel is only putting out more torque from roughly 1,200 rpm to around 2,300 rpm by as much as 30 lb-ft at it's greatest difference. The torque curve on the Ecodiesel falls off quickly after it hits it's peak for some on reason. This is a a rough dyno chart plotted by adding the Ecodiesels published dyno onto an already existing Ecoboost dyno supplied by Ford. It is a rough drawing, but it is close enough to give you a clue where each one stands.


@ Mike

People disagreeing with my is not being a troll nor do I consider that a bad thing. I like having a debate among fellow truck enthusiast. Everyone is entitled to their own pinion just as long as they try not to change the facts. The fan boy comments and direct name calling is what I am disgusted with. It does not piss me of, but it does get old. It kind of makes me feel sorry for whoever has to have personal interaction with some of these guys on a daily basis in real life. I cant say I will not post ever, but having those clowns pop up kind of ruins what this site is intended for which is for grown and mature truck enthusiast talking about trucks. I can see someone rooting for only one make because they are a fanboy, but the bashing of other brands along with the posting of that guts glory stuff should just be deleted by Mark Williams instantly. The lack of that happening is what is more disappointing than the actual guys that do it.

@Robert Ryan

I am not sure what exactly the differences are. I know they say that the 9,200lbs was in a 2wd stripped version, but it does not say the cab configuration. The 4x4 Laramie Longhorn was only rated for 7,300 lbs but I don't know if that is due to extra weight, a more plush suspension due to it being a premium trim, or a different gear ratio. The only way I see it being much different is if the 7,300 rated truck is a taller gear ratio. However, that should not make that much of a difference due to the 8-speed transmission.

" am not sure what exactly the differences are. I know they say that the 9,200lbs was in a 2wd stripped version, but it does not say the cab configuration. The 4x4 Laramie Longhorn was only rated for 7,300 lbs but I don't know if that is due to extra weight"

Yes too many guesses on how it was configured ,but a test on tat would have been a better bench mark than the 7,200lb rig.

@Robert Ryan

Either way, TFLTruck is suppose to be taking the Ecodiesel up the Ike Gauntlet that the Ecoboost and Hemi went up pretty soon. They use the same trailer and weight every time. I emailed them to try to get them to run 4-door F150 Ecoboost with a 3.31 rear axle and a 4-door Ram Ecodiesel with a 3.55 Rear axle since they both have a tow rating of 9,200lbs. Then we can see where these trucks stand in the real world. Hopefully they will take my advice. It should be an interesting show.

@ Robert Ryan

BTW, I emailed the person that wrote that article to see if he can give us more info on the specs of the truck that was used. I will post what I find.

All1, Mark Williams doesn't have time to delete the GUTS and Glory and similar comments and nor should he. I have seen much worse on other sites. If somebody wants to post it, that's their choice and quite frankly it just makes Ram look bad so it doesn't affect me. I don't care for those comments either but they don't bother me like they used to. I just skip right over them and so should you.

Diesel half ton is still unavailable in the southeast. Strange because we live and breathe trucks in FL, AL, GA. Not that I'm aching to have one. Diesel is the realm of HD trucks.

The gasoline V8 is the bread/butter of half ton trucks because it's flexible, starts in the cold, offers great acceleration and is very efficient for its size.

Cannot figure out why the Ram V8 did so poorly on FE. It did not surprise me that the Ford V8 and the Ecoboost were so similar on mileage. After calculating for the higher price of a diesel option and the much higher price for diesel fuel where I live, a gas V8 is the answer for everything but the most HD requirements.

GM's and Ford's trucks performed well and the Toyota should have stayed home. The Ram V8 needs a second look if they can't improve on the FE.


Thanks for that. Yes it certainly will be.
"Hopefully they will take my advice. It should be an interesting show.

@All1 - the way I look at it is the VM 3.0 is capable of moving the same mass that the larger displacement V8's or EB 3.5 because of the similar torque curves. Torque is the force upon an object that causes it to turn or rotate. It can apply just as much force as the others. It is identical to the Ecoboost at 420 lbft.
The area that it falls down is with the ability to do work over time. That in itself is the definition of horsepower (the ability to move 550 lb 1 foot in 1 second) All of the engines with more horsepower will obviously be able to move a mass faster. To use the Ecoboost once again, we have 365 hp versus 240 hp. The ecoboost has 34% more horsepower so it should in theory do the same work that much faster.

I suspect that Ram underrates the max tow capacity of the Ecodiesel not because it cannot apply the torque to move a load but because jaded pickup buyers are used to 350-400 hp engines and would complain too much about the "slower" diesel.
The Iveco Daily van with the same engine is rated to carry 4,100 kg or 9,020 lb or tow 3,500 kg or 7,700 lb. That is more than a Ram. The difference is that the rest of the world is used to small diesels and we are not.

IVECO 70C str up with Air brakes and set to tow a 38ft 5th Wheeler.
Watch Video.


@Juggernaut - regardless of my mathematical oversight - the point is torque is the same so it can move the same mass, an engine with more HP can just do it faster.
That does not necessarily translate to better.

@bravo1 If I remember right you can only get 3.42s or 3.73 with the 6.2L

@ Lou BC

Exactly, and that is what separates the Ecodiesel from the other towing engines. People seem to be under the impression that this engine will tow exactly like the others, but it won't. It will be able to get heavy loads moving with less work, but at a slower pace. It will not have nearly the passing power the others will. If you are stuck behind a slow moving semi or other vehicle while towing, you will not have as many opportunities to pass as you would with the other engines because of how much runway you would need with the much slower Ecodiesel. Nor will it be able to keep and hold higher speeds when going up hills that the others can. A lot of people think that it is just torque that enables you to hold speed going up slight hills, but at higher highways speeds it is a combination of torque and horsepower that keeps you steady at a 65 mph speed limit going up a grade 6 hill.

As you see in the dyno chart I previously posted and will posted again below, the Ecodiesel quickly looses it's torque advantage and is well below by the time it reaches peak horsepower. This tells me that the Ecodiesel will be able to hold speeds going up hills, but at lower highway speeds than the others. Due to the fact that the Ecodiesel has more of a peaky torque curve instead of a flat torque curve like most towing diesels, it's "sweet spot" is a lot narrower. This requires the transmission to keep the engines speeds at a very tight spot, and any rpm out of that tight spot will start to loose any power advantage the engine has. For example, the Ecodiesel is above 400 lb-ft between 1,500 and 2,800 rpm versus the Ecoboost being above 400 lb-ft between 2,200 and 4,300 rpm. The Ecoboost also has a lot more horsepower to play with in those rpms as well giving it a much bigger "sweet spot".

The Ecodiesel will tow and get the job done towing 7,000 lbs if side by side with an Ecoboost, but the Ecodiesel will not tow as well as the others as the Canadian truck king guys imply. It will get better fuel economy though. It just depends on what is more important to you. If you want better fuel economy, but don't mind the loss of passing ability or holding highways speeds up steep hills then the Ecodiesel is your motor. If the power to pass and holding speed at all times is more important to you over fuel economy then the Hemi 5.7L, I-Force 5.7L, Ecotec 6.2L , Boss 6.2L, or Ecoboost 3.5L is the motor for you. There are going to be a lot of people that will go for the fuel economy, but I have a feeling that their will be a lot more that don't want to give up their horsepower and quickness for the 95% of the time they are not pulling something. that is of course if fuel stays roughly about where it is at in the US which it it looks like it will drop the closer we get to off our dependance with foreign oil with all these oil booms we are having. However, if fuel prices sky rocket, then these engines will sell like hot cakes.

"Strangely three of the four Fords in our test had electrical gremlins when hooked to trailers. In fact, one had no power at the plug and then halfway through our towing loop, it simply came on. Another worked only on the emergency light circuit. A third kept telling judges the trailer was unhooked, though it wasn't, yet the lights and brakes worked fine. Weird."

Wow! What a surprise ;O. Ford has electrical gremlins. LMFAO!

My Ford had them too. Burnt to the ground. I guess the best never rest.


@ALL1 - I suspect that many buyers will be disappointed with the Ecodiesel because they are used to guys bragging about engines like the I6 Cummins, V8 Duramax and even the Ford 6.7. There is a huge difference between a 400 hp/ 800lb ft motor and one of these.
I think that Fiat should of developed a slightly larger more powerful engine for the Ram, at least one that would be more comparable to the gassers.
It isn't so much about the fact that this engine can't do the work, it certainly can, it just isn't going to have the characteristics that most people expect.
I personally think that this would meet the needs of most buyers. I find it funny that on the "Fiat buys VM thread", I am being tarred and feathered for making the comment that most truck buyers don't need 400 hp.
One has even turned it into "how dare you tell me what I need?" argument.
I think that it is hillarious. The same idiots that went after you for being an EB fan and being critical of the Ecodiesel are going after me for indirectly defending it.

Like the saying goes "you can't fix stupid".

Actually...... you can......but most don't have the health coverage for that sort of extended therapy. LOL

Ooops, I forgot to post the dyno chart again like I said I would in my last post. Here you go.


@ lou bc

Exactly again. It is not a bad motor for its purpose and would fit a lof of peoples needs, buts its the peoples wants of a quick truck that Ram owners have come to expect out of the Hemi that I don't think it will fill. I think too many people that are already accustom to a 350 plus horsepower engine do not understand that this engine will not be the same. I think people just automatically see diesel and think of the big boys like you stated. I feel a lof people looking for that performance out of this engine will be sorely disappointed on their test drive. Then again, that is not the purpose of this engine and should not expected to be. Sadly, articles like the Canadian Truck King saying they all tow the same are giving truck buyers false hopes whem reality is completely different.

I will say it again for all you Ram fanboys(not you Lou). This is a great engine for it's purpose and those going in expecting it not to match the performance specs of a Hemi will be pleased. Those going in expecting it to be Rams answer to the Ecoboost power wise or the same power as the Hemi will be sorely disappointed.


Ooops, I forgot to post the dyno chart again like I said I would in my last post. Here you go

Ooops, I forgot to post the dyno chart again like I said I would in my last post. Here you go


@Lou BC, " I suspect that many buyers will be disappointed with the Ecodiesel because they are used to guys bragging about engines like the I6 Cummins"

Sure beats the hell out of Fords 1/2 ton diesel and Chevy's 1/2 ton diesel!

More Guts

More Glory

More @$$ kicking Ram

Lou BC, "you can't fix stupid".


@HemiV8 - I should point out to you the difference between a photograph and a mirror.
Nah - why confuse you further.

@ ALL1 Your knowledge of gearing and engines has me a little puzzled as to why you think the Ram 3.0L diesel will be underwhelming for towing compared to the big engines. Like I said in my earlier example the diesel was superior. Rolling down the highway coming up to a steep hill and the Durango needs to kick down to 2nd (prime in the case of the Durango) will a large amount of throttle. This means its making max power (WOT) combined with the torque multiplication of 2nd gear. The Diesel on the other hand is in 5th (overdriven, so less torque availble than any other gear) and requires a little more throttle to maintain that same speed on the same hill. The max towing for the Ecodiesl is around 9000-9500 lbs. I would bet that the Ecodiesel would be more comfortable at that weight than the Hemi.

"Also, most truck buyers that tow less than 6,000 lbs would probably be best suited with the Pentastar V6 since it would end up costing you less if diesel is $.45 more than regular unleaded. "
All1, I agree with you 100% on this one. Because I'm more the weekend warrior type, needing to haul things like lumber and the occasional bed of gravel, etc., yet still needed something for my daily commute, there weren't a lot of great options. I tried smaller trucks (GMC, Toyota, Nissan), but their mileage was lacking! I knew the ecodiesel was coming out (what I didn't know what how good the mileage was on the new GMs), but in the end decided that for my needs the Pentastar would work. I consistently get 19-20 MPG in city driving. In my older GMC Canyon it was 16-17. While that may not sound like a lot, I have gotten 24-27 MPG with 100% HWY driving consistently. Which beats the best ever 22 MPG I got once with the Canyon.

I'm the odd man out here. I really don't have brand loyalty, I just want a vehicle that suits my needs and I'll look at everything across the board. When I compared apples to apples, the RAM came out of top (for now). It may not have the sales that Ford and GM does, but that and towing 10,000 lbs wasn't something that I needed or wanted to worry about. My #1 concern was it had great MPG, and could haul the things I needed it to haul. The V6 fit that bill. The bonus for me was how nice the ride and interior was on the RAM over its competitors… Ford and GM should be taking some serious notes (Toyota and Nissan simply need to throw away their playbook and start over. Toyota is better, but the Nissan was horrible when I looked at them).

Very little separate a lot of these trucks today. It all comes down to what is important to you. For some that's brand loyalty, for some MPG, others towing. Pick one, and as long as you're happy, life is good.

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