Best Overall Half-Ton



We're immensely thankful to all the involved manufacturers for their support putting this event together; any aid aside, you’ll still be doing yourself a favor if you consider their products when shopping for your next truck or accessory. We'd also like to thank the team from Ricardo Inc. who instrumented all the trucks and certified our quarter-mile, hill climb, autocross and brake tests.

And, of course, we're very thankful to you, our readers. We do this for you.

Some are likely to be disappointed with the results because their favorite truck didn’t finish where they expected. Our test is only a snapshot of how these specific trucks performed in a week-long test under rigorously controlled conditions; it’s not a comparison of manufacturers’ half-ton lineups. The results could have been dramatically different had we included other engines or different cab configurations.

To determine the best overall half-ton in our comparison, we created a scoring system that measured the trucks subjectively and analytically. We believe our scoring system reflects how core truck buyers drive and evaluate their half-ton pickups during everyday use. Tests involved moderate to difficult towing situations, and considered towing confidence and safety to be the factors worth scoring, not cupholder size.

The maximum number of points a single truck could have scored was 99 — if it had performed better than every other truck in every test. Analytical scores (power, pulling and fuel economy) and subjective scores (driving impressions and features) were given nearly equal weight: empirical data accounted for 48 points (48.48 percent of a truck’s final score) and impressions were worth 51 points (51.52 percent).

The first component of our ratings was points assigned for driving impressions. Impressions were split into three categories: driving empty, pulling a trailer and performance over an offroad obstacle course. For each category, we gave the best-driving truck six points and the least-comfortable truck one point. The rest either drove similarly or had pluses or minuses that canceled out any advantages or disadvantages, so we scored them all with three points. The maximum a truck could have earned for this component was 18 points.

The second component awarded points based on the trucks’ power and pulling capabilities. Points were earned according to where the trucks finished in various time, distance and suspension-travel tests, with the top finisher getting six points and the bottom finisher getting one. The maximum a truck could have earned was 42 points.

The third component awarded points for key features that we think are important in determining how usable a truck is and how confident it makes its driver feel when working the truck hard. Unlike the other components, where points were assigned according to where the trucks ranked relative to each other, each truck could have potentially earned the maximum three points available for each feature. The only feature worth more was storage, which we assigned a maximum of six points because we thought the new RamBox deserved extra merit. For a truck to earn the maximum points available for each feature, the feature had to be both available and well-executed. We compiled a list of 10 important features, meaning a maximum of 33 points was available in this category. Each truck earned points according to availability and execution of each feature.

The fourth and final component ranked the trucks — assigning six points for the best-performing truck and one for the worst-performing — according to how well they did in our fuel economy test.


With 61 points (out of the maximum 99 possible), the Ford F-150 earned the title of 2008 Shootout Best Overall Half-Ton Pickup. The only thing this truck is missing is a powerful V-8 — it finished last in two of the three pure-power towing tests — but the rest of its performance and packaging was excellent. It took top spots in both our timed ride-and-handling test and our fuel economy test, and it offers value and features the other trucks couldn’t compete with — like trailer-sway control, which can manage the trailer’s brakes, and excellent road manners when towing.

The Chevrolet Silverado ranked right behind the Ford, with 58 points. It so tremendously dominated the power and pulling tests that it only barely lost to the better-equipped, better-riding F-150. If the Silverado’s fuel economy performance had been even in the middle of the pack rather than last, it would have won this contest.

One interesting side note: The Ford F-150 and Chevy Silverado were the only trucks we tested that didn’t have fancy navigation screens.

The Toyota Tundra, with 56 points, took third. If we catch any flak over this Shootout, it will be because the Tundra jumped ahead of the all-new 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 and the GMC Sierra. Like the Silverado, the Tundra had excellent power and performance numbers. While it couldn’t beat the Silverado in that category, it beat the Sierra by nine points and bested the Ram by 14 points in those tests. That was enough to push its score up to the third spot. It did very well in the brake and traction-control tests, even though its stability control performance in the autocross was poor. Its lack of towing-support features also lowered its score.



The lame thing about this test is the fact the chevy and gmc didn't get scores super close or identical to each other. This really shows a flaws in this test. Was it because the driver in the GMC wasn't as good as the Chevy. I don't get it???

A Chevy and GMC truck are the same period. They might have a different front grill and some fenders, but the motor and everything else is the same. How can the results be so different?

You're absolutely correct to question why the Sierra and Silverado scored so far apart when they had identical powertrains.

We were very tough with our performance grades, giving 6-down-to-1 points awarded based on how they placed in tests like the quarter-mile. This is where the Sierra fell short.

The Sierra was last in the autocross (ride, handling, stability control) when the Silverado finished first. It was also last in 60 to 0 mph braking, when the Silverado finished third. The Tundra also beat the Sierra in the quarter-mile unloaded and hill climb tests, so it placed third to Silverado for those two tests.

I'll reiterate that we ran each test a minimum of three times in each truck with the same driver. Instrumentation and results were administered by Ricardo Inc.

The Sierra apparently had a bad day.

im a ford fan and am glad it won.... but yes, chevy and gmc results being so diff..???? wtf?! makes me upset. and that comin from a FORD guy

the sierra peformed differently because it was equipped differently, F/ had rancho shocks, stiffer than the chevy's and it was the denali i think.....which probably has more features which equals more weight

I am at a loss how the Ford F150 can be rated better than the 6.2L Silverado, Ram or Tundra. As a truck owner, I may not use the fancy DVD screen everyday, or backup camera, or have every cup holder loaded with a slurpie, but I do have to push the gas pedal everyday. Multiple times lol. And I'd have a serious problem with 5.4L day in and day out. That powertrain alone is why I did not buy an F150.

The methodology of the test is flawed. Tests that have numeric results (time, distance, mpg, etc) should not be rank ordered. Instead, the actual difference should be the score.

For example, the Ford got 14% better mpg than the last place Chevy. Rank-ordered, Ford gets 6 points, and Chevy gets 1 point. Using the actual difference, Ford gets 6 points, and Chevy gets 5.16 points. Round down to 5 points if you must.

This sort of scoring puts Chevy in first place, not Ford.

I was wondering, you say for the overview of the Ford you used "Regular Unleaded" gas for all the test results, though the GM's required 93. If an engine is designed to run on 93, it will do better than if on 88/89. I know that runnin higher octane doesnt normally mean better performance than regular unless the engine requires it (higher C/R ect), so if it is designed for it its gonna run worst on the lower grade fuel. Not that it would make fillin up cheaper, I think the GMs woulda obtained better millage if using the grade fuel they are intended to use... And also done even better in the power contests. Also find it strange the GM's couldn't make it up the traction ramp on GM's own proving ground where these trucks were tested and designed on. Did the wheel that lost traction spin enough to engage the lockin diff? I think its like 25 or 50 RPM (one or the other) in wheel spin difference to engage it up to 25 mph. I've seen other videos with similar test with rollers where the GMs climbed effortlessly (showin the Diff engaging) while the tundra spun out...

I not attached to any brand. I am an engineer/scientist type of reader, and my impression is they did some pretty thorough testing of these pickups and should be applauded for that, but their scoring system is pure crap. I don't think it accurately represents the results. Too bad becuase like I said, they went to great efforts to do some very thorough testing.

I don't like the scoring system either,But i am please that ford won this contest.they make the best truck out there.Been driving them for 15 years and would not bey any thing else out there.

According to the towing documentation for my 2008 Toyota Tundra, the ESC is configured for trailer sway control, just like the Dodge.

Both the Ford and Chevy do have nav screen options, the Ford with it's new Sync system matted to the nav/dvd screen is literally amazing.

I'm just surprised how close the trucks all scored... 47-61

Also everyone please keep in mind this is how thinks the average truck driver would rank the trucks. What you need to do is go down the list and pick out what features mean the most to you and weight accordingly. If offroad impressions or squat test don't mean anything to you, nix those numbers and recalculate. Then you'll get YOUR best overall truck =)

And PLEASE don't forget if you're really in the market to get out their and test drive ALL of them !

As an unfortunate owner of an F-150 with a 5.4 engine, I would have to say that I find your fuel mileage readings of the Ford very hard to believe.

I also have to side with others and throw up the BS flag on the Chev/GM debacle.

It also appears that you guys stacked the deck against the Dodge.

just one thing , im driving f-150's for exactly 5 years, and i love the truck
especialy because i am a delivery driver for a landscape warehouse, we load the trucks at its maximum every day, and we NOW only have f-150s
because theyre the best

ooooo almost forgoth we have 15 ford f - 150 s

I think the driving impression dragged down tundra, but without this subjective driving impressions, Tundra or the Silverdo are miles ahead of the F150. If u factor in the fuel economy Tundra would actually win...

Mike Levine:

To say "The Sierra apparently had a bad day" in your comment absolutely ruins your credibility.

C'mon guy, two trucks coming off the same assembly line with the only real difference being a Chev/GMC badge and they score differently? You expect the readers of this "test" to believe you?

The Dodge is over a tenth of a second slower in the quarter mile to the Toyota that is 120 pounds heavier, 10 less horsepower and is as aerodynamic as a brick.

I too, agree with other posters, that these results are a steaming pant-load.

Fact is, you wouldn't go wrong with choosing any of these trucks. Subjective judging will yield varying results. I'm just happy to see people arguing about something other than politics. Although Ford vs Chevy can sometimes seem like politics.
Ford '10

This shoutout shows that you can buy the truck you want and it would not let you down. To be honest I like the dodge Ram exterior, I like the F150 Interior. and the engine in the sierra/silverado. For me American trucks are the winners in this test.

I have a 07 tundra and have raced many (a dozen or so) new tundras on the highway. All had the same motor, four wheel drive some double cab and some crew-max (i have a crew max). the double cabs obviously beat with the crew max's some of them won and sometimes i won (not by a truck length by no means and realy no dead heats either one of us always pulled ahead of the other for some reason) which kinda shows the different variances you can get out of the same trucks.

I want to know why they chose an SR5 Tundra when all the other trucks had their top of the line models tested. They should have used a Limited in the Tundra to be on par with the others.

This is why you guys sorely need to hire a statistician. The categories should be weighted. The engine performance between the best and worst truck should be WAY more important than whether it has a useless integrated trailer braker control. Want a good trailer control? Get a Prodigy for $130 and be done with it. Want a good performing engine? It's gonna cost you more than $120.

And what is the point of the towing mirrors? All of the major manufacturers have these mirrors available. Just bc you didn't get it doesn't mean it should be counted against the truck.

Will do a year long reliability test comparo for the six trucks listed. I think this is one of the most important test. Truck owners have to live with their trucks day in and day out, and the worst thing for a truck owner is sitting at the dealership for a day waiting for warranty repairs. Cost of maintainence, time spent being fixed, and most importantly truck breakdown are just a few category left out of truck reviews.

For those blogger wondering why silverado and sierra scored so differently might want to consider the mass difference between the two trucks. GMC tend to equipt their truck with lots of equiptment and better option, but it also means more weight that can downgrade performance.
I am glad pointed this out. Without a comprehensive test consumers would never know that these trucks perform so differently.

@Samscleaner: The GMC Sierra also had different shocks from the Silverado. Is that enough to make the difference in the autocross and brake tests? Maybe. Or maybe it was something else.

I'll restate that 1.) we used the same driver in every test, 2.) drove all the trucks back-to-back during the test, 3.) ran each truck a minimum of 3 times and 4.) hired Ricardo Inc. to instrument the trucks and gather the measurements.

How does that mean we don't have testing credibility?

@Jerry: Thanks for the suggestions about improving our scoring.

RE: aftermarket brake controllers. As mentioned in the test, we went out and purchased units for the Ram, Titan and Tundra. We had the cuts on our hands and fingers to prove it. We think there's a lot to be said for buying the truck with the option installed. Integrated brake controllers (in our humble experience) also work better with the truck.

COME ON FORD!!! Put the Huricane in the B@$!h. Aren't you getting tired of getting waxed off the line?

I'm glad to see that the Titan is still able to hold its own being that its the oldest design out thier. I still love mine after four years. If Ford could get some more power out of the F-150 I might look at one as it seems to be a great all around truck.

Mike Levine:

"Most surprising of all was the GMC Sierra, which finished last. We thought its stiffer offroad shocks might give it an edge over the Silverado, but it turned out to be 2.2 seconds and 1.3 mph slower. Acceleration out of corners seemed delayed and sluggish at times"

Yeah, maybe you are right, Mike. I'm sure the GM has a different computer than the Chev to make the 6.2 "sluggish at times". I'm sure the same fine men and women at the General Motors truck plant that put both of these trucks together had a "bad day". I'm sure that there was enough difference to have 4 trucks from different manufactures place in-between the Chev and GM in the handling test.

Quit making excuses. Your test has zero credibility. Take the (puffed up) numbers of the Chev away and you have a GM that would place second last, which should be about right when compared to the all-new Dodge and Ford.

The results would then look like this:

1. Ford-61
2. Toyota-56
3. Dodge-54
4. GM-50
5. Nissan-47

Guess that's the favor Chev gets for using there property for testing!


Its obvious by reading these comments that a lot of the whiners don't have a true grasp of how vehicles work.

Anyone who knows anything about vehicles knows that no two vehicles are identical, even coming off the same line. Take two of ANY vehicle, even ones built in sucession on the assembly line, and go test them. Their numbers will be different. Maybe not night and day different, but they will be different. Maybe one has a few more ponies, and the other has some more negative camber built in. Whatever. Point is, no two are identical.

As you just pointed out, these GM clones have different suspensions, and people still can't contemplate how the results were varied.

Wow tough crowd

Truckman...think before you type. Different shocks and the same motor don't equate two such a big difference in rankings. Use some common sense. Obviously this test has some flaws that need to be recognized. Also, maybe next time they test trucks like this they will make adjustments needed to have a more accurate scoring system. I could careless who won. The Chevy versus GMC crap is joke period.

Nice job! Those of us who ACTUALLY READ your tests learned a lot of useful info. And those of us who can ACTUALLY THINK can use that info to better evaluate the trucks we will take the time to test drive for ourselves. How you subjectively nit-picked the numbers to come up with scores is unimportant to anyone other than the partisan one-brand wonders who whine every time their particular brand doesn't come out on top!

To me, I like the testing. I'm a Chevy guy, and haven't had anything else. That is what I like.

I would like to see similar testing with same drivetrain, but with a regular cab with either a short or long bed. This way, the details for testing is more accurate for the guys that use thes vehicles for working and not for what is popular. I believe that the testing will come out quite different and a more interesting response will come out for the workhorses!

I'm happy with my '04 silverado, no matter the shortcomings it may have, so to each their own and stop bit@#ing!

yea baby ford did it again, but iam disappointed that it doesnt have a big engine at a 330 horsepower it always ends having the smallest one

What? DOes anyone see the obvious? Forget all the subjective crap and look at the straight facts, the numbers.
Tundra 1/4 mile unloaded 2nd
Tundra 1/4 mile loaded 1st
Tundra hill climbw/trailer 2nd
Tundra brakeing 1st by a long shot

I think this speaks for itself....

The Sierra and Silverado are NOT "just different badges and grilles". The GMC Sierra has a reworked suspension that is less bouncy than the Silverado as we saw in the videos. This can make a big difference in how it performs in certain tests. It bested the Silverado off-road, but lost when it came to performance because of this.

Hmm, the Tundra pulled better, stopped better, squatted less and was near the top in almost all performance categories, never really bombing anything. The F-150 took the longest to stop, couldn't pull, but the tail gate has a step. I just got rid of my F-150 (unreliable) and after reading this I am even happier. Oh and by the way, the Tundra has more American content than any of those so called American trucks.

Well looks like Ford has done it again. Why is it that Tundra, GM and Dodge owners cant accept that the Ford is the best truck on the market?? You can all bit*h about the results as much as you like But every test this Year has put the F-150 truck ahead all all others. It aint all about power but all about the package. As a whole the Ford wins. If you want a truck for qtr mileing in then get ya self a Turdra, If ya want a nice smooth bobby ride then get ya self a Podge and if ya want to have a truck with a late 80's interior then get ya self the chevy. They all have their good and bad points but as a whole the Ford cant be beaten. Clearly it aint all about power.

well my first car was a truck and i always say the best car to drive is a truck I have driven chevy ford and toyota over the last 28 years and currently drive a 00 ford with a 4.6 V8 i get a combined 18 to 19 mpg with a constant load of 1,458 on the truck everyday also pull a trailer that weighs around 4100 lbs sure i cannot win aa race but it alway gets me there with no problems it now has 171,451 miles on it and i just bought a new battery for it first one and never in shop for anything but maintanance now that and ware out items dont know anyone who works for a living that race there trucks on the street much less loaded A track maybe yes so to you that cry about about a few seconds lets just be real on the street are nothing and i planned on buying a new ford and waited for the new 09 thanks for the info

The ford can't be beaten? It was beat in acceleration empty or pulling, braking, ride unloaded, squat test, storage and off road impressions.

Couple things leap out at me on this test:

1.) Ford 0 - 60 mph over NINE seconds? LOL, hope you dont get in a race with a minivan or be ready to eat some soccor mom's dust!

2.) The real amazing thing about the Tundra is how badly sales have tanked for it versus the others in this test. You hear daily all these negative comments about GM and it's managment. Where are all the comments about Toyota spending nearly $2Billion to build a plant that has sat idle for nearly two months due to a complete sales collapse of the Tundra? Man, wrong product at wrong time. Guess Toyota is human afterall. Still, they seem to get a pass on this from the media....again....

To everyone bitching about the's a thought. GO TEST THEM YOURSELVES. Get off your high horses already. Got a problem with their results? Go buy each truck, get equiptment to measure the results, get a payload and report back here.

Otherwise, STFU.

craig forsythe:

Very well said brother.

Speaking of collapsing, here we find out about how the Super Toyota tailgates have been holding up:

If Ford ever want's to regain its #1 seller braging rights, it needs to start with 1. HORSEPOWER!!!! ..where's the variable valve timing at? Whats wrong with 4 valve heads in stead of your 3 valve heads? COME ON FORD !! Yeah you guys got a nice ride for 09, an AWESOME shifting automatic 6 speed transmission,it's TO BAD you guys don't have a DECENT V8 engine mak'in 420 ponies to compliment your new tranny. 320 horsepower in the heaviest 1/2 ton truck on the market JUST DON'T CUT IT FORD!!!!

for all the people who keep saying that the chev and gmc come of the same line your wrong, they actually come out of different countries. chev is built in fort wayne in and gm is built in oshawa on canada. the gm model looks like it was the all terrain package witch comes with certain upgrades for off roading over the silverado such as skid plates the rancho shocks and special tires and rims which surprises me that they said both trucks had the same wheels and tires cause they shouldn't have. these upgrades probably played the role of hindering the gm in some catagories but helped in the off road section. I own a sierra all-terrain and it is not hard to get it into 4 wheel low you just have to put it in nuetral ( helps if you read the manual) I still don't think the gm and chev should be so different since the powertrain is the same but i'm glad someone finally tested both instead of just one like most shootouts do.

In my opinion, the only way to explain why the results for the silverado and sierra were so different is that they used two different drivers. On the other hand, I kind of think it's a little sad that the f150 BARELY won this contest. Like they said, if the silverado had better fuel economy, it would have won.

Still happy I bought the Tundra after 60,000 miles into it.

I use it as a work truck day in day out. I am sure that the trucks now are better for the added competition in the market and it causes all the makers to up the game.

The RAM to me seems like the least work oriented due to the suspension changes and lower tow ratings that most setup specs will show. But I like the overall truck and think its likely catering to a less commercial work oriented crowd and going more for daily driver rec user.

I think that Ford is kidding itself when it staples 11,000 lbs ratings on the one variant F-150 when its clearly the got the worst power in the segment. Then you have enthusiasts thinking that the 2004-08 lineup could all do that because of the 7700 badged reg cab long box 2wd which had to be one of the lowest volume trucks they had. Buy an F-250 if you want that sort of payload and towing and like ford, it was is far better suited to the task.

I think the Ford has made huge steps on the interior quality and the ride and integrated brake controllers should be an option on the entire segment and as a result of the ford stepping up with the trailer sway system it likely will be.

I am not a brand basher by the way I have owned or operated almost every truck brand out there for work in almost all the frame setups and and cabs. Ford, Chev and Dodge build great trucks (they all have there lemons and misses, but the same goes for Toyota and Nissan)

To call any of these 5 trucks crappy is fairly ignorant in my opinion. If the ford was a bit more potent it would be my top pick next go around, without a lot of hesitation, I am not a big fan of the current GM lineup in the half ton variant. But I am not going to be buying another truck until 2011-12 and will test em all and make up my own mind again the same as any of you should do.

ford wins the contest basically because it got 2 mpg better? Your buying a $40,000 truck i find it hard to believe people are going to make a big deal out of 2mpg's, looking at the pulling power. GM is 1st in 0-60 unloaded, 2nd in 0-60 loaded and 1st on the hill climb.

how could ford get first place? they have the worst pulling numbers, have the worst brakes and is by far the slowest truck. Its ride and handling are good and its MPG's are solid too but i don;t think these are important enough to give ford the win. Ford is supposed to be the best towing truck and they got whooped in this comparison by trucks that are in there 3rd or 4th year of design

also you think the GM towing numbers are impressive now wait till they get the 3.73, they would have overtaken the Toyota and swept the towing segment.

I Think did a great thorough job of testing a very popular segment of vehicles on the road today. I have a few thoughts about the testing and the comments made.
As far as I am concerned you can't go wrong with any of these trucks, and in actuality they all tested very close to one another at the end of the day.
Acceleration tests are based on an extreme moment using all the vehicles horspower. If ones job was to out accelerate everybody on the freeway or streets than i could see that testing making a difference in someones overall expectation. If driven properly with or without a trailer, pedal to the metal driving is rarely used.
If I was going to buy a truck for performance I would get a 2wd with the biggest engine and the least amount of options.

Ultimately brand loyalty and reliability will always win in the end.

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