2017 One-Ton Heavy-Duty Pickup Challenge: Track Testing

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By Brian Wong

We conducted the track testing for our 2017 One-Ton Heavy-Duty Pickup Challenge at Las Vegas Motor Speedway's drag strip (aptly named "The Strip") to see which truck was able to put down its monstrous factory-rated 900-plus pounds-feet of torque most effectively.

2017 One-Ton Heavy-Duty Pickup Challenge

Overview | Track | Towing | Daily Driving | Dynamometer | Results

Both the 2017 GMC Sierra Denali 3500 and the 2017 Ford Super Duty F-350 Lariat came with the most powerful diesel engines each manufacturer offers. That means the GMC had the all-new turbo-diesel 6.6-liter V-8 Duramax making 445 horsepower and 910 pounds-feet of torque. The diesel in the Ford had similar figures, with its turbo-diesel 6.7-liter V-8 Power Stroke making 440 hp and 925 pounds-feet of torque. Both came with six-speed automatic transmissions as well as similar rear axle ratios, 3.55:1 for the Ford and 3.73:1 for the GMC.

Here are our testing results:

Accelerating/Braking While Empty


The closeness of the engine specs led to tight results in the empty zero-to-60-mph and quarter-mile acceleration times between these two trucks. The GMC's 8.14-second sprint from zero-to-60 mph was only 0.13 seconds faster than the Ford's 8.27 seconds. Both trucks pulled well off the line and were fastest with traction control on, with a small amount of brake torquing. Putting all that torque down proved challenging, even with dual rear wheels and launching on a warm drag strip with some tack to it. The rear tires spun on launches if we weren't careful, so we had to be controlled with our throttle touch.

The deciding factor between these two was likely the difference in weight. The Ford had a scale weight of 8,680 pounds, making it 260 pounds heavier than the GMC's 8,420 pounds. Interestingly, the extra weight did not help the Ford in braking; the GMC had an edge as it stopped about 6 feet shorter than the Ford from 60 mph. Our GMC stopped in just more than 133 feet from 60 mph, while the Ford came to a halt in just more than 139 feet.

Acceleration With Payload

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The beds were loaded with 4,200 pounds of construction gravel for payload runs. We put each truck in Tow/Haul mode before embarking on our loaded testing, assuming that's the way most owners would set their trucks. However, that didn't seem to do the Ford any favors. With four large bags of gravel in the bed, the Ford felt like it was short shifting and going up the gears before really getting into the engine's strongest part of its power band. As a result, the gap between the zero-to-60-mph acceleration times of the two trucks was 0.39 seconds, triple the gap of the empty runs. From behind the wheel, the GMC's transmission felt smoother, more predictable and stronger, giving it a more definitive win.

As for the quarter-mile with payload, the trucks were close: The GMC beat the Ford by 0.3 seconds.


It was a close win for the GMC in every one of our track testing events. Its biggest advantage from behind the wheel was stopping power.

For safety reasons, we only recorded braking figures when empty — our Ford came sans a spray-in bedliner, a strange omission on a truck that cost north of $70,000, so stopping it with more than 4,000 pounds of payload sliding in the bed, without the benefit of cargo straps, wasn't an experiment worth doing.

Cars.com photos by Evan Sears




Utter domination from the GMC, very nice!

The new Duramax is impressive, I love mine


Great job GM!

Again another beating!!!

You guys are doing truck payload testing but didn't bring tie downs. Absolutely amazing. Not only that but you didn't think for one second to put the heavy payload as far forward nearest the cab where it's supposed to go, and you guys supposedly run a truck website? Welcome to day 1 of owning a truck. That or you were scared of your cargo flying through the aluminum body like the Kool Aid man busting through someone's wall. OH YEAH!

As always, it's pointless to point out rear end ratio without tranny ratio.

Not to mention, ford has a e coated frame and GM has wax coated frame. Which one will look better when it's ten years old? Ford will!

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