2010 HD Truck Specs and Testing Approach

2010 Heavy-Duty Shootout
By Mike Levine, Kent Sundling and Mark Williams

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | Index

It’s been only three years since our last Heavy-Duty Shootout, but in that time there has been tremendous change in the pickup truck segment. First, the bottom fell out of the truck market when the economy tanked. Second, diesel emissions regulations have gotten tougher yet again. And third, all three HD truck manufacturers have made significant improvements to their pickups, all of which were last updated in 2007.

All of this adds up to the perfect time for a new HD Shootout. Ford and GM have introduced potent, new diesel engines, and Ford has also introduced a new gas V-8. Ford and Chrysler have made major exterior and interior changes, and GM has given its trucks all-new chassis and suspensions.

Truck Specs

This year’s Heavy-Duty Shootout is our biggest comparison test ever. We gathered nine heavy-duty rigs — three from each manufacturer.

The first group comprises single-rear-wheel three-quarter-ton crew-cab 4x4s with gas engines. The second group represents the heart of the HD market, where the most sales are made: SRW three-quarter-ton crew-cab 4x4s with diesel engines. The third group is dual-rear-wheel one-ton crew-cab long-bed 4x4s with diesel engines.

We asked each manufacturer to supply us with 2010 or 2011 four-wheel-drive crew-cab trucks equipped with gas and diesel engines, and we stayed in constant contact with the manufacturers for six weeks, so each automaker was aware of what others were bringing to the challenge. The exact equipment package to include was up to each manufacturer, but as the specs for each truck came in (including trim and rear axle ratio), we shared the configurations.

Three-Quarter-Ton Gas Single-Rear-Wheel Specs

Specs-gas-srw

Three-Quarter-Ton Diesel Single-Rear-Wheel Specs

Specs-diesel-srw

One-Ton Diesel Dual-Rear-Wheel Specs

Specs-diesel-drw

For the most part, the trucks are identical except for the three-quarter-ton Ford gas and diesel pickups, whose rear axle ratios were different from their GM and Chrysler competitors.

All the trucks are automatics, since neither Ford nor GM offers heavy-duty (or light-duty) pickups with a manual shifter. Only the Ram 2500 and 3500 trucks can still be bought with a six-speed handshaker.

For each of our various competitions, each pickup was matched with an appropriately laden trailer. The three-quarter-ton trucks were hooked up to 10,000-pound trailers, and the one-tons pulled 12,000-pound trailers.

Cat-scale

Ford’s New Diesel Power Ratings

As you’re probably already aware, on Aug. 3 Ford announced that it raised the power ratings for its all-new 6.7-liter Power Stroke V-8, from 390 horsepower and 735 pounds-feet of torque to 400 hp and 800 pounds-feet, regaining best-in-class bragging rights. The stronger tune requires only an update to the engine control unit’s fuel injection and shift-mapping software calibrations, and it will be available for free to existing Super Duty owners starting Aug. 31.

The Ford diesels that we tested were rated at the initial 390/735 power levels, though we asked Ford for trucks with the updated horsepower and torque based on word from our sources. They were not provided for the Shootout.

Test Locations

All of our testing took place in Michigan, in the metro area just west of Detroit.

Our first venue was Milan Dragway, about 20 miles south of Ann Arbor, to run our quarter-mile level-ground tests down the International Hot Rod Association-sanctioned asphalt. We spent a full day racing the trucks with and without heavy trailers.

Milford-1-560

But a heavy-duty pickup truly earns its keep in how well it performs climbing hills, hauling, and towing. There were two ways we could have performed our grade testing. The first was to find a challenging “real world” incline out West, like the Cajon and Grapevine passes near Los Angeles or the infamous 12-mile, 7 percent ascent to the Eisenhower tunnel in Colorado. The alternative was to run our tests on the much shorter, torturous hill climbs at GM’s Proving Grounds in Milford, Mich.

Why test at one of the automaker’s proving grounds? First, we wanted controlled conditions under which we could run standardized tests to compare the results of each truck. Second, comparative testing on public highways is a crapshoot. You'll likely get stuck behind slower-moving traffic, and finding an exit to turn around and repeat a test can require scores of extra miles and lots of extra time, which we didn't have. We tested the three-quarter-ton and one-ton trucks on 7-percent and 16-percent inclines at Milford.

Our fuel economy and ride and handling evaluations took place over a double loop that ran between Ann Arbor and East Lansing. We also evaluated ride and handling characteristics as we drove the trucks between testing locations.

We’d like to thank GM for loaning us five trailers that totaled 54,000 pounds – about the same weight as a Boeing CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift helicopter. The three-quarter-ton trucks pulled three 10,000-pound conventional trailers, and the one-tons towed two 12,000-pound trailers.

Test Approach

Ricardo Logo

Ricardo-1-560

We partnered again with Ricardo Inc. to measure each truck’s performance. Not only were the vehicles tested independently by PickupTrucks.com as a neutral third party, but we went the extra step to hire this globally recognized automotive engineering and consulting company to collect metrics. (We’re not sure you can ever “absolutely” eliminate seen and unseen biases, but you can minimize them.)

In pictures and on video, you’ll see the vehicles running side-by-side in drag contests for subjective comparison, but Ricardo collected data only one truck at a time with the same driver behind the wheel throughout each test.

Ricardo’s instruments are first-class. Its engineers brought an RT3102 computer from Oxford Technical Solutions to capture and process data. It contains three accelerometers and three angular rate sensors, as well as GPS and a Pentium processor. From this, Ricardo engineers collected three types of acceleration (lateral, longitudinal and vertical), three body movement rates (roll, yaw and pitch) as well as position, velocity, orientation and slip. Time was obviously recorded, too. The RT3102 outputs a host of other data, including pitch and roll angles, the three acceleration figures in either body or frame orientation.

During our testing at Milan and at GM’s Milford Proving Grounds, engineering representatives from all of the manufacturers were on hand to watch and answer any questions about the trucks and their performance.

Testing at GM’s proving grounds should not be interpreted as a home-court advantage. The 2007 Heavy-Duty Shootout took place at Ford’s proving grounds, where we picked the Silverado 3500 as our favorite diesel. The 2008 Light-Duty Shootout was held at GM’s proving grounds, where we chose the Ford F-150 as the best all-around half-ton.

Ricardo-2-560

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Comments

good test, just wondering tho, what happened to the "super truck" you talked about early in the test(the reg cab s-box dmax) did u have the oppertunity to test it?

Chevy Rules!!!

@gm88: That story can be found here: http://news.pickuptrucks.com/2010/07/driven-prototype-2011-gmc-sierra-2500-regular-cab-duramax-diesel.html

@Mike Levine- thx, interesting story!

Once again Mike, you and your crew did an amazing job! We all appreciate your hard work and time spent on this project... You have the best truck site on the planet!

Keep up the good work bud.

Yeah, this was an awesome article. Even better (for me and every other GM guy anways) with the outcome, lol.

But why is that regular cab diesel being called a prototype? Those have been for sale for atleast 10 years.

It was no surprise that Ford's 6.2 won the shootout.

I knew they would do it.

Go Ford!

RAM RULES !!!! HEMI RULES !!!

Ram lost, dude, no surprise.

Who in their right mind would buy a ford or gm diesel when they could get the dodge for 9,000+ dollars less? My buddy just bought a new dodge even though he thought it wasn't quite as good as the ford or chevy. He saved 10,000 dollars. You can make a heck of a lot of improvements to your truck and buy a ton of diesel with ten thousand dollars.

Mike, after testing all these trucks would you feel comfortable towing with the maximum weight ratings that are offered by GM and Ford. It seems the tow and cargo ratings are inflated and unsafe for a truck that doesn't require a commercial license. Just because a truck is rated to tow 20,000 plus pounds doesn't make it safe for general public use with no special training or licensing . Seems to me that there needs to be a cap on tow and cargo ratings and a focus put more on fuel economy, reliability, and safety. Without a cap were just going to continue to see all these ratings magically increase without any or very little improvements to the truck itself. It makes me wonder were does it end? Do the builders of these trucks have unlimited potential and we'll see future tow rating of 30,000 plus pounds, cargo ratings of 10,000 pounds, and H.P. and Torque ratings of 500 H.P and 1000 TQ.

PickupTrucks.com should be commended - This is the most detailed, thorough and informative automotive related review I have ever seen/read!

@petervegas: Thanks, sir!

@Mike - another great job by you and your collegues.

Very Good Read I am also very impressed that the Hemi was a very powerful beast despite the transmission it has. I am also glad to see things I did not realize like the Ford Traction control issues they have it seems. I think they should focus on that instead of increasing power. GM Diesels did very very well I am impressed with them as well with the hill climbs and non hill climbs. All Trucks are very well built and you could not go wrong either way. I congratulate you Mike on a job well done. I do agree with you though I want to see a 2500 Hemi matched with the new ZF transmission.

What were the actual fuel mileage figures? You set a number of 100 (I'm assuming that was 100% of certain expectations) and graded each truck on that basis, but I didn't see any actual numbers (10 mpg towing, 15 mpg empty and unloaded, etc.).

There were no real losers, but pickuptrucks.com picked Ford gas as the overall gas winner. Unless you are towing 80% of the time and need the capability of the diesel towing figures, the 6.2 L Ford gas might be the real overall winner. Some might pick the Ram as the best overall gas.

GM was not so much of a winner as Ford and Ram in the as gas department.

Overall winner: Ford and Ram?


It was cool seeing you guys with the trucks at Hudson Mills by the disc golf course.

@Albert: I think we met you at Hudson Mills, right? What a great park.

@Wayne: See page 5 for the actual fuel economy figures.

@Mike

What do you make of all the fuss that Ford and Dodge "enthusiasts" bring concerning the front suspension setup, everytime a HeavyDuty article comes out? With the changes that GM made to it's trucks, do you feel that there is really an "advantage" to having one or the other? I'm sick of this topic being brought up so much, can we put it to rest with an explanation and real testing? Thanks!

@Chris: Maybe next time we'll add an off-road test. I've little doubt that the Ford and Ram would outperform the GM trucks on some tough tests in the dirt. SFA is certainly an advantage in that scenario. At a minimum, we're already talking about adding an unpaved quarter-mile based on someone's comments earlier today.

Mike, do you have an article that's similar, but based on half tons?

@Don: Here's the Light-Duty Shootout: http://special-reports.pickuptrucks.com/2008-light-duty-shoot-out.html

@ mike great testing, I was just wondering if you did a sqaut test. I think that would be good way to see just how far the new GMs have come with there chassis. I also look forward to an off road test of these three. Up here we do alot with our trucks off road not just stop light running.

Okay, I read that one, thanks.
I should've phrased it better.
Will you be doing this on the 1/2 tons for 2010 2011?

Once again, the BEST comparison done by any media anywhere. If you want reliable, accurate info on trucks, this website is the place to go. Excellent job guys!

Does GM have any plans to become 'more competitive' in gas powered HD pickups?

Mike,
Are you going to revisit this shoot out when the Ford Job 2 truck is available? If so are you going to add a segment that compares noise levels during operation? Maybe something in the way of interior comfort/fit and finish. I think that if a person is going to spend long hours in a vehicle like this, comfort is a very large part of the buying equation. Should we look forward to another test in the near future?

@Mike

After testing all these trucks would you feel comfortable towing with the maximum weight ratings that are offered by GM and Ford. It seems the tow and cargo ratings are inflated and unsafe for a truck that doesn't require a commercial license. Just because a truck is rated to tow 20,000 plus pounds doesn't make it safe for general public use with no special training or licensing . Seems to me that there needs to be a cap on tow and cargo ratings and a focus put more on fuel economy, reliability, and safety. Without a cap were just going to continue to see all these ratings magically increase without any or very little improvements to the truck itself. It makes me wonder were does it end? Do the builders of these trucks have unlimited potential and we'll see future tow rating of 30,000 plus pounds, cargo ratings of 10,000 pounds, and H.P. and Torque ratings of 500 H.P and 1000 TQ.

@Tim: I feel a lot more comfortable towing at max ratings in HD trucks than I do LD trucks. I towed a 20K# triple axle fifth wheel trailer with a Ford F-450 during the 2008 Shootout and felt confident doing so - knowing that my braking distances were quite large. I agree though, pretty soon these trucks are going to be Class Medium Duty OTR trucks. My guess is the gov't will step in to put an end to this.

Why wasn't the ford used with the new engine tuning available. If it had that extra horse and torque it probably would have won more events.

Maybe they don't have enough budget for the new engine tuning. Anyway, Ford has great vehicles.

please do an off road test because my dad goes off road alot and i want to see which is better also my dads truck is over 10,000 pounds fully loaded
thanks

Which one won in the power train warranty area and did you test 4x4 system reliability? From a hunters stand point my truck spends a considerable time in the field I currently own an F-150 FX4 but I am interested in moving to Diesel because I plan on buying a camper.

CHEVY IS DA BEST IN DA WHOLE WIDE WORLD!!!!!! Ford is makin a heated tailgate for the winter, so when you push it in the snow you might not freeze sa bad.



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