Max Towing Wars: Ford F-450 Versus Ram 3500 HD, Part II

1 F vs R II

Well, that didn't take long. Ford, like many others, still remembers the shellacking Ford took at the hands of the 2013 Ram 3500 Heavy Duty in our King of Beasts contest in which we pitted the 2013 Ford F-450 Super Duty against Ram's hulkiest fighter in a cage battle. You will recall that the new-for-2013 max tow package the Ram HD offered in our last competition had a maximum towing capacity of 30,000 pounds and a gross combined weight rating in excess of 36,000 pounds; by the end of our King of Beasts comparison test, the Ram was crowned the victor. But a funny thing happened on the way to this week's 2015 Ford Super Duty media event in West Virginia.

Before we reveal what happened, we should note that did not put together this head-to-head test but did take advantage of the opportunity. For the media event, Ford ordered a fully optioned 2014 Ram 3500 HD Laramie Limited Crew Cab 4x4 with 4.10:1 gears so auto journalists could drive the combination for comparison purposes. After we examined both Monroney price sheets for the max-tow trucks — the Ram 3500 and Ford F-450, both with gross vehicle weight ratings of 14,000 pounds — we thought you might want to know how these two compared in a direct flat-out hill climb up a 7 percent grade. Thankfully, we had a VBOX data reader and access to both trucks with equivalent trailers.

Here's the setup: We had a brand-new 2015 Ford F-450 that is all-new underneath with a heavier-duty frame (basically taken from the stronger F-450/550 chassis cabs platform), a newly upgraded 6.7-liter Power Stroke (bigger turbo, new injectors, stronger cooling, upgraded tranny and a brand-new dedicated exhaust brake switch), a monster fifth wheel and new GCWR numbers (max towing of 31,200 pounds and GCWR of 40,000 pounds), and a similarly equipped Ram 3500. Having these two max tow monsters together in one place was special enough, but Ford also had two identically equipped Load Max trailers on hand, each offering just more than 24,000 pounds of weight (seven pallets of cinder blocks) for towing with these two beasts.

Naturally, it wouldn't be a reasonable tow test unless we had some challenging terrain, and we had some nearby in the form of the Beckley Grade (some call it the New River Gorge Grade), a stretch of Interstate Highway 64 that basically gave us 6 nasty miles of climb, starting around 4 percent but averaging between 6 and 7 percent the last 3½ miles. This is a grade we've never seen before, but it is impressive, and in the day and a half we spent on the road, we saw seven big rigs smoking their brakes down the backside and dozens of commercial vehicles creeping up the climb.

We understand that it looks more than a little suspicious to have one manufacturer be responsible for including a competitor's truck in a drive event that highlights its own product's newly strengthened assets. And to tell you the truth, we can't fully guarantee that there wasn't some hanky-panky; but we can tell you that after scouring each truck and checking all the aspects of the engines, transmissions and pricing sheets, these two trucks and trailers looked like a pair of similarly weight-classed cage fighters. So here's what we found.

We ran both trucks from exit 139 to exit 133 westbound on I-64 from Sandstone to Pluto Road. We mapped the section of road to give you an exact understanding of how and where the grades move up the highway and where the steepest parts are. Our start line for the flat-out max-pull contest began from the shoulder of the on-ramp to I-64, just off Meadow Creek Road. And we finished at the summit 5½ miles later.

Ford vs Ram chart photo

For simplicity — because this was a quick-and-dirty test — we've plotted all the time and distance information in a single graph with speed, distance and grade data laid out. The 2014 Ram 3500 with a Cummins engine, Aisin transmission and 4.10:1 gears covered the distance in 6 minutes and 22 seconds, while the 2015 Ford F-450 Super Duty Power Stroke 6R140 ran the hill climb in 5 minutes and 42 seconds.

We'll have more to write about the 2015 Super Dutys in our full review at a later date, as well as a focused look at the 2015 Ford F-350 in our upcoming 2014 Ultimate Heavy-Duty Challenge comparison test, due to be posted in August.

We'll be posting more photos of our clandestine, quick-and-dirty truck test on our Facebook page later.

To see a larger image of the chart, click here. photos by Mark Williams

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5 F vs R II


This story should keep the comments humming all weekend. Might even set a record.

I doubt any impropriety, however to have the most impartial test you should have switched trailers half way through to make sure there were no issues with the trailers.

Seems like correct results, more power = more speed on grade.

Couple questions about the comparison:

What's the differential ratio of the Ford?

What mileage did the trip computers give you?

How'd they both do coming back down the mountain?

Good stuff, Mark. Can't wait for the full HD Shootout.

Looks like Ford might finally - finally - be able to knock off the Duramax/Allison combination. But we'll see.

I'm more curious in how the Ford stops, though. The biggest problem with the Super Duty hasn't been going up the hill, it's been coming back down. A virtually nonexistent exhaust break has lead to smoking breaks and break temperatures above 1,000 degrees. I'm most curious to see if Ford has fixed these issues with the new Powerstroke upgrades. Otherwise, all Ford has done is make it even more dangerous for the rest of us if somebody hooks up 30,000 lbs to a new F-450 but can't safely bring it to a stop going down a grade.

I'm sure you guys will put it to the test in the Shootout.

One thing I wish they would include in these tests is the rpm of the engine and engine and transmission temperatures while climbing the hill. I towed a 15,000 pound plus fifthwheel up that same grade several times over a few years with a 2003 Ford F350 diesel, a 2005 Ford F350 diesel, and a 2007 Ram 3500 diesel. I didn't see much difference in speed up the hill between the three trucks but think the Ram was slighly slower. However, the Ram did it at about 2300 rpm while both Fords were screaming at 3800 rpm. That's the difference between the big inline six and the V8. The V8 requires higher rpm. Also, the 2003 Ford engine temperature ran around 230 to 235 degrees while the 2005 Ford was in the 240 plus range. The Ram never topped 216 degrees. Lower temperatures and lower rpm translate to longer life and a much more comfortable towing experience. Both brands do the job but that Ram impressed me a whole lot more than did the Fords when towing grades like that. Also, the Ram automatic transmission seemed to be a whole lot smarter about when to shift to assist braking down the other side of the grade. The Ram just never seemed to strain.

These trucks are simply amazing. It doesn't matter what brand you prefer. Although, Ford and Ram are the top two contenders in the heavy duty market.

For me as a consumer, I would prefer to see a smaller diesel engine offering, because I don't need the 800lb-ft of torque others may or may not need. But, it comes down to selling one diesel offering to keep costs down, etc. etc. So, as long as the bigger bore gas engines continue to see the same attention as the diesel engines. The consumer will only benefit from better technology and competition.

Very impressive for the new Ford, coming from a GM fan. To answer some of the questions, the new turbo installed on the Power Stroke should fix the exhaust brake issues the Ford had in the past. As for rear end ratio, I believe the F450 max tow comes with a 4.30, but as previously mentioned that only is one data point if we are to discuss gearing, since the transmission gear ratios also have to be taken into connsideration. This is a good comparison of the top of the line tow rigs on the market, however don't know how many people are itching to hook up to 30K with a pickup.

I can tell you from experience that the particular section of I64/I77 is no joke. If ou really want to get a feel for trailer hauling/handling, run up to Charleston on the interstate and then head east on highway 60 to Fayetteville.

@Justin, The advantage of the increased torque is the ability to use a much more economical axle ratio to do the same job. The 850 lb-ft Cummins or the 860 lb-ft Powerstroke with 3.42 axles will do more work than their predecessors of just 10 years ago, when torque peaks were in the 500-600 range and may have needed 4.10s to get a heavy trailer moving. Class 8 rigs are following suit... more torque in the engine allows you to use a numerically-lower axle that keeps rpm down and fuel economy up.

As far as the tow ratings, I would never tow 30K with a pickup. For that weight, I am looking no lower than Class 6. I don't want a truck at its limits, because there can always be that one variable that exceeds what the truck may be capable of - a Class 6 or 7 won't even notice 30K and will bring it to a stop with little drama.

Both these trucks are incredible and powerful. you would not go wrong with either.

I too would really like to know the axle ratio on the Ford as well as how well the two did on the downhill.

Why not use a F-350 instead of an F-450? 450's have 4:30 rear ends in them.

I agree brandon507, why not use an F350 vs. 3500 Ram. Just wondering why all Ford vs. competition use the F450. It would seem to me that F350 and Ram 3500 would be more apples to apples. Just my two cents.

Yea they should you a Ford F-350 to be apples to apples. This is like comparing a Ranger to and F-150 almost.

@DeverMike/Paul/Tom Lemon/Greg Baird/TRX4Tom/Dave/Hemi V8/Tom Terrific/sandman 4x4/lautenslager/zveria/Bob/US Truck Driver/Glenn/Jason/Hemi Rampage/smartest truck guy/Maxx/SuperDuty37/Ken/Ron/johnny doe/jim/ALL1/Frank/Idahoe Joe/The Guy/AD/Casey/papa jim/Young Guy/BeeBe/Steve/Chris/The truck guy/Alex/Mr Chow/Yessir/All Americans/Scott/Buy American or say Bye to America/Ram Big Horn 1500/Hemi Monster/Tom Wilkinson at Chevy/mark49/Tom#3/Truck Crazy or whoever you want to call yourself.

Quit the crap, really.

It's getting long in the tooth.

You want to debate, but it has to be on your terms.

Learn to debate with good information, then we might be able to have a decent debate.

Opinions are good, but if they are only your view to support the UAW, then how good are they. Look at what you guys have done to Detroit.

Terror tactics (union tactics) don't work on me.

If PUTC wants the UAW or whatever to control this site I suppose it's their decision.

It's not kids like I've been told by PUTC.

@matt2332: Because the 2015 F350 dually at its max rating is only rated to tow 26,700lbs. That is according to Ford's 2015 brochure. To match RAM's 3500 dually max tow rating with 4.10's, Ford has to bring a F450 to the table.

It's apples to apples.

Both are 14k GCWR. Both are max tow.

F-450 Platinum (14K# GVWR) vs. 2014 Ram 3500 Laramie Limited (14K# GVWR)

Apples to apples. If it makes you feel any better, Ram could put 4500 badges on their max tow pickup, not just the chasis cabs.

Its just a different name. Ford has a 150, 250, 350, and a 450. Rams offers just the 1500, 2500, and 3500 without having to move into a chassis cab configuration. the numbers on the side of the truck are meaningless these days. "these two trucks and trailers looked like a pair of similarly weight-classed cage fighters."

Let's redo the test with a space shuttle instead of a wimpy little 5th wheel...

Good to see the comments section has remained reasonable. Cool to see these little comparison tests now and then. No surprise that the ford would be a little quicker considering all the upgrades to the 2015 model. And I agree the 3500 vs. 450 nameplate means nothing.

Mike levine shared this cool video on twitter of a deconstruction of a 6.7 liter scorpion ford diesel including the differences of the 2014 vs. 2015 turbos.

Ford would never, ever cheat. And if you believe that....

How was the downhill braking Mark? The uphill performance is nothing particularly new in and of itself. The 2012 Ford beat the Ram by equivalent margins with similar loads in HD Shootout and Hurt Locker. The Ford has always been a touch faster than the Ram in your prior tests. However, where the Ram has shown has been getting the load back to the bottom safely a repeatably... the Ford, not so much.

I think I remember mention of the breaks visibly smoking in Hurt Locker, and King of Beasts. Have they fixed this? Is the Ford controllable going downt he grade like everyone seems to be raving about the new Chevy/GMC's?

It's just pretty much Ford find a loophole way to test. You can get 4.44 gears in a Ram 4500 (wouldn't that be closer then 4.10 vs. 4.30?) and that is the same type, ie, 4500 vs. 450. You can get 4.88s in a 5500 Ram. The GM and Fords hate a straight up comparison.

I don't have the weights of these trucks. I would bet a C channel truck would be a little quicker. I would go with the fully boxed frame truck. Ford's diesel's have a poor rep for reliability.
Ford had more than enough power. They lack in every other category vs Ram. Wasn't it Ram that started the exhaust brake?

" During our time in the Super Duty we did find a few quibbles:

The jitters: When fully loaded, we found the ride a bit stiffer and bucky at times, especially when the roads were bad.
Interior: Our Platinum edition had a very nice sound system, but it didn't seem much different or offer the upgraded materials we believe truck buyers deserve in a nearly $70,000 pickup.
DEF gauge: Not having an easy-to-find diesel exhaust fluid gauge that lets you know exactly how much you've used and how much you have left is something customers should not settle for, especially those who are going to tow. The Super Duty only offers a "Level OK" readout.
Unfortunately, the biggest areas where the F-450 let us down was in controlling the heavy loads on the steepest hill descents, something we've known from past heavy-duty comparisons as well. The strategy to integrate the turbocharger along with the grade braking of the transmission is perfectly fine about 80 percent of the time, but when we needed it most, it wasn't there. We found ourselves having to combat the engine bumping into the rev limiter several times with only the brake pedal between us and a runaway rig. Maybe it needs bigger, stronger brakes and a stronger transmission, or maybe a more aggressive turbocharger is the simple fix, but something has to be done if Ford wants its crown back. Interestingly, from what we saw at the 2013 State Fair of Texas, Ford could do it with the upgrades it has planned for its Super Duty chassis and upgraded Power Stroke for 2015."


"The Ram also had higher top speeds up the steepest grades, handled the heavy loads with more control, and kept the drivers more comfortable and less stressed. With all that said, we finally say congratulations to the 2013 Ram 3500 HD, our winner and last beast standing in this bloody two-truck battle."




^^LMFAO at this Whinning Loser!!!!

You lost me at:
"And to tell you the truth, we can't fully guarantee that there wasn't some hanky-panky."

We will no longer tolerate trolling of any kind. The trolls know who they are. This is your final warning.

The fact is these two yes one being a 3500 and the other a F-450 but both are the biggest and badest pullers you can buy in a pick up and that is all that matters for comparing them!

That ram they do the hanky panky, that fiat they do the hanky panky!!!

@TRX Tom

"It's just pretty much Ford find a loophole way to test. You can get 4.44 gears in a Ram 4500 (wouldn't that be closer then 4.10 vs. 4.30?) and that is the same type, ie, 4500 vs. 450. You can get 4.88s in a 5500 Ram. The GM and Fords hate a straight up comparison."

Actually no, you can get a 4.30 gear ratio in an F-350 as well. There are two main reasons why they used a 3500 and not a 4500. One is you cannot get a truck bed in anything past a Ram 3500. A 4500 only comes in a cab and chassis configuration. The other main reason is that the Ram 4500, even with 4.88 gears, is actually rated to tow less than the Ram 3500. How can this be you ask? It goes back to the 4500/5500 being a cab and chassis only. Ram (as well as all makes) has to do a different even more strict emissions certification for their cab and chassis models than their models with beds. The Cummins power rating for the cab and chassis version in the 4500/5500 is only 325hp and 750lb-ft versus the one that is in the 3500 with a bed that is 385hp and 850lb-ft of torque. If Ford would have used a 4500 then this test would have been worse for Ram for the reasons stated above so they used the 3500 which has the highest tow rating by Ram.

There is also nothing different in the power-train of a 4.30 rear ratio F-350 and F-450. All of the differences are in the frame, suspension and axles so the power portion of this test would not be any different pulling the trailer in the article if they used an F-350.

Also, there is no set rules that any manufacturer has to build their models just like other manufacture. Ford doesn't have to build an F-350 to closely resemble a Ram 3500 just as a Ram 2500 doesn't have to mirror a GM 2500. Those are just model numbers used by manufactures to signify that the higher numbers trucks have more capabilities within their lineup. It doesn't mean that a F-350 has t have the same kind of capabilities or specs as a Ram 3500. Ford, Ram, or Gm can give these designation to any truck they like. There is nothing in any rules books saying they have to be equal between the makes. Why people think that these truck have to be the same in order to be equal is beyond me. Maybe it has to due with those old "half ton", "3/4 ton", or "1 ton" terms that people used back in the sixties and hasn't applied to a trucks payload since then.

I have no dog in this fight since I don't ever foresee me towing that much so I really don't care if either can tow those weights. If they leap frogging each other in tow rating year after year then it would really make no difference in my world so no skin off my nuts what they do in this segment.

On an off topic though. Did anyone see the power numbers for that 2.3L I-4 Ecoboost they are putting in the Mustang? A whooping 310hp and 320lb-ft feet out of that little thing. This makes me wonder how much power the 2.7L V6 Ecoboost going into the F150 will have.

All this talk about comparing apples to apples, 450 compared to 4500. I currently have a 2009 5500 and can tell you that a 3500 dodge of that year will tow circles around the 5500. 4:88 rear end spins around 2600-2700 at 75 mph in 6th gear. It's out of snort at those rpms. It pulls like a beast at 55-60 mph but then gets out of the power range quick and is out gunned by 4:10's and even 3:73's at 65+ mph. Not to mention that cab chassis are derated compared to 1 tons. Correct me if I'm wrong but don't think you can get 850 torque or 30 k towing capacity in a 4500-5500..... Comparing a 4500 or 5500 to a non commercial 1 ton or a non commercial 450 would be stupid and a slaughter fest on towing. A 1 ton would make a 4500-5500 or 550 look like a gas rig.

What happen to the shoot out between the 3 new ton trucks and 3/4 tons trucks gas and diesel powered?

Best match up we got are between the Ram and the Chevy from Fast lane truck which they screw that up as they gave the Ram a rolling start and did the Chevy from a dead stop.

The bottom line is either truck will get the job done just fine. I can't imagine any pickup driver needing to tow anything close to the max tow capacity of their of those truck.

Anyone who tows that much has to have a class A license by law.

This was kinda like the weigh in at a boxing match, with one boxer throwing a sucker punch then walking off. Ram had no say in their truck as it was Ford that needed to win. Anyway you look at it Ram has one hell of a truck in the 3500 to go head to head with the 450.

And wait til VW owns Fiat RAM. Saw this story today. Yikes.:

Should Volkswagen Buy Fiat Chrysler? SUVs Sweeten the Deal

A hypothetical marriage between the two companies has serious problems, including overcapacity and overlap. But every relationship has flaws, and this one would have some big benefits.

The Wall Street Journal

supercrew02, Good find!

If it happens.... An acquisition of FCA would give VW control of Chrysler's large, well-established network of U.S. dealers. VW would also get the Jeep SUV and Ram pickup brands,

Has anyone noticed that FORD always compares their upcoming year models to the competitors current or previous year models ?

I wonder why Ford won't put there F350 up against the Ram so they have 2 class three trucks instead of a class 3 against a class 4? Why didn't they max out both trucks GVRW, now that would be interesting. At least Ford has responded to Ram!

Poor Chevy/GMC guys, they have to sit on the side lines and watch the real trucks play!

@Mark Williams

I think you should have explained in the article why Ford put an F-450 against Ram's 3500. I am seeing the same comments over and over again as to why Ford didn't compare it to a Ram 4500.

Although I do find it funny that some people here are complaining about the rear axle ratio differences from a 4.10 in the Ram to a 4.30 in the Ford. However, those very same people didn't mind a Ram 1500 with an 8 speed transmission being compared to a Ford F150 with a 6 speed and calling it even. A tad bit hypocritical, don't you think?

The 2015 is not upcoming, it's current and has been out for months. There are no 2015 Rams yet, not that it would have mattered.

These trucks are close.... real workers will chose FORD because in the end reliability is needed to get the job done. go to any mine, oil patch or big construction site... FORD is on the JOB.

Hey, just got my new pickup today. First one ever really excited.

Sorry to be off-topic, but I need help from you guys:

1. What spray on bed liner would you recommend?
2. The dealer offered me rust proofing. I live in the rust belt so it is important here. The oil spray stuff works well but makes a mess. The dealer has that stuff that you put in once (kind of a rubberized coating (I think).

What do you guys thinks?

What truck did you get?

LOL great we got R3NxSTONEx now for Ford just as bad as Hemi v8 is on Ram.

However, those very same people didn't mind a Ram 1500 with an 8 speed transmission being compared to a Ford F150 with a 6 speed and calling it even. A tad bit hypocritical, don't you think?

Posted by: ALL1 | Jul 17, 2014 9:54:21 PM


These trucks are close.... real workers will chose FORD because in the end reliability is needed to get the job done. LMAO!

Posted by: R3NxSTONEx | Jul 17, 2014 10:19:20 PM


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