2017 3/4-Ton Work Truck Challenge: Dynamometer Testing

Ford F250 Reg Cab Dyno II

By Mark Williams

Work trucks have a special place in the pickup truck family tree: They're practical tools designed for functional use. And probably the most significant defining characteristic of how well these tools can be used is how their powertrain and driveline create and transfer power through the transmission to the rear wheels. That's why we took the competitors in our 2017 3/4-Ton Work Truck Challenge to a chassis dynamometer shop to see how they compare.

All of our pickups were equipped with six-speed transmissions with the exception of the 2017 Nissan Titan XD S, which had a seven-speed. All of the trucks had column shifters with a button/toggle at the end of the stick for manual shifting. Interestingly, the engines with the most factory-rated torque — the 2017 Ford F-250 XL with the 6.2-liter V-8 (430 pounds-feet) and the 2017 Ram 2500 Tradesman with the 6.4-liter V-8 Hemi (429 pounds-feet) — also offer owners a chance to see what gear the vehicle is in, which made it much easier for us to control our dyno runs. There was no visual gear readout for the Nissan with the 5.6-liter V-8 (394 pounds-feet) or the 2017 Chevrolet Silverado WT with the 6.0-liter V-8 (380 pounds-feet), so making sure we did our dyno testing in 4th gear was a little more difficult.

In horsepower ratings, as we discovered at the race track, Ford's new V-8 is a deep breather and quick to put a lot of power to the rear wheels. During our dyno runs, it put almost 90 percent of its factory-rated horsepower to the ground, clocking 344 hp. However, very close behind was the Ram's slightly larger 6.4-liter with 340 hp. Not surprisingly, the Nissan's V-8 (the only dual-overhead-cam, 32-valve engine in the group) was fairly close behind the two strongest players. The oldest engine of the group, Chevy's 6.0-liter, came in a distant fourth.



In the torque department — often a much more important yardstick for work trucks — the results were similar, with the Ram eking out the win over the Ford, recording just 2 more pounds-feet of torque at a lower rpm than the smaller engine from Ford. Nissan once again was close behind, with the stalwart Chevy coming in fourth.


How We Conducted the Testing

Mark Keith at dyno A17_0979[5]II

Anyone who has experience with a chassis dynamometer knows it can be a little tricky capturing peak performance, mainly because of how smart (and dumb) many new transmissions (and the software that controls them) can be. Thankfully, we are familiar with Arizona Dyno Chip in Tempe, so we made a date to test all our trucks on the same day, with the same technician, following the same procedures. Doing so allowed us to feel confident about the results of our dyno testing.

Cars.com photos by Bruce Smith


Ram dyno Keith II


Overview | Track TestingPayload | Daily Driving | Dynamometer Testing | Results


GM is really shooting itself in the foot with the 6.0 in these HD models.

The resulting torque curves would be interesting- peak numbers are cute, but if you constantly need to be up around 4 grand to make stuff happen, you might as well pour the fuel right on the ground.

Would love to see dyno charts for these trucks. Peak power is good for bragging rights, but is meaningless if there is no power under the curve at the lower everyday driving rev ranges.

This report was lazy, poorly put together and generally lacking in any meaningful comparison.

We have work trucks, but we only measured them based on unloaded acceleration and braking, fuel economy, and a very subjective judges opinion on ride quality.

Might I suggest an alternate "We drove around for a week in three regular cab pickups" instead of using the word "Challenge" in your title.

@Mr Knowitall

re: max torque

I bet all of these truck engines develop 85 percent of their max torque at less than 2200 RPM

That's the range where most of the driving is done, even under stress. The "ratings" for peak HP and torque look good in reports but it's not that important on the job.

devilsadvocate So--tell me why your truck should have won. I'm all ears...

Could you please post the actual dyno graphs.

I am going to speculate that the Chevy's antilock brake system was engaging the brakes for some reason during the dyno testing. Something may have been confused (torque management system)- hence the melted wiring harness. Either that or GM has managed to build the least efficient drivetrain ever based on percentage of loss from engine to the rear wheels. GM typically has very little parasitic loss through their drivetrains.

devilsadvocate So--tell me why your truck should have won. I'm all ears...

Posted by: redbloodedxy | Mar 20, 2017 2:04:19 PM

My truck (2010 F150) wasnt tested... derp, although, it did win when it was tested, so there is that.

Actually if you go back to where they asked for our predictions, the finishing order matches exactly (or at least mostly, cant remember where I put the dodge and chevy) what I predicted.

Your comment is intellectually lazy, I dont have to have skin in the game or have a favorite brand to point out the fact that a test that purports to be a "challenge" for work trucks and yet is distinctly lacking in criteria that are related to work, or just generally lacking in data (a dyno test that doesnt show dyno graphs for example) is lazy, poorly put together, and pointless.

This was a work truck test that included a trip to the drag strip, a fuel economy run, a dynamometer test, and a subjective "this is how it feels driving down the road" segment. Its sort of like the offroad challenge, where half of the Raptor's 100 point margin to the other trucks was because it had more tow hooks. Seriously? They have all this time and money to generate content and these were the best criteria/comparisons they could come up with?

devilsadvocate: Intelectually lazy?? Hilarious. No need to be willfully obtuse--I'm just wondering why you take exception to the test parameters. You talk about everyday driving rev ranges like these are F1 cars or something. Testing accel/braking while loaded and unloaded seems like a a good means for establishing a bellwether for a group of working-class pickup trucks that spend most of their life schlepping gravel.

"We do not weigh our Challenge Scores. We have not biased these results in any way..."

Wouldn't it make sense to weigh some of the challenges more heavily / important than others?

Keeping in mind that this is a work truck challenge right.

My personal 2 cents in this challenge is:

How does a truck that costs $1,425 less than "the winner" have the best numbers when it comes to:

- Horsepower (beating Ford by 25HP)
- virtually tied in torque (loss by 1 pound - foot)
- lowest curb weight (weighs 180# less than the aluminum Ford)
- highest GVW (50# more than the winner)
- is equipped with a built in trailer brake controller (cause it's a work truck / unlike the winner)

How does it end up so far behind Ford in this competition?

Just asking.

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