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





All this hype from the GM fans, really did you guys read the results? Those wins as you say, are literally tenths of seconds, that means on any day, these 2 trucks could beat each other depending on so many different variables.Like someone else said, they are basically identical in these tests, which is why it comes down to the rest of the truck and Ford will always win that one hands down. In all seriousness, this is why these tests should be taken lightly, one day one truck will beat the other, 2 of us could do this test in a different part of the country and have different results, I dont understand why the gm guys get so upset about it.

TWATGMC: Again--the best truck clearly WON. Add up the points. Your small truck is inferior. Any more questions??

TWATGMC: YOU LOST you jibbering fool! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!


The wins were pretty close but once again the GMC was loaded to about 85% rated capacity and the Ford was about 65% rated capacity. How can anyone call that a win when Ford is claiming it can tow 8,000 lbs more. If the Ford can't even beat the GMC pulling 19,500 lbs who in there right mind would put 30K behind the Ford.

I dont understand why GM doesnt let you get the 4:10 gears in the duramax.

@ redbloodedxy

WOW! You really are clueless. No use arguing with someone who has little intelligence and enjoys being lied to by Ford propaganda!!!

Like I said the GM truck embarrassed your Ford when it shouldn't have because your Ford is supposed to make more Torque 'YET IT CLEARLY MADE 123 lbs LESS!!!!!

BTW...I won't stoop to your lower intelligence and call you names because its complete nonsense and childish, but hey, what can I expect from you!!! You drive a Ford

one day one truck will beat the other,

Posted by: Nitro | Aug 14, 2017 3:09:01 PM

Today the Ford got beaten up on. Accept it and move on.

TNTGMC: I assure you my IQ is much higher than yours.

AND--as a bonus...

My truck is better than yours.

Hahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!! Enjoy your unpopular GMC.

@ redbloodedxy

Yep. Lies like FORD!!!

I think the NFL and NBA should accept the same scoring system that PUTC applied to its testing. Once the players finish the game and settling the scoring on the field, judges should step in and award the win to the youngest, heaviest or overall less talented team.

TNTGMC: Sale figures don't lie. And your truck is less expensive. Oooh that's a tough pill. Sorry.

@ redbloodedxy

Your argument is useless. Keep on topic. I said the Ford got spanked and it did...now your talking about sales and price.

Intelligence please!!! STAY ON TOPIC!!!

Plus, I can't help it that there are many people in the U.S. with low IQ scores like yourself that buy Fords and love being lied too?? GO FIGURE!!

Done talking to you...YOUR TRUCK GOT BEATEN LIKE A SCREEN DOOR IN A HURRICANE!! Face it and move on!

Bunch of crybabies, you ALL need a life.

Apparently the GM trvlls are unhappy based on a group of guys that's chose the SD.

Make your own assessment and purchase what you wish, granted 90% of the lame GM trvlls drive 90s Trucks. You guys really need a life.



That means your truck lost, silly. Brian Wong and Aaron Bragmann are not liars. Your delusion ends now.

Through all the whole article, I constantly come across Mark constantly trying to justify everything for ford. SMH, it shows the biase.

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.

Posted by: Tyler | Aug 14, 2017 12:52:25 PM

The Duramax / Allison has always been a beast. I don't know about the tow ratings, they are all J2807 certified now correct? As far as the performance test results, the Ford is right there, but the GMC wins. These diesels are putting out crazy power......

@ 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!!

Posted by: TNTGMC | Aug 14, 2017 2:38:21 PM

0-60: 8.27 vs 8.14 isn't actually being "spanked" or "embarrassed". Losing a 12 mile hill climb pulling a 19,500 lb trailer by :06 (seconds) isn't embarrassing either. The performance test are actually very close. The dynometer differance in torque is embarrassing for Ford IMHO. This test proves what has been proven many times before, how impressive DMAX and Allison combo work together.

This test proves that the GM delivers overall better performance. Ford fans should get out of their local Ford service department and test drive a GM to experience what superior performance feels like.

Agreed, the definition of spanked to a trvll is .4 seconds, laughable, clueless folks need a life.

Agreed, the definition of spanked to a trvll is .4 seconds, laughable, clueless folks need a life.

The F-350 clearly struggled and it calls into question Ford's "ratings". When your truck is pulling LESS (65%) of it's rated capacity, but gets beat in every metric by a truck much closer to its rated capacity (85%), that seems to indicate an overly optimistic rating by Ford.

These results match what TFLTruck found, where the 2017 Chevy 3500HD smoked the F-350, all while pulling 100% of it's rated towing capacity. The F-350 only pulled 72% of it's capacity and climbed the mountain 15 seconds slower. Not to mention the Chevy had the best exhaust braking performance at 100% of its towing capacity (vs 72% for the F-350) and better fuel economy despite the F-350 having the advantage of an aluminum body.

GM delivers the power it advertises, dominates in all facets of performance while pulling it's max tow rating, and uses less fuel doing it. Not to mention the bumper step is great when you have a gooseneck. The Ford tailgate step is useless depending on what you're towing.

For everyone that is saying the Ford got spanked,did you actually look how close they were to each other in 0-60,1/4 mile and the 12 mile towing test? Also the Ford weighed 260lbs more and if you believe the dyno the GMC was making 23 more hp and 123 more torgue

@redbloodedxy @ Frank

Really!!! It didn't get spanked, embarrassed. READ the whole article and what I was talking about the HP and TQ numbers! Getting beat by 123 foot pounds of torque when its supposed to have 40 MORE than GM....yes that's a beating...
I don't need to say anymore! The GMC had beat it in all performance categories with the 250's and now 350's.
Just think how bad the GM would have EMBARRASSED the Ford if they were fully loaded to their max tow ratings. It would have been even worse!!!! You 2 have no argument..NONE!!!


You two are just to stubborn and big headed to see that.

"Where's RAM you asked"?
Hiding, worried about to owned by the Chinese. So today's news!

So GM basically stomps Ford in action but loses because Ford has better paper numbers... smh.

This is like scoring A's on your tests but failng on the field. Hmm lets see... book smart or street smart... take your pick.

Ford people are smelly.

What??????. The GMC won in braking ,fuel economy ,power, handling, all the important factors for a towing and work rig, and they called it a close victory for the Ford. Not to mention a longer trac record for reliability over the Ford SD.
Oh well i have seen two other comparisons of the same trucks and the GM won both hands down.

It will be a sad day RAM Jeep and Dodge customers who boast about buying American while they drive their Chinese trucks. smh.

I'm usually not one to vent in the comments, but... ARE YOU KIDDING ME!? Putting aside the Ram issue, how can one truck edge out the competition in every performance category, and lose because the testers liked the other one more? This is like excluding a quarter of the world from the Olympics, then giving gold medals to the runners up because you like them more. Don't give us "impressions" or "feelings." Give us hard facts. Turning radius. Approach angle. Departure angle. Ground clearance. All of these tests should be done with base model vehicles, that way you can evaluate the platform, not the options. News flash, not everyone likes the same options. Personally, I hate full length center consoles. I'm a big guy, and they make me claustrophobic, being shoved into this little box. Also not a fan of steering wheel audio controls. Had a rental car with them once and kept changing the station by accident. And one last thing, you really dinged GM for being 1 decibel louder at idle? That is LITERALLY IMPERCEPTIBLE without a meter.

Truck lane Gauntlet Colorado test 1 ton truck 7% g 8milles whit 22,800p,10,28 ram,,Chevy 10,16 ,Ford @10,31 and Ford was never able to hit 60,,,so pickuptruck yousaid you get 10.28 on a 12 mile explain why the Oder test have 10.16 in a 8 mile .?.pickup lane gm first ,dodge second ,and Ford third,,??

Truck lane Gauntlet Colorado test 1 ton truck 7% g 8milles whit 22,800p,10,28 ram,,Chevy 10,16 ,Ford @10,31 and Ford was never able to hit 60,,,so pickuptruck yousaid you get 10.28 on a 12 mile explain why the Oder test have 10.16 in a 8 mile .?.pickup lane gm first ,dodge second ,and Ford third,,??

Take that all the garbage motors fans girlys hahahahahahahah.

So this is the second test this year in which the GM Duramax powered trucks simply dominated in performance and was "judged" behind a Ford. The results look biased without question.


wow that nice looking FORD won congrats FORD way to go

The contest that truly matters is what is sold.
The GM kids whine, cry , howl and pound their chests and yet fall far short in sales. Various excuses for this fail are put forth, lots of wishful excuses. When your brand wins it is gospel and celebrated as if it were an addendum to the Bible.
However when you lose the wailing is unending and pitiful. Man up, it is what it is. Remember there is always next year, lol.

You two are just to stubborn and big headed to see that."

Posted by: TNTGMC


I enjoy WINNING as much as anyone.

You are totally beat over this thing aren't you? I can tell by your anger. You need a vacation from your problems my friend.

I suggest you go and test drive a new SUPER DUTY as soon as possible. Doctor's orders!

You'll never go back to that woefully unpopular GMC again.

TNTGMC needs a major life. It's just a truck, the guy probably hung himself. He should've took johnny crybaby doe and GMSR4GAYZ with him. Lame trvlls

Frank: LOL!!!

How can you say best 1 ton?
If you don't test all the one tons!

Note to GM:
Awesome display of superior chassis, powertrain, suspension engineering and styling. GM is leading in the truck sales department because of these points along with more choice for the consumer. Great job guys.

The Sierra does not lead in truck sales, read the yearly sales Daffy Duck

I wanna hear more about the Ford's "power issue".

Why? What? Ever fixed? How Fixed?

The truth is whichever truck is closer to its redesign should win these contests. If not then that manufacturer has really screwed the pooch.

@jack, that doesnt make any sense, so what if the Ford lost by a tenth of a second. Thats not a loss in anybodies book, I could go do this same test and the results could be different, which is why its a guideline, not a definitive answer to who has the best truck. that is left tot he actual owner, or customer to decide. Based on sales, I'd say that speaks for itself on who the customer decides.

So this is the second test this year in which the GM Duramax powered trucks simply dominated in performance and was "judged" behind a Ford. The results look biased without question.


Posted by: GMSRGREAT | Aug 14, 2017 10:40:41 PM

Mike Levine must be utilizing his old ties to PUT.

For those that weren't aware, the founder and previous editor of this website took a job as Ford's Truck Marketing Manager (he's now Ford Product Communications Manager for NA). He's very active in online media and even comments on many articles on various auto websites. He had to play damage control during the 2016 Texas Truck Showdown when the overhyped aluminum F-150 3.5EB got destroyed by the old school steel truck OHV V8 competition. It certainly appears that he's making sure the all-new aluminum Superduty doesn't get embarrassed by losing to GM's IFS HD truck. When you look at all the evidence, how a truck that outperforms the Superduty in towing performance up mountains, brakes better, handles better, has a superior reliability track record, puts its rated power to the ground consistently, and even rides better, yet doesn't get the win, it really makes one wonder what's really going on.

Odd how my posts mentioning Mike Levine keep getting deleted.

"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....

Posted by: Bob | Aug 14, 2017 11:38:49 AM"

This isnt their first rodeo Bob, they have long used "rated capacities" and other untested or subjective scores to push their preferred competitor ahead in a given shootout. They perfected this a long time ago with the half tons. However, since the GM's have always been so far ahead on the HD shootouts though they hadn't found a way to make it work until now. Most of the readers will lazily accept that the Ford can safely tow more than most ClassIV medium duty trucks because Ford "said so" rather than reading and interpreting all the tables of empirical data where the GM categorical won.

Oh well... I've always long maintained that the discussions that come out of these test follow the very predictable "oh yeah well my dad's d*** is bigger than your dad's d***, so Im better than you! Ha!" 99% of people commenting dont (and probably never will) own either of these trucks. That Denali is pushing into Range Rover money and at some point, even a 10yr payment plan wont get most people into one.

5 years from this day commercial gas engines will be more popular than diesel. And diesel will be phased out world wide for alternative options. The reliability and new ideas on building a good block with good timing are going to put gasoline way ahead. New firing methods are being tested. New valve actuation, even the transmissions all 3 brands have now are more than capable of lots of weight towing. Build a big multi displacement engine that can shut off one crank and one bank. Will do all the work it needs and be capable of 40% range increase on the fly.


five years?

Don't hold your breath.

Diesel is the right choice for a host of heavy duty applications. Even if superior gasoline designs come along, it will take years for industrial applications to be introduced to replace diesel, especially in the world outside North America.

This test proves that the GM delivers overall better performance. Ford fans should get out of their local Ford service department and test drive a GM to experience what superior performance feels like.

Posted by: GMSRGREAT | Aug 14, 2017 4:45:50 PM

Honestly, this is the only class GM wins performance wise (barely). The EcoBoost crush the GM offerings. The 2.7 Eco and 5.0 V8 out perform the GM 5.3. The 3.5 out performs the vaulted GM 6.2, the 2.7 is right there with it. I'll give you a victory in the diesel segment if you give me a victory everywhere else. Base engines suck for every brand so lets call them a tie.

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