2010 HD Best Overall One-Ton Diesel Truck (DRW)


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The best overall one-ton diesel is the 2011 GMC Sierra Denali 3500HD. This amazing truck took the top spot in five of six power contests. Like the Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD, its new ride and handling characteristics are excellent and its braking abilities were significantly better than its one-ton competitors. Interior fit and finish in its upscale trim were closer to the Ram and Ford trucks than any other category. We could tow with a Sierra Denali all day long and feel as confident driving it as it looks good on the road.

Score Category Weights: Subjective 20% / Performance 55% / Fuel Economy 25%


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So we have a clear winner, GM all the way baby.

The gmc is a Damn good looking truck

GM...the clear winner. The Denali's brakes are impressive, you just cant top that. The Duramax proved once again its the better diesel backed up by that great Allison transmission. Anything Ford does from now on wont matter because GM took the gold baby! GM all the way!

I'm not suprised at all with these results. When you spend the money upgrading the chassis of a truck vs. the looks, then performance will be better. And from the troubles they had with the Ford's traction, having the Job 2 6.7s would theoretically make that worse.

Good job GM!

2nd shootout in a row the GM diesel has dominated... Can't say im really surprised though... The Duramax and Allison are king, and now GM has built a great truck around that fantastic powertrain...I mean look at that frame and amazing brakes, is there anything this truck can't do?

Great Truck! Well done GM!

Well, GM and Ford more or less ran away with the test. I think it's going to take more than an 8 speed automatic to come back from the back of the pack.

Between the current GM trucks and the Ford Job 2 PSD, I would say they trade blows and it's more about personal preference at this point.

Hail GM. Hail GMC. Hail McLaren. Hail USC.

Thanks Mike, what a good read! I also found the Cummins to be really ballsy down low but lifeless for any revving power. It's fuel economy put me off most. So, still down to Ford and Chevy for me. All three are just great trucks. Who needs an import?

@ Jake The dually uses a michelin that really only inended for highway use. the 3/4 ton had more of an all terrain tire. In theory those same michelins might make the 3/4 stop better as well.

@ Poopy The reason for using the 8spd is that Ram will be able to increase the HP and Tq of the Cummins. They won't bring in a heavier duty tranny and not increase the power. To bad we have to wait so long to find out.

Just as most predicted
1. GM
2. Ford
3. Ram

Although all are relatively tough!

what really stands out to me is how close these trucks (diesels) numbers are.... must have been a tough decision for mike to make when picking the winner. as a Ford fan its great to see the Big 3 competing like this... IMO which ever truck you decide to choose, you will be gettin one hell of a truck! God Bless America

that was my prediction too fred

All in all, I will admit, nice test. However, the real test would be; overall durability.

"HOW LONG WOULD IT LAST"..........'nuff said

Lastly, it is no surprise that GM's high end Denali truck cannot match Ford's mid range Lariat or Ford's high end King Ranch or the Ram.

It is again no surprise that F-350 has better fuel economy with a trailer than GM.

No surprise that the GM 1 ton dually does not have any trailer sway control.

Do you buy a truck based on mixed performance ratings, or do you buy based on quality? It is no surprise why Ford has half the HD market.

The lesson I learned from this shootout is that there are no surprises.

Let's see, second shootout GM dominated?

Last HD shootout, Ford won best gas. Ford won best heavy hauler. GM won best diesel.

Last light duty shootout, Ford won best light duty truck. Chevy came in 2nd. GM came in 4th.

This HD shootout, Ford won best gas. GM won best diesel with mixed results.

@Dan, did you forget that the Denali won 5/6 performance test? Including best overall mileage?

And this year, GM completely swept the diesel trucks. And don't pretend like the Ford ran away with the Gas performance. It won that test on "mixed" results, as the Ram was faster unloaded and got better fuel economy.

Did you forget that less than a second difference 0-60 and 1/4 mile isn't much of a performance difference? Who buys trucks that way? I don't.

And Ford had better mileage than the Denali...."The Ford F-350 one-ton scored the best combined fuel economy number among the one-tons at 15 mpg."

No surprise.

"And don't pretend like the Ford ran away with the Gas performance. It won that test on "mixed" results, as the Ram was faster unloaded and got better fuel economy." - Matt

But the Ram gas truck was not faster uphill and the Ram did not have better unloaded fuel economy, Ford had best there.

This whole shootout was mixed results. No surprise.

With the performance tests being so close and mixed on everything, and Ford coming out with an update in performance, it will come down to if you want quality and features or not.

It should also be no surprise that, "The F-350 was the only truck with standard 17-inch forged aluminum wheels, while the Denali had steel wheels with beauty covers. Yuck. A truck like the Denali deserves no less than forged aluminum wheels."

Denali is yucky. No surprise.

I'd like to see the grade tests done with a rolling start to eliminate traction problems. I very rarely (if ever) need to start towing from a dead start on a grade, but I often come up on steep grades leaving a town at low speed and need power to accellerate. I think this would represent a more real world example.

This would also give me more info about what I'ld like to know about. Engine performance is very simmilar, but my experience is that transmissions vary greatly. The rolling test would account for kickdown times as well as upshift.

Dan is back - Ford Troll alert!

Get serious Dan, Ford lost two out of three and would not be scrambling to modify their rigs just out of the gate if the results were "mixed" as you continue to cling to. Ford lost this one, validated by their own future modifications to try and get competitive again.

One big thing to ponder - this is Ford's 4th new diesel in 10 years. Hmmm.. Does not sound like a quality to me. Wonder if this new, untried, untested diesel will perform as poorly as the previous 4.

GM fanboy alert.

Wasn't it first GM that was scrambling to update their engine just so they could beat Ford by a half second and claim "victory"? As Mike Levine said don't be so quick to say one truck won over the other just by looking at the "winner." The results were too close, and mixed and each has their pros and cons. No surprise.

"One big thing to ponder - this is Ford's 4th new diesel in 10 years. Hmmm.. Does not sound like a quality to me."

It does sound to me like they are constantly improving. If you are not improving, you are moving backwards. Nothing stays the same.

Just because Ford update something doesn't mean there was a lack of quality. Ford may update their engine to comply with the new diesel laws, improve economy, increase power, make it themselves, etc. This is Ford's first diesel engine in the last 10 years since this is the first engine built in house.

I am a Ford guy, owned many Ford trucks. But, I have to say...it looks like the hard core Ford fanboi's are pissed that GM truck was better all around. Oh well.

Come on, I think it is funny. All the Ford fanboi's were all arrogant on here for the past month and Ford got outdone, albeit by a small amount. Grow up, sack up, and gfive kudos to the winner.

Good Job Mike, very professionally presented article, which I appreciate reading.

Too bad the bodies on these trucks aren't as good as the drivetrain is.. I have an 08 Sierra and the wife has an 07 Silverado. Both have been fantastic to drive (minus the drum brakes). These things get dented up like crazy though with little effort! They must use really thin metal to make these. I backed into a snow bank very lighltly when plowing last winter and the rear bumper crumpled in like a piece of tinfoil or something. I've been very disappointed with this particular aspect of these GM trucks. The last 01 Chevy I had I couldn't keep from rusting. I wish these truck websites would test things Other than performance.

@Red_4x4 Well said buddy. It's nice to see honest analysis of the facts. Before someone calls me out as a "fanboi", I want EVERYONE to know that I respect any American automaker based on the things they do and the products they create. This is not a black and white issue. I have lived in a GM Family and I am proud to see their victory however. Look fellas, as truck buyers you MUST realize a few truths. Ford has always fudged numbers. Every Time they do these tests on their website, its against the competition's previous model. (2011 Super Duty vs 2010 Silverado and Ram) or (2009 F-150 vs 2007 designed Silverado and Ram). That is just deceiving advertising. Next, as far as I am concerned, the Silverado won the Light Duty Shootout. I look at POWER, PULLING, and PAYLOAD years before I look at fuel economy which is why F-150 "won" the light duty test. Even so, the F-150 won by 1.5 mpg on an engine with 100 less hp and 65 ft lb. less torque. Finally, the Super Dutys in this shootout can have their little asterisk with the 400/800 "software update" which is a pure marketing ploy. An engine is only as good as the transmission that it runs on. You real truckers know this means Allison. On top of ALL of this, this article admits that while the new Ford numbers "may" have changed the power numbers in their favor, the GM trucks still can't be touched when it comes to ride and handling. Ride + Handling = CONFIDENCE and if you don't have that when your sitting in that seat, YOU HAVE THE WRONG TRUCK. This isn't a fanbois post, it is a fact based "rant" that details why GM trucks TODAY are a far better choice in the Light Duty and especially Heavy Duty Segment. By the way, don't even start with sales numbers. Toyota is the best selling automaker, but I GUARANTEE none of their vehicles hold a candle to an American brand. Oh and by the way Ford fanbois, adding up all your truck sales doesn't make you better, not by any stretch of the imagination.

Kudos to the Ford 6.2

Fact 1: Early comparison was made to the 2010 because the 2010 was the truck GM was competing against the 2011 Super Duty with at that time.

Fact 2: GM came in 4th in the light duty shootout.

Fact 3: GM changed their numbers first in response to Ford.

Fact 4: Popular Mechanics said Ford had the better ride. Pickuptrucks.com said GM was a better ride. This is subjective to one's opinion, not fact based.

Fact 5: Pickuptrucks.com said they had greater confidence in the truck during hill climb testing with Fords. On a flat windy surface the GM was better.

Fact 6: On handling, they didn't test the trucks off-road.

Fact 6: A good truck sells.

I would like to give a HUGE thanks to Mike,the staff, and everyone that helped in this shootout! Another great article from the best truck site on the web! Everything looks good to me and can't wait to put my money on a new 4x4 kingranch one ton 6.7 superduty!

Zach, Your post is fanboi all the way. In the last HD shootout, Ford won Payload, most towing, best ride and handing, towing and not. But that didn't matter to GM fanbois, All that mattered was speed at which they did it. Now all of a sudden, GM wins the ride and handling, and now it matters! Talk about a buch of hypocrites, wow!

Well, I have been waiting patiently to tell everyone that can read this post, I TOLD YOU SO!!! I boldly predicted GM'S Duramax diesel would win the the shootout and it has. I absolutely love the Duramax and Allison transmission.

I love to put the ford powerjoke where it belongs, sucking hind you know what and in second place!!!

Take that to all you ford loving fans!!!

Duramax diesel, the best performing and best fuel economy of the diesels on the market today!!! I LOVE IT!!!!


FACT 1: Why doesn't Ford do a comparison like that now...oh wait because they would lose!

FACT 4: Mike is gonna be pissed...What does Popular Mechanics know about trucks?

FACT 6: Loyalty sells.

Kudos to the 6.2...yeah --"We’re a little underwhelmed with the two-valve Ford 6.2-liter’s performance, too. Development on this engine took nearly a decade because of fits and starts, so what’s been delivered seems a bit behind by modern standards. Any all-new engine in the HD segment should come with direct injection and four valves for improved fuel economy and power."

Just wait, a DI gasser is exactly what GM has up their sleeve.

First of all hats off to the test and all the hard work put into it. Great job! Secondly, enough with the manufacturer bashing. I noticed GM fan boys are using the fact that the GM trucks took first place over Ford and Dodge. And then the Ford guys shoot back with the recent upgrade and how GM would get crushed. If you look at the numbers closely you will find that the difference between first, second, and even third are very minimal. In some of the hill climbs the results differed by a matter of a couple seconds. I think the overall consensus here is that all three trucks are capable of being work horses and that no one truck is better than another because of a small difference in numbers.

@Justin: +1. Well said.

any test at gm proving grounds is suspect to me if they did it at ford the ford would have won? at dodge dodge would win ??

Give me a Ram Laramie Crew body, with GM 3500 Z71 Chassis, with a 400/800 PowerStroke and King Ranch seating. :)

@Jeff: And here is where I'm going to stop you right away. The Ford F-150 won at GM's Proving Grounds in 2008 when we did our Light-Duty Shootout and the Silverado was our favorite 3500 in 2007 when the testing took place at Ford's Proving Grounds. We had a neutral 3rd party instrument, collect and certify the results. Saying GM won because it took place at Milford *IS NOT* a valid argument.

@ jeff moaner- I'm a ford guy and I think the shootout was fair and done professionally by profressionals. It was close and I would have love to see ford pull awhole lot more ahead in all test but it didn't. Buy what you like and quit moaning! Government motors didn't win by much!!!!


I just want to say thanks to you and everyone else for all of there hard work. This article has been a great read, very comprehensive and informative. I have been waiting for this to be published for some time now, and it was definitely worth the wait.

@JM Fanboi post? Ok wrong again. It was not. It was simply an analysis of the facts as they stand TODAY. And no, Ford won nothing in the last HD shootout. As Mike JUST SAID, the GM diesel took 1st at Ford's testing area. Oh yea and @Mark says that GM took fourth in "Fact 2"? Wrong! It was second. Silverado 2nd and GMC 4th. (Who knows why? Same Truck) That was just another ignorant statement. Last I checked the silverado is GM. Nice try. Oh and Fact 1 is a copout because their early comparison is a lie compared to doing the test now. That test is something you won't see on their website.

@Zach: Sorry. Maybe I misunderstand. Are you calling what we did a sham? I'll also point out that Ford did best in the first Shootout we did in 2003 at Ford's proving grounds. Maybe you can explain that away too? Bottom line: we pick the best trucks regardless of where the testing is done.

I love how a small minority dismiss/ignore that Ford 6.2 that we chose as the best gas HD while putting the GM gasser firmly in 3rd, even though this year's test was at GM's proving grounds -- are we still biased?

Here's a link to the 2003 HD Shootout. It's not hidden, Zach.


haha I knew we would get the pissy Ford girls in here after a while trying to bend the facts in their favor....

I know it must hurt to see the Duramax win two shoot-outs in a row, but wake up and smell the coffee... The GM is king.

The only weak link in GM's HD's are the 6.0 V8 which is going to be upgraded soon anyway.

Where does the warranty factor in? As someone else pointed out how long your truck is going to last or how long your manufacturer backs it up is important.

@Mike Levine , I'm still looking for where I attacked your test in my post... I am not interested in gas heavy duty trucks for one so I saw no need to mention the Ford gas victory nor do I contest it either. I'm letting folks know that in hevy duty trucks, you guys picked GM last time and GM this time. also, I'll answer your question about the 2003 shootout when you explain why a 2003 shootout is relevant today...

The real world sales winner will be Ford. They will continue to lead and likely increase their sales percentage as the construction industry (hopefully) picks up the next year Buyers in that segment value the abilities of a solid front axle and are willing to put up with the drawbacks.. GM will pick up recreational sales due to the better ride/handling characteristics of IFS.

Ram will do well with it's price advantages and still solid offering.

i'd drive any if I could make the payments...

@Mr. Mike Levine
When you ran the 1 ton dually's up the 16% hill in 4 wheel drive, what were the results. I know you said the Ford beat the GMC in 4wd, but what times and speeds did all the trucks post? Thank you.

I agree with Nathan, most trucks dont start from a stop on the hill already. A rolling start would have been more realistic, but the test results are very informative. What I seen was the GM's were better off the line, but once the Ford got going, it was better than the GM's. Im a Ford person, but Ford definately needs to fix its traction control issue.

@Mike Levine Interestingly enough, I spent my time using your test to defend my arguments. How you figured I was against your test is beyond me. Another note, my posts focus on diesels...Respond Accordingly.


I think Mike L misunderstood your post originally, mainly because it jumped all over the place and if read in the way I also originally read it, made it sound like you were saying 'their' website as in pickuptrucks.com. So before you go getting all hot about what Mike L said, maybe check the beginning of his post where he states 'maybe I misunderstand' and cool your jets, hothead.

@Mike Levine,

Regarding the testing, awesome report. Enjoyed reading it and will probably read it several more times. I like the coverage of both gas and diesels, the excellent reporting, and the sheer amount of thought you all have obviously put into this kind of report. Awesome, awesome stuff. You're the researching arm we all wish we had out in truck land.

@Zach: My apologies, sir! Lack of sleep. I attribute it to that. Again, I'm sorry I misunderstood.

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