2018 Best Half-Ton Truck Challenge Video: What the Judges Said

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We took a slightly different approach for this video from our 2018 Half-Ton Truck Challenge to give readers and pickup truck fans an idea of how many topics there are to discuss in a contest like this. As you might expect, our judges don't take this lightly and have plenty to say about each of the competitors. While the topics are wide-ranging, the video doesn't cover all the topics we hit upon in the Challenge.

We're hoping to provide more observations from the judges in the future as a kind of extended version. We know there's plenty of meat here to tear off the bone, so let us know what you think in the comments section below. Our only request is that you make sure to dive deep into the specs and take the time to see how we scored the contest. Enjoy.

Cars.com photo by Melissa Klauda



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Any word on the updated 3/4 tons?

I believe PUTC and other truck media sites let the manufacturers off easy. And it's not hard to see why. The guys at TFL gave an honest review of the Subaru outback and look at what happened, Subaru stopped sending them cars to test. They had to end up buying one. The manufacturers talk a big game but they're really sensitive to criticism. I've watched interviews with chief designers and department heads and seen how the interviewer has to tip toe around the egos and swallow the ubiquitous marketing propaganda these guys feed them. You'll never know the truth about a truck until you've owned it well past the warranty expiration.

Loved the video. Great insight into how you score them and how the scores stack up.

Great video, but the guy in judge in the middle was obviously the 3rd wheel who was lacking in his knowledge. It's pretty apparent that a GM with a 5.3 would have gotten destroyed in this test. If the Ram was available with a more powerful engine, or if the Ford had sent a truck with more content, like the tailgate step, both of them would have finished above the GMC.

@MLS956 -- We also believe there's great value in having healthy skepticisim, especially in regards to any company with very large marketing arms, so you won't see us refuting your particular point of view. However, I will say, for the most part, I've been impressed with how willing the truck makers (especially the engineers) are to listen to us tell them where we think they've done well and where they've missed the boat. As you very well know, there is no shortage of people who think their opinions are very important n this world; that's why we do as much empirical testing as possible and try to make our judge's points an appropriate proportion. We always try to be balanced but every one of us has our own biases and preferences and past experiences that can get in the way. And we hope, in trying to be as transparent as possible, you notice that and factor it into your own biases and preferences and experiences. All we can tell you is we've never shied away from any truth we've discovered and no truck maker has ever threatened us with retaliation. Doesn't mean either one won't happen in the future (although we will try our best); just that it hasn't happened up to this point. Thanks for keeping us honest, and keeping the discussion at a level that is the envy of the industry -- at least that's what the engineers, designers, and marketing people who make these pickups tell us when they speak about our commenters.

@Mark The GMC is the truck that I like the most, but I think the ridiculously small 24 gallon fuel tank should have substracted some points in the final scoring for the twins. If I hadn't the numbers in hand, the subjective feeling would be that the mileage is worse in the twins than in the competiton, provided that I had to stop at the pump more often.

Great point. I didn't mean to be over critical. I suppose I just don't understand how there isn't a half ton with F-150's towing and hauling ability and Ram's interior. How are there five players in this market with these gaps in what is offered? I'd like to hear from an FCA exec as to what they're doing about fit and finish as well as reliability. How about Titan, why only one engine and it's only good for some off roading. I suppose I could go on. But as a guy who makes in a year what the average truck might sell for, I'd like to know why each of these manufacturers thinks they deserve my money over the others..


Have you guys heard that Ram has an involved procedure for cleaning he leather interior in the limited?

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I think PUT.com did a good job on this one and I cant find major fault. In the future it would be best if testing were on only premium models/levels or most produced/popular as opposed to "send us your best". While that catch phrase excuses PUT.com it definitely removes a lot of reality from the information collected. Only a tiny fraction of GM trucks on the road or dealers lot actually have the 6.2 which is only available in the chevy in its (basically now awful) top trim level. The other manufacturers sent powertrains that actually do sell in quantity and it would have been great to see what one of GM's everyday, everywhere powertrains would have done against them.

Not sure what you mean by tiny percent? The 6.2 is available in Chevy LTZ, High Country and GMC SLT, Denali. Just a quick search at a few local dealers around Austin shows 50-60 6.2 trucks in my area in all four of those models.

Yes, they are in upper level trucks but they are far from hard to find.

Good segment.....when I was a young racer , all that was important to me were the numbers. They were everything....a tenth hear a second there were giant victories or losses. Now I understand that especially in a vehicle like a truck , how it FEELS and how you personally enjoy what you are getting is much more important.

You really CANT compare numbers on these very differently optioned variants . Its apples to oranges. For instance you could shed HUNDREDS of pounds from the Ram by not ordering : panoramic sun roof , air suspension , Ram boxes , 33 gallon fuel tank, or etorq. The truck would perform FAR better in every test (like the Ford did , which was lightly optioned). So if you really need that last tenth when towing or hauling , order it so that you can get what you want. Otherwise you can enjoy your luxuries and conveniences more.

Ford does a GREAT job of powertrain offerings. GM will as well with many options and the best engine out there the 6.2L. Ram is honestly , as you mentioned , an aluminum 6.4L away from perfection (well and losing another 300lbs).

GM has really blown a great opportunity here in my opinion. The interior is really pretty good .....but everything is relative and compared to the new stuff and the prices they are asking, it is merely good. IF this had the Rams interior it would really be something.....

Ford did a a great job redesigning its 15 F150 and continuously upgrading it . Its interior is dated , it needs a bigger V8 maybe (though the top two EB's are powerful) , and the addition of a bit more refinement in the next gen . Probably a hybrid as rumored.....

WHY in GAWDS name didn't you guys do city mileage and highway mileage??? ONLY towing mileage?!?! That was a miss.....otherwise , fun read but need to have an apples to apples test to really know how these things stack up equivalently.

@Everyone -- thanks for all the comments and suggestions. You've given us several story ideas and several ways we'll use to make the next challenge even better. Appreciate your patience. More to come because there's a ton of new trucks coming down the pipeline, including some impressive HDs, and we have a few more segment comparison tests planned for 2019.

7:43 - Mark, you nailed it here. To the guy that trades in his truck for the latest truck that's getting rave reviews, the 2019 GM interiors will not compare well with the 2019 Ram's. But many of those guys are loyal to GM because their last one was dependable and lasted a long time. They won't be so easily swayed to switch brands just because the other brand has a nice interior. The new GM truck they're looking at looks amazing compared to their 10 year old truck.

9:32 - That's interesting that Aaron thought the squat was worse on the GM trucks, as they have had the least amount of squat of any half-ton since 2014. In the 2016 Texas Truck Showdown, the Ran and the Ford had horrible squat. Squat so bad that it almost looked like the bumper touched the ground during the 1/4-mile acceleration with payload in the bed. Also, TFL Truck's Stephen Elmer made actually measurements and the 2019 Silverado High Country had 1.75" of squat, the 2018 F-150 Lariat had 2.0" of squat, and the Ram had 2" of squat but the Ram eventually leveled itself out after a while (the air ride system is slow to adjust and unreliable in freezing temperatures).

14:50 - I agree 100%. I also find it very annoying that GM still will not display which gear you are in. Why do they feel the need to hide which gear the transmission is in? It's similar to the annoyance I feel with Ford hiding the actual oil pressure from the driver. I live to know which gear I'm in and what kind of oil pressure engine has.

As far as interior quality is concerned, nobody can argue that the Ram's interior doesn't look nice. Those that bought 2019 Ram 1500 Limited's can tell you that as the miles accumulate, the cost cutting becomes apparent over time. "Limited" badges falling off, rattles everywhere, squealing brakes, electrical issues, water leaks, front suspension clunks, etc. The AC in the 2019 Ram is also very weak and disappointing. I almost thought there was something wrong with the AC in one of the hottest days of the summer. It couldn't keep up even on full blast on a 92F day. The F-150 Lariat's interior isn't nearly as nice as it used to be in previous Ford generations. Especially when it comes to plastics. The extremely common issue with warped dashes and gloveboxes is a big one. Lots of cheap, hard plastics that you wouldn't normally find in previous generations of F-150 Lariats.It's a very busy center cluster that forces you to search all over. The shifter is a little cheap feeling (same with the doors to be honest). Same with the hard seats. Almost uncomfortable on long trips. The GM interiors get knocked simply because they don't look new enough and there are some large sections of the center stack that look empty like the designers just ran out of time to make it look interesting. There are some areas with hard plastics but the plastic quality isn't the worst either. It's much more simplified in layout, with only the important stuff present and knobs available for the stuff you want a knob for. Some of the cheaper trims don't have great instrument panels. Some look cheaper than previous trucks. It's obvious GM limited the lower trim interior costs to account for the inevitable incentive wars that will play out in the next few years. At least, that's what I hope, because GM's current price structure is insane otherwise. The 2019 Silverado High Country is a great truck at $58k, but not so great at $68k.

18:10 - Of course commenters are going to scream no matter what. The Ram 1500, so far, has won on accolades based purely on interior styling and ride quality. Neither of those things really have much to do with trucks. Especially since the Ram offers ride quality and interior glitter while failing miserable at acceleration times and straight up HORRRIBLE payload ratings. Ram promised us that payload ratings were significantly better with the newest generation of Ram 1500, but 1,200 pounds of payload capacity is terrible. The Ram Box bed is terrible. The cargo space just isn't there. Not to mention that air ride suspension works ok if you live in a region where temps stay above zero at all times. For those of us that experience termperatures dipping below zero over night, that Ram air suspension guarantees you a future dealer visit, where your truck gets to sit outside the service department for a couple weeks waiting for parts that are on national backorder. And it's not a fun drive to the dealer when the front airbags are totally flat, riding on the bump stops and the rear airbags are completely maxed out. Let's just say it's a rough ride and it's a VERY common issue.

The testing numbers are very surprising. One thing that I can take away from them is the fact that Ford IS in fact giving the buyer horsepower and torque figures that are based on 93 octane fuel, as has been suggested in the past. That's the only explanation for the huge power deficit between the 3.5 Ecoboost and the GM 6.2 V8. The Ram once again shows its powertrain weakness for 2019 with it's old, archaic iron block port fuel injected V8. It was a carryover that dates back over a decade and many reviewers ignore that fact.

Again, many truck reviewers out there seem to zero in on interior glitter and how well it rides. Those are things that have NEVER been important in a truck until the recent truck craze where first time buyers wanted to drive trucks but never actually use them for their intended purpose. Those of us that actualy throw stuff in the bed, tow stuff from one place to another, and actually use trucks for doing work, have zero concern about how nice the Ram's sparkly interior is, especially if it comes with a payload rating that's beaten by most midsize trucks. 1,180 pounds is an embarrassment.

One thing not discussed in the video is the bed. The GM trucks dominate this area. The bed is made of tough high strength steel and comes with 12 tie-downs, 3 in each corner. The 5-1/2' bed holds as much volume as the Ford and Ram truck's 6-1/2' bed. That's a HUGE advantage and useful for truck buyers that actually buy their truck to use as a truck. The Ram's Ram Box eats up huge amounts of volume for cargo in the bed and reduces payload capacity by at least 100 lbs. That's significant. It would be less of a detriment if the Ram Box storage boxes were removable, but they aren't.

Mark - I also wanted to say that you guys did a great job with the latest video. Over the last year, we can really see that you guys are putting more time and effort into the videos and it really shows. Excellent job. I know it can be brutal in the comment section and it's a big reason why I don't comment as much as I used to but I still really appreciate the work you and the Pickuptrucks crew put into these features, even if I don't always agree with the subjective scoring ;)

Does Ford every get the clue after losing to GM in the independent tests over and over?

Only a tiny fraction of GM trucks on the road or dealers lot actually have the 6.2 which is only available in the chevy in its (basically now awful) top trim level. The other manufacturers sent powertrains that actually do sell in quantity and it would have been great to see what one of GM's everyday, everywhere powertrains would have done against them.

Posted by: Clint | Nov 13, 2018 2:27:58 PM

So what you're really saying is that they shouldn't test the 6.2 because Ford can't compete as long as the 6.2 shows up to the party. The 6.2 trucks were no more expensive than the overprice soda cans Ford sells these days. Nobody wants an XLT, the cheap ratty interiors melt if you park the truck in the sun.

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Cool test... now when can we see this all done with volume V8s instead? Im much more interested in seeing the 5.0 and 5.3 go at it.

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