King of Beasts: Acceleration

1 Ram Accel Lead II

Photography by Evan Sears

We wanted to find out: How well can these big trucks pull the heavy loads their manufacturers say they can pull, and how comfortable do they feel doing it? We started the acceleration portion of our test with level-ground runs to give us a baseline. Of course, what we really wanted to find out was how well these two big pickups could pull driving up the two toughest, most punishing grades in the country — Davis Dam and the Eisenhower Pass — but for the beginning of this piece to the puzzle, here's how they did in our simple baseline tests.

Baseline Testing

On a lonely, flat frontage road outside Denver, we used one of our two test trailers from Load Trail (it weighed 8,270 pounds) and strapped a vintage military half-track troop carrier weighing an extra 14,350 pounds onto its back. The total weight of the trailer: 22,620 pounds. We thought that would be a good testing weight for the 2013 Ram 3500 Heavy Duty and the 2013 Ford F-450 to begin our contest, and yeah, it looked pretty cool too. Temperatures rose to around 85 degrees, but they dropped another 10 degrees by the time we finished testing. The elevation of our test site was just below 5,000 feet, and there was no significant wind.

We first ran the two trucks empty, where the Ford was the clear winner, running to 40 mph in just 5.91 seconds. The Ram, as you might expect with the new and more industrial Aisin six-speed transmission mated to the high-output Cummins, lumbered to 40 mph in 7.0 seconds. In the quarter-mile test runs, the differences were not as pronounced; the Ford recorded a best "empty" time of 18.4 seconds at 78.3 mph. The Ram HD ran the quarter mile in 19.1 seconds at a speed of 77.6 mph.

Once we hitched up the gooseneck trailer, our zero-to-40 times started to look a lot like the empty quarter-mile times with the F-450 taking 18.6 seconds to hit 40 mph, while the Ram HD took 18.9 seconds. For each test, we used the fastest recorded number we were able to achieve.

Davis Dam Runs

2 Ford Accel II

Our Davis Dam runs, under full load, were conducted later at night with temperatures around 90 degrees when we started (about 9 p.m.) but fell to the mid-70s by the time we finished (after midnight).

We like to use the section of Arizona Highway 68 — which heads East from Bullhead City, Ariz. — because it provides us with a long stretch of two-lane highway that climbs more than 3,000 feet in elevation over a relatively short 10-mile stretch. At certain points, the grade is at least 6 percent.

We started our runs at the bottom of the hill at McCormick Boulevard and Highway 68 in Bullhead City, and raced to the summit at wide-open throttle.

The Ford's two best runs were when temperatures were running slightly higher, timing out at 12:28 and 12:17 minutes. Our recorded top speed was 56.3 mph; the lowest, or slowest, speed once we got up and running we saw during our recorded runs was 45.5 mph.

Truthfully, we thought the F-450 was going to be the clear winner here. In both our previous HD truck tests on the Davis Dam grade, the Power Stroke was a strong player because of its V-8 construction and impressive midrange torque curve. The fact that it had 4.30:1 gearing helped too (our Ram had 4.10:1 gears). But the newly tuned Cummins surprised us.

The Ram posted its best two times at 12:20 and 12:24, with its top speed occurring during the faster first run at 57.8 mph. Our test driver said that although the Ram seemed to take off more slowly, the Cummins' newly found midrange rpm spectrum made it feel a touch faster than the Power Stroke. The lowest speed we saw in the Ram HD during our runs was 43.5 mph.

Eisenhower Pass Runs

3 Ford Accel 2 II

Our runs on the Eisenhower grade (on the western side of the tunnels) were done along Interstate 70 eastbound starting at the exit for Dillon, Colo. The distance of our runs was 7.2 miles, climbing in elevation from just below 9,000 feet to just above 11,000 feet at the entrance to the Eisenhower Tunnel. The grade itself averages a 6 percent climb, with some short sections closer to 4 percent and the steepest at 7 percent. All of our runs were done in the evening and were not affected by wind, rain or traffic.

The Ford F-450 and trailer started out strong but seemed to run out of steam farther up the mountain, recording a best time of 11:44, with a top speed of nearly 53 mph and low speed of 31 mph.

The Ram 3500 HD seemed to have an easier time with the heavy trailer (the total weight for the Ford was 33,104 pounds, while the Ram's was calculated to be 33,270 pounds), but maybe that makes sense given that it's promoted as having a maximum gross combined weight rating of more than 4,000 pounds more than the Ford. The Ram did the 7.2-mile run up the Eisenhower grade in 10:31, with a top speed of 57 mph and a low speed of 37 mph.

We should note that we had another chance to run the Ram HD the next day, after loading another 3,800 pounds onto the trailer, taking it up the same Eisenhower grade. Although we did not get an exact time, our unofficial time keeping had the finishing time in the high 13-minute range. Likewise, we noted that it ran a top speed (running right on top of its maximum GCWR number) of 48 mph, with a 28 mph low-speed recording. Our test driver said that even at its maximum rating (something our Ford was also bumping up against), the maxed-out Ram HD was still passing quite a few big rigs crawling up the grade.

4 Accel group II

KOB_Acceleration_Final (2)[5] II

Overview | Acceleration | Braking | Fuel Economy | Comfort and Squats | Results


Very impressive. Both trucks are truly beasts.

Its understandable these trucks have much higher capacities than GM's Duramax trucks but the trailer you ended up using in these tests was 22,620 lbs. GM rates theirs to 23,100 lbs. Why not throw a Duramax in for comparison anyway? Seeing how it faired against the Ford in previous tests, it would be impressive if it still did as well after Ford & Ram blew them out of the water (on paper that is).

Kyle they didnt throw in the chev because the Duramax Allison combo ALWAYS dominates!

@ hemi lol
They clearly stated GM didn't preform good enough to run with these monsters

Therse dogs are a little bit bigger than the GM. It is like Frank says, if you can't run with the big dogs, stay on the porch!

Kyle is right the Duarmax would have kicked ass

I'm glad the tests where done. But for the remaining 99% of the readers who are going to be towing within the range that the Duramax is rated for I would have really liked to have seen the GM truck in the comparison.

Sparky and Kyle, I agree why not test the Duramax?

Wish the trucks had the same axle ratio...

Ford 4.30

RAM 4.10 thats why the Ford took off quicker,but the RAM at 30 mph would blow past the Ford..

So,I guess in real world driving the RAM would be the best,and blow the Ford away !


The GMC crew cab 4x4 max. payload is 4264lbs.

The fifth wheel hitch weight was closer to 5600lbs way above the GM trucks payload capacity.

That is one major problem people have in figuring out their trucks capacities.

It is impossible for a GM truck to safely pull a trailer listed at it's max towing capacity due to GVWR.

It was a fault that was rampant in the past. I haven't paid to much attention to it in that last few years because I wasn't in the market for a new vehicle. But ALL manufacturers were guilty in the past.

As an owner of a 2011 GMC HD, I don't see it beating either of these two. It does just fine pulling my 13k pound 5th wheel. Up until the HO cummins and the soon to arrive power stroke the duramax and Allison has pretty much walked on the competition. For the record a 3500 HD payload is 5484. The number used above was the single wheel regular cab #. Congrats to the ram. Sure is a nice rig.

alan your downplaying your duramax. its a sweet win for the Ram but the D-max embarrassed them BOTH in the last test and this test was still within the weight range and i'll bet the dmax would have won the performance part of this test.

Pretty much in aggreance with everyone else... with the 20k pull they did when the Duramax embarrassed the Ford and Dodge... Maybe the Duramax wouldnt have Embarrassed them this time, but I bet you it would have been nipping at thier butts!!

When the Chevy has a truck with enough weight rating then they can compete!

For those of you who are saying chevy would blow away both of these trucks. They haven't tested a dmax against a 2013 ho Cummins with the aisin. Will be a different story than the last contest when they do!

Im not down playing my duramax, only stating that my 2011 is out gunned by the HO cummins that is now available, and the 2015 power stroke. I'll still put it up against anything on the road and make most look silly. However I'm a realist. In the realm of drivetrain output, the HO cummins wins now, but it took almost 3 years and a couple iterations from each to make it happen.


I checked another source and came up with different numbers again.

Max payload is 5028. The hitch weight would be greater than this alone. Then you would need to ad passengers, suit cases ice coolers and test equipment.
Max trailer is 22,300, The test trailer was 22,600
Gross Combined is 30,500 Which would mean your laptop would put you over GCVR If all you considered was gross trailer weight and bare vehicle weight. .

That max payload is with bare, standard equipment, no options. Add options and the payload goes down.

The figures I gave were for a dually crew cab 4x4.
These were off the door jam numbers which includes all options.
Either way the GM vehicles were not rated to pull that trailer. Close but no cigar. Close is only in hand grenades horseshoes.

I'm not picking sides. There is no doubt the GM vehicles were top dog before.

The Ram improved in large part because they added the Urea. I would rather not have the Urea. I'm guessing the total trip miles for both vehicles at not much more than 3500 miles round trip. I don't think the said.

They said they used 12 gallons of the Urea. That puts it at about a gallon every 300 miles. That's a long ways from what you read in the advertizements. That adds about 7.5 cents per mile by my figures. That's $7.50 for a thousand mile, one day trip.

Yes I know that's fully loaded. But if your in business then you have to be fully loaded or your losing money.

Toward the top of Eisenhower they were only getting a read out of about 3 mpg. But they didn't use any going down hill.

I was surprised they didn't have a better best tank mpg reading.

Overall both got cruddy mpg.

The GMC siblings do have the best durability ratings out of the 3 HD's.
How many people are actually going to tow max weights with any of these beasts?
Commercially, these trucks will do fine on paved roads but if you have to haul heavy all of the time on gravel roads you are better off going to an MDT.

I can see why Ford changed the turbo on their next gen 6.7. It runs out of wind at high elevations but how many people are going to notice or care?"




I'm surprised these trucks did as well as they. Pretty impressive.

Something still does not add up, as the Ram seems to catch up to the Ford after it gets going? and that would mean more HP! not TQ, but the numbers tell us other wise! as the truck with the most TQ should be the quickest to 40mph, and the one with the highest HP should be the one that runs faster later on. I know there are other variables, like gearing and wind, but just saying. I also thing the Duramax would have been the one to beat here, as it has in the past, within these weight limits!

It seems to me the ford jumps out from the start because of the 4.30 gears.
But as the elevation and rpm rise. The twin turbo fall on their face.
Without enough air the computer cuts back on fuel to reduce pollutants.

No fuel no power.
But No smoke is a number 1 requirement.

buddylam: I know what you are saying, but the Ram has 4:10 gears, not that big a difference, and only weighs a little more, but the hp/tq numbers tell a different story, and it is the Ram that should (on paper) be the one that takes off the line quicker, and the Ford that catches up later, not the other way around? Ram has what? 385hp and 850ftlbs tq and the Ford? has 40hp and 80ftlbs tq? see? the gearing should not make that much difference. I would like to see both trucks run on a dyno to see the real power at the rear wheels!

PUTC there are some problems with your analysis. First off, on the newer post "Ram wins Canadian truck king challenge, you state that Ram won the King of Beats, but Ram really didn't *win* the challenge. Rather Ford won some parts, and Ram won other parts.

Second off, the 4.30:1 ratio would not be a benefit to Ford in this challenge but a hinderance. While the 4.30 would provide more torque off the bat, the higher gearing in the Ram is a clear advantage in a long range towing test such as this. Take for example 1/4 mile and 1/8 mile drag races: 1/8th mile cars tend to have 4.10 - 5.13 axle ratios, while 1/4 mile cars use 3.55-4.10 axle ratios. The Ram had a clear advantage in this test with higher gearing, not only in the rear-end but in the gearing of the transmission.

Another thing to note is that Ram is clearly exaggerating their ACTUAL towing capacity. As the trailer was 22,620 lbs and the GCW was 33,270 that means the Ram's weight was 10,650 lb's. According to Ram's official towing specifications, the Ram used in this test (a crew cab, 8 foot bed, dual real wheel 3500 with a 4.10 axle) ratio has a towing capacity of 29,370 lbs, and a GCWR of 37,500 lbs. However if it could tow 29,370 lbs the GCWR would have to be 40,020 lbs not 37,500 . So the Ram's actual towing capacity is 26,950 lbs.

This means that either Ram are total liers or they severly miscalculated. Probably the former.

HAHAHA Dafuq doesn't know how to add!

But imagion that, a ford guy getting butthurt over losing a shootout. And then trying to justify it by using math only ford fanbois recognize as truthful.

Everyone on here makes me laugh, Duramax has always ran over the other 2, and if you look back to rumble in the rockies duramax beat the powerstroke up the eisenhower pass by 2 minutes, 8:40 to 10:40. Add some weight, i've towed more than it's rating many times. Fine, put duramax's (max) weight on all 3 trucks and see what happens if it's all about the few hundred pounds

Good test, but agree with most, put the Dmax in the mix. The 3500drw has the hitch capacity and the trailer capacity and if it doesn't, lighten up the trailer, so it's all legal. I'm looking forward to the 2015 tests with new powerstroke. I think the dmax has more room to increase power. In the end all impressive trucks. Also funny that the Ram 3500 has more towing capacity than the ram 4500 or even the 5500.

The Allison transmission used in conjunction with the Duramax engine is the best transmission period. In this test the 2013 gmc or chevy would have pulled the test loads just fine, but not legally. I use a standard cab duramax allison 4x4 which has aftermarket suspension modifications. Have never had any problems with our triple axle equiptment trailer with 18000 lbs standard load on it. (lumber) heavier then your test. I think that if GM offered the truck with the 4:10 rear end option like ram, then the towing rating would go up. The engine platform that GM used for the duramax was originally a 460 hp beast, so it has plenty of room for up grading on the power side, (now currently at 397 hp). It does not need it though. It would just burn a lot more fuel. It is the chassis, brakes, and tranny that will control the big loads. All of the newer diesel trucks have plenty of power.

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