The 7-percent grade test at Ford’s Michigan Proving Grounds was a 1,400-foot steady incline, and the trucks were tested hauling 1,200 pounds of ballast in their cargo boxes.
The 1,200 pounds of ballast serves as a reasonable dummy weight to stand in for the tools and gear that trucks like this can be expected to carry on a regular basis. It was 250 pounds less than the Ram’s maximum payload (1,450 pounds), 280 pounds less than Ford’s maximum and 318 pounds less than the Sierra’s upper limit.
All trucks and trailers were completely on the grade and stationary before each run. All the tests were performed “brake-to-accelerator,” meaning the foot brake was fully depressed with the right foot, which then lifted and fully depressed the accelerator pedal in one movement. Sufficient distance was provided at the end (after the 1,400-foot mark) to slow the rigs down to a safe speed before reaching the top of the hill.
Each truck carried out at least three runs, with the same driver behind the wheel. The trucks were run at wide-open throttle in two-wheel drive. Stability and traction control were turned on in the trucks, and Tow/Haul mode was enabled.
The fastest run for each truck is included in the results below.
It’s not surprising that the Ford F-150 was the fastest truck by a wide margin over the Ram 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500, but this wasn’t just an engine story. The truck’s all-new six-speed transmission played a large role. With its deep 1st and 2nd gears (4.17 and 2.34), the F-150 was able to upshift into 3rd gear (1.52), while the GMC and Ram only made it to 2nd gear. Each time, the F-150 shifted at a screaming 7,000 rpm, taking full advantage of its wide rev range. The Sierra’s 4.3 upshifted at only 5,000 rpm and then held onto 4,000 rpm in 2nd. The Ram’s 1st-2nd upshift was at 5,500 rpm, and it finished at 4,100 rpm in 2nd.
The F-150 finished the 1,400-foot climb in just 19.74 seconds at 73.39 mph, almost 3 seconds faster than the Ram at 63.01 mph and 4 seconds faster than the Sierra at 60.45 mph.