What's the Best One-Ton Heavy-Duty Pickup for 2017?

PUTC_OneTon_Group_TwoTrucks_1 (003)

By Aaron Bragman

Which pickup truck came out on top in our 2017 One-Ton Heavy-Duty Pickup Challenge?

In one corner, we had the defending champ from our 2014 Ultimate One-Ton HD Challenge, the 2017 version of the GMC Sierra 3500, an immensely capable truck that proved its everyday livability through its comfort and ease of use. In the other corner, we had the thoroughly redone challenger, the 2017 Ford Super Duty F-350, a visually imposing force that physically dominated the comparison test thanks to its bigger dimensions. But size alone won't win tests like this — you have to be better, not just bigger.

2017 One-Ton Heavy-Duty Pickup Challenge

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

We awarded points in 20 empirical categories that ranged from manufacturer capacity numbers and ratings to results from our track and dynamometer testing. A total of 2,000 points was possible but not achieved by either pickup. We then added our judges' subjective scores — where each truck could get a possible 200 points per judge for a possible total of 600 judges' points — to the empirical scores. A grand total of 2,600 was possible. Note that we do not weight our scored categories, which allows you to identify and rescore the contest so you can choose your winner based on your needs.

How They Stacked Up

The new Super Duty is so much better than the old. It no longer beats you up on relatively smooth pavement when it's empty. It no longer feels difficult to drive, nor is its demeanor temperamental. The Ford was smooth, civilized and loaded to the gills with not just new technology, but useful new technology designed by engineers who know what customers want and need in a big towing rig. While the GMC may be getting long in the tooth, capability is capability, and the GMC had it in spades thanks to that new, torquey V-8 Duramax engine and smooth independent front suspension.


In our empirical testing, the Ford bested the GMC in areas such as gross vehicle weight rating, payload capacity and the ability to handle heavy loads without being unduly unsettled (it barely squats when loaded to its payload capacity). But its size and heft counted against it in some areas; the GMC was lighter and nimbler, which gave it the edge in acceleration, braking and fuel economy.

We used a portable dynamometer on our track day at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to find out if the advertised power and torque numbers were what was being delivered to the rear wheels. The GMC came out on top here again, with an observed 383 horsepower and 786 pounds-feet of torque at the rear wheels (GMC says it gets 445 hp and 910 pounds-feet of torque at the crank). But the Ford had an issue — just before really coming on boost the engine computer would pull fuel and not deliver all the beans. The Ford delivered just 360 hp and 663 pounds-feet of torque (compared to the 440 horsepower and 925 pound-feet Ford says it delivers at the crank); this was certainly less than we expected.

Add our judges' subjective scores to the empirical scores, and the gap between first and second place grew even wider. The judges liked the openness of the Ford interior, with its excellent forward and rear visibility. They also gave it high marks for technology, not only in extra bed features, but also for its advanced camera systems, state-of-the-art multimedia system and long list of amenities. They dinged it on comfort, however, with complaints about the Ford's front seats — they're short, oddly bolstered and not comfortable over longer trips. Some of the Ford's material qualities were also questioned — those running boards were covered in chromed plastic and creaked when any member of our team stepped on them.

Without further ado, the results:

No. 2: 2017 GMC Sierra 3500 Denali, 2,287 points


The GMC scored well in track performance, and empty and loaded fuel economy. It also received high marks for seat comfort and drivability. Overall interior comfort resonated with our judges because the GMC looks and feels like a lighter-duty half ton. However, it fell short in data information and amenities — even in the top Denali trim. There were no rear climate control vents, no gauge readout to tell you how much diesel exhaust fluid was left — not to mention the DEF filler was under the hood and hard to fill (especially when compared to the Ford).

Research the 2017 GMC Sierra 3500 | Search Inventory | Photo Gallery

Additionally, although single-rear-wheel GM pickups have a tire readout gauge, duallies do not. We appreciated the additional power and upgraded performance the new Duramax engine delivers (mostly from the smarter and larger variable-vane turbocharger), but the interior quality and information systems haven't kept up with the class and should be next on the list of things to deliver for GM's heavy-duty towing customers.


 No. 1: 2017 Ford Super Duty F-350 Lariat, 2,352 points


The brand-new Ford unseated the aging GMC Sierra, squeaking by with an empirical testing victory — 1,934 points for the Ford, 1,903 points for the GMC — but cementing it when the judges' scores were added: 418 for the Ford versus 384 for the GMC. That gave the Ford a grand total of 2,352 points to the Sierra's 2,287 points, which is not a huge margin by any means. But it does demonstrate the amazing capabilities of both trucks, since they remain so closely matched despite the Ford receiving a redo. It makes us eager to see what GMC will come up with when the next generation of its heavy-duty trucks arrives in a year or two.

Research the 2017 Ford Super Duty F-350 | Search Inventory | Photo Gallery

Until then, the 2017 Ford Super Duty F-350 is our new champion. Its combination of size, capability, useful user-friendly technology and newfound civility gave it the edge in our empirical testing and subjective evaluations.


Cars.com photos by Evan Sears





LOL, 10 years and nearly half a dozen shootouts later PUTC finally found a way to torture the testing criteria enough to produce a win for Ford.... good one guys.

I guess GMSRGREAT cant complaint about squat anymore as the "Aging" Sierra was the squat winner. Great job Ford! This was a really close one, and again as prior test on any trucks show, drive one for yourself and dont go by online tests alone. What this test showed was Ford is behind slightly on the as tested towing results, by such a small margin, the rest of the truck experience blew away the dated old GM. Reliability will come into play too, as the old GMs are not failing well in that category. Bottom line is, GM needs to step up its game to beat the number 1 Ford.

Ford's dyno and fuel economy #'s are a head scratcher. I wonder how inefficient that Ford transmission is?

So 1.25" of squat is worth 37 points but 15% better empty fuel mileage is only worth 14 points.


I guess GMSRGREAT cant complaint about squat anymore as the "Aging" Sierra was the squat winner. Great job Ford! This was a really close one, and again as prior test on any trucks show, drive one for yourself and dont go by online tests alone. What this test showed was Ford is behind slightly on the as tested towing results, by such a small margin, the rest of the truck experience blew away the dated old GM. Reliability will come into play too, as the old GMs are not failing well in that category. Bottom line is, GM needs to step up its game to beat the number 1 Ford.

Posted by: Nitro | Aug 14, 2017 10:11:21 AM

The GMC did very well when you consider it was loaded at about 85% rated capacity and the Ford was only at about 65% rated capacity.

Where is the Ram? Next article I assume?

The GMC wins every test but comes in 2nd??? That's cute

Both heavy haulers offered options and features that will benefit owners who tow, but after towing with both it was obvious that the Ford had the advantage of having more of the good stuff inside and underneath. That's not to say the GMC wasn't a comfortable, confident tow rig — it was especially nice on rough and twisty roads with the HD independent front suspension — but when put side by side, our judges favored the heavier and stronger Ford.



"Reliability will come into play too, as the old GMs are not failing well in that category."

Go smoke another joint Nerdo, That's why every reliability study clearly shows GM is above Ford. Only thing unreliability is Nitro none use of facts and his crummy Ford garbage.

This result kinda stinks.
I think the numbers speak for themselves.
I really think this makes them look a little silly, to pick the Ford when the GM seemed to win most of the testing results.

Eleven category wins for the GMC compared to the Ford. Wow!!! How does the GMC lose. This is truly a Ford site.

BTW where is the Dodge.

There's obviously more to a test than 0-60 and 60-0. But I will admit, I'm disappointed in the Ford's performance versus the GMC.

On a positive note, this truck's remaining attributes [payload and towing capacity, interior room, technology, etc.] made the truck good enough to eek out a win against a more athletic [albeit smaller] rival.

That, to me, says a lot about this truck.

Did you deduct 37 points from the Ford last year for squat?

Yet the Ford lost every Accel/brake test and was only deducted 15 points cummulatively?

It would be nice to see the scoring ahead of time in these tests. That way the numbers wouldn't be so easy to manipulate and give us readers reason to bitch about things like what was listed above.

Once again nothing but a bias test to favor the newest Ford.
They should just lend these trucks to companies that actually use them and let them do some non bias testing. There has to be a better way. This thing won because it's fatter and has more Useless gadgets and that front end looks horrible.
Oh and it can't put the power to the ground like the Gm.
Very sad judging guys.

Ok, I give up. Where's the RAM ??????? Who's running this
test? The Clintons?

More propaganda from the Ford Fellatio Fanclub. The Sierra wins more of the tests yet somehow the Ford barely gets a few more points in the empirical testing, then the judges just go ahead and give the Ford the final advantage by awarding more points. Sounds like you guys took a page out of the Hilary Clinton playbook from the last Democrat primary.

They liked the heavier and stronger Ford better. Deal with it.

So the GMC wins every test THAT MATTERS but still loses the comparo. Yet further proof of the Ford bias on this site. Mark, you should be ashamed....

That's not all that matters. I don't remember you GM fanboys complaining about 2015 one tons where in the shootout, the Powerstroke dominated all the acceleration and Hill Climb tests, winning just about every 0 to 60 and quarter mile run they set up, and yet came in third because of interior decorator design and ride quality.

2014 Ram 3500
2013–2014 6.7 L (408 cu in) Cummins diesel I6 (Aisin ASC69RC Automatic) 385 hp (287 kW) 850 lb·ft (1,150 N·m)
2016 Ram 3500
2016– 6.7 L (408 cu in) Cummins diesel I6 (Aisin ASC69RC Automatic) 385 hp (287 kW) 900 lb·ft (1,200 N·m)

....looks different don't it.


Nice Job Ford! All that tech is great but I still would rather have a Duramax than a Powerjoke. That is just me.

As per your own article,




so why was the 2017 Ram 3500 excluded from this test exactly?

Breaking news!!!!

Fiat-Ram is soon to be bought out by the Chinese.

Breaking news!!!!

Fiat-Ram is soon to be bought out by the Chinese.


As per your own article,




so why was the 2017 Ram 3500 excluded from this test exactly?

Posted by: deviousadvice | Aug 14, 2017 12:19:16 PM

Maybe Ram is getting wise and not submitting a vehicle for testing due to flawed methodology. That would be a strong statement.

There needs to be a standard testing criteria that should be published ahead of time and less emphasis on "feel" within those tests. Pick a winner based on numbers but feel free to articulate why you like one better than the other.

At least then we wouldn't have to sit around and tear apart flawed testing.

PUTC: "What's the Best One-Ton Heavy-Duty Pickup for 2017?"

Mark - - -

Your title implies that this comparison test was going to be comprehensive across all 1-ton HD PU's!

So, as others above have pointed out: WHERE'S THE RAM 3500?
Explanation as to why its missing? Not there... :(

And if the Ram's dynamic testing will be done at later date, how can you assure the conditions with be the same as for the GMC and Ford??

Looks like sloppy work to me...


So in head to head performance comparison, the GMC wins. I'll take mine in black. Love that power producing hood scoop. Technology that works.

The Duramax schooled the Powerstroke in every performance test, even on the dyno. I personally think the Ford's tow rating is overrated, the simple fact that the GMC is out performing the Ford in every aspect and is rated to tow less.


The GMC won on all performance categories,, yet loses the comparison!! You ford guys should be so proud of your "ALL NEW" Super Duty that just got spanked by a 4 year old platform. Yes, the engine is new along with a little tweeks to the tranny, but wasn't the Super Duty ALL NEW also?? Yet didn't put down the "proclaimed" HP or TQ its supposed to have. The GMC put down 122 more FT LBS of TQ!!! Are you kidding me!! I would be embarrassed if I had this truck and take it back to the Ford dealership and have them "REPROGRAM" it like they did to get 850 TQ instead of 800!

That's why I can't stand FORD....BECAUSE THEY LIE!!!!

One day you fan-boys will understand!! GM makes the best engines...PERIOD!!!

I wish the Dodge could have been in the challenge bc it would have been nice to see the numbers the Cummings would have put down. Because it is also a fantastic motor.

A few

This contest has the previous winner in the category (GMC Sierra 3500) and the newest player in the segment (Ford Super Duty F-350). Ram 3500 is not here since it had not changed much at all since our last contest where it did not win. As to how the GMC can win so many specific tests and not take the overall win, we credit that to our tradition of not weighting any of the categories and scoring them all equally so you can do that (category weighting) on your own, to select the right truck for your needs. If you need better fuel economy or low-end torque and comfort, than you can see the results we've collected and make your pick. We break the scoring between objective tests we conduct and our expert judges scoring. We'll have a more detailed account of what our judges thought coming soon.

For the sake of PUTC's testing credibility, the reliance on a manufacturer's ratings must end.

The whole point of road-testing and measuring these vehicles and their respective performances is to make the results and impressions more believable.

For the GMC to out-shine the Ford as much as it did, and then to lose in the subjective categories, and lose because "ratings" were give so much weight is silly.

Not impressed.

Sorry you're not impressed and have to keep defending the GM twins.

Haha it's like Mike Levine phoned in the outcome of his choice.

The GMC delivered the best performance and best fuel efficiency. And with the superior track record of durability and reliability of the Allison and Duramax, we all know who should have won this comparison.

6.7 "Powerstroke" vs 6.6 Duramax (2017)
Rated Torque 925 ft-lb vs 910 ft-lb
Dyno Results 663 ft-lb vs 776 ft-lb

What happened Ford? You can't tell me the 6R140 has double the parasitic losses as the Allison.

@papa/johnny and others, so sorry you guys need to defend, just keep telling yourself that GM will one day make a great truck...right now they just fall short.

I'm not surprised that the Ford won. They have the newest platform. But seriously PUTC, call it like it is. The GMC clearly won this contest with a better drivetrain and superior handling independent front suspension.

I was actually surprised!

The GM truck is riding on a frame from 2011! Sure there's a new D-Max under the hood but this current truck is not the General's best effort.

I really thought the F-350 would tear it a new one.

Why does GM not won't to compete for "the crown"? What is their marketing strategy?

No thanks Ford! and PUTC
Ill take the truck with:

1. More power
2. Better acceleration
3. Way better fuel milage
4. Stops better
5. Handles the load better
6. And in my opinion just as good in everthing else in cluding interior

I find the dyno numbers interesting. The trucks were within a tenth of a second on most of the performance testing and for all intents and purposes equal on the Davis Dam runs - why?

The way PUTC is judging these contests, any pickup with power folding sliding mirrors and a 360 degree camera will win over a more powerful engine and better driving dynamics. Seriously.

I was hoping the article would discuss Ford's bizarre decision to completely remove the oil pressure gauge. Even GM spends a buck to put an analog oil pressure gauge complete with numbers and a scale in the instrument panel.

Ford just gives you a dummy message in the display when you don't have oil pressure. Maybe they don't want customers to know their failure-prone Ford oil pump is failing until it's too late and you need an engine.


Says a lot about how GREAT this truck is !!

Biggest payload, roomiest interior, most tech and convenience features, terrific road manners loaded or unloaded.

Great job, Ford!!

@ redbloodedxy

You need to seriously watch what you type. Your truck got EMBARRASSED and you have the "gulls" to say its a superior/better truck.

This explains a lot about you and how you think!! It got spanked in every performance category!!

Please reread the article, maybe 2 more times so you understand how bad your FORD truck performed!!


Numbers mean nothing, just look at this test. Why would anyone give a crap about oil pressure?

This is a mockery...on to tfltruck.com

Factory gauges are useless and too imprecise to indicate anything useful. That goes for all the Truck MFGs! If you want a good gauge aftermarket is the only way and I'm not talking Pep Boys or O'Reliey - Autometer, VDO come to mind. The digital indicators from the factory may be better, but unlike the analogs, I haven't personally compared them. Good gauges are expensive


TNTGMC: The Ford IS better--it's obvious. GMC's HDs are FAR less popular than the Super Dutys, and they're even cheaper to buy!

That's okay--you'll get over this eventually. Enjoy 2nd place.

@ redbloodedxy

Again read the article...better yet, since you can't read, have someone read it too you.

And the fact your defending your worthless turd ford that is supposed to have 5 less HP and 40 more Foot pounds of torque, yet it got its @$$ handed to it by a far superior GM motor explains a lot about your intelligence!!

The comments to this entry are closed.

Home | Buy or Sell a Truck | News | Special Reports

Powered by Cars.com. By using this site, you agree to our terms of service | © 2017 Cars.com | Privacy Statement | Contact Us