2010 V-6 Shootout: Best Overall V-6 Work Truck

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To determine the best overall light-duty pickup, we created a scoring system that measured the trucks in three areas. Each test was worth a maximum of 100 points. The first component is subjective evaluations of important characteristics, and it accounts for 20 percent of the total score. It includes unloaded ride and handling, ride and handling with trailers, fit and finish, and overall value based on features and MSRP.

The second component accounts for 55 percent of a truck’s total score. Points were awarded based on the truck’s power and pulling capabilities during instrumented testing. For each test -- the fastest truck by time or the shortest to stop by distance – first place was awarded 100 points, and the second- and third-place trucks were assigned points relative to how close they finished to the leader. For example, if the fastest truck through the quarter-mile finished in 15 seconds (getting 100 points) and the second-place truck finished in 16 seconds, then the second-place truck received 93 points.

The third component is fuel economy, and it makes up 25 percent of the score. It’s based on measured fuel consumption when the trucks were unloaded and when trailering. Like the power contests, the best-performing truck in each of the three groups was awarded 100 points, and the second- and third-place trucks were given relative scores based on their efficiency.

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In presenting the scores and categories above, you can also score the trucks on your own by rebalancing the weights of each category to create your own points tally.

Best Overall V-6 Light-Duty Work Truck

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In almost every performance test, Ford’s all-new six dominated the competition by significant margins and made us believers that power and efficiency don’t have to be mutually exclusive in a six-cylinder work truck. For day-to-day hauling needs that don’t involve heavy towing, the 3.7 is a brilliant engine perfectly matched to its application that we think will grow in popularity as buyers learn of its performance firsthand and spread the word. Ford has moved first once more and created another winning version of the F-150.

Also, be sure to check out what our partners at USA Today have to say about the V-6 trucks we tested.

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Comments

I kind of new this was going to happen. The other trucks did alright but compared to Ford's upgraded V6 the other two were not a match at all. Very good job on the shootout though Mike.

First off great read! @mike levine why didn't dodge supply a truck? What's crazy is this v6 has the same power hp wise as my 04 f150 that's awesome but also sad. Lol GOOD JOB FORD

Thanks Mike!

I hope GM/Ram step up their game soon. I really liked the Ram but the Sierra was cool too.

This comparison was such a waste of time and money. What did everybody think was going to happen with an old Dodge and GM and a spanking redesigned Ford. Up until now two of the three major competitors had to do major upgrades to envoke a shoot out, I guess now all it takes is a ford suggestion after they build a new truck. I'm pretty disapointed that PUTC would do a shoot out that catred to one specific brand. Sorry, just my opinion.

@Greg: Thanks for the feedback. I can see your point of view. However, my hat is off to Ford for putting a modern six into its half-ton pickups. The move is long overdue and they should be recognized for it.

I wish the Tundra hadn't been damaged in transit from LA to Detroit because I have a feeling it would have given the F-150 a run for the money in some of the tests. We fully expected that truck to be in the comparison but we weren't going to call it off because we couldn't find a replacement truck.

Now that we have a baseline, we'll do the comparison again as the other trucks are updated.

Too bad the Tundra crashed and burned on it's way to the competition. Hmmm....is this a conspiracy???

People in the forum were asking for a work truck shootout in the forum (NOT Ford) and Mike delivered.

It's interesting that the Ram had the worst ride and handling. Not only do the coil springs reduce capability they do the opposite of what they were intended to do.

@Mike Levine- I wish the tundra was there too! I'm glad to see the f150 win but if it didn't oh well, you and your staff do an excellent job with what you have to work with and the time you have to do it in! If you do test the tundra, will the F150(the king) be involved or will it be a solo test?

For 2011, we'll test the Tundra solo. As soon as another truck updates its V-6, we'll test F-150, Tundra and that truck together.

After 250,000 miles... I bet the 4.3 would still be running strong.

@ mike

its ashame that the tundra was damaged. it would have been interesting to see the outcome had it been there. its (king) of storage area behind the seats, and with the dual VVT-i 4.0 in it this wouldve been more fun to read about. will you be testing it the same way when you get one??

@hemi lol: I'll do my best to test the Tundra in a way that's similar to how we tested these trucks. I tried every way possible to get that truck into this contest so it would be representative of the segment.

I find this "Work Truck comparison" useless in properly deciding on a clear winner especially when the Ford has a $6000 upgrade package over it's base MSRP, and happens to take place in part at Ford's proving ground.

If it's strictly an engine and trans performance comparison this would work, but in the auto-x section you failed to mention the 1" wider tires the Ford had to it's advantage.

Work Truck should mean infinite paint choices, as long as it's white, no machined aluminum wheels, no body matched bumpers, no power locks and mirrors, no AUX mp3 player jack, no cruise, no power locks/mirrors. When all the test drivers have all the above listed creature comforts and eye candy in one model over the other 2, don't you think their opinion might be skewed?

Also, if you bought a Ram, you couldn't do the same with a Toyota? I'm sure one call to Toyota's PR dept from a respectable publisher such as yourselves would have had a replacement truck surface without much delay.

I'm not bashing any of the trucks, Ford did a good job on the new truck, but a shootout should be evenly matched with all base models, or all with one trim level up, etc. Please do your homework and next time when doing a "shootout" don't bring a knife to a gunfight.

No suprise here, and I am a GM guy through and through. I knew this was going to be a runaway win for the F-150. Its good though that they are offering up that much power for their base V-6. Still not sure that it will really do much for changing perceptions about V-6 full sizers though.

Actually, I would have guessed the Ford would have performed better in the empty drag racing section. I mean 302hp, 6-speed, and 3.73 in a 2WD truck should do quiet well. I guess they need to do something about that axel hop they are getting. Seems Ford is having trouble with all their trucks getting power down.

Ford spanked both Ram and Chevy in the drag racing...

"Not surprisingly, the F-150 SPANKED both old-school V-6 players with a run of 16.2 seconds at 88.5 mph down the quarter-mile. In fact, the F-150 surprised a few of us with how much torque and launch force the little 3.7 had. To be fair, the torque numbers aren’t much different, but when matched with the six speeds and brainpower of the new transmission, the Ford separated itself from the Ram and Sierra by a CONSIDERABLE margin. The zero-to-60 times made the point even LOUDER, with the Ford running more than 25 percent faster than the others; the Sierra at 10.94 seconds, Ram at 10.58 seconds, and the F-150 at 7.86 seconds."

@Vlad: Full production of the new 4.0-L V-6 in the Tundra started only a week or two before the Shootout. The only 2011 Tundra we *might* have been able to get was in Texas. We didn't find out about the Tundra damage until the day before the start of our 5-day test. I'm sorry but getting a replacement 2011 Tundra 4.0 from a Toyota dealer was not possible in the time we had.

As to how much I tried to get a replacement from Toyota HQ. The damaged truck was the only new 4.0 demonstrator in the marketing and sales fleet. It was an early build prototype. There were no other replacement trucks available from inside Toyota.

In 2 of the 3 videos that accompany the Shootout, you'll see I make reference to the Toyota Tundra 4.0.

Also, please read why we had an STX F-150 instead of the XT. We called out all the extra features plus $4,000 premium in the story.

@ Mike Levine It was obvious even before reading that the ford would win, but I`d like to know which you would pick between the GM and Ram.

@Jordan L.: That's easy. GMC Sierra 1500 chassis with Ram interior and 3.7-L V-6. ;-)

Nice work Mike. Very well thought out comparison, and I love the charts.

Too bad the Toyota didn't make the trip, but I guess not all things can be planned for.

@Mark: Thanks much for the feedback! We all appreciate it.

I need to write up a post about everything that didn't go right about this test. I kid you not when I say this comparison was 10 times harder to manage than the HD Shootout, which had 9 trucks total.

Besides the Toyota Tundra fiasco, Mark Williams, my co-writer, had his overnight flight from LA to Detroit canceled the evening (and a few hours) before the start of testing at Ford's Proving Grounds. Another resource came down with a bad stomach virus. The Ram 1500 was hit and scratched by tire debris from a Saab that ran something over in the road. And there were other small issues too.

Heh. As they say. Stuff happens. :-)

Interesting test. The data at the beginning of the test about declining regular cab sales was very interesting and is in keeping with my own experience. Regular cab trucks are rare. Seatbelt and safety laws must contribute to the decline. All the R&D going into the "fancier" trucks is also an obvious culprit.
I can see how Ford expects this F150 to replace the Ranger. I'd rather have this truck than the old Ranger.
Too bad the Tundra was unavailable.
Good test and good story.

Mike, good work.
I think every one new the ford would win, but out is really cool to see how well an older design (chevy, dodge ) did against a new design. I am a ford guy, but I was shocked by the towing tests thought ford would do better. dodge did a lot better than I thought they were going too, see it is all about the gearing like I said before.

one of the biggest issues I have read about with the 2011 fords is axel hop, or warp. they don't seem to get they power down to the ground.

Can't wait to see the review of the new ecoboost v6 vs the v8's in the competitors. That's really going to be a world changer.

You do realize that the GM and Ram are designed for low end torque and the Ford engine is not. The GM and Ram are more powerful where the power is truely needed unlike the Ford...Which will get nice highway fuel economy.

The best way to sum this up is to say that Ford brought a gun to a knife fight. Too bad the Toyota didn't make it, it would have been a contender.

@ Mike Levine

Since Ford says that the 3.7L F150 is a Ranger replacement, why not consider doing a Ranger vs. F150 shootout? Get a 4.0L Ranger and a 3.7L F150 and run them through an array of tests similar to what you did in this shootout.

@Jon: the Ram coil springs were not changed for the sake of all out cornering at high speeds, and autocrossing. MOST of the speeds these trucks ran most work trucks won't see on a regular bases. What Ram did change the springs for was so if you have a light load or no load at all you won't get the crud beat out of you on a rough road or crossing train tracks, or, the back end won't step out from under you when you hit some rough roads. Like Tundras and F150s. Ford calls them what multi stage or something? Rough, and rougher? Atleast till you put 500 pounds or so in it! Yeah, make those leaf springs even longer so you can get MORE AXLE HOP! But the ride and handling was only really graded by the autocross...run those trucks down a rough road, and see how you like that? Course, it is hard to really get the criteria for judging that, so you get what you have here, vs. opinions...opinios don't hold water! I know my 4x4 will get me as fast as I need to go in my hilly curvey area, if I want to really go fast, I have a fwd turbocharged car for that and a musclecar. See, I can add airbags to my truck to carry a load better, but you can't soften your leaf spring trucks! And yeah, for dirt track racing I like leaf springs, atleast in the stock class!

@tom trx4: Ride and handling was measured two ways - subjectively during the 300 miles fuel economy and towing test and again during the autocross.

You'll find scores for both in the chart above and a lengthy description of how we felt all the trucks drove in the FE section on page 5.

Great read Mike, another outstanding report. I am a bit suprised at the coil spring rear on the Dodge. Kind of confirms what the market says about it as well.

You need to post the starting mileages on these trucks. You won't get your best mileage until after 5000 miles. Comparing a truck with 5,000 miles to one with less than 100 wouldn't be fair.

My 2010 Ford Focus started out at 27mpg, now it is 32mpg. Oils, greases, tires, engine, gears, all break in...

A very refreshing change of pace from the usual
assortment of ultra womanized crew cab 4x4 diesels.
It would be interesting if the Dodge came with a
manual tranny in keeping with the low dollar work
truck theme.

Fine job Mike!

To bad you had to pay for the Ram.

Then you look at GM inviting you with open arms to watch the build....That says a lot in my book.

Keep up the good work.

I like the Ranger v. F150 (Ranger Replacement) idea--shouldn't involve too many variables! Dumb ass ford. Even Dakota gets an update.

Mike Levine: Great job on the shoot out, this is the trucks I am interested in because they fit my needs.

I must say, that F150 looks sharp, hell it's nicer than my 2001 Lariat F150 inside :) From the shootout, IMHO if you took the Dodge, Chevy, and F150 and shook them up in a basket, pulled one out, you would have a great truck. I wish Nissan titan would make a work truck with the 4.0L from the frontier and a regular cab.

I have no doubt that the Tundra would have competed as well with the Ford as the others, with a bit better advantage. toyota makes good power for their motors, but I must say.....Ford got their $hit together on their trucks. Anyone disregarding that nust be a brand loyal hack.

All three were close, at the end of the day....Pricing, and design will determine the winner for which you purchase. JMHO anyway.

I am not sure why there is so much contraversy on the shootout of the Eco-Boost vs a V8 in the truck. Of course it will beat the 5.0 Ford, 5.3 GM, 5.7 hemi, etc. You are increasing the displacement of the engine and affecting the torque/hp curve with variable cam timing. A great example of this is my wife's Hyundai has CCVT, it will pull harder than my 5.4 at 2K rpms in the car. The power band on that car is very flat, when you punch it, it starts spinning the tires on dry pavement. Simple physics, anyone that understands must admire the brilliant concept they have been using in Europe/most of the world for a while. This is NOT new technology, even though Ford acclaims as such.

Theoretically, if physics is applied, you are "by physics" increasing the displacement of the engine by adding a turbo, the amount of air it will displace. So, in theory, a twin turbo V6 probably will displace more air than a V-8, probably near a large V-8 displacement. Add on Variable Cam Timing, and you have power house. I cannot see why so many argue this principle, they should be arguing the cost over a 10-15 year or 200K mile period.

Where the V6 is going to shine, will be in town and under light load with lackluster boost (If you keep your foot out of it). Where it won't shine, especially with older folks that like to work on their own trucks, is complexity. A complex engine will always cost more to maintain if troubles arise, which they all do.

Folks like me, if I shell out the dough for one of these expensive trucks, I want to keep it till the wheels fall off. But my bet is it will cost more than the 3.7L Ford V6, or any of the push rod V8 competiton engines in the long run due to complexity. Should you lose a turbo or other related complexity out of warranty, you have erased your savings on fuel. Take the Cam Phaser issue on the Later 5.4L if it happens out of warranty. Just my take. Not sure why people argue this TT EB V6 vs V8's, of course it will out run them. Under full load, the FE will be comparable to the V8 due to Air/Fuel ratio that has to be precise (usually near 14.7 : 1), that cannot change. Cannot be too lean or damage will result. Too rich, burn more fuel.

Memo to Dodge, if you're going to spend millions on an ad campaign with the slogan, "Never Back Down from a Challenge", then you need to send trucks to tests like this, no excuses, end of story.

Excellent article, and I completely agree that it's about time trucks received modern V-6's. I hope you revisit this topic when the Ram has the new Pentastar V6 and hopefully Chevy/GMC gets a version of the wonderful 3.6 V6 from the CTS and Camaro.

Ford certainly deserved the win here, even if personally I am put off with the exterior styling-I've never cared for the slab styling introduced in 2005.

@Chuck: Consider this a baseline test. We will definitely revisit when there's a Pentastar V-6 in the Ram 1500.

As always, great job on the shootout. However, the automotive jounalists always live and die by 0-60mph and 1/4 mile performance, which is fine, and fun to see. I love to race and never turn one down! It would be nice though to see a real world shootout, with trucks competing where and how trucks do everyday. Both empty and with a trailer, test passing performance, from 45 or 50mph to 65 or 70mph, trailer sway technologies, braking not just once, but 6 or so runs to see how well the brakes work for multiple stops, features both in and out of the trucks, etc. Do a real world common man shootout. That would be more interesting in my opinion.

Mike,
Tell us how the Ram went from the best ride in the 09 shootout to the worst in 2011.


Could you do a small V8 comparison test soon? I have a feeling that Dodge will quit the 4.7 when the 3.6 comes out and Chevrolet will quit the 4.8 in 2012 or 2013 when it gets a new V6 as well. The true dying market is the small V8 because you either get a powerful V6 or V8 nowadays. This would be interesting to have a FULLY LOADED REGULAR CAB SHORT BED 2 OR 4 WHEEL DRIVE SMALL V8 COMPARISON TEST. Toyota 4.6, Dodge 4.7, Chevrolet/GMC 4.8, Ford 5.0. Please.

@Jason: I'd attribute it a couple of things. 1.) Much shorter wheelbase this time around and different springs. IIRC the Ram has something 25 different rear springs depending on wheelbase, model and driveline. 2.) See the autocross from the 2008 Shootout for more about how it tackled extreme handling. Similar to here.

The Chevy and Ford were also shorter wheelbase. I think it could be because the Ram is best going straight down a perfect road. The Chevy and Ford are better on real roads.

The Chevy and Ford were also smaller wheelbases this time around. I think it could be Ram is better going straight down a perfect road. Chevy and Ford are better on real roads.

How about a Ford versus Ford vs. Ford.
Shortest geared 3.7 V6 (this one tested; 3.73) against the tallest geared 5.0 V8 (3.31), against ecoboost 3.5 and 3.15 axle ratio.

I can't wait to see the 2011 half ton shootout with the new engines from Ford. I always thought the Ford 5.4 should be compared to GM's 5.3 insead of the 6.0, now the field is more level with Fords new powerplants. At any rate...bring it on!

I have a 2010 F-150 that I replaced a 2004 with. I have to say, the new powertrain combo in this truck feels twice as powerful and faster than the old. I even lined up with a Chevy (assuming he had a 5.3) and blew the box off his truck. That's surprises me after looking at your performance numbers from your 2009 shootout.

Keep up the great work, I LOVE the videos and have become a serious Pickuptrucks ADDICT!

Our next Shootout? Best overall truck with an MSRP of $25,000 or less. Manufacturers choice of truck/trim/engine.

Sound cool?

@Tim - The 5.4 always was compared to GM's 5.3L, It was those pesky GM Fanboys who tried to compare it against the 6.0 and said it had no guts. If you park a Ford and Chevy truck side by side, one with the 5.4 the other with the 5.3 (and close rear axles say 3.73's)the 5.4 will spank it, loaded or unloaded. The 5.3 does not have the torque that the 5.4 has and as we all know torque is king when talking about pickups.

The reason your 2010 truck feels more responsive is because of the new 6 speed btw... something you didn't have in 04.

The upside to the 5.3 though was it didn't suffer from some of the crap the 5.4 has (spark plugs come to mind) and it did get better highway FE.



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