The Test At Davis Dam: 2014 Chevy Silverado 1500s

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On paper, GM's EcoTec3 powertrain strategy was pretty simple: offer the most modern and up-to-date technology made from the lightest materials and provide as much power and fuel efficiency as possible. And do that with a new block, traditional overhead valves, direct fuel injection and cylinder deactivation. Sure, all the boxes are checked, but how does it perform in the real world?

As soon as we heard GM was going to use the same size engine for its base V-6 in both its Chevrolet and GMC 1500 pickups, we knew we had to get a closer look at how well the engine works on the open highway when towing a heavy load. And to do that we knew exactly where to go. We'd been there before.

We've run this same test and collected data about other pickups in previous years. We wanted to give you a chance to see how the new GM engine compares, both when loaded and unloaded, with the Ram Pentastar V-6 as well as with Ford's twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6. We'll be comparing some tests numbers with the Ram 1500 V-6 we tested on the same course last year, but we'll also look at Ford's EcoBoost numbers for comparisons as well.


The Players

Unlike the two Ram 1500s in our "Rampage! The Test at Davis Dam" (those trucks were similar, not identical), this time we were able to convince Chevy to order us two identically equipped half-ton V-6 trucks. Both were two-wheel-drive double cabs with GM's newly redesigned conventional-swinging rear doors, a 143.5-inch wheelbase and 6-foot 6-inch pickup box. Each of our Victory Red pickups came equipped with the all-aluminum EcoTec3 V-6 mated to the 6L80 six-speed transmission. All V-6-equipped pickups have one ring-and-pinion choice, the 3.23:1, which gave us a maximum towing capacity of 6,000 pounds and an EPA fuel economy rating of 18 city and 24 highway (the four-wheel-drive model is 17/22 city/highway).

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The base price of our LT pickups came to $34,880 (including destination), and the trucks came with the LT Plus Package ($535), which gave us rear park assist, power adjustable pedals and a universal home remote. Additionally, the All Star Edition Package ($2,640) gave us more popular options: 18-inch aluminum wheels, an auto-locking rear differential, power adjustable seats, fog lamps, remote start, MyLink audio with an 8-inch display screen, backup camera and a 110-volt plug. Finally, we opted for the 6-inch side steps ($750), trailer brake controller ($230), upgraded all-terrain tires ($200), extra bed lighting ($60) and four upper cargo box tie-downs ($60).

With the $1,095 destination charge and $750 All Star Edition discount, each of our test trucks cost $38,605. And to further verify these were identical pickups (although their VINs were separated by 325 build units), we weighed both trucks at the local CAT Scale, where they both came in (with no passengers or gear and a full tank of fuel) at 5,120 pounds. The gross vehicle weight rating is 6,900 pounds.

To see the pricing sheet for our 2014 two-wheel-drive Silverado LT that towed our loaded horse trailer, click here. To see the pricing sheet for our 2014 two-wheel-drive Silverado LT that ran our route and tests empty, click here.


Our Drive Route

Those familiar with last year's test will recognize we've duplicated the route and fueling spots as closely as possible. We started our drive near Pasadena, Calif., heading east. We had made the trek to Norco, Calif., the day before to meet our friends at Rarin' To Go trailer rentals, where we set up a double-axle horse trailer with about 2,500 pounds worth of rubber stable mats strapped to the floor of the trailer. Although not identical to the one we used with the Rams, the trailer's weight was within 200 pounds when empty; it took about 25 of the 100-pound mats to get the trailer weight to 5,500 pounds.

Although both Silverados were equipped with tow packages and trailer brakes, our trailer was equipped with hydraulic brakes (meaning the truck's inertial force determines the level of brake activation on the trailer), so we didn't need to worry about gain settings. We used a 2 5/16-inch tow ball and a Class III hitch. The Ram we towed with last year was equipped with the four-corner, load-leveling suspension, but we didn't have that luxury (or even the option) with our Chevys. Instead, we made sure to adjust our ball height to keep the tongue weight within spec (about 500 pounds) and our trailer angle level.

Our two Silverados easily left the Los Angeles basin, climbing up through the Cajon Pass just north of San Bernardino. The route runs up and down a few ridge climbs for about 10 miles and summits below 4,000 feet, and then gradually rolls down to the high desert before heading to Las Vegas. We stopped in Barstow, Calif., to verify our trailer and truck weights. The total of our V-6 Silverado LT two-wheel drive and horse trailer was 10,620 pounds. Our gross combined weight rating for the Silverado with 3.23:1 gearing and V-6 was 11,000 pounds, compared to the Ram we towed with last year, which had a GCWR of 11,200 pounds; however, you should remember that the gearing for the Ram V-6 was 3.55:1 (the empty blue Ram from last year came with 3.21:1 gearing).


Drive Route Map Rams II

Our drive route started in Los Angeles (A) and headed north through the Cajon Pass to Barstow (B), where we weighed our truck/trailer combination. We continued through the high desert up the punishing Baker grade (C) and finally turned off Interstate 15 near Henderson, Nev. (D). After we passed the Hoover Dam (E), we headed to Kingman, Ariz. (F), where we turned onto state Route 68 to the Davis Dam grade (G) for our acceleration testing. The following day we conducted our level ground testing outside Ludlow, Calif. (H), ending our trip in Norco (I) where we dropped off our trailer at Rarin' To Go.


From Barstow, we headed to Henderson, Nev., bypassing the congestion of Las Vegas, and then we headed east toward Kingman, Ariz., on U.S. Route 93. Once we reached the infamous state Route 68, we headed down into the river gorge where Davis Dam and Laughlin, Nev., are. After some aggressive testing runs up the Davis Dam grade (identical to the testing we did earlier), we headed away from the river valley and back to Interstate 40, which took us to Los Angeles. On the way, however, we stopped near the desert mining town of Ludlow, Calif., where we did more acceleration testing, this time on level ground.

In total, our drive route was a few hundred miles shorter than our trip last year with the Rams because we did not make additional trips up U.S. Route 95 in Nevada on the west side of the Colorado River; as a consequence, we had four complete fill-up events with the Silverados where we had five with the Rams. The fuel station stops and truck mileage readouts are almost identical to our Rampage test, so the numbers are comparable for our purposes.


On the Road

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During each fill-up, we used 87-octane fuel and used the same pump method for each truck (and used the same pump as well); we allowed the automatic shutoff at the pump to click off the first time, then let the tank settle for approximately 30 seconds, then slowly added more fuel until the pump clicked off again before we closed the fuel cap.

Most of our driving along the route was within the legal towing speeds, which typically meant between 65 and 70 mph, but in some cases in California we were going as slow as 55 mph. Winds in the deserts were relatively low but there were points when we could feel the trailer behind our towing Silverado wag a bit. We especially felt the push of wind when passed by the occasional high-flying big rig.

Both of our pickups had the MyLink system with the 8-inch touch-screen, which meant we had access to Sirius XM radio (just about the most important option you can have for a long road test), but they did not offer a normal navigation system. The GM strategy here is a little misleading, in that there is a navigation button in the touch-screen, but all it does is connect you with an OnStar operator who can answer any questions or deliver turn-by-turn directions to your vehicle's playback system. As nice as it would have been to have the actual navigation system, we found the MyLink system easy to use, and the operator patient and helpful.

The Chevys had information screens displayed in the gauge cluster between the speedometer and tachometer. We found ourselves toggling between the real-time fuel economy readout and the tire pressure screen. While watching the mpgs, drivers can see when the engine goes into and out of V-4 mode — and we can tell you it happens quite a bit even when towing near max trailer capacity. By watching the tire pressure, we could check on any rear-wheel tire pressure issues we might have with the added tongue loads. Although temperatures were moderate for our entire trip, the level of relief it gave us to occasionally check tire pressure was hugely comforting.


Testing: Davis Dam

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We replicated the performance testing we've done with just about every important head-to-head comparison test we've ever done, running the trucks through our normal Davis Dam hill-climb testing. For those who don't know, we use a portion of state Route 68 as it climbs out of the Bullhead City, Ariz., basin, reaching more than 3,000 feet in elevation over an 11.8-mile stretch of road. That translates into several 7 percent grade sections, with a few less inclined sections as well. We chose a particular section of Route 68 where the average grade incline is between 5 and 6 percent, which gives us plenty of up-and-down visibility that usually allows us to get clean quarter-mile runs at wide-open throttle.

We tested both Chevys over the same stretches of road, with a full tank of fuel, and within about an hour or so of each other. On this particular evening, temperatures where right around 67 degrees and there was no perceptible wind.

The first vehicle on the course was the Silverado/trailer combination, and it ran the measured distance (thank you Racelogic VBOX; we used model VB2SX10) up the hill at 24.57 seconds at 54.3 mph. We made four runs, with all results within a half second of each other. For comparison to the Ram 1500 Pentastar, these numbers are almost right on top of the 3.55:1-geared truck we tested that did 24.35 seconds at 55.5 mph.





Quarter-Mile Davis Dam Performance


Our measured zero-to-60-mph times (in this case going well past the quarter-mile marker) took much longer. Our Chevy with trailer made the run up Route 68 from the same quarter-mile start line to 60 in 34.09 seconds, which is more than two seconds slower than the Ram-trailer combination. It's worth noting here that although our Chevys do have more Society of Automotive Engineers-rated torque than the 3.6-liter Pentastar (305 to 269 pounds-feet, respectively), the Ram did have a lower first gear (4.71:1 versus 4.03:1) and lower axle gears (3.55:1 versus 3.23:1).

During our "empty" runs (which included only one driver and our test equipment), our 240-pound-lighter Chevy with the bigger V-6 (42 cubic inches bigger; 4.3 liters versus 3.6 liters) ran the quarter-mile on Davis Dam with a best run of 17.95 seconds at 75.4 mph, where the similarly geared (3.21:1 versus 3.23:1) Ram made its run of 17.57 seconds at 79.4 mph. In zero-to-60 testing, the Chevy struggled (possibly because of fewer gears than the Ram) taking 10.44 seconds; the Ram did the run in 9.71 seconds. It's worth noting the Chevy did pull quite hard off the line (in fact, beating the Ram at the 10-, 20- and 30-mph marks) but it fell down after the 2nd-to-3rd gear shift.

All of our data presented here is from the best runs out of multiple runs (sometimes three, sometimes four). We ran both trucks with the air conditioning off, windows rolled up and left the transmission in Drive — no manual shifting. As for the Silverado with the trailer, we kept the Tow/Haul switch engaged.


Testing: Level Ground

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This testing was done the morning after our night runs at Davis Dam, outside of Ludlow, Calif., giving us a chance to warm up the pair of Silverados with an additional 115 highway miles. At our designated test location, we allowed the trucks to cool down for an hour.

Again, our Chevy truck/trailer combination ran first and delivered a strong, computer-controlled launch off the line, with a best run of 21.14 seconds at 65.1 mph. The Ram with trailer performed a similar quarter-mile run at 21.11 seconds at 66.5 mph. Our zero-to-60 measurements, which usually hit about five seconds before we reached the quarter-mile marker, had the Chevy with trailer clocking 17.15 seconds at 60 mph, while the Ram and trailer combination took 16.77 seconds.






Quarter-Mile Level Ground Performance


With our identically equipped empty Silverado, our best recorded quarter-mile time was 17.11 seconds at 85.4 mph, while the best run with our empty blue Ram last year over the same stretch of road was 16.09 seconds at 88.4 mph, quicker than the Chevy by more than a second and faster by 3 mph. The zero-to-60 mph empty times were similar, as well, with the Chevy coming in just behind the Ram by about a second and recording an 8.90 time, and the Ram getting to the same speed in 7.83 seconds.

Conditions were warmer for our level test area than at Davis Dam, with temperatures hovering around 77; there was a slight headwind from the west. On level ground, both Chevys seemed to run just a touch slower than the Rams we tested last year.


Other Observations

During our time with the 2014 Silverados, we found the 4.3-liter V-6 a strong puller around town, providing some surprising pep when merging into traffic or passing a distracted driver. This is more impressive when you consider that all of Chevy's V-6s are equipped with rather tall (meaning smaller numerically) 3.23:1 gear ratios.

We especially liked how well-matched and suited the familiar-feeling 6L80 six-speed transmission feels, and we've always been a fan of the thick column shifter that allows for easy manual shifting when dropped into M. Our only gripe was not being able to see what gear the transmission was in during shifts. On the other hand, we also liked how well the transmission reads and adjusts to the trailer load during both hard accelerations and steeper downhill grades; we believe the integration engineers deserve a big thank you for making the Tow/Haul mode almost feel like an exhaust brake. The grade-braking capability was able to sense when we crested a summit, determining that holding or downshifting was the best way to keep our speed under control. And when another downshift was needed, the engine did not mind revving into the 5,000 rpm range to bring the speed down.


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During Davis Dam acceleration runs, we were able to test and play with the grade braking function (which works whether the Tow/Haul setting is engaged or not), and we particularly liked how quickly the transmission downshifts and how easily a short tap on the brake pushed the setup down another gear.

Although it's probably more a testament to how well we had the trailer tongue weight dialed in, we found the 5,500 pounds pushing behind us (basically the weight of another full-size pickup truck) on those long downgrades was relatively invisible to us from the driver's seat. Our only other gripe about towing was not having adequate towing mirrors (meaning that they would be extendable in some way) as part of the tow package. The height and width of our trailer meant that anyone closer 12 to 15 car lengths behind us was invisible to us, hidden behind the trailer.

As for fuel economy, our tow vehicle with trailer (remember, with a combined weight of 10,620 pounds) averaged 11.4 mpg over the 1,000 miles we traveled. Our best recorded mileage number at fill-up came from our trip across the high desert on the way back from level-ground testing as we dropped into the Los Angeles basin. Over that 250-mile stretch, we averaged 13.4 mpg, with a good portion in V-4 mode, while our worst tank average was 9.8 mpg.

Our best and worst fuel economy averages in our empty Silverado were 23.7 and 19.0 mpg, respectively. We kept meticulous fuel economy notes and data, logging the exact miles driven along with the precise amounts of fuel each truck consumed. We should also note that in almost every instance, the onboard computer calculated a slightly more optimistic mpg number than we did doing the math, in some cases awarding a full mpg over our number. Still, we were amazed the computer did as well as it did given that we've seen some fuel economy computers miss the proper calculations by several mpg.




The overall fuel economy for our test with our Silverado/trailer combination was a solid 11.4 mpg, which includes all the wide-open throttle testing portions of the test. This compares well with our Ram and trailer combination (which has a smaller engine but higher 3.55:1 gears) at 10.7 mpg. When comparing our empty pickups, the Chevy Silverado averaged 21.7 mpg, while the empty Ram with 3.21:1 gears averaged a little more than 4 percent better at 22.7 mpg.

As we did last year, we made a stop at the K&N Engineering in Riverside, Calif., to measure engine output via its chassis dyno. PUTC readers with good memories will recall the Ram's Pentastar V-6 pulled 257 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 220 pounds-feet of torque at 5,900 rpm. By comparison, our Silverado 4.3-liter EcoTec3 V-6 pulled 243 hp at 5,250 rpm and 256 pounds-feet of torque at 4,550 rpm. To put that in simple terms, the Pentastar makes about 5 percent more horsepower and the EcoTec3 makes about 16 percent better torque, but in both cases, peak power is quite a bit lower in the rpm range for the Chevy.


The Verdict

The new entry-level V-6 in the Chevy half-ton pickups, to put it simply, is impressive, but it does not beat the Ram's 24-valve DOHC Pentastar in many categories. We like the way the transmission handles and distributes power, and the throttle feel is controlled and strong. The smaller EcoTec3 engine does a great job of balancing power output with the increasingly important issue of getting great fuel economy.

We've seen impressive numbers from this lineup of engines, especially with the popular 5.3-liter V-8 engine, but just as impressive is that the Chevy Silverado V-6 fuel economy ratings are about as real-world as you can get, including extensive amounts of highway cruising, city driving, loaded and unloaded, and even some mash-the-pedal track testing.


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GM tells us that sales of the new all-aluminum V-6 in the new 2014 Chevy Silverado is crushing the previous V-6 take-rate numbers, closing in on 20 percent of all sales; the number used to be just more than 5 percent. Maybe this shouldn't surprise anyone now that all the big pickup truckmakers have made significant investments in their V-6 lines.

When combining the EcoBoost and existing naturally aspirated V-6 offered in Ford's F-150, well more than half of Ford's most popular truck come equipped with a V-6 engine. Likewise, Ram is seeing increased interest in its V-6/eight-speed transmission combination; in fact, now choosing to offer the "entry-level" engine in their more expensive Laramie trim package.

Although $40,000 is a lot of money, we found that our Victory Red double-cab, two-wheel-drive LT pickups offer quite a bit of value. We found the LT interior, with the 40/20/40 front bucket bench seat comfortable and adequate for long hauls. The interior is a huge improvement from earlier generations (especially the easy-to-read gauge and information center), and the touch-screen, with its big icons, was simple and easy to use.

We have no doubt, as efficient and capable as the trucks are, that GM could make them even better. As for fuel economy, there is still plenty of room for more technology like stop-start or spark ignition or even overhead cam valvetrains that could raise fuel economy to new levels. And GM hasn't denied the possibility of bringing back some sort of hybrid.

As for payload abilities, our pickups offered close to 1,800 pounds; that's impressive capability for a V-6 engine in a half-ton truck. The Ram we tested last year had more than 1,300 pounds of payload capacity.

For now, it's clear that with all this effort and technology going into what used to be the ugly stepchild of the powertrain families, we're going to need to do another V-6 work truck comparison or maybe something more heart-of-the-market as these often-ignored and quite potent engines work their way into more fully loaded trim packages and into the hands of more practically minded buyers. photos by Mark Williams

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Good report, but one facet of the PUTC methodology is weird, at least to me. Why not refill the fuel tanks from gas cans?

If you use gas cans to refill you know exactly how much fuel is going into the tank instead of relying on some gas station's auto shutoff at the pump, a method I have found to be less dependable in my own tests.

The V6's tested here are each in a realm where a V8 simply is more useful, regardless of gas mileage. I doubt that anyone who has the choice will opt for a V6 if towing is a regular part of the scenario.

Very impressive indeed.

All 3 engines are impressive but I would settle for 5.3, I think.

People are buying them in bunches. Looks like GM has a winner on its hands.

Great test, Mark. Worth noting that the Ram V-6 used in the towing test listed for $43,630, $5,000 more than the Silverado V-6. I think one reason the new Silverado V-6 is doing so well is that customers recognize the value they represent -- the trucks have what you need to get the job done, at a price many middle-class buyers can afford.


Are you going to do one for the Tundra as well? And the NA Ford V6?

I reckon a comparison test between all models with 6 cylinder base level engine would be a good one for the future as these engines are starting to make up a greater percentage of the truck population.
GM 4.3 liter.
Ford 3.7 liter.
Ram 3.6 liter.
Tundra 4.0 liter.

Followed by one with their mid level engines; Ford Ecoboost, GM 5.3 liter, Ram Hemi, Tundra 4.6 liter, Nissan 5.6 liter.

As it stands, the Ram's engine/ transmission combo seems to be keeping it abreast of the others in terms of performance, capability and fuel economy.

I"m a ford guy but this is pretty impressive. The past 5-10yrs has been pretty good for truck guys regardless of what brand your a fan of. Can't wait to see whats around the bend in 2015

It all boils down to the tranny in the Ram, and it is funny how PUT.Com never mentioned that in the end? it is close, but the 8 speed tranny is the difference, and makes the diff. between the two, as it is with the 6 spd the Chevy did very well, especially when you take into consideration of the 3:23 gears set, just imagine what the Chevy will do with 3:73's and an 8-10 spd trans.? The Chevy can only get better, but the Ram is as far as it can go, for now, anyway! But both trucks are fine machines, and I would be proud to own either, the Chevy being 5K cheaper? for a cheapskate like me? Chevy all the way, in 4x4 and all black, no chrome, there are some advertised locally for under 30K! w/4x4 V-6 4 dr. the other advantage with the Chevy is the weight capacity! being 600 lbs MORE!


Ford has announced the end for the 3.7 A revised duratech 3.5 will be the future six in this class for Ford.

At that price tag, wow, I'm forced to buy the Ford Raptor for $13 more...

Forget Toyota, if they can't bother to use the 6 speed automatic version of the 5 speed, that shows how little they actually care.

Not surprising results.
GM is using a heavier duty transmission (more drag) and uses the 300mm torque converter. [right, isn't the next smallest size the 258mm]
While Chrysler is using a smaller transmission with a smaller diameter torque converter (less moment of inertia, much faster shifts)

and what are the shift points for GM, say an early short shift at 5400rpm?

Torque converter stall speeds? Takes 3 seconds to find out: hold brake, floor gas, watch tachometer until it ceases rising.
You'd figure GM's is about 2000rpm and Chrysler's is 2500.

Oh, and if GM is waiting for 2016 to install the 8 speed [and then until 2018 model year for the 10 speed automatic] how about bigger engines as a stop gap measure?
4.3 liter: increase in bore from 99.6mm to 103.25 (same as LT1) for 4.6 liters 320hp.
5.3 liter increase in bore from 96mm to 99.6mm. 5.7 liters 400hp.

The only that stands out in Chevys favor was the trailer tow mileage. But wait, the Ram trailer tow mileage also reflected more performance testing. They unhooked the red Ram to test it because it had the taller 3.55 gears. They did 0-60, flat, and uphill, and 1/4 mile flat and uphill. That is either two tests more or four tests more atleast, depending on if 0-60 tests were done in the same run as 1/4 mile tests.

He reminds us the Ram had 3.55s. Ok, well the Chevy has roughly 19% more engine. Should make 19% more power, but it doesn't. The 3.55 is only 10% more gear.

@Tom Wilkinson at Chevrolet: It's worth noting that the Blue Ram also used in the Rampage with only the addition of 3.55 would still cost less then this Chevy. So much for your "lets compare the Chevy to Ram price." What is that, Chevy vs. all? LOL! The major difference from a performance standpoint, is only the 3.55 gears.

The red Ram, being better equipped then this Chevy, also weighed more then the blue Ram, which is about 220 pounds, which is about the difference between the Ram and the Chevy. Had they used a 3.55 equipped truck with lighter options like the blue Ram, the Ram would have pulled a tad better (200 pounds is 200 pounds) and now your Chevy is further back. But that more expensive had trailer tow mirrors, something most people would like on the Chevy, which has puny little mirrors.

It's funny you comment on that, because the Ram Tradesman can be had in about the same price as the Chevy WT. You just don't get a an 8 speed, or an air suspension, (one more thing on that red Ram not needed by everyone, but it made it nicer)

Lets see, in 2015 or 2016 Ram will have direct injection for the 3.6, while GM waits 2-3 years for it's 10 speed. So the Ram will have a bit more torque added on, to the performance that is already on top, while GM has all it's cards on the table and waits for the 10 speed.

There's always a sweet spot for gearing. I think the gearing choice GM made was biased for unloaded economy. Personally I think the truck is too slow overall. 3:55 gearing would have dropped 0.6 of the 0-60, 3:73 probably 1.5 seconds.

With the 6 speed I would have geared the truck with 3:55.

The loss of 1/2 a mile to the gallon in highway for the 2x4 and possibly a gain for the 4x4 would be worth the extra power.

3:55 with an 8 speed would have been the cake and eat it too solution and would have resulted in a 7.8 second 0-60, 24 MPG highway, better city fuel economy "1-2MPG" and the towing capacity being raised to around 6,500lbs.

running well into 4-5k rpm range to make power is cranking pretty hard for an engine in a truck. I see why they are putting the higher ratio rear ends in. you throw the 3.73 or 4.10 in there might help the pull up the hill but it would kill the mpg & make the engine cruise higher on the rpm band. not good for heat or durability imo.

Sandyman says: The Ram is as far as it can go, the Chevy can only get better? What? The Ram might be using direct injection next year for 10-20 ft pounds more torque, actually, more compression, more power.

Then this talk of gears. Ram can add 3.92, or 4.10, not saying they need to, but you say IF CHEVY HAD 3.73! Both would affect mileage. But hey, why does the Chevy need all the gear? It's 4.3 is maybe not as stout as would believe? Well you got one thing right, the 8 speed makes a difference.

BTW, there isn't 600 pounds of capacity of difference between a Ram v-6 and Chevy v-6. Since this is 4x2s, maybe 200-300, at most. But knowing you can't scroll down and read all of Rams website (we been around this block before, Mr "I can't find 6.4 Ram payload numbers")

But whatever, as you said your Chevy needs airbags, it's just a number they put on the door sill.

This is pretty much do be expected. The GM 4.3L has more torque at the crank, but due to Ram's 8-speed transmission the GM 4.3L looses the torque to the rear wheels battle. If both trucks were 6-speed or 8-speeds then these tests results would not doubt be different, but that is not the case so the Ram wins this one.

@the scrutineer

The Ecoboost is NOT Ford's mid-level engine, the 5.0L is.

If both trucks were 6-speed or 8-speeds then these tests results *WOULD doubt be different, but that is not the case so the Ram wins this one.

Pretty much competitive for both brands.

It boils down which drives and feels best for the potential buyer

GM's 8 speed purportedly has 8th gear of 0.65, 7th of 0.86, 6th of 1:1; total ratio spread of 7:1-making 1st gear of 4.55

So you'd push your axle ratios to the taller. [maybe the 10 speed automatic will push to extreme overdrive ratios >0.4:1, then you'd push your axle ratios up-3.73, 4.1, etc.]
This truck would be faster with 3.08 axle, and get better mileage.

Waiting GM.
Waiting Chrysler for PTO transfer case for the PentaStar V6.

GM has go to be disappointed in these results. Introduce a totally redesigned truck and lose about every comparison they are involved in.

@kmac - It depends on how you'll mostly use the truck. With gears in the 4.00:1 range, you'll need much less WOT and thus more economical than 3.23s if you do lots of towing.

3.23 gears aren't for towing. OK for rare occasions, but constant towing will cost you more in fuel and the 3.23s are much harder on the entire drivetrain and brakes. 3.55s should be the minimum in a truck. Any thing less is a joke.
GM forces the 3.23 on the base engine to keep their "corporate fleet average" down, and nothing else. I'd go aftermarket for your specific needs.

Good show Mark.

The GM truck is comparable to the Ram, minus the load leveling. And that is with a 6 speed transmission: GM has a ten speed in the works for next year (should hit trucks in 2016 I think) that should help out with a slightly lower final overdrive and a slightly higher starting gear.

Overhead cams do not return better fuel economy than OHV ever, all things held constant. Why would you suggest that? What are you talking about adding spark ignition to increase fuel economy? That doesn't even make sense.

Its too bad you couldn't run a 4.3L next to a pentastar same day / same conditions. The 4.3 should return better mileage but you can't compare fuel economy runs on different days under different conditions. It just doesn't work.

LOL, since the above Chevy sales guy tried to talk price of the Red Ram (which again, the blue Ram would have towed as well or actually better, with only a $50 optional 3.55 gear) I went and built an equal top Ram: A QUAD cab 4x2 Lone Star, with Uconnect 8.4, CD player, trailer brake controller, side steps, anti spin 3.55 gears, remote start, backup camera, minus 20 wheels which gives you aluminum 17 wheels, -500, destination included, 37,040! So much for him and Sandman talking price! They go talking about the red Ram used in Rampage, well hey guys, it's more expensive because it's BETTER EQUIPPED and it's a CREW CAB! So, if this were a crew cab it would cost more, and weigh more, and it's capacity would be less.

With a crew cab weighing about 40 -50 pounds more, a very slight loss in performance. Now, compare this to Ram quad cab as listed above, which would weigh less then this Chevy, and the Ram would out tow it even more.

I wonder why they didn't get a crew cab? Chevy couldn't find two equally built crew cab v-6s? The Rams were crew cab, so were the Fords with Ecoboost.

Either way, it is atleast 40 pounds more from a quad Ram to a crew Ram, plus the 100 pounds for the air suspension, and over 125 plus for the Ramboxes that red Ram they go comparing to. Plus a bunch of other things this Chevy doesn't have.

So if somebody were paying attention, they would say "what about the A/T tires the Chevy had? Where are they on the $1500 less Ram Lone Star?" Well, when you get to the dealership and look around and see what GM calls A/T tires, you will laugh, because they aren't very good off the highway, lol. About like Ford putting Good Year SSA's on a 4x4 1500 and saying "Offroad Package" lol! Does GM even offer L/T tires on a 1500 anymore? I know Ram has Good Year A/Ts in 10 ply, standard on Outdoorsman, optional on some.

@ Mark Williams

In future tests can you Pease elaborate more on how each vehicle towed. Doing the 0-60 and quarter mile is fine and all, but I would like to know how the truck drove in normal driving. Did it have plenty of power to spare going up the hills to maintain speed or was the foot to the floor? Was the transmission shifting all the time or did it maintain gears fairly well? What rpm and gear did the trucks have to be in to maintain speed up the hills? How did the rear suspension handle the load? Was there a lot of back end bounce/wobble or was it stable? These are the things that I think people that do tow(even occasionally) would like to know.

It's surprising to see the 3.6 Pentastar doing better then the brand new 4.3 Chevy engine. No wonder RAM is closing the gap with the Silverado in sales.

One might as well say there is virtually no difference berween the Chevy and Ram. Those numbers generated are a year apart and can be due to different weather and testing methods.

Funny to see the Ram apologists at work.

I'd buy a Chevy over the Ram primarily due to better cargo capacity.

Not bad at all. Just add a few more gears and the 4.3L will be stomping the Rams 3.6L face first right into the mud. Also adding some more rear end ratios could probably do it with the 6speed. Either way Good job GM.

Although PUTC never makes this clear, it mentions the trailer towing truck going into V4 mode, and I suspect this is happening while in tow/haul mode. My question is why are cylinders being cut while in tow/haul mode? No other manufacturer has cylinder deactivation happening in tow/haul mode.

Last but not least, come back in July and repeat this test. I suspect massive overheating. My Dodge's & Fords always had better hot weather cooling while my GM's liked to peg the temp gauge.

Really good article. I always felt the published hp and torque numbers are, at best, a place to start. It's the real world style tests that make the difference. Thanks for the comparisons. I have to say this GM is much improved but that Ram is truly impressive.


There as also the smallest mention of a headwind in the report. Even a rather mild headwind will make a big difference in a vehicle with high gears. If it is a big blunt shape the more the impact.

The graphs are still wrong. Fire someone in the graphics department!
Time is always on the horizontal axis.
Speed is on the vertical.

We don't have a complete information on the gearing of the 8L90 but so far it looks a vast improvement over the 6L80. I like the fact that GM says "The eight-speed automatic is tuned for world-class shift-response times, and smaller steps between gears" as that is what I like about the ZF 8-speed and what I don't like about the Aisin 8-speed. That should work well with a 3.23:1 gear ratio a long with the "5-percent greater efficiency" for performance. Where is the surprise that was promised the Pentastar and ZF 8-speed has better gearing and most likely better efficiency then the 6L80. Ram had the slight edge on hwy FE I could see that as well so no surprise their. The dyno number and power band were inline with what I thought no surprise their either. Some of Ram's advantages may go away if GM uses the 8L90 with the exception of the higher horsepower. Honestly their is no bad option between either truck and they both can get it done for your light duty needs.

I made the gearing comment based on the Motortrend verses Car and Driver reviews of the new Chevy/GMC with the 5.3 liter.

Motortrend recieved a 4x4 with 3:15 gears, Car and Driver one with 3:55 ring gear.

Motortrend said the truck was lethargic and measured at 23MPG Car and Driver said theirs was peppy and measured 22.5MPG

The gearing changed the 0-60 unloaded by 1.8 seconds with a loss of 0.5 MPG. Loaded the 0-60 was 4 seconds different.

My point was gearing is always important and this is a truck people. I'll beat the vehicle harder if it doesn't accelerate fast enough to keep up with traffic and that will kill fuel economy.

Both V6 trucks are pretty equal. In this case it would most likely come down to styling. Or bottom line. I would test drive each and make a decision. With Ram box and load level suspension, 8 speed gear box, rear coil, all Ram only exclusives. On paper I would lean toward Ram.

@Papa Jim: You hit the nail on the head with one sentence: "I doubt that anyone who has the choice will opt for a V6 if towing is a regular part of the scenario."

If it's not a regular part of the scenario, then obviously the V6 is a pretty good choice.

@MARK WILLIAMS, and staff. Testing and getting your hands on equal machines engines,gears etc.. to test is a job in itself. I appreciate your hard work to giving the common man (me) a glimpse into the handling etc.. of truck to base an opinion on. I personally would have to test both my self, however I could not get the data that PUTC can get on a test drive. So all of your test's helps out in the final buying decision.


@Lou: nothing to Ram people to apologize for, the HEAVIER TRUCK (crew cab vs. the Chevy smaller double cab, that has no Ram box, no air suspension, a whole lot less options on the Chevy) with a SMALLER engine, out pulled and out mileaged the NEWER truck that is lighter cause of it's being stripped and it's configuration, with a BIGGER engine lost.

The GM faithfull are writing on their websites "that 4.3 is the most efficient v-6!" Yeah, lol, needs cylinder deactivation, a 3.23 (what, no 3.42 or 3.73 available??) and direct injection, for THIS?

Sounds like the GM people are the ones apologizing, Lou. "When we get an 8 or 10 Speed......."

Nothing to apologize for here, Lou. Beating a Chevy 4.3 (42 more cubic inches) by 4.5 seconds up hill towing 5500 in a heavier truck.

But sometimes you gotta remind the folks that come up with dumb comments about price, that they haven't made a very good comparison.

If you don't like it I called them out for getting a cheaper lighter double cab, go cry in your beer with johnny doe. Ram still out pulled and out mileaged the Chivy.

Lets see, Truck Trend Ram vs. Ford v-6 naturally aspirated, Ram won.

Four Wheeler Magazine Ram v-6 vs. Chevy V-6, Ram won

Edmunds tested the Ford and Ram NA 3.7 vs. Ram 3.6, and Ford not only lost, they overheated the trans.

Now this. The score is 4-0 Ram vs other v-6s.

Oh Lou, crying about capacity are we? I know Ram 4x4 3.6 CREW cabs can hold 1500 plus pounds, unless you load them up (with options not available on others) 1500 not enough for your arse? Too cheap to buy a weight distribution hitch (you should on a Ford as well?) that takes 25% of the hitch? It's a friggen half ton, excuse me, 1500 truck.

^ lol

@TRX-4, Ram is the truck leader right now period. Ford sells more so does Chevy, however they don't out perform Ram. So Lou, All1, johnny doe and the rest are just pissed that David is kicking Goliath's @$$. Instead of crying about it go out and buy one. If you can't beat them join them. lol Seems like a lot of people are.


But my point is, why use a claw hammer if a sledgehammer is called for?

The V8 only costs incrementally more than the V6 when new, the V8 only costs incrementally more at the pump and the V8 will get you a better resale price when that day comes.

In return for the slightly higher cost you have instant power on tap. Pulling a trailer or driving in city or suburban driving the V8 outperforms the six at little if any higher cost. The six will shine on MSRP and it will do better on highway FE.

Apart from that, buy the eight!

@trx-tom- why don't you look up the definitiln of an "apologist". Your rebutall is classis apologist.

Looks like papa jim is apologizing now; he talks of the wind, in the Rampage story they say "we had wind" Then later when testing the red Ram, it was WINDIER. So both days hand wind, who is to say one day was windier then the next?

Ah, but a guy talks about the comparison of two different cabs, and much more options and more weight on one, oh, we don't want that! It's not in GM's favor, right guys?

@charlie: that's what I told them before on here in various tests where they complain about Hemi mileage and talk about GM towing mileage.

The GM tow haul does not lock out the cylinder deactivation, but in Rams case, it it does and also locks out the top gear, 8th in this case. That's fine for the sake of the v-6, I don't guess many would want to tow anything heavy with the 3.6 while in a 2.38 final gear, so 7th gear puts it in a 2.98, which is ok for highway.

If a Chevy can tow with a 3.42 gear (v-8) or 3.23 (v-6) then of course a hemi can tow in 3.55 in 8th just fine. Of course even better in 3.92. Most the people testing the Hemi have no sense when to turn tow haul off. It's not needed going across Kansas flatlands @70 mph towing 7,000 pounds, or towing 8500 pounds in flat Michigan but in a hilly area or in town, be wise and turn it on.

So we hear all sorts from the 95% on here that have never towed with a Ram and actually turned the tow haul off at 70 mph flatlands, and then watched it run in 4 cylinder mode.

These folks get to talking about the Ram towing with 8 speeds, sorry, but it tows with 7. A whole one more. Had it had the gear to tow in drive, or something like a 3.92, it would really have out pulled the Chevy (which is a compromise in gearing for mileage.)

@Lou: so what does your rebuttal (I spelled it right for you) make you?

Some people are too ignorant to do a direct comparison, are you one of them? Oh well, Ram won. Enjoy it Lou.

I can see it now, Ram will probably have an even slicker (aero) truck for 2015 or 2016, when the next one comes out. Direct injection (like this Chevy has) and will woop it even more. Boo Hoo Hoo will say the Chevy Folks.

Remember not a long time ago, I was telling people it was a gear deal, the Fords, Chevys, and Tundras had a gear advantage? People like hemi lol telling me the I-Force was so powerful & poeple telling me about how their Ford 5.0 or Ego truck beat a hemi? I said it was a gear advantage, they didn't believe me. Now, now they say the Ram has a gear advantage. The shoe is on the other foot I guess.

Where is ol' Hemi lol anyway? They said all truck makers are building v-6s better now, but Toyato hasn't changed theirs in a while, kinda, "old". Oh well, most Toyota guys couldn't give a crud about mileage, lol, so they say.


You better calm your little arse down there buddy boy. Don't you bring me into your little posts saying I am pissed when I am not. I stated this outcome before it even came to be multiple times that the Ram wins in the base V6 "half ton" game due to it's 8- speed transmission, and I wasn't pissed when I said it either because it was a fact. You and TRX 4 Tom might want revise your "The score is 4-0 Ram vs other v-6s" to "The score is 4-0 Ram vs other base N/A v-6s" because that 3.6L Pentastar would get tailpipe raped by a 3.5L Ecoboost. I don't consider a 3.5L Ecoboost and a 3.6L Pentastar as equal myself so I don't know why PUTC or any of you guys want to compare them.

Lou, what are you talking about, ram apologists?

The ram just brought a smaller less technologically advanced engine in a heavier package to a fight, and just whooped the snot out of the new kid on the block, in pretty much every way. And like somebody else said above, it is all the GM guys that are saying, "if they had the 8/10 speed things would be different."

For all those guys waiting for the new GM trans' I'm going to point out that Ram has multiair as well as direct injection that can be added to the pentastar, not to mention with their working relationship with zf, the newly announced wider overall ratio 8 speed isn't out of the relm of possibilities either. So test results like these aren't likely going to change much in the future.

I read an article awhile back that said the 8l90 had the same torque ratings and overall gear ratio as ZFs 8HP90. I'm wondering, when GM announced the deal with Ford about the 10 speed if they just killed their own 8 speed development and went to ZF to get a trans for the Vet?

@papa jim
Mild head wind had an effect? I thought you stated any vehicle doing less than 60 the wind had no effect? Ah, it's a GM product. Excuses?

I agree, the Chev does seem to be the better. I mean why do you buy a pickup?

As for the towing, from what I've read on this site only a few would use a pickup to tow. GM, Fiat and Ford all realize that they run around empty most of their lives.

Also, if I was going to tow 6 000lbs on a regular basis I wouldn't even waste my money on a 1/2 ton pickup, maybe except one a diesel Ram or I would buy a 3/4 ton.

The FE is quite appalling, for me as I would want at least 15mpg towing that kind of weight.

teareexthomass: I have told you why I use airbags, but can you read? I use them because when I tow my trailer, and carry my bikes, I am so close to my CGVWR that my headlights blind others coming at me, and I do not like to have them flashing me for no reason, also if you were to haul what I am in your Ram, no wait you could never haul that much with or without airbags, cause you would be way over weight! you can never carry two bikes, and tow 7.5K with your Rams weight limit! It would have been nice to see a Ram in the test with a rear gear set closer to the Chevy's, and the Chevy did have more tq at the rear wheels than the Ram 16% better, and if it were to have the 3:42 gear set if would be even higher. yes the Ram could have D.I. in the future, but remember it already has twice the valves and 4 times the cams, and the reason I said it is a far as it can go is because D.I. will not make that big a difference in the pentastar as it did in the 4.3, not to mention anyone could put headers on the 4.3 to get even better performance, but you can not do that with the pentastar as the exh manf. are cast as past of the heads! and are not replaceable. But it is still a fine engine, in a fine truck, just to bad it can not haul much weight! The we get to the part I could not find the spec. on the 6.4? when did I ever say that? once again you could not read what I posted, and that is anyone can tell an engine with over 5 more hp and 7o ftlbs more tq will be able to haul more, or at least it should be able, but in the acceleration tests and videos the 6.4 was just barely quicker than the 6.o Chevy, and that is because the Chevy had the 4:10 gears, of which could be said is an even closer gear set than in the 1/2 t Ram /Chevy comparo.

@Big Al

There might be some "wind" involved alright, but the kind I was talking about had more to do with Aero and less to do with whatever God awful thing you ate for dinner last night.

Actually my point was valid in each case, not surprisingly. In fact, I simply made the point that Lou did about weather, which can include difference in barometric pressure (on fuel injected engines) temperature and headwind.

The main point from all of this is that anyone who wants to tow with a half ton truck wants a V8. The new generation of six cylinder engines in the US light truck market (which is at LEAST five years behind every other segment) are ok for light duty only in naturally aspirated trim.

No news, just move along.

TRXTom- yes the Ram V6 posted better times a year earlier. I find it funny that you trotted out all of those excuses. It was like you were rationalizing a loss by Ram.

The Ram didn't loose but objectively it wasn't a decisive win.
To be factual - the Ram wasn't run at the same time as the Chevy therefore it wasn't a win.

In some respects this test reminds me of the old 5.3 versus 5.4 debate. One has a slight HP advantage and the other a torque advantage. Race style tests tend to favour HP advantages.

The ultimate deciding factor for those with an open mind will be feel. If a person prefers the feel of the 4.3 over the 3.6, they will buy the Chevy or vise versa.
I like the feel of the 5.4 over the 5.3 and suspect that I'd prefer the feel of the 4.3.

There are many that don't care about any of that and only care about the badge.

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