Ultimate Three-Quarter-Ton HD Challenge: And the Winner Is …

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To determine the winner of our 2014 Ultimate Three-Quarter-Ton Heavy-Duty Challenge, we considered all the test data we had gathered over the full two weeks of testing, as well as our scoring and notes from our judges, who drove these trucks across thousands of miles and in various weather and terrain conditions.

Our charts report all the data we collected and the point totals that those results translate to. The judged section of our test was done by three automotive experts: Aaron Bragman, Cars.com Detroit bureau chief; Kent Sundling, operator of MrTruck.com; and Mark Williams, PickupTrucks.com editor. They scored each truck in six categories on a 100-point scale. Those categories were: engine performance, seating comfort and ergonomics, technology and entertainment, ride quality, visibility and value. For this comparison test, our experts' totals represent about 40 percent of the overall points awarded to each vehicle.

Interestingly, of the 16 empirical tests we conducted, the 2014 Ram 2500 won the most events with 10; the 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 won three and the 2015 Ford F-250 won three. However, the Ram did not collect the most points in the empirical section. That happened because we allocate points equally in each event based on the percentage difference from the winning time, speed or distance. In several cases the winning and second-place scores were separated only by fractions, so many scores were very close. The Ford F-250 finished ahead in data points by a very small number, winning just three of 16 events but placing very close to the winner in many others.

Where the Ram 2500 did much better than either of the other two competitors was in our qualitative scoring, impressing each judge enough to get a unanimous first-place finish.

 

First Place: 2014 Ram 2500 HD

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Empirical score, 1,553 points; judges' score, 1,515 points; total, 3,068 points

The Ram HD 2500 is our pick for best overall three-quarter-ton pickup equipped with a gas engine.

It dominated our test events, winning 10 of 16 events and scoring a first-place finish with each of our judges. The Ram definitely offered the best interior and had the best ride of the three, comfortably traversing just about every smooth and broken tarmac surface. Even though it sat below our $50,000 price cap, it still provided a lot of technology and features that the other two players could not match: the RamBox, adaptable rear coils, hidden storage, a top-notch information center and more. Our biggest complaint about this truck was that it didn't have side steps, which is practically a requirement unless you are 6 feet 5 inches or taller. Other nitpicks had to do with the fact that Ram tried to pack too many features into the truck; having the Tow/Haul and trailer brake controller relatively low in the center stack makes both a challenge to find in a hurry. Still, if we were going to choose the best all-around three-quarter-ton player in the field today, the Ram 2500 would be at the top of our list.

 

Second Place: 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD

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Empirical score, 1,539 points; judges' score, 1,445 points; total, 2,984 points

The Chevy Silverado won three different empirical events, two in our level-ground brake testing and one in the loaded fuel-economy test. If the Chevy is a good example of anything, it's a testament to how much you can do with a smaller pile of cash. It's difficult not to look at the recent 2015 upgrades as a compromise decision in which someone up the chain of GM command decided to focus on improving the interior and exterior look without fully addressing substantive issues with the HDs' conventional front short- and long-arm independent front suspension and old-as-dirt leaf spring setup. Despite those shortcomings, the judges consistently scored the Chevy better than the Ford; the Chevy provided a confident look and controlled feel when running in transport or on test tracks. If there was a glaring weakness, we couldn't find it, but these new powertrains did expose a few vulnerabilities during our most punishing and heaviest test events.

 

Third Place: 2015 Ford F-250 Super Duty

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Empirical score, 1,560 points; judges' score, 1,395 points; total, 2,955 points

The Ford was the least changed truck since our last HD test; each of its competitors have undergone significant interior, exterior and, in some cases, mechanical upgrades. We like the 6.2-liter V-8 engine; it's a strong performer and it did very well in just about all of our contests. However, we found the most problems surrounding the truck were underneath in the form of the suspension's challenged ride quality, both when loaded or empty. None of the other trucks sagged as much as the F-250, which showed a pronounced droop in the rear end when loaded. Likewise, when loaded, the ride was floaty and wobbly — especially when taking corners. Additionally, the look of the factory trailer hitch is bulky and ugly, and not nearly as integrated and well-designed as its competitors. Yes, the Ford F-250 did come out on top during our 16-event empirical portion, but fell a healthy distance short of the competition (we can't help but wonder what would have happened with 4.30:1 gears) in ride quality and overall interior design and quality.

Editor's note: We'd like to thank RaceLogic for collecting much of our test data, to GM for the use of its proving grounds, to Roush and Load Trail for the use of its heavy-duty trailers and to the editorial staff at Cars.com who helped and supported PickupTrucks.com in putting together this monster comparison test.

To download the results of each test, their corresponding scores, and the judges' totals, click here.

 

Cars.com photos by Evan Sears

 

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Overview | Milan Dragway | Fuel Economy | Milford Hill Climb | Braking | Davis Dam | Eisenhower Pass | Results

Comments

Just confirms my next truck purchase. Another Ram. Thank you PUTC for the test. Love this site. :-)

Yep, Ram is the way to go in HD's, Chevy needs new gaser but the 6.0 has legs. Super Duty is where it belong on the side of the road and on fire, Ram and GM Fans rejoice.

Congratulations to RAM 2500 .
Best gasoline-powered truck on the planet.

" None of the other trucks sagged as much as the F-250, which showed a pronounced droop in the rear end when loaded. Likewise, when loaded, the ride was floaty and wobbly — especially when taking corners. "

There goes All1 argument forever.

RAM 2500 rear coil suspension is better than outdated Ford 250 leaf springs. Enough said.

Congrats Ram!

Congrats to Ram, they build a great truck. Although I did find it interesting that the Ford still beat the Ram up Eisenhower pass with less motor and higher gears, that shows the 6.2 is a strong runner at high altitude.

Good testing. Thanks! My favorite brand didn't win but it was fair enough!

No disrespect to any of the editors, but I can't see opinionated scores given by people who don't use trucks as they are intended on a daily basis to appropriately score them.

That being said, Kent Sundling (aka MR. Truck) is the only one on that list of judges who's score I would take into consideration. That leaves Ram at 2063, Ford at 2050, and Chevy at 2014. All in all very close, although Chevy dropped the ball a little bit with their refreshed trucks.

Would like to see the results of the Diesels. I have a feeling the opinionated scores will reflect the same, but I'm much more interested in the performance, there is no bias score applied here.

@Brad -- Appreciate your comments and thoughts. In fact, we break the test into two sections so you have exactly the opportunity you're talking about, to look at those key aspects that are most important to you. No matter how you cut it, the judge's score will be just their opinion, but the objective tests are more black and white. Our hope is that you do score your own test with the priorities and parameters that are most important to you, that way you're more likely to be able to choose the best truck for you.

So how does a truck have the worst suspension yet it is noted that it towed with the most confidence up the Eisenhower pass? Kind of contradicting if you ask me.

Regarding the Eisenhower test, it is tough to compare times since it appears the Ram was loaded with almost 3,000 pounds more than the Ford and 1,800 than the Chevy. Just my guesstimate based on the text of loading each to 90% of their GCWR.

@Mark Williams

I appreciate the response! That was my only negative towards the testing. It's not that I'm against opinionated scoring, but looking at the scores that were given some of the numbers seem to be significantly different for the same portion of judging for the same vehicle. (Eg. Tech/Entertainment for all the trucks, You have the Ford above the Chevy by 10, where Aaron is 30 points the opposite direction) Just seems like the weight of each number needs to be honed a little. (not an easy thing to do, so I can't really fault you for it)

Other than that great write-up! I enjoy reading all your Blogs and Tests. Good to see the Competition in the Truck industry still going strong.

Now if we can just get all the manufactures to play the same ballgame with towing and payload...

Wow ... This is the best of the best Truck Test I have ever read. Great Job to the Team in putting this together. I have to agree with the outcome as the RAM has a better bang for the buck in this segment. There is NO questions asked about the amount of refinment that has gone into the RAM brand. Were the other 2 trucks outgunned from the get-go - yes ... but that is why the RAM is on top this time around. Better $$ spent in the places where it matters. You can also never replace "displacement" .. and that HEMI is a beast! I would like to see RAM put the new HD-8spd transmission behind the 6.4 as it will take the beating that the HELLCAT 700+ HP can dish out. That will raise the MPG of the truck and allow better gearing for the hill climbs. Great Job RAM!

Again, surprising how far back the Ram fell in Eisenhower pass. Ford actually won by empirical data, but lost on Judges scoring.

The Ford seemed to handle the worst except when fully loaded on that Eisenhower pass.

Just got done reading this test. This is one of the most thorough test I've read. Good Job PUTC.

This also shows that RAM is playing for keeps.

@Toycrasher
"How We Did the Testing

The F-250's GCWR is 19,000 pounds; the Chevy's is just more than 20,000 pounds, and the Ram 2500's is just more than 22,000 pounds. We attempted to adjust each max trailer weight by dumping a certain amount of water from each truck or trailer, getting as close as possible to 90 percent of the vehicle's GCWR number."

RAM was carrying much more weight than Ford and Chevy.
I am impressed by RAM.

Nice job RAM. This test confirms my expectations and suspicions. Gas engines in HD trucks represent a small percentage of purchases (~15%) but it is helpful to see this evaluation. How will the diesel (more relevant) versions compare? I suspect the finishing order will change.

1) Ford 1,560 points
2) Ram 1,553
3) Chevy 1,539

Ford had the best empirical score.

I'd say that proves Ford and Ford fans right. Eventhough it has the oldest design, it is still did the best overall in the 16 challenges and factural portion of the test. The 2016 CY will fix the design quality and opinion stuff.

Again, surprising how far back the Ram fell in Eisenhower pass. Ford actually won by empirical data, but lost on Judges scoring.

The Ford seemed to handle the worst except when fully loaded on that Eisenhower pass.


Posted by: Toycrusher | Aug 11, 2014 10:20:45 AM

Again, furthering my comment I responded to you in the Eisenhower pass section, the Ford even with 3.73:1 rear end had the second lowest final drive ratio (the number that matters)

Chevy: 16.50:1
Ford: 14.81:1
Ram: 13.24:1

And yet it was pulling 1k less up the hill than the Chevy and 3K less up the hill than the Dodge in a test where a few hundred pounds could make the difference between winning and losing. So this is not surprising.

Furthermore the win in empirical testing is a bit misleading since the the rankings are based off of % of winners time, its not surprising it won a HUGE advantage based on their points scale in the Eisenhower Pass test because it smoked the more heavily loaded competitors by a much wider margin than in the other tests where conditions were 100% equal for all the trucks.

Really happy to see the new Chevy end up where it did, they have come a long way and a good ole cam in block pushrod motor proves it can still hang with the big boys in all but the most extreme circumstance where even the editors admitted that anyone doing that would be buying a diesel 3/4 or 1 ton, and I would put a big chunk of change on the GM coming out at or near the top on that one, we'll have to wait and see.

@devilsadvocate

Very well said. RAM would wipe the floor with Ford going up Eisenhower pass, if they all carry same weight.

But it would be too embarrassing even for Mark to execute this test.
Anyone with half brain understand the test results and RAM is a clear winner of all of them.

Ram had the worst braking and the worst fuel economy.

Aaron Bragman really fleeced Ford on the judge's scoring.

http://blogs.cars.com/files/hd_gasallcharts.jpg

Aaron Bragman gave Ford a 60 (a D) for overall value while Mr Truck and Mar Williams gave Ford both an 80 (a B).

Visibility Mr Truck gave Ford a 90 (an A) and Mark Williams gave Ford a 95 (a solid A). Aaron Bragman gave Ford a 60 (a failing grade) for visibility. What was he looking at?

Tech, Mr Truck gave Ford a 75 and Mark an 85. Aaron Bragman a 50 (failing grade).

Performance? Mr Truck a 90 (an A), Mark Williams 85 (solid B). Aaron? a 75 (C).

And so on and so on.....

Throw out Bragman's reckless judges scoring and Ford comes in 2nd in total scoring: empirical + judges.

1) Ram 2593 total
2) Ford 2545 total
3) Chevy 2535 total

Interesting article and surprising! But probably subjective since the tow and HD pickup truck of choice with buyers in the know who tow and haul remains the Ford F-250.

All I need is a half-ton, for now, but if ever I were to need a 3/4-ton, Ford would be my #1 choice. GM and RAM trucks come in a distant second place after Ford.

BTW, I'm no Ford fan. I drive a 2011 Tundra 5.7L.

@Dave
Yes. Worst braking and worst fuel economy pulling 3 000 lbs more in uphill test. What would you expect? Of course it will make a huge difference.

Why didn't you do what you've done in the past (2013 light duty shootout) which is award a ton of points for having more capacity. Had you done that the ram would've won by even more.

@zviera During the fuel economy test each truck had 2 passengers and 2,480-pound payload,that test wasn't on Eisenhower Pass that you keep bringing up where the Ram towed 3,000 pounds more than the Ford

@ ecodiesel
Good point.
RAM 2500 is a clear winner in here by default.
Best gasoline-powered truck on the planet.

@zviera... exactly they alwasy seem to sneak some ringer in to give a solid push to the Blue Oval.

In the light duty challenge it was The hand calculated "max payload" category that ford won hands down because the stated ratings of the F150 were several thousand pounds over the others so it got another healthy win due to the % of winner weighting system PUTC uses.

Funny how the exact opposite opposite scenario played into their hands this time.

Unbelievable the Chevy won Second Place with such a disparity in horsepower and an older transmission. Way to go GM!

Your scoring procedure for the Eisenhower pass was deficient.

At Davis Dam with equal loads the Ram destroyed both Ford and Chevy.

Ram should have scored Max points for greatest payload at Eisenhower.

Ford should have been scored lower for lower max payload and also dangerous handling.

Would have liked to see how big a difference the gears would have made with the Ford, I think we can all agree to that. But, congrats RAM. No other brand has refined their trucks as much as they have. Which can't do anything but help make our trucks better.

@devilsadvocate

Yep, next time will be extra points for blue oval. LOL.

You made a statement that the chevy and Dodge's times exposed Some problems.

What exactly did you mean. Their payload greatly exceeded the fords. Did you expect them to go faster than the Ford?

To haul the same amount as the Ram or the Chevy the ford would have had top make two trips. The same would be said about the Chevy vs, Ram.

In that case the Ram clearly is the winner.

"@Dave
Yes. Worst braking and worst fuel economy pulling 3 000 lbs more"

No, each competitor had the same weight for the braking test and the fuel economy test.

Ram had the worst braking and the worst fuel economy during each test.

As was told to you, neither test had anything to do with the Eiesenhower test you keep bringing up.

There is no doubt that Ram was the fastest, but Ram had the worst braking and the worst fuel economy.


Now what TFL? Lol

Throw out Bragman's reckless judges scoring and Ford comes in 2nd in total scoring: empirical + judges.

1) Ram 2593 total
2) Ford 2545 total
3) Chevy 2535 total


Posted by: JT | Aug 11, 2014 11:55:55 AM

@JT, what utter BS!... Aaron Bragman was hard on all three of the trucks, you just have to deal with it. You cant just delete the lowest scores because they more negatively affected your favorite. If you want it to be fair then you have to delete the highest score too... that's statistics 101 amigo.

If you want to talk about fair lets throw out that bogus ringer where the Ford carried nearly 1000lbs less than the Chevy and nearly 3000lbs less than the Dodge up the Eisenhower Pass test. Re-run it with same trailer weight on all vehicles like they have done in every other shootout and see where the chips fall. Judging by the Davis Dam test it would have only barely eiked out a win over the Silverado and the Ram probably could have lapped them. In a test like that a few hundred pounds can have a huge impact and the Ford had a several thousand pounds advantage and the second lowest final drive of the group another big advantage.

@Dave
0.5 mpg difference loaded is nothing to brag about.
It's within operator error and foot weight. But RAM is heaviest, strongest and can pull much more the competition and doesn't sag as much as Ford under payload and handles better.
But if your criteria for 3/4 truck is empty Mpg , Ford is the best for you of course.

The difference from Ram in the fuel economy was by more than a single mpg. 1.07 mpg with Ford on top empty and Ram in 3rd, and the difference loaded was .44 with Chevy on top and Ford in second.

If you define a ".2 difference" as nothing to brag about, is a 0.17 sec difference in the Mialn drag race something to brag about?

Ram was only a hair faster in the Davis Dam.

Ride quality Kent Sundling/MarkWilliams gave the Chevy the edge over the Ram.

Also, if you take out the Eiesenhower tests, Ford still is on top in empirical.

1) Ford 1362
2) Ram 1375
3) Chevy 1347

If you want a truck that is a little faster, but worse braking, worse fuel economy, go with Ram is for you. If you want the best ride, KS and MW said better ride went to the Chevy eventhough it had a quote "old as dirt" leaf spring set up. Just saying.

Sorry, if you take out Eisenhow tests, Ram comes out on top empirical, Ford second, Chevy third.

If people don't like Eisenhower, maybe Ram is rating their trucks to tow too much!

Quote from Mark Williams:

"It almost seemed like the gross combined weight ratings for the Ram and Chevy were a bit too high in relation to how their engines and transmissions performed."

"Yes, all these trucks were pulling the same loads, but the Ford was the only one that pulled to the limits with confidence. We'd like to have a little more cushion or "just-in-case" buffer in the numbers."

So maybe Ford is not the one who is overrating their towing numbers afterall. It is Ram and Chevy.

Lol, the old Ford leaf springs had the most droop, yet the Ford boys come on hear and talk smack about coils. I can see Lou in BC complaining back in the day when the leaf springs went bye bye on the front end.

I haven't seen it posted here yet, but did they post max payloads? Last I checked, the so called non pickup coil spring Ram had (6.4 only, not 5.7) had the other gassers beat. Yet the leaf spring folks always say how we need the leafs, well we see we don't want F-250 leafs! Lol! Let's buy an F-250 and get more droop or squat, AND A WORSE RIDE!

Also, we see Mark Williams noting the Chevy weighed a whopping 120 pounds less, yet if I mention that the Ram v-6 CREWCAB WITH MORE OPTIONS, outweighed the Doublecab Chevy with less options, and about 370 pounds difference, people ride my ass! Wow, this is 2500/250 truck territory, with big v-8s. Makes a bit more difference when it's v-6s!

"It dominated our test events, winning 10 of 16 events and scoring a first-place finish with each of our judges."

ALL GUTS

ALL GLORY

ALL BUTT KICKING RAM!

If you need to get work done you buy the Ram.

Second you buy the Chevy/GMC.

Ford you don't even consider.

I see the Ford boys are crying and twisting things trying to salvage Fords poor performance.

@ALL1, WHAT ABOUT NOW? WHAT ABOUT RAM?


Ram 2500 wins heavy duty pickup test

The Ram 2500 has been named king of the gasoline-powered 4x4 three-quarter ton pickups by PickupTrucks.com.

The website asked the three domestic automakers to send it the best trucks they could build for less than $50,000, and then put them through two weeks of testing that covered sixteen disciplines from fuel economy to fully-laden drag racing and hauling, as well as uphill towing over the benchmark Eisenhower Pass in Colorado.

The Ram 2500 punched in with the most powerful engine, a 6.4-liter V8 with 410 hp/429 lb-ft of torque, significantly more than the engines in the Chevrolet Silverado 2500 and Ford F-250 that finished second and third, respectively.

Overall, the Ram 2500 took top marks in 10 of the 16 tests, including most of the speed and hauling events aside from towing at the Eisenhower Pass, which the Ford F-250 handily won. The Ram trailed the others in fuel economy, but got the highest marks for interior and ride comfort.

PickupTrucks.com’s biggest complaint was that the high-riding truck wasn’t fitted with side steps to access the cabin, although they are available.

A separate test for diesel powered heavy duty trucks was also conducted, but the results have not yet been published.

http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2014/08/11/ram-2500-wins-heavy-duty-pickup-test/

I agree that the Einsenhow was a good test because it exposed Ram and Chevy's ratings as being a bit too high for its engine and tranny.

Ford was the only truck that could pull its rating up the Eisenhower Pass with confidence.

Now what was that about j2807 again?

You left our resale value. The Chevy's empirical score was 1% less than that of the RAM. However, the resale value is 10+% better. Therefore TCO is much better for the Chevy.

so you took all the numbers that you worked so hard to get and threw them out and picked the one you liked best so you all lied to all your readers because the ford would have won but you pick the dodge????

I agree that the Einsenhow was a good test because it exposed Ram and Chevy's ratings as being a bit too high for its engine and tranny.

Ford was the only truck that could pull its rating up the Eisenhower Pass with confidence.

Now what was that about j2807 again?


Posted by: chris | Aug 11, 2014 2:23:02 PM

Why is this exactly? Because they were slower than a truck pulling less weight? That seems a bit too much even for a fanboy. As far as I can tell they still made it up the hill while pulling a safe speed and made it back down the other side without any drama either.

down-load the other trucks to the weight the SD was carrying and they would spank it like a bratty little child.

Nothing about the standards say the truck must pull the load at 70 MPH. I believe it is only 40 MPH and that is at Davis Dam not Eisenhower.

The more I think about it I wonder if the Ford couldn't pull it's rated load at Davis Dam. And that is why Davis dam was only run Empty.

The ram destroyed the Ford and Chevy at the Davis Dan section.

If they would have run Davis Dam at max load like they did at Eisenhower,. we would have known for sure if the Ford and Chevy could pass the standards.

Oh well, Ford Jihadist are here.



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