2013 Light-Duty Challenge: Hill-Climb Acceleration Test

Hillclimb F-150 II

Longtime readers of PickupTrucks.com will recognize this 7.2 percent hill-climb contest from past heavy-duty shootouts and preproduction engineering drives.

This is the same section of road that GM engineers have been using at the Milford Proving Grounds for decades, testing trucks with and without heavy trailers in tow. Thankfully, the truck maker allowed us to use the same section of grade for testing our herd of half-tons.

The procedures were pretty simple. We chose a designated spot near the start of the grade and used that spot to start each truck during back-to-back runs. Each truck was tested on the hill climb empty, running for the best time to 60 mph. With that accomplished, each truck was hooked up to our 8,500-pound test trailer and run over the same hill, this time measuring their times to 40 mph (none of the pickups hit 60 before the quarter-mile mark).

Each truck was run the same way, with the windows rolled up, air conditioning off, in two-wheel drive, transmission in Drive and traction control off. Our empty runs were done out of Tow/Haul mode, while trailered runs were done with Tow/Haul engaged.

At the start with each of the trucks, we power braked the engine (meaning we kept our foot on the brake briefly while revving the engine to around 2,000 rpm), then we released the brake quickly, getting to wide-open-throttle as quickly as possible. Some trucks did better empty, while others performed more confidently with a load on the back bumper.

From the outset, we knew the Ram would be the one to watch. The Hemi V-8 is rated with the highest horsepower of our group at 395 at 5,600 rpm, and when combined with the deep 1st gear of an eight-speed transmission (4.71:1) and a compliant air suspension, we had a feeling it would be the one to beat. That's exactly what happened.

Hillclimb GMC II

The Ram 1500 tore up the 7.2 percent grade, taking only 8.2 seconds to reach 60 mph empty, leaving everyone except for the Ford F-150 (at 8.5 seconds) in the dust. Some of the trucks, like the Titan, struggled to keep themselves from spinning the tires before the nannies broke in (even with the traction control button in the "off" position), while the two GM trucks seemed to have a much smarter traction control setup system at work, but they still seemed a bit sluggish when responding to throttle input.

When trailering, the Ram 1500's rear end did a great job of getting the 20-inch Goodyear Wrangler SR/A tires (the exact same tires on the Ford, Chevy and GMC) to hook up and pull the 8,500-pound trailer to 40 mph in 11.3 seconds. The F-150's EcoBoost twin turbo came in not far behind, with the Chevy, Toyota and Nissan following closely.

Oddly, the GMC struggled to get traction with a trailer, requiring us to more softly ramp up the throttle input to prevent the tires from breaking loose (which seemed to happen pretty easily). It's possible there may have been an issue with the StabiliTrak traction control software during those runs, but we did our best to reset both after each run and we tried several variations, running the truck more times than any other.

In the end, the Ram won both hill-climb tests, collecting 200 points for both wins.

Hillclimb Tundra II


Overview | Judges' Impressions | 0-60 Acceleration | 60-0 Braking | Mileage Drive | Hill Climb | Autocross | Payload and Towing | Results


Damn Ram stepped up their game. They just need to work on braking and I thought Ram had a 10k trailer rating or is that with a different axle gear ratio. Good job to Ford as well this test impressed me it came out differently then I expected on the Hill climb for sure I thought Ford would be first than Ram or Toyota. I was wrong.

I knew the Ram would come out ahead here.

@DLF: The Ram can be had with 3.92s as well for the higher rating, which I don't believe the 8 speed is rated to tow higher then the 6 speed, if both have same gears.

It doesn't take a rocket scientest to figure out that the 8 speed gear ratios are much better for towing then the Ram 6 speed, and if you are familiar with Dodges way of using tow haul, it locks out the final gear, so in the case of a 3.55 gear truck, the 8 speed would tow with a 2.98 while the 6 speed one tows with a 2.66. So that said, if Ram would go for the J2807 with 8 speed, it shouldn't have any issue.

Wonder if the Ram is going to rust and fall apart by the end of the tests. You know how those foreign trucks are.

@ Notta Fanboy

You need to read where each truck is made. Chevy & GMC - Mexico

Ram - Michigan.

Funny, the Nissan Titan is still in 1st gear at 40mph.

Ouch! So much for the redesigned GM twins. After seeing the results of these tests they're nothing to write home about!

It's interesting, in the 0-40 mph the Ram had a handy 1.3 second lead on the F150, yet on the 0-60 run it had diminished to 0.3 seconds. Sure looks like the F150 would have caught and past the Ram had the test been a little longer?

@ Notta Fanboy,

I own a few RAM Trucks,none have rust !

its pretty funny how this test was rigged. they only "power braked" these trucks in this test to allow the turbos to spool on the ford. NOT power braking the tundra will perform better, ESPECIALLY given the junk tire. i wonder how many of the other trucks would have performed better not power braking them?

I wish the RAM was a QuadCab HEMI and 3.92 rear axle.You know its still a real 4 door but ,looks and performance is better,then the bigger cab,bigger rear door CrewCab.

I know my 2013 really woke up with that combo,my 2011 RAM 1500 QuadCab HEMI 3.92 6 speed is no match for my 2013 8 speed,good job DODGE !!

yup, my 2013 3.92 Ram 8-speed will dust the 3.55. I tested both and there is a good difference.

plus the towing and payload are higher on it as well.


I'm a MOPAR guy, but thought you should know that the Chevy/GMC trucks are made right down the road from me in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

@Thomas Imber I think the gm trucks are impressive less hp less tq 3.42s 6speed vs ram 3.55s 8speed vs fords 3.73 6speed.

The Chevy/GMC are made in Mexico. Silao Mexico has always made Chevy/GMC 1500 crew cabs. It can also be made in the US, but every one I see has been made in Mexico.

The 8 speed helped the RAM massively; knew all along that the 5 speed (6 speed is purely marketing) was holding back the HEMI, considering its gear spacing is really a 4 speed.

On the old 545RFE, the 1st to 2nd shift almost cut the rpm in half (3.0 to 1.67 ratio). Couple that with a tall rear end, and the 400hp truck simply fell on its face.

The GMs also need an 8 speed setup, or at least 3.73s. Still not nearly as bad as the old RAM though, as the 6L80 is a modern, REAL 6 speed, with proper gearing.

"Wonder if the Ram is going to rust and fall apart by the end of the tests. You know how those foreign trucks are."

-YA, SURE!!LOLOL!!! DODGE OWNS this competition! Good to see Even Chevrolet SMOKE the GovtMoCo truck!! Might wanna take a LOOK at THIS next time you talk about Rust.



AND Chevrolet AND GovtMoCo trucks are Made In MEXICO! ALL QUAD DOOR TRUCKS!

@ MoparMadness them trucks you posted are over ten years old any truck that age has rust

Didn't you guys realize that your scoring methodology was ridiculous when the truck you rated "worst" in towing and payload beat the rest of them in a hill climb pulling 8500 lbs? I mean really, couldn't we have had at least *something* that stressed the towing capabilities of these trucks in order to see if the paper ratings are at all meaningful?

@SLE: only if you missed that it was a 1.3 advatage the Ram had on the Ecoboost doing 0-60. So I guess if it had longer, it would be 2 seconds? It sure wasn't catching the Ram.

@: johnny doe; Yup, and those 31.5" 663 revs GM tires when compared to the Ram 33" 634 makes the GM gearing about like a 3.57.

Any more alibis? Does anyone have any alibis? How about the GM being what 150 pounds lighter. Hey, it has direct injection. OK, plain and simple, in this portion that 8 speed kicks those GM asses. Wow, 3.6 seconds longer to get to 60. In years past like 2008 shootout they went further up the hill.

Wow, almost a third of the Rams time MORE the Chevy did take. Oh, and that Chevy can tow 1,000 pounds or so more! Yee haw!

Who's crying, johnny? About all I see is the Chevy did good in mileage. They also had the lowest numerical gears.

For everyone bashing the gm twins please realize that they didn't come with the most powerful engine offered they came with the volume engine. The chevy and gmc is offered with the 6.2 which would have had the most horsepower and torque in the test. Not saying it would have been enough to beat the others just pointing it out.

Now if the rumors are true that ram is putting a 6.4 hemi with 440/470 hp/tq in the trucks well then the ram may very well stay on top of the hill climb heap.

Do you thing gm did do this test before and something is conning from gm ...???


It is out of place to be slagging the Gm/Chevy siblings since they showed up with smaller engines. The new 5.3's performed well compared to the competition.

Maybe next year there should be a shootout for:
- entry level V6 trucks,
- entry level V8's (Ford 5.0, GMC 5.3, Toyota 4.6, Ram 4.7),
- top dog engines (Ram 5.7 and 3.0 diesel, Ford 3.5Eb and 6.2, GM 6.2, Tundra 5.7)

Maybe in a year or two, we will see a diesel only shootout.


I too would like to see other configurations tested as well. The base V-6 trucks (I would like to see the 4.3 especially in a crew cab 4WD), and the 5.0 from Ford. I think PUTC should do another test once the '14 Tundra is out and the Ecodiesel in the Ram. Bring a 5.3L max tow and a 6.2L from GM.

No, don't bring the 6.2L from GM. Just like the old (current) 6.2 was for the first few years, it's a ringer for the magazines that's barely stocked and GM won't even sell it a work trimmed truck.

Every other truck tested has the standard, volume engine. GM should be held to that standard too, I don't care about $50K LTZs that are too pretty to get dirty.

@Dan - as far as I'm concerned, if a truck company advertises it and sells it, it should be tested but NOT to the exclusion of the bread and butter engines.
Ford is currently the only company that offers 2 "mid" engines.
The EB3.5 is the only "mid" engine capable of playing with the top dogs.
I'd love to see a 5.0 in a test against the EB3.5. In that same test, I'd like to see the GM 6.2 and the 5.3 run together.
I doubt that Ford would allow a direct comparison between the 5.0 and EB.

I bet that a shootout between the 5.0 and 5.3 would be very close with the 5.3 winning.

Should've done the 8500lbs towing on the Davis Dam hil climb. This 0-40mph was easily in favor of ford and ram due to their low gearing. This is a good advantage in scenarios like this. I'm just surprise the ford and ram didn't have a bigger gap among the others in the flat ground 8500lbs 0-60mph. Did the ford and ram run out of breath above that? Is that why putc chose just 40mph to favor the ford and ram when they are at their strongest due to gearing? Well never know and we'll never be satisfied with any tests results.

They can't really "run out of breath" although their accelerations should follow the power curves for the engines (assuming equal gearing, and the Ram has better gearing). What makes no sense is that the Tundra finished so far behind, it should have been right up there with the Ram and both should have beaten the Ford.

All of the acceleration tests in this shootout are strange and none seem to have given the expected results. Also brake launching the trucks is stupid and was only done to keep Ford in the running . I will wait for another publication to publish an acceleration comparison between the Ram, Tundra, and F150, because this test has way too many oddities to be considered reliable.

And as an aside even if not the Davis Dam, they could have performed a similar testing procedure on their 7.2% graded hill by loading all trucks to their towing capacity and doing the lion's share of the J2807 test procedures. That in fact should have been the *first* thing done with any towing test and those facilities at their disposal. The fact that instead of testing in this fashion they just blindly added points based on a manufacturer's published tow/payload capacity reeks of bias.

If they hadn't powerbraked, the F-150 would have slaughtered the Ram. Its torque kicks in at around 1,600 rpm.

Why would they powerbrake anyway? Be honest with yourself, when do you EVER powerbrake to get up a hill in the real world?

I'll admit this one is interesting, especially since the Ram did reasonably well in gas mileage for having the most horsepower. Still, the same argument I had in Acceleration holds true here; I'm not going to drag-race my truck loaded or unloaded though I'll admit that the climbing power here is notably different from acceleration on the flat. If you're driving in hills or mountains, the results of this test will make a difference.

@Adam - true, most do not torque brake their trucks when towing but most do not mash the pedal to the floor from a dead stop when towing or hauling either.

This is how they chose to run their test. All of the trucks were driven the same.

It is out of place to be slagging the Gm/Chevy siblings since they showed up with smaller engines. The new 5.3's performed well compared to the competition.

Maybe next year there should be a shootout for:
- entry level V6 trucks,
- entry level V8's (Ford 5.0, GMC 5.3, Toyota 4.6, Ram 4.7),
- top dog engines (Ram 5.7 and 3.0 diesel, Ford 3.5Eb and 6.2, GM 6.2, Tunda 5.7)

This. So much this!

@Benchimus - agreed.

@ PT

"The Chevy/GMC are made in Mexico. Silao Mexico has always made Chevy/GMC 1500 crew cabs. It can also be made in the US, but every one I see has been made in Mexico."


My 09 Sierra Crew was made in Canada.

Nice try.

@Pilg0re -


2009 was the last year that GMC built a pickup in Canada.

Maybe next year there should be a shootout for:
- entry level V6 trucks,
- entry level V8's (Ford 5.0, GMC 5.3, Toyota 4.6, Ram 4.7),
- top dog engines (Ram 5.7 and 3.0 diesel, Ford 3.5Eb and 6.2, GM 6.2, Tunda 5.7)

This. So much this!

This test is so rigged. Anyone who's been around knows that when the GM twins were tested with the 6.2 some yrs back in the half-ton shootout, they were neck and neck with the tundra in all acceleration tests. Is this test saying the 6.2 is now irrelevant since the 5.3 can now do the same or better as the results show here. Either it is true the 5.3 has gone mighty or the tundra was intentionally laggard to fall back.

The first shootout done a few yrs ago was more accurate. This one just has too many inconsistencies. The Ram falling to last with just 1200lbs but first with 8500lbs... This is a failed half-ton test.

Got to admit. This is the best Ram ever. I just wish this truck would have been available 10 years ago. Talk about a win. But I would love to see another HD shoot out.

Good to see Ram being the first to offer a diesel option for a 1500 series truck. I think the last was GM with there crappy 6.5's.

wow some wannabe expert ,,next challenge whit gm 3,73

I call foul on your testing considering my 2012 Nissan Titan ran a stock 1/4 mile of 14.7.

Chris, now you are over here touting your DUMBA$$ $HIT!! Get over it, you bought the WORST performing truck on the market. PUTC isn't the only organization that has found this out.

On other forums this guy has made claims that his truck, stock, beat tuned SRTs, Camaros, etc. he has been shunned out of several other forums for being a tool bag.

Doug, I would not say the Titan is the worst preforming truck on the market. That is just being ignorant.

You also have to take into consideration no major engine and tranny changes have been made since the truck's incarnation. All the other trucks have had major engine, tranny, and suspension changes in the last few years.

In 2004 the Titan was the truck to beat. None of the others could even touch it. You can thank Nissan for this. Since then, the other truck manufactures have made better products.

I do call foul on this test as the GMC and Chevy are the exact same truck and they received different times. It seems most of this test was done with a hand held timer, which is not an accurate way of testing.

Hey Robert, its not 2004 anymore! the numbers speak for themselves,

So Dodge has 30 more HP, and 2 more gears in the transmission and this is the best it could do? The Ford 5.0 was knocking on the door as well according to PUTC test: http://news.pickuptrucks.com/2011/02/road-test-review-2011-ford-f-150-xlt-50-liter-v-8.html

Dodge must be hyping HP #'s or Ford is sandbagging. GM, well poor attempt at best. Long wait for GM lovers for the same frame and suspension with bold new looks and interior.


tests where done at different places on different days by different drivers using different standards and different techniques.

the 5 liter isn't faster then a hemi 6 speed much less a hemi 8 speed.

keep dreaming


Yeah, I guess I do know what I'm talking about unless you fell for GM failed diesel technology.

I understand why all of the trucks were selected. Basically Gm and Chevy did not provide identically equipped trucks which allowed them 2 shots at winning this competition. Dodge wanted to provide the truck with the best chance of winning MPG, while still being competitive in the towing categories. Toyota, Nissan provided a truck to fit the budget constraints of the test, one which could compete in the towing segments, but not a lot of options between both manufacturer's. Ford provided the volume fleet truck most ordered and fit in max towing in the price restriction.

The reason the Dodge and Ford won most of the segments is because you get more for less in both trucks. The reason the Ford won is its platform is 4 years old, yet won or top half of all performance tests against higher horsepower vehicles with less gears in the transmission to assist in towing or mileage ratings and an engine almost half the size of its competitors.

What will the competition do next year when the F150 revises the interior, brings in the lighter Aluminum frame and increases the performance of all of its motor lines.

The Titan will out perform all the other trucks if you test all of them with their standard base engine. Nobody ever bring out that fact.

Let me reword that for you Chesley, if you tested them with standard engines, the Nissans one and only engine will look like more of a gas hog then it already is.

Not many people seem to want a crappy mileage truck, that can't do as much with it's old set up. It was good 6 years ago though, but alot has changed.

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