What We've Been Up To: 2015 Light-Duty V-8 Challenge

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We've been pretty busy the last few weeks as we get ready to close out 2014. Which should make sense since the half-ton truckmakers have been pretty busy too. Almost all of the segment players have made some significant upgrades since the last time we did a light-duty comparison. Those with good memories will remember that our 2013 Light-Duty Challenge included two all-new pre-production GM twins (each with the smaller V-8) going up against the No. 1-selling Ford F-150 EcoBoost and value-packed Ram 1500 Hemi. At the end of that competition, Ford just beat the Ram by a hair.

Given the fact that Ford's much-publicized all-new F-150 is on sale, Toyota has significantly upgraded the Tundra's interior and exterior look, and the GM twins now offer a Corvette-based 6.2-liter V-8 and new eight-speed transmission, we thought it was time to get the band back together to see what kind of music happens this time.

For the 2015 Challenge we took five 4x4 crew-cab V-8 half-tons ($55,000 price cap) to Arizona for a week of hauling, track testing, mileage driving and towing (on the Davis Dam grade).

The good news is you'll likely have more data than you'll know what to do with, and the finishing order is likely to make many people very unhappy. The bad news is you have to wait until Jan. 5 for the details. In the meantime, we'll post stories about different aspects of the trucks and some fast facts from the tests so you can see some of the results ahead of time. More to come.

Cars.com photo by Evan Sears





this should be a good test! Can't wait

So Im going to guess GMC sends a 6.2 and Chevrolet sends the 5.3? If so I predict finishing order to be

1. GMC
2. Ram (only barely ahead of)
3. Chevy

The others will be fighting for the "Also Ran" award with the Ford barely eeking it out over the Tundra.

Feel free to doubt, but I was 2 for 2 calling the winners of both the 3/4 and 1 Ton shootouts (and even got the finishing order of the 1 tons right).

Why did you leave out the ecoboost this time? Really either one of the ecoboosts would probably have better results than the v8 in a comparison. You chose the premium engine for every truck, except the ford. Pickuptrucks.com has really been taking a lot of shots at ford lately.

@devilsadvocate It doesnt matter if you win by an inch or a mile. Wining is winning.

Would the Titan V8 diesel be counted as a "light-duty V8?" If so, it should be the winner of the 2016 contest. I suspect Nissan will also use the 400HP direct-injected 5.6. I bet the GM 6.2 will win for 2015, but it's a shame that engine isn't available on mainstream models. Heck you could once get a Suburban or Silverado LS with an 8.1, and the price premium was minimal.

The RAM with the eco diesel will be top dog. they are good truck just lacking on build quality is a hit and miss situation that you cant calculate into a tst comparison. It should be expected, MT also rated it best.

"we took five 4x4 crew-cab V-8 half-tons..."

Why is there an ecoboost badge on the bottom of the F150's passenger door? And if the ecoboost wasn't used, why not?

This should be interesting. Fords offers 4 engine choices with the V8 only one up passed the 3.5V6. the V8 is behind both eco boost mills. I cant see if doing well against the competitors top of the hill power trains. I'm guessing the Ram comes out on top with the the chevy/GMC at its bumper. the little ford V8 should be chugging away at the back of the pack.

@Alex, because GM doesn't offer their top engine in a "work" trim level, I didn't seriously consider them when I bought a new pickup--they lost a sale before they could even try to get it.i

@1LLA, yeah I HATE the GM 6-speed, I think the older 4L60E and 4L80E were nicer to drive. The Ram has the best transmission, but those Hemis need updating. Perhaps direct injection and offer the 6.4 or 6.2 (without the supercharger) on the 1500?

@PUTC: In order to fairly grade a vehicle's fuel consumption cost you need to calculate the cost per mile and NOT BASE IT ON MPG. For example, in the past the 6.2 GM required premium fuel, which costs more the regular. Second, diesel fuel costs more. This would be unbiased.

It doesn't matter really which v8 wins, what you really need to remember is, especially for towing, its still a half ton, remember most truck buyers that have tow rating think they are fine towing a 6k pound boat, they don't realize that high tow number is based on weight distribution, there is no real such thing as a HD half ton, they all are light duty

If PUTC went through the effort to test only competitors top performance and top selling v8 models to fords 3rd least selling engine with poorer performance compared to the two ecoboosts it would be a shame. Why not test fords top engine also? One or two more trucks to test would be that much of a hassle? I am interested in the 5.0 ford v8 performance but if there is no comparison to fords other motors then the test is fairly useless. Unless your testing the other motors later its still doesn't make sense anymore to only test v8 engines. Test to either top power, top towing, top fuel economy, or similar classes.

I constantly read/hear how mad people get when the Silverado and Sierra are lumped together on the sales total.
Yet a so called pickup truck publication claims the F150 is the number one selling truck. (Every article they write or dig up from another website, they state the F150 is number one.)
One would think they could get it right, but guess they are so blinded that even a pickup truck site can't or won't state the facts.
Nearly every year, (Maybe every year!) The Silverado 1500 sells the most pickups of any segment. That is a proven fact! And if GM had an ad department that knew how to get the word out, they would make it known to the truck buying public.

Doing a test based only on number of cylinders and layout i.e. V8 has been rendered obsolete. There are V6's that rival mid level V8's and V6's that are comparable to top level V8's. Another factor is fuel type. i.e. regular gasoline, premium gasoline and diesel. We will soon have the 5.0 Cummins in at least one pickup.

A test should be now based more on capacity.

Get every pickup configuration rated to tow over 10K and haul more than 1500 lb together. Get every truck engine available in the weight range and run a shootout.
In other words - a heavy duty 1/2 ton class.

Get every 1/2 ton together that falls into the mid level i.e. 1,000 - 1,300 lb cargo and 5-7k towing.
Again - get every configuration that falls in this class. (Call it the light duty class or the Motor Trend Don't really need a truck class)

Do a shootout based primarily on performance. Call it the Muscle truck class or "I don't need a pickup but can't afford a HellCat class".

Guys wanting max tow and/or cargo will look at every configuration that can meet that target.

Ram 1500 - V6 pentastar,5.7 V8, V6 ecodiesel (one can debate the pecking order here)

Ford F150 - V6 3.5 NA, V8 5.0, EB 2.7, EB3.5 (one can argue the 5.0 sitting higher than EB2.7)

GM - V6, 5.3V8, 6.2V8

Toyota - 4.6L V8, 5.7 V8

Nissan - 5.6 V8 Cummins 5.0 ?????????

Look at those engine choices. V6 gas NA, V6 gas turbo, V6 diesel Turbo (Ecodiesel), V8 diesel (Cummins), V8 gas.

Tests based on engine configuration/type no longer makes sense.

@hdmax, GM are the ones using the advantage of two separate brands, marketing teams, and sales channels to sell as many trucks as it does. GM has to take the negatives (each product will be counted separately) along with the positives of selling more trucks. Does that make them more profitable? Well since their sales are split and their overhead is higher, I highly doubt it. Can they consolidate brands and still sell as many trucks? If they could, they would, so the answer is no.

I forgot to mention small trucks. If a small truck has tow/haul capacities that put it in direct comparison to a 1/2 ton it should be included.

I have no problems cross shopping small trucks.

People seem to be missing that the Ford 5.0L is the most powerful in the bunch by 20hp. When towing up a hill HP matters more than torque. This is why the 3.0L ram with 280 hp came in last to the 365hp Chevy and 325hp Ford.

To clarify, most powerful of Fords motors.

Alex wrote "GM are the ones using the advantage of two separate brands, marketing teams, and sales channels to sell as many trucks as it does. GM has to take the negatives (each product will be counted separately) along with the positives of selling more trucks. Does that make them more profitable? Well since their sales are split and their overhead is higher, I highly doubt it. Can they consolidate brands and still sell as many trucks? If they could, they would, so the answer is no."

You made no sense at all! The Silverado 1500 is the best selling 1/2 ton PERIOD! Has nothing to do with how many brands they sell.
I think you must work for pickup trucks dot com! You can not comprehend the difference between the half ton market and full size pickup truck market
. Ford sells the most full size pickup trucks, Chevy sells the most half ton pickup trucks. Is that clear enough for you?

1LLA: you say a Ram with an 8 speed tows less then one with a 6 speed in the same truck? Even the same GEARS?

You are full of hot air! Show us where you get this made made up stuff?

A Ram 6 speed with 3.92s will be rated to tow more then a 8 speed 3.21 or even maybe a 3.55 geared truck, it won't be smooth doing it either.

So get out of your Ford Koop aid boots (cause it's getting deep in here) and compare the same truck with same axle ratio, with the difference being a 6 or 8 speed, and tell me how that works out for you.

At 1LLA, If you would have been thought of and old enough in the late seventies, you would know the change to the Big Ten (Chevy) Heavy Half (GMC) and Heavy Duty 1/2 ton (Ford and Dodge) you would know it was to get around the new at the time regulations for using unleaded fuel. Cars were already required to use unleaded fuel, than they added pickups that fell below 6,000 lb gvwr around 1978, so the manufacturers came up with the heavy duty 1/2 tons that were just over 6,000 lb gvwr to get around the new regs.
Up until than most 1/2 tons fell in the 4900-5400 GVWR range.

"and the finishing order is likely to make many people very unhappy."

Does that mean the Tundra wins ;)

@K-1500.Suburban - I suspect that Ford upped the power of the 5.0 V8 to keep V8 fans happy since the 6.2 is no longer available as the premium performance V8 motor in the F150.
It will be interesting to see how it fares against the rest of the V8's.
I'd like to see one GM sibling with the 5.3 and another with the 6.2 just to see how big a difference there is between the 2. The 5.3 has been panned by many publications as being a bit of a dog. Most point to lame programming geared to mpg.

The performance results should be interesting. If the Ram has the 8 speed and 3.92 gears it will be a strong runner. The new F-150 with 385(?)hp and aluminum body might be a real runner. The 6.2 GM with an 8 speed should be a screamer. If one of the GM twins has the 5.3 (6 speed only), it will be dead last! My guess is that Toyota wins. Hey, the article says a lot of people will be unhappy! That would do it.

Why is everyone disappointed that the 6.2 isn't available on all trims? Calm down. It will make its way to all trims over time. That happened with the previous generation models as well. Same for the ecoboost. It started out as an upper level trim option only. It's now available al lthe way down to the xl trim. And soon the Eco diesel too will find its way down the line. And the 8 speed was only mated to the V6 at one time. Now it's in the hemi and the ecodiesel. It's all about production capacity and availability.

@mark49 - TFL Truck posted some numbers based on an 1/8th mile test (IIRC)
This is what they posted with their driver:

5.941 ......... Chev 6.2 (fastest recorded - 5.906)

5.947.......... Ford EB3.5 (fastest recorded - 5.485)

6.012 ......... Ford EB2.7 (lots of wheel spin)

6.431 ......... Ford 5.0

6.670 ......... Ram 5.7 (fastest recorded 6.329)

Everything points to the fact that the Chevy 6.2 will be the fastest truck. The Ram could pull second depending on driver.

Funny that the Tundra suddenly has the highest tow ratings- J2807 only considers the numerically smallest gear ratio offered. While it may be a pig on fuel while unloaded, I'll bet it still did well against the competition, when it came to hauling. If Toyota would just offer a high GVW package...

You do realize that Colorado, Canyon, Tacoma and Frontier qualify as "Light Duty" trucks too, don't you. While I'll grant they probably can't hold a candle to a full sized "light duty" truck, it would still be interesting to see how they compare in a like-for-like test.

@Lou BC- My thinking is that Toyota will win on refinement and middle of the pack performance.

V8 better than the EcoBust any day of the week.

Check this out!


I knew those turbos would end up biting them in the end!

" and the finishing order is likely to make many people very unhappy"

Oh boy! Way to get the crowd anxious!

At the end of the day, regardless of who comes first or last, they're all capable of doing what pickup trucks are basically designed to do, so those who aren't blinded by brand foolishness shouldn't get too emotional over the test results.

I love all the speculation on finishing order based on their comment about a lot of people being unhappy. I can't imagine ANY finishing order where this doesn't happen!

results make MANY people unhappy
what group of people that post here are the MANY?


what group whine the most?


The 5.0 V8 in the F-150 is no slouch! Doesn't it have more HP than the 3.5 Eco-Boost?

The Ram Owners know they made a mistake owning one so to save face they have to attack and cut down the F-150 to sink to their level.
The Ram Owners are jealous of the F-150!
I bet there are some statistics out there that the Ram trucks are the most trucks traded in on a new F-150 or many, many more Ram Owners switch to the F-150 than F-150 Owners switch to the Ram truck !

Looking forward to this comparison... Not so concerned with who wins, since what the judges value in ergonomics doesn't always match what I value, but the comparisons between the models in like conditions is interesting to read. As the comments above, and soon to be below, the truck market is very brand loyal, so I don't think a comparison is going to change that, but the new technology seems to be adopted by each.... Thus making each better and better. I love American trucks, but have to admit the 5 l cummins in the Titan is going to turn up the heat on each next year... Won't replace my hd...

Well, if the picture at the top is from the test, the Tundra is a TRD Pro.

So it is going to have the full capability of a "regular" Tundra--meaning not diminished payload/towing like some pickups with off-road ambitions. Yet, it will have a plush ride and good manners in the rough stuff.

I agree with some of the posters who say that regardless of who wins there will be unhappy people.

Mark Williams has made similar click bait comments in the past leading up to shootouts.

Throw gasoline on an open flame.

That is what it amounts to.

Some of you guys don't get it. There are guys like me, 65 yrs. old that grew up in the muscle car times. I will only buy v8 gas motors. I don't care that a v6 gets better mpg or is more powerful, I will not drive a truck that sounds like a blender. I tow no more than 7,000 lbs. a half dozen times a year. I don't care that a v6 is faster or more economical. The extra money for fuel doesn't bother me. I would buy a 5.0 Ford, 5.7 Hemi, or a 6.2 Chevy.

you really ought to test drive an ecoboost. It would probably be a real eye opener for someone like you. I bet if they told you it was the 5.0 you'd have no idea until you opened the hood.

Tom#3, I stand by my comment from threads gone by, ChryslerDodgeRamCerberus,Daimler,Fiat, didn't get to be number 3 by building quality vehicles. They do however, get passed around like the proverbial RHSC. From thug inspired cars to bling galore trucks, owners have to use unethical tactics to demean the superior competition. From the beginning Henry Ford only used the dodge brothers for their cash, dumping them when their usefulness was no longer needed. They decided to get even with their own company, this is as far as they got.

I would be surprised if the ram won the comparison given that it is unchanged from the truck they tested in last year's shootout. It lost in acceleration and mpg to the ecoboost in both towing and not towing. The new ecoboost truck is almost guaranteed to do better in both mpg and performance. I would be very surprised if the tundra jumped from 5th last year to 1st when it has the same powertrain. I'm guessing the chevy 6.2 wins overall.

Seriously! You're comparing the 6.2 liter GM trucks to the 5.0 liter F-150 and you call yourselves journalists? You took the biggest or second biggest categorizing factor of the half-ton market and screwed up consumers' cross-shopping comparisons. You basically kicked one competitor in the balls and sent them into a boxing match. Ford never intended or marketed the 5.0 to go up against the 6.2 or even the 5.7 Hemi.
What were you thinking? For what reason was this limited to V8's!! Sound? "For those people whose first priority when shopping for a truck is how it sounds, have we got a shootout for you!"

Whoever screens these things for relevant criteria has proven to be out of touch with truck buyers.

We all know the F-150 is going to win cause it won last year and with tons of improvements for 2015 where all the trucks stayed the same with no changes. The 2015 F-150 is a totally different higher class of truck that no other truck will come close!

Personally I think the F-150 is the ugly truck of the bunch with that hideous front grill and those stupid horizontal bars covering the headlights, and the F-150 looks thin and narrow almost looking like a smaller mid-size truck compared to the other trucks (looking at the main picture above)

In a "V8" competition I like the Ford the least. Its powers is great for the displacement but it is also shifted a littler higher up in the rpm band. The unloaded FE will be good but towing FE will be average. I am disappointed that FE went from 15/21 in 14 to 15/22 in 15.

I am going in this order for the top 3
1. 6.2L 8-speed GM
2. 5.7L Hemi 8-speed Ram
3. 5.3L 6-speed GM

It would be nice to see the two GM trucks speced differently, give us one with a 6.2L and one with a 5.3L.

""and the finishing order is likely to make many people very unhappy."

Does that mean the Tundra wins ;)

Posted by: Lou_BC | Dec 18, 2014 2:32:39 PM"

That's my guess, but I don't see how that's possible. Or the all new Ford finishes further down the list.

I'm very much looking forward to this test - I'd like to know if a half ton V8 can safely pull loads of 8000# or more, or if you do that routinely should one move up to an HD truck. I'm looking forward to seeing these trucks compete near their limits.

I like the comfort of my half ton. I pull an open car trailer about 20 times per year. If I want to move to an enclosed trailer I am looking at more weight and drag through the air.

I have an ecoboost and the power is nice, but a V8 would be lag free and is far simpler setup. Simple is good.

If the Ecoboost is so much better than a V8 why doesn't ford put them in hd trucks. maybe because the motor is not made for hd use and will be unreliable. thats why gm uses the iron 6.0 in their hd trucks very reliable. I for one would not buy a tt v6 for a truck, a car ok but in a truck i want simple long term reliability. Time will tell how much it will cost to keep a ecoboost into the 200-300K range. i bet its will be more than a gm v8, and will probably offset any mpg savings. Im a Acura tech and am putting a 10k motor in a mdx that customer drove w/o coolant for 5 miles (thought they could get home) the alum v6 is twisted and parts melted off the motor. i bet a tt v6 ecoboost would probably do the same.

The test using the 5.0 V8 in the F-150 still seems relevant, though it would be interesting to see the Ecoboost engines in comparison to the others. The 5.0 now has 385 hp (just 10 less than the 5.7 Hemi) and 387 lb-ft of torque @ 3850 rpm (Hemi is 410). With the weight savings of the F-150 this 5.0 should perform quite well. It will be interesting to see how all of these trucks do. They're all great trucks in my opinion.

Will, the Coyote puts out more peak power than the ecoboost, which gives it a *better* chance of beating GMs L86. Think before you post.

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