2014 Heavy-Duty Challenge Is Coming

HD Group 1 II

Longtime readers of PickupTrucks.com will remember that we conducted our first head-to-head comparison test way back in 2003. Over the years we've tried to get a little better with road tests, averaging more than one big test per year and providing as much technical and procedural information as possible about how we conduct our tests.

And if we're completely honest, we have to say we have a soft spot for our heavy-duty pickup truck challenges because we're always impressed with how much power, strength and technology each of the truckmakers have stuffed into to each new-generation vehicle.

In 2003 we started our journey down this truck testing path with heavy-duty diesel pickups, and once again, more than a decade later, we'll be taking a group of one-ton and three-quarter-ton pickups on the road for some exhaustive, real-world testing that only PUTC can do. This time around, we're spreading out our testing over the course of two weeks in order to spend as many hours and miles as possible with each truck to better flush out their strengths and weaknesses. We'll be in Michigan for the first week at a nearby drag strip and proving ground facility, then on the road for a four-state road trip running each truck on some of the nastiest grades we could find.

We'll try to Tweet some updates and post pictures on Facebook, asking for your input along the way. We'll be as transparent as possible, answering as many questions as we can given the limited number of hours we have in a PickupTrucks.com workday.

For this Ultimate HD Challenge, we'll have three one-ton 4x4 four-door dualies -- one from Ford, GMC and Ram with their respective turbo-diesel engines and max tow packages. There was no price restriction for this group, but we did require each player to come equipped with 3.73:1 gears. For our second group (4x4 four-door three-quarter-ton gas-engine pickups), we required a $50,000 ceiling and will have Chevrolet, Ford and Ram represented. 

Each of the competitors have had either minor or significant changes to their pickup since our last shootout. It should be very fun to see how they shake out this time around. 

We are targeting Aug. 11 for publication of our Three-Quarter-Ton Challenge, with the winner and all the results posted at once. One week later, on Aug. 18, we'll have the Ultimate HD Challenge One-Ton Turbo-Diesel story posted for your pleasure. As always, we'll be looking for your feedback. Stay tuned. 

Manufacturer images



Cannot wait to see the outcome hopefully just one ton trucks and rear ends as close as possible

I'm sure our expectations will be more than met with your 2014 HDC. But, is there any chance of more personal-input video footage of the whole process ? Thanks.

Let me guess, GM wins another shootout and this time it was against Fords 440 hp and 860 foot pounds of torque, and Ram's 850 foot pounds of torque.

GM will win AGAIN and the ford fan boys cry like little girls. They make excuse after excuse as to why their ford had its rear end handed to it AGAIN by GM.

So to sum up my point, GM will b the WINNER AGAIN and ford will be the first LOSER AGAIN. Oh it feels great to beat ford AGAIN! But I am used to that because the Duramax has been beating the ford ever since it came out. yeah!

@Mark Williams
Please make sure that all the trucks have the same/similar axle ratios.

Something that might be interesting to review in the forthcoming article are the 5th wheel and gooseneck options that each manufacture is now installing as standard/dealer installed equipment.

Bob, I think GM will be out matched here.

With G.M's TOTAL RECALL and Ford's wet noodle frame. I know where my hard earned money would be well spent.






I think this video answers the 'which one is best' question,lol:


I don't understand why people want to see the same rear axle ratios? The transmission ratios are much more important. You can have a truck with 3.23's in the rear out pull a truck with 4.10's if the transmission is geared appropriately.

I'd rather see each truck tested in their max tow configuration, as that was designed to be their best performing truck. It would be stupid to test a max tow equipped truck against a non-max tow truck just to make the essentially meaningless axle ratios match.

With all this talk of "same as possible rear end ratios" maybe with the GM twins 6.0 being down on power to the tune of 40-50+ hp and tq, a gears set of 4:10's would be aloud in the GM twins, to the Ram 6.4 Hemi's 410 hp 429lbs/ft tq should have no more than say the 3:92 gears, and the Ford SD 6.2's higher hp and tq being an advantage then an appropriate ratio would be say 3:73's, as the only other ratios in GM's list is 3:72's which when with 360 hp 380 lbs/ft tq is a disadvantage right of the bat! The comparison with the diesel though, bring it on! as I feel the Duramax is under rated, and the others are over rated! But really guys, the gas engines are not equal as is! GM really needs to step up to the plate here with a new gas engine! sure the 6.0 is sufficient, but it is NOT a 6.4 Hemi or a 5.7 for that mater, or a Ford 6.2 either! If it was my money and needs? I would be happy with any one of the Gas HD trucks, and just might be going with one or the other next time around, unless gasoline gets pricey again!

I don't think there really is a way to do a comparison completely free of any undesirable variables. The article indicates that they mainly intend to compare 1 ton dually diesel trucks. It says they will do other HD trucks as well, but it doesn't say what. With the diesels, I think the same/similar axle ratio makes the most sense. In their "max tow" configurations, it should be that way already.

Yes, it does say what the other trucks will be. 4x4 four-door three-quarter-ton gas-engine pickups. Less than $50k. and will have Chevrolet, Ford and Ram represented.

@sandman4X4 I was told by a very smart guy a long time ago that they put erasers on everybodys pencils, look at your pencils if your eraser has been used you are not perfect.

That same guy also asked me if it hurt? When I fell out of heaven? Then he asked if I had a band-aid? Cuz he scraped his knee falling for me. I thought that was kind of strange, but hey I got a free meal out of it. Win win in my book!

I really don't think the manufacturers should be 'forced' to provide anything other than what they deem the best for the prices that PUTC had asked for.

The reason for this logic is it will give you an indication on what the manufacturer considers the strongest area of the market their vehicle is suited for.

If a manufacturer decides to provide a lower assend ratio to suit towing let them. If another manufacturer runs a taller ratio let them.

Because at the end of the day it is the manufacturers competing against each other. Not PUTC setting benchmarks for manufacturers to meet other than cost.

Let's see how the manufacturers perceive the market. Give them the freedom to provide what they deem is the best possible example of what they have on offer.

Let's not engineer.

^^^^ I bet that free meal you got was sausage.

I do think in general the comparison tests have been getting better and better on this site. Getting more thorough. That's always better.

I would like to see some of the same pulling tests run with half ton trucks as well. From what I can find out the Eco-Boost is stronger than Ford's 6.2L.

I looked at some of the tow specs on the Ford, Ram, GM sites and the only way that GM stands a chance is if all of the trucks were to run 3.73 gears.

Chevy dually 4x4 crew 6.6 Dmax 3.73 = 22,600 lb.

Ford dually 4x4 crew 6.7 PS 3.73 = 23,450 lb.

Ram dually 4x4 crew 6.7 C 3.73 = 23,450 lb.

If I read GM's spec sheet correctly 3.73 appears to be the best you can get in a dually crew.

Ford can go to 4.3 gears = 26, 642 lb.

Ram can go 4.10 gears = 28, 950 lb.

It will be interesting to see how the three trucks compare.

Are Ford and Ram trucks over-rated?
or is Chevy no longer in the same league?

I do think that Ford and Ram have been snorting too much magic spring dust.

If we look at gas engines Chevy does not offer anything other than 4.10 gears with the 6.0.

Chevy 6.0 crew 4x4 3.73 = 13,000 lb.

Ford 6.2 crew 4x4 3.73 = 11,975 lb.
4.3 = 14,970 lb.

Ram 6.4 crew 4x4 3.73 = 12,500 lb.
4.10 = 15,500 lb.

I doubt that GM will stand a hope in hell of being within reach of Ford or Ram.
Spring dust or not, the 6.0 is clearly outgunned in the HP/torque department.

@Lou BC
I personally don't think that Ford and Ram are overrated in terms of their capabilities. I just highly doubt there are many people who need to tow 30k lbs. Maybe if it's commercially and there is a good business case to use a pickup instead of a medium duty truck.

The thing is that for someone who actually needs a 1 ton truck, any of the three will work. Lets say someone wants to tow a top of the line 5th wheel RV, those are probably 15k-20k lbs at most and any of the three trucks can handle it. Actually in California, I think you need a non commercial class A to tow over 15k lbs. So I think Ford and Ram are capable of towing what they state. They are overrated for the average person's needs, but not capability wise.

Sweet, can't wait!

I want to see the RPM's the truck is doing under the same payloads and towing at a matched speed, like do the same speed up a same hill (example at 50 MPH on a 7% grade hill the RPM is 2500 RPM )
I also want you to list the rear differential gear ratio of each truck.
People that live in the mountains need a different gear ratio than the people that live in the flat land.
For example my F-150 with 3.73 rear can pull a 7% grade mountain road w/o a load and tach 1800 RPM's at 65 MPH and with a load of 2600 lbs it only increases to 2200 RPM ( that impresses me).
The local Ford Dealer has a demo F-150 hooked to a 12,000 loaded trailer that you can test drive up a steep mountain road and I would put my F-150 up against any Super Duty and most guys don't need a Super Duty when a 1/2 ton truck will do the same job. You can order a F-150 with a 8600 GVWR that will match the same payload as a F-250 with only 50 (FIFTY) pounds off! Ram and Chevy doesn't even come close!

@Tom#3 Back away from the ford cool-aid. You trying to match a light weight with a heavy weight fighter. The f150 is good but not that good.

WARNING Do not attempt to tow what these BIG BOYS are about to tow.

The only thing I want to see in any comparison when it comes to payload and especially towing is the same weight for the payload or trailer across all trucks so we get a true apples to apples comparison. I don't understand the 90% (or whichever value) of its rating and comparing it to another brand at its 90%. We replace our tow vehicles more often than what we tow (more often that not). If I own a huge trailer (huge investment) I could potentially have it for numerous generations or brands of tow vehicles or tow it with multiple rigs. Its weight is almost always static and doesn't really vary, so why not keep it the same in these tests so that I can see which truck will tow it the best throughout these conditions so that I can come to the conclusion for myself which one would best suit my particular requirements (ie: flat highway, mountain passes, etc). I hope the manufactures provide models all configured for max tow duty. I couldn't care less if one doesn't offer a higher axle ratio that another brand, that is the manufactures problem and not mine.

Honestly, you really can't go wrong with neither one of these trucks. They all can do the job with ease. Favorite brand or not.

I am once again going to request you do the test in Washington, Alberta, and B.C. if you start in Seattle Washington, go to Lethbridge Alberta, and go back to Seattle threw BC. I guarantee it will separate the real deal from the want to be's. We have mountains and sharp corners, long pulls and long downgrades, real life situations.

If you do the wrought I suggest and someone wants to supply a gear ratio that is very low it may help in some situations but will not work if you should go thru the chokhala and it can not do the 110K and fuel milage would be hurt. You can not cover up a bad transmission with low rear gears in every situation. But you could in a specific test over a specific wrought.
You have to remember the Duramax produces max torque at 1600, unlike the others, so they can run a 373 gear.
Just a thought

@HEMI MONSTER - as you have pointed out in California and in many other jurisdictions you need a special endorsement or CDL to tow what these trucks are rated to tow. These trucks can tow these loads but as we have seen in past tests, the trucks with the highest ratings weren't necessarily the best.

On paper the Chevy is at a disadvantage. The diesel only comes with 3.73's and the gasser only comes with 4.10's.

I do believe that the 6.0 will get spanked. In the last PUTC shootout the Ford 6.2 was better than the 5.7 especially in hills. I suspect that the Ram 6.4 will win the gasser test with Ford 2nd and GM wel off the pace.

Diesels are a different story. I will not pick a winner in that arena since we have seen the GM win in the past by a decent margin. It may do better than expected (I do seem to have a soft spot for the underdog).

6.4 may lose to the 6.2 I saw the two compete on a competing website and the 6.4 was slower.

@Greg - was that TFL Truck? I saw one where the 6.4 lost but it was an empty test.
The GM beat the 6.4 as well.

Still, I doubt the 6.2 Ford will win as it was close a few years back against the 5.7.

Use the same axel ratio if you want an honest test,instead of being a Sandman and handicapping the others cause one is so far behind.

The GM and Ford gassers already have a trans advantage.

How about a same size tire, and same tire if possible? One brand in particular likes small relatively treadless tires.

Maybe if the trucks are actually tested where they need power? Not just @60 on a Michigan flat highway with trailers that aren't just flatbeds with 7-8 k strapped on.

Will this test of 4x4s actually go off-road, or will the low rider of the group not loose points, while it gets good mileage being setup for highway duty?

@Tom#3: so how many rpm does the ecoboost spin with 12k on it up that hill? Wow, 2k, don't work it too hard!

Wonder how much shop time that there ecoboost gets compared to these v-8 trucks? Your dealer is asking for it if they knowingly put people in trucks that are overweight, but then again, as much as Ford lies, they might weight 9k,not 12k.

I'll laugh my balls off if the old Duramax smokes the new 440 880 powerjunker LMAO!

In the last 1 ton shootout, which was the Hurt Locker, Ford would have won if not for the exhaust brake. Ford had the best acceleration with a trailer, best braking and fuel econ. The big question will be how well the updated brake controller performs for Ford and how Ram's 6.4 gasser performs. All bets are off if they like the new exhaust brake. GM should come in dead last in both comps.

I changed my mind. I'm going to put Ram at the bottom of both competitions. The Ram will have the worst braking, the worst fuel economy and will have mixed acceleration.

1 Ton:
1) Ford
2) Chevy
3) Ram

3/4 Ton Gas:
1) Ford
2) Chevy (Ford and Chevy pull the upset)
3) Ram

Tom#.3: GM does have an engine that is bigger than 5.3, it is called the 6.2, and has MORE power than any other 1/2t truck! and with the HDpayload/tow package can tow more than F-150's or can carry and tow more than Rams with any of their engines! the 6.2 has 460lbs/ft tq! sure it come on higher in the rpm's but it still has plenty at 2000 rpm's still. The only issue I have with the 6.2, is you need to get the top of the line truck!

I predict that Ford will lose this comparison hands down. They seemed to have lost their way lately. No completely new products for years, just new grilles every now and then and maybe a new dash. Things have been too quiet in Dearborn lately for Ford. Will they ever wake up? I am beginning to wonder. Might be time for me to switch brands. Maybe RAM? Maybe GM? We shall see.

Let's hope they can do the heavy duty challenge before the Gmc and Chevy are recalled .

I predict the GM Twins will surprise more than a few people in this test. That Duramax/Allison combo is dynamite, it is undefeated in all current HD shootouts and special reports done by PUTC and TFL Truck was raving about their most recent Ike Gauntlet run with it (albeit not near full capacity). GM has done well with this engine and trans combo, priving time and again that the numbers mean nothing if you cant turn them into results on the ground. I bet the newly inflated SD will win the towing challenges this year, but I bet the GM will be nipping at its heals, and still well clear of the Dodge. I think in other areas though the GM will blow the other trucks away in categories such as downhill control and drving dynamics (both way more important to me than getting to the top of the hill). I remember the F450 in King of Beasts had glowing/smoking brake rotors at the bottom of one Ike tunnel pull, that cant be good no matter how fast you got up the hill. So the Ford takes the GM twins in climbing and 0-60 and GM twins clean up everywhere else except for maybe interior if the Ford sends a platinum which it almost certainly will.

Heres hoping PUTC stays away from the subjective nonsense they have sometimes been prone to in past shootouts to give a certain manufacturer a leg up... oh wait nevermind, Mike Levine left a long time ago.

I haven't seen all of the comments so perhaps some of this has been covered already but I would like to know what the criteria of the test for the 1 tons is going to be. Is PTC going be pulling 20K up a mountain pass or just pull as much weight up the mountain as the truck is rated for? I assume where this is a comparison test that the tests will be within the range that all trucks can compete in. I’m not really interested in seeing the Ford and the Dodge duke it out with the GM sitting on the sidelines because of the trucks ratings. King of the hill can be covered in another test.
So far as the axle ratio, I would like to see PTC tell the manufactures what will be asked of the truck (22K trailer up a 7% incline?) and let them spec the truck accordingly. Let them know that the completion involves not only fastest time up the hill but also overall fuel economy, noise levels, comfort, braking, etc. As has been mentioned, there are other factors at play than the axle ratio. I don’t think PTC should be specifying this for them.

Correct me if I am wrong, but isn't the 2014 Powerstroke still rated at 400/800? Their website says the 2nd gen 440/860 is available but that seems to be for 2015 models only. Question is which motor will be tested. Ford needs to send the new one if the hope to beat the Duramax at elevation.

Ram 3500 dominated the F450 on Eisenhower for both time and MPH in King of Beasts.

Even Ford's propaganda video "Battle of Heavyweights" up Eisenhower for the new 2015 F-350 the GM was last place by 17 seconds, the Ram was barely beaten by the new Ford by only 9 seconds.

The Ford Battle of the heavyweights test was rigged for them anyway, notice how in the Ford conducted test they only ran halfway up the Eisenhower pass (only 4 miles), because the Ram passed it before the completion after the Ford got hot and started de-rating. Ford doesn't have the cooling system to keep from de-rating under these conditions.

I would assume the new Powerstroke will perform very well in shorter low altitude runs like Davis Dam however.

I'd like to see this test done with a maximum load in the bed.
Assuming everyone buys a 1 ton to tow is missing the mark. Most 1 ton trucks I see are pulling trailers at the high end rating of a 1/2 ton truck 10-12k.
Cargo capacity is where it is at for me and virtually everyone I know that owns a 1 ton truck. Put a max load in the back and run the trucks for a week down various gravel roads in my region and that will show who has the better sorted out truck.

As far TFL testing Ram 6.4 vs Chevys old stuff and Ford's not as old stuff, few people realize a 6 speed Ford/Chevy has a higher total gear ratio in 1st and 2nd even when using 3.73 gears. 3.73x Chevys 4.03 1st and 2.36 2nd is a 15.03 and 8.80 vs the Ram's 3.23 1st and 1.837 2nd witch gives 13.243 and 7.53 USING 4.10s!

Combine that with GM's use of smaller tires, they have a gear advantage.

Predication? Gassers: Ford, if using their 4.30 gear (max available) will win the uphill 7 and 16% cause their trans gear advantage over Ram and their axle ratios, but will loose everything on flat ground to Ram and Fords empty mileage will continue to suck and Ram's will be as good or better then the 2010 shootout with the 5.7. Ram has upped the power, and changed the trans since then, but the trans gears might not be enough.

Chevys 6.0 will be like the Nissan of 1500s, it's just there.

The Duramax is behind these others as well.

@TRX-4 Tom, The Duramax still has more horsepower than the Cummins and a flatter torque/horsepower curve. I love my diesel, but a healthy gas motor will get me towing on steep hills at low elevation. Horsepower always wins races. That said, I like that I don't have to downshift and scream it to go up those hills.

I'd like to see this test done with a maximum load in the bed. Speaking about a maximum load in the bed.


I will not pick a winner in that arena.....




@Mark49: I think if people get past the 0-60 times which they are hung up on, they will probably see the 6.4 will pull a heavy trailer with a lot less downshifting in hilly areas, then the 6.0.

Not everybody races up every hill, but they for sure need to get up those that come along, and if the less downshifting, the better.

@Mark49: So I just looked it up, the Duramax is what, 397 hp @3000 rpm, vs. 385 @2800. 12 more but must be revved more. Good thing the GM has higher trans gears, it needs them once again!

Also depends on which one revs most past peak power.

Typical GM issue: need more rpm!

@ Bob: "Let me guess, GM wins another shootout and this time it was against Fords 440 hp and 860 foot pounds of torque, and Ram's 850 foot pounds of torque.

GM will win AGAIN and the ford fan boys cry like little girls. They make excuse after excuse as to why their ford had its rear end handed to it AGAIN by GM.

So to sum up my point, GM will b the WINNER AGAIN and ford will be the first LOSER AGAIN. Oh it feels great to beat ford AGAIN! But I am used to that because the Duramax has been beating the ford ever since it came out. yeah!"

And yet year after year Ford outsells GM Twins in every category---pooor wittle Bobby boy!

Where are the results already? It's been almost a full month since the notice went out about this new test and we want to see some numbers and videos NOW.

So is this coming out soon?

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