We like using a manufacturer's proving grounds because it allows us to standardize and control many of the real-world variables (traffic, pedestrians, street conditions, etc.) that we might otherwise not be able to. Acceleration runs and brake testing in particular are difficult to accomplish safely on public roads. Finding a good section of unpopulated hill climb is almost impossible unless done on a privately owned, controlled closed course.
We have to say GM has been the most accommodating truckmaker for our tests, and we were fortunate that the timing at GM's Milford Proving Grounds worked out for this Challenge. However, part of our stipulation included that GM was not to interfere or attempt to sway our opinions or testing procedures in any way. GM complied. We had an escort for the full day but were unrestricted as to our use of the 7.2 percent hill climb (as seen in our 2013 Light-Duty Challenge). Of course, we had to agree not to talk about or take pictures of any "interesting" vehicles that may have wandered past us in the outer testing loops during our hill runs. We complied as well.
Our empty Ram 2500 run was 6.16 seconds, while its fully loaded zero-to-40-mph run took 7.47 seconds. Interestingly, the Chevrolet Silverado 2500 pulled strong on the hill, just barely beating the Ford F-250 both times. (We can only imagine how well that Ford would have done if it had matching ring-and-pinion gears; of course, it likely would not have done as well during the mpg run.)
Our quarter-mile runs were similar, with the Ram doing well in empty and loaded runs; however, somewhere the Ford found a way improve its breathing, pushing itself past the finish line faster than the other two, finishing the quarter-mile hill climb without any payload in 18.5 seconds while the Ram did it in 18.8 seconds and the Chevy in 19.6 seconds. When fully loaded with our 62 bags of rock salt on the quarter-mile hill climb, the results for all three trucks were incredibly close, separated by just 2/10ths and 3/10ths of a second. But the win went to the Ram with a finishing time and speed of 21.2 seconds at 67.6 mph.
How We Did the Testing
Temperatures at the proving grounds were quite comfortable in the high-70s, with only a slight breeze blowing from the north.
This controlled climb allowed us to directly compare zero-to-40-mph numbers, as well as quarter-mile times up the 1,600-foot slope. The combination of numbers, we thought, would complement the numbers we collected from the Milan Dragway.
Again, we had "The Joes" inside each of the test trucks — Road Test Editor Joe Bruzek, our most accomplished Cars.com "hot shoe," behind the wheel and Joe Lachovsky in control of the RaceLogic VBOX in the passenger seat. Each truck was set up with the VBOX equipment and run up the hill.
Our empty zero-to-40-mph runs were quite fun, as our driver didn't really have to worry about wheel spin with the hill's angle and roughened surface. There was plenty of traction to be had, even at wide-open throttle. On the hill climb, like on the Milan Dragway, the Ram did well, even more so than before.
Cars.com photos by Evan Sears