2010 HD One-Ton Diesel Trucks (DRW)

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One-ton diesels with dual rear wheels are the circus strongmen of heavy-duty pickups. With massive wheel flares covering their dual rear wheels, these trucks proudly show off that they can tow and haul more than any other pickup on the road.

2011 GMC Sierra Denali 3500HD

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Making its world debut at the Heavy-Duty Shootout is the GMC Sierra Denali 3500HD. It’s a sharp-looking truck aimed directly at the high luxury segment -- and high profit margins -- that Ford has been lucky enough to keep to itself until now in the King Ranch version of the Super Duty.

Its leather interior is the best in the GM HD fleet.

The Denali came up a bit short in a few areas compared with the Lariat-trimmed F-350 Super Duty that we tested. The F-350 was the only truck with standard 17-inch forged aluminum wheels, while the Denali had steel wheels with beauty covers. Yuck. A truck like the Denali deserves no less than forged aluminum wheels. The F-350 also had black paint with metallic flakes, while the Denali was only high-gloss black.

At first glance, the Denali appears to lack the rich navigation and infotainment options that Ford’s Sync offers, but GM’s OnStar satellite-based nav service came through for us. We accidentally locked the keys in the truck, and it took only a quick phone call to have the doors unlocked remotely, saving us at least two hours if we’d been forced to retrieve a second set of keys or call a locksmith. That’s winning service in our book.

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Unloaded ride quality was excellent. We chalk that up to the new hydraulic body mounts that sit under the C-pillar of the crew cab. They act like small shock absorbers to dampen beaming and shock forces sent from poor roads into the cab. We never felt like we were being beat up by the truck when it was empty.

The Denali, along with the other GM trucks we tested, had the best steering feel in its group. Its new steering box has a 16:1 turning ratio and larger front linkages to manage increased front-end loads resulting from the improved front gross axle weight rating, which has jumped from 4,800 pounds to 6,000 pounds.

2011 Ford F-350 Lariat

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If you want proof that HD pickups are no longer simple beasts of burden, look no further than the one-ton Ford F-350 dually. It was armed with just about every state-of-the-art infotech option in Ford’s truck portfolio.

From a rich navigation screen that had the most user-friendly interface, plus real-time traffic, fuel prices and weather, to the all-new 4.2-inch productivity screen that’s now an irreplaceable part of the instrument cluster, all the information we needed or wanted was just a few button clicks away.

The Ford also included a USB MP3/iPod port/charger for plugging in our music players and recharging our cell phones. The Ram and GM trucks had these, too. We consider them mandatory in a modern pickup. We’d like to see more of these USB inputs spread through the cabin like cupholders, just to recharge our handheld devices.

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We liked the Super Duty’s telescoping steering wheel, which made finding the ideal driving position easy and improved our driving comfort over long distances. It also gave us greater confidence in the truck during the hill climb testing because we felt like we had the optimal seating position to control the truck and trailer.

Ford offers “traction control” for the F-350. We’re not sure we agree with the terminology here because the F-350’s traction control reduces throttle only when it senses wheel slip. There’s no assistance from the ABS, like most other traction control systems. Our gripe is that Ford’s traction control system has difficulty smoothly blending torque back in for a takeoff as it recovers traction, so that when it senses slip, it cuts fuel, cutting all the torque, stopping the slip, but then dumping it all back in, starting it off again.

The Super Duty has a revised steering system for 2011 that gives it a lighter feel than it previously had in the 2008-10 trucks. While we liked it better than the old Super Duty, it felt too light in windy conditions when the truck was unloaded or towing.

The 2011 F-Series Super Duty is the only truck we tested that can be equipped with an optional fifth wheel prep package from the factory that's been designed and engineered by Reese Hitches. The truck will come with the bed floor cut, the frame mount, and the wiring — but the customer will still have to buy the hitch that sits in the bed from either a Ford dealer or the aftermarket. Fifth wheel towing was not a part of this test.

2010 Ram 3500 Mega Cab

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There are two four-door cab configurations to choose from if you’re going to purchase a Ram Heavy Duty. New for 2010 is a crew-cab model that’s the same size as other crew cabs in the segment – it replaces the old, smaller Quad Cab model – and the extra-large Mega Cab truck.

The truck we tested was a Ram 3500 Mega Cab that has 3 extra inches of legroom behind the front seats and 7 inches behind the second row for additional storage. It’s the largest cab in the HD segment.

We liked the strong style of the Ram’s rear shoulders over the dually back end. Like the GMC Sierra Denali 3500, the Ram 3500’s fenders are stamped steel instead of plastic clip-on covers.

Like Ford, as of 2010 Ram HD pickups can be ordered with a factory spray-in bedliner. Our tester was equipped with the sturdy cargo box protection. It’s not offered by GM.

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Over long-distance driving, we were very impressed with the Ram’s ride quality, which has been greatly improved in its latest trucks by fitting new hydraulic body mounts directly under the C-pillar corners at the rear of the cab, between the cab and frame. This area is the truck’s natural pivot point as it rolls down the road. The hydraulic body mounts noticeably dampen the pivoting motion compared with the old rubber hockey-puck-style isolators that they replace. It’s amazing that such a small component change can make such a big difference in ride comfort. It’s not perfect, but it’s very welcome. GM’s 2011 HD trucks use similar technology.

For trailer towing, the Ram features nifty two-position mirrors that can be set horizontally or vertically.

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Comments

This another well done article

The Ford dually looks terrible. The big goofy front end and the little tacked on rear flares just look bad.

If you lock the keys in the Lariat, one can get them back in 2.2 seonds by typing in the keypad. No surprise Ford has the superior setup.

It is no surprise that Ford's mid range Lariat is better than GM's high end Denali.

No surprise that Ford has the best state of the art technology.

No surprise GM and Ford offer cargo box protection and GM does not. GM does not like features.

Key word with this shootout is that there are no surprises.


Correction: No surprise RAM and Ford offer cargo box protection and GM does not. GM does not like features.

Should have gone with the Crew Cab long-bed DRW Ram 3500. Using the Mega Cab DRW gave a shorter bed, a shorter truck, and notably reduced GVWR (10,800 lbs vs 12,200). Far from apples-to-apples against the GM and Ford entries.

Bad job, guys.

@Dan I know people at the Flint plant who work there and told me that they do have bedliner capability at the plant. More BS. No Suprise Ford Lost.

As for non-metallic paint on the GMC, that's a good thing. If your vehicle gets wrecked, it's much easier to match a non-metallic color.

Also, GMC beats them all in looks!

I can't believe Ford went to the old "Dodge-style" rear fenders. YUCK!

Zach, The people told you? The people might have the capability to put on a bedliner at the factory, but GM isn't doing it. No BS. This is the truth from Mike Levine.

The GM interior used very small buttons that are hard to see and lights in odd locations. For example you can't see the heated seat settings unless the door is open, as the buttons and lights are flush with the door panel.

The climate control and radio are also hard to see and operate while driving. The interior is a hold over from the previous generation truck!! The engine and brakes are much improved. I'm glad that there is now a 9th injector instead of flushing raw fuel into the engine when the DPF needs cleaning. It will eliminate the fuel in oil problems with the old engine. I guess with limited money they had to pick and choose what to fix and went for the low hanging fruit first.

Duramax is the better truck than the cummins and powerstroke no dought.and the 2011 duramax is one hell of a beast. D-max all the way

First off the Superduty is the only Truck that actually looks like a Truck slash Rig and Aftermarket Lifted Particularly the FORD will out Muscle the Truck Croud in Looks Hands Down due to it's Front Mass and proportionate body shape not to mention the simplicity of a Straight Axle with a Robust Support Structure.

GM's with there bulging fenders, oversized wheelwells and bland front end looks have them well looking like a typical GM Truck trying extra hard to stay in touch with the likes of the more dominant Truck forces of Ford and Yes, Dodge.

Additionally I'll take the simple bulge DRW of the Ford over the unsightly overstated mass of the GM DRW. Again an example of GM trying to compensate for lacking in other areas.

OH by the way, Ford with it's simple C-Channel Frame has out husselled all GM's efforts with a Boxed setup (enjoy solving rust issues that are inaccessible) with Newly Released Payload of 7300 pounds and fifth wheel towing of 22,600 for the F350 properly equiped. It's always been a known fact, FORD has the best Heavy Duty Platform of the Big 3 and Holds up the best for a longer duration, AKA Tow Trucks and Construction Fleet Vehicles. Now with the new Powertrain, Say Goodbye. While Ford keeps all profits in House, GM and Dodge still needs to outsource there Trans and Engine Combos because they apparently don't have the Resources/Knowledge to do it themselves, AKA Government Bailouts. Ford now releasing new 6.7 to serve a measly 400hp/800lbs tq and apparently per Ford there's still a lot more in the tank for this motor.

I appreciate the competition but the King is Still King and Biased PickupTrucks.com can keep rolling in there GM's.

First considering the three trucks they are very good trucks. Nobody is in this field. Why is offering a spray in Bedliner so important. Some people want it, some don't. The spray in bedliner is another profitable price gauge. If you do it outside will it void your warranty no. Fit and finish is what I'm starting to notice and impress with the General. Onstar continues to impress me especially for my family. The warranty that the General stands behind road side assitance for the powertrain. The detail that the engineers at general motors pay attention too.

@collins: I definately don't consider GMs truck to be POS's, there great trucks, but it's pretty clear who's the follower. Ford's array of electro gadgets blows the mind and trumps all trucks not just the other 2. The SYNC System embarrases Onstar to say the least. Ford has been paving the way with Quality Fit and Finish particularly in the Interior, but Exterior as well and continues to make the others copying. Ford has surpassed Toyota with Higher Quality Vehicles and the Superduty Trucks are no exception. Anyway I'm happy to see competition, it's great for consumers and I look forward to the Battles that'll Rage....Aloha

@Micah - I have to laugh at your comments - quote" Biased PickupTrucks.com can keep rolling in there GM's."

Generally speaking - this site is usually bashed as being pro-Ford. I think this site is fare and honest. NO BIAS.
The Ford HD lost because of it's older chassis design. Wheel hop killed it's chance at winning.

I do agree competition is great for the consumer.

@Mark. Wrong. They are building the trucks and they know more than anyone. THey are at my local dealership with factory liner...

As someone that likes to do homework before spending money I have been studying these trucks for a while. The differences in towing capacity are small. Fuel economy is nice to know, but people buying these vehicles should be most interested in longevity as relates to cost. From a number of reliable sources teh best engine in this regard is usually given as the Cummins with the Duramax a solid second. The Powerstroke has given the most problems according to the numbers I have consistently found. Many speak of quality. For me the foundation in terms of motive force reliability is first and foremost. If it does not move my load when needed it has failed. Switches and cosmetics are nice, but not my first consideration. If the overwhelming number of mechanics and engineers have decieved me regarding powerplant reliability and longevity prove me wrong. After all I am still deciding what I will get, but am looking for facts not conjecture.

Ford is awsome



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